Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuna Noodle Casserole - A Food Storage Friendly Meal!


Ahhh....Tuna Noodle Casserole. Doesn't that evoke childhood memories?

I happen to love it! I eat 80/20 most of the time, focusing on eating healthy. Then sometimes, I want some childhood comfort food. Tuna Noodle Casserole is one of those meals!

My Grandma Ertz made it. My mom makes it. We had it during Lent and we had it during the rest of the year. It is a meal that is simple to put together and all the ingredients are food storage, pantry friendly ingredients. It is only four ingredients. Who doesn't love that?

Tuna Noodle Casserole


2 cups egg noodles, uncooked
1 can cream of mushroom soup (can substitute homemade if you wish)
1 cup cooked peas (canned or frozen, doesn't matter)
1 small can or packet tuna (packed in water works best)

1. Cook the elbow macaroni in boiling salted water. Drain.

2. In a 8" x 8" pan, mix together soup, peas, and tuna. Add noodles and mix together. You can season it if you wish. I don't usually add anymore salt, but a little black pepper, onion powder, or garlic powder is always nice.


3. Put into a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve. Ideally, this recipe should serve four people. However, I often double it like I did in these pictures. That way, I have a prayer of having leftovers for the next day.


Now, I have to confess. I grew up eating this with ketchup on it. Not all people go for this including some of my kids. Try it once - you might like it! 


Give it a try! Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, February 20, 2015

Life For Women During Wartime: Life Without Men


(The history geek in me has arisen again. And probably will many more times.)

During wartime (WWI and WWII), many men were gone. Men ages 18-42 were either drafted or volunteered to fight. Some were pressed into service in other ways. Some were given reprieve if the government thought their talents lie elsewhere like farming. By the end of WWII, 16 million men had or were serving in some capacity. Some of the men returned home early, but usually with injuries.

That left a lot of women to pick up where the men left off. They didn't have a choice. Many women felt it was their patriotic duty to do what they could for the war effort. While many older gentlemen did what they could to help out and work, the loss of service age men was felt across the country in every sector. Women were left to do what they could.

I am sure that many women had doubts, struggled a bit, and felt a lot of weight on their shoulders. However, they knew whatever they were going through was nothing compared to what their menfolk were going through on the battlefields and behind the lines.

Women had to step up and do what they could. Many went to work in factories, ran business and farms in place of their men, and/or moved closer to family or moved in with family. Many women did all that while still tending children, maintaining a home, working gardens, and/or tending small livestock.

What comes to my mind is this: What if that were to happen again?

Do you think you can handle being away from the men in your life for 4-5 years?

 Average length of service was 33 months so some men were gone longer and some gone shorter lengths of time. Still, that is a long time to be away from your partner. I know several military wives can attest that 1-2 years of being gone is a long, hard time. Being everything while your partner is away and keeping all the balls in the air is hard.

Could you handle living with others? Could you handle living with your parents and family again? 

Several women moved their families to live with or very near their parents. Sometimes, women would live with other women and their kids to save on expenses and help with kids. Women recognized they needed help with kids while they worked long hours at factories or on farms. Nowadays, some women would struggle to do this. Even though we have day cares now, women on their own still need the help of others to manage it all and stay sane. Family sometimes can make this easier.

Could you manage the sheer amount of work that would come with managing work, home, kids, gardening, and whatever else would be on your plate? 

Women worked harder that ever during WWI and WWII. Granted, a lot was being asked of them and many of them stepped up and did it. I am sure they still had a little fun because sometimes you have to keep sane somehow. Laziness was not encouraged. People helped each other if they could, but at the end of the day women still had work to do.

One of the things that would make life easier now to handle this is the technology available. Communication is easier. Certain household tasks are easier and take less time such as laundry and dishes. More reliable, fuel-efficient vehicles make getting around easier and cheaper.

However, they also had rationing which included food, clothing, gas, and tires. You wouldn't be able to just fill up your vehicle with gas whenever you feel like it. You would make sure your clothes were kept in good condition to wear them longer. Many countries practiced and enforced blackouts at night so lights and computers would be kept to a minimum. Conservation of resources would be even more encouraged than it is now.

