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Monday, November 29, 2010

Post-Holiday Let Down

Things are getting back to normal here in our household following one.busy.week.  We entertained my husband's family on Thanksgiving then afterwards went to my family's house for dessert and good times.  Everything went incredibly smoothly, with the exception of one flambeed dish of sweet potatoes LOL.  Hope you all had a pleasant holiday surrounded by people you love.  And don't forget, Thanksgiving isn't about FEELING thankful, it's about GIVING thanks.  Big difference there. 

So, did you read any of the newspaper headlines on Saturday morning?  You know the ones:




Those were just a few of the examples. 

Isn't that crazy?

Now I will confess, I went out bright and early Friday morning with my BFF Suzanne.  We went to a Columbus mall, window shopped at a kitchen store, drank hot tea at a book store and saw an alarming car fire.  We enjoyed fellowship, a cool frosty morning and a lovely warm lunch.  And not once did she elbow me or ram me with a shopping cart trying to get to that 'must have' item of the 2010 shopping season.  Not once.  Now there is a true friend for you.

But seriously, headlines from Black Friday disturb me; mainly because I see them as an indication of what people are really capable of.  If people will stand in line for 4 hours, trample a man at the door and shoot at each other in the parking lot over a toy or a TV, what would they be capable of in a Post-TSHTF scenario?  If food, clothing and necessities were the hot items of the moment, what would they be willing to do to secure those items?  Trample you?  Run you over?  Shoot you?

It's all rather frightening.

There's only a thin veneer of civility that holds our society together and should that veneer disappear, due to civil unrest, collapse, food shortages, then God help us all.

Do what you can to get ready.  If it's fear that motivates you, so be it.  If it's hope, that's great too.  What's important is that you're motivated.

Stock up on something. 

Brush up on something. 

Connect with somebody. 

Learn something.

Do what you can while times are good to be prepared for when times are bad.

In His Service,

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ohio Preppers Roll Call

The Ohio Preppers Network is conducting a Roll Call on our forum.  If you are a prepper please check in.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Prepping Deals and Steals

It has been awhile since I've posted here and want to thank Andrea for holding down the fort. You're doing a great job. I thought I would try something different. Once a week as I come across deals related to prepping, I will try to post them on Mondays or no later than Tuesday. From now until the New Year, there will be great deals to be had, so if you need to finish up or are just starting your prepping journey, this would be a good time to invest in preps. Not to be a fear monger, but I feel our time to get prepared for hard times are about up. Money is tightening up for most of us and unfortunately I look for it to get worse. So if you have expendable cash, it would be prudent to stock up on food, clothing (particularly shoes and socks), think about how you will heat your home and power it when you cannot afford utilities. It may come down to house payment or utilities. I know what my decision will be. So plan accordingly.
Also, think about water. Two liter bottles work well. I know the fear about plastic contaminates, but one needs clean water to survive and the last thing you will think about is BPA (I think that's what it is) in the plastic. Here are what I feel are the best deals of the week. I have to say, Menard's has some great deals.

Hands down this is probably the cheapest store to buy food preps for short term storage, especially if you like to one stop shop for food preps.

-Muellers pasta .89
-Meijer's All Purpose flour 1.25 (shelf life of about 5 yrs.)

-can vegies 2/1.00
-sugar 1.99 (will last forever is stored correctly)

-27 PC. Gun Cleaning Kit 8.88

-Rayovac Batteries 6.99 (there is a 5.00 rebate with this and I believe there is a 1.00 coupon for this as well) So 18 Batteries for .99 after rebate

-Solar Path Lights 8 pk 9.99 (Great back up light for when the power goes out and dim enough you will not stand out)

-Mens 2 pc. Thermal Underwear 5.99

-Men's 6 pack Ankle or no show socks (During the Great Depression, shoes and socks were very difficult to acquire)

EE is having a Black Friday Sale on preparedness items that may be of interest. The sale starts at 10:00 E.T. http://beprepared.com/article.asp?ai=715&

http://www.bargainstobounty.com/category/meijer/ This is a great website for coupon matchups. This is Detroit based, but the sales and coupon deals are generally the same for Ohio also.

