Sunday, March 31, 2013

Art, Art I Love You...

Who am I? I am a creative artist.

I worked with designing stages to portray messages and experiential moments to draw people closer to God. I loved soaring on the top of a ten foot ladder, creating and designing in the air. It feels like flying to my heart.
Now, I am no longer implementing these designs. It's a new season in my life. I am still going to design occasionally and have other implement. This was a design we implemented for Resurrection Sunday (yesterday).
Basically, in my heart I am still an artist. Waiting to see where the next step on this journey will lead me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

TP Over/Under debate. What is your count?

People can get crazy over the debate if t.p. should be placed with the paper coming over the top or running down the back.
When more importantly you should know how many rolls you go through in a week. Seriously, I know it sounds too basic, but when you are preparing for the future, isn't that the more important question?
I am sort of like the Princess and the Pea with t.p. While I am able to, I would prefer to have NICE t.p. stored up as much as possible.

TIP #1: Bob, from East Coast Storage sells 5 gallons buckets with several rolls of commercial t.p. stored inside. He cuts off enough of the outer portion of the roll, so that it fits snuggly in the bucket, then rolls that up tightly and stuffs it inside the cardboard roll.
What happens when you run out of the “good stuff”? Do you have an alternative planned?

TIP #2: You can find all sorts of alternatives if you search around. Sponges? Washable, reusable clothes? A makeshift bidet? There is very little clothing I give to thrifts stores or throw away now. Particularly if it is soft. LOL.

But, you also need to consider if you have water available for flushing. How about an alternative disposal plan for the waste? What about a back up toilet?
TIP #3: There are a ton of options when looking for alternative toilets. Think something simple. We have a few 5 gallon bucket sets, with a seat on top & bags.
I know our answer, do you know your answer?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sell Fresh, Sell Local in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Regional News: Business

This week I was looking for local ordinances for selling food that you make at home, which I checked to include things like selling what you produce on your homestead/farm. This is just some genral information to get you started.
Making food at home and selling it for profit has a lot of regulations. I suggest you really study and follow the Commonwealth's requirements. I can remember news reports of people receiving hefty fines for not follow the regs.
If you take this route, consider it a business; because the Commonwealth of Virginia will.
Commonwealth of Virginia Food Laws
Here is an article that you may find interesting.
If you have a homestead/farm and wish to sell what you grow, again make sure you understand the regulations and follow them.
To promote your business; list your produce, eggs or meat you have on your farm through a well know index. Both of these have informaitno for other states/commonwealths.
Another good site for information is the Virginia Tech Coopertive Extention at:
There are a variety of ways to earn some income from you own effort to increase your self sufficiency. I am seriously considering working with some farmers to transport their produce to my suburban area. The demographics of the area in which I live desperately want fresh produce, eaggs, meat that is produced without chemicals.
For other areas/states: I simply googled: selling food from home Commonwealth of Virginia.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ye Lovely Fermenting Crock (adventure in making saurkraut)....

My lovely mother-in-law lived with us for the last few years of her life. Afterwards, everyone came and took what they wanted from her belongings & I got the "leftovers".
Actually, I got what I consider to be the most important stuff by default, like this wonderful crock.
But, I didn't realize how lovely a gift it was until I decided to make my own sauerkraut.

I use the instructions from Canning Granny's Blog. The instructions are there, so I won't repeat them. I'll just add a couple highlights. I have always like to cut my cabbage in 6ths & cored them.

Then you slice the cabbage up. I highly recommend that if you use a mandolin slicer, like I use, purchase a kevlar glove. Even being careful you can end up cutting yourself badly, like I did the first time.


Keep your hand firmly inside the grip/handle. :)

I don't have the actually top stones for my crock. The main thing you want to accomplish is to keep the cabbage pushed under the brining solution. I took a zip lock bag with additional brining solution in it, is case some leaked out. Then I added my canning stones.
Now it is sitting for 6 - 8 weeks in a cool place. Every few days, I will skim any scum that has developed on top.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lattes & Milk for storage...

