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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Prepper's Guide to Evacuating or Staying


As preppers, we like to think we can live through and survive anything. We are tough. We are prepared!

However, there is a reason we have and talk about bug-out bags and 72-hour kits incessantly. We want to be prepared if we should have to leave in hurry for any reason. While we want to stay in our prepper palaces, sometimes that is not feasible.

What should be the criteria for staying or going in an emergency situation? Why would you leave your prepper stronghold? You have spent hours making this place the prepper palace that can withstand almost anything. Why would you leave? What could make you leave?

The short answer to these questions would be common sense and safety. 

If you have the warning and opportunity to evacuate, you should be strongly considering evacuating. With most of our current natural disasters, adequate (usually more than adequate) time is given for evacuating. We have top-notch weather warning systems and weather prediction systems in place to tell us when bad weather is going to appear, how bad it will be, and what you should do to be safe.

In a number of prepper online groups, you will see responses like "Nothing will ever get me to evacuate" or "Why would I leave" or one of my favorites "It is never as bad as they say it will be". First of all, ask anyone who survived a hurricane or other natural disasters how bad the experience was. Ask how they felt when they saw the rising waters and realized they couldn't escape. Ask they about the panic they felt when they realized they were in danger. Second of all, would you seriously put your loved ones and yourself in that kind of danger for your pride?

So what should you do? If this is before a disaster is going to occur and you know you are in the path, you need to evacuate. Forget all the nonsense about your location and your perceived confidence in your ability to survive. Common sense dictates that you need to leave for the safety of yourself and your loved ones. You are in the path of danger and you should leave as soon as you can. Part of prepping is being safe and practicing good survival skills. You are not being safe if you are willingly putting yourself in the path of danger just to see how well you will survive.

If you are worried about your home and your possessions, staying home while in great danger will not save your home or your things. If you are under mandatory evacuations, if you are not forced to leave your home then, you will run the risk of having no help and no emergency personnel to rescue you. You will run the likely risk of having no power, no cell service, and no internet to even reach out for help. If you have a landline phone, that may not work either depending on power and phone lines.

Staying home while in the path of danger and destruction is not a wise choice and most people will not think of you as a survival hero if you do survive. Most people will wonder how you survived and why you didn't leave when you could have. You will probably also be dealing with the physical and mental fallout of staying in such a traumatic situation. Staying when you have the chance to leave is usually not a wise choice.

What happens then if you are suddenly thrust into a dangerous situation or have no warning that something bad is going to happen? What happens when a storm suddenly becomes a very dangerous situation? What happens if you are suddenly hit by flash flooding or worse? A wildfire suddenly switched directions and is headed your direction?

You need to evaluate and assess. You need to ask yourself a few questions:

1. What is the situation? 

2. How dangerous is the situation?
3. Did you or are you being asked to evacuate? Is evacuation mandatory?
4. Will you be able to leave - safe/unsafe routes, traffic congestion, state of the roads, roadblocks, etc.? 

5. Is your life (and your family's lives) in immediate danger or can you wait out the initial panic? 
6. Will you be able to even travel - health, gasoline/diesel availability, state of the vehicles? 

Your ability to leave may be hampered by a lot of things and it is important that you gather as much information as possible before making the decision to leave after the disaster or emergency. You may not be able to leave at all. You may be able to make contact with someone to see if the roads are safe or what the situation is down the road. You may be able to call emergency personnel to see how bad the roads are or listen to emergency management dispatches for updates on the situation. Again, common sense and safety should rule your decisions, not fear or pride. 

As stated before, if you have an adequate amount of time to leave before a disaster and you know you are in the path of danger, you should leave as soon as you can. I know people will say to wait it out or that they will never leave, but I wouldn't want to be in that kind of danger. If you have no warning before a disaster then you need to evaluate and assess.


Some of you will stay no matter how bad it is or will leave at the very, very last minute. However, if you are truly in danger or do not see a way to save yourself, call for help immediately!

