September 21, 2010

inner seeds =)

M.D. Creekmore at The Survivialist Blog had asked "Who planted your “inner seed” leading to your preparedness lifestyle?"  I just had to put my story down and thought - "why not re-post here?" so here it is =)

My grandma, who was a child during the depression inspired me. Actually she yelled at me LOL! I was a stupid 19 yr old with 3 kids and an equally stupid 21 yr old husband. At the time I was sitting and trying to borrow money off her because they cut our aid check. I thought someone was supposed to help me but I wasn't helping myself. She yelled at me for a good hour and you know what? I didn't get any money either! =)

I didn't listen that time, but the next time she mentioned it I started getting a little worried. I don't know if I was more worried about us or her. She sat that day at her kitchen table and cried about how hungry they had been and about how HER mom had cried when they had nothing. For the next 3 years she told me more and more stories about hard times during her life both during the depression and while raising 7 kids with no money.

Each time I'd buy a little something extra or save that little bit of this or that. I still remember the first time I went shopping and came home with 10 bottles of ketchup - my husband was SHOCKED! I tried to laugh it off and act like it wasn't nothing, but it was. I was scared and rightfully so. There's no reason to go to the store everyday just to fix your normal meals!

You know out of 7 kids, 17 grandkids, and 26 great grandkids I wonder how many "talks" she's done of the years? I know her talking to me clicked a switch thankfully =)  

She suffered with storing too much, for too long too. I think that it's a double edge sword. When she sold the farm about 10 yrs ago and moved in town she got rid of all that food. I noticed that now she has hardly anything in her cabinets or fridge. I worry everyday that she'll be ok when times get tough. But she's a tough old bird and will probably be ok =)


September 18, 2010

day 4: economic crisis

Ok first off let me say that this was MY day =)  Part of why we prep is for events like this. Let me explain. The challenge today was to help out a family friend with a vegetarian family of 6 for a day on short notice. One of the 6 is a baby. They showed up after breakfast and you had to be able to accommodate them for at least one day.

Well this was easy-peasy for me. Since I'm mostly vegetarian doing the meals wasn't hard at all. BUT since we had a low meat month last month, this month that's practically all I bought! was a little more difficult than usual. Especially since it was supposed to be a dinner for 11 vegetarians. Usually I'm just trying to feed one! Plus since the monthly food budget was already spent I couldn't even cheat and go buy something to add to the meals =(

But we did it! Here's some pics and explanations =)

(L-R, top-bottom)  Goulash with Italian seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan & mozzarella cheese, and onions --- Goulash with Parmesan & mozzarella cheese and onions --- Goulash with onions

Goulash today was - elbow macaroni, onions, tomato sauce, veggie spaghetti sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, corn, re-hydrated button mushrooms, black olives

(L-R, top-bottom) salad with iceberg lettuce, carrots, onions, and tomatoes --- steamed zucchini & tomatoes with onions, tomato sauce and Mom's Mix --- (middle) vinaigrette --- pureed cooked apples -- pureed cooked carrots

The vinaigrette was made with about two-thirds olive oil, one-third red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning. I'm not sure if it's a proper vinaigrette or not but I like a combo like this for on top of salads.

The baby food I pureed in the food processor after steaming. I just chopped the heck out of them and added some water so it would be more liquidy and I also added about a teaspoon of brown sugar to both to help sweeten them some. I never made baby food for my kids when they was babies - don't know anyone who did. But I know how we introduced table foods to kids in our family was to chop the heck out of it and if you can add a little sweet to it cause most babies will take to something sweet first. I now know that this does lead to some bad habits for kids but if that's what it takes then by all means, I say do it! =)  ***NO HONEY!***

(L-R) Anne's Alfredo -- steamed brocoli

Anne's Alfredo tonight was made without onions, commercial cream of soup, or evaporated milk. I used my new favorite cream of whatever mix (it's similar to this one). I'll have to post my recipe soon =) But I did use some corn, re-hydrated button mushrooms, and lots of black pepper. Let me tell you it was bland as HE**! But it was edible so I think it counts =)

 (L-R) steamed pureed carrots -- mashed bannana

I did so many variations because it didn't specify what kind of vegetarians this family was. So with lunch I think I had all possibilities covered when it came to supper though I failed to provide different possibilities.

As to the rest of the challenge (besides food) we would of had no troubles with accommodating the family -- although they sure wouldn't of been at peak comfort.  Our house is set up for a family of four -- we stretch it to a family of six on a normal day so 2 families of 6 would of been a BIG stretch! But yes, everyone would of had a place to sleep =)

Now on to the money lending part, needing extra tp, and running out of eggs and milk. Ok lets go in reverse order to explain.

