Showing posts with label preparedness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label preparedness. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2018

30 Ways To Deal With Stress in Real Life and in a Crisis


One of the few areas that are rarely addressed in real life and in bad times is stress. People can handle a lot of stress, but it isn't healthy for them. Your mind, body, and spirit are all affected by stress. Stress can bring on a multitude of symptoms including brain fog, stress eating, weight gain or loss, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, increased illness, fatigue, headaches, stomach issues, and more. While a little stress can be good for you, high and prolonged levels of stress are not good for you.

In a crisis or a situation, you will be under high levels of stress. It will be unavoidable. You will be worried about what is going to happen, what has happened, and how you will take care of it all. You need to find ways now to cope with stress so you better manage it when a situation happens.

Some of the ways to deal with stress listed below will help you to focus and redirect the mind. Some of them are just escapism for an hour or two. Neither is wrong as both ways can help you relax and give your mind a break. While all of these methods will work in daily life stress, some will work better when a crisis happens. You might not be able to do some of these when a crisis happens, but having practiced several of these will give you to the tools you need to cope.

30 Ways To Deal With Stress in Real Life and in a Crisis

1. Meditation. Just focusing on the quiet and another voice is a great way to de-stress. You can find several apps for your phone and YouTube videos all focusing on meditation. The way meditation calms and clears your mind can give your situation new clarity and your body some much-needed relaxation.

2. Prayer. If you have a belief in a higher faith, prayer can be a powerful tool. A focused time to give your worries away to a higher power can bring relief to your mind. Having faith that everything will work out and you will be fine is a powerful thing. Prayer helps to accomplish that.

3. Yoga. Yoga is unique in that it is a form of exercise that helps you focus on movement and breathing. You are focused on a voice, getting the movement right, and your breathing at the right times. It is very beneficial for dealing with stress as well as being a good exercise program for gentle stretching.

4. Tai Chi. Tai Chi is similar to yoga. You doing a precise series of movements and focusing on your breathing. Tai Chi is done standing up and is very gentle on the body. You are encouraged to clear your mind and focus on the movement when is very good for de-stressing.

5. Exercise. Working out is a good way to deal with stress. The physical nature of working out gets the muscles moving, helps to deal with the frustration, and focuses your mind on what you are doing. Working out also can help with your attitude when you get done with a good workout.

6. Journaling. Getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper can be a very good stress reliever. They aren't rolling around in your head and causing you more stress. You have them out on paper which can very mind relieving as well as help you gain some focus over your situation.

7. Drawing. Drawing can have the same effect as journaling. Making a drawing on what you are feeling or what you wish to be feeling can help relieve your mind and re-focus.

8. Reading Fiction. Reading, in general, can help you cope with stress. However, reading fiction is a form of escapism which can give you some relief from the stress. Reading a good story can help you relax.

9. Sewing and other needlework. The act of sewing and needlework can help relax you which helps with stress. In order to sew and do needlework, you have to concentrate on what you are doing which helps you clear the mind of your problems. Beyond that, sewing is productive which helps us feel better.

10. Crafts. Crafts are the same as sewing and needlework. It has been said that doing fifteen minutes of crafts will help your mind relax. Whether you like to put together ornaments, use coloring books, paint, and more, find something to do with your hands to de-stress.

11. Hobbies that help you relax. If you have a hobby that helps you relax and take your mind off things for awhile, you should do it when you are stressed. Many people like to fish, golf, build things,

12. Take a nap. Some people would argue that taking naps can be counterintuitive, but when trying to de-stress, a nap may be just what you need. We tend to stress out quicker when we are tired. A 15-60 minute nap can change our whole attitude and outlook when we wake up.

13. Watch a television show or a movie. The same as reading a fiction book, you are trying a little escapism which can do wonders for your mental health.

14. Go for a walk or a run. This is the same idea as exercising. A good walk or run can really help clear your mind. You also get a chance to remove yourself from the situation for a little while which can help you reassess your situation.

15. Get a massage, pedicure, manicure, or a facial. This is a good way to really help you relax and de-stress. Getting pampered can make you feel a lot better which can definitely help you handle the stress better.

16. Declutter and organize. Nothing like purging things to help with stress. Often, our things can create a lot of clutter in the house which affects our stress levels. After purging and organizing, you will be able to find your things easier, know what you have, and have less to clean. All are good things when it comes to your stress levels.

17. Clean house. A clean house just makes us feel better. Everything is clean, put away, and easy to find again. The act of cleaning house can be a great release for the frustration that is fueling your stress levels.

18. Write down everything you need to do. Brain dump. Then prioritize. Just like journaling, just getting everything down on paper helps your mind. You aren't trying to remember everything in your head. You have it down on paper which means you can really focus on what needs to be done. You can also prioritize when your list is on paper. You have a clear idea about what needs to be done first!

19. Focus on one thing at a time. When you are really stressed out, your mind is going in a hundred different directions. Focus on doing just one thing and finish it to the end of the task. You will feel better having completed one thing. Then move onto the next thing.

20. Make bread from scratch. Something about making bread is relaxing. Kneading bread can get a lot of frustration out which is great when you are stressed.

21. Hang out with friends and family. Hanging out with people who care about you can make all the difference. In talking with them, you might get a new perspective on your situation and what is stressing you out. Just talking about can help you relieve a little stress.

22. Go away for the day. Spending the day away from home helps with stress. Find something fun to do and just relax for the day.

23. Spend the day relaxing at home. Just do nothing for the day. Indulge in one or more of the above activities. Just take the day to reset if you can afford the time to do so.

24. Go camping. For some reason, getting back to nature can help reset your mind and give you some much-needed stress relief. For some, camping can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Keep it simple and fun!

25. Go for a drive. Sometimes you just need to get away from the stress for a little while. Listen to your favorite tunes and find a good route to help you relax for an hour or two. If you decide to stop at a lake or a river, no one will blame you for it!

26. Listen to music (and maybe dance to it). Listening to your favorite music can help with your mood and even help you remember some great memories. If you dance to your favorite music, you will be helping reduce your stress even more!

27. Cooking or baking. For many people, cooking and baking help them to relax. You are focused on one thing and usually, have delicious results. You could make a favorite dish or some comfort food to help you relax further.

