Friday, November 28, 2014

Perky Prepping Gramma's Wager

I have been fascinated with what has been called Pascal's Wager. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a mathematician, writer, inventor and later in life a Christian philosopher. Without going into a tons of explanations or extrapolation of variables, the basic premise to Pascal's Wager is:

God exists God does not exist
Wager for God Gain all Status quo
Wager against God Misery Status quo

Perky Prepping Gramma's Wager
This is rather simplistic, but

Just as Blaise Pascal's wager generally won't convince someone to believe in God, I also think that PPG's wager really won't convince the average person to prepare for emergencies. As often as a blizzard warning (rioting, hurricane, just fill in the blank) occurs-people will still continue to not be ready and run to the store and clear off the shelves.
For many of us who do prepare we simply understand or have even experienced where our preparations have been useful.
In my opinion, arguing “facts” rarely convinces others to think like we do. But, sharing how what we do has impacted our life, is hard to disagree with.
Our recent purchase of our new home for cash has led to many conversations. About 10% would even ask how, the main message I was able to get out was “get out of debt”. Maybe a few will take that to heart. But, there were two people, who were curious enough to delve deeper in to the “why”. Those two people have at least started thinking about preparing for their family for the future.
You are here, you are somewhere on the journey. If just one person decides to actually take the first step on their preparedness journey today, then I will count it as a very successful day.
That is why I am here, why I continue to share my little journey.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Best Gift...

As you may know from all the holiday decorations that have cropped up, Christmas is on it's way. 
What you won't see here is a list of things to consider buying for the holidays.
I grew up with the pressure of giving gifts to EVERYONE.
Staying out of debt is our new choice. 

A few years ago we started on a different journey for the holidays. I started with the things that created stress and guilt in my world.
Christmas Cards: I really was bad about sending Christmas cards anyway, so this one was fairly easy to eliminate.  Do you still have cards you didn't send out from last year? Anyway, I only send a card to my mother & now I send a couple to the Angel Card Project. 

I actually chose to support this project, because I do remember spending years alone at Christmas. Including the year I had hotdogs for Christmas dinner, because I was working on Christmas Day in the military and nothing was open for dinner. I had missed the mess hall dinner. 

Decorating the House: Again another project that simply caused stress in my life. After my son left home, I eventually cut back drastically on decorating. What I found again was I often working up to the last minute.
This year I may put up a small tree I have: 1) Because we will be going through the attic and seeing what we are going to move & what we are getting rid of and 2) My mom is coming to visit us this year. Other than that we focus on what we really like: Putting up some outside lights and lighting a candle on Christmas Day.

Cooking: Christmas Eve we have our "Favorites Banquet". We get foods that we don't normally get through out the year, usually because of cost. I started this when my son was little & we were so broke. It's a tradition that he really wants to share with his family.  Christmas Day we order Chinese food & stay out of the kitchen. LOL.

Gifts: This has been the biggest change recently. 
For us, we give gifts to my mother (the only living parent) and our grandchildren. We request that no one gives us gifts.  

Pay Cash Only: This is the big deal here. Be intentional with your plan. Don't go into debt for the holidays. It really isn't necessary. 
Don't get caught up in the hype and guilt of buying.

Forgive Yourself: I think often people harbor a lot of guilt during the holidays. Take a day to forgive yourself.  Take day to remember things that are painful and sorrowful. Take a day and do something for yourself. 

The added benefit is now I have far less stress during the holidays. More time to focus on what I believe is more important. 
At the very least, take the time to really evaluate what is truly important in your world and work towards that. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Storing with Mylar Bags

(Photo from LDS Store website)
When I started prepping, there was so much I needed to learn. I started prepping with out even knowing "prepping" was a thing. Honestly for about 6 months in the beginning, I simply just bought and put things back based on a list I had made of items that we used daily.

Air, moisture, light, temperature & vermin are the enemies of food storage.

Self-Reliance- Home Storage Store (<--- link to LDS Store), is where I purchase my Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers (OA's). Everything there is really cost effective and shipping is FREE. But, you will be purchasing in higher volumes. Personally I like the fact that their Mylar bags are twice as thick as others I have found. The Amazon link below, is less of an outlay of money if you want to just try things out. But, note that the Amazon link bags are 3.5 mm Mylar Bags vs. 
7 mm think Mylar bags vs. on the bags from the LDS Store. 

