Friday, October 31, 2014

Water Kefir (part 2)

I think I am becoming obsessed with water kefir. Seriously. This stuff is so good for you. I am working on building up probiotics in my body. Funny thing, I have never really been crazy about soda/pop or straight up juice.
But for me, water kefir is amazing. Here is how it is going in my "experiential kitchen".

photo credit Rawfully Tempting

Since I last posted, I have made a batch out of freeze dried fruit from Starbucks (strawberries and blueberries) & mango /orange juice. Plus, I have dehydrated blueberries, raspberries & some more juice (I really am just trying to get some bottles to store my kefir) and I have been dehydrating more fruit (mango and oranges) for coming batches.

I can't seem to make enough of it fast enough. I have even thought about getting more water kefir grains to up my production. The temperature in my house has been cool, so it has been taking 4-5 days for the kefir to ferment enough. The last batch & this batch I have sat on top of my dehydrator to speed up the process. I will be switching to raw sugar.

Shopping list:
The kefir on the left is the one I purchased first. Decided to go with organic. And as I am writing this up, I am ordering a larger batch. Going to kick it into high gear & share.

I had a smaller dehydrator when I started, it finally died. I opted for the 9 tray Excalibur Dehydrator (I saved up my money until I could afford it). I absolutely love it & keep it busy all the time.


I have an online Amazon Associate/store called Perky Prepping Gramma's Store. This allows me to show you the products I have personally own, used and endorse. The cost is the same for you, but I do receive some compensation if you purchase through my store. I always appreciate your shopping.

  Instructions with my first batch of Water Kefir

Monday, October 27, 2014

Water Bath vs. Pressure Canning

I have interesting conversations at Starbucks. Today I was chatting with one of my very favorite guests about canning. So, I thought I'd so a quick post on a couple basic principles of canning. Simple basics, never forgetting there were qusetions I didn't even know to ask when I started.
Food at the top of this chart may be water bathed or pressure canned. Please note with the way some tomatoes may be bred for low acidity and may need to actually be pressure canned.


(National Center for Home Food Preservation)

Foods that are strong alkali based, must be pressure canned. Also, understand there is a huge difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner.
You may cook in a pressure canner, but you can not can in a pressure cooker.
Note: I found it is important to measure your stove top to whatever is hanging or your stove carefully. Then compare that measurement to the height of your canner. When I ordered my All-American pressure canner, I thought i had measured carefully and I was off by about 1". Sad, sad, sad. 
Needless to say, when we were looking for property, I carried a tape measure with me. I was going to insure that my All-American pressure canner fit on my new stove!


Also, take into account how much canning you thing you will be doing. I find I do way more canning that I originally thought I would be and now am very thankful that when I purchased my All-American, that i was able to double stack when canning. The larger size was well worth the money for me when I was canning 40-60 pints of chicken.

Tools, Getting Started and Organized
Other Canning Posts

Friday, October 24, 2014

Taking the First Simple Steps in Prepping

Honestly, I think the first step in preparing is making the decision to start prepping.
I remember so vividly in the beginning not having a clue how to start. I didn't know about prepping or that preppers even existed.
That is the main reason I try to stay very focused on sharing what I am doing. Keeping to the basic principles.

After making the decision to actually start preparing, my next step was I started with a simple list. I got up one morning and wrote down a list of everything I used in that day. Note: I said everything. 
The very first things on my list was toilet paper & water. Water is a very important item to store and often one of the later things that people focus on storing. 

One of the first principles that will help you build up your storage of items your actually use is to "use one, buy two". Now that I have developed the habit, it seems so simple to do. I utilize on-line shopping a lot. While I pulled something from my shelf, i.e. a new bottle of aspirin, I simply go to my on-line shopping cart and add two. I wait until I have the requisite amount to get free shipping (Walmart is $50 of qualified items) and the money (usually on payday) and place my order.

My last Walmart order

Note: I have to tell you I didn't stock Ramen noodles at first, in fact this is the first time I ordered the stuff here. I finally ordered some because Mr. Perky keeps buying them. Obviously he likes to eat them in a pinch, so now I am storing some. 
What else you see here is coconut milk (to round out 144 meals of Thai peanut chicken meals), soap, OTC's and 2 large boxes of baking soda. 

TIP: I signed up for Shop at Home, I link through Shop at Home for my Walmart purchases and receive occasional credits to spend on more preps. Yes, your information is out there, mine is already out there so I try to make my habits work for me.

The bonus of utilizing this principle is that if you have been prepping for a year, you know that you have one years worth or more of supplies. You will find your habits starting to change. 

