Cold Weather Comes Early

The weather has been a bit crazy the last few years, but rarely do we see freezing temps this early in the year.  In fact, we might have to use the central heat by Christmas time.  This year however, we had to turn the heat on before Halloween, and last night the temp got down around 32 degrees F.  That’s just crazy for coastal regions in the south.

So in concession to the crazy weather, I made our instant hot cocoa mix in early October and Pumpkin Pie muffins this morning.  The kids love having something hot to warm them from the inside out while waiting for the bus on cold mornings and I love them having healthier options to eat.  

I am still tweaking the pumpkin pie recipe more to my liking, but basically it is old-fashioned oats, ap flour, baking soda, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, pureed pumpkin, egg, and milk.  Once I have it just right, will post an addendum with the actual recipe.

The instant cocoa mix is simple:

Instant Hot Cocoa

2 cups powdered sugar

2 cups powdered milk

1 cup coffee instant powdered coffee creamer ( I use non-dairy)

1/2 cup cocoa

Mix all with blender or food processor until a fine powder, Use 2 – 3 TBSP per 8 ozs hot water.

My kids love to put in mini marshmallows as well.  I plan to attempt to dehydrate the marshmallows to see if long-term storage might be more possible.

 

You can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste, too sweet add more milk and cocoa etc.

Outdoors Safety *SNAKES*

With the warmer months here, many of nature’s creatures are out and very active.  One such creature is the snake.  Here in southern Mississippi we have to worry about coral snakes, rattlers, and cotton mouths aka moccasins or poisonous water snake not to mention just plain ol ornery.  My reason for posting on this is simple, my son was out at the black berry patch this past weekend and almost stepped on a moccasin. 

Some people have adapted the live and let live motto when it comes to snakes and that’s all well and good, but the fact is not all snakes take that same philosophy.  Last year at the lake we had some pretty mean snakes, that I saw chase folks in the lake. Even come up to people fishing on the banks and try to attack, not the bait but the person fishing.  This being the case, my son knew to pay attention to his surroundings while outside.

Paying attention to your surroundings is the most important thing, yet there are other measures that can be taken as well.

  • Wearing shoes when outside
  • wearing long pants if in an area where there is tall grass or weeds
  • wearing protective clothing intended to prevent snake bites
  • always having a buddy along if traipsing through areas more prone to snakes (swamps, woods, weedy lots)
  • Never allow young children out without an adult (my son is a teenager and even now he has to have his dad to go berry picking with them..I am so not going)
  • Make sure that the yard is free of clutter, the garden is carefully weeded, and things such as wood piles and/or junk piles are well away from “populated play areas”
  • Any waterfront, even man made ponds or small decorative fish ponds should be kept neat

While keeping the yard and active areas clean and clutter free won’t prevent snakes, it will allow for them to be seen much easier, allowing them to be avoided.

If bitten, seek immediate medical attention!  Do not attempt to care for the wound unless it is the only option.  Always attempt to keep the victim calm!  That is the extent of my medical advise because while I know what to do, I am also not a licensed practitioner of any sort.  My best advice for snake bites is simply this…AVOID GETTING BITTEN!

Stay Safe and Keep Learning.

Prepping on a Shoe-String Budget pt 1

As all but the world’s elitist of rich and poorest of poor have noticed, the economic situation around the globe has definitely grown tense in a very negative manner.  This has affected all nations.  It has been something that has been going on for some time; at least the last 20 years that I personally can recall (sorry I wasn’t quite so interested in the economy as a teen).   Years back, a very astute businessman ran for our highest office, I have to question now if America’s financial outlook would be different had he won.  Nevertheless, on to the topic for today, learning to prep on a shoestring budget.

When I say shoestring, I definitely mean shoestring.  Our family has budgeted around $400 leftover or positive cash each month, this does not take into fact that we enjoy eating out, or that 3 out of 4 love video games, or even a clothing and allowance budget.  It covers only the bills such as rent, power, phones, groceries and gas; not even cable and internet or cell phones for our kids (who think we neglect them due to the lack of a cell phone).  So if we are very careful with the income, there might be $200 left a month, and that is being very optimistic.  Add in having to save for birthdays, auto maintenance, and the myriad of other small things that can pop up unexpectedly, honestly we live paycheck to paycheck.  With some very simple logic, and strategic planning, I am able to prepare for the anything that might come our way.

First off, and this bears repeating in every single post or discussion about everything, have a plan.  Without planning, you will do nothing but spin your wheels and waste valuable time, resources and money!  So before you even purchase your first bag of wheat kernels, or that 5-gallon bucket full of powdered milk, do your research.  There are so many web sites, blogs, videos and books available that focus on prepping, often this information is free of charge.  Amazon normally has a ton of varied books that are free.  They range from out-dated food preservation (which IMHO is a good resource to peruse) to the latest, greatest, and most expensive gadget, gizmo, and whatchamacallit device manuals.  The goal here is to get your feet wet and dry off behind the ears, learn something.  Many fictional works that are based in an EOTWAWKI scenario are very informative and offer some great ideas to mull over while you are deciding on the best plan for you and your family.  The one thing that I must caution on though; is that you cannot, must not at the risk of your well being and safety believe everything you read.

