Sunday, June 29, 2014

What I carry in my purse...

Over the years I have tended to carry a lot of these items. I just don't like to have a situation come up and not be prepared. I try to keep it light.
Let's see...I carry t.p. & hand towels, sanitizer, energizer additive (these are no longer available, so I hoard the few I have left) & emery board.
Mini-med kit: Salt, sugar, band-aides, safety pins, lighter, sewing kit, honey, agave, triple antibiotic, burn gel, alka-seltzer, wet towel. I also carry enough cash at least for a full tank of gas.

Paracord bracelets. The pink one is a gift from Survival Betty.

OTC's and 3 days worth of prescriptions.


This weekend I am adding a flashlight and a knife.
Other items I always have:
A P-38 on my keychainVarious high energy foods, which I replenished as needed.

Note paper, sharpies, pens, matches & lighter(s).
cell phone, cards (to dig), lip balms...At one time or another I have used most everything here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Castle doctrine and stand your ground....

Traveling with DH is always a great experience. There aren't any normal distractions and tends to lead to some really interesting discussions.
Last night we were talking about castle doctrine, stand your ground and how it applies to a Commonwealth in the law. It is important to understand your state or commonwealth's laws.
DH and I met in a weapons training course. At that point he was working and teaching at a range and security company. He was impressed at how well I shot and I liked his eyes. LOL. It was a match made in heaven.
First to explain, DH is a Range Master, has been teaching weapons safety & Virginia Concealed Carry Weapon for decades. Plus he has been teaching Utah Concealed Carry Weapon classes for about 10 years.
There is no way I am able to impart even a smidgen of his knowledge to you.
So, I am going to recommend three books he handed to me today to read.
First is "Stress Fire" by MassadF. Ayoob, next is "Inthe Gravest Extreme" by Massad F. Ayoob again (this is out of print, but you can buy it used) and the third book is "Virginia's Gun Owners Guide" by Alan Korwin and Steve Maniscalco. While this one is specifically about the Commonwealth of Virginia, they do have guides for some other states.


I also ran across a wonderful article entitled "Castle Doctrine Explained, What Every Concealed Permit Holder Needs to Know", that explains castle doctrine and stand your ground very simply and directly. Let me know what you think of the article.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Do you remember bread pudding?

Recently, I have been working at using my food storage a lot more. I had made a loaf of bread and was thinking of ways to use it since it doesn't have preservatives. You know, using it up and not letting it go to waste.
So, I made this childhood classic.
I had forgotten how much I (we) like bread pudding. An excellent use for day old bread. It was so good, I made a second batch the next day. These are just simply the pictures. 100% made from food storage.

Sorry for the sideways pictures...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lesson learned: Never assume...

Recently I realized there was something major lacking in my preparations. Instructions.
DH was making dinner and he was going to make rice. He asked where it was, then he asked me how to make the rice.

Now I know why DH keeps buying all these prepackaged flavored rice, he needs the instructions. So now I have the simple instructions for making rice in with my recipe drawer and I will be adding to that pile.
Sometimes these things seem so simple.
Another example was I was making more elderberry syrup last weekend, allergy season is in full bloom. I forgot how to make it. DUH! Now, the instructions were stored on my computer. I decided to write a modified recipe on the lid of the storage jar. With the plan to keep the same lid when I open my next vacuum sealed, stored jar of dried elderberries.
The elderberry syrup turned out wonderful, btw.

Write it down, keep it close or on the appropriate item.
If it is store in a box, I often cut out one set of instructions and either tape it to the bigger box or include it inside the box. I will be getting better at this, plus rechecking previously stored items, just in case.

This doesn't just apply to food storage either.
Cross training is important. What if the primary person for ___________ (fill in the black) is incapacitated? I've got some more learning to schedule.

Are you ready?

Are you ready?
Recently I was sitting in the hot sun, watching Little League Baseball players while the coach and parents were calling to the “Baseball ready!” position & I couldn't help thinking about you all & being prepared.
Over 30 years ago when my son was little, they couldn't find anyone to coach the “littlest” newbies. So I volunteered & I didn't know a thing about coaching baseball.
I read tons of books (no internet then) & sought help from people that knew about baseball and I was off and running.
This reminds me exactly of my journey preparing.
Baseball ready” puts you in the position to be as prepared as possible to focus, move and catch the ball.
Being prepared puts you in the best position to be ready for emergency situations.
Simple basic steps, when practiced provides you & your families foundation for the future.
Use one, buy two.
Two is one, one is none.
At this game, I was thinking of you. Are you ready? What am I able to do to coach you for success? I snapped a picture.
Can you here me calling out to you, “Prepper ready?”