Either way, you should always be prepared to leave. If you do not have dedicated bug out bags, now is a good time to start putting them together. You need to think about what you need to survive for 3-7 days or until you get to a location where you can stay and restock. To me, bug out bags are not wilderness survival bags. They are a way for you to stay alive, fed, hydrated, and clothed until you get to where you are going. There are many great lists on the internet for what you should have in your bug out bags, but here again, common sense should rule. Also, you need to make sure you can carry your bags on your back if you need to. Do not overload your bags or the bags your kids will carry.

You should also make sure your vehicle is ready to leave. You should have emergency supplies in your vehicle along with a good first-aid kit and medications, water, food, sleeping bags/blankets/pillows, jackets/coats/ponchos, and anything else you or your family might need. If you think you might forget something (and you probably will), make a list and keep it with your bug-out bags and in your important documents. When you are in a hurry, you can forget a lot!

The choice is generally yours as to whether you want to stay or evacuate, but no one will want to hear about your death if you did not choose to be safe. You will not be a hero if you stayed in a dangerous situation and was not killed by it. Most people will not be impressed that you put your loved ones in danger because of your pride. You and a very select few others will be the only ones impressed with your ability to survive an avoidable situation.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 1
Preparedness on the Cheap: Evacuation Plans Part 2


Sunday, August 12, 2018

This Kind of Life Is Not Cute or Kitschy...It's A Lot of Work


This weekend has been busy. I am getting ready to post several pictures on Instagram about what I got done this week and I am still struck by how much work gets done around here every weekend. What strikes me, even more, is how much work there is to do everyday and weekend.

I choose this life. I wasn't delusional about what it would entail. Being a prepper is work. Being a homesteader is work. Being self-reliant is work. Being frugal is more work. All four of those together means the work never lets up. I know people who can't handle it and I don't blame them. There are days I can barely handle it.

Some of you probably think that all I do is run a blog and hang out here at home. That couldn't be further from the truth. I work as an office manager Monday through Friday, 7:30 am - 4:30 pm. I run an eBay store that I have been adding more and more inventory too. I have two very active teenagers at home and two young adults who live with their husband or boyfriend. I have two grandchildren. And I blog and write for other sites.

I am not asking or seeking sympathy. Like I said before, I choose this life.

What gets me though is the people who think this kind of life is cute or kitschy. What we do to thrive or survive is trendy. Like raising chickens is adorable. Like raising a garden is so good for my health and the environment. Like everything I do to save money in a day is so consumer conscious.

Spare me the trendy terms and the idealistic attitude. That is not why I do it.

I raise my own food because, quite frankly, I save myself a lot of money and I know where some of my food comes from. I enjoy raising my own food, but some days it is a lot of work. The weeding never ends. Sometimes I have more food to preserve than I have time to do. There are times I take a vacation day or two from work just to can tomatoes. I get frustrated because my chickens and the other wildlife ate my berries before I got to pick them. I wish the chickens would figure out that I really don't want them on the front porch.

I raise my own laying chickens because the eggs are really that much better than store-bought eggs. They help fertilize the yard which means I (meaning mostly the teenagers) get to mow more often. They like to eat bugs which is why they get to free range. Besides that, free-ranging chickens eat less feed which means I save money and get better tasting eggs.  However, reference the front porch comment and berry comment again.

I prepare because I truly believe everyone should. I think you should be prepared because that is the responsible thing to do. I prepare because I don't want to be in a situation of begging for handouts if I can help it. I want to have plenty of food and water on hand so my kids do not go thirsty or hungry. I want to be able to survive a power outage and more. I want to be prepared for natural disasters and economic downturns. However, preparedness can be work. I garden and raise my own food in order to be better prepared and less reliant on the system. I can and preserve to have more food on hand. I buy the supplies and learn the skills so I know how to take care of my family and myself.

I can and preserve my own food because, again, I like knowing where my food comes and I take a great satisfaction in knowing I produce it. I like being less reliant on a food system that takes pleasure in hiding chemicals and harmful additives to food. I make a lot of my own food and make a lot of food from scratch because I know what is in the food. I have a daughter who is lactose-intolerant and there is a lot of dairy hidden in food using names that I cannot pronounce and are not even natural. By preserving our own food, we can all be healthier and more conscious of what is in our food.

