Monday, October 4, 2010

How Diet Coke Could Save My Family

I love Diet Coke.

I'd say I have an addiction, but my self-diagnosed ADD means I'm unable to focus long enough for that to happen.

But I really, really love Diet Coke.

One time, when my daughter was 2, I woke up with a jolt. Only inches from my face was my sweet cherub, uttering the words "Wake up, Sweeping Booty." With an impish smile, she pointed to my pillow, upon which she had placed an ice cold Diet Coke. Even at the tender age of 2, she knew that Diet Coke was my favorite thing about morning.

So how does my adoration-verging-on-obsession relate to this, my neglected preparedness blog? When I can re-use those empty 2-liter bottles for ...

... water storage! As you can see, we're well on the way to a substantial supply of water. Although I haven't been adding bleach to this water, I'll probably start with the next batch.

You might notice a few Diet Pepsi bottles snuggled in with the rest of our supply. In a moment of sale-induced weakness, I bought those bottles, convinced that I didn't have a brand preference.

I was sorely mistaken. It was an error of judgment that I will not repeat again.

And in case you're wondering, caffeinated products are most definitely part of our family's food storage plan.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Prepping ... In Real Life

We live somewhere here ...

... in the highlighted path of the storm. Although we are not anticipating major issues (we live nowhere near a likely-to-flood body of water, for example), we are taking some precautions. Today I made: 2 loaves of bread (and ground up a bunch more wheat to have on hand), a batch of tortillas, a batch of hummus, and I'm cooking some beans with planned leftovers for the week. While we're catching up on the many (!) loads of laundry, I'm thinking that a pile of chocolate chip cookies might help us keep our momentum.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Where Do I Go From Here?

With several months of prepping under my belt, I feel like I have made great progress in a variety of areas. We're accumulating our water supply (that Diet Coke 2-liter addiction is actually helpful!), we have been regularly using and rotating our canned goods, we have switched from store-bought wheat bread and tortillas to grinding the flour and making our own. And the biggest advancement? We have successfully completed our first month using Dave Ramsey's cash envelope budget system! The reason for our money issues is now painfully obvious ... but I'm considering that a very good thing since now we can change our (ahem ... MY!) habits.

Perhaps because of all the recent progress, I feel I have reached a temporary prepping plateau. When I look around and see our on-hand stock, I feel comfortable ... but deep down I know that I need to continue to refine our supply. As I'm writing this post, I realize that I should create (and implement!) an inventory system so I will know exactly what we have and where it's located. Our long-term wheat, sugar, and powdered milk supply is boxed and labeled, but I need to figure out how to best keep on top of our canned goods and paper supplies.

The majority of our food supplies are stored in a small alcove in our laundry room. Since we lack a basement and our garage space is exceedingly hot, this set-up seems to be the best we can find. Here's how things look now:

The shelves are several feet deep, so we have plenty of room to store a big supply of each item. Each of the top 2 shelves hold multiple boxes filled with our mylar-packaged supplies (macaroni, wheat, powdered milk, beans, etc.). We're fortunate to live quite close to a Mormon storehouse, so we have set aside a portion of our monthly budget to purchase supplies there.

For anyone interested, the super-amazing rotating can organizers were purchased online here. I got these organizers after having a rogue can of corn land on my foot one-too-many times ... and really, it is my absolute favorite storage-related purchase. Very Special Friends are sometimes invited into my laundry room to have a look-see ... and, if they ask very politely, I sometimes even share the joy of watching the cans rotate. We take turns pulling a can out from the bottom section, then adding one into the top section and watching it rotate. (Ummm ... am I letting out a bit too much crazy here?!?!) But seriously, these organizers have made it possible for the kids to be fully involved in stocking and "shopping" from our supply.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


As we continue assessing our prepping needs, first aid and medical supplies remain a gaping hole. I had been struggling a bit with the thought of spending money for items that (thankfully!) we don't use on a regular basis and that usually end up expired in the trash can ... until I began reading about pandemics and sheltering at home. After a quick (and extremely frugal) trip to Walgreen's this week ...

... I began to feel more confident about our on-hand supplies. I also came to realize that purchasing medicines is akin to purchasing an insurance policy. Although we hope that we will not need to use these drugs ... we would be extremely relieved to have them available if necessary.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Family Fun: Box Oven

A few weeks ago, as part of our Family Fun preparedness activities (and inspired by this post), we built an oven out of a cardboard box. (Trust me -- for two English majors and their offspring, it was a big-time construction project!)