28. Spend time with pets. There is nothing like spending time with pets to relax. Usually, they have unconditional love for you and love having your time and attention. They are happy to see you, can definitely brighten your day, and reduce your stress rather quickly.

29. Volunteer or help someone else. Volunteering and helping someone else is a big mood lifter which is great when you are stressed. You take the focus off your own problems and situation for a while. You may also realize someone has it worse than you which can put your own stress in perspective.

30. Celebrate the big and small victories. A small celebration can help you relax when you are in a stressful situation. If you accomplished a goal or something big, have a party for one (or more)! You will realize how far you have come and how you have accomplished. That is always worth celebrating!

I did not include activities like shopping or drinking to relax. Both activities are fine when done in moderation, but can be abused quickly. Such forms of escapism can become habits which can be abused. I also did not include sex or anything like that. Sex can make a person feel very good and can definitely help with stress, but it doesn't work for everyone.

What do you like to do to relax and deal with stress?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

20 Must-Have Items For Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs


Learning how to maintain and perform simple repairs is a critical skill to learn. Most people at this time do not know how to do this. Unless you take a shop class in a high school geared towards vehicle care and repair, it is not a skill that is taught. Fathers used to teach it to their sons and daughters in order for them to know what to do, but that is becoming a lost skill too.

Now, you need to teach yourselves. Lucky for us, there is a plethora of videos and websites that show us how to do this. If you are fortunate enough to find someone who knows how to maintain and repair a vehicle, please ask them to teach you. While I used to be able to do a lot of my own repairs and maintenance, I find that my skills are getting rusty. I need to learn how to do this again too.

Some of you have new or newer vehicles that you may not be able to work on due to the computer or how much has changed in cars and trucks. I would look for a Haynes Repair Manual specific to your vehicle. I would recommend you pick one up no matter what year your vehicle is. However, newer vehicles can be difficult to repair, but you should still learn to maintain them to the best of your abilities.

This list of must-have items can look different for everyone. It can be difficult to have and keep all these things, but I have learned from others that they are very important to have on hand. Once you acquire these things, please learn how to use them. They can save you a lot of money in labor costs from the mechanic. You may also need to repair your car on the road and will need to know how to use these things.

20 Must-Have Items For Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs

1. Oil Filter Wrench

2. Oil and Filters

3. Antifreeze

4. Air Filter

5. Power Steering Fluid and Transmission Fluid

6. Wipers

7. Wiper Fluid

8. Tools like a screwdriver set and a metric and standard socket set

9. Fuses

10. Battery tester and charger

11. Tire Pressure Gauge

12. Tire Repair Kit

13. Brake Fluid

14. Oil Drain Pan to catch oil and other fluids

15. Code Reader (make sure it works for your year of vehicle)

16. Full-Size Spare Tire

17. Tire Iron and Jack (usually comes with most vehicles)

18. Air Compressor and Chuck

19. Replacement Bulbs for Headlights, Taillights, and Blinkers

20. Battery Jumper Cables

Another thing I would recommend getting is a Vehicle Emergency Kit. If you are broken down on the side of the road, these kits can be invaluable. There are two different kinds of kits - one is for roadside emergencies and the other is for when you are stuck in your vehicle. Both are good things to have in your vehicle.

What else would you add to the list? What items do you find crucial to have for your vehicles?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What Are You Prepared To Live Without?


One of the things about prepping is that we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. Granted, we all believe in food storage and having things on hand to survive a disaster or a power outage. However, I think sometimes the emphasis on accumulating things gets out of hand. We focus on stuff instead of skills. We don't think about the idea that we could be living without a lot of things.

If you are preparing for a long-term event, you can only accumulate and use things until you run out of them or have a plan to replace them eventually. You can keep a lot of food on hand, but you need a way to replenish the food. Most people will garden or raise livestock. You can only keep so much potable water on hand before you have to come up with a way to replenish that water. The list goes on, but eventually, we will have to find ways to replenish what we have or live without them. Our priorities will shift in a hurry to important things like food, water, and shelter.

As Americans, we like to accumulate a lot of stuff that doesn't really have a meaning to us. We think we need a lot of things that we really don't need. We are subject to a culture that wants us to buy more and more without consequence. We are encouraged to buy new whenever possible and throw away the old. We are bombarded with processed food and gadgets to make life much easier.

The problem is that in terms of a cataclysmic event, we would probably not have those things available to us at all or would run out shortly. In a short-term disaster or power outage, we would probably not have those things to rely on. So the question begs, "What are you prepared to live without?"

I have been feeling convicted lately as I place orders online for things I am not sure we need. There are definitely things we have been buying that I don't want to live without. I finally broke down and bought a grain grinder for flour and feed. I have purchased some books on cooking with more garden produce than meat. We have been buying a lot of materials for repairs and maintenance that been badly needed at our place. However, I even struggle with impulse purchases at the store or a cold drink at the convenience. That money would be better served in savings than on a temporary pleasure. While I believe you don't live forever and we should live a little, that doesn't mean we should live foolishly.

I think we, as preppers, are called to a simpler life. We should be learning to live without processed food. We should be living simply. We should be saving money instead of spending it foolishly. We should be living experiences and not be buying stuff that may have no meaning later. We don't want our stuff weighing us down if we need to leave quickly or move in a hurry. We should be learning skills to make, fix, or replace our things and get out of the habit of buying new. We should be learning to live with less.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos and documentaries on decluttering, living simpler, living with less, and similar subjects. For some reason, it has been really hitting home lately. I know I have too much stuff and I don't have as much as some. What hits home for me though is that these people live without a lot of stuff that we think is a necessity and are completely happy without it. They don't have anything that isn't a necessity or serves a purpose.

As preppers, I think we need to look at our preps that way. I keep a lot of emergency preps on hand, but I keep a lot of stuff for 'just in case'. I might need it. I somehow doubt I will need those things. I think I will need to learn to live without a lot of stuff. I think we could all learn to live without a lot of stuff. There are things you need to have for prepping. Don't get me wrong. I know that. In that case, "Two is one and one is none" philosophy still has its place.

Here the thing about SHTF: You will probably be learning to live without stuff because it might not be available to you anymore. Your things could be destroyed or you could lose some of your possessions. You might run out of certain items that cannot be easily replaced. You will be forced to live without and, for some, that can be a rough lesson to learn. Most people will be learning that way which can cause an undue burden on those around them. This is not a good thing and can be easily remedied now.