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Get Home Safe!

Millions of us will be hitting the roads this week to spend the holiday with family so what better time to cover that get home safe bag you have in your trunk!

You DO have a get home safe bag in your trunk, right?

I must confess that stocking my car with survival goods hasn't always been high on my list of priorities.  In truth, it probably didn't even make it close to the list just a decade ago.  Then 7 years ago we moved to the boonies and had 2 babies.  The fear of being broken down on some little one-lane backroad with 2 children under 2 scared me into action and I began keeping my car stocked with necessities.     

I drive a little sedan, so a large kit isn't practical.  There's just enough room in the trunk for a spare tire, a pair of old boots and a metal detector.


Doesn't everyone have a metal detector in their trunk?

Last year, just before winter,  I put together a very compact kit, one that will fit quite well inside a #10 metal can with a tight-fitting plastic lid.  #10 cans are great for this purpose because they're air-tight, moisture resistant and will nestle quite cozily in the pocket above your car's wheel well.   In one #10 can I can fit:

A partial roll of toilet paper, cardboard tube removed.
4 Capri-Sun type juice pouches
A candle and a couple matches sealed in a plastic bag
A bag of trail mix
A small package of peanut butter crackers
A couple pieces of hard candy
A sampler of wet wipes
2-3 small garbage bags

Yes, it's an extremely tight fit, but the essentials are covered: heat, light, water, food.  All the stuff contained in the kit has a good shelf life, and is fairly heat/cold stable.  What's more, these items can do double duty.  The candle can provide enough heat and light to survive, as well as melt some snow for water in the metal can if necessary.  The plastic bags can hold wet clothes as well as provide a water-proof barrier if you need to lie on the ground to work on your car.  See how that works?     

In a sturdy tote bag, I keep a change of seasonal clothes for the entire family including gloves and hats and lastly a couple blankets.  Think thick, warm blankets, not necessarily purdy ones.   They're great in the summer for spontaneous picnics and in winter, they just may save your life.  Roll them up tight and strap them with a belt to conserve space and keep them clean.   Throw in a small bag of salt/kitty litter/sand and a collapsible shovel and you have most of what you need to survive a short-term emergency on the road.  Make sure you check your kit at least once each season, to ensure that your food and drink have survived the temperature fluctuations and to swap out clothes for seasonally-appropriate clothes.

And a word to the wise: use plain, unscented candles in your Get Home Safe kit.  Smelly candles make everything taste funny.  Don't ask me how I know.  Just trust me : )

Naturally, if you're planning an extensive trip, bulk up on your supplies.  Extra water, extra food, road flares, a basic tool kit for on-the-road repairs and maybe even renew that Onstar subscription.  But for local trips, a small kit should provide everything you need to survive.

Is your Get Home Safe bag packed?     

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where Do You Shop?

Say what you will, shopping is a sport. 

It takes time. 

It takes practice.

Not everyone is good at it.  

Lucky for you, I am and I have some great resources to share with you.  These are just a few of my favorite local places to shop for my preparedness needs. 

Leeners.    Ever wanted to learn to make cheese?  They've got the stuff.  Want to homebrew beer?  They've got that too.  Plus all you need for processing game, canning, bread baking, yogurt culturing and candy making.  The best part: excellent customer service.  Based out of northeastern Ohio

Yutzy's Farm Market.  Yutzy's is a family-run market in the heart of central Ohio's Mennonite community.  They have an incredible selection of cheeses, organic meats and bulk dry goods.  The best prices I've ever found on spices...hands down! 

Lehman's.  OMG.  Honestly, that's about all I can say about Lehman's.  OMG.   Looking for a wood-fired cookstove, a candle lantern, old-fashioned wooden tools or a composting toilet?  Check Lehman's.  Oh, and spend the $5 for the catalog....it will provide days upon days of entertainment. 

Gander Mountain.  Admittedly, this is not one of my favorite stores, but the males in my life think it's the greatest place EVER.  Lots of hunting stuff.  Lots of outdoorsy-rugged-manly stuff.  And a pretty good selection of useful things like cast iron cookware, dehydrators, game processing equipment, etc.