Do you have a favorite tip to share with a newbie starting to prepare?

I have an online Amazon Associate/store called Perky Prepping Gramma's Store. This allows me to show you the products I have personally own, used and endorse. The cost is the same for you, but I do receive some compensation if you purchase through my store. I always appreciate your shopping.

We received our clear title Deed in the mail!

One of the most interesting comments made when I posted about paying cash for our property was “don't know how anyone but the rich can do this “. Actually, I just smiled.
As you now know from reading the financial posts, we are both blue collar workers by choice. We work multiple jobs between us. We just got very serious, stayed focused and made some uncommon choices.

Below is Forbes' 2014 list of the richest counties in America:
  1. Falls Church City, Va.
  2. Loudoun County, Va.
  3. Los Alamos County, N.M.
  4. Howard County, Md.
  5. Fairfax County, Va.
  6. Hunterdon County, N.J.
  7. Arlington County, Va.
  8. Douglas County, Colo.
  9. Stafford County, Va.
  10. Somerset County, N.J.
While we do live in one of these counties, that doesn't mean that we are rich. What that means for us is the cost of living is higher, especially properties. We chose to move out of this area to find a more affordable property and we looked religiously for over year. While this property was really nice, it still needs a lot of work. We are adding an entire new roof, building a garage and fixing it up.
One thing that worked in our favor was standard bank financing was unavailable for this property. Having the ability to pay cash gave us a slight advantage.

What worked for us was we were willing to change our habits, stopped making excuses and recognized that debt was not working for us. This isn't easy, but it is a choice. I have also shared stories of others that are in the process and some even working with far less than we had.

The biggest moment happened yesterday (Oct. 23, 2014) when we received our clear title Deed in the mail. Mr. Perky & I looked at each other and smiled. We accomplished something really big!

To round this out, these are many related posts linked below that show other steps we used to get where we are on our journey. Know that we continue to tithe, still maintain several months of living expenses/emergency fund and we continue to use a certain percentage of all money we earn to keep preparing. Next step - to sell our current home. We still are on a journey...

For more information...
10/10/14 More blogs posts to explain a little more in detail about how we got to this point in our journey. These posts are listed here under"Financial". This will take some time to read.

Romans 13: 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. (NIV) note that the previous chapter is talking about actually paying what you owe.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chicken & Dumplings (Food Storage Meal)

When I started storing meals, I definitely took the saying to heart “Store what you eat, eat what you store.” One of our favorite meals is chicken and dumplings.

I stored jiffy mix (yes, now I have all the ingredients to make them now, I just use one batch of my biscuit recipe) and the very first thing I learned to can was chicken breasts.

Now that the weather is chilly, I made our first chicken and dumplings for dinner last night of the season.
First I got the chicken broth boiling and added some chicken breasts.

Then I made and rolled out the dumplings nice & thin. Dropped them in the broth and let them cook for about 5 minutes.

Teaching the next generation. My son loves chicken & dumplings. His wife doesn't know how to make them. Last year I brought all the stuff over (all canned by the way) & the grand children & I made chicken & dumplings. We had a blast. Everyone had two helpings, extra the youngest one, who wanted more canned green beans.


I must apologize, I am so unorganized. I've have mentioned multiple times, I have
simply shared my journey with you as I learn. That is literally what I have done. First I started on fb for about 6 months, then I started blogging about what I was doing. Consequently there is a lot of fb that I haven't transferred over. I started to transfer some of the fb albums over to the blog, but I am WAY behind. I just realized I have never posted on the blog something as simply as pressure canning chicken. Have patience, I will work on getting that up in a few days. Maybe after we settle in our new farmstead, I will take some time off work & transfer everything from fb to this blog. I appreciate you putting up with me. See, you are able to do this also. LOL.

“Perky” Richy Caffeinated Peppermint Hot Cocoa

It's chilly this morning and I am now curled up under an afghan on my couch enjoying a piping hot cup of “Perky” Rich Peppermint Hot Cocoa. All the ingredients are from my storage. The cooler temperatures of fall have been calling out to me to start making my cold weather favorites, so I thought I would share.

Perky” Rich Peppermint Hot Cocoa
1 cup of milk
2 t. of sugar
2 T. of Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 packet of Starbucks VIA Peppermint Mocha (this adds caffeination)
(personally I wait until the end of the holiday season and stock up)
Dash of salt
¼ vanilla
Pour the milk into a small sauce pan and whisk in all the other ingredients until piping hot. Pour into your favorite mug. Add whip or marshmallows if you wish. Enjoy!