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Food storage ala Starbucks...

Think outside the box. I work for a purveyor of fine coffee, I have been with them for a long time. In fact in another year and a half I will be able to "retire" with the continued benefits of that free pound of coffee I talked about in this mornings post, plus my 30% off discount.
I used to give a lot of coffee away. I still give some away, but after I started preparing I started thinking about how to utilize my "perks" more wisely.
While I have shared some of these items before, partly I am writing this to encourage you to think outside the box about your preparations. But, to tip you in on a few ways for you to use items. You don't even have to purchase them at Starbucks or their products.

Coffee to go
This isn't instant or freeze dried coffee. These handy little packets are made with a new technique. Microground coffee, so the taste is better than instant.
Personally, I love to use these for making coffee custard (recipe) from storage.
PLUS, this is a nifty home remedy for poison ivy. You add just a tiny bit of water to make a paste, which you apply on the poison ivy. Allow to dry completely, then gentle pat off with a washcloth with warm water.

Yummy fruity caffeine drink
These are fairly new. The ones of the left are instant lattes, which I am not really a fan off, but got for free. So, I are storing them for barter.
The ones on the right are called Refreshers. The caffeine is extracted from green coffee beans and mixed with juices, then dried. Low in calories.I always have a couple of these in my purse and in my get home bag.
I like these for when I don't particularly want more coffee (flavor), just the caffeine boost. 

Freeze Dried Fruit
Actually, these are very tasty freeze dried fruit & convenient! My personal favorite is the one on the left with the mandarin oranges. Not a fan of the ones with kiwi (not shown), too tart. I always have them in my purse and my get home bag. You might want to pack them in a stiffer container, simply because they will get crumbly as time goes on.

(Home Ready Home shared this photo on facebook )

Plus, I get free drinks when I work. So, I utilize that to bring home lattes and milk which I dehydrate of can.

"Best by" dates
Plus, I occasionally get items that are beyond their "best by" date. This would include blueberries (which I dehydrate), freeze dried orange and lime slices, powders, syrups and more.

Everyone is able to watch for sales. I always look in clearance items. I just happened upon 60% off sale on these instant drinks on the right. Plus a 50% sale on some other items, which I scooped up. Watch for sales at the end of various holiday seasons.

Tea bags
Great for drinking to invigorate or calm you down. Medicinal purchases or even a great treatment for sunburns, like I used last week.

So, there you have just a few tips you probably already know. We would love to have you join our community on Facebook @ Perky Prepping Gramma. Honestly, there is so much good information that we all share together. Not a lot of drama, just sharing the journey.

Top Products This Week: These are some of the products I have used this week in my preparing. I just reviewed the UCO Candlelier, which I love, love, love. Plus, I had to reseal some of my vacuum sealed foods during the move. (158)

I participate in the Amazon Associate Program. when you choose to purchase something I recommend, I receive a small percentage & it doesn't cost you any more. I only recommend products that I personally use and like.

Update on our house hunting

We are deep into looking at property after property for our new retirement home. Searching through listings on the internet, reading between the lines.
I get that the job of marketing a property, entails piquing the interest of the potential purchaser by focusing on the positives and minimizing the negatives. This increases traffic.
Just needs some TLC (plan on spending a lot of money)
Cute (super tiny house)
Ranch (in the area we are looking that could mean a double wide manufactured home)
As is (better check that house thoroughly, i.e. mold, lead paint, asbestos). These are expensive things to correct.
Yes, we visited this place.

1. I recommend you use an agent. Trust me, they are able to see and do things you would be hard pressed to find. Even then, educate yourself as much as possible.

2. When working with your agent, be completely honest.
I talk about what is going on in my head. When looking at pictures together, I mentioned that I thought the carpet was UGLY and it will want to replace the carpeting. While this isn't a deal breaking, he knows I will be considering that when I make my offer.
After examination of a property, we tell him exactly what our absolute offer is going to be. I let him deal with original offers, counter offers etc.

3. Know your budget and stick to it. Note I didn't say, know what you qualify for. For us that means that when all of this is said and done we will be debt free. We will not be financing any of this. That budget figures into our offers.