I think it's so important in this economy and in these troubled times to locate and support local businesses like the one's I mentioned.  Not only are you supporting local families, you're also hedging your bet against hard times by developing a knowledge of businesses close to you.  It may come a day that interstate commerce is a thing of the past and knowing where to find goods close-by will be a very important skill.

Where do you shop?   
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Holidays- Prepper Style

I can't believe Thanksgiving is only a week away!  Why is it the older I get the more quickly time flies by?  Anyway, the holidays are nearly upon us and with them, our thoughts invariably turn to gift-giving.  What could be the perfect gift for dear old Aunt Effie?  And for brother Joe and his wife?  What could the children possibly use now that they're away at college? 

There are so many great gift ideas out there, both store-bought and homemade, that are lovely, useful as well as lending themselves to preparing our families and friends.  I'm going to throw out a few of my favorite ideas and then I'd love some feedback.

For Dad or Grandpa-
Homemade liquor -(it's delicious AND medicinal!)
Solar radios
Hand-crank lanterns
Dual-fuel grills or camp stoves
Winter-weather car emergency kits
Fishing pole and the necessary accouterments
Solar battery charger
Training (concealed carry, survival, cooking)

For Mom or Grandma-
A lovely down comforter or beautiful Amish quilt
Homemade spiced honey -(keeps forever!)
Heavy cast-iron cookware
Goat-skin gardening gloves and packs of her favorite seeds
Gift basket of homemade preserves- (include the recipe for next year)
Warm leather slippers
Get-Home Safe kit for her car (mittens, wool socks, candle+matches)
Classes (knitting, sewing, cooking, painting, canning, gardening)

For the Kids, including the Older Kids-
Camping gear, such as a small tent or sleeping bag
Craft kits that teach beginning skills (woodworking, knitting, sewing, etc.)
Flashlights- the kind you shake so you're not replacing batteries daily!
Felted wool mittens, hats and scarves
Pre-paid *emergency only* cell phone
Fun educational books
Lessons and classes (music, martial arts, marksmanship, Boy/Girl Scouts etc.)

Just a few ideas for you!  Christmas and Hanukkah need not be filled with senseless gifts that will be thrown out in January.  With a little thought and creativity, holiday gifts can be enjoyable while at the same time, better preparing us for life.

What's on your list for the holidays this year?


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Not What You Have-It's What You Know!

I blog a lot about stocking up on food and necessaries (now!) while prices are low, but admittedly, stocking up isn't the only plan of action one might take when preparing for the unknown.  When winter rolls around and there's free time on hand, my thoughts automatically turn to developing skills.  For the most part, we homesteaders/preppers have an unbroken 3 months of free time that we can devote to brushing up on old skills and learning new ones.  From January 2 until sometime in late March or early April, there are no holidays to plan.  Nothing needs winterized or de-winterized.  No grass to cut.  No flowerbeds to weed.  Just solitude.  And there's no better time to learn something new than when you can apply your undivided attention.

Each year, I try to learn something new.  This year, I've devoted a lot of time to learning knitting, baking sourdough bread and correct methods of pruning trees and berries.  I took my concealed carry training and practiced target shooting.  I've also spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the Bible in an effort to extract new bits of wisdom.  

My plans for this winter include researching medicinal herbs and root cellaring, attempting to make homemade sausage blends and finding a good recipe for sprouted wheat bread.  I'd also like to learn the trick to growing leeks so I don't have to pay $3/bunch for them at the grocery store.  And of course, more knitting.  Knit one.  Perl one.  Knit two.  Perl two.  It gets a bit tedious, but I WILL learn to knit successfully.

Having a full larder and all the necessary accouterments will only get you so far and at some point, what you know (or don't) may be even more important.  Knowing basic skills can be valuable when it comes to bartering, improve your quality of life and let's all just admit it: there's just a little bit of smug satisfaction to be had when we know something the general population doesn't.  Just a little bit :)   So what can you work on this winter?  Can you:

-Start a fire without a lighter?
-Successfully hunt game? 
-Make soap or candles?
-Cook and bake from scratch?
-Plumb or do electrical work?
-Treat an illness with herbs from your garden?
-Repair small engines?