This recipe was adapted from the one cup recipe on the Hershey's website
2 T. sugar
2-3 t. Hershey's Cocoa
Dash of salt
1 cup milk
1/4 t. vanilla extract

Storing powered cocoa: On the Hershey Company FAQ they state “Cocoa is considered a non-perishable item which should maintain quality if store at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.” Sounds good to me. I keep mine is a cool, dark dry place place and probably have at least 5 years worth of cocoa stored currently.

I am now getting my Hersey's Dark Cocoa from Amazon.

(one)               (six)

I tend to use the same products all the time. You will often find Amazon associate links, which are part of an affiliate program. I will only link products that I personally have purchased & used. You are able to find all the items mentioned above at Perky Prepping Gramma's. Thanks! ~Perky~

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rural King is my new best friend...

Are you ready for this???
Rural King is my new best friend.
As you know I am moving and have been trying to get my hands on more Jar Boxes (TM). I was calling around...
Well, Rural King has Jar Boxes for only $5.93!!!! 

That's right, $5.93!!! I talked to them online customer service (since the pint sizes are currently back ordered), but they seem to have enough to ship out shortly. 
Now, if you order $99 worth, you qualify for FREE shipping.
Spread the word on this incredible price!

To learn more about my experiences so far read Jar Box (TM) Review.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What I am reading and going to read...

Mr. Perky and I are big readers, with stacks and stocks of books all over and everywhere to include the living room, bedroom and our cars. I just thought I'd share what I am currently reading. Ugh! I just clicked on this morning and some of the recommendations were acting weird. So now some of the books will be linked in the title of the books.
In my car I am reading "Finding Elizabeth". While almost everything I read is about preparing in some way, including fiction; this book is about sexual human trafficking. I have been an abolitionist for several years now. Once I found out how prevalent it is in our communities, it changed my world. I have worked on educational seminars, building coalitions of churches to work together effectively and working with some survivors.  This book was written by a friend of mine and an acquaintance, all proceeds are going to fund restoration of trafficking survivors. Heads up, this is a faith based organization.

The book I am reading in the living room, is one that Mr. Perky wanted me to read. "Unintended Consequences". Excellent historical fiction on the weapons culture, which examines the how and why of gun control. 

Next up on deck for perusing over the winter is the "Fox Fire" series, I have heard so many wonderful things about the series, I finally decided to pick up the first three in the series. These were written in the 1960's to preserve the culture of Southern Appalachians, while those who did were still alive.

Tonight I just ordered the following four books. 
The final book (#10) in the 299 Days series. We will probably fight over who gets to read this first. 
EDITED: I just received "299 Days", which I am going to let Mr. Perky read first and "The Hot Zone" which I am rotating up to the top of my list and start reading today. 
"Living Without Electricity", since I try to plan all my preparations to the point of not having electricity. Who better to learn that from than the Amish.
The last two books, "The Hot Zone" and "Demon in the Freezer" non-fiction, are by a gentleman who actually worked in the Virginia facility when there was an outbreak of Ebola. 
I DO NOT recommend "The Hot Zone", if you have a tendency to be paranoid about diseases. You need a level head to read this true story. I am finding it extremely fascinating. About half way through. 


I have learned a lot about prepping, even from fiction. I have read a lot of recommendations from people in our community. 
What are your favorite books you have read on prepping?

For more books I have read and recommend; Perky Prepping Gramma's Store.

Note: There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Raspberry Gobsmacking Delicious Water Kefir

I first tried water kefir in the spring with a friend here on the page. It was very tasty. I decided to try my hands at making my own & I am so hooked! 

The last 10-14 days I have been experimenting and working with water kefir grains.
First, I order some organic water kefir grains from Amazon.

The kefir grains arrived in this package, which included a website to get download and print a pdf with instructions. All I did was follow the instructions. Easy enough. 1 quart non-chlorinated water, 1/4 c. sugar and the water kefir grains.

Aren't they cute?

Since it was the first batch, it took about 5 days to become effervescent enough. I had it fermenting in a warm place, out of direct sunlight. I tasted the kefir water every 24 hrs., until I thought I liked the level of effervesce. 

After five days, I stained the grains out and added another quart of water, 1/4 cup sugar to the kefir grains to get batch 2 rolling. 

The first batch, second fermentation...I split the water kefir in half. Added ginger water ice cubes (melted) from when I was processing ginger the previous week & the other half I added hardy kiwis. 