I like saving money and making money. I will not even be ashamed of either of those things. I am a borderline workaholic which makes this life even remotely possible. I juggle a lot of balls every day. I think a lot of people who are in my shoes would say that. There is a lot of people who do this without an outside income to rely on. There is a lot of people who barely scrape by every day and would think I am wasteful when I have a lot of weeks where I barely scrape by. There is a lot of people who live this life and do not think this life is cute or kitschy either.

I hear a lot of people who "crave" the simple life. I might have that phrase in my byline, but I would not be sure that I could accurately say that I live it either. Simple is not running from one place to another and trying to get more accomplished in a day than there are hours in a day. Simple is not trying to balance kids with work, with home life, with keeping a house, with keeping animals, and with trying to raise my own food. Some of that is simple, but not all combined together. While most people live in the rat race, chasing the "American Dream", and being in debt to their ears, this life I live is not always simple. It just looks better than those people.

Again, I choose this life and everything in it. If you wish you could do all the things I do, then do more than wish for it. That is what I did. Wishing does not make things happen. Wishing does not do anything, but make you keep wishing. If you want to be a homesteader or a prepper, then do what you can to make that happen. Just be aware that this life is a lot of work, but the results are rewarding.

I won't delude you either. I would not be where I am at without some help. I have a guy in my life who does what he can every day to get stuff done. My kids do chores, clean the chicken coop, and mow. I live on an acreage rent-free, but I pay all the bills except property taxes and pay for almost all of the upkeep. I have a lot of people who support me and live this life as well so they can commiserate with me. I do get out of the house and have fun periodically because I need to relax.

Another thing about this life - it comes with great disappointment sometimes. Your garden doesn't turn out well or your cucumber plants become victims of the wildlife. Your entire flock of laying hens is killed by a mink. Your only vehicle has to go into the shop for very expensive repairs. Your kids or you become ill resulting in unexpected medical bills. You lose your job and have to rely on your food storage to get you through.

This life is a learning experience. You will witness some great miracles and some devastating losses. You will feel as though you are walking alone in it or, worse yet, feeling like you let your loved ones down. You will feel a great joy every time you bring home a flock of baby chickens or watch a calf or a piglet being born. You will go to bed bone tired but satisfied that you put in a full day's worth of work. You will be awake at night wondering how you are going to fix a car or a tractor or how you are going to pay that bill. You will watch your kids grow up learning these skills and you will know that they will be able to survive on their own.

Does this life get any easier? Yes and no. Yes, because you learn what to do, you learn skills, and you start to have systems in place. No, because you will always have more work than time, you will be short of money when you need it most, and you will be thrown curveballs when you never expected them.

Like I said before, I choose this life. I want this life. I want more for myself and my family. I can't see the appeal of a consumer-driven life with keeping up appearances and being in debt. I truly think everyone should live the life I am living. Honest labor never hurt anyone and you become more appreciative of what you have.

However, it is not cute or kitschy. It is not trendy. It is and always will be a lot of work.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, July 29, 2018

10 Ways to Battle The Biting Insects and Mosquitoes No Matter Where You Live


Insects can be so beneficial and so annoying. They can help with insect control and eat mites. They can also bite you in places you never thought they could get to. Where I live we deal with the biting flies, the no see ums (sandflies), and mosquitoes. Usually, we need to have unusually wet weather to see a lot of bugs, but not always. When they decide to hatch and feed, they become atrocious!

How should you deal with biting insects? You should deal with them with everything you have and then some. They can make working on the homestead very difficult. They can make having a picnic almost impossible. Even though you are moving along a decent speed on a mower or a tractor, they still manage to land and bite you! What a nuisance!

So what measures should you take to fight the biting insect fight? You can do this one of two ways: naturally and chemically. The choice is yours. We are usually driven to the chemicals because they cover a wider area.

1. Bug Repellent. You can use a repellent with DEET or a repellent with no DEET. Some people find they have a sensitivity or an allergy to DEET. You can buy store brand or make your own bug repellent.

