Showing posts with label organizing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organizing. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

All this? Just about drove me bonkers!

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

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

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

Here is our routines:

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

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

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


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


What do you do for back to school success?


Thanks for reading,

Erica


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Is Your Home Ready For An Emergency? Four Things You Need To Do Now To Be Ready!


Our home. We love coming home to it, resting in it, and just generally being home. Our homes are our safe places.

Or are they?

Getting our home ready for an emergency was not at the top of my list of things to do. That was really bad of me, but I was more focused on other areas of preparedness. This year, however, I have been made more aware of the fact that my home needs some improvements and some safety/emergency equipment. The realization that I was slacking in this area hit me hard and made me question how we would do if there was an emergency. I had the feeling the answer would be not very well.

The time to get these things done is now. If you are not ready for emergencies at home, would you really be ready for emergencies anywhere else? These are the four areas that I am working on in my home and I bet you need to either work on these or at least check them out.

Fire safety has been at the top of my mind. We have always had a plan to know what to do in case of a fire, but I knew I needed more in the way of fire safety equipment. In the last month, I have purchased:



I only had two one-time use fire extinguishers that weren't going to do much except put out a small stove fire. We needed more and in more places beside the kitchen. I have smoke detectors, but they do not work anymore or are faulty. This is my fault for letting them get this way and it is time to take care of this issue. I also bought a carbon monoxide detector for the shop because we have a propane heater in there now. I don't want my family or myself to pass out while working on a project!

Fire safety also involves keeping an updated plan for escape routes and having a safe spot for everyone to meet. Also having a fireproof safe for your valuables and papers is also vital. Keeping a to-go bag with your family's vital information and an updated phone list is also a key item.

Another area of home emergency preparedness I have been working on is organization. Quite frankly, this one is a little tough for me. However, knowing where everything is and having it ready to use in an instant is beyond valuable!

For example, we have quite a few tools in the house. They are all in a cabinet right now in small toolboxes and totes. We know where they are, but they are not very well organized and we have doubles and triples of a lot of the tools. They are also mixed up with parts that need their own place. We just bought a rolling tool box/cabinet to put in the basement to organize the tools. We will go through all the tools and keep the ones we need in the house. The extras will then go to the garage and the shop as needed. This way we will know exactly where the tools are and be able to grab exactly the tool we need.

Keeping your emergency supplies organized and handy can be a life saver. Whether it be tools for fixing that leaking pipe quickly or shutting off the gas to your house, guns and ammo for protection, or the fire extinguisher for putting out a small fire, you need to know where your supplies are and have them ready to go.

One area of home emergency preparedness is not one many people think of. Our homes have a lot of stuff in them. We like our stuff, but that same stuff may be the one thing that prevents you from getting out of the house in case of an emergency.

We all need to declutter our homes. We all need to make sure we have clear walkways in our escape routes and stuff in the way can prevent us from leaving. Keeping floors cleaned up and clear of clutter can help us get out if we need to or get to our emergency supplies. Keeping stairs and rooms clean can help us get out or attend to the emergency in a timely matter.

If you have clutter in the way or just a tiny path to walk through the house, you are risking injury or even losing your chance to get out of the house if necessary. Emergency personnel might not be able to get to you if they have to wade through your things to find you.

Take care of the clutter. Figure out what you truly need and find a home for it in the house. Get organized with your clutter and keep the walkways and floors clear to be able to respond in an emergency situation.

The last home emergency preparedness area to work on is to fix the little things around the house.


  • Fix those loose plug-ins. 
  • Fix those ripped window screens. 
  • Fix the loose or non-functioning door latches. 
  • Fix the broken windows. 
  • Make sure your locks are good on the doors and windows. 
  • Patch the holes in the ceiling, walls, and roof. 
  • Fix the leaking gutters. 
  • Replace light fixtures that seem to burn out a lot. 
  • Make sure your outdoor lighting works and replace those fixtures that don't work.
  • Make sure your electrical system don't have any shorts or old wires. Fix what needs to be fixed. 