4. Be realistic: we know that our budget means we won't be getting everything we want. It won't be pristine and we will have to need to

5. Know what is important and necessary vs. what you wish.
For us it must be structurally sound, have some land (1-5 acres), It needs access to water.
It would be great to have a garage, basement, fireplace, for this will save us money.
It would be nice that I actually like the interior vs. knowing that I am going to paint those peach colored cabinets in the kitchen.
I would love to stainless steal appliances. But realistically I have only seen one place in our price range that has them

6. Read deep into the listings sent to you by by agent to understand what is being said and what you will need to do to make a place work for you, I read the listing many, many times before I go to visit the property. I also look at the pictures many times, not just to see what is there, but to note what pictures aren't there.
One place we are going to visit next week, doesn't show a picture of the bathroom. It may mean nothing, but already in my head I am thinking it may need work.

7. TIP: When we visit a property, we take a camera and take loads of pictures. First I take a picture of the address. Our pictures include the general house, but it focuses on things we need to remember.
Example: at a recent walk through for an auction all the windows were wide open to lessen the smell of smoke in the house. What I took a picture of was where a picture had been on the wall, to indicate the nicotine build up on the walls. Knowing that information helped remember that special effort, special procedures, paints and extra money would need to used to compensate for the heavy build up of nicotine.

There you have just a few tips I have been learning as we look for our new home. We are still actively looking. This takes time and patience.
Have you any tips to share?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Controversy, education & wise choices for your family...

Lil' Frog asked a very interesting question “Followed here (to the blog) from your FB post about the milk, but then looked this (canning butter) up because I canned butter but all of the lids failed when I went to use it...anyway I just noticed something odd to me...why would you process butter the same time as for meats but milk (which it's made from) for only 10 mins. It just seemed odd the time difference...especially since the butter is already hot and ready...can you explain why the difference in times?”

The short answer is I don't really know why there is a difference in the timing in pressure canning these two different, but similar products. Even after researching more today, I couldn't find an adequate answer to Lil' Frog's question.

First, to address the failure rate of the lids when canning butter, the only thing I would add is when I have an issue with this, I increase the head-space (that space between the product being canned and the very top of the lid) and I insure that I thoroughly clean the top of the rims. If it is something that is higher in fat, I will even clean the rims a couple of times, using a fresh paper towel and vinegar.

Just an interesting note: This specific picture is all over the internet. I try hard to follow pictures & articles back to the original publication. This particular image is directly from the USDA Guideline Handbook.

What I will share is how I personally determine what I am going to can or not can. When I am researching a particular subject, (like canning milk or butter) I spend literally hours, reading guidelines, the USDA guidelines (I can't tell you how many times I have read their online information) and I study specific canners that I personally trust. Here is a link to a blog post I did on What does the USDA Really Say AboutCanning Milk (237). This includes charts from the USDA's Guidelines Handbook & a link to download and print their handbook.
I HIGHLY encourage you to do the research for yourself, to determine what you are willing to consider safe for your own family. First and foremost we are each individually responsible for using our own judgment for our families safety. That being said, based on what I have researched, I share with you what I consider safe for my family. in my mind.
That being said I want to emphasize whatever your decide; 
"ALWAYS use impeccable hygiene  
canning practices"
I believe everything should be sterilized. Including your tools, jars, lids, rings. Always use fresh clean towels, be generous with your paper towels when cleaning.
Sorry that I don't have a more definitive answer. I will continue to research and if I find out more I will share.

If you have some time here are just a few links I think are worth reading. Both pros and cons, since that is how I roll.
2. Preparedness Pro:
Several articles when searching for botulism
3. Katzcradul RANT on Botulism Fear Mongering

To be fair, I also share people that disagree with these practices.

1. Preserving the Harvest By the Book; I respect just doesn't believe in doing anything outside of the canning bible. If you want straight from the book procedures, she is the gal to follow in my opinion. Though she appears to have not been posting in a while.
2. imstillworkin (Youtube vlogger)

I wish I had the answer, but I don't at this point in time. You are welcome to gently disagree with me or each other and post. I am willing to have both sides posted here or on facebook. Again, do the research, because I do feel this is an important decision.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Storyteller...

One thing you may not know about me, is that I was a paid storyteller for several years at two different stores. The last store was Zainy Brainy, if you happen to remember that educational children's store. In fact, I got to appear on cable t.v. reading several books, which was great fun!
I now spend a lot of time buying books and reading books for my grandchildren. So, I decided to add a section to the astore of children s books, Here are just a few examples.

Reading to children and having them read to you is an amazing way to bond and I personally feel it helps them learn to read better. Plus, in a grid down situation reading will become far more important. So it is well worth it to have an excellent library.
"The Read Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease is an excellent resource to help pick a well rounded library.      
These are just a few more recommendations from Perky Gramma's Store.