Monday, December 26, 2011

Already December

I wish I had far more interesting things to write about but I simply don't. My two oldest girls are spending Christmas with their father and that has left me pretty emotional this holiday season. My youngest child, my son, is 2 and has graduated from nice boy to tornado on feet. I feel like I spend a large portion of my day running after him and so find my computer time even more limited. While I personally enjoy winter I can tell he does not and we hope spring comes early, if only for his sake.

This year for our Canned Family I feel a little short. I managed to make the Cherry Amaretto, Blueberry Butter, Blueberry Grand Marnier, Plum Chutney and White Peach Sauce but that was about it.

I'm already plotting for next year though and have had 3 co-workers beg for a class on canning so hopefully I'll be able to get that going next year. I find canning to be so worthwhile I hope I can pass on that excitement to others. I know they see it differently than I do. I see it as something that may have to feed my family because there are no other options while they can not fathom a world where there may not be jam on the grocery store shelves someday.

Aside from that I spend most of my time paging through seed catalogs these days. I make a plan for the raised beds and then find myself changing it within a week. But all the planning and plotting is in good fun and I haven't even spent a dime yet!

I've been stocking up on the freeze dried and dehydrated food but still feel like it's not enough, mainly because I know that should things go downhill rapidly our family will need assistance and we have already agreed we wont be able to turn them away. Although I know I don't even have 3 months for our own 5 person family when I take into account the rest of the people who may need assistance I worry that we don't even have two weeks of food. It's something we keep working towards though, just keep plugging along, otherwise I begin to feel incredibly anxious.

So that's my update, not much and yet lots of anxiety going around. Hope about you?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Clean up

This weekend we cleaned up the garden and the backyard in general. I was a little sad that I never got my tree but I'll just have that much more to look forward to next year.

Overall my little garden did okay. My tomatoes didn't get nearly as prolific as I had hoped until of course this last couple of weeks. My peas, which I had thought were pretty much dead still gave me a large handful of peas for snack and my carrots ruled the middle square.

I have gotten so many compliments on the taste of my carrots I'm pretty proud. They were Chatenay Red Core and certainly aren't your grocery store carrots. They are short, fat and sweet. In a word they are amazing. I've shared them with friends and family alike and am bringing in this last little bit to work tomorrow to share. I will be getting those again next year for sure.

This year was a good test of what I have patience for and what is just a waste. It also helped me figure out spaced and location for items which is helpful.

Lesson I am most taking with me? While lettuce is incredibly easy to grow we just don't eat it, no matter how healthy I wish we were. With that in mind I don't think we'll be planting that again.

Spinach on the other hand.....I may give that go.

We are due for snow this week but the weather report says it should melt by the weekend. I'm debating if it's too late for fall garlic. What say you my readers?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Holy Cow

Oh my. Apparently my last post was in AUGUST! How the time slips away....

It's rainy and wet here today, our first real indication that fall is upon us. I need to harvest my remaining items tomorrow and I think just clean out the garden and ready it for my garlic planting.

Lessons from this year ....

Tomatoes-

I need a lot more plants. I grew about 6 different plants, 1 beefsteak type, 1 cherry tomato type and 4 roma's. The space they occupied needed to larger, or they needed to be farther away from each other and I should have secured them in cages MUCH earlier. Overall I didn't get nearly as many cherry tomatoes as last year and while I got a decent amount of romas they tended to come in 2's and 3's and I never had the patience to freeze them and save them up to make sauce.

Carrots -

Did awesome. I planted two rows and have eaten several lovely orange babies already and need to harvest probably 10 more tomorrow. Overall I was pleased with the type and will buy those again next year.

Peas -

These were my struggle. Initially they experienced some pea wilt and I thought they were a goner for the year. They managed to come back and did pretty well in production, both the Sugar Snap and the Alaska Pea but overall just not in a quanity that would feed my family for even a meal. Next year I'll raise the height of the fence they grow on.

Cucumbers -

I got a few pickling cucumbers but overall just didn't pay as much attention to them as I should have. I already have a space for them picked out for next year.

Lettuce -

We don't eat lettuce. It grew but I never picked it so it was a waste. Lesson learned.

Pumpkins -

The vine has done well but while I had plenty of blossoms I still have no pumpkins. Not sure where I went wrong on that one but I think I'll attempt this again.

Zucchini -

I didn't even GROW these and I have two huge ones in my kitchen. I have no idea how to even shred the darn things nor do I have equipment to do so. Any ideas? I'd like to do something like a zucchini banana bread but the frankly pornographic size of these things is throwing me off my game.

Blueberries -

One plant died, the other has grown but produced no berries. No surprise there though as this was only it's second year.

I STILL have no gotten my cherry tree (I've decided to plant cherry instead of apple for now). My mother in law is coming to our house tomorrow I think I may try and convince her to go with me and get it. It's October for crying out loud, it's TIME.

Aside from that I'm trying to think of things to do with apples. Any ideas for canning aside from applesauce or applebutter that will expand my food know prep knowledge?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I hate people

Recently I've mention that I work in HR. Which is short for Human Resources. Which, in my case, means I deal with people. All.Day.Long.

I used to really, really like people.

Now I generally hate them.

This has spilled into my private life in a way I was surprised about.

I've been slowly coming to the realization that I hate my neighbors. I hate my suburban life. My neighbor on my left mows AND weed wacks his lawn BOTH days of the weekend. At 7am.

Then neighbors to the right of me feel as if their lives are not complete unless they have a party and invite the entire state of Rhode Island (who feel obliged to show up. EVERY WEEKEND.) and leave their dogs penned up in a crappy homemade 6 x 6 pen attached to my fence. Which means the dogs bark everytime I go outside.

The neighbors across the street hate each other. I know this because I hear them screaming at each other every 2 days or so from the happy spot in my living room. They are both screaming "I hate you." Good times.

The neighbors directly behind me are a blended family who are having trouble blending. I hear them fight with their kids, each other and at nothing. Plus their teenagers like to light fireworks when their parents aren't home.

I can not enjoy my back yard. I can not enjoy my front yard. I can not enjoy the sanctuary of my own home.

So I am done.

I've informed my husband we need to pay off all remaining debt in order to save money/afford a larger mortgage payment and get the flock out of here.

I don't think he minds the idea. He's been looking forward to getting away from barking dogs, angry people and stupid teenagers since he moved in here 3 years ago.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Canning Lessons

I may have mentioned this before but in the outside world I work in Human Resources. I solve problems for employees of my company. I'm good at what I do.

I also teach my co-workers proper procedures and practices. Every job I've ever had that was a team environment I have always ended up teaching and training. Which is interesting since I don't ever see myself going into training (an aspect of HR) and the thought of formal teaching makes me roll my eyes.

Recently my teaching and HR world collided with my prepping world in an interesting and mild way.

I was mentioning that I had canned the Cherry Amaretto Jam a few weeks ago and a co-worker said that sounded incredibly interesting. We talked about the process (easy) and I guess I began to get a little passionate about it because the next thing I know she's telling me she'd love to learn how to make it and I'm telling her I'd love to teach her.