Running out of eggs at this time of year is almost impossible! SR's hens are laying about 5-9 eggs a day. Now in the dead of winter this is a possibility though. But I do have backups in place for those times. They are powdered eggs, powdered egg substitute, and frozen eggs from summer. The milk isn't very likely for us either as we stock up in multiples of powdered milk and canned evaporated milk. In fact this is the ONLY milk we use here unless it's a special occasion. But, at any rate, we didn't use but 3 cups of made powdered milk and no eggs because we DO understand that there IS that possibility to have NONE.

 tp 1.16.07Image by kmevans via Flickr
On to the fact that we were low on tp and do NOT have an extra storage of it. This challenge happened ON check day which now runs every two weeks in our house -- just switched from a one week pay period last month. We were low on tp for 11 people but it would of lasted for at least one, possibly two days so I think it's safe to say that we would of been ok. I can never seem to stock up on tp though! Maybe it's just me or maybe other large families with teenagers have this same problem? Not sure but I'm constantly trying to work on this =)  I would love to have about 12 packages of 24 rolls saved up! That would be 6 months worth for us.

Now to the fun part - lending money! Now let me start off with saying I'm a VERY giving person especially with my friends and family - but there's no way I'd just fork over $100 without some pretty dire straights going on! Quite frankly I'd help them with MAYBE $20 but really I don't think I could loan or give someone more than that when they obviously are too stupid to prepare themselves. I've been down and out but I still wouldn't be so bad off that I had to ask a friend (not family!) for such a large amount, which quite honestly probably would the amount you would need to fund the WHOLE trip.

I know that's not what the challenge said though. The challenge was worded as - do you HAVE that amount that you COULD give them. Not that they necessarily asked for it but more along the lines - could you offer it to them? Or at least that's the way I took it. And yes since it was payday we could have - any other day? NO! We are lucky people who are broke BEFORE we get the pay check cashed LOL! Could I even between pay checks come up with about $20 - yes! You would not believe the amount of money you have laying around the house when you go digging. Plus I could also borrow it from someone - not that I like to do that though.

Plus I also know that there is also help that a person can get from the local police stations - well at least you used to be able to in Illinois and Iowa. If you go into the local police station and tell them that you are stranded they will give you either some money or a voucher for gas at a local gas station. Now let me say I have never done this myself but this is what I was told by more than one person - this is what they had to do more than once to be able to get home while "stranded" in a far away place (usually within a couple hours from home). I assume you probably would have to tell them where you live and how you ended up in the position your in but all in all it's probably worth it.

Now granted I understand this isn't the way to do things. But when you've made such bad decisions in your life that you are homeless and without money then these are times that you'll learn from your mistakes. How will a person learn if they don't experience some discomfort? When someone has EVERYTHING handed to them they have no initiative to learn to do it themselves and correct their wrongs. I in no way believe that someone should be treated wrongly but I don't think it hurts anyone to do a little learning!

Here's our report card for today -

We had alot of fun doing this one - it was a nice change from the other days cause we could actually do all of it! =) Although we went out later in the evening and so I didn't get it posted till today.


September 16, 2010

day 3: EMP

Well today was -- .......a severe terrorist attack.......causing an EMP.........

We totally dropped the ball on this one =(   This type of emergency just scares the CRAP out of me! So I spent today trying to learn more because learning more usually helps alleviate my fears. Well so far I'm still scared! =)

We did as a family do a mock evacuation and talked about all potential way we would either leave or stay and routes. During this mock evacuation we talked about ways to get ready (stay or go) and actually timed it. We could of got done and ready (to stay or go) within 20 mins which isn't too bad for a 1st time =)

But other than the trial run and talking we didn't do anything else on the challenge. We'll have to work more on this over time -- it's alot for kids to comprehend, heck it's alot for adults!! =)

Here's our report card (click for larger view) -


September 15, 2010

Day 2: dietary limitations

Ok well to start off this is my oldest son's 17th birthday. A tradition we have in our house is that the birthday person gets to pick out their cake & design and what we have for supper. Yep - we were screwed for today before it even started LOL!