Ok now you have read all sorts of blogs on prepping and survival, watched so many YouTube videos that your eyes are crossing, and read some of the best and worst fictional all hell breaks loose novels; you will be having nightmares of invading thugs from south of the border.  What is the next step?  It is simple, take everything you have read and just store it somewhere in the very back of your mind.  Focus now on your family’s needs, likes, dislikes, abilities and disabilities.

This is where you have to be brutally honest; survival depends on it.  Will every member of your family be able to hike from home to a bug out location, can you carry a 50 lb pack on your back for miles over rough terrain, would you or any other member of your family be able  to kill in defense, not self defense but to defend others or even to protect what is yours?  This is, I believe, the most difficult part of prepping, facing reality and finding ways to alter our own personal realities.

In the next section of this post, we get to the fun parts, planning and action.

Stay Safe and Keep Learning.

 

Back to Blogging and Prepping

It’s been several months since I’ve posted anything, simply put there isn’t the finances available for something as frivolous as internet access.  While, internet is still something that is beyond my means, I am able to tether to my phone for short bursts.  I hope to begin blogging about life again.  While survival and similar topics will be part and parcel, it will also include other things such as projects that the kids and I will be tackling this summer, perhaps even a staycation or two.  Living on the gulf coast is a great thing that allows for varied different activities.  

Last summer we spent in a campground on the Desoto National Forest.  It was a great time with fishing, swimming and wildlife, though admittedly a couple of months in a camper with 2 adults and 2 preteens was not always a joy.  This year we will be staying home, with the kids visiting their grandmother in the mountains for a week or two.  However, during the rest of the time I intend to make it a learning time for all of us.  Luckily the National Forest is again at our back door as well as the Gulf Island National Seashore just up the road in Ocean Springs,  the beach is less than 20 minutes away as well.  So there will be fishing, hikes in the woods, so long as my ankle allows for it, I plan to introduce a few basic survival techniques as well such as primitive water purification and fire starting, maybe even research sheltering techniques that the kids can easily handle. 

Both of the kids have shown interest in “prepping”, though not sure that they are as much as interested in learning as it being a novel idea.  However, my hope is that they will at least pick up on a few basics that will stick with them on into their life; one of those just in case scenarios.  Who knows maybe they will both take to it like a duck to water, and by this time next year both of the kids will be old hands at things such as fire starting, foraging, even primitive hunting skills such as snares and the like.  Definitely not something that we currently know anything about.

For the upcoming week, I hope to get my small herb garden hardened off and now that I think about it, I may even try my hand at seeding tomatoes. I have finally perfected baking loaves of bread, it’s all in the kneading or more specifically how long it is kneaded.   Five minutes of hand kneading seems to work well, but have to be sure that the dough reaches a stage where it really doesn’t stick to your hands anymore either.  We bought an el cheapo dehydrator at Harbor Freight, it works and at only $21 it may be worth what we paid for it, so far I’ve only dehydrated some veggies to go into mixes such as salad dressing and such.  I am honestly afraid of spending the money on meat to make jerky, which would be awesome but a total waste if the dehydrator doesn’t do it’s job.  Perhaps, a small roast sliced thin, use part to test for jerky the rest can be frozen and used for steak and gravy if the jerky doesn’t turn out.  Yes I think that might work.  Will give it a try when I go shopping later this month.

 

A bit about what has been going on in my own personal corner of the world.  I would prefer to can everything that I am able to grow but that’s just not an option at this time.  I need to find work but at the same time the kids aren’t comfortable with being home by themselves all day.  It leaves me in a difficult situation, so hopefully D (aka the dad and DH) will be able to pick up some more hours at work.  I will also be going over the commercial drivers license booklet this summer and hopefully getting the classification to drive a school bus. While this is not my ideal idea of a career, it works until I can finish school and the kids can become more secure staying at home for extended lengths of time; as it is now after an hour they are calling and texting wanting to know when we will be home.

 

Stay Safe and Keep Learning.

Forming Habits

I have heard that it only takes 14 days to form a habit, good or bad.  I am not sure about the actual amount of time, perhaps for some it takes more or less time, or perhaps this is simply just an old wives tale.  No matter the beliefs around how long it takes to form a habit, some habits need to be formed.  These all fall under the prepping/survival category.

It makes sense to attempt to form a habit or a lifestyle change now when we do not have to live this way than to struggle with it when being diligent could mean life or death for yourself or even worse a loved one.

So would it not be easier to change my daily habits now instead of waiting to see if I will ever have to change them…dealing with the shock of having to trudge out in the cold (42 degree F) weather to have an egg hunt just so that the kids and D can have breakfast is so not my idea of a great way to start the day.

