Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan: Bye Week!

Four times a year we have a "bye week" in the food storage plan, since it is designed to do only four weeks each month. Soooooo, when we have a bye week, it's a perfect time to catch up on any missed weeks, or straighten up those food storage shelves. Or, if you're already completely caught up and on top of things, just sit back and relax until next week!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June Week 4: Miscellaneous Gear

This week's items are:

June Week 4: Miscellaneous Gear - nylon cord, eye hooks, clothespins, 20-22 gauge wire, wire cutters, duct tape, bungee cords

Easy enough, right? These will definitely be items that you will keep in your storage for emergency situations. You will be able to use the nylon cord and the eye hooks for a clothes line or to form a make shift tent, or about a zillion other uses. The wire and wire cutters will also have many different uses. The duct tape, as we all know, can be used for so many things it will make your head spin (see list below). I threw in the bungee cords because I saw them at Home Depot and thought that they could also come in handy.

The secret is to keep these items in a bin on your shelves in the storage room. If you have them, but they are scattered around the house or garage, they won't be readily accessible in case of emergency, and you also may run out of the items and not realize it. Gather them, check them off on your inventory sheet, and get them on your shelves for sometime in the future when you may really find it necessary to have some or all of them. This is another one of those weeks, where if you gather it and stow it in a good place, you shouldn't have to keep rebuying it every year. Today, I'll just go down to my food storage room and check to make sure the items are all still there, and then I'll be done for the week. Could not possibly be any easier than that!

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

And for some extra information on how useful duct tape can be in an emergency, I found this list of 25 survival uses on line. Pretty impressive...

If there ever was a miracle product better than spray-on-hair or the ShamWow, it is duct tape. Over the past 70 years of its existence, this staple product of fix-it-yourselfers has been used by virtually every walk of life, for jobs that I’m sure the duct tape developers never imagined. So how can we use it for survival?
Here are my top 25 survival uses for duct tape, in no order whatsoever.

1. Repairing a cracked water bottle or a pierced hydration bladder. A little strip of DT is the next best thing to a bandage for an ailing water vessel. Just dry the surface before you try to tape your patch in place, most forms of duct tape don’t stick to wet surfaces.

2. Survival arrow fletching. Tear off a few 5-inch pieces, and a long edge of one piece to the arrow shaft, fold the tape lengthwise, and stick the other long edge of that piece to the arrow. Repeat this process one or two more times; trim the vanes to shape with your knife; and you will have a serviceable arrow fletching.

3. Butterfly bandage strips. Cut two small strips of DT, and add a smaller strip across their centers (sticky side to sticky side) to create a makeshift butterfly suture.

4. Make cordage. Twist one or several lengths of duct tape into a cord or rope.

5. Patch a hole in canoe. I wouldn’t trust my life to this one, but it’s been done more than once.

6. Fashion a belt. When you are starving in the wild, and your pants start falling down, run a piece of DT through your belt loops and stick it to itself in the front. Overlap it about 4 or 5 inches and you’ll still be able to peel the belt apart when nature calls.

7. First aid sling. Fold a length of DT down the middle, so that it is half the original width and no longer exposing a sticky side. Use the strap to make a sling for a busted arm.

8. Leave a note. Write on it with a Sharpie, or use strips to form letters.

9. Handcuff alternative. If someone is acting up during a survival emergency, you can duct tape their hands together around a tree to prevent them from becoming a danger to themselves or others.

10. Mend shoes and clothing. You can skip the sewing class, if you have enough duct tape.

11. Repair your glasses. The tape on your glasses my look a little nerdy, but at least you’ll still be able to see.

12. Attach shelter elements.
 Just a few trash bags and some duct tape, and you have a survival shelter roof, or a sleeping bag cover, or a wind break, or…

13. Attach survival gear. Tape a spark rod to the side of your knife sheath, and you’ll always have a back-up fire source.

14. Make a hat. If you believe what you see on TV, the “Mythbusters” guys made a pretty nice looking hat out of duct tape on a recent episode.

15. Affix bandages. Place a sterile dressing over your wound, and strap it in place with DT. Hopefully you’re not too hairy where you got injured.

16. Fix your rain gear. Keep the dry stuff dry, and keep the water out, by mending your ripped rain gear with a few strips.