I am not talking about remodeling the house or adding on to the house. I am talking about fixing the little things that we always want to sweep under the rug and shouldn't ignore. Those little things can add to up to something big like a fire, a break-in, an injury, further property damage, and so on. Not having these items fixed could compromise your home security and endanger your family's lives.

Make a list of what needs to be done, make a trip to the hardware store, and knock out a few things on the list this weekend. You will be really happy you did and your house will look and feel better!

What is on your home emergency list to get done?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Have Been Prepping For Five Years, Now What? A Review Checklist for the Long-Term Prepper


Many of us have been prepping for quite a while. We started by getting some more food, a few cases of water, and some gear. Then prepping took over our lives and we now have a lot of prepping things and a good size food and water storage. 

I have been prepping for longer than five years, but I know that I have areas of my prepping I need to revisit. I bet you do too. As I have been decluttering and reorganizing, I have noticed things getting a little out of date, maybe a little dusty, maybe a little rusty, and some of it definitely being unused. I know our emergency plans are out of date and we have a lot of revisions to make. 

Sound familiar?

Here is a list of things you need to check if you have been prepping awhile. While we should be checking our preps every six months to one year, time does get away from us and we get busy with other things. Now is as good time as any to get your preps in line for, you know, just in case!

Preps to Check:

Check Water



Check long-term food stores 

  • Freeze-dried foods need to be checked to make sure the seals are good and no containers are bulging 
  • Food stored in mylar bags needs to be checked and possibly opened to make sure there is no spoilage or bugs
  • Food buckets need to be checked for a good seal and no holes or breaks
  • Canned foods need to be checked over to either be eaten or thrown and again no bulges in the cans
  • Is the food still things you would eat or not? 
  • Is there any obvious holes in your food storage your need to fill?


Check supplies 

  • Does everything still work? 
  • Do batteries need to be replaced? 
  • Do I have a good stock of batteries?
  • Does the oil, gas, or propane need to be replaced?
  • Have you started or used this prep lately to make sure it works?
  • Is everything in good condition?
  • What needs to be repaired or replaced?


Check caches and supplies hidden at other places

  • Are they still there? 
  • How is everything holding up in the caches? 
  • Time to rotate the food in the caches?
  • Check clothing if stored for kids and replace
  • Hiding spot still good?
  • Cache container still have good camouflage? 


Check security

  • Ammo and guns still in good condition?
  • Knives sharpened and in good condition?
  • Other methods of defending yourself still in good condition?
  • Does everybody still know their role in the home security or does your plan need revision?
  • Is all your window and door locks in good condition?
  • Is your home still invader-proof? Walk around the house to make sure.


Check home emergency supplies

  • How are the fire extinguishers? Still in date and still functioning?
  • Rope ladders from upstairs rooms still in good condition?
  • How are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors? Still working well or need to be replaced?
  • Generators still run well? 
  • Still have an adequate amount of gas, propane, and/or diesel on hand? Container still in good condition?
  • Do you still have a good amount of bedding and supplies for those that might show up in an emergency or disaster?


Check your bug-out bags and 72-hour kit


  • Is the clothing and shoes still size appropriate for who is using it?
  • Is the food still good? Do you still have an adequate amount?
  • Does everything function correctly and is still appropriate for the person carrying it?
  • Does the batteries need to be replaced in anything?
  • Is there adequate amount of supplies for the people in your family? 

Check your first-aid kit and supplies

  • What needs to be replaced?
  • Do the bandages look old and/or might not stick anymore?
  • Have your family's needs changed? Do you need baby stuff or not anymore?
  • Is the over-the-counter medicines still in good standing or need to be replaced?
  • Is everything still well-organized or need to be again?
  • What do you need to add to your first-aid supplies?


Other Questions you should be asking yourself

  • Is your evacuation plans still good?
  • Does your emergency family plan need to be revised?
  • Are your kids older or do you have kids now?
  • Do you need plans for your kids in college or on their own?
  • Do you need to have plans for your parents and older family members?
  • Is your emergency information updated?
  • Is your phone list still current?
  • Do you need to update your personal information in your family emergency binder?
  • Do you have an updated list of all medications your family is taking?
  • Do you have current health histories on everybody?
  • Is your vehicle emergency kit current? Does anything need to be replaced?
  • Is your Every Day Carry current and still useful?
  • How is your emergency cash fund? Does it need to be replenished or increased?