Here are some links to some homemade bug repellent:

All-Natural Homemade Bug Spray Recipes That Work! by Wellness Mama
Natural Homemade Mosquito/Insect/Bug Spray by DIY Natural
5 Homemade Mosquito Repellents by Survival at Home

I am not saying that making your own repellent is the best thing, but if you have the ingredients, I would definitely try it. However, there is no shame in buying some bug repellent either!

2. Fly Strips. These are so simple and so effective. I used them in the chicken coop for the first time this year and one was full before the day was over. Just crazy! I have had to use them over the sink in the kitchen too when I had a fruit fly problem. They are easy to use and will definitely attract the biting flies.

3. Bug Bombs (Total Release Foggers). These are again are pretty effective in a shop or a garage. You can use them in a house, but make sure all the food is put away and you clean the surfaces again before using them. You also need to set them off away from ignition sources. You set off the bug bombs and leave the area for at least four hours. You need to make sure they are for killing the insects you want to be killed. These are very chemically laden and most have neurotoxins in them. You should only use them for extreme infestations.

4. Citronella candles and torches. These are good for keeping insects away from areas when you are outside. You can use them in or on picnic tables, around fire pits, on outdoor decks, and other areas where you may gather. You can also make your own citronella candles if you wish, but they are usually pretty cheap to purchase.

5. Mosquito Repellent Bracelets. They are pretty effective for repelling mosquitoes and would be kid friendly to use (as long as they understood not to chew on them). Most brands of these bracelets sold do not contain DEET making them a good substitute for those sensitive to DEET. These are also eco-friendly which would be another great reason to use them.

6. Bug Zappers. These can be a good addition to your porches and decks to kill bugs and mosquitoes. They may be a little noisy, but they can be an effective way to kill bugs without having to use chemicals. Most of them also have a light which attracts the bugs and can be another source of light outdoors. Most can be used indoors too. You usually have to plug them, but there are solar options on the market for bug zappers. 

7. Ultrasonic Bug Repellent. These are useful in the house to keep the mosquitoes and biting flies at bay. They do need to plug in which is why they would go in the house or in a shop. However, they would be a good idea to have when you don't want to use chemicals. There are portable outdoor versions of the ultrasonic bug repellent, but they would need to be charged by solar power or USB.

8. Outdoor Foggers. These are good in a small outdoor area to repel flies and mosquitoes. You could use this in a picnic area, on a porch or deck, or a patio. You need to read the instructions on the can before spraying. This should only be sprayed on a still day and only once a day. It will kill mosquitoes on contact.

9. Yard Insecticide. If you are just infested with mosquitoes and biting flies, you may need to use a whole yard insecticide such as Demon, Tempo, Permethrin or Malathion. You can find yard insecticides that need to be mixed with water in a sprayer or you can attach to your garden hose to spray. You will need to put away any animals or pets until this has dried on the grass. Most of these yard insecticides only last 21-30 days which is better than spraying a fogger or yourself all the time. This is what we usually need to use on our acreage because the mosquitoes and biting flies are so bad in June and July.

10. Mosquitopaq Pouch. These are really neat as they can be used inside or outside, last 30 days, and use no chemicals. You simply hang them twenty feet away from where you want them to work and they will start repelling mosquitoes right away. You just have to follow the instructions to activate the ingredients inside the pouch and you are ready to go!

The bonus to most of these methods is that they will take care of the sandflies and ticks also. Ticks are a big worry due to their bites and Lyme disease. If you are worried about ticks, I would look for products that will take care of both ticks, mosquitoes, and biting flies.

I know there are other methods of repelling mosquitoes and bugs such as special soaps, Avon's Skin So Soft baby oil, and Vick's Vapor Rub. What are your favorite ways to repel those mean biting insects?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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


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 me.

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 contacts, but I still think you need to have a pair of glasses on hand. Some people would be candidates for eyesight 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 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 the 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, chainsaws, guns, and chemicals. You should always protect your eyes when there is a chance you could injure them in any way. 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 with your local eye doctor today. You really don't want to be in a 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 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 to watch 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


Friday, November 17, 2017

Plan Your Retirement Now and Secure Your Future!