What do you think you could live without?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Sunday, June 3, 2018

20 Great Prepping/Survival Father's Day Gifts For The Dad in Your Life!



Father's Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the man in your life who either helped you bring your children into the world or helped bring you into the world. You may also want to celebrate the men who helped guide and mentor you at some point in your life. There are the standard, boring gifts to give to guys like a tie or a grill set. However, this year, I would like to offer some suggestions on gifts that will help him be more prepared and therefore help your family be more prepared. More than likely, he will like the gift better too!

I have chosen gifts from all price ranges so that you can stay in your budget while gift giving. If you think something would be perfect, but a little more money than you want to spend, consider going in with a sibling or your mother for the gift!

(These prices are based off Amazon and other websites listed prices. Please understand prices can change at any time! These are also affiliate links that help to keep this site running and provide a small income for my family, but doesn't cost any more for you. Thanks for using them!)

20 Great Prepping/Survival Father's Day Gifts For The Dad in Your Life!

Under $10 Father's Day Gifts:
1. Work or Mechanics Gloves - A good pair of gloves is a very handy thing to have and to protect the hands. Guys appreciate a good pair of gloves!
2. Ka-Bar Tactical Spork - If you have a guy who likes to go camping and/or spend time practicing wilderness survival, this item would be a great addition to his kit! If you are looking for something a little different, check out the Coleman Camper's Utensil Set.
3. Tactical Pens - These multi-use pens are great for carrying with you and on you.
4. Vehicle Escape Tool - These tools are important to have in every vehicle you own. This piece of safety/survival equipment would always be appreciated.

Under $25 Father's Day Gifts:
5. Books - I have a dad who loves to read. There are some great prepper/survival fiction and nonfiction books that would make great presents for the dad who is a reader too.
6. Flashlights - A good flashlight is worth its weight in gold. Find one that is heavy duty with a good beam.
7. Backpack - For carrying the daily essentials, for every day carry, or to use as a get home bag. A quality lightweight backpack will serve a guy well.
8. Emergency Survival Outdoor Gear Kit - This is also a great item to have for camping and emergency kits. With most of these kits having at least ten tools, your guy will have fun using it and practicing with it.

Under $50 Father's Day Gifts:
9. Water Bottle with a filter - This is a great present for anyone, not just the guys. It is great daily use item as well as for emergency kits, get home bags and camping.
10. Camp Stove. A camp stove is a necessity for prepping and survival. I know you can cook over an open fire or grill, but a camp stove makes some cooking a lot easier!
11. Camping Cookset. I think these pans would be handy for camping and for your preps. This is an easy gift to give especially to the camper guy in your life.
12. Hammock. Whether you choose a camping hammock or a regular hammock, your guy would definitely appreciate it. For sleeping or relaxing, this would be a fun, but a handy gift to give.

Under $100 Father's Day Gifts:
13. Ratcheting Wrench Set - I don't know a guy who wouldn't want a set of these. Most of the time, a wrench goes missing and needs to be replaced anyway!
14. Campfire grills, cast iron pans, and utensils. Who doesn't like cooking over an open fire? Most guys who camp do and they would love some equipment to make it easier.
15. Portable Kitchen. If you are going to be doing some outdoor cooking for days or camping for longer than a day, you want an outdoor portable kitchen. I know I would love this when I am grilling!
16. Fishing Pole and Spinning Reel. These can run in all price ranges, but a standard pole and reel are usually under $100. If your dad wants to learn fishing or needs a new pole, this would be a great gift!

Under $200 Father's Day Gifts:
17. Binoculars. These run in all price ranges, but if you are going to a pair for a gift invest in a good pair that will help you see far and last a long time.
18. Tent. Again, tents can run in all price ranges, but a good one will cost over $100 for certain. You want it to be waterproof and have adequate room.
19. EcoZoom Versa Camping Stove. This is a great stove to use outside. You do not need electricity or gas - wood, charcoal and/or biomass fuels this stove! Guys like to play and experiment and this would a great way to let them do it!
20. Family 72-Hour Emergency Survival Kit. Whether you want to put one together yourself or buy one put together, you can not go wrong with a 72 hour kit for the guys in your life.

Hope you find the perfect present!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Think Long Term With Perennials When Planting Your Garden and Yard


Gardening can be a lot of fun especially when you start reaping the benefits from all that work. Some of the hardest work, but greatest reward when planting your garden is planting perennials. Perennials come in several forms, but what you are looking for are plants, bushes, and trees that will produce food every year.

From a prepping standpoint, you want a constant food source. Most perennials are not easy to kill or hard to establish. However, if you are thinking long-term, you want to start these perennials now to get them established. There are perennials can take 1-3 years to produce food. Trees can take even longer to produce food. You want to get them in the ground this summer and fall.

From a homesteading standpoint, growing your food is always a delight. There is always a satisfaction in providing your food and reducing your independence on the grocery store. Planting perennials are always rewarding in that you reap what you sow every year.

From a frugal living standpoint, growing your food means less money you spend on groceries. Win-win! Shopping from your garden is always better than shopping at the store.

Now, I have nothing against annuals. You will see a lot of annuals in my garden. However, I want to know I have a constant source of food every year. It will not be enough to sustain us but will be enough to add to a meal. I can also expand my perennials and plant more using cutting from the original plants. A lot of perennials will do their own spreading of roots and start new plants on their own.

What perennials should you be planting?

1. Raspberries. They are some of the easiest perennials to grow. Their root system will cause them to start new plants and can double or triple within a year of planting. They are easy to maintain and easy to transplant. You should have fruit in 1-2 years.

2. Rhubarb. Again, very easy to grow in most areas. They do like a lot of sunshine so find a good sunny spot for them. Every couple of years, I like to feed my plants with composted manure in the fall to keep producing well. They will spread a little so give them some space. You can start harvesting them in the second year, but it is best to wait until the third year to harvest.

3. Blackberries. Pretty easy to grow. Keep them trimmed back to three feet so they become bushy and will produce better fruit. You should have fruit in 1-2 years.