There is so much to think about and do when you are prepping. Checking your preps can sometimes get lost in the busyness of prepping and living life. While I am sure I missed some things that need to be checked, this basic list can get you started on making sure you are covered in an emergency or disaster.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - March 7


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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

How is your homestead today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Thoughts - Week of August 14


The Friday Thoughts might give you the impression I am obsessed with certain things, but then again maybe not. Many people ask what I think about things and I am not a very good talker. I will start trying to put my thoughts here every week and see what happens. I am going to keep it to five things that have been on my mind or heart, but I am not making any promises. 

1. I am really looking forward to this weekend. I will be kid-free for the weekend. As much as I love them, as a single mom, I need this once in a while. I need the mental break. Maybe I can get organized again too with my planner and my calendar!

2. If you are inclined, please say a little prayer or send some good vibes for Shali. She is having an MRI on Sunday for her ankle and will probably end up with surgery. We will know more after her follow up appointment on Thursday. She injured it playing sports in high school and, at 20, is in constant pain. Too young for that!

3. Wow, did you all see that explosion in the port of Tianjin, China? Holy moly. I am impressed! However, I think the implications of this will be felt worldwide. It was a major port for China and the exporting of desirable goods across the planet. And as much as we don't want to think about how much of our own goods come from China, a large majority of them are manufactured or are refined by China. This might impact us more than we know.

4. What are you interested in this week? Some times I feel like this changes from week to week depending on my week. As I have confessed before, I am not a super organized person. I am a barely organized person. I have learned the value of having a huge family calendar to keep track of everything. I have learned the value of having that same calendar in my phone and setting up reminders for myself. I am now using an app that has my to-do list and my grocery list on it.

This week has been all about being even more organized. Setting up systems, having more extensive menu plans, and just knowing where everything is because everything has a place. I have been learning more than doing, but I have some ideas about what I want to do. However, the thought in my mind is that some times people try to become more organized in direct relation to the stress in their lives. They are so stressed out that they seek control in their lives by being more organized. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how extreme you are being. (Yes, I read that somewhere. I just can't remember where.)

I am trying not to be extreme. However, I do understand that I do want more control in my life.

5. #4 was several thoughts rolled into one segment. That is enough for this week.

This week's blog post: Preppers and Homesteaders Need To Eat Healthy Too!

What I bought on Amazon this week: The Ultimate Self-Sufficiency Handbook by Abigail R. Gehring (this has been on my wish list for quite some time.)


I have also become an affiliate for the Molly Green Magazine and Website. This site and magazine has some of the best homesteading articles I have ever read. I am a subscriber myself and totally love what they are doing! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


This does contain affiliate links, but I only share my favorites with you!)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Do You Have Too Much or Just Enough For Your Needs?


Here is some questions to ask yourself:

1. If you had to leave your home in an emergency, could you?

2. Would you be able to leave your things and stockpiles behind?

3. Do you buy things just to have them or because they will serve a purpose not yet fulfilled by something else?

4. Do you buy a new pot just in case you might need it, even though you might have three already in that size or can serve the same purpose?

5. Do you buy a new pair of jeans because you think you deserve even though you have three almost new pairs sitting at home? Do you buy a new outfit for a party even though you have perfectly good outfits in your closet?

6. Does shopping equal family time? Do you buy things for your kids so they will think you are the "cool" parent or because they truly have a need?

7. Do you have more stockpiled than you can ever possibly use? Stockpiles are great, but sometimes you can have way too much of something just because it was a good deal, but you don't need it.

Chances are you have too much stuff. I have too much stuff.

In reading history, you realize that most common people didn't have a lot. They didn't need a lot. They may have had two or three outfits, one or two pairs of shoes, one or two skillets, a dutch oven, just enough dishes for one meal, and so on.

They had just enough for their needs and didn't need anymore. They had enough to survive and thrive. They didn't need more.

In today's society, we have a lot more than we need to survive and thrive. We have enough outfits to last us for at least two weeks. We hold onto things that have no meaning anymore. We accumulate more things just to have them. Why?