What was that? Storing lattes? Storing milk?

I am committed to storing what I eat & eating what I store.
When I was making the decisions about pressure canning milk products, I read up about the issue and asked specific people (bloggers) that I trusted if they canned milk or not. There are very few that I would completely trust their opinion. So, I knew there are established, long term canning, prepping bloggers that have canned & dehydrated milk.
Here is what I found in my research "What does the USDA actually say about the subject?".  What I encourage each person to do is to read both sides of the issue and determine what you believe is best for you & yours.
These are the types of milk I currently have in storage. Each has a purpose. I have tried each of them. These are used for cooking various foods.

I pressure canned milk & dehydrated my own milk. The reason is I actually use a lot of milk in cooking. Whole milk, half & half. That being said; I also get my milk & lattes for free, so I feel free to experiment more. 

For pressure canning of the milk; I used pints at 10# for 15 minutes. It has sort of a Parmalat taste to it. But wonderful for cooking. Since I am still in the testing phase, I plan to use it through out the year. So far I have used it 12 months out (100913). [edited]
Here are more specific directions for pressure canning milk. "White Stuff from Cows..."

For dehydration of the milk and the lattes I used the same process.
I poured 1 cup of latte (or milk) into a fruit roll-up tray while the tray was sitting in my Excalibur dehydrator.
I set the temperature at 125 (edited) degrees. For some reason it pooled to one side of the trays, so initially, every 1/2 hour or so, I carefully turned the trays around 180 degrees.

Once it was almost completely dry (somewhere between 10-12 hours) it looked mostly flaky with some slightly damp patches. Using a Pampered Chef cleaner/scrapper I released all the flakes and damp areas, re-trayed (all onto one tray at this point) them and continued to dehydrate until everything was completely dry.

Then I used the a blender to grind the flakes into small bits.
Then these flakes are vacuum sealed into quart canning jars, when I get enough.
I have rehydrated the lattes using a little over 13 teaspoons of dehydrated mix, adding hot liquid to make one cup.

The initial mixture for my lattes is 12 ounces of milk (½ & ½) and 8 shots of espresso. I like them strong. I did try dehydrating one batch with sweetener, which didn't work out well. Just wouldn't get completely dry.

To rehydrate I measured 13 tsps. into a jar and added enough boiling water to equal 1 cup. Mixed it up, strained the fats out, this is the end results.

Some of the items I used in this post: I work with Amazon Associates Program, where I earn a small percentage on items people purchase through my links. I only recommend items I have used and like & I appreciate your support.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

In the Beginning... (part 2)

Shortly after we started preparing we met Bob, who is a local owner of East Coast Food Storage and Equipment brick & mortar store in Troy, Virginia. He gives a free preparedness session (tour), because he is all about teaching people about being prepared. They only sell from their store & do not ship. Plus, cash is king (trust me on this one), though they do take credit cards, etc. I highly recommend Bob and taking a visit to his store.
Bob gave us a list I now call list “B”. That list is a very basic recommended list of items you need to simply sustain one person, for one year. Please excuse the typo.

This started me on my journey of storing grains, legumes, powered milk, oil, sugar/honey, salt & water.

We were purchasing from Bob, our local grocery store & online. We still didn't know we were “preppers” or about the larger prepping community. This was a time of a lot of researching on companies, prices, cost efficiency. 
Again, the purchasing started in the morning with storing breakfast cereals. I'd set a specific price point to keep in mind and then buy when I saw it on sale.

I set up a notebook, which I transitioned to a comprehensive list on my computer.
Except for tuna and chicken; I wasn't pleased with the meat selections I could find canned at the store. We tried many that were down right disgusting.
Then one day on a visit, Bob's wife Vonda, showed me her newest home canning. CHICKEN!
Well, that got me thinking. I had never canned. Period. I had no clue. Soon, I was off on a new adventure, learning how to pressure can chicken.