One major prepping concern is how our family would survive without electricity. My honey and I have decided to deal with this eventuality in two ways: by storing food that we could eat without electricity (beans, soups, etc.), and by learning how to create our own heat sources. Although we own a camping stove, we would like to have other options available to us.

We gathered our supplies ...

... lit the charcoal ...

... loaded up our test product ...

... and baked a cake!

Although it tasted a little ... grilled ... it was perfectly baked and absolutely delicious!

Family Fun: Building Our 72-Hour Bag

I believe that preparedness will succeed if the entire family is involved and actively engaged. To that end, my honey and I have decided to work on teaching a new skill to our kids (and, truth be told, to ourselves) at least twice a month.

Today, the family began gathering the materials for our 72-Hour Bags. After my honey and I spent a date night compiling our many supply lists into one, we realized that it will take some time to get all our supplies gathered and purchased. Tonight's adventures began with discussing our plans with the children during dinner, then we all headed outside raid our camping supplies. It wasn't until I took this photo that I noticed our fondness for blue bags!

At this point, we only have one frame backpack. We are now on the prowl for additional ones so we can upgrade everyone's bags with something sturdier and ... roomier. I have a confession: I Am Not A Light Packer. It's a problem, really. Any time we take a trip (camping trip or road trip), I bring along more books than there are hours to read, and more knitting projects than there are hours to stitch. Packing one bag to last me 72 hours is quite a daunting task! Logically, I comprehend that I would not have time or inclination during a flee-the-house scenario to either read or knit ... but on the other hand, what if my hands weren't occupied during a crisis? Wouldn't that exacerbate the problem? I can envision myself crafting clothes out of the duct tape and dental floss that I scrounge from the bottom of our packs! I have promised myself that when I have completely filled my pack with necessary items then I can sneak in a couple of knitting needles and a ball of wool. In the meantime, thank goodness the sewing kit is considered "necessary"!

Part of my Organizational Disorder means that I love zipper bags and Sharpies. Imagine my delight this evening as I was in charge of making our supplies accessible and organized! I created a mini medical kit for each bag, a mini hygiene kit, and a bag of ... bags!!! Truly, there is one zipper bag filled with a trash bag and more zipper bags! Silly, probably ... but I hope it would prove useful in an emergency.

Following is a list of the contents we are planning for each pack:
  • safety mirror
  • space blanket
  • duct tape and rope
  • flashlight and batteries
  • 2 liters of water
  • pocket knife
  • $10 in quarters
  • $10 in ones
  • flannel sheet
  • rain poncho
  • waterproof matches and lighter
  • toilet paper
  • deck of cards/small game
  • iodine tablets
  • sunscreen
  • shake flashlight
  • whistle
  • bandanna
  • sewing kit
  • glow sticks
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • mosquito repellant
  • work gloves
  • garbage bags
  • notepad and pen
  • compass
  • hygiene bag
    • washcloth
    • soap/shampoo
    • deodorant
  • first aid bag
    • safety pins
    • plastic bag
    • ponytail holder
    • tissues
    • cough drops
    • aluminum foil
    • band-aids
    • tylenol
    • benadryl
    • hydrocortizone
    • pepto
    • neosporin
    • tweezers
  • food bag
    • dried fruit
    • trail mix
    • graham crackers
    • granola bars
    • candy/gum
    • 1 can beans/soup
    • can opener
  • clothes bag
    • socks (wool)
    • t-shirt
    • unders
    • pj bottoms
    • hat/cap
    • footwear
    • mittens
    • rain poncho
Dad's Pack will also include:
  • $50 in five-dollar bills
  • folding shovel
  • big tarp
  • personal documents
  • ax
  • crank radio
  • spare glasses/contacts
  • crank flashlight
Mom's Pack will also include:
  • female products
  • prescription
  • $50 in five-dollar bills
  • personal documents
  • collapsible bucket
  • Bible
  • tarp
Kid Packs will include a special doll/item of their choice.

If you see any glaring omissions ... or if you have any suggestions ... I would greatly appreciate your comment!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Free! Buckets!