Honestly, these batches we just o.k. Operator error I am sure, but good enough. But, the second batch, oh my goodness!!!
The second batch took 5 days days to effervesce. I drained out the water kefir grains added 1 quart water, 1/4 sugar to the grains and started the third batch.
Then I added dehydrated raspberries to the second batch, for a second fermentation...  

The second fermentation with the raspberries added took two days to reach the right level of happiness (you are tasting a little bit each day).
Let me tell you. This raspberry batch is gobsmacking delicious!!! I needed add just a little more sugar for my taste. now my only concern is having enough kefir water in process to keep up with drinking. 
I still keep up with my milk kefir, but I find for me I prefer not to drink it. But, that probably has to do with the fact that I am not a fan of drinking milk to start with. I continue to grow it slowly and use the well drained milk to add to various dishes I cook, like lasagna.

Water and milk kefir are a great way to add probiotics to your diet, which in turn get your "gut" healthy. This is one of the steps I am actively pursuing to build my immune system into tip top shape to help me protect myself from various illness and "viruses" that are abounding currently. I also hope Mr. Perky likes it enough to cut back on his strong soda/pop addiction. 
In conclusion, this is something I really glad I tried. These same grains will continue to multiply and can have an unlimited life span if taken care of properly.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

15% off on Plant Therapy Essentail Oil Roll-On's

Personally I use two brands of essential oils. I first tried Plant Therapy after researching quality, cost, and customer service. 
Please read all instructions carefully. The coupon code is: OCT25 and you apply it during check out. This coupon code can only be used once per household and only one coupon per order. This sale is for their pre-diluted roll-ons ONLY at Cannot be used with any other discount or offer. The couplon expires Oct. 25th (2014) at 11:59 pm CST.

These are the roll-ons that I bought.

For other essentials oils I use check out Perky Gramma's Store (associates link).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Understanding the Credit Game

Have you been tracking your expenses as requested in last weeks post? Any thoughts to share so far? I wasn't restricting my spending and we were purchasing more than usual because we are doing things at the farmstead. Spent a little over $400. Paint & painting supplies, food, gas & N100 masks with filters. No credit used.
Nancy Thormann's got me thinking about how much you are able to save if you get yourself out from the credit game.
While I have technically known that you really pay a lot to borrow to purchase a house, I went to a mortgage calculator and discovered:

How much you pay $300,970.80 (total amount you pay) – $165,000 (loan amount) 
= $135,970.80 (your cost to borrow that money). 
Every time you are using accumulated credit debt, you are paying back much larger amounts of money. 
And this my friends, is the envelope that arrived with the Deed to our property, instead of a coupon payment book.

Not so smart way to pay off your credit cards...
I do not recommend this next step. At this point we refinanced the house to pay off our credit card debt. We were still on the brink of financial toxicity in our thought process. But, we wisely started using cash only from that point.
We focused on three points
1) Not using our credit cards. Basically we got rid of them, with the only exception for one card for online purchases. With this card, I immediately go to my bank account and pay the amount to the credit company. You should actually think about that too. Decide if having your information out there is worth the risk.
2) Using cash only. If we didn't have the money, we just don't buy it. Once you get the credit cars payment eliminated, you might be surprised how much more money you have to spend. Suggestion: Why not add up how much you are paying in credit card debit each month? Are you only paying minimum payments?
3) Building up an emergency cash reserve to pay for those things that you need. We are dedicated to this principle.

Honestly, I haven't read or taken the Dave Ramsey financial courses, but I know somethings we do fit into that system and it is one I would recommend highly, particularly how to pay off credit cards, budgeting with envelopes and prioritizing the establishment an emergency cash reserve.
Lastly, Peter Bendal Kear had some excellent suggestions I wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to read his thoughts.
"A couple things I would like to add. A bank is not a good place to store all of it keep an emergency fund on hand. Along these lines realize that paper and even hard currency will lose it's monetary value when the system crashes (Perky's emphasis added). One words about debt and bills which comes in 2 types IMO. Things like electricity, phone, food, etc. which are either the same or variable monthly charges can be budgeted for but hey if you don't pay and something is shut off be able to do without are not something to worry much about. Budget for them and well if you can't afford them or the system goes down be ready to do without. Other things like mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc have a set monthly payment on a debt you owe. All of these things can be paid with 10% added to the payment (less or more is okay I make 20% on our vehicle) in order to pay them off and get out of debt quicker. This also has the advantage in some cases depending on your financial institution of being ahead in payments so that if you say had to stop paying for a time you would be covered. Now keep in mind secured loans are ones that they will take the collateral (home, vehicle) so in my mind part of prepping is making sure that does not happen thus the extra payments. Thing is if the system crashes who is to say I owe this and force payment as well so I guess I could put that same 10% into a savings but then what do I know my house is paid for and I am about a year ahead on my only vehicle loan."
Next Friday, The Big Hairy, Scary Step...
For more information...
10/10/14 I am currently adding more blogs posts to explain a little more in detail about how we got to this point in our journey. These posts are listed here under"Financial".