Plan Your Retirement Now and Secure Your Future!

This is an unpaid sponsored post. I believe strongly in saving for retirement as social security will not likely be enough to cover your expenses in retirement. Please check out this website and the cool tools they have to help you save for retirement!
As we grow closer to the end of yet another year many begin to take stock of our financial situations. It is tough being pulled in so many directions - children’s college funds, vacation and family outings, home ownership and more. But it’s important not to neglect long-term savings for your retirement years. I didn’t really take retirement savings seriously until I turned 40. Now I feel like I am having to catch up on my contributions to my retirement fund.  

Understanding retirement needs can be confusing sometimes and may feel like an overwhelming and impossible task. That’s why I am sharing these simple tips for helping you get started with easy-to-understand resources at AceYourRetirement.org. Here are seven things to consider to help you maximize your retirement savings.

  1. Minimize debt - but not at the expense of paying into your 401k or other retirement accounts. The less debt-load you have during your retirement, the more you’ll be able to make your retirement dollars stretch.
  2. Don’t rely solely on Social Security - in fact people are often recommended to wait until up to age 70 to collect Social Security to allow benefits to grow more.
  3. Consider whether downsizing your living quarters makes sense once children are grown and out of the house.
  4. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date and talk to your spouse/partner to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  5. If you’ve been divorced but not remarried you may be eligible to Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse.
  6. Enroll in a retirement savings plan. Even a little bit held out from each paycheck can really add up.
  7. Never contribute less to your 401k account than your employer matches if they offer a matching program. Save more if possible and increase your savings by 1% per year whenever possible.


As we approach a new year it’s important to take stock of your current situation, and make adjustments where needed. Pop over to AceYourRetirement.org and get personalized, simple tips on how to jumpstart your retirement savings. It was so helpful to me to see a couple areas that I could adjust to help improve the financial situation of our family. I need to increase my contributions to my 401K that is offered at my work. I currently contribute 2% and will be increasing it to 3-5% in January. I also need to get my student loans paid off to so I can put that money in savings.
I wasn’t surprised to find out that I was the only one struggling with what to do with our finances. I double-checked to make sure that we were maxing out what my employer will match and we found out we needed to adjust our contributions slightly. Today, many Americans households have virtually no retirement savings. This shortfall is especially critical for people in their late 40s and older, who are only years away from retirement.  Americans know they should be focused on the long-term, with nearly 6 in 10 (58%) preferring to save for retirement over something more short-term, a vacation (40%).  But approximately 2 in 5 households headed by people age 55-64—over 9 million households—have no retirement assets saved at all. Among workers with access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, more than 7 million don’t participate. 28% of people with access to an employer-sponsored plan do not contribute enough money to reach their company match, meaning they are essentially leaving free money on the table.
Taking steps to take control of your retirement planning could have a positive impact in many areas of your life. More than half of people in their 40s and 50s say that feeling more confident about saving for retirement would help them feel less stressed (54%). And 46% would be happier knowing they are taking care of their family’s future. I know I feel better after working through the AARP website AceYourRetirement.org. We’ve been savvy with our money - paid off car loans ahead of schedule, lived almost debt free for awhile...I know we are capable of achieving large financial goals. But I just wasn’t sure where to start. Now I feel much more confident and you can too.

Where will you start with your retirement planning? What’s your biggest challenge today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, November 10, 2017

What happens when it is all gone tomorrow?


In your lifetime, something will probably happen to you that will make you wonder what you are going to do next. You could lose your job. You could be in a car accident and not be able to work or pay bills. You could have a tornado or hurricane wipe out your home and everything you have worked for. You could get divorced and be left with nothing. A loved one could be taken from you and you have to figure out life without them.

So much can happen that begs me to think about this. I have been through at least two of those scenarios. I have had to ask myself "What happens when it is all gone tomorrow?"