These are just a few examples.  What do you want to learn this winter?

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buy Your Commodities Now!

I got an interesting email from a friend this morning, in the form of a newsletter, that I want to pass on to you.  She's subscribed to an online coupon program that sends out weekly newsletters and this one bothered her.  Here are some excerpts from the "Tuesday Saver":

 "With the holidays upon us, there's good and bad news about deal hunting. First, there will be some good deals and it's a great time to stock up on pantry items, particularly baking items. The bad news is, we're headed into some inflation that's going to cause grocery prices to increase, and some of it pretty dramatically. First, the commodity markets and fuel costs are climbing again.  That means the raw materials to make goods and the costs to transport goods are increasing significantly, and that cost is going to be passed along to the consumer.

The other way we'll see this cost passed along is in yet another decrease in package size.  Two notables are ice cream - now weighing in at 1.5 quarts, down from 1.75 a few months ago, and yet we're still calling it a half-gallon, and peanut butter - down from 18 ounces to 16.3 ounces. So pay close attention to pack sizes because that sweetheart deal might actually be a worse deal that you paid for something just a few months ago because of the pack size changes.

Ultimately, reflecting on my almost twelve years of being a die-hard couponer, I think we're going to see a tough year ahead for savings, so this holiday season should be about stocking up now while you can and making the most of your saving."

This both unnerves me and validates what I've been thinking and seeing at the store for several months.  It's about to get ugly, folks!  Prices are still low, so now is the time to get busy and get that pantry stocked.  Think commodities; wheat, sugar, cooking oil, salt, canned/powdered milk.  The holidays are a great time to stock up on baking goods like white flour, brown sugar, evaporated/condensed milk and baking mixes.  And watch your weekly sales, too!  This week I found canned fruit, condensed soup and chicken/beef broth for $.49 a can.  Throw in a coupon or two and you can walk out with free products.   

But don't stop there!

-Pick up some extra socks and blue jeans as cotton prices are already rising.  If you have small children like I do, it wouldn't hurt to pick up the next size of jeans and shoes. 

-Fill up your gas and kerosene containers (and store them sensibly, please) as there are predictions of $4-5/gal gas in the coming months.

-Silver is always good, but make sure you're dealing with a reputable company.

I don't want to come off as a fear-monger or a conspiracy-theorist, but I'm afraid what we have is perfect storm brewing: high unemployment, record foreclosures and bankruptcy, and a second round of QE.  Throw in the fact that most of the world is upset at us for one reason or another and top it off with a long, cold winter and you have a real mess on your hands.  It could really get ugly, folks.  Stock your pantries and your closets and get ready to hunker down.
In His Service,

And PS-The Mister says don't forget to pick up some ammo...desperate people are capable of stupid things!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Prepping On The Cheap

Isn't it amazing how quickly situations can change?  When I started prepping nearly 3 years ago, things were still 'good'.  The stock market hadn't yet crashed.  Food prices were low.  There were no rumors of shortages or hyperinflation.  I was a little worried about the quality of our food, but otherwise, it was good times in Happy-Town.  Fast forward 3 years and now we're on the brink of collapse with joblessness, foreclosures, homelessness and bankruptcies rocketing toward scary, unknown frontiers.  With a major mid-term election only hours away, I feel like I'm always on my toes.  Always watching, listening.  Now that my husband is laid off and commodity prices are ticking upward, resourceful prepping is more important to me than ever.  I'd like to share a few ideas that I find useful for prepping on the cheap and then I'd love to HEAR FROM YOU!   YOU are the lifeblood that's keeping Ohio Preppers Network alive and without you, well, I'm just talking to myself. 

Anywho, I'll be the first to admit that I'd love to sit down and write up an order for a years' supply of food and necessities and order it from one of those wowwy-zowwy preparedness websites, but that simply isn't in the works for me.  I can't afford it, and if I could afford it, I don't know if the frugalist in me would allow it to happen.  There are so many great ways to find necessities free or cheap in your own backyard!  Here are just a couple suggestions.