Within a few days she was at my house learning to make Blueberry Jam. Well, Blueberry Grand Marnier Jam.

I find making and canning jam to be incredibly easy and so it was that Sunday. It took about 3 hours and she left with 10 half pints of blueberry deliciousness. I traded her one of her pints for one of my pints of Cherry Amaretto.

Monday we brought in bread and the new Blueberry Grand Marnier plus last years Strawberry Vanilla and Carmel Apple Butter.

Which lead to lots of oohhhs and ahhhhhs and "Ohmygoshthisissogood" mumbled around bread stuffed mouths. My ego was thoroughly stoked.

But it also led to more "I can't believe you made that" discussions in which both I and my new canning friend assured everyone that it's not as hard as it looks.

Which led to me offering to do another "Jam session". Probably later this month I'll gather strawberries from the strawberry farm and at least another 3 co-workers and we will make strawberry jam.

Well, they will. I'm considering Strawberry Margarita jam. I'm going for a boozy kind of year.

Who would have thought that last year when I make my first batch of Strawberry Vanilla Jam that a year later I'd be teaching corporate women how to make their own?

Prepping sometimes can be funny that way I guess.

Friday, July 29, 2011

White Peach Sauce & Cherry Amartetto recipes

True Texan asked for my receipe for the White Peach Sauce and the Cherry Amaretto Jam and I've been lazy to post them.


Let me first say I don't know that I personally would do the white peach sauce again. It might have just been the peaches but they were such a pain in the BUTT to peal I would be hard pressed to want to go through that again.

10 pounds of peaches, halved, peeled and chopped
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup lemon juice

Cook the peaches down in a large pot. I used my immersion blender to blend the peaches but you could use a potato masher to help them break down and release their juice. I just like smoothness of the blended peaches. Add the vanilla extract and the vanilla bean seeds and the pod so that the vanilla flavor will infuse all the peaches. Stir occasionally.

After approximately 20 minutes over medium heat, the peaches should be fairly well cooked down. Remove the vanilla bean from the pot (making sure to squeeze all the goodness from it).

Taste and add sugar to achieve your desired sweetness. I found a happy, flavorful place at 3 cups, but depending on the innate sweetness in the peaches, you might be able to stop at 2 cups. You could also add peach juice or apple juice to cut the sugar but I'm lazy and tend to just use the white sugar.

Pour peach sauce into pint jars, leaving a bit more than an inch of headspace. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar and stir in with a chopstick or plastic spoon. Wipe rims, apply lids and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

If you want to make butter from some of the sauce, reserve 6-8 cups of sauce and cook down in a slow cooker (making sure to add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every two cups of sauce at the beginning of cooking).


Cherry Amaretto Jam

· 8 cups cherries - pitted and stemmed (about 3 lbs - ish) Ask a question about this ingredient.

· 1/2 cup amaretto Ask a question about this ingredient.

· 1/2 cup water Ask a question about this ingredient.

· 1 1.75 oz package NO SUGAR NEEDED pectin Ask a question about this ingredient.

· 2 tablespoon lemon juice Ask a question about this ingredient.

· 1 tablespoon vanilla Ask a question about this ingredient.

· 1 teaspoon almond extract


Basically I pitted and chopped the cherries and threw them in a pot with the everything but the pectin. Cooked that a bit, hit it with my immersion blender (what can I say, I like my jam smooth), added the pectin and then put it in jars and processed them for 20 minutes since I live above sea level over 1000 feet.

So far, DELICIOUS.

This weekend I will be making blueberry almond butter and teaching a co-worker how to make blueberry grand marnier jam. It's beginning to feel like a lot of the stuff I can this year may include alcohol.

What does that say about my year?

Bite

Earlier this summer I thought my peas were done for. They had this weird yellow wilt going on and my research indicated that they were doomed. That was pretty depressing since the old remedy seemed to double dig and hope for the best next year.

As the summer as continued my peas have rallied and I have been able to pick a handful of pods every couple of days. Normally I stand outside and munch on either the pods whole (I have sugar snap peas in one area), or open the peas and eat them raw (and Alaskan Peas in another part of the garden).

Tuesday though my not quite 2 year old saw me open a pod and raising his hand up to me said "bite?"

So I crouched down and let him pick the small green pea out of my hand. He popped it in his mouth, looked at me and said "MMMMMM".

That right there made the entire raised bed building, filling, planting and water system insanity worth it.

Because you see, he won't eat canned peas from the tin cans found at the grocery store and who can blame him. If you ate one of those and then a fresh pea from the garden and didn't know they were related....well..you would doubt they were related frankly.

Admittedly, my garden isn't producing a majority of our food right now. It might not ever.

But my son ate 20 fresh peas from that garden and loved them.

And that was worth it to me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Where have I Been?

I have been meaning to blog but my nights, my "free time" seem to get lost and slip away from me lately.

My peas in my raised beds have some weird pea wither and are yellowing from the bottoms up. Best I can tell I'll just have to double dig and hope for the best next year which is incredibly disappointing.

My tomatoes are huge and I've seen plenty of flowers but no tomatoes yet.

Cucumbers are going crazy and lots of little yellow flowers there with tiny cucumbers behind them. Can't WAIT.

In canning news I've made 3 pints of Cherry Amaretto jam and 3 pints of white peach vanilla sauce.



A little foamy for a couple of the cherry jars but overall still delicious.

I should be back to posting at least a little more regularly in the coming weeks as new job becomes old hat and family time settles down around a not quite 2 year olds schedule.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting it all in

At the beginning of this weekend I had begun to despair.

Only the tomatoes I had raised from seed seemed to be doing anything in their new home and thriving would be an exaggeration. The carrots, lettuce and peas just weren't making a showing at all. I knew it was all the rainy weather.

I despaired.

Yesterday when I came out to the garden to check on the tomatoes I noticed a few slivers of green. I looked closer and behold! Carrots making a slight showing. And what's that? Peas? Both Alaskan and Sugar Snap? My word! And finally the spinach and lettuce have green plants peeking out of the soil!

And then the watering system my husband so lovingly installed failed.

If we leave it running for too long it begins to flood. The only way to fix it would be to dig up the entire bed and either rip it out or replace it.

I just want to cry.

I've decided to not rip it out just yet. It's already late in the season for some of these poor little plants to get started and I certainly don't want to waste a year because of bad plumbing.

I'll just hand water them until the season ends. Then we can dig it up and move on.

But it sure was an ugly fight getting to that conclusion.

Those carrots better be delicious.

In the front yard the herb garden simply gets better and better. I lost one of my Echinacea's so I replaced it with lemon balm. I also added Chamomile and lemon verbena (in a pot) to the mix and lavender paired with semi-prostrate rosemary.

In the window boxes I have herbs such as peppermint, chocolate mint, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and tarragon.