4. Blueberries. These can be difficult to establish. You will want to make sure you have acidic soil or that you mend your soil to be acidic when you plant them. If you know you want to plant them next Spring, I would work on that blueberry bed now so the soil is good for them. They will need some pruning as they get bigger. They will fruit in 2-3 years.

5. Elderberries, strawberries, and other berry plants. There are many different kinds of berry plants and I encourage you to look into them. They are all delicious! Most of them will take 1-3 years to get establish and start producing fruit.

6. Asparagus. These plants will need a little work to start growing, but they are worth it! They come as crowns that you will need to plant 8-12 inches deep. I would also add a good layer of compost in the hole before you plant them. You will be able to harvest asparagus in the third year. Asparagus can last as long as 20-30 years in one spot.

7. Herbs like lovage, sorrel, mint, thyme, sage, and more. Most perennial herbs will come back every year if they are cut back in the fall. Herbs are so multi-dimensional that you do not want to be without them. Some herbs can be difficult to start from seed so investing a plant or getting a transplant may be worth your while. Check your gardening zone to see what herbs will grow best in your area.

8. Garlic and walking onions. Both plants produce bulbs that you can plant again in the fall for a crop next summer. Both are easy to grow and need very little tending besides a good layer of mulch in the fall to protect them from winter.

9. Fruit trees. These will take a few years to grow and produce. Realistically you will not see any production from fruit trees for at least three years, but more than likely it will be 5-7 years before any fruit falls. Like any other planted tree, you will need to water the trees well for the first year to get them established. You may also need to protect them in the winter from the elements, deer, and rabbits.

10. Nut trees. These are similar to fruit trees. They will take a few years to grow and produce. You will need to water them well in the first year to establish them. And you will need to protect them.

11. Greens like kale, radicchio, watercress, and stinging nettles. Many people think that greens are just an annual, but there are varieties that are actually perennials. I know from experience that kale will come back a second year if you forget to pull the plants in the fall. I was still harvesting kale in December that year!

12. Dandelions. Okay, I realize 99% of you will never have to plant dandelions because they grow rampant around you. However, they are overlooked for their benefits. The greens are good in a salad. The flowers make jelly, wine, teas, and salves.

This is a general list, but there are many other perennials you can plant. Some people are able to plant artichokes which can be a perennial, but artichokes in northern Iowa do not always work out. Look up your gardening zone and figure out what would be best for you to grow! Growing perennials helps you to be more self-sufficient, save money, and gives you a continual food source. What is not to love about perennials?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Have You Considered Spare Parts for Your Preps?


One of the most overlooked parts of most people's preparations is spare parts for the equipment they plan to use in an emergency or a crisis. We all like to think we are covered when we have the actual items in our possession, but what if they break? What if the power source runs out? When you know you could have fixed the problem with a simple spare part, you will get pretty frustrated pretty fast.

What spare parts should you have on hand? That depends on your equipment and what you plan to use it for. Your list could look different from mine because we might have different items. The items mentioned in this post are general items. Most of these things are basic items and would be able to fix or repair your broken-down item. I am also thinking about needing to recharge or refuel items because your generator or camp stove will be worthless if you run out of fuel. 

Batteries are always a must. While having hand-cranked flashlights and radios are great, most emergency equipment works better and faster with batteries. I would keep a lot of batteries in sorts of sizes. Most battery powered objects take either AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt batteries. I keep mine in a storage container similar to this. You could keep multiples of these storage containers in the house, garage, shop, and wherever you may need to use them. If you need specialty batteries, I would make a list of those and pick those batteries up the next time shopping. For specialty batteries, I would keep them near the object that takes them so you aren't hunting them down in an emergency. 

With so much technology and solar power these days, chargers and charging cords have become a must. I personally do not get rid of an old charger or charging cords until I absolutely know it will not work for a device in the home. A lot of charging cords work for multiple items. I would test the cords periodically and dispose of the ones that do not work or cannot be fixed.

Extra fuel cans are a must to have on hand. Some may not consider them a spare part, but you will regret not having enough fuel on hand when a situation happens. I would keep your fuel cans full and rotate the fuel every 3-6 months. I would also keep a fuel stabilizer either in the fuel or have it on hand to keep the fuel from going stale. I would also keep extra propane cylinders on hand and full in one-pound and twenty-pound cylinders. Propane does not go bad. If you have kerosene heaters or cookers, keep some kerosene on hand too. Likewise, if you have a propane or butane torch, you will need extra cylinders on hand.

Other items to keep on hand:

Like I said before, you might consider other spare parts essential for your preps. You might want to keep spare parts for:
  • Your vehicle (bug-out or daily driver)
  • Generator(s)
  • Camper, ATVs, and boats
  • Tractor or Semi (if you have one or more)
  • Guns, Bows, and other weapons
  • Water filtering systems
  • Tillers, Snowblowers, Lawn Mowers, and other such equipment
  • Log Splitters, Wood Chippers, Chainsaws, and Trimmers
  • Wood stoves, Cookstoves, Grills, and other cookers
  • Any other equipment you have that is not listed

Without sounding dire, these items could be the difference between life and death. If you have these spare parts on hand, you could be living a much easier life than if you did not. However, having spare parts on hand will not do you a lot of good if you don't know how to fix or repair something in the first place. So you should be working on your skills and learning how to repair your own equipment.

What else would you add to this list?

Thanks for reading,
Erica




Thursday, May 17, 2018

Grow and Raise Your Own Food Now So You Can Learn From Loss and Failure Now Rather Than Later


Growing your own food is not easy. Raising your own food is not easy. Many people think they can just put some seeds in the ground and they will have food. Many more people are easily intimidated by raising animals for meat. However, they think they could do it if they had to when an SHTF happens.

The fact is that the truth is very, very different.

I have been gardening for many years. For a lot of those years, I was a lazy gardener. I didn't want to do the work of improving my soil, providing critter control, or even weed the garden. My garden couldn't have sustained us for more than a few meals, much less preserve any of it.

It wasn't until I got into a preparedness, self-reliant state of mind that I started to take gardening more seriously. I started weeding it more religiously. I planted perennials that would provide food year after year. I started raising layer hens and put their used bedding and fertilizer on my garden. Talk about a huge improvement to my soil!