Romans 13: 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. (NIV) Note that the previous chapter is talking about actually paying what our owe.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Using Ginger 5 Ways (o.k. it's really 6 ways)....

Candied Ginger
Last week I shared how I made candied ginger. Next time I made candied ginger I will be adding a lot less sugar.
Yummy Candied Ginger <(link to blog post)

Ginger Sugar
The ginger sugar was simply a by-product of making the candied ginger. When I took the candied ginger off the drying rack, there was sugar that remained on and under the tray, plus I rubbed off some excess sugar. I plan to use it s a topping on ginger cookies. For now it is just stored in a small canning jar.

Ginger water & Ginger ice cubes
Another by product of making the candied ginger - I hate to waste things, so I saved the water I boiled the ginger in and made ice cubes out of the water. It was very spicy.


Elderberry Juice with Ginger water
Since I had the spicy ginger water ice cubes, I added one to a batch of double batch elderberry juice.
Elder Juice with Ginger <(link to how to make elderberry juice)

Dehydrated Ginger
I dehydrated the smaller pieces of ginger that remained after I sliced the ginger for candy. How to Dehydrate Ginger <(link)

Ginger Water Kefir
Last, but certainly not least, I am in the middle of learning how to make water kefir. I am very excited about learning this new skill. The first batch is in the process of second fermentation and it is a ginger kefir water made with a ginger ice cube. I will be posting very soon about the process, hopefully this coming weekend. 

There you have it, 6 ways I used ginger over the last week. No waste and plenty of healthy preparations. I will be planting ginger when we get established at the homestead. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Your "Why" helps you on your journey out of debt....

Do you like to pop bubble wrap?
It's one of those fun things to do. In fact, check out this link play bubble wrapgame. Seriously check it out, but remember to come back...

Bubble wrap is fun to pop.
Last week, I asked you to share your “why” you want to get out of debt. It's your “why” that will continue to motivate you as your get out of debt. Focusing on your “why” will help as you start to make tough changes in your lifestyle. I think society has brainwashed people into believing that we deserve everything that we want is a valid need. Getting out of debt means learning how to live with what you need vs. what you want, there is a difference.
Want vs. Need
In 1992 I went to Jamaica on a mission trip to build homes for unwed mothers on the streets of inner city Kingston. Before I left, I constantly complained that my couch was really old and dilapidated. So old that three of the legs were cans of creamed corn and I don't even like creamed corn. I thought I needed a new couch.
When I returned home, I was truly grateful to have a couch at all AND three cans of creamed corn. I understand that I simply wanted a new couch.
When you are making a commitment to become debt free, you have to be willing to give up short time fun to make this happen.
I like challenging myself (and others). I once took a challenge (2012) where I was only allowed to spend $250 for one month. It was a very eye opening experience. After pre-paying the monthly bills (which we were allowed to do).
What I learned from this challenge, was that there was a LOT of extraneous spending in my life. For example, I ate out several times a week that was just one area I could curtail my spending.
I challenge you to really assess where you are currently spending your money. Track everything for a month. For some this will be affirming, for others I hope that you have a revelation of where your money is actually going. Get receipts and put them in an envelope. At the end get out your credit card statements, print out you bank statement and list out exactly what you bought.
If you are one of those people who want to get out of debt give this a try.
During the first post Nancy Thomann shared her thoughts on one of the principles I firmly espouse.
It helped that we had always paid cash for our cars (a new car every 8~10) years, you can save that much in 3 years time if you don't have a car payment. We made enough off the sale of the last one to pay cash for this one and sock quite a bit away. Tip number one, and most just do not want to hear it...STOP LIVING ABOVE YOUR MEANS. Do you have that mc mansion to impress others or because you "need" it?? Our friends love us just as much in our 1100 sq foot "old" house as they did in our 3400sq foot custom built...

Romans 13: 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. (NIV) note that the previous chapter is talking about actually paying what our owe.
10/10/14 I am currently adding more blogs posts to explain a little more in detail about how we got to this point in our journey. These posts are listed here under"Financial".

Next week, I will talk about a not so smart way to pay off credit cards & a better way...