Being prepared, we are told we need to have more gear, more supplies, more this, and more that. Yes, we do need some things to survive and thrive, but how much stuff do we need? Can we simply have too much?

Yes we can because we start to put more stock into having stuff to survive. Instead we need to have skills, smarts, common sense, and a strong work ethic to survive.

Having things just in case of emergency is great. Trust me, I have several things for emergency purposes. Having a stockpile of food, first aid supplies, cleaning supplies, and seeds is great. I know I will be taking care of 8-12 people at least when something happens. I make sure I have plenty to cover that.

However, when I visit homes and see a huge walk-in closet stuffed full of clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry, that is too much stuff. When I see all the latest gadgets and nothing practical, that is too much stuff. When I see three sets of golf clubs and almost no food in the refrigerator, that is too much stuff and misplaced priorities.

Having too much stuff is misplaced priorities. We have gotten so accustomed to "living the good life" by buying whatever we want that we forget about only needing to have what we need to live.

What you do need to live?
1. Food and Water
2. Shelter
3. Clothing
4. Reliable Transportation
5. Means to protect yourself

That is it. That is all you need.

Having things is nice, but so many people form an attachment to their things that is not healthy. Then an emergency situation happens and they grieve terribly over losing their things. I get that some things are not replaceable. What is really not replaceable is memories and people. Those are things you can never have enough of.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Savings on the Homestead Week 2: Sell Something You Don't Need

Every Sunday I will be posting a Sunday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!

I have been a purging fool the last couple of weeks. And it feels good! However, I have trouble with some of this stuff just going to the thrift shop or Goodwill. The stuff we are getting rid of is really nice stuff.

This week's mission is to sell something you don't need anymore. We all have books, clothes, crystal dishware, drinking glasses, etc. that are just collecting dust on shelf or in a closet somewhere. Find one thing you think someone else would love to have and sell it!

Last week I listed a bunch of books on tape I had on Ebay. Why I was still holding on to them, I don't know. We don't have a working tape player anymore! I also got rid on a quarter of the books off of a shelf like this one. I listed those books on Ebay also and was very surprised that everything sold!


Where can you sell it? I list items on:
   * Ebay (will need a seller's account if you don't have one)
   * Craigslist
   * Facebook (my personal page, for sale groups, garage sale groups)
The last two are FREE, saving you money!

What should you do with this money? Pay down a debt, put it in your homestead/prepping project fund, save it for buying gardening items, or just hold on to it until it is needed. 

I understand if you just want to donate the items. In fact, sometimes that is best! However, I know most of us need money to make our goals/projects a reality. Being frugal sometimes means selling something to make money for a project that we don't have room in our normal budget for or to pay down a debt faster.

What will you be selling this week?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, January 9, 2015

Making a Budget: No One Wants To, But We Need To!


In the 13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year post, point #13 was to find someone to be an accountability partner for spending and budget making ideas.

Before you can look for an accountability partner, you need to do something first. You need to make a budget.

I know, I know. Making a budget is really, really, really hard. 

I know because I struggle with it too. However, I am determined to make a budget this year, adjust it when necessary, and stick to it. I have to give my money a place to go and I have to keep a tighter eye on where it is going.

Making a budget is not an overnight project. You need to look at the last 2-3 months and determine your expenses (bills, groceries, gas, etc.). How much, where, and frequency of money being spent is all things that need to be noted. How much money you make and frequency of money being paid to you needs to be noted. From these things, make a budget.

You can use a computer program or go low-tech (like me) and use a notebook or a planner. Just so your budget is not in your head, but on paper or saved on a file. Seeing it on paper makes your budget real to you. Keeping it in your head means that your budget is abstract and easily adjusted to what whims can suddenly take place.

Now, will this budget work exactly for the next and every month? Yes and no.

If you have expenses that are the same every month, never vary, and no surprises occur, you will be golden. If you are like me, you will have expenses that change all the time, your kids will surprise you with new needs (thank you to schools), and can change mid-month. You will pull your hair in frustration or find the need to go target shooting.