I have a pot of lavender and rosemary as well. Basically the front yard smells wonderful.

It's shaping up to be a really great year I'm thinkin.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's spreading

It's hard to know if it's me, them or the world around me. 3 years ago I was an avowed "black thumb". There would be no gardening for me, it wasn't interesting and held no appeal.

1 year ago I thought I might grow a little blueberry bush in a small container. Before the blueberry plant had even arrived I had begun to sprout other small things in containers in my window and then eventually along the back of my house.

This year I have a raised bed with more space than I can comprehend.

It's been a relatively short road.

But what blows me away is how many OTHERS I meet who are thinking the same way. My mother in law I've mentioned but I have 2 co-workers who are doing small container and suburban backyard gardening.

What is MORE interesting to me is both of these co-workers are single people in their late 20's or early 30's. One is a man.

We talk about cucumbers, tomatoes and what else they are growing. We all share a love for tomatoes and cucumbers and peas but they are more adventurous, growing peppers and pumpkin and squash while I remain undecided or even a little timid in my gardening choices.

This week we've lamented the rainy weather which kept us from fully planting our gardens. And I am even more amazed that I'm having this conversation instead of talking about sports, pop culture or the latest whatchamahoozit. Instead we are comparing types of plants and nursery vs. seed growing etc.

Bizarre. But so glad I'm seeing it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Starting to see the changes

When we started gardening and changing to a more productive backyard last year I accidentally insulted my mother in law.

She was suggesting some plant for my front yard and I said, "Yes I know it'll look nice but I want my yard to actually DO something."

She kinda snapped back at me "My yard DOES something you know."

Her yards, both front and back, are indeed beautiful and she has spent YEARS perfecting them. We eloped in her backyard because it was so beautiful. They do something. They just do something DIFFERENT than what I want mine to do. They don't produce food.

Throughout this year though when we've been working on my yard or visiting and touring her backyard I've made little comments here and there and it seems like they MIGHT be finally starting to make sense.

It started when the vining clematis on her shed died. She was wondering what else to plant and I offhandedly suggested vining fruits of vegetables. I believe I suggested cucumbers. She informed me last week they've decided to take my advice but are going with peas because it's a cooler area of the yard. I smiled and offered to give her some of my seeds.

After putting in my planters a couple of weeks ago my father in law decided he wanted planters in HIS yard. They spent the entire day today getting rock and wood to build their raised beds. To be sure, theirs will be far fancier than mine; they have plans for a walking path through them, a sitting area near them and according to my father in law he printed a companion gardening plan for his beds.

My mother in law informed me that they bought heirloom seeds and plants for the beds as well today. She talked about non-GMO plants and seeds etc.

I smiled.

No need to be pushy, sometimes it's just the little suggestion and seeds in fertile soil that changes hearts.

Mothers Day Gifts - Food

This took much longer than I anticipated, so sorry for that.

Another idea for Mother's Day Gifts is food. Not just a box of chocolates though, not with a prepper's mindset!

If you're giving to a total non-prepper there is always the homemade goodies such as jams, jellies, butters etc. Or even homemade herbal tea if you're particularly talented. Actually those are great gifts for preppers too, what am I saying?

For those who are getting into the swing of food storage you could always provide a Meal in a Jar (or mylar bag) to even just the book if you're feeling uninspired.

Then of course there is always #10 cans of freeze dried or dehydrated foods either ingredients or meals.

Bon Appetite for Mother's Day!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mothers Day Gifts - Plants

In my Mothers Day Series I will continue with the suggestion of living green things.

For the non-prepper of course there is the option of buying flowers or a potted plant.
If you're looking to turn the heart perhaps something like an Aloe plant in a nice pot would be just the thing.

With the pots for these plants you can also order a personalized one OR you can do what I did last year and paint the kids hands with outdoor paint and press them onto a terra cotta plant. That way Grandma has the grandkids (or Aunty has the nieces and nephews or Mom has the kids) AND a useful plant!

I also like the idea of a windowsill herb pot or even a larger pot with kitchen herbs for use. Consider what herbs the woman is most likely to use, assuming she cooks, and plant some of those and accompanying herbs. Recently at my local grocery store I saw pots of herbs for Italian cooking that included Basil, Oregano and Sage just to name the ones I remember.

You can also give the special mom in your life a container bush. Certain varieties of blueberry do quite well in peat moss and a pot rather than in the ground. This might be just the thing to get the gears turning about what other kinds of edibles could be grown in pots.

Finally one of my last suggestions is growing an heirloom plant from seed. There is a lot of time and energy that goes into growing heirlooms from seed and when you present the half grown seedling you can explain the reason WHY the heirloom is superior than that of the nursery plant (if you think that it is) or why you chose that particular plant to grow and give to that special "mom".

I personally am toying with the idea of giving my Mother in law one of my Amish Paste tomato babies. I've spent all sorts of time telling her why I prefer to grow them over the "regular" hybrids I can buy at the nursery but perhaps giving her one to complete and taste would bring home what I'm talking about when she thinks I'm crazy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mothers Day Ideas - Building the library

Mothers Day is over a week away and I thought I'd throw out a couple of posts with some gift ideas.

Todays gift ideas are: Books

Whether you are buying for a special "mom" in your life or hinting to your loved ones what you would like I think books are a fantastic gift.

For people who aren't "into" prepping but you're hoping to open their hearts and minds might I suggest:

In a perfect world
by Laura Kasischke.
It's an apocalypse but just barely. Really it's a woman's grace and beauty book and oh by the way the world as we know it ends. It's actually the first "End of the World" book I ever read and I truly feel like it opened by heart to questions about self sufficiency.

Other good ideas for not yet preppers include Just In Case
by Kathy Harrison. After all, it's just for "in case".

For those who do have an eye towards self sufficency might I suggest any of the "standard" TEOTWAWKI fiction such as World Made by Hand by James Kunstler or One Second After by William Forstchen. If that doesn't convert them I don't know what will.

For those who are beginning to open their hearts, in addition to the above fiction might I also suggest The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery or any book about wild edibles for their region of the world.

For those who are already "prepping" I suggest reading Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs by Wendy Brown. Sometimes prepping can be overwhelming but Wendy really lays it out in doable "chunks".

Also good books for those knee deep are any books about gardening (I don't have a favorite, sorry) or meal prep/recipes/cooking from food storage. I have a dutch oven cook book (or two) that I love and find it pretty valuable for today and the possible tomorrow.

What are your Mother's Day library wishes?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Raised beds part 1

Within my family my ability to kill anything resembling plant life has been legendary. It was always sort of a shame I carried. My mother, of course, possessed a ridiculous ability to garden and could make anything grow where ever she wanted. Her daughter, me, on the other hand......not so much.

I think, frankly, most people were amazed I managed to keep my children alive based on how poor my gardening performance was.

So last year when I decided that I wanted to begin producing more of the stuff my family eats I felt the weight of a thousand dead plants on my shoulders. The fact is though, I believe we are headed toward a future where growing what we eat may become more than a "hobby", it may become the difference between eating and starving. So I knew I needed to learn at least how to grow it before the time to "play" with gardening had passed.