(Photos from LDS Store website)

When it comes to cost effectiveness and ease, the LDS Store is the Best Kept Secret (<--- article on LDS Store order) for purchasing certain foods and some equipment with free shipping. 
My first attempt at storing with Mylar bags was interesting: Storing Dessert Mixes in Mylar Bags. This article has pictures.
1) Prepare your items in the Mylar bags ahead of time. 

2) Then open your oxygen absorbers & place them in the bags just before you seal them. The OA's start absorbing air as soon as they are opened. Prepare ahead of time to have a container (I use a canning jar) ready. Whatever OA's are left, simply stuff them in the jar and add a lid and ring.

3) Squish out as much air as possible, add OA's and then seal the bag. I used my Food Saver Vacuum Sealer, Mylar bags and OA's. The Food Saver will NOT take the air out of Mylar bags, but if you have one, it WILL seal the bags. You may also use an iron (don't use the steam setting) or flat iron. 

If would love it if you have additional tips to share with our community on Perky Prepping Gramma on Facebook.

Here are some recent purchases I have made and talked about in posts:


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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dehydrating, Vacuum Sealing Oranges & a Tasty Treat

I often use my mandolin to slice items. It works really well. I HIGHLY recommend you use a Kevlar glove when using a mandolin, It is EXTREMELY sharp.
I have sliced off part of my finger before using the gloves. I was being very careful.

Then simply lay the slices on the trays.

Here they are in my dehydrator. I personally use the Excalibur. Many use smaller dehydrators, which work well. I just tend to do big batches & quickly graduated to a 9 tray dehydrator.

Lots of yummy oranges.

Then I use my Food Saver vacuum sealer with attachments to seal them in quart jars. Then they are stored in a cool, dark, dry location. How to: Album on vacuum sealing.

When I get around to eating the oranges, I peel off the rinds and save them. When I have a good amount of the rinds, I take some of the pith off and lay them out on parchment paper in a baking dish...

I break up some dark chocolate bars (which I also have vacuum sealed & stored in canning jars). I put them in the oven at a low temp. Probably about 250 degrees.

Once the chocolate is melted, I mix up the chocolate and the rinds.

Then I smooth the mixture out evenly...

Once the chocolate hardens, then I break it up into pieces and store. Goodness, it has been awhile since I have done this and this is making me really hungry. I haven't been able to store this sweet treat, since I eat it all up when I make it. 

If you are interested in purchasing any of the above products, I have listed them in my Amazon Associate store.
1) I try to only recommend things that I actually use and like.
2) I find things that if you order the appropriate amount these items qualify for free shipping.
3) The cost is exactly the same for you, I simply receive a small commission on items people purchase that I recommend from Amazon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lessons Learned...

Many of you know that I support a local food pantry. It is actually a LINK of various organizations working together to serve others.
Where I go to church, is the highest-income county in the United States.
Yesterday I worked on the distribution day along with some friends. We helped about 800 families with loading their shopping carts.


What I wanted to share were some interesting things I learned, which I think also apply to preparations of food storage.

Pasta Sauce and tomatoes: There were at least 5 tables of various pastas, yet less than ½ table of pasta sauce AND tomatoes.
Mayonnaise: I have always known that mayo was a luxury item. But I was really struck that there wasn't any mayo.

Beans: In choosing beans, most walked by the baked beans and searched for black beans, red beans and chick peas.
Pumpkin: There was a can of pumpkin (and cranberries) for everyone. I was surprised that it seem to be a cultural item, which I hadn't realized before. Of all the families I helped only two chose to accept the pumpkin.

Brand names: Please don't get me wrong here. No one complained, but I watch as some mothers were delighted to find brand names. Another was overjoyed to find Goya brand beans, she remarked this was a really good brand from her country.

Mostly I was reminded that you should store what you eat. When times are tough, there is comfort in things that you know.

We will be helping out again in December.
But, more importantly I will be giving in January. That is when most food banks are depleted.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

ECD Car Supplies: All because of baseball

Mr. Perky cracks me up & I am grateful. 
Today's shipment is all because of our grandsons baseball game we attended about two weeks ago & the increase in our travel time to and from the "vacation home". 
First, we are now traveling several times week to the farmstead. Mr. Perky now insists that I carry my BOB (bug out bag) in my vehicle. Just in case something should happen.
Next, we were at a baseball game not long ago and it was cold. It was dark, cold and very windy. I was really surprised how unprepared most of the families were for the weather. It was 'bleeping' cold. Three hours.
One dad, a hunter pulled out his blind and propane heater for the children to huddle in during the game.