The worst thing about this question and these scenarios is that you have very little to no warning. You rarely get to pick when something bad and life-changing gets to happen to you. Very few people know they have cancer before they are diagnosed. Many people have shown up to work only to find the doors locked and find out they are unemployed. The weather service is pretty accurate, but you may only have days to a week to find out how devastating a storm can be. Bad things will happen that will completely change your life tomorrow.

We can prepare for just about anything. We can have supplies built up, plans in place, emergency funds and savings on hand, and another place to go to. We can take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. We can draw up wills and living trusts to take care of our loved ones. We have insurance for health, vehicles, and life to take care of any contingencies. By our very natures, we like to plan ahead to be prepared for any event that could alter our lives.

But we can't prepare for everything. Something may happen that will wipe away everything we have worked, prepared for, and lived for. In all seriousness, that is the most devastating thing to have to go through. You don't know where to start or how to start building your life again. You don't know where to go. You don't know what the next step is. You are in shock. Disbelief and fear will take over.

You have to move on. That will be tough to do for a lot of people, but you have to. There are things you can do, however, to help you process this major life change and start to create a new life for you.

1. It will take some time to process what happened. Your mind will need time to process, recover, and make a plan. Give yourself that time, but don't dwell on the negative for too long. You probably have other people relying on you and you need to get on with things for their sake.

2. While these are bad circumstances, you need to stay positive and hope for the best while being realistic. You probably have others depending on you to take care of them and they need your best. Being bitter and angry will not serve you in any way and it will not make the circumstances any better.

3. Take care of the basics. If you are a prepper or survivalist, you know you need shelter, water, and food first and foremost if you are in this kind of situation. You need to find shelter, water, and food to stay alive. Next you need to stay warm if you are in that kind of climate. You need to take care of the basics so those depending on you will be taken care of and you will feel better too.

4. Take the next step. When your mind is under stress, you may not know what to do next. You will feel numb. Write down everything you need to do and what needs to be taken care of. Write down even the smallest things to do that you think you will remember. You are under stress so you may not remember those things. Pick one thing on that list and do that thing.

5. Prioritize what you need to do. What is the most important thing that needs to get done? If you have the basics covered, you need to pick the next thing to get done. Whether it is making legal or medical decisions, applying for unemployment benefits, shutting off services to save money, finding another job, calling insurance, or finding a new home, you need to get those things done. Figure out what is most important and do it.

6. Accept the kindness of others. There are people who will want to help you if they know you are in need. Please accept their help whether it is a place to stay, a meal, a shoulder to cry on, good advice, or a voice of reason. Sometimes the price of the help can be high so you need to decide that, but do not turn down help if you can use it. The help offered will make the burden lighter.

7. Do not make any "snap" decisions unless it is an emergency. In times like this, snap decisions can lead to regret. You may be under stress, but you need to use reason and common sense to make the next decision. You have yourself to consider as well as probably family to consider. If you are struggling to make a decision, ask your family and friends for their advice and knowledge. However, because I believe in this, do not ignore your gut reaction. If you know, deep down, what you should do and you know that is not from paranoia or fear, go with your gut and do it.

8. Seek information and good advice. As I said in #7, you should make informed decisions. You are in a situation that may seem like life or death or you may not have a lot of options, but you need to be informed. What are your options? What is the best treatment? What can I do to support my family? Where would be the best place to move to? These are all questions (and there are definitely more) that deserve well-researched, well-informed answers.

9. Don't be afraid of other people and their reactions. You have to do what is best for you and your family. You may make people sad or angry about your decisions and/or your plan of action. They may try to make you feel guilty or feel stupid about the decisions you make. Don't let these people have that power. It is one thing to feel like you need to take care of your parents (or something similar), but it is another thing if people make you feel like you can't leave or you have to accept your circumstances. You have to take care of you and make the best decisions for you and your family.

These ideas and things to do are not a complete plan. These are things you can do to start moving on with your life when it seems like hope is lost and/or you have lost everything. Taking the next step and moving on with your life may seem like the hardest thing to do, but for your sake you have to do it.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Thoughts - November 5

Happy Sunday Everyone!

Let's see if I can keep this post more upbeat than last week's post. It shouldn't be hard since I feel like I am in a better place today.