17. Make a drinking cup. Some creative folding and sticking can result in a cup you can drink from.

18. Make a spear. Strap your knife to a pole and you have a trusty spear to fend off beasts, or make one into your dinner.

19. Blister care. Cover the blistered area with a bit of cotton gauze, and tape over the cotton. Make sure that the duct tape fully covers the cotton and doesn’t touch the blister at all.

20. Mark a Trail. Use it to blaze a trail or signal for rescue, especially if your DT is brightly colored or reflective.

21. Make emergency repairs on your Bug Out Vehicle.
 Leaking hoses and windows that won’t stay up don’t stand a chance against the mending powers of duct tape.

22. Keep the feathers in your sleeping bag. If you have a hole in your down sleeping bag, the feathers will pour out faster than excuses from a politician. Patch the hole with DT.

23. Keep your tent closed. A damaged zipper could leave your tent door flapping in the wind. Stick the door shut, and keep the bugs and critters out.

24. Splint a leg. A broken ankle or leg can be stabilized with ample splint material, padding and duct tape. Pad the crotch of a forked branch with some cloth and duct tape to fashion a quick crutch to go with your splint.

25. Splint a broken tent pole or fishing pole. By taping a stick to the broken area of your tent pole or fishing rod, you might just get one last adventure out of it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Recipe: Chicken Carbonara

I find recipes all the time on Pinterest, and generally I tweak them a bit here and there. I have come across some real keepers. And also some that aren't all that great, and I don't bother keeping the recipe.

This recipe is one I found that originated from jadelouisedesigns.com. We LOVED it, and especially loved that it is a much lower fat version of the other Chicken Carbonara recipes we've seen. Of course I tweaked it just a bit to suit our fancy.

Chicken Carbonara
Serves 6

2 T. butter
3 T. flour
garlic powder
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. Parmesan shavings, plus more to sprinkle onto each serving
2 T. parsley
2/3 box bowtie pasta
6 strips of bacon, cooked and diced
2 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked, and sliced
1 roma tomato, diced finely

1. Cook chicken breasts in oven or on grill. Slice.
2. Cook up bacon and dice.
3. Cook bowtie pasta, rinse with hot water, and set aside while cooking sauce

1. Mix flour and butter over medium heat until thick and smooth, and cooked through. Add a shake of garlic powder.
2. Add milk, heavy cream, and chicken broth to the pan and whisk until smooth.
3. Cook on low until it thickens.
4. Add in Parmesan shavings and parsley. If the sauce gets too thick, add more chicken broth.
5. Add the cooked, drained bowtie pasta.
6. Toss gently to cover the noodles completely.
7. Salt and pepper to taste.
8. Add chicken, bacon, and tomato to the sauce and gently fold in til all covered in sauce.
9. Serve hot with extra Parmesan shavings over the top.

We ate ours with a green salad and crusty rolls. Can't wait to make this one again!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June Week 3: Burger Week -- All the Fixins

This week's food storage items are:

June Week 3: Burger Week -- mustard, ketchup, mayo, Worcestershire, pickles, olives, soy sauce, salad dressings

There are several items this week, and many of them wouldn't be entirely necessary for an long-term emergency situation. But, these are still items that you may use frequently throughout the year. And that is reason enough to stock up and be sure you have all that you might use of each item up on your food storage shelves. It takes a lot of stress out of life to be able to go to your own shelves when you run out of an item, instead of having to run to the store. Love it!

So, think about what you will use this coming year of these items: mustard (all kinds), ketchup, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, pickles, olives, soy sauce, and any salad dressings your family likes to eat. Write down what you think you'll need in order to to have a year's supply. Then, get to the grocery store sometime this week and get the items on your shelves. Don't forget to update the inventory sheets to reflect the items you have added to your food storage. There. Now doesn't that feel good? Rest on your laurels til next week.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

S-SOS (Second Snake of the Season)

Oh boy. I knew it was a probability, but still. We're already at Snake #2 of the season. And Bob has dispatched both of them for me, which saves me the bounty I normally pay per snake. Kindof.

I am slowly trying to make my yard more unattractive to reptiles, while still trying to keep it attractive to humans. It's a bit tricky, actually. But we're working on it. And in the mean time, my love continues to come to my rescue, literally. He doesn't give up easily, either.