Freecycle:  If you haven't joined your local Freecycle, what are you waiting for?  It's a wonderful resource for finding what you need and purging what you want to get rid of.  You do have to register to participate, but beyond that, you choose your level of involvement.  Got a pile of old magazines, out-of-date clothes, gadgets or gizmos taking up valuable space?  Freecycle them!  Looking for food-grade 5 gallon buckets, wool blankets or backpacks for bug-out bags?  Post on Freecycle and more than likely, you'll find what you're looking for.  Freecycle is also an invaluable resource for seasonal goods.  Like bales of straw and pumpkins...post for them the day after Halloween and you'll be surprised at the responses.  I've come away with seasonal fruit like pears and Serviceberries, strawberry starts and raspberry canes.  And once in a while, I'm able to bless someone with that desperately-needed item they're looking for.  It's a win-win situation! 

Craigslist:  This is probably a no-brainer, but what a great place to look for gently used goods.  As always, be careful who you talk to.  Craigslist is full of scam artists and cons, but you can find a wide range of prepping necessities online.  From plastic barrels for rain catchment to woodstoves and everything in between, Craigslist is a great place to search before you shell out the money for new items. 

Menards/Ollies:  I've heard great things about Menards, although we aren't blessed with one locally.  From what I understand, there are some amazing deals to be had through their rebate program.  Combined with low prices, the rebate program further reduces your out of pocket and sometimes, the items are even free!  I'm sure Shelly will chime in and give complete details (right, Shelly?)  We have an Ollie's store nearby and if you watch what you're doing, you can come away with some real steals.  Again, Ollie's offers a frequent shoppers card allowing for special discounts and rebates.  Check them out!

Yard sales/Tag sales/Auctions:  These must be a prepper's best friend.  There is simply no better place to find good wool items, camping and outdoor supplies, non-electric appliances, storage units, oil lamps and the like than at yard sales.  Say what you want, but people don't know what they have!  We live in such a wasteful, lazy, convenience-based environment, people see no use for a pressure canner or Grandma's canning jars.  Why use that camp stove when they can simply eat out?  And who wears wool sweaters when you can just turn up the heat?  Well friends, their loss is our gain.  WE see the usefulness in those items and will gladly take them off their hands for a pittance of what they're worth!!!

Bartering:  While not exactly a resource, bartering is a very important skill!  Some of my favorite finds weren't purchases, but bartered goods!  Like an old concrete laundry sink that I use outdoors for cleaning root veggies and dirty children - I traded a trailer full of concrete fill for it.  An old treadle sewing machine that just needs some TLC - a dozen jars of homemade fruit butter, pickles and jam.  When you're bartering, especially with friends and neighbors, you just can't be afraid to ask.  What may be meaningless to you, may be invaluable to them.  And really, can you think of a better time to brush up on your bartering skills than NOW while you don't need to rely on them?          

Grandma's house:  That sounds shameful, but hear me out!  My grandparents survived the Depression and WWII,  a couple economic downturns, the gas shortages of the 70's.  The know how to survive.  They know how to make do when need be.  They know quality goods never go out of style.  I bet Grandpa still has that old cast iron hand-cranked meat grinder he used to process home-raised beef back in the 40's.  And I bet Grandma still has that 1935 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook-the one with recipes that didn't call for pre-made ingredients.  And somewhere in the basement is Great-Grandma Mary's schoolbooks from the 1880's....the ones that really gave you an education.  I'm not suggesting that you rob Grandma blind.  I'm not suggesting that you take items when Grandpa isn't looking.  I'm suggesting that you ask about them.  If your grandparents are anything like my grandparents, they'd love to see you putting to good use something they found helpful in their younger days.

Well, there you go.  Those are my favorite resources for prepping on the cheap.  In the times to come, when you can't just get online and charge what you want,  I think resourcefulness is going to be an important skill set, so you might as well start now.  Now it's your time to share: what are your best tips for prepping on the cheap?             

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