We are hoping to get out to visit Bob soon, it's a two hours drive. I would love to take some pictures to share with you.
Again, if you have questions, probably better at this time to ask on facebook. There are always people in our prepping community that will share their experience. (459)

In the Beginning... (part 1)
In the Beginning...(part 3)
In the beginning...(part 4)

In My DNA...

I believe the most important thing to know about me is that I REALLY love God and Jesus.
This influences my POV and everything I do. It gives me spiritual stability, which I personally feel is the first essential for being prepared.
You do not need to believe like me to be welcome on this journey; for truly everyone is welcome here. Recognize this is the very core of who I am and God will come up.
A vision statement outlines where you want to be. This communicates both the purpose and values of my life. It answers the question, “Why am I here?”
My vision statement is:

“love God, love others, it's simple” (Matthew 22: 34-40)

A Mission statement talks about HOW you will get to where you want to be. This defines the purpose and primary objectives of my life. It answers the question, “What do I do?”
My mission statement is:

“entice the skeptic, challenge the lukewarm & ignite passion in the believer.”
So now you know a little more about me...
Welcome to the journey.

Friday, March 1, 2013

TOP 5 Reasons People Don't Can

I started canning in October of 2012, so I consider myself a “newbie” still. The first thing I canned was meat. That's right, I jumped right in with both feet. Then I started hearing people expressing fears about canning...

Before I start, I want to emphasize: to can meat and other low acid foods, you HAVE to use a pressure “canner”. 

TOP 5 Reasons People Don't Can #1: “FEAR”
I once heard that fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”. Turn that FEAR into healthy respect. Learn how to use a pressure canner properly. Follow the rules of safety and sanitization. This one bears repeating; follow the rules of safety and sanitization. Never compromise. Find sources that you trust. Create more positive information about canning in your brain. Learn how many people are doing it successfully. And when in doubt ask questions.
Thankfully I didn't struggle with this one, since I trusted my resources.

TOP 5 Reasons People Don't Can #2: "KNOWLEDGE/HOW TO"
There are many resources for this. There are some posts listed below. Also there is Preparedness Pro blog, Canning Granny blog, the Ball Blue Book, the book that comes with your canner.

TOP 5 Reasons People Don't Can #3: “LEARNING STYLE”.
Knowing your dominate learn is critical for some people. At lot of people are “visual” (need to watch it done) or “auditory” (listen to explanations) learners. For me this was the most critical element. While some are able to simply read something to learn it, I am a “kinesthetic” learner. I need to actually “do it” hands on, while someone guides me along. I learn best with this method. I knew I had a girlfriend that canned. I made a “date” and had her walk me through all the steps. Then I read my book that came with my canner.
So, figure out “how you learn” & start studying. Ask for help.

TOP 5 Reasons People Don't Can #4: "EQUIPMENT"
Just make a plan to get the equipment. Even if you have very little monetary resources, just start saving a little bit at a time.
While I am planning (dreaming) and saving for an All-American pressure canner, I went ahead a got a Presto pressure canner to get me started. Gather other equipment as needed.
You need a reliable pressure canner, a utensil kit & I would add you need clean dish towels. Oh, yes and canning jars....

TOP 5 Reasons People Don't Can #5: ”Time Consuming"
Only you are able to make the decision if you want to invest your time into canning.
If time is your issue, find other things to do (in the kitchen) when canning.
I have asked for a rocking chair for my kitchen, so that I am able to sit and relax (probably going to be reading). But, you could also check fb, e-mail. Do the dishes. Clean out a drawer. Organize the kitchen. Drag a little t.v in there and watch t.v. Or not...

There you have it the top 5 reasons. Hopefully this will help you. now, feel free to go back to facebook and tell me what your fear is, if you have one. Are you ready to take that leap?