To be fair I love many, many aspects of gardening but I don't know that I could say I actively enjoy it. This "hobby" is my prep work to feeding my family. I love seeing something I planted from seed become something I can consume and know that I did all the work for it. But love it? Not so sure.

Anyways....last year I experimented growing food in containers and was surprised at my successes and learned a lot from both success and failure. This year we decided to step it up a little bit.

Having an actual garden in my suburban back yard has many challenges but the biggest ones are my dogs. They dig. And destroy. I don't have grass in most of my back yard because of them. So having a raised bed seemed like a better choice for me.

My father in law is an artist when it comes to construction and he agreed to build me some raised beds. My mother in law had a great idea about having a break in the middle and the actual design because she loves landscaping.

Yesterday we broke ground, as it were, on my raised beds.

That's the view from my kitchen door facing into my backyard. That's my husband working on a tree stump that was refusing to rot like it should and was impeding my raised bed progress.


That's my son and my mother in law supervising the construction in the relative safety of the gazebo.

That's the finished product. You'll notice two raised beds separated by a mini-pergola in between. We will be adding chicken wire to the outside as protection from the dogs getting into the beds and putting stone under the beams to create a pathway. You can also seen one of my dogs and my lack of grass. It's sad.

Raised beds measure 12 ft long by 3 feet wide by 18 inches high. Plenty of space for tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peas etc. I'm pretty excited to get those beds filled and get started planting but that's probably another 2 weeks off or so.

I'll show you part 2 once I've got everything in.

I feel like this is working towards the big time and while I know not even a garden this size could ever really provide everything my family needed it terms of sustenance I feel like it's a great start.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baby Needs

Wendy over at Surviving the Suburbs has a post up today about Baby Needs vs Mommy Wants. She says what I think a lot of us "old timers" already know, especially the prepping ones. That a LOT of what you are told you need for your baby is straight commercialism at it's finest.

She goes through a list of things she considers must have vs. what we are told are must have. My list varies slightly because I am a mother working outside the home so things like bottles that she didn't need I did in fact need after about 4 months.

It got to me to thinking though, in a powered down, less cheap energy future what things absolutely MUST a new mom need. I could certainly add those items to my future prep lists since I happen to have three children who might someday choose to grow up and have children of their own.

My must have list:
1. Diapers -
Cloth are probably the best bet in terms of prepping and storage. In an effort for full disclosure I don't at this time do cloth diapers. In a powered down world we wouldn't have a choice.

When my boyfriend (now my ex-husband) was watching my 1 year old a LONG time ago she ran through the diapers I had packed faster than he had anticipated. He found himself with another 4-5 hours left of child care and no diapers. He wrapped a t-shirt around her butt. Twice since she peed in the first one. I believe it was his roommates shirt. No one wants to see that.

So probably a variety of sized cloth diapers and covers would be a good plan. How many is a great question. I suspect my child, at 17 months, goes through at least 5-6 diapers a day. Since laundry will be considerable harder (I'm working on that post) I would suggest having a couple of days worth of cloth diapers available so you can be using, cleaning and drying. You might also consider in the summer going without a diaper if you can manage a few hours. Pee on the plants is good for them I hear.

2. Clothing -
Naked babies are only cute for so long. Then they get all cold and shivery. Mother guilt sets in and it's a downward spiral from there my friends.

Seriously though. Consider your laundry ability/desire.

Small babies need some onsies, some sleepers and socks. Depending on the season. The older they get the more durable your clothing choices need to be. I would also have a hat for a small baby, especially in the winter.

All of my babies have lived in a combo of onsies and sleepers for the first 6 months at least. About the time they could sit up I moved to two piece outfits. My boy currently wears a lot of polo shirts and jeans but I also tend to buy color neutral items if I can help it. Pants that are khaki, gray and black appeal to me more than the blue and green plaids because I can match a whole lot more with the black than the plaid.

3. Blankets-
With my first two babies I received a ridiculous amount of receiving blankets which were GREAT for bundling the baby in for the first week. After that I used them as burp cloths and to wipe various body fluids off me or the furniture. I also put them down on the surface to change the baby but more for his comfort than any actual attempt at sanitation. My last baby I asked for none of them.

For one thing I had plenty but for two, what I needed were blankets that actually provided some kind of warmth and not glorified rags. I received a couple of blankets and a quilt that I have used for everything from putting the baby to sleep to using as an activity area when the baby was learning to roll over and do tummy time. I don't discount that a few receiving blankets are used but I would argue that towels are more effective at clean up and a quilt is better protection against the chill.

4. Feeding -
As I said earlier, I use bottles for my child because I work outside the home. I have breastfed every one of my babies and only moved to formula when they had to begin attending childcare. But I did have to move to a bottle. Even if you are breastfeeding exclusively the time may come when having a bottle or two handy might not be such a bad thing. If you are unavailable to the child for an extended length of time having a bottle will certainly help his caregiver out and might also save a life. Even small livestock farmer tend to have a bottle handy should the mother die or reject the baby or be unable to produce milk for whatever reason.

I don't have a solution for what to put in the bottle however and can only hope that perhaps some stored breast milk might be available to use. Formula isn't a great item to keep because of it's relatively short shelf life so I'm at a loss about that. Anyone have ideas about that?

Small forks, spoons and cups are adorable by the way but certainly not necessary for child rearing or feeding. I find my children have been able to wield regular sized spoons, cups and dishes for a lot longer than I have been ready for them to. Usually it involves them stealing my spoon while I'm trying to feed them something from my plate.

5. Car Seat -
A good quality car seat is a must as long as we use automobiles as transportation. If we don't then disregard this.

6. Baby sling/backpack -
I've never had great luck with slings but I have found my baby backpacks to be invaluable. If I plan to go anywhere that doesn't involve a car seat but does involve carrying the baby around awhile a good quality backpack is the way to go. I like mine sturdy with a base that I can set on the ground and keep the baby upright. Also if I can strap it around my waist it feels better but that might be a personal preference.

So what are your must haves for prepping in case of baby? Or not even prepping, just to have on hand?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Worry

One of the unfortunate things about both my husband and I working outside the home and living in suburbia is that neither one of us is very close to where we work. Certainly not within walking distance. Right now schedules, toll roads and of course cheap energy make it so that our commutes are not crazy insane. I spend something like 30 minutes commuting each way but that includes dropping third children at various schools or daycares on my way. My husband spends about 20 minutes on his way to work and 40 on the way home. I work a later schedule and take a toll road so I avoid most traffic whereas he works a later morning schedule but still gets off at 5.

ANYWAYS...

The point of this is to say that one of my "worse case scenarios" has centered around my children being without me in an extreme "SHTF" scenario. If the world as we know it suddenly crashed I'm literally hours from my house walking. My husband too. His mother lives even farther than we work.