People have this idea that preppers and homesteaders are tough and resilient people that have their lives together. I can testify otherwise. Life is messy and throws a lot of curve balls.

The weather is one of those curve balls. Winter is showing up early this year. We have been spoiled the last few years with nice weather in October and November. This year we are scrambling to get outside projects finished. The temps have not been bad enough to freeze the ground, just bad enough to make working outside unpleasant.

And daylight savings time? Bah. You have to love the fact that the government controls when our clocks should turn back and skip ahead. I would like my hour or two back of sunlight when I get home to get more stuff done. I don't need sunlight to go to work and my kids don't need it to go to school!

Today I got the garden cleaned up somewhat. I would still like to do more, but I have a feeling Rob will be needing my help to get outside projects done this week. We shall see what happens. I took up the stakes and string that I used to trellis the tomatoes this year. I pulled up more plants that I keep throwing into one long row.

Last week, when the kids cleaned out the chicken coop, they dumped the bedding in the garden. Doing this the last few years has been tremendous boost to my garden. I need to spread it out a little better, but I will be a believer in having this as a part of my garden.

I planted 44 bulbs of garlic today and staked off that area so it doesn't get accidentally tilled next spring. I wish there was more I could plant this time of year for the next year, but being in this zone and in Iowa doesn't leave much for planting in late fall.

And no, the potatoes are still not dug up. Can you tell what my least favorite harvest task is?

The boat got put away this week too. I'm a little sad about that because I really like boating. I find it very relaxing!

This week is sort of busy. Dane has 7th grade basketball practice this week. Paige has an honor choir performance on Monday and a cross country banquet on Thursday. She is also finally getting her wisdom teeth out on Wednesday. For those people who don't believe getting wisdom teeth is necessary, her surgery is. Her bottom two wisdom teeth are impacted and bone on bone making chewing and life a little difficult for her right now.

I don't have a lot planned for the week. Just get done what I can outside and be a helper to Rob. I want to list more things for sale on Facebook and eBay this week. I am trying to branch out a bit and sell some things that I wouldn't normally consider. I sold two things on Facebook Marketplace this last week that were listed five months ago! I couldn't believe it!

I also wrote a post about 20 Ideas for Raising Kids Frugally. There are a lot of tips and tricks that worked for me. Check it out!

Paladin Press will closing their doors on November 29, 2017. They are an excellent source of survival and preparedness books. Many of their books are marked down 65% and more. I placed an order for four books last week. I encourage you to check them out! (Not an affiliate, just a fan!)

What have you done this last week? What are your plans for the upcoming week?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Thoughts - October 29

Happy Sunday everyone!

To start, I apologize for missing last week. While I realize this weekly post is not everyone's cup of tea, it serves as a place for me to get my thoughts straight. It also helps me keep track of what I have done and not done. Let's put more emphasis on what is not done because that is how I am feeling.

Actually, let's back up a little more. I struggle to stay focused on the best of days. If I didn't know better, I would probably have the adult version of ADD. However, I am not going to pursue finding out because I already know I have a problem. I survive off of to-do lists and mini self-challenges. I keep a never-ending to-do list in a journal that I carry in my purse. I also write down anything and everything I want and need to remember. Hopefully, I remember to write it down. I also heavily use my Google calendar on my phone to remember appointments and anything that I have to do that day that I don't trust myself to remember.

Yes, I have a problem. I feel sorry for anyone who has to live with me!

Now, add anxiety and stress to my already struggling focus and I am toast. I have barely gotten anything done this last week. If I had any commitments to anyone, I remembered to do those. So I remembered to pick the last of my green tomatoes and green peppers and gave them to a friend. Rob and I sold a lot of eggs last week and I remembered to get those to the right people. I remembered to make food for the week today. We have a loaf of fresh bread for sandwiches, baked oatmeal muffins, egg muffins, and granola bars for breakfasts and lunches this week.

On a whim, I decided to steam my farm fresh eggs instead of boiling them to make hard boiled eggs. They turned out great and they peel so much easier!