This is a new goal of mine, changing habits to help reduce the possible shock of life altering changes.  Now if only to discover methods of this while living as we do.  Perhaps taking a daily hike in the national forest, since it is very close might be a good place to start. With winter coming on fast here on the gulf coast, the gardening season is very near over (ok maybe it is over, I have not seen any rows of greens out this year).  I wonder what my landlord might think about me having a few chickens or a raised garden mini green house.  I do not think he would be too thrilled if I brought in a goat, particularly with the no pet policy.

Even with the constrictions of not owning my own dreamland aka the mini farm as Mikayla has nick named it, there are many different ways of adding in new steps that bring us closer to the life we might possibly have to live.  I often explain things to my kids by having them think of how the pioneers or pilgrims lived.  They had to make their own bread and clothing, go out and cut wood so that they could cook and stay warm.  I do however; neglect to mention that they often did not take a bath every night.  One thing I am grateful about when it comes to this mindset, is I will not be wearing the clothing of that time period.  Though there are times (42 degree mornings) when I could see the advantage of the dress.

Women's Colonial Dress

Women’s Colonial Dress

What habits or skills do you think could be integrated into modern living to help adjust to the shock of a new way of life?

Preparing to Prepare

Ok as odd as the title may seem, it is more than fitting.  We decided to prepare or prep but preppers are nuts right? Nope not at all… is it nuts to make sure you have enough food to last through a snowstorm, nope not at all.  In fact folks have been prepping for ages, even those that don’t realize they are preppers are preppers.  I have decided to look at prepping in an entirely different light than what most folks look at it.

How many people do you think have a 401k or some other nice retirement plan?   Stocks, bonds, annuities, assets?  These are all forms of prepping…the people that invest in these are preparing for their future!  Well I want to prepare for my future and that of my children, I’ve just decided that there are better ways to invest my money.

Just like the stockbrokers, I have a plan on how to invest.  Just like the stockbrokers, I need to study, to make a plan of action.  So a plan it will be.

The first step in this plan is to make lists of what my family needs and uses each month.  Not just food and water, but a list of everything we use.  Personal hygiene products,  pen and paper, books, clothing etc..all of these need to be inventoried.  Once I know what we use and how much we use, and only then can I begin to truly prepare to invest in my future and that of my family.

Ok yeah, I know, it seems like a lot of work.  It will definitely be time consuming.  But this task doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems.  Take your receipt from the last time you went grocery shopping.  Make a note of the items you bought.  I already know that my daughter uses twice as much shampoo, conditioner and body wash as anyone else in the house.  That my son uses composition books like crazy for his stories and drawings, but I don’t have an exact number of how many of these things they go through each month.  So, this is where the shopping receipt comes in handy.  Every receipt is written down and then there is a better understanding.   On a side note, this will also help in creating a budget, because then I know where the money is going and where I can cut back to help save.

Once a better understanding of what is used and needed in my household, then I will know more what items are needed.

Stress, Stress and you guessed it…more Stress

Does it ever feel like the entire world is conspiring against you?  Or that just as soon as things start to look up like you just might finally be getting ahead, then wham bam and not even a  thank you mam…things start to fall apart. 

That is how it’s felt for me the last couple of weeks.  To start it off, I was having so much trouble focusing on school, still do to be honest.  Nothing was making sense, no matter how hard I tried. (yay attention deficit disorder..and thanks a million to the clinic that can’t see me until late December..I would have better luck going to a psych ward), then as if me struggling with school wasn’t enough, the DH had a minor accident at work, no one got hurt or anything not even any real damage was done, but where he works an accident is an accident and must be reported…well of course questions were asked and he mentioned how he was always tired and that the doctor wanted him to have a sleep study done…so guess what he gets put on short term disability at work until the sleep study can be done and he can be diagnosed and treated for sleep apnia…this was over a week ago and after calling his normal doctor…same clinic as mentioned above…for the entirety of last week, we got him in to a new doctor.  Now he has a sleep study scheduled, the first of at least 2, for tonight the next is Saturday night.  Now as if this isnt all bad enough, my dryer decided the other day that it did not want to dry clothes anymore…it still runs and spins and heats up but the clothes just aren’t drying…so my wonderful front porch that I love so much has a clothes line strung across it….and to add the icing to this wonderful little pity party I am currently hosting, I came down with a cold bug that refuses to go away. 

So since I am done whining…the only thing I can even say about all of this is one thing…while I feel horrid and it seems as if the fates themselves are conspiring against me…I know that there are others out there that have it so much worse than me.  People without homes, without food to feed their children, and these people are thankful that they are alive and have the chance to improve their situation.  So for everyone that thinks their life is horrid and that things can’t get any worse, take a look around you drive down town into any larger city, then go home and thank whatever deity that you believe in for the blessings you have in your life.

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