When we had critters eating my plants, we put up a fence. We moved plants around for a better layout in the garden. We learned about companion planting. Gardening was a lot more work than I planned on it being, but I enjoyed the fruits of our labor. Some things I was scared to try ended up working for the garden.

My garden started growing like crazy! Now I can eat, preserve what we don't eat, and still have enough to give away to friends and family. Do we still know everything about gardening? Oh no. Every year I learn something new. Some plants fail. Seeds don't come up (zucchini last year). Mistakes are made. Surprises happen.

I didn't pick broccoli at the right time last year and it bolted (and tasted awful!). We thought a plant that had come up was a summer squash, but it ended up being a weird pumpkin hybrid dropped by birds. That same plant took over my garden just like the pumpkins did the year before. My peas did not fill out the pods very well. The fall planting of the peas did not go well either - they were bitter tasting. I had my first decent crop of bell peppers last year after trying for years to get more than two peppers from six plants!

Gardening and raising livestock are skills. You need to learn how to do these things in order to learn these skills. Like learning any other skill, there is always a learning curve. You will think you know it all, but find out you have a lot more to learn. You can't expect to read all about gardening and raising livestock and be able to do it when you are desperate for food.

You have to learn to deal with loss. The very first batch of chicks I had, I lost nine chicks in the first three days because they needed a heat lamp. Since I had them inside the house, I thought I had the room warm enough. That wasn't good enough. After I replaced them, I kept a heat lamp on them for five weeks.

We had fifteen laying hens and lost them all to a mink getting in the chicken coop. In a different time, we would have been devastated to lose a vital protein source. We were sad to lose good eggs and the small income from selling them. We were devastated to lose chickens to a senseless killing because minks like to kill for the fun of it. We had lost a couple of hens to hawks before, but nothing like this.

Did we learn something new? Yes, we did. While I knew minks existed, I had no idea the damage they could cause. I didn't know what they looked like or how small they were. We are now changing the fencing in the outdoor area of the coop to prevent this from happening again. We are now waiting for fifteen chicks to grow up and start laying. Since this is a new breed of laying hens for us, we are learning about them.

So gardening and raising chickens (and other livestock) is not as easy as it sounds. If this is part of your plan for preparedness, you need to practice these skills now. I have been practicing these skills for years and am still learning new things. Most gardeners will tell you that their gardens are not the same from year to year. Chickens are susceptible to predators and human mistakes. One year is not the same as another. Every batch of chicks I get is different from the last one. I am always learning something new.

If you are planning for your garden to provide all your food needs, you need to be gardening now and making that garden big enough to provide for all your food needs. You will learn by trial and error how much you need to plant, how big your garden needs to be, and what you need to plant for this garden to provide your food for a year or longer. Most people do not have enough area to plant this much so you also need to learn how to garden using trellises and poles. Again, this is something that should not be learned when you are in an emergency situation. It needs to be learned now.

If you are planning on raising chickens, ducks, pigs, goats, and more, you need to learn now. Raising livestock is never easy. You have to deal with loss and injuries. You have to deal with butchering your own livestock. You have to learn how to raise animals from babies to adults. If this is part of your prepping plans, you need to be working on this now. If you live in town, see if you can have these animals in town. Otherwise, befriend a local farmer and ask if you can have some livestock at their place. If you live on an acreage, get started! These are skills to be learned now, not later.

As with any other skill, the time to learn them is now, not when a crisis hits. With gardening and raising livestock, you could be facing starvation before you have any food if you didn't know how to raise it before. Having a stockpile of seeds is great, but learn how to grow those seeds now, not later. Learn how to raise your own food now, not later.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, May 14, 2018

Simple 72 Hour Kits: A Step-By-Step System for Busy Families Book Review


Simple 72 Hour Kits: A Step-By-Step System for Busy Families by Misty Marsh is a great book about building your 72 hour kit in a way that will be comprehensive and easy to do. Many people find putting together a kit like this intimidating (including me!), but she lays it out in such a way that will not overwhelm you. I like how she breaks down building your kit in simple weekly bites and lets you custom tailor it for your family. 

Misty gives great tips and ideas on how to build your kit for your family and specifically your kids. I know some of you do not have kids, but a lot of information for 72 hour kits are geared towards adults. She lets you know how they deal with young kids and how much she thinks they can carry in a backpack. Kids as young as six are capable of carrying a pack with clothes, shoes, food, and a few other necessities.

I also like how she lays out this kit for three full days. Your 72 hour kit should last you three days when you can either return home, buy more supplies, or find a shelter. She doesn't address weapons or ammo, just the necessary items for surviving three days if you need to evacuate for any reason. 

She is very honest and real about her kits. She admits to not being able to afford everything for their kits at once. She makes the 72 hour kit affordable with giving ideas for cheaper options as well as more expensive items. By breaking down this kit over 26 weeks, most people can afford to put together a 72 hour kit and do it with items they already own too.

I would highly recommend this book. Admittedly, we do not have 72 hour kits because we do not plan on having to leave home. However, I have rethought that idea. We do not know the reasons that we may have to leave so having these on hand would be better than not having them. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Do You Really Want To Tell People That You Are A Prepper?


We all know there is a lot of different kinds of preppers and in varying levels of preparedness. When it comes to OPSEC (operational security), I find there are three groups of preppers. There is nothing wrong with these three groups although, among preppers, there is some disagreements about how deep your OPSEC should go. However, you will find yourself falling into one of these three following groups.

The first group is all about OPSEC - they want no one to know they are a prepper and will certainly not talk about their preps in any way, shape, or form. No way, no how. Nuh-uh. More than likely, they will die and people will find their supplies in an underground bunker under their house. Top security and only on a "as need to know" basis for anyone in their lives except maybe their immediate family. Their immediate family is not allowed to talk about their preps either.

The second group likes to talk about prepping, but they don't talk about what they have or don't have. They love a good prepper discussion, but they like to talk in generals. They will steer the conversation away from specifics about their plans and supplies. They are very concerned about their OPSEC if you try to push them or want to see their stockpile. Other than that, they are pretty chill about talking prepping.

The third group lets their prepping flag fly. They will talk about prepping, show you everything they have, talk about their plans and future purchases. They will talk about it on television if they feel like it. They feel they have nothing to hide and want to encourage others to prep. They could talk prepping all day long, in specifics, and with great detail.

