Monday, March 30, 2015

DIY, Teeny Tiny Books

This isn't the first time I have blogged. Once upon a time, I blogged about stage designs I created, occasional lessons I taught & little things I did with my grand babies. You will only need a little technical computer skills to make these cute little books for wee hands.
Goodness, these are 5 years old, I may need to make some new ones for them. 
So this isn't about canning, dehydrating or preparing for emergencies.

First, find a picture of a book you'd like to recreate. I used their favorite books & then some classic books.
Right click on the image and download the jpg image onto your computer.

Insert the document images into a document. 

Back to our regular postings...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Who Am I? Just Being Perky...

Survival Betty posted this last week and it stuck a chord in me. She is a gal I really respect & have had the pleasure of meeting in real time. I have been doing a lot of reflecting at where I am on my life's journey and I believe in part it's because we are divesting ourselves of years of "stuff" and moving on to a new chapter in our life together.

I was born in Southern Illinois, commonly known as "Little Egypt". Dad was from a coal mining family during the Great Depression and was orphaned at 11. First his mother died from a brain tumor, then about a year and a half later his father died of black lung. His sister was older and married and the three boys went to live with her. 
Mom was raised on her dad's family farm with a large extended family. Grampa had 10 siblings. They did practically anything to survive. Up to and including selling daffodils. I still love to hear the stories of growing up on a farm. 
Mom & dad met in college at Southern Illinois University. Go Salukis! He was studying with his GI bill and mom had a FFA scholarship. They were married in 1956 and one year later I come into the world.

Food: While I was only a baby when we lived in Illinois, obviously my family history played a big part in how I grew up and what I learned as a child. A lot of Depression era recipes were on our dinner table. These are meals I have in my storage and still make today.
Faith: In my attic I found a box a cassette tapes. My grandfather read the ENTIRE Bible onto cassette tapes. Not once, but twice. He re-did the tapes because he wanted to improve his pronunciations.
Equality: The dining table at the farm was open to ALL people.  

When I was very young we moved way across the country to New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment". This was a good life. I played barefoot, built forts, had pet lizards, learned to make tortillas by hand and lived in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood. 

Photo I took on a recent trip to N.M. with my mom

My very first money was earned picking cotton in the field next to our house. Granted I didn't pick a LOT of cotton, but I was there often. I have always been industrious.
I am a first born child, the only girl in our family. Being the oldest, I was the protector, defender of my younger brothers. 
Then we moved all the way to the east coast to Baltimore and then Columbia, Maryland. Baltimore was a tough neighborhood and was where I learned knife skills. LOL. 
At the beginning of high school, we moved to Panama, Canal Zone.
I really feel blessed with my life. I actually lived in Panama City twice during my stay.  
But, also this is where I learned to serve others. Helping build homes in villages in Costa Rica, learning the amazing life of the indigenous Kuna Indians of Panama with my friend whose family were missionaries. 

I never even saw a weapon until I joined the military in the late 70's. Shot expert my first time & joined the combat rifle team. I enlisted in the army at the just after the Viet Nam warI actually lived in the Canal Zone & wouldn't enlist until I was guaranteed my M.O.S. & to be stationed back home for my duty station. It pays to have the highest score on the aptitude tests given. LOL.
Not a popular time to choose the military & a very tumultuous time in the history of Panama and the Canal Zone. When I first arrived at 534th Military Police Company, my first sergeant took me into his office and told me that women shouldn't be in the Army and they definitely shouldn't be in the Military Police. He later apologized. 
This was a time rife with bizarre life experiences including being stalked and watching an attempted suicide. I learned invaluable skills in the field, digging a foxhole, surviving in the jungle, riot control training. I enlisted because I had witnessed first hand what it is like to live in a dictatorship & I believed in liberty

Basic Training 

My dad didn't teach me to throw a ball, I taught myself in my early 20's when I took on the task on being a Little League coach for the littlest ones. 

Oh my goodness, to think I thought I was fat then.

I also taught myself how to change the oil and other car repairs and use a drill out of necessity as a single parent.

The thing I did learn from my dad was to sing...

I often will say "beware of the fluffy gramma...". Nowadays people see a fluffy, perky gramma without realizing what is truly at my core. Looks can be deceiving. Survival Betty, tagged my response to that first pic with this...