I think I will recreate this challenge sometime when the 7 day challenge is up -- like the day after! I really wanted to do this one, it would of been kinda easy for us. But on to what we could do =)

I'm going to copy straight from their site so I get things straight =)

Today’s Tasks:
  • Cook breakfast from scratch - NO!
  • Cook lunch from scratch - NO!
  • Cook dinner from scratch - NO!
  • Bake a loaf of homemade bread - NO!
  • Print out some of your favorite recipes to use in case the internet is down during an emergency - YES!
Today’s Limitations:
  • For this day, and ALL days of the challenge: no spending money, no going to stores, and no restaurants. - YES!
  • Do not use ANY pre-packaged or convenience-type foods. No mixes, boxed cereals, canned soups or sauces etc. If you can’t pronounce all the ingredients and say where it came from, it’s probalby a NO go. - NO!
  • Do not buy or borrow ingredients. Use only what you have stored. - YES!
Advanced Tasks:
  • Make a delicious dessert from scratch. - NO!
  • Plan an entire week worth of meals you could make out of your current food supplies. - YES!
  • Do some research on the health benefits of eating less preservatives. - YES!

 Here's our report card, surprisingly we got a half decent score (I guess?) -

And can ya tell I figured out a way to print out the report card better? I selected the option as if I was printing a fax - worked like a charm! =)


September 14, 2010

Day 1: water contamination

This year they have a great little report card you can print and fill out - which would of been so much cooler if it would have been more black ink only friendly. But it was still great to be able to give yourself a "grade". Last year I think here on the blog I may have been more harsh than needed on what we did do.

Ok - today I read the challenge before I went to bed at 3AM (I know - up too late!). I immediately told Darkside - "GREAT! We're dead already!!" LOL! We recently bought the jugs needed to actually start our water storage but they are mostly still full with the punch that came in them =(

So I went to bed pretty depressed last night figuring that we were doomed
No drinking water, prohibition sign D-P005 acc...Image via Wikipedia

This morning I got up and told the kids that the challenge started and that it was about water. They didn't really ask and so I didn't tell them. And then it dawned on me! I'll spring it on them awhile before bed. I'm such an evil mom   }: |

So we did at about 8:30 tonight. They all did pretty good - I"m surprised! Oh - don't get me wrong - #3 didn't surprise me at all. Survival prep is his new passion -- he studies books on this stuff for more than 12 hours everyday! But I thought they all did REALLY good.

Here's our report card -

Right after we were done we got to work on the jugs we did have empty - they are ready to go for a real emergency now =)
Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...                                                                      Image via Wikipedia

I had Chiam & Alexis go shut off the water and for the whole time we went through the scenarios the water was off. After our winter in Iowa Falls 2008/9 we're still pretty resourceful with finding and using water. Don't get me wrong I KNOW that if the water was off each one of us would flick that handle on the toilet more than once LOL! But we're pretty good about other things we do with water.


7 day challenge again!

It's that time again - WOO HOO!! Challenge starts today =)
This year we are doing things a little different. Last year we had to follow certain guidelines since we weren't living in our own house -- but not this year! We are throwing each challenge on this kids - and us - but we more than likely will not be following exactly what is said. Although we have discussed about whether we should do something like that together but not sure when.
Real life for us is constant survive-mode. Everyday we have some obstacle that we're trying to work around. Granted nothing real major, usually, but still.... 

September 13, 2010

okay so I did some apples =)

New Life for Vintage Jelly JarsImage by HA! Designs - Artbyheather via Flickr
 LOL! Well I had to do something with the apple jelly boiling away on the stove! We got 2 pints, 4 half pints and 1 pint for the fridge -- we wanted to try it tomorrow =)

When I bought alot of these jars a couple months ago at Salvation Army there were these cute little jelly jars in there. The kids have been using them as glasses to drink out of. Well they are one short after tonight. #3 washed one for us to put jelly in for the fridge and Chiam picked it up and went to sterilize it in the boiling water -- #3 had JUST rinsed it in cold water!! Almost instantly we heard a crack -- no more jelly jar =(

They have more but those little glasses sure was cute! (similar to the ones in the picture)

Oh and I also made some more amaretto -- MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm! Last year when I made it I think I used WAY too much sweetener, well this time I added the old amaretto (1/2 pint) and then no sweetener. Tasted good so far! =)


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September 12, 2010

canning but no apples

Apple juice with two applesImage via Wikipedia
So today we canned 6 pints of plum preserves and 5 pints of peach preserves - with 1 in the fridge part full. And one HUGE pot of apple juice going on the stove for jelly.

We've got 3 quarts of dried mushrooms -- well 2 and half actually cause I used some the other night for swiss mushroom burgers (mmmmm.......)

And I lost the battle of keeping the apple peels =(   I had about 9 big ziploc bags stored in the deep freeze and it was too many. Especially when I got such a great deal on hamburger =)

Just don't ask me what I'm gonna do with 40 lbs of hamburger!! I hope I can make it tasty cause that's the main meat we've got this month LOL!


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September 11, 2010

no apples today!