Of course these are generalizations about the three groups, but fairly accurate. Most preppers fall into one of these groups or may identify with being in between groups depending on the subject. Some preppers will talk about guns all day and show you what they have all while keeping very quiet about their food stockpiles. Vice versa, they may want to show you their food supplies and whatnot, but keep their security on the downlow.

While I think it is good for us preppers to educate people who want to prep and people who should be prepping, there is always a question in my mind about this. Do I really want to tell people I am a prepper? The answer would be yes and no.

Since I write this blog, you would assume that I want the whole world to know I am a prepper. However, that has not always been the case and, in some situations, I still don't want people to know I am a prepper. I dread thinking about who may come to my home in a SHTF. I am sometimes embarrassed by what I purchase for my stockpiles knowing well I don't want to be without it either. I am a little afraid of being mocked about not having enough or not having the right stuff.

I fall firmly into the second group. I may talk about what I buy from time to time, but I don't really want people to know exactly what I have. To me, that is my OPSEC. I could talk about prepping and self-reliance all day long. I love learning from others and telling others what I have learned. I love talking about what if situations. I love learning new skills and learning from other people. However, I just don't want to talk about what I have because I am not comfortable with it.

Your Operational Security is everything. You have to be comfortable with your level of security. Sometimes, it will be in your best interest to tell and show everyone you are a prepper. If you live in a neighborhood, you want to get your neighbors on board with prepping. The more people you have prepping and the closer you become as neighbors, the better your security will be in the case of a SHTF. You all can watch each other's back, provide for those that lost, and generally take care of each other while taking care of yourself. You can set up your own neighborhood watch and patrols. You can seal off the perimeter if you need to and set up your own prepping community.

However, you may live in a high crime area or the inner city. You may have moved away from family and friends. You may not know who you can trust or only have a handful of people to trust. In these situations, you may want to keep your prepping to yourself in the interest of OPSEC. People can't rob or loot you if they don't know what you have. You may need to hide your preps and keep your purchases on the downlow. You may need to look unassuming and quiet while being friendly. I would still establish a network with those you trust completely, but understand you will be prepping on your own.

Talking about prepping to others and telling them you are a prepper is a leap of faith. You don't want to be mocked so have a quick defense and answer as to why you are a prepper. You want to clear up any misconceptions about prepping because you want others to be prepping. The only two ways I know to motivate people to prep is by talking to them or letting them go through a crisis all on their own. Most people will have an eye opening experience that will make them think about prepping and want to start. However, I think as preppers we have a responsibility to plant the prepping seed and help others to become preppers too.

Whether or not you want to tell people you are a prepper is your business. You have the right to decide how much you want to tell people you prep or not. However, as preppers, I think we have a duty to educate new preppers and encourage people to prep. You can do this by teaching new skills or encourage people to follow FEMA's guidelines for emergency preparedness. The choice to divulge your prepping is your decision, but we should do all we can in the prepping community to encourage prepping.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sewing & Mending Kit Essentials For Preppers (And Everyone Else!)


One of those basic skills everyone should know how to do is to sew and mend their own clothes. It is still a skill I am learning, but one that I feel strongly about improving when I can. We have saved a lot of shirts by sewing the seams back up so my kids could wear them again. I have sown more buttons on than I care to think about. 

However, those small little kits sold in the stores are good in a pinch, they will not cut for most sewing and mending. You need better kits than that! 


Since I still have the basic sewing kit that my mother put together when I got married, I thought I would ask her what should be in a sewing and mending kit! She has been sewing her own clothes, sewing items for other people, altering clothes, and mending clothes most of her life. She has altered prom dresses, made doll and Barbie clothes, and still does some of my hemming! She has got experience! 


I asked her what she would have in a sewing kit and a mending kit and what she couldn't live without. To her, these kits would probably be one and the same. You will notice some crossover between the two kits. I asked her what she would have if she had to be off-grid also. As you can see, she would use a lot of hand sewing and mending. There is nothing on this list that couldn't be done by hand. 


A basic sewing kit (with her recommendations) should include:
  • Needles – asst. lengths and needle eyes
  • Thread – asst. colors [or can do just the basic color hues]
  • Straight Pins – I like big headed long or quilters pins, but sometimes the smaller shorter ones are necessary
  • A pin box(es) or pin cushion or magnetic tray [easy to make – glue magnets to the bottom of a pretty saucer]
  • Safety pins – asst. sizes
  • Tape Measure – I prefer cloth, but plastic works – do not use metal
  • Small ruler – 6 inches’ long
  • Scissors – Pinking Shears; Material cutting – long blade; material cutting -standard; snips
  • Rotary Blade cutter and mats of various sizes
  • Seam Ripper – with a sturdy handle
  • Thimbles – to fit at least two fingers
  • Beeswax – to coat difficult thread
  • Material marking pencils or pens that wash out

A basic mending kit (with her recommendations) should include:
  • Needles – asst. lengths and needle eyes
  • Upholstery Needles – can get them by the packs that have long and curved needles
  • Thread – asst. colors [or can do just the basic color hues]
  • Heavy Duty Thread – Black and/or Brown
  • Straight Pins – I like big headed long or quilters pins, but sometimes the smaller shorter ones are necessary
  • A pin box(es) or pin cushion or magnetic tray [easy to make – glue magnets to the bottom of a pretty saucer]
  • Safety pins – asst. sizes
  • Small ruler – 6 inches’ long
  • Scissors – Material cutting - standard; snips
  • Seam Ripper – sturdy handle
  • Thimbles – to fit at least two fingers
  • Beeswax – to coat thread
  • Material marking pencils or pens that wash out
  • Patches – asst. sizes and material [can also use iron patches or tape
  • Buttons – asst. sizes and colors
  • Snaps – asst. sizes
  • Hook & Eyes – asst. sizes
  • Zippers – Jean size, Jacket size, skirt size
  • Repair parts for zippers

While sewing by hand is a great skill, most people would still like to have a sewing machine. Learning to use a sewing machine is a great skill to learn. I asked her about sewing machines in an off-grid or no power situation. If you are interested in a off-grid sewing machine, you need to find a treadle powered sewing machine (using foot powered pedal). Lehman's carries one that is a treadle powered modern sewing machine. (not an affiliate link) Most modern electric sewing machines cannot be converted to treadle power. Older sewing machines may be able to be converted to treadle power, but you will need to check on that. 