Life would be harder. Quite frankly, I think women are made of some pretty tough stuff and we could handle it. I know, for some women, this would be a very tough and very harsh life adjustment for them. The time is to make this less so is now.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, February 13, 2015

Do You Have Too Much or Just Enough For Your Needs?


Here is some questions to ask yourself:

1. If you had to leave your home in an emergency, could you?

2. Would you be able to leave your things and stockpiles behind?

3. Do you buy things just to have them or because they will serve a purpose not yet fulfilled by something else?

4. Do you buy a new pot just in case you might need it, even though you might have three already in that size or can serve the same purpose?

5. Do you buy a new pair of jeans because you think you deserve even though you have three almost new pairs sitting at home? Do you buy a new outfit for a party even though you have perfectly good outfits in your closet?

6. Does shopping equal family time? Do you buy things for your kids so they will think you are the "cool" parent or because they truly have a need?

7. Do you have more stockpiled than you can ever possibly use? Stockpiles are great, but sometimes you can have way too much of something just because it was a good deal, but you don't need it.

Chances are you have too much stuff. I have too much stuff.

In reading history, you realize that most common people didn't have a lot. They didn't need a lot. They may have had two or three outfits, one or two pairs of shoes, one or two skillets, a dutch oven, just enough dishes for one meal, and so on.

They had just enough for their needs and didn't need anymore. They had enough to survive and thrive. They didn't need more.

In today's society, we have a lot more than we need to survive and thrive. We have enough outfits to last us for at least two weeks. We hold onto things that have no meaning anymore. We accumulate more things just to have them. Why?

Being prepared, we are told we need to have more gear, more supplies, more this, and more that. Yes, we do need some things to survive and thrive, but how much stuff do we need? Can we simply have too much?

Yes we can because we start to put more stock into having stuff to survive. Instead we need to have skills, smarts, common sense, and a strong work ethic to survive.

Having things just in case of emergency is great. Trust me, I have several things for emergency purposes. Having a stockpile of food, first aid supplies, cleaning supplies, and seeds is great. I know I will be taking care of 8-12 people at least when something happens. I make sure I have plenty to cover that.

However, when I visit homes and see a huge walk-in closet stuffed full of clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry, that is too much stuff. When I see all the latest gadgets and nothing practical, that is too much stuff. When I see three sets of golf clubs and almost no food in the refrigerator, that is too much stuff and misplaced priorities.

Having too much stuff is misplaced priorities. We have gotten so accustomed to "living the good life" by buying whatever we want that we forget about only needing to have what we need to live.

What you do need to live?
1. Food and Water
2. Shelter
3. Clothing
4. Reliable Transportation
5. Means to protect yourself

That is it. That is all you need.

Having things is nice, but so many people form an attachment to their things that is not healthy. Then an emergency situation happens and they grieve terribly over losing their things. I get that some things are not replaceable. What is really not replaceable is memories and people. Those are things you can never have enough of.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Savings on the Homestead Week 6: Meal Planning and No Eating Out Week

Every Sunday I will be posting a Sunday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!

I have been in a huge meal planning crunch lately. With junior high basketball over with, life is getting back to normal. And I need to get back onto the meal planning way as soon as possible. This challenge is just as much for you as it is for me.

We have been eating very quick meals that do not produce leftovers. I have also have a starving 10 year old son and 14 year old daughter to contend with. They are doing their best to eat me out of the house. Therefore, I have been having to eat out at lunch or buy more food for lunch. Both of those things can really hurt my budget. 

How do I meal plan? Sometimes very simply and sometimes I have to write a grocery list. I am using what I have this week because I got groceries on Friday after work. Sometimes I assign meals to days and sometimes I just write a list and go from there. I am just writing a list this week because I know we will have some surprises in our schedule this week. 


On my meal planning list, I include a list with leftovers so I know what to grab for lunch and what needs to be used up. I also include a list of potential breakfasts to make the mornings run easier. 

With this list, we eat out a lot less if at all. And that is the second challenge of this week, No eating out! (Again, this is as much for you as it is for me.) Eating out seriously crunches the budget especially if it is unplanned eating out. My budget doesn't need this and I doubt yours does either!