Thankfully, I had hand warmers (which I need to replenish, since I gave them all away), boots, hats, scarves and my Carhartt quilted bib overalls in my car to bundle up with. I certainly was the most prepared.

Anyway, Mr. Perky's reaction was to add more to my car from Sportsman Guide
Last night, our shipment arrived.

For some reason we now have two more sleeping bags.
What cracked me up was we already have sleeping bags, but I really liked his thought process of this adding this sniper bag for future baseball games. LOL. 
Plus, he got 4 Swiss Army blankets.
These are great additions for you to add to your bug-out-bag.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mr. Perky took a trip...

Mr. Perky took a trip to North Carolina yesterday to talk to a company about putting up a 20' x 40' garage/outbuilding on our property. It was well worth the trip. Even with the company traveling to our area in Virginia for installation, he was able to save about $8,000!
We are also currently waiting on the installation of a new roof on our house. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Butterfly Circus" & Mr. Perky the Druid

Technically Mr. Perky is not a druid. In my family we spin tales all the time. Rather an imaginative group.
When we first met Mr. Perky was very turned off by established traditional church – proclaimed he was the only member of the Church of the Hermitage (a place of religious seclusion), who stayed home on Sundays and watched reruns of Star Trek in his underwear. I was a de-churched Christian.
The story that ensued over the years pulled from classic Celtic legends, was he would pilgrimage to Stonehenge, hugs trees etc. The reality is that he is simply a person whose family had extremely painful interactions with church and churchy people.
One month after we were married, my faith journey grew back into a strong relationship as a follower of Christ.
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.”

I believe these statements epitomize my journey here with you on being prepared. My heart breaks for the disenfranchised, those typically marginalized by society. It motivates all I do.
Mr. Perky and I have always maintained a strong mutual respect of each others faith journey.
This video entitled “Butterfly Circus” is worth the viewing. I feel it describes my faith journey well. It's not preachy, I promise.
So now you know a little more about me...

Welcome to the journey.

The Butterfly Circus - HD from The Butterfly Circus on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

FREE Canning Downloads

From the beginning, when I was learning I would read about what you can and can't do when canning. Eventually, I got to the point where I wanted to see what was actually said by the oft attributed USDA. I read these guides thoroughly & that is how I decided what I felt was safe for my family. That is what I always encourage people to do, read and determine for yourself.

Plus, it was the source of a lot of nifty pictures and charts you see.
There are seven free guides available for downloading and printing. It is a great resource to have on hand. 

If you want to buy a printed version, they are available from Purdue EDU Education Store for $14.40

Monday, November 3, 2014

How to be prepped for long term storage: Elderberry Juice...

Has anyone canned elderberry juice?

From the wall: Stephanie's Question: "When making Elderberry syrup are you canning it? If so do you water bath it or pressure can? I've made it and frozen some but it doesn't last long without molding in my fridge so I need to figure out if I can can it for long term storage." 

The short answer would be I haven't canned the actual juice. I use it so frequently & for me it is quick and simple to make. 

I do have it prepped for long term storage by having the individual ingredients stored. Each of the highlight words below link to a post on that topic.
I use four ingredients & have three stored. Water, dehydrated elderberries, dehydrated ginger and local raw honey. Didn't get my ginger in this picture.

The honey is a forever food. Just keep enough in stock.

It is that simple to keep all the supplies on hand.   

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Getting to know my new neighborhood...

We have been traveling back and forth to Orange for a very long time (probably 20 years). Last weekend, I wanted to take the time to check out some of my local area merchants. I basically wanted to see what was available.
First I went to Yoder's Country Market

Love their selection of various spices, pastas, baking goods and bakery items. They also have a bookstore and outdoor furniture. 

I just bought a couple items this time & I received a 2015 calendar with coupons for each month.
Also, I went to visit Miller Farms Market. The gentleman in front of this main building, said "Wait, I wasn't smiling". I laughed and offered to take the picture again. He had gathered some apples from the market and headed across the street to the Farm House Kitchen across the street. I need to find out more. One of the things I have been thinking about is teaching pressure canning, dehydrating, etc. 

I picked up some local fresh eggs and honey. I prepped my eggs with mineral oil and now I have some store at our new house. 
How to store eggs for nine months: Redux: Egg-cellent Egg-ducation

Buy Fresh, Buy local ya'll