However, sit back and breathe deeply. Write every month down. Write down what expenses are the same every month. Estimate what you need to until you know the definite amount. You will have to adjust your budget for new things. You might find places you don't spend as much as you thought. You might have places you spend way more than you should. The next few months will be an adjustment period.

Make sure every dollar is accounted for in the budget. Dave Ramsey suggests this and he is right. Even if the dollar is in savings, it is accounted for. If you have a budget surplus, put the surplus in savings so you have that for surprises that may occur down the road. Make categories for clothing, repairs, gifts, etc. and allot money to

Pretty soon, you will have a working budget. I promise.

Having a budget though requires something else from you. Self-discipline and self-control. I can feel some of you cringing already. That is okay. I am too. This is where you may need and should have a budget accountability partner.

What is a budget accountability partner? Someone you can trust to bounce ideas off of, cry on their shoulder when the budget is not responding to your needs/wants, and someone who will help you take a cold, hard look at it.

Make sure your budget accountability partner is someone you trust. A spouse, significant other, parent, family, or really good friend are all good candidates. If you are married and both of you have trouble with the budget, finding a parent, sibling, or really good friend would be good. Some people do find it beneficial to find a professional to help them be accountable and that is fine too. Whatever it takes for you to make your budget work!

I feel this year will be a year that our money will have to go farther and farther yet. Now is the time to take charge of your money, make it go farther, and make it work for you!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, January 2, 2015

13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year!

A new year and new goals! Yes! One of my goals for the year is to live as frugal of a life as possible. What I was really saying is that we are going on a spending fast. We literally will be cutting back expenses and saving money as much as possible. My finances are not where I want them to be and I need to change that.


What will I be doing to save money in the new year? 

1. Unsubscribe to all or all but a few (3-4) emails a day that encourage me to part with my money. Most of the time, I just delete the emails before I read them, but I have moments of weakness and click on them. No more!

2. Commit to spending no money for anything not on the goals list, that is frivolous, or unnecessary. 

3. Write out your goals to know where the money needs to go and what needs to save for. Where does your money need to go? What are your goals for the year? Think about the areas of home/homestead, prepping, financial, gardening, and kids. Set a plan for those goals and how to attain them. Check out my goals here! 

4. Commit to becoming debt free. This is a hard one. I know first hand and am still struggling to become debt free.

5. Spend less than what is earned. Easier said than done, but self-discipline is crucial.

6. Learn to live on cash. 

7. Talk yourself out of purchases.

8. Subscribe to frugally-minded blogs and newsletters for encouragement. 

9. Look for money making opportunities to help pay for projects or pay towards debt. 

10. Learn to live without things. "Make do, do without, use it up, wear it out!"

11. Stretch a dollar and make your money go as far as possible. 

12. Give yourself some grace. Life is unpredictable and some things are out of our control. Pick yourself back up and get back on track.

13. Find some friends, significant other, and/or family to become an accountability partner. Find similar minded people to talk to and bounce ideas off of. I talk about this and budgeting in this post!

Each month from here until December, I will talking about each of these in great length. I will come back and link to this article for you. I have already talked about number 3 and have linked to it already.

Money is important, but should not rule our lives. Make this the year where you take back control!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Everyday Carry (EDC) Bag: Everyone Should Have One!

(Today's post is linked to a post from Are We Crazy, or Not! Hop on over there and check their post! They are very knowledgeable and give great ideas! You can also see what others carry in their EDC Bag.)

Everyday Carry (EDC) Bags are one of the most important items that a prepared person should have with them. They carry the most immediate things you need for an emergency as well as daily life things. 

EDC bags are not bug-out bags or get home bags. They are the bags you carry with you everywhere. You would have them with you at work, home, shopping, camping, and any where else you may go. As you can see, my EDC bag is also my purse. I carry a lot of things in my bag that are daily use items as well as emergency needs.

I choose my bag because of the size, the fact that the strap was long enough to carry cross-body as well as over the shoulder, and the pockets on the inside of the bag. My bag came from Thirty-One Gifts of all places, but was close to what I was looking for. You can find it here. The rest of what I carry in my EDC bag is listed below. 