He's so determined to get rid of the little beasts and make my life a bit more worry-free. He even bought a snake grabber. Okay, maybe it's really a garbage picker, but he bought it specifically to grab snakes with, and it works like a charm, as attested by the photo below.

Icky. The only thing good about this photo is that I know I'll never see that snake again. 

So, if you find yourself with a snake situation, run to Home Depot and pick yourself up a snake grabber. Maybe don't ask the workers for a snake grabber. Ask for a garbage picker, and know that you and a few others know the real use for that contraption.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Year of the Iris

I'm going to go ahead and declare this the year of the iris. At least in my yard. I am pretty sure I had iris bloom in colors I didn't even know I had. It must have something to do with the cool, extraordinary spring we've been having. At any rate, they sure put on a show...

I love the variegated foliage on this one below. So pretty, and adds interest to the garden long after the blooms have gone away.

So many of these are from my mom's garden. As I was trying to fill up my garden, she would dig up shovelfuls of iris rhizomes in her yard, and I'd run them to my garden and put them in the ground.

Look at the colors in this one. What a beauty!

The bonus to irises is that they are sooooo easy to grow and care for. They don't take much of anything, except perhaps dividing once in a while. Pretty, pretty, old-fashioned flowers that remind me of my mom. Love them!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June Week 2: Cheese

This week's food storage item is:

June Week 2: Cheese. Buy a large quantity of what you use, and freeze the grated cheese in baggies. Don't forget Parmesan!

For this week's items, I will buy Parmesan Cheese to get me through a year (or as long as the expiration date will allow). I use cream cheese often, so I'll buy what I need to get me through several months (again, depending on the expiration dates). As far as grated cheeses, I always keep extra bags in the freezer as back up, and I use them as I run out.

I don't think of cheese as a particularly necessary item in an extreme emergency, so I just store what I can fit in my refrigerator and freezer, and what I will use up in the coming few months. I do love having a good supply on hand, because it seems like more often than not, I use recipes that call for some kind of cheese. Its nice to know that I always have some on hand without having to make a trip to the store just for that!

So, decide what cheese you use most, and what you will benefit by having extras of. Add those items to your grocery list, and get them bought and in your freezer or refrigerator. The only cheese I have on the inventory sheets is Parmesan cheese, since that can be stored on the shelves until it has been opened.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Garden Perrenials Save the Day

This is one of those years. I usually have bought most or all of my annuals, along with some new perennials by now. In a normal year, I would have perused the nurseries many times over, and picked up a few loads. But this year, it hasn't happened yet. For one thing, we had lots and lots of cold rain in May. So much so, that strolling through the nurseries didn't sound fun, let alone working out in the yard. 

So, I still have that on my list, and I definitely will get some more things to stick in the ground. 

But in the meantime... those beautiful perennials that muscle through the long, snowy winter months, and endure severe pruning, and look like little mounds of nothing in the early spring -- those stalwart gems of the flower beds -- have saved my garden this year.

Oh, the peonies. How I love peonies. I wish they bloomed all year long.

Bees are buzzing around this salvia. Must be full of nectar. 

The weather has been so strange this year, that the picture below actually looks like my August gardens. I'm sure in a couple of weeks, I'll be pulling out and cleaning up, but for now... 

And the snapdragons have all come back up, and are gorgeous. More gorgeous than last year, for sure. I love snapdragons. They remind me of my mom's and grandma's gardens.

Perennial Geranium. The perfect plant for this spot. It slowly ambles and becomes a bit bigger through the years, but it is easy to pull back, or to divide and replant here and there (thanks, Mom!).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tender Mercies

Sometimes things happen that are far more than coincidence. We had one of those experiences a few nights ago.

It all started with a haircut. I had planned to cut Bob's hair that night, and I always do it in our bedroom so that it's contained and easy to clean up from off the wood floor. Anyway, I did my usual professional cut (haha), and vacuumed up afterwards while he showered. At that time, it was late enough that climbing into bed to watch a show sounded divine, so we did just that. And then a torrential downpour started. So much so, that we decided to hop up, turn the deck lights on, and watch the storm from our sliding glass door.