Plums with some glaucous coating visibleImage via Wikipedia

Trying to put off the inevitable and cleaned out the freezers of everything I can. Got out some of our potatoes for a crock pot surprise meal (?), plums, and peaches. I had bought the plums and peaches when they were cheap but it was so hot that all I did was prep them for preserves and then freeze them. Well now seemed like a good time =)

So tomorrow will be a busy day.

Oh, yeah and I also pulled out and boiled 2 big bags of apple peels and cores for jelly. I'm gonna let them strain all night long to make jelly tomorrow.

And did I forget to say we've had a surplus of eggs in the fridge too?? gotta lot to do tomorrow!


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September 10, 2010

apples day 4

Making Apple Butter, Halloween 2009Image by jen_maiser via Flickr
Today all I did was can the apple butter I had going in the crock pot. 3 pint jars -- well and the 3/4 jar that went in the fridge =)

I also had a batch of apple butter burn on me on Wednesday =(

I'm really getting burned out on apples LOL!  What's worse is the fact that I've been trying to keep all the peels and cores to either make jelly with or to feed the chickens -- my freezer is BURSTING!! Don't think I can keep going like this much longer.


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September 9, 2010

apples day 3?? 21:54, 9 March 2008 (UTC) Differe...Image via Wikipedia
Well I keep slacking on doing the apples =(  It's just hard to get motivated when I have so much to do.
Today when doing the apples I didn't have enough sugar on hand so I used a generic splenda. Also I did these as spiced (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg). There was no way to put all this on the lid so I just put apples, the date, and an A. So I have all the info here if I need it LOL!

Did 7 quarts today =)

Well got more to do tomorrow cause I have apple butter going in the crock pot again =)

I've also been dehydrating mushrooms like crazy. I can buy a package of sliced mushrooms and it will fill up all my dehydrator trays. When dried all those mushrooms will fill up one quart jar which is kinda cool.

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September 7, 2010

apple day off (kinda!)

Tonight we had a day off from doing apples - well.... kinda. We decided to only do the apple butter that was going in the crockpot. Well all day I kept telling the kids - go stir that apple butter --- and they would. I'd ask is it thick yet? Is it sticking? And they'd say nope Mom!

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm............. that's odd. But I would forget about it and then about an hour later we would do the whole thing again. heck, I even got up and stirred it once or twice to see how it was myself - not done =(

About 7 PM I asked how in the heck could it take all day to do apple butter when it's on high?? And one of the kids said -- but Mom it's on warm not high UGH!!!

So once we got it on high things went by pretty quick although it wasn't done till about 11 PM so that meant we were canning late. =(

We started assembling jars and started to realize that for one the double batch of apple butter only yields 7 pints JEEZ! and also that we only had 7 canning lids left UGH!

So we got all that water up to a boil for 7 jars and that's it. And with money flow down right now (Sept is our worst month besides Dec) I'll have to wait to do more canning.

I did do some computer repairs for a friend though and so maybe I'll actually see the money and be able to use it for lids =)       ***this friend hasn't ever not paid - but other repair jobs haven't ever been a money maker for me***


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September 6, 2010

apples day 2

Ok apples day 2 - to start off I woke up and anxiously checked the jars from the night before.


I left the wrong amount of head space so  they all had blow out =(  One didn't seal at all! So I took all of them and emptied them into gallon size jars and into the fridge they went.

Then we had to run out to our storage to get more jars because I was out here at home. On the way we stopped and picked some sumac. Well we thought was sumac but had to double check -- IT IS! YEA! I'm gonna have fun with this stuff =) I plan to dry & juice the berries so we can use them. Oh and I also am going to try to harvest and save some seeds so when we go to the new place I can plant it there. It's such a fast grower it'll be great to have around. Here's what it looks like -

So we get home and get to work for day 2.

We ended up doing 12 quarts and 1 pint of apple slices in extra super light syrup. They will be so nice to eat or in a pie! Here's a picture of them -

We finished off all the apples we have already picked. In the wee hours of the this morning we decided to take a break from apples - besides the apple butter - till Tuesday. =)


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September 4, 2010

starting in on apples 2010

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...Image via Wikipedia
We went and picked apples from the east tree today -- about half of the tree so far. Came home, realized that a peeler/corer/slicer was DEFINITELY needed! So we ran out and got one. (used to have one 6 yrs ago, it disappeared)
Tonight we got 16 pints of apple slices done and 2 batches of apple butter going in the crock pots. Somehow I ended up with no quart jars to use and that's what I had wanted to can all this in, oh well - we'll get them from storage tomorrow and do the next batches in them.
Sad part is that we only got a third of the apples done so far =(  I think I'm gonna hate apples before this is through!

Fuji applesImage via Wikipedia
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