One of my comforts has always been the spacing of my children. I have a child that is so much older than the other two that she can of course babysit and I feel like she could adequately handle their needs until I was able to get home. (According to Mapquest that would take me about 4.5 hours)

My eldest has recently decided to move with her dad to Las Vegas. It's not because of me, she and I actually have a pretty decent relationship but she is tired of Here and wants to try There.
That makes me sad for many reasons that have nothing to do with preparedness but it also makes me stress out because I don't believe my 6 year old can currently take of her self OR her little brother for 4.5 hours.

In reality it would be HIGHLY unlikely they would be together alone for 4.5 hours ANYWAY because he is cared for by a home daycare that is not in our neighborhood while she attends the school located directly behind our house. But it's sort of the principal of the thing.

So with my oldest child leaving I'm now having to think of things that a 6 year old can handle on her own that I was always sure I could at least count on a 15 year old for.

Things like first aid. Food. Warmth. Security.

Right now I'm having to re-evaluate her 72 hour kit. It included food that my kit could warm up to make palatable. A 6 year old can't warm anything up and shouldn't so instead of rehydrate, heat and serve meals I'm trying to think of things that she can eat at room temperature.

I'm failing.

So all this is to say, help? Anyone have any ideas on a)what I can change in her 72 hour kit and how I should start preparing her for the chance that she would have to fend for herself in case her parents weren't around?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Self Reliance Expo - Denver Edition

I can not tell you how excited I was when I learned that there was a Self Reliance Expo coming to Denver. I recruited a friend to come with me (who ended up bailing on me because her parents showed up for a surprise visit for her birthday. I can't blame her.) and notified my husband (who declined outright) and got gussied up for the event. Now, I can't tell you exactly what I was expecting. But I was expecting....something else. The expo opened at 9am on Saturday and I was there at 10am. No small feat considering I brought my youngest child with me who requires a stroller, massive quantities of snacks and a great deal of patience when in a confined space. Parking was $8 which I find to be extortion, especially given the size of the expo. Tickets were $7 online or $9 at the door. I forgot to buy it online. I did get INCREDIBLY lucky though and walked through the parking lot with a group of people who offered me their spare ticket. They had purchased online but their 4th person had been unable to attend. I offered to buy the ticket off of them (it still was saving me $2) but they declined. AND they helped me get the stroller up the stairs at the expo. There was an elevator but it was way off to the side and could have made me lose my group if I went that route. That should have been my hint that this was not a child friendly expo. Now honestly, when I think about "Self Reliance" or "Survivalism" in the main stream context I STILL think about guns, ammo and Ruby Ridge. So I was expecting to see a lot of that there. It was actually noticeably absent. There was a handcart upon entering and a booth from Napa Auto Parts. They weren't together. Further down the entry way I began to see booths. Costco had a major booth outside the main expo area and they were promoting their heating and cooling folks. That seems bizarre to me at a self reliance expo when they could have been hawking...oh....food stockpiles at affordable prices or whatever they wanted their tagline to be. Inside there were probably 4 rows of vendors plus some end caps. There also appeared to be a stage where programs would be held throughout the day. They called them workshops and demonstrations but at least on Saturday in the morning it didn't feel that way. Which, by the way, who has an expo on a Friday and Saturday instead of a Saturday and Sunday? The workshops and demonstrations included things that felt forced to me like "Grant writing" and "Picking stocks". Later in the day there were things like "The Art of cooking with the sun" and "Sprouting Food Storage" which I thought would be valuable but it look less than an hour to get through the vendor booths as best as I could and then what was I supposed to do until the 1:30pm workshop of "Picking the perfect grain mill"? Navigating with a stroller was tough. I've been to some crowded craft fairs in my day and I wouldn't say this was crowded but for some reason this crowd didn't seem particularly child friendly or stroller friendly. I felt like my stroller was constantly in the way or blocking a booth which meant either I couldn't get close to it or others couldn't. Even vendors who had people out in the aisles didn't approach me as a way to minimize that hassle for themselves or their booths. I saw some children there, not a lot but some and I wasn't the only stroller there but honestly wished I either had not brought the child or had not brought the stroller and instead had opted for a backpack or something. There were a LOT of food storage vendors. Thrive had free samples out including fruit and corn of the freeze dried variety. I tried both, both were good. But I had to fight my way in and fight my way out despite a multitude it seemed of reps at that booth. They did not really talk to me. Ready Colorado talked to me and had coloring books for kids as well as a TON of information and a nifty pack to hang on your fridge to put emergency information inside of in case EMTs come to the house or people within the house don't know all of the medical needs others may have. Also they had some information on prepping for pets which I haven't read yet. They talked to me. There were a couple of cars there demonstrating (I think) electric cars. I ignored them. The Sun Oven folks were there and I felt like they had a nice booth and a lot of information. I lusted after a Sun Oven but $250 is still slightly out of my price range. There was one gun vendor which suited me fine but surprised me. I would have expected more. There was a "laundry kit"at one both that I ALMOST bought but couldn't quite stomach the $50 for a 5 gallon bucket, clothes line, clothes pins, some ingredients for soap and a plunger. I have plans to put that together and see what the true cost comes out to. I'll keep you updated. Overall I felt like the expo was Meh. Overpriced parking and if I had paid to get in I would have been more irritated. I'm not sure who they were pitching to, I'm not sure if they knew either. In the future I would have certainly including more child items either from the vendors or within the expo itself (like a place for kids to run around). I'll give it a C. I might go back if it comes back this way but I wont sob if my pillow if it doesn't.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Focus Revisited

You may remember a few months ago when I was so overwhelmed with the thought of food storage I freaked out and decided to focus on medicine instead. I said I would focus on that for the first quarter of the year and I did. Mostly.

The problem with that kind of focus is, well, I still have to focus on other stuff in the interim. Like starting some plants from seeds and daydreaming about what to grow in my window boxes. I have to plan those now because, well, I'm a planner by nature. But also because some stuff has to be started sooner rather than later. Did I mention I grow tomatoes from seed?

In any case I still feel as if I did pretty well on my focused efforts.

I added to my Apocalypse Closet medicine cabinet.


Now granted, it wasn't much. Missing from these photos are my sterile pads and pad holder thingies (mesh type stuff that you cut to fit over the bandage) because my dogs ate them. No really. I don't understand it and I've already rolled my eyes over it (no sense in being more upset about it) but there you have it. I will replace those soon enough.

Do I think what I currently have is enough? Well, that depends. Enough for what? For the rest of my life if the world ended tomorrow? No. To get me through a few months of figuring out what works and doesn't work medicinally? To act as a safety net in the the "worst case"? Yes. Almost. I can always use more band aids.

My oldest child completed a CPR course and is now ready to save lives. She's Red Cross certified folks.

I also spent a lot of time and effort, more than I realized before sitting down to write this blog, on self doctor care.