When the storm calmed down, we continued on with our show. After a bit, I noticed I had left the deck lights on. I figured since the room was a little on the stuffy side after Bob's shower, I would get up, turn the deck lights off, and open the sliding glass door for a bit of fresh cool air. It did just the trick.

Several minutes later, we both smelled what we thought was a bonfire, and talked about how strange it was for someone to be having a bonfire so late on a school night. Oh well. Bonfires are not at all out of the norm for our neighborhood, and maybe it was an End of the School Year Homework Burning Party like our kids had every year. Again, our curiosity got the best of us, and we hopped out of bed to see if we could see who in the world was having the bonfire.

We looked out the door to the deck, and saw nothing behind us, or to the east. And then we looked to the west.

Down at the other end of our deck, by the family room. The light fixture was on fire! Whaaaatttt???? It was surreal, and may have taken me a second or two to process. Bob acted quickly and doused it with water.

You can see that the metal bucket just below the light fixture was holding a fire also. 

The simplest explanation is that that particular lantern is where we have had finches building nests year after year, and yes... I have actually cleaned it all the way out, only to have them rebuild. This year I noticed they had packed it especially full -- all the way to the top with nesting material. And it was ever so solid. In fact, so solid that this is the first year we haven't had to rescue baby birds who had slipped out of the nest. So, there was plenty of kindling, and that fire could have burned a while longer. I am pleased to say that the finches had already left the nest, so there were no lives lost in our little fire.

Their are some extraordinary things that happened that night, to make what could have been a scary, horrible experience, into something small and easily contained:

-I cut Bob's hair, which led to him taking a shower at night, which led to our room being stuffy and hot, which led to me opening the sliding glass door (which at night, I only do once in a blue moon -- maybe once a year), which was the only way we were able to smell an unusually-timed bonfire.

-I had a metal tub underneath the light fixture because we've had many a baby bird fall out of that nest, and we've had to rescue them and put them back in. I leave the tub there, with shoes, etc, for a soft landing for the little hatchlings. In this case, the metal tub contained the fire that was dropping out of the lantern, and the deck and surrounding objects didn't catch on fire. Looks like I may be in the market for a new pair of gardening shoes.

As you can see from the lantern, there was still plenty of fuel for the fire that could have burned for a while longer. 

I know there are many out there who would say it is all just a happy coincidence, and others who might say that this really isn't that big of a deal. I, however, know it is a tender mercy, and that it could have evolved into something much worse, considering our wood deck, and our timbers supporting the roof overhang. Things happen, promptings are heard, actions are taken, feelings are felt, thoughts come into our hearts and heads, and tender mercies are happening all around us. Too many things had to happen for us to even know that there was a fire burning in the first place. On any other night, that door wouldn't have been open, and we wouldn't have smelled anything until possibly it was a much worse situation. How grateful I am to know that we are watched over. And that if we slow down and listen, that we can be prompted and guided in the little things as well as the big things.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June Week 1: Safety Supplies

This week's food storage/emergency supply items are:

June Week 1: Safety supplies: dust masks, flashlight and extra dated batteries, fly swatter

This is another of those weeks where once you have these items in storage, you shouldn't have to replace any of it (except for the batteries when they are ready to expire). Years ago, when I started gathering my emergency supplies, I stored just a portion of these items, but have added to my list through the years. You can decide what will be needed and useful to your own family in an emergency situation.

Dust masks will prove extremely useful in an extreme emergency situation when the air isn't so fresh and sweet-smelling. They also would be great if you were cleaning up after an emergency. Construction dust and debris dust is not so great to breathe in.

Flashlight and batteries. SOOOOO crucial to have these two items, and to be sure that the batteries are not outdated. Keep a good supply of extra batteries with the flashlight.

Flyswatter. I just imagine that these could come in handy, and also keep a bored child busy with a job to do. :)

Keep all of these items in a bin somewhere on your shelves. They should be together so that you will know exactly where to go if you ever need them. Decide which items your family will need in an emergency situation, add them to your shopping list, and in the next day or two, head out to the local hardware store or WalMart, and pick up the items. Once you have them on your shelves, update your inventory sheets, and sit back feeling assured that you are getting another week closer to being ready for that emergency situation that may come when we all least expect it.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.