I am a strong woman who has learned many life lessons created through trail and error, through pain and suffering. I am survivor, a patriot, warrior! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tattling Great Things about Tattlers...

As in all things, I tend to prepared for a time without electricity. Imagine say a year into an age without power & you have run out of normal canning lids. You are able to still do your pressure canning AND you happened to have Tattler Reusable Lids.
Finished off pressure canning the last of my Zaycon bacon order. This time I remembered to use my Tattler lids. Tattlers are a great reusable canning lid! You read that correctly, the Tattler Lids are specifically designed to be reusable, because they utilize a two part lid system.

Perky Gramma's associates store on Amazon)

Even if you are buying the lids at the regular price, I believe you will recoup your purchase after using them 5 times, then it is like having FREE canning lids!. But I also like to save money. Tattler usually has a good sale on their website around October. That is when I purchased a entire gross of lids & rings. I will announce it as soon as I see the sale. So save up your money.

The method used for canning with Tattler lids is a little different than normal canning lids. Here are the directions from their site.

EDITED: With the Tattlers, I did have a couple failures; but I determined that I got the rubber gasket askew on top which then didn't create a proper seal. So take care when placing the rubber gasket on the jar. ~Perky~

So here is my batch: the lids, holding the hot lids down, tightening the lids down.

Tightening the lids down AFTER canning...

Here is the batch all done!

Test Results of Several Storage Containers

One of the hardest things I found initially was how to store what, where, with what & how long it would last. It drove me nuts!

NOTE: All plastic packing is permeable to oxygen to some level, just some are better than others.

1. The first is PET jars. PET is the designation that it is safe for food storage. Alone, IMHO it doesn't provide long term storage. I now am converting to using these containers for my everyday storage.

Note the shape is curved on these containers below. Only the left one "sucked in". The one with the metal lid on the left I purchased at a local brick and mortar store, I haven't been able to find any that match them. I did find some PET jars which I purchased online. They were a dismal failure and shipping was outrageous. Also, the ones from Walmart don't work for long term storage.

2.The lid/seal makes a huge difference. On the left is a PET container with a metal lid & an O2 absorber. On the right is a PET container with a plastic lid (note: no real seal). If you look at the picture, you will note the sides of the container on the left is “sucked in”.

3. Canning jars: I am currently using these containers a lot for storage. They are cost effective and the glass & air doesn't permeate the glass. Much better for long term storage.
Vacuum sealed canning jars with the Food Saver. Storing Chocolate and Other Happy Items. <--- This post cover how to, what vacuum sealer I use and the alternative for vacuum sealing without electricity.
I now use the vacuum sealer for loads of various foods. 


4. Vacuum Sealing with the FoodSaver bags: Here I packaged macaroni and cheese.  Using two packages at time. I poured each "package of pasta" into a sandwich baggie (to maintain the portion. Added them, then the two packages of "cheese". Cut out the directions (one per bag) and slipped it into the food saver bag away from the food.

My thoughts are that they will last longer than PET jars, but not as long a canning jars. I rarely use this for long term storage now, but it is great for freezing.

5. Mylar bags: Here are some tips on using them for storage & where to get them.

This was pretty interesting. I put off using Mylar bags for awhile. But now that I have done it, you can be assured I will be doing it more often. At 38 cents a bag, it is a VERY economical way of storing. I got these 1 gallon Mylar bags (7 m.m. thick, which is really heavy duty) from LDS org. $94 for a case of 250 with free shipping. 

You can spend less money for bags with oxygen absorbers on Amazon with various sizes available. (associates link)


The first thing I stored in Mylar bags was sugar (store sugar without oxygen absorbers) Getting ready. Took me awhile to find my iron. I don't iron anymore. Now it is my prepping equipment.

I put about 5 lbs. of sugar in each gallon bag. Squished the air out. You can use a straw to suck ore air out if you want. I wasn't too worried about it with the sugar. Then sealed with an iron set on medium.

Leave several inches on the top for a good seal. I tested the seal by gently shaking upside down. Labeled with sharpie. Then placed in a 5 gallon bucket.

Why, oh why didn't do this before?
I haven't gone the route of storing a lot of items in 5 gallon containers. I just haven't found the need. Though I have purchased already sealed 5 gallons containers of items like wheat.

With that said, I now focus on storing most of my food in Mylar bags or canning jars. Actually storage is a great use for those 1/2 gallon canning jars. This week I finished vacuum sealing the last of my noodles.