Organizing Should Bag that is 11.5" x 9.5" x 1.5"
Billfold that carries my ID, cards, cash, checks, and pictures of the kids
Keys for home, car, and work. Key ring also has a mini Mag Lite and a mini dagger.
Small, basic first aid kit from Emergency Essentials
Comb
Feminine sanitation products
A condom in case I need to keep something dry
Kleenex
An Imodium tablet
Lip Balm (or 3)
Tea Bags
Dramamine since I can get motion sickness fairly easily
Notepad and multiple pens
Hand warmers
Two pocket knives
An old ID with 3-4 feet of duct tape wrapped around it
Hand Lotion
Camera
A hard candy or several
A small Mag Lite flashlight
A Multipurpose Tool - this one has 12 functions. I use it quite a bit
Missing, but usually have a small Bic lighter.

Everyone's EDC bag will look differently. I do not have a baby or young children to worry about so I don't have those items. When I did, I would carry a diaper, small pack of wipes, a small snack, and infant pain reliever.

Do you carry a EDC bag? What do you carry in it?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, November 17, 2014

Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway!

Foodandwaterbricks

Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway!

Eartheasy.com has graciously agreed to sponsor a pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway to one of our loyal readers so they can get their food and water storage off the ground! Today you get the opportunity to win FOUR water bricks and FOUR food bricks! The Water Bricks can hold up to 3.5 Gallons of water, and are sturdy enough to stack up to 4 feet tall. They are small enough to slide under a bed, and light enough (even when full) to be easily carried with their handy handle. The Food Bricks are the same size as the water brick, but they are specifically designed to pack, stack, and store food. They interlock and stack perfectly with the waterbricks. Both bricks are made of heavy, durable, BPA-free food grade plastic. Food and Water Bricks are perfect for preparedness, disaster relief, or any outdoor activity like boating, rafting, camping, tailgating, and more, and you can enter to win your very own set of EIGHT food and water bricks (4 of each) today!

Meet the Bloggers Involved

Terms and Conditions

This Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway is sponsored by Eartheasy.com, and is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Monday, Nov. 17th at 6:00 am (CST) and ends on Sunday, Nov. 23th, 2014 at 6:00 pm (CST). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone!

Enter!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I Do To Be Organized

I am not a naturally organized person. I don't carry around a planner because I forget to write things down in them or forget them altogether. I am a visual person and need to have my organization in front of my face or somewhere my eyes will see.

I use these tools to see where every one will be, where I need to be, what needs to be remembered, and for papers that cannot be lost.

My calendar and two of my lists

Large Desktop Calendar Hung Up on Office Door
- Everything gets written there so everyone can see it
- Everyone writes down their schedule - no exceptions!
- I use Command strips to keep it up

Google Calendar on my phone
- Reminders set up for bills, blog, and appointments

To Do Lists
- I live off of these things!
- Always one in my pocket or nearby
- I use them at work and at home
- I also leave a to do list for my kids so they know what needs to be done by them every day

Shopping Lists
- I write down what we are out of as well as the sales I am interested in


Bulletin Boards
- I have two in the office. One is for coupons, gift certificates, and the phone list. The second board is for permission slips, reminder papers from school, and any sport/music schedules.

Notebooks  
- lists of what items I need/want and what I have on inventory.
- I also use them for holiday shopping, gardening and homesteading to keep track of costs, produce, what worked and what didn't work.
- I use notebooks a lot because that is easier for me than continually updating a spreadsheet.

Pretty easy system for me! What do you like to use for organizing?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, June 20, 2014

Preparedness on the Cheap: Inventory Your Food Storage

(Preparedness on the Cheap is a series of articles for the prepper and everyone else that doesn't have a lot of money, but needs to take steps to be prepared. A good deal of prepping is learning, planning and organizing. Prepping doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but does involve a lot of doing!)

When I first put up these shelves. They are no longer this empty!

While prepping can cost you a lot of money, there are some very easy prepping things to do to keep you sane and your money to be spent a little more wisely. This week I am going to tackle inventorying the food storage.

Doing a food storage inventory can seem like a daunting task, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks:
1. Knowing what you have on hand to make meals.
2. Knowing what you need to stock up on.
3. Knowing what you need to can from the garden this year or even plant in the garden this year.
4. Having a concise list in case of disaster.
5. What you have been eating everyday vs what you thought you would eat and haven't touched.