If you have these sewing and mending kits already, I would check them over for anything you might have missed or have used up. If you do not have anything for these kits, I would start at the top of these lists, find a good container to hold the items, and start buying! 


Thanks for reading,

Erica (with a lot of help from my mom!)




Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Could We Handle Food Rationing Now?


In WWI (somewhat) and WWII definitely, food rationing was one of the few ways that governments in the United States and Britain could keep the soldiers fed as well as its citizens. Everyone was expected to do their share and stay within the guidelines of food rationing. In addition to the food rationing, citizens were heavily encouraged to "do their part" in their duty to their country by growing food and making every bit count.

Citizens were encouraged to make do. They were encouraged to start their own Victory garden and supplement their own rations. They were encouraged to forage and eat food they weren't accustomed to thinking as food. Food waste was a sin and they were encouraged to stretch their rations as far as possible.

In Britain, food rationing started in 1939 and lasted well past the war. They were under food rationing until 1954 while Britain recovered from the war. Food rationing started in 1942 and ended in the United States in August 1945 except for sugar which lasted until 1947. Soviet Union was under food rationing from 1941 - 1947. Fruits and vegetables were not rationed, but could be restricted for lack of supply unless you grew your own. For the most part, governments found out that their citizens were healthier under the food rationing system than before and after WWII.

Could we handle food rationing now if and when it should happen again? That is hard to say. Many people would have a very difficult time under the food rationing system. Processed food is much more prevalent now than it was during the 1940s. People are not as creative with food as they could be. Cooking from scratch is becoming a lost art. People are also not nearly as patriotic as they were during the first two world wars.

People are used to having food when they want it and how they want it. People in general are much more impatient now. Imagine being told you can only have so much food and you have to make a choice about what food you can have. Plus, people were encouraged to eat less meat during the war and choose cheaper cuts of meat to eat. Meat is a hefty part of a lot of diets now. People would have to make some severe changes to their diet that probably would not go over well.

Obesity is also a problem in the United States and Britain now.  People are used to eating a lot of food, making not so good food choices, consuming a lot of sugar, and not moving enough to deal with the excess food. Food rationing would be a tough adjustment for those people who suffer from obesity. If you struggle with your weight, now would a good time to start making changes before they are forced upon you.

Processed food is much more accessible now than 70 plus years ago. We also have a lot of manmade ingredients that were not even available back then. Processed food and these ingredients have brought about the advent of cheaper and easier to eat food. This definitely cheapens the cost of food, but depending on why we are being rationed we may not have access to the ingredients.You might also see more processed food being rationed because the ability to make it might be restricted.

Creative cooking and cooking from scratch is almost a lost art. While many people during those two wars were well-acquainted with cooking from scratch, now many people rely on processed foods or premade meals from the grocery store. Eating out is also at an all-time high as parents find it easier to go through the drive through or stop at a sandwich shop to feed the family. Food rationing would be a shock to those that would have to learn how to meal plan, read recipes, and cook creatively for possibly the first time in their lives.

We have many, many more people in our population now than we did then. We have more mouths to feed and more people in the inner cities who do not have access to cooking, growing, or forging food. While poverty existed in the 1930s and 1940s, we have still have a widespread and bigger problem with poverty today. Many people struggle to eat every day and rely on soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and the kindness of people just to get fed. What would happen to those people and those places when food rationing happens? Would the government provide for those places and for the people who need them? Would churches and charities still be able to support them? There is no clear cut answer on this problem.

SNAP benefits would certainly be reduced to reflect rationing as money would not be as available for this program. We would need to divert money to our country's defense and military. While individual states control what SNAP benefits could be spent on, the benefit amount would certainly be reduced. With the advent of food rationing, I could also see the government controlling how they could be spent. Only certain foods would be covered and nothing that would seem like a "luxury" grocery item.

People are also not nearly as patriotic now as they were during those wars. The contempt for our government now is at an all-time high. Take away or reduce someone's SNAP benefits and you could have a riot on your hands. Tell people they need to do their "duty" for whatever situation brings on food rationing and reduce their consumption of food, not have certain products available, or be restricted on what they can buy - I cannot even imagine what would happen. We have lost our loyalty and ability to stand as Americans against the world and do what is necessary to come out on top. The reaction could be violent and intense.

But mostly, we have lost our ability to be self-reliant. I love seeing homesteading, prepping, and self-sufficiency on the rise because more people are interested in stockpiling food, growing and foraging for food, raising livestock, canning and preserving their own food. Those are the things that will help you survive food rationing. Doing what you can to supplement food rationing and stretching food as far as it can go will only serve you well. Managing food waste will be critical. Being self-reliant will be the only way to survive food rationing.

So, could we handle food rationing now? I think we can, but it will be a huge adjustment and will probably have some riots happen as some groups of people do not handle well being told what to do even if the cause is great. However, we all have adjustments we need to make, skills we need to learn and maintain, and preparations to make. We need to be ready just in case because the event that brings on food rationing here will not only affect us as a country, but globally as well.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related links:
Nine Ways to Beat The Food Rationing System When It Happens Again
Ten Lessons Learned About Food From The Depression and Wartime



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dear Preppers, Please Don't Ignore Your Eyes!


As preppers, we try to prepare for what we can. We stock up food, water, and first aid supplies. We try to learn and practice new skills. We read and read some more books and blogs. We do what we can.

However, all the prepping in the world will not do you any good if you can't see well.

This happened to me recently. I noticed over the last couple of months that I was overly tired at night, having headaches frequently and lasting for quite a while, and reading/doing computer work at night was getting difficult. I didn't take me too long to realize that I should probably schedule myself an eye doctor visit.

I haven't been to the eye doctor in about 15ish years. I simply didn't see a need to go if I wasn't having any issues. I am pretty good about taking my kids every year because all of them wear glasses for one reason or another. I wore glasses for a couple of years as a kid, but I grew out of that problem. However, 15 years is too long to go without going to the eye doctor for myself.

I found out that I will need glasses for seeing up close and far away, but a pair of cheap reading glasses will work just fine for now. Down the road, I will need more and I am aware of that. I also have a bit of a light sensitivity issue, but I wear sunglasses religiously so that should be fine. I can 100% attribute this problem to being on the computer a lot, a mobile device that I use too much, and being a bookworm. My eyes are simply tired of working that hard to see.