We will take the victories where we can!

I need to finish putting the garden to rest and get the garlic planted. The weather has been wet and rainy with the appearance of snow. We did get our first frost. I am hoping to get a warm up in November so I can finish. I still need to dig potatoes too. The strawberries have been mulched by the pine needles nearby, but I want to get more pine needles on them. The weather was nice for a few days this last week, but I was busy at work with harvest and pretty dang tired by the time I got home.

I realize that was just an excuse. I have been feeling guilty for not getting more done at home. I admire the people who can get so much done in a day. Every time I sit down for a rest, I feel like I should be doing more. I hate feeling convicted about an area of my life, but it is better to have this happening now. If something happens where I have to be working harder, I don't want to be dealing with these feeling then.

Other than that, I have been trying to figure out ways to make more money. Yes, I know I should be content with what I make already. However, I have medical bills, dental bills, and an upcoming wisdom teeth surgery (Paige) to pay for. Nevermind, I still need to put tires on the van and replace the front tie rods. Also nevermind, Christmas and a birthday (Paige) is coming up too! Ugh. I am not good about being behind on my bills. It makes me cranky and think about money all the time. It really, really stresses me out.

Since I am not willing to practice the world's oldest profession, I have been trying to find things to sell and to flip. I have been cleaning a house for a friend once a month. I am working on taking pictures of my kids' discarded things to sell. I have been playing on Swagbucks again to earn points for Amazon cards. We have been selling eggs. Basically, however I can make a dollar, I will be trying. I can always get part-time job, but I still need to be a mama too.

So this has been me in a nutshell this last two weeks. I know a lot more has been going on, but this is what has been on my mind. I am not perfect, I will never be perfect, but I strive every day to do my best.

What have you been up to lately? What is on your mind?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Thoughts - October 15

Happy Sunday, everyone!

What has been going on around here? We have been dodging more raindrops which hasn't been very good for getting things done again this week. The garden and the chicken coop are a muddy messes. We have some good weather coming this week and hopefully the ground dries up a bit.

We are still harvesting from the garden which is awesome. The grape tomatoes, a scant few tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers are all that is left. I pulled the peas along with the weeds today. I was a little disappointed with the second planting of peas, but the weather conditions have not been ideal. I did get a small bowlful that will work with a meal this week. I pulled one of the two grape tomato plants which was done. I also pulled the cucumber plants because they were done producing too.

The chickens are doing great. They are still eating their way through our yard and the feed. We are getting 14-16 large eggs a day. I do have a few new regular egg customers which is great. Now I am doing some research on meat layers and which breed I want to have. We will probably start with 25 meat chickens unless my coworker wants to have some too. Then we will be doing at least 50 birds.

Now, more than ever, am I glad we are learning these skills. I am very happy to have a well producing garden and chickens for eggs. I am thrilled that we are talking about expanding next Spring with meat birds and possibly a couple of feeder pigs to raise for the freezer. Even though homesteading and self-sufficiency is gaining popularity, I want to be ahead of the trend. I want these skills because you never know what is coming down the tracks.

Yes, my Spidey senses are tingling. We live in a very uncertain world which is getting more uncertain by the day.While there are some very good people out there, there are some people who aren't good. They are people who are willing to make the best out of a bad situation. And then there are people who would rather steal your hard work rather than do their own work. These are the people that worry me.

I am worried about a lot of things right now. World events, our bickering government, and more potential threats is making me want to close up the holes in our prepping. Homesteading and self-sufficiency is part of my prepping. I have been adding to our food storage, Rob has been searching the sale sites for things we need, and we are just trying to get organized and get stuff done. I hope you all are too.

Thank you for the emails after last week's post! I plan on getting back to each of you, but my online time was fairly limited this last week. It seemed like if I wanted to return emails or messages, I got interrupted!

In case you missed it, I posted one of my family's favorite meals last week. We eat this Easy Skillet Spaghetti almost every other week.

Please keep the people in California in your prayers. Losing your home to a fire is devastating and I can't even imagine trying to put your life back together after that.

What have you been up to this week? What is worrying you?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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