The reason I have this specific FoodSaver linked below, is that is comes with the accessory port and line already. When we purchased it, that wasn't a consideration; but now that I am vacuum sealing with canning jars it is one of the most important features. The lid attachments are the other accessory needed for vacuum sealing the canning jars.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What & Why Zaycon?

What & Why Zaycon?
Get your freezer bags, pressure canner and jars ready...


Spring and fall are Zaycon Chicken Event time in my world. I get loads of canning jars, freezer bags & order my Zaycon chicken. 
The fall “Zaycon Chicken Event” is currently running, plus in some areas they are offering frozen Wild Sockeye salmon, frozen premium Alaskan cod, hickory smoked bacon, bacon wrapped pork fillets, just to name a few other delicious options available.  

  1. Click the link & Register. This is my unique link (clicking on the link will list me as your referral):
  2. After you register you will receive your unique referral link & SHARE YOUR LINK with your friends.
  3. Then subscribe to an area (or two, depending how far you will travel) under the location tab. You may have to travel a little bit, I travel about an hour for my events. If there isn't a location fairly close to you at this time, still register and then spread the word. It took about 6 months for an event to start in my local area.
  4. Order your chicken.
  5. Then the day of your local event, you drive up, hand them your confirmation, they load it in your car.
Why Zaycon? My reasons:
It's such a great price for a pound for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
But, even better it's 100 % natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients, raised cage free. The feed they use for the chickens is non-GMO. Comes directly from the processor and has never been frozen. They are not "certified" organic. At $1.89 pr pound you may find a cheaper price, but you won't get the quality of this chicken that they offer. It is truly that good!
I am not the only person who loves their products: Why My Friends Love this Thing Called Zaycon
Sold by 40 lbs. cases. If need be, split a case the first time with a friend.  I did that the first time with a friend, the next time we ordered 60 lbs. each.

This is really great chicken, I have been saving my money and waiting for this.
Look at the size of the breasts.

Want a better deal? Get credits for referring friends & family.

The power comes from sharing with your friends. This is an amazing deal. First you go to Zaycon and register. After you have signed up, you share your unique referral code with friends on Facebook, etc. and you received $1 credit each time they order. Those credits don't expire either. So spread the word.

Zaycon's announcement:

Friends, family, neighbors... EVERYBODY! It's coming back! Zaycon Foods' famous, delicious, all-natural, awesomely affordable boneless skinless chicken breast sales events are NOW OPEN ALL ACROSS AMERICA!
We have chicken breast sales events planned for the early fall in all 48 continental states. You can place your orders right now. We're committed to making this our best round of chicken sales events ever, so we are sourcing our meats from the finest farms we could find, we have added more inventory and locations than ever before, and we have managed to get the price down again!

Even though we have hundreds of sales events scheduled, chances are that we will still sell out of all this great chicken, so place those orders just as soon as you can.

(And don't forget about our many other events taking place in various regions right now and for the rest of the summer. There might even be a Zaycon event happening soon just down the street from you!)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Navy Beans & Ham Soup (100% Stored)

Simple meal for cold weather. I thought I had shared this recipe for Navy Bean Soup. I was wrong. This could be used with many types of beans. Since it is pressure canned, they sit on my shelf ready to open on a cold and dreary day. We also make corn muffins to go with this meal. This is one of the few things I add ketchup to, because my dad did. LOL. 
Since ham will be on sale soon, this is a great time to prepare these for a quick meal.

1. I did three pounds of beans specifically so I could can them.
Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain in the morning.

2. Add water to cover the beans, and several cloves of garlic. You may want to add onion also. Add a very meaty ham bone. Bring to a boil and cook for about an hour. May need to add water as you go. Also, Vicky reminded me if you leave the spoon in (see it on the left) and the lid on top, it will prevent boil overs.

3. Cutting the extra meat off the bone

4. I added a cooked clove of garlic to the bottom of each jar for more flavor. 
I also added more meat, because I had plenty & we like it.


5. Filled the quart jars.

6. Wiped the rims with white vinegar.

7. I pressure canned the quart jars at 10# for 90 minutes (for my altitude), because it has meat in it.

It's that easy to add additional meals to your storage. Now can't you see them lined up on your shelf?

Top Three Picks:


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