As preppers, our eyes are one of our most important assets.We need to see and see well! How else are you going to know the difference between an edible plant and a poisonous plant? How are you going to know if someone is a friend or foe from a distance? And if you have to shoot something, you want to hit the target the first time, right? You certainly wouldn't want to confuse salt with sugar! You need your sight!

I know some of you are going to be stubborn about this. Even if you go to the eye doctor, you aren't going to wear glasses. Most people can wear contracts, but I still think you need to have a pair of glasses on hand. Some people would be candidates for eye sight correction surgery which would be worth looking into if you can afford it.

With having a prepper mindset, here are some things I would recommend:

1. If you are a contact wearer, get as many sets of contacts as you can. I understand prescriptions change, but you are better off with them than without them. Also, if you are contact wearer, you should have 2-3 pairs of glasses as a backup in case you run out of contacts or contract an eye disease like pink eye.

2. As mentioned in #1, you should have at least 2-3 pairs of glasses. Glasses can be really expensive, however, there are ways to save money. You can ask for your prescription from your eye doctor and order glasses online for a small fraction of the cost of glasses from the eye doctor. You can look at places like EyeBuyDirect or GlassesUSA for glasses that are much cheaper than in office.

3. Ask for your exact prescription from the eye doctor and keep it somewhere safe. You should have in your home medical files and on a card in your wallet. You just never know where and when you might have to replace your glasses!

4. Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses are important to your eyes too. You will not strain your eyes so much in the sunlight and will avoid snow blindness in the winter while driving/being outdoors. If you need prescription sunglasses to see, you can shop at those aforementioned places for a good deal.

5. Always wear eye protection when working with shop equipment, chain saws, guns, and chemicals. You should always protect your eyes when there is a chance you could injure them in anyway. Eye injuries can ruin your sight, cause blindness, or cause you to lose an eye altogether. Not worth the risk!

6. Along with having glasses, you should invest in a good eye glasses repair kit. While you might not be able to fix everything, you can replace or tighten screws, replace nose pads, and more.

I encourage you all to make an appointment to your local eye doctor today. You really don't want to be in situation where you can't see or read well and you knew you could have prevented it. You might also feel better when you start wearing glasses too!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

We Are All Preppers, But Some of Us Don't Know It Yet


Prepping is what it is. Exactly what it is. Prepping is getting ready for the future. We are mentally, physically, and spiritually getting ready for something that is going to happen. Whether that "something" is in an hour, a day, a week, a year, or sometime in the future, we are getting ready for it.

We can be preparing for anything:
  • We put money away for a rainy day. They are getting ready for something that could happen and they would need that money for. That is prepping.
  • New parents stock up on diapers, wipes, and formula so they don't run out. That is prepping. 
  • We shop garage sales and clearance racks for clothing and the next size up clothing for our kids so we are ready for them when they grow into them. That is prepping. 
  • We find a good deal at the grocery store and stock up on that item to have in the future. That is prepping.
  • We put money away for kids' college and other future expenses. That is prepping.
  • We save money for retirement. That is prepping. 
  • We pay for all kinds of insurance for anything that could happen. That is prepping.
  • We go camping and decide to "unplug and unwind" for the weekend. That is prepping. 
  • We take a first aid and CPR class. That is prepping.
  • We take a hunter's safety course. That is prepping.
  • We take up a new hobby and learn a new skill. That is prepping. 
  • We buy groceries for the week so we have food to eat. That is prepping. 

So many of the everyday things we do is prepping. Many people are so turned off by the term "prepper", but really we are all preppers in some way. We don't think about being a prepper because we are just doing things to prepare for the future or some future event.

While many people think of prepping as:
  • Stockpiling food
  • Building a bug out shelter
  • Owning a gun and several other weapons
  • Learning survival skills
  • Learning first aid
  • Turning the home into a fortress
  • Growing food 
  • Running drills
  • Making plans for evacuation, security, etc.

There is so much more to prepping. Trust me, those things just listed are important too. However, when you talk to hardcore preppers, they will tell you that they find the first list just as important as the second list. They often do things from both lists in the same day.

Prepping is what it is. It is getting ready for the future. We are all have different visions and paths for the future. Our lives change and we are always getting ready for the next stage in life. What you do and what you prepare for can be different than that of your neighbors, but you are both doing what you can to get ready for the future.

Some of us just may see "life" in the future: kids, jobs, college, weddings, homes, and retirement. Some of us may see more in the future - what can happen if something else happens. All of us prepare for the future so we don't have to worry about what can happen. We all have varying levels of preparedness. There is nothing wrong with that.

While some people just see "life" in the future, some of us see more. We see natural disasters, job loss, an uncertain economy, political and civil unrest, global problems, and much more. We choose to take our preparedness to the next level. We look for ways to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. We look for ways to intentionally be ready for what we think could be coming. Again, there is nothing wrong with that either.

Some of us do not see ourselves as preppers. We may identify as gardeners, hunters, cooks, woodworkers, and more. We may have fun tinkering in the shop. We may like to try new recipes on the grill and love to cook over an open fire. We may find target practice to be relaxing. We might think watching YouTube videos on how to do things or how people used to live in history fun. We may enjoy working on our own vehicles. We grow plants in our apartments.

The funny thing is that those are all "prepping" skills and learning. We may not see it as being prepared for the future, but those skills and learning may come in very handy in the future. When the power is out, but you can still cook a meal on the grill. You can cook a meal with whatever food you have on hand or in the garden when you aren't able to leave home. Your car needs a new battery and you know how to replace it. You can build a fire to keep warm. Any skill you learn will always come in handy sometime, but you just never know when.

Prepping happens every day and in ways we don't even realize. We don't realize that we are prepping because we just see what we are doing as getting ready for the future. The future can happen at any time. How much you choose to prepare and how far you want to take preparedness will depend upon you which is what separates preppers from each other. There is always someone you think will be too extreme in their prepping. There is always going to be that person you think should be doing more to get their act together. There are many levels of preparedness and only you can decide what level you are comfortable being on.

Just know this: We are all preppers, but some of us don't know it yet.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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