Join me this week! Sunday is a great day to plan this!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Monday, February 2, 2015

Maxpedition TRIPTYCH™ Organizer Giveaway


Have you heard of this organizing bag before? The Maxpedition TRIPTYCH™ Organizer is one awesome bag! This is a bag you will not have to worry about ripping, tearing, getting dirty and not becoming clean again, and can handle a bit of rain! Who wouldn't want one? 

Here is your chance! One winner will be chosen to receive the Maxpedition TRIPTYCH™ Organizer. The only two things for your to qualify for this giveaway: you must be at least 18, and live in the USA, Alaska & Hawaii are included. Easy peasy! 

Winner will be notified by email as soon as giveaway is finished, they will have 24 hours to respond, if chosen winner fails to respond within 24 hours’ time a new winner will be chosen.

Check out the links below to see this awesome organizer in action! 

Link to the product - Maxpedition Website

YouTube Video Demo of the Maxpedition Triptych Organizer

YouTube Video about Maxpedition company’s products
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Food Rationing, Food Storage, and Wartime: We Have Much To Learn


I am a history geek. There is no one era in time that catches my fancy. All of them do. Lately, I have been studying food rationing during wartime during World War 1 and 2 in America and Britain. Some things have really caught my attention.

1. The government will step in and tell farmers what they can plant, where they can plant, and to do so in the most efficient way. The government will focus on the crops that will feed the most people cheaply. They will also be more concerned about feeding the troops than they will be about feeding the population. None of these things are bad things, but they are the reality.

2. People were very much encouraged to grow their own food. Gardens were almost expected. They were called "Victory Gardens". They were encouraged to grow food rather than lawns because the troops and the population needed food. They were also encouraged to can/preserve the food and share with their neighbors

3. People transitioned from meat based diets to plant based diets with a small amount of meat every day. If you didn't grow your own meat, meat was very heavily rationed by the end of each war. You may have been expected to make five pounds of meat last all week for a family of four.

4. People (town and country) were encouraged to keep chickens, rabbits, and other small livestock for eggs and meat. These things helped stretch the rationed food.

5. Along with food rationing, rubber, cloth, metal, petroleum, and a myriad of other things were rationed. You would have been expected to repair, mend, reuse, and repurpose anything you could to make it last longer. "Nothing wasted" would have been expected. In fact, you would have been looked down upon by your neighbors for being wasteful.

6. Sugar and fats were also heavily rationed. Most families were only given a quarter pound of fat and sugar each a week to make last all week by the end of the wars. That really is not much. Remember, fats are oils, butter, and lard.

7. If you had a dairy cow, you might be expected to give most of the milk to the government and only keep enough for your family to drink. If you had been able to make cheese and butter before, you wouldn't have been able to now because they needed the milk for the troops. If the milked soured for some reason, you could keep that for yourself.

8. Grocers often ran out of certain staple foods every week due to demand. Some things, like produce, may not be available at all and especially if it was grown in another country. Food from other countries might not be able to make it to America due to blockades and bombings. During the wars, boats were often repurposed for the armies to carry supplies.

9. Rationing got more and more stringent as each war wore on. At the start of rationing, you may be allowed one pound of sugar and by the end of rationing you may allowed a quarter pound of sugar.

Remember, before the WWII, we were in a depression in America. When the war broke out, most people were already used to having gardens, canning/preserving, raising livestock, and making everything stretch.

My grandma was born in 1920 and lived through the Depression and WWII. She remembers the Depression didn't hit them as hard because they lived on a farm in Northwest Iowa. They had dairy cows that had to be milked twice a day by hand, a garden, crops, and naturally reused everything. When she graduated high school, she worked as a hired girl to make extra money. She married my grandfather in 1942 and followed him from base to base as he trained pilots. They always made do with what they had and helped other families out. That was just the way it was.

Many people do not live this way anymore. It is just too easy to buy everything and throw it away when you no longer want it anymore. What would happen if rationing were to take place tomorrow?

Could you survive on what was allowed to you by the government? Could you handle stretching food over and over again just to have enough to eat all week? Could you handle cooking from scratch more to make food stretch that much further?