You'll see in that picture my binder, The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook, Healing Foods and the Carewise Guide. The binder contains recipes taken from my herbal cold and flu class I took in March as well as print outs of self care items I think about as I go along. I think of it as my go to, quick reference source book. I plan to gather, print and store more recipes as I go along.
On my personal library wishlist is When there is no Doctor.

My gift to you today is a link for free downloads! YAY! Seriously. I know, I know, people give away Wonderwash's and freeze dried food and I'm pointing you to something you could find on your own. Sorry folks, times are still tough around here, despite the new job.

I would recommend downloading Hesperian Foundation's Where there is no Doctor and Where there is no Dentist as well as A Book for Midwives. If you go to the main Hesperian Foundation downloads page you'll find a ton of material for your reading and downloading pleasure and I would certainly recommend looking through it all and printing it (or buying the books from them or your online book retailer if you are inclined) for your own personal Illness binder.

So there you are folks. My first quarter focus really did help me focus and feel more prepared for what life can throw at me. I'm thinking for this next quarter I'm going to focus on hygiene both personally and inside the home as well as food hygiene. Ready?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Starting to sweat

I'm not going to lie, I have put off posting because I was afraid I was going to only have bad news. The tomatoes I had planted were not sprouting and I wasn't sure what to do.

Last year you see, I started my seeds indoors in February because I was so excited by the idea of gardening. I just plopped whatever I found in some peat pots and soil I had lying around and boom, I had all sorts of things sprouting within days. I had peas, tomatoes, jalapenos....it was great. A little too great I think. My peas never did really handle the transition outdoors in May.

But this year it feels as though it's taken FOREVER for any sign of green. Finally, about few days ago I got a tentative sprout. And then another, and then ANOTHER. Right now I have 6 Amish Paste Tomato plant sprouts. I'm still a little anxious but am feeling like I can ALMOST start breathing again.

I've been asked why I don't just buy the starters at the nursery. I don't think there is anything wrong with starters and in fact if my raised beds end up being as big as I suspect I may just end up having to supplement with some because I don't know that I planted enough seeds.

I do like seeing something I've started reach fruition, which is one of my favorite parts of gardening. And parenting. Sure, I could just adopt a 13 year old but what fun would that be? I like to see them (both plants and children) start small, almost from nothing, and grow into something amazing.

The difference of course is that I plant to eat the fruits of my labor with tomato. Not so much with children. Hopefully. Although there are days.........

In a powered down world I'm not sure that we will have such a steady supply of starter tomatoes at the local nursery. If we can get there the cost of a food crop might just be exorbitant if we are living in a world where growing our own food is the main source of our sustenance. Heck, being able to grow and sell starters for food crops might even be a home based business for those with particularly good green thumbs.

So having some practice on the whole plant life cycle as a gardener is probably a good idea. Right now if I kill all these plants tomorrow, I can do to the nursery and try again next year. In the future...maybe not so much.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Birthday gift

"What do you want for your birthday?" he ask me "Do you want like a real gift?"

"I'd rather put the money you'd spend on a gift towards an apple tree this year." I reply, sleepily.

"I'd buy you an orchard." He whispers

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

About Me

I realized not too long ago that I didn't really do a good job writing my "About Me" information because, well, I hate those small boxes Blogger gives you and I don't like how it feels to be redirected away from the blog I'm reading.

Since adding my name to the Survival Mom Blog Ring I've noticed an increase in traffic so I thought I might just throw my information out there so you know what kind of crazy you're dealing with. :)

I'm Lace. I'm 32 (in a few hours). I'm on my second marriage. I was married when I was 18 to my junior high school sweetheart. We divorced after 10 years of marriage because we really didn't have anything in common and didn't seem to interact at all with each other except for the occasional conjugal visit. I'm remarried to a wonderful man named Micah.

I work in Human Resources. I always feel like I have no professional "skills" when it comes to preparedness or survival but I am a heck of a people person and problem solver. When the SHTF we will see how that works out for me I guess.

Micah works in the oil and gas industry and is not into survival or preparedness at all. Except for the gun part. He likes that part. When I talk about it in detail it makes me anxious so I just talk about gardening. A lot.

We have three children.

K is 15. She dresses in black, listens to bizarre music by more bizarrely titled bands and every day I gain more clarity that I have, indeed, become old before my time. ("Who's that you're listening to? Snot Bucket?" "No Mom, it's Apocalyptica." "Same thing.") She's generally lazy but has a heart of gold. She should never have children of her own, however.

L is 6. She's just all around adorable and my only child not born with a midwife. She's in first grade, reads like a second grader and always wants to be my helper. She would be happy to spend every day with me all day if she could, at least for right now. She's in ballet and not very good but she keeps trying. I tried to get pregnant with L for 5 years before it actually happened. Considering how easy it was to get pregnant with the other two it was a little disturbing to try for so long with no results. L really is a joy to me. She is the person in our house that most other people are drawn too. She also looks the most like me which means she's gorgeous.

W is my son, my "Whoops, guess birth control pills really AREN'T 100% effective." surprise. He is 16 months old (at the time of this writing) and is an all around boy and daredevil. Before he could walk he could climb which frightens me, having 2 girls before him who didn't do that. He enjoys playing with L and avoids K when possible. I enjoy teaching him tricks like blowing kisses and giving high fives. He enjoys blowing out his diaper as we are walking out the door to daycare. And laughing at me because of it.

Micah is my husband. He is an all around geek and monitors oil well data for a living. We met on eHarmony, in case you're interested. He is from this Rocky Mountain region and has lived here all his life. His parents and sister live here. I include them in my prep planning.

My own mother is dead and I don't speak to my father. Some people just use up all their chances and eventually you realize that they don't deserve your time or attention anymore. My father is that person. My mother was a wonderful human being though and I miss her every day.

I was originally born in Alaska and was raised in a cabin for the first 5 years or so of my life with no running water. As a child that lifestyle truly seemed ideal. I wish I could do back to it but it's a process and a slow one at that.

So there, that's me. Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Community

One of the things that seems to often get left out of the picture in survival articles, blogs, forums, chats, etc. is community. Lots of times the debate of shelter in place vs. bug out is discussed. Often the topic of security against the "Golden Horde" or "Bands of Zombies" gets aired out (far too much for my liking if you must know) but I don't often see the frank discussion about community.

It takes a village to raise a child. Or so I've heard. It also takes a village to propagate the species. Breeding within families is generally a taboo topic so if the apocalypse comes to pass and we manage to survive are we only staving off the ending of our species if we hunker down with our food storage and survival gardens? Our children will need others. They will need them to security, for safety, for survival. As will we, truthfully.

Assuming it's my family against the world, there is only so long that my husband and I can keep watch before the lack of sleep starts to get to us, even on rotating shifts. Plus if one person is always on watch for those menacing hordes trying to take our stuff then how will any of the actual work of survival happen? Who will chop wood? Tend the garden? Cook the meals? Raise the children? It would be much easier if you had a community involved in security, food production etc.

So to that end I have started to build my community.