I am beginning to accumulate more preparedness supplies (toiletries galore!) ... which means that I am quickly running out of room to keep my storage organized. Although I considered the idea of purchasing bins to hold my items (and trust me, nothing makes me more giddy than a parade of stuff all neat-and-tidy in coordinating bins!), I quickly realized that the money I'm allocating for prepping supplies would quickly be devoured by bins to organize those (now unaffordable) supplies. Thanks to a tip from a helpful friend, I learned that our local grocery store offers the perfect solution! When I stopped by the bakery department last night, I was given (for free!) 6 large buckets with lids. The thrill of this bounty was topped only by the pervasive scent of leftover icing.

Since these buckets are food-grade, I will eventually get more so I can store packages of pasta or rice when I get them on sale.

I'm a delighted beyond words to have begun implementing this new storage solution.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yes, I Can!

Early one July morning, I changed this ...


... into this ...


... which became this ...


... oops! I mean this ...


In the afternoon, I changed 25 pounds of these ...


... and 25 pounds of these ...


... and plenty of this ...


... in a lovely space ...


... into this!




The more I learn about preparedness, the more interested I become in self-sufficiency. This summer, a friend and I have become enamored with canning. Perhaps obsessed is a more appropriate term? Yesterday we canned 75 pounds of tomatoes into salsa, and today I turned 12.5 pounds into pasta sauce.

Although I was initially overwhelmed (or, rather, underwhelmed!) with all the work that goes into canning, I tasted the final product and was an instant convert. My friend and I have been scouring the local produce ads and getting whatever we can on sale. So far, we found tomatoes (for 50 cents a pound!), strawberries, peaches, cucumbers, and jalapenos for out-of-this world summertime savings.

My ultimate dream is to produce a garden with yields high enough that we can enjoy produce all season long ... with enough left over to save for the off-season. My reality differs. Significantly. I loathe the heat. And mosquitoes. And I am terrified of snakes. And I am an instant gratification kind of girl. Did I mention that I hate heat? At the moment, I'm finding all the limitations a bit ... well ... limiting. However, I persevere in the interest of both frugality and self-reliance. I have started sprouting lentils (the first attempt was a spectacular success ... although I desperately need to locate some recipes because dry sprouted lentils by the handful (no matter how cute!) get a bit boring after the first couple of bites).

Tonight I'm loading up my Kindle with a book that will (I hope!) help provide me with some gardening inspiration: Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener's Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting [Kindle Edition]
(R.J. Ruppenthal). My other plan? I'm working valiantly to convince my family that they actually want to get out there and garden! I'll report back ...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Food Storage Analyzer from Emergency Essentials

Since I'm just beginning my food storage plan, I'm in a relentless pursuit for information. I have checked out every single preparedness title available in my local library, my wish list is growing by the minute, and my blog reader is filled to capacity.

During a recent Internet prowl, I discovered Emergency Essentials. Oh, be still my heart! I spent hours clicking through the products and reading all the insight articles ... only to discover the related blog and free catalog! Just when I thought I had absorbed every last bit of information available, I stumbled upon the Food Storage Analyzer.

The Analyzer is extremely easy to use and provides quick links to products (in other words, an instant one-stop shopping list!). I still have a bunch of pantry items to add to my in-stock list, but I'm getting a good idea of what gaps we need to fill in.

Gift Card Giveaway

Adventures of a New Prepper

Welcome to my newest blogging adventure, a chronicle of my journey to preparedness.

Since many of my friends and family think my prepping adventures are a descent into madness, I have decided to remain anonymous on this blog. This anonymity will enable me to share my supplies without fear of eye-rolling ... and will allow my supplies to remain somewhat covert in case of disaster.

I must confess that I'm clinically unable to keep a secret. Well ... that's not entirely true. I can keep other people's secrets ... just not my own. When I get excited about something (such as prepping) I feel compelled to Share The News with everyone I meet. To give my beloved spouse a break from my Extreme Enthusiasm, I decided to write down my adventures to share online.

I truly, deeply believe in the importance of prepping. It makes good financial sense, and it provides supplies for my family in case of disaster ... and holy moly -- it's fun! Prepping is a perfect outlet for my organizational obsession (the labels! the bins! the boxes!), for my thrill of the hunt (10 boxes of cereal, 10 cans of refried beans, 5 packages of cheese for only $14!), and for my deep-seated desire to make my home a self-contained sanctuary for those I love.

I look forward to sharing my adventures in this space!