Pizza sauce and chicken can go together nicely, but for organizing they need to be with other like things!

Making a food storage inventory can take time. When I do my food storage inventory, I use that time to reorganize my food storage so like foods are together for easier inventorying. The kids and I are guilty of putting the food away in a "loosely organized" manner so when I inventory I make sure everything is together and nicely put away. Write down every item so you don't get too many items that you will barely use.

What to use to inventory? This is where you can get as high tech and as low tech as you wish. I just use a lined spiral notebook. I know people who have a program on the computer, have created an Excel worksheet, or downloaded food storage sheets.

None of these methods are right or wrong. Just use whatever is comfortable for you, but always make sure you have a hard copy somewhere accessible. I keep my notebook with my food storage because I just find it easier.

Food storage inventory should be taken at least once a month. However, I try for at least once a quarter because once a month seems out of my reach at the moment. I am striving for it though.

I hope this helps you! Please let me know in the comments what you do to inventory your food storage.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Friday, January 3, 2014

Frugal Friday: Clean Up Email Time!

Being frugal is not just for money. A lesson I have learned over the last year is that being frugal applies to all areas of life except for family and friends. The time you spend with them is priceless and cannot be overspent!

However, there is an area that has really come to my attention. My email. I was not being very frugal in the area of my email. The realization of how many emails I received in a day was staggering. I would open my email and have 60-80 unread emails. I would delete 20-30 emails right away. I would read through a few emails 'just because' and be disgusted I wasted my time reading them.


I would get emails for sales, for freebies, for places I like to shop at, four coupons, for products I like to use, and for things that perhaps I might be able to get something free from. Honestly, what a time waster! To be truly frugal, how I spend my time needs to be evaluated too.

A lot of those emails I got did not feed my mind, feed my soul, encourage me, or had the potential to do so. I had signed up for prepping sites that were just advertisements once I clicked their links. I had signed for a lot of the emails thinking they would be different or provide different deals and freebies, but they didn't. Plus, they also tempted me to spend money that I did not have or want to spend. I do not need any more temptation!

I decided to keep receiving emails that:
1. feed my mind in some way. I want to learn and be more knowledgeable. 
2. feed my soul or encourage me.
3. were places I very regularly shop at like the grocery store, Vitacost, and Amazon.
4. were legit deal, coupon, or freebie sites. I only kept four so far, but one of those may be heading to the chopping block soon for confusing tactics. Most of these sites are the same, but I have found some differences.

Using these guidelines, I have unsubscribed to 15 different emails so far. I have more weeding to do, but some of those places I have unsubscribed to would send me 3-4 emails a day! Geez! My email is a little more pleasant to open up and read now.

Remember, frugality applies to all areas of life. If you are wasting time deleting or mindlessly reading emails, you are not being frugal with your time. Your time is a valuable resource!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Sunday, November 10, 2013

10 Totally Free Prepping Things To Do


This post is a part of the 30 Days of Preparedness Round Robin with Prepared Bloggers! Thank you for visiting!

I love prepping lists! I have so many printed out and filed in a binder so I can look at them. I get motivated from them and finds all sorts of ideas to get things done!

I am offering you today a list of 10 totally free prepping things to do. Some of the things will take only a few minutes to do, some will take a few hours, and some might take more time than that. You can do these things with your family or invite your friends over to do these things. The only thing that might not make this totally free is canning jars. However, I am assuming most of you have jars on hand!

10 Totally Free Prepping Items To Do

1. Learn to get around your house in the dark. Think about the days when you were a teenager and had to sneak in and out of your house without your parents hearing. You didn't do that? Oh. Moving on....

Learn your escape plan and be able to get around in the dark in case of no power or someone strange being in your house. This might mean you will have to clean your floors and move furniture so you can get around safely. Also, be sure your bag, purse, keys, phone, wallet, etc. is in one, logical place for you to find in the dark and get out safely.

2. Inventory your things. Do you know what you have? Where is it? What are you missing? You need to make an inventory of your prepping supplies and things with where the item is located. If the items can be easily located, you can respond to a situation or emergency much, much more quickly. This inventory should be for food, ammo, supplies, first aid supplies, etc. Everything should be inventoried.