What I have found among survivalists is this sense of secrecy which I understand. I do. I'm not judging. If people get hungry they get desperate. They steal. They loot. They kill. So if people are hungry and they know you have food, well, there is a good chance you won't stand a chance. So I understand why people hesitate to share that they are preparing. They are learning. They are storing. Because we are afraid we wont have enough for ourselves we attempt to learn it all and horde it all with no thought of what happens after. But why not come out a little bit? Why not start sharing some information?

I blog in several places but I keep this blog very private from my friends and family because I know to them all of this sounds like Chicken Little and the sky is falling. If you look at it as a whole anyways.

During the holiday I gave canned goods from local fruits as gifts. That was my start of building my community. The other day I invited a friend to the upcoming Self Reliance Expo because of conversations we've had about rising gas prices and continued unemployment. Another friend and I had a long conversation yesterday about trees. I mentioned I was putting in apple trees this year. I was prepared for conversation about rising gas prices etc. but instead my friend mentioned that they have 2 apple trees in their backyard. We talked about the trees and I had some suggestions for her as to why they are only producing small fruit if any. She's been my friend for 5 years and I never knew she had apple trees in her backyard! That's another source of food in my community should we ever need it. (If we can fix the trees) Both of these friends live in my neighborhood which is my community.

So I'm not running around shouting from the rooftops that I have food storage but I am trying to turn my friends into a more local, survival, backyard thought process which I believe is a good first step towards building a community that could thrive without too many external inputs if needed. Is it complete? Is it whole? No. But it's a start.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patricks Day!

As my gift for St. Patricks day one of the tomatoes I planted last week has sprouted. YAY tomatoes! There is hope!

I was starting to get worried because the seed starting soil they are in seems REALLY packed on top no matter how often I try to break it apart. I'm kinda not pleased with that.

But I was pretty thrilled to see a "bit o' the green" today.

My family came from Ireland 5 or 6 generations ago. I joke that they did so to escape having to eat boiled cabbage. Certainly that is not a novelty food for me, that's for sure.

I hope you all are having a lovely week and a even more lovely St. Patricks Day. I'll write more later about my house of sickness.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My herb garden

I've gotten asked several times about the front yard herb garden. Specific questions are "what are you going to put in there?" or some variation of that theme.

My answer has been a shrug and "i dunno" for awhile. I had an idea. I sorta kinda new what sounded trendy or good. But I didn't have anything concrete.

So since my focus on my preperation of medicinal needs I set about deciding what I would put in my garden.

First, the garden has three functions. It's a medicine cabinet that only I know about really. It also is a cooking cabinet for herbs and spices. Finally, it's a butterfly and helpful insect attractant. In order for my backyard food production to get noticed I need to make my house THE place to be for helpful insects. So using the front yard (as well as parts of the backyard) as solely a place to put out the welcome wagon seems like a good idea.

For cooking herbs I want to have thyme, oregano, basil, sage, parsley, dill, rosemary and chives. Most of those will probably be in pots or just randomly spread through the raised bed and window sill in the front and back yard. Those I don't worry too much about.

When it came time to selecting medicinal herbs though I knew I needed to be a little more selective. I started by looking at what items I most likely would need by looking at my family's health and what issues we have.

1. Male, 36 - high blood pressure, some depression issues
2. Female, 31 (almost 32!) - hypothyroid, frequent headaches, menstrual cramping on and off
3. Female, 15 - no known health issues but of a child bearing age
4. Female, 6 - no known health issues
5. Male, 1 - asthma

On top of that I knew I needed to be able to handle seasonal issues like colds and the flu.

Then I needed to evaluate where we live and what will grow here. We live in the Rocky Mountain region, approximately a mile above sea level. We are pretty arid and our summer sun is intense. Soil depends on where you live. I currently have pretty decent soil.

Then I started reading and researching. I bought a book, Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Rockies and attended a class called Herbal Remedies for Cold & Flu at my local greenhouse.

Between these items I've narrowed down my list of MUST GROWS.

Elderberry - (Whenever I say this out loud I feel like I'm in a Monty Python movie) In the backyard I'm putting Black Elderberry bushes. While elderberry raw is often considered poisionous (there is some debate on that but lets just assume for safety's sake it's correct) the flowers and cooked or dried berries are edible and quite tasty. (I tried some at the class) Black elderberries are considered edible by the way, don't go for the red ones. In addition to being tasty and packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium they also contain anti-viral compounds which are VERY useful in treating many strains of the flu. I've also found some information indicating the leaves and flowers are helpful for treating skin ailments such as eczema and blisters. Combine that with the fact that these berries have 5 times the amount of anthocyanins as blueberries and more antioxidants than cranberries and this feels like a must have in my food stash as well as my medicine cabinet. Also, this is safe for children.

Echinacea - Also known as purple coneflower. Most people use or have used echinacea as a vitamin suppliment to avoid getting the cold. I'm not certain how effective this is but it does appear that if you take it when you notice yourself coming down with a cold you can reduce the severity or almost avoid it entirely. Generally it is the roots and flowers used in either tea or tincture form.

Lemon Balm - The crushed leaves of lemon balm can act as a mosquito repellent and who doesn't need that? It also has mild sedative properties and anti-viral properties. It helps peoples mood and mental performance but shouldn't be taken by people like myself with hypothyroidism as it can make the body absorb less of the medication we take and possibly inhibit the hormone TSH from attaching to the TSH receptors.

Catnip - Of course my cat will LOVE this but did you know that Catnip can also be used for human consumption? It, like Lemon Balm, has a mildly sedative quality and the crushed leaves also act as a mosquito repellent. Also it is a mild muscle relaxer and has been used to calm coughing.

Goldenseal - Believe it or not goldenseal is actually very helpful for sub-acute or chronic conditions such as inflammation of the mucus membranes. Subacute means it's gone past the initial first 3 days of the disease and is lingering or causing a worsening of the condition. This is actually an endangered plant and so it would be better and more predictable if I grew it myself instead of trying to forage for it. It is not safe for pregnancy.

Coltsfoot - This herb is used to treat coughs and other lung complaints. It has mucous cleaning, cough suppressing and mucous inhibiting properties making it fantastic for use when people are experiencing a cold or asthma onset.

Lobelia - Fast anti-spasmodic action, relaxant. Relaxes bronchial spasms during an asthma attack. Expectorant, bronchiodilator. Tastes terrible as a tea.

Chamomile - This plant is an anti-inflammatory and good pain reliever and also has been used as a sleep aid and to calm people and relieve mental stress and tension.

Lavender - Lavender has been shown to be effective as a sleep aid (anyone NOT used Johnsons baby lotion lavender scent?) as well as treating headaches. It can also be used to treat insect bites and burns as it has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

That's what I've got on my wish list for now. I have a few others that I would love to add but I'm not sure if I can find them or they tend to grow wild and don't cultivate well (Gumweed I'm looking at YOU).