Many people relied on produce that was canned and preserved. They would seek out food that had been forgotten as being food. They would forage. They would hunt and trap. They started gardens if they didn't have one before. They raised chickens in the backyard. They produced more of their own food to make their food stretch farther.

Food storage was the key to their survival and to sending more food to feed the troops. Food storage is still key. You never know when a time like this will happen again. The situation might not be a war, but a personal crisis, a natural disaster, or a national crisis. Could you live like this?

What do you need to do so you and yours would not be affected as bad as others may be? Now is the time to store food, start a garden, raise a few chickens, learn to forage for food, hunt, and barter with neighbors. Now is the time to see how far you can stretch food and learn to live simply without having to rely on grocery stores as much.

You never know when this could happen to you. What can you do today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 2015 Goals Update


I can say this: not much happened this month. I did do a lot of planning and came up with a plan of attack for the first goal. Most of the rest of the goals have been researched and are being worked on.

My Goals For 2015

1. Clean, de-clutter, paint, re-carpet, fix ceiling, and organize Paige's room. This room is an unorganized disaster that needs some serious help. Plus she is at that age where she is growing out of everything: clothes, toys, books, etc.

 Like I said before, I now have a plan of attack. Unfortunately, this plan of attack also includes Shali's old bedroom across the hall. Which wasn't in my original plans. I am on the hunt for shelves for Paige's room and a queen size bed for the other bedroom so we can move the full size bed to Paige's room. Paige also started decluttering and got rid of a lot of clothes! Yeah! More needs to be done, but this is a start. 

2. Clean, organize, paint, and re-carpet the office. This is where I work at home (most of the time). It doesn't work for me. It doesn't really work for anyone.

I will tackle this after Paige's room. However, the need to organize the Ebay inventory is starting to become a necessity. I think I may have shelves in the barn to deal with this. I hope. 

3. Purchase a hand gun and learn to use it well.

Still researching, but I think a 9mm might be the winner due to size and lightness.

4. To blog much more consistently and to learn to use social media to my advantage. To me consistently is at least 3-5 times a week. That doesn't happen right now.

Still working on this. I will always be working on this. The blog took a break for ten days due to my schedule and energy level. However, I am still busy, but feeling better. I stuck to using social media and promoting this blog. This is taking some time too. I might have to look into a scheduler.

5. To make a homemade gift for each birthday. I have lots of ideas that I am not using right now so this should be easy to do.

I am working on Shali's birthday present. She will be 20 in March!

6. Add 1-2 beehives to the homestead. I would love, love, love to produce our own honey.

I have a kit and some books picked out on Amazon. I am still debating on what to use and how many. 

7. Lose 20 pounds over the year. Unbelievably, I love 20 pounds last year and would love to lose 20 more this year.

Nothing lost, but nothing gained either. Jordan decided to buy a scale for the house and that should help to keep track of the weight.

8. Finish six unfinished projects. I will introduce you all to my needlework pile in the future. You might not be laughing after you see it.

I did work on some needlework this last month, but forgot to take a picture. I will try to do so in the future!

9. Live as frugally as possible by making more my own things and using what I have first before buying more. This really needs to happen this year and working up a realistic budget will be the first step.

We are trying. We really are. We did eat out a few times due to Paige's basketball games getting over late. However, I am really trying to meal plan and have supper in the slow cooker. 

10. Write a book or an e-book. Because I have always wanted to.

Nope, nothing here yet. I have ideas, but nothing concrete.

11. Go to a self-reliance/preparedness expo and/or Mother Earth News Fair. I have never been to one and always say I want to go one and never do. This year is the year for this!

Nothing here yet either. I know there is one in Florida in two weekends and it would be awesome to go. Florida just seems a bit far to go right now.

12. Get a new-to-me double recliner and love seat for the living room. The ones I have have been blessing my home for at least 16-19 years and they blessed some one else's home before that. The kids have made sure they are worn out and broken down. I have fixed over and over again. Enough. Time for new to me stuff!

I have been surfing Craigslist and Facebook sale sites, but no luck yet. I will be patient!

Hopefully we will see some real progress in the next month!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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