3. Organize your food. Put your food together in logical groups: baking, vegetable, fruits, meats, spices, condiments, sauces, etc. Get even more specific than that - put all your salt together in one place, for example. Put items in plastic bags in glass jars so the food will last longer. Write the expiration dates clearly on the food items so you know to grab the oldest food first. Organize your food to have the oldest food in front and newest in the back or on the bottom. With everything organized, you can send your kids to get the food items you want without the stress of telling them 30,000 times where it is!

4. Can your meats. Look in your freezer and look at the meats that are easy to can. I like to can chicken, stew meat, ground meats, and turkey. If you lose power for multiple days, you can still have a good supply of meat to feed your family and reduce the waste of what you might lose. Meat is too expensive to waste!

5. Make a family preparedness plan. This is a good thing for the whole family can participate in. You need to decide where to go, where to meet, what to grab, how to act, and what to do. You need to make multiple plans in case that Plan A doesn't work, your family knows what to do otherwise. Make sure you also include emergency contacts, medical records, and an inventory of your household goods and keep them ALL in the same place.

6. Write out your priority/wish list. This one is my favorite to do and it keeps me focused! What do you want to get done around the property and house? What do you wish you could do or buy for your preparedness goals? Write down what you need to buy or make. Take this list shopping with you or keep it buy the computer in case you get a little money for those items. Dreaming and planning cost nothing!

7. Practice your skills! Practice those skills which you feel you need refining. Practice makes you better! If you feel your target shooting needs some practice, set up some cans on a fence post and start practicing! Fill a feed sack or a pet food bag with grass clipping or dead leaves. Get the bow and arrow out and start practicing! Need to get more comfortable with sewing? Get some material out and make a pillow while practicing making a straight seam. The possibilities are endless!

8. Complete projects! I have projects that I have all the stuff I need for the project, I just haven't done it. I have started projects and I haven't finished them. I have total confidence I am not the only one! Get your projects done!

9. Organize, clean out, put together your Every Day Carry (EDC) Bag. This can be your purse, a tote bag, backpack, or whatever you feel comfortable carrying with you in the car or everywhere you go. Everyone carries different things with them and most of what you carry depends on where you are at in life (baby, kids, no kids). I like to carry extra cash, flashlight, personal items, knife, scissors, pens/pencils, food, small first-aid kit, small sewing kit, gloves, hat, and other things I might need. This bag is what would be your go-to bag as well as your bag you grab if you need to walk anywhere due to car breakdowns, emergencies, etc.

10. Clean out your vehicles and check their fluids and tires. Anytime is a good time to vacuum out the vehicle and get the trash out of it. Wipe down the surfaces and organize what needs to stay in the vehicle. When you get down with that, check the fluid levels in the vehicles and check the tire pressure. Top off what needs to be topped off and pump up the tires if needed. Your vehicle needs to be ready to go anytime you are!

With winter and the weekend coming, now is a good time to get these things done! You will not spend any money if you don't want to. If you find yourself in a position where you might, see if you have anything that might work in its place! Be creative!

If you have anything to add, please comment below!


September is National Preparedness Month and The Prepared Bloggers are at it again!

September is National Preparedness Month #30DaysofPrep 2015


It's safe to say that our ultimate goal is to help you have an emergency kit, a family plan, and the knowledge to garden, preserve your harvest and use useful herbs every day – without spending a ton of money to do it. Luckily that’s obtainable for every family and a journey we would love to help you with. This year we have posts about food storage, 72-hour Kits & Bug Out Bags, and every aspect of preparedness, from water storage to cooking off grid. You’ll also find many ideas to help you be more self-reliant. Look for information on the big giveaway we've put together for later in the month. Be sure to visit our sites and learn as much as you can about being prepared. We'll be using the hashtag #30DaysOfPrep for these and many other ideas throughout the month of September, so join in the conversation and make 2015 the year you become prepared.

Food Storage

Self-Reliance

72-Hour Kits or Bug Out Bags

Preparedness


Thanks for reading!

Erica

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