Additionally I'm looking at food as a way to combat some of our medical issues as well. For example Celery, garlic and tomato can all be helpful for lowering blood pressure and they are foods he will eat.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's that? Snow on the ground? Temperature is below freezing? Bah! It's spring if I ever felt it! So you know what that means right?

It's time for your FAVORITE annual series, Lacy's Vegetablepalooza!

This year I've toned down my excitement and am eagerly awaiting my raised beds, hopefully going in at the end of the month. *fingers crossed* That means that this year I have honed my focus and know what I want to grow instead of just haphazardly planting whatever I felt like.

Since a lot of my later season plans for canning involve tomatoes it only made sense to try and grow them. To that end today I planted 6 Amish Paste tomatoes, 1 cherry tomato, 1 plain old eating tomato and a pea plant. Just for funzies.

One of the good things about my house is the southern facing garden window in the kitchen. While my own green thumb is pretty small, this window makes it seem like I'm a LOT better at gardening or growing things than I really am. Thank you ex-husband for selecting this house. At least that window.


Hopefully in the next 2 weeks I'll have some sprouts. Then I'll be on my way to tomato sauce BABY!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's a gorgeous day outside today, has been all week. My chives that I abandoned last fall have made a recovery and are doing some massive sprouting. My strawberry runners are showing green growth and at least for right now my outside feels like spring.

It's supposed to snow in the next week. Of course.

My backyard is where most of my food production happens or is going to happen since it gets a ridiculous amount of sunlight. My front yard, as you've seen before, is destined for kitchen and medical herb use. While I have the actual ground part mostly figured out I'm not trying to decide what I want to put in the window boxes.


So I'm looking for suggestions. As you can see they are shallow, maybe 4 inches deep but long, about 2.5 feet. Width is also in the 4 inch range. These boxes get around 3-4 hours of direct sunlight in the morning and then the rest of the day they tend to be in shade.

So what would you suggest?

I could certainly plant other items besides herbs as well since I would like to be able to entire bees and butterflies to my area with flowers etc.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Coveting

This weekend my family drove 6+ hours to visit my closest relatives in Wyoming. I hadn't seen them in almost a year and it was a good visit. My own mother passed away over 5 years ago so it's nice for my Aunt to play Grandma to my kids.

My Aunt lives outside of a small town called Buffalo. Population is around 3900. She grows her own garden and my uncle hunts so that they are able to provide a large majority of their own food every year. She bakes her own bread. All of it.

She has a large wood fireplace that heats the whole house (which is three levels if you include the basement) and a cold room that I covet.

She isn't "prepping". She isn't preparing for a coming Apocalypse. She's just providing for her family and friends. I spent a good hour just lingering in her cold room, admiring her shelves, her work.

It's large enough to have a spot for her husband to make his own ammo. She has potatoes and large bags of flour. She has MASSIVE shelves that I can only dream of.

It was the food on these shelves that I admired too though. All of it is her own canned items. Hers and a few gifts she's received. She had apple butter. Applesauce. Peach jams. Raspberry jam. Pickles both small and sliced. She had beets. She had peppers. Tomato sauce. Green chili sauce (I think).

She also had dried herbs. Thyme, basil, oregano. And dried orange peel and lemon zest. It was impressive. I found myself with massive cold room envy. House envy even since her home is built in such a way (it's a backsplit I think) that not very much wood energy is required to heat it, even with 3 floors. She has a large southern facing window and it's well insulated. She has a pump that supplies the majority of their water. Did I mention the envy?

It certainly gives me something to strive for though. I like seeing it being done and having goals.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Retail therapy

I got laid off. Again. For the second time in 3 months. It stings.

As a general rule I think a LOT of people probably shop to make themselves feel better. I've read all sorts of studies that suggest that shopping is a lot like foraging and so for both genders we feel like we're doing "something" which makes us feel better.

I like to shop just as much as the next person although rarely is it for me. I don't care about shoes or purses and I have a limited professional wardrobe.

But this morning I was feeling oh so low. Lost the job yesterday so of course there is the worry about money but there is also just the feeling bad about myself. I knew I needed to make myself feel better.

I did the dishes. Not feeling better. I did laundry. Oh did I do laundry. Still not feeling better. I ran errands that cost zero dollars. Not feeling better.

So I decided I would sink to my lowest and buy something.

It only made sense to buy for my Apocalypse closet. Since this quarter I'm focusing on first aid and medical supplies I went online to my local pharmacy and checked out the weekly ad. Asprin (generic) on sale. Good. Excedrin also on sale. Excellent. (I have migraines from time to time and Excedrin is my second line of defense against them) I searched for coupons, printed some and off I went.

I bought:
2 100 ct asprins for $1.99. Total. (They were discounted and it was buy one get one.)
1 50 ct Excedrin Extra Strength for $2.99 total (discounted to $3.99 and then $1.00 coupon)
1 50 ct Excedrin Migrain for $2.99 (see above)
and 2 bottles of hydrogen peroxide for $1.98 total. (They were .99 each).

With tax I spent $10. Not too shabby. Not great, I KNOW there are coupon mavens who can do WAY better. I read their blogs. I'm just not that good yet.

These items join my mini first aid kit with generic band aids, some old burn cream and rubbing alcohol. Oh and oddly enough some Quik Clot. I would like more of that for sure but it seems to cost a bunch so it's one of those save up type of things.

I will continue to hunt for first aid supplies on the cheap and hope to have a decent looking first aid kit for not very much money by the end of March.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Compost

Anyone have any suggestions for starting a compos bin/area etc? I feel so overwhelmed and would like to get one up and going this spring.

Focus

I struggle to find a happy medium in my preparations mostly because I'm not sure what me "scenario" is.

There is the short term emergency which is what I tell everyone I'm preparing for when it comes up. "Why do you have 10 bags of spaghetti noodles?" "Blizzard."

Then there is the longer term emergency which I think is what most "preppers" are prepping for. But even in there I find wildly different views.

For example, in a true long term immediate emergency ala "One Second After" (Which, if anyone ever wants to discuss that book with me I would LOVE to.) having lots of food storage would be helpful. For awhile. Canned soups and fruit will only go so long and then you have real issues once that begins to run out. Assuming you get to keep it all to begin with. (I'm going to be optimistic and assume that no one will take my food. Probably because we have guns. And ammo.)

Which is where/why I begin to lose focus. Should I buy lots and lots of canned goods or should I focus more on the ingredients themselves. For example instead of buying split pea soup should I work on having the split peas, carrots, spices, etc. instead? Will that take up more space? Will my family even EAT split pea soup?

There is no harm in learning to cook from scratch, I get that. Which is probably why I tend to buy more of the raw ingredients than the prepackaged stuff BUT since I can't cook everything from scratch yet (it takes time) where should I focus?

You can see I get a little ADD/OCD about this.

So for the rest of the first quarter of this year I'm going to focus on medical supplies.

I have three children. There will never be a day where I will wonder about the kinds of band-aids I have. My only question will be "Do I have enough?"

Anyone have any suggestions about what your medical supply closet has? Aside from band-aids?