Friday, September 19, 2014

"Oh my gosh, she's a prepper!"


One of the things that could most annoy me is when some one close me to goes "Oh my gosh, she's a prepper! You should see all the stuff she has put anyway and all the gadgets she has!"

Doesn't matter the glare I give them. Doesn't matter if I deny it or semi deny it. Doesn't matter if I walk away from the conversation or try to change the conversation, it goes back to that.

And guess what? It really irks me, politely saying.

I don't want everyone to know what I have. I am actually quite private about what I have. I have a small group of people who know what I have or hoping to acquire. That is it. I do that on purpose. I don't want everyone and their cousins to show up on my doorstep looking for hand outs or a place to stay.

There is actually a term for this: Operational Security. Otherwise known as OPSEC. Operational security means that important information is hidden, protected, and not divulged to anyone determined to be an "unfriendly" party. You do this to protect what you have and yourself from anyone who might be a potential threat.

I like to use operational security as an excuse to not draw attention to myself. I live quietly. I drive a normal, boring colored car. I live on an acreage at least five miles from the nearest town. I don't do things that would scream "PREPPER". I make excuses for purchases I make to deflect from what I am doing. I do a lot of online or out of area shopping in order to not run into people I would have explain to what I am purchasing.

Because, face it, people in general are nosy.

If I do run into someone I know, I deflect attention anyway from my purchases. I also try to be vague about my purchases. Some people know and don't ask, but other people don't usually get a direct answer. I have known to flat out lie which is not cool, but sometimes necessary.

Will I still be a target if SHTF happens? You bet. I have accepted that reality a long time ago. There is people out there who will prey on anyone they know may have something. They expect others to take care of them instead of helping themselves. The only way they know to help themselves to help themselves to what others have.

Here is the deal: Don't expect me to talk about what I have. Don't grill my family about it either. They should know better than to talk about our storage. Privacy is a rare thing in this day and age, but privacy is a good thing to practice. I don't need to know everything about you and vice versa.

Does it bother you when others talk about what you have? How do you deal with it?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monthly Frugal and Homesteading Update - August/September

August is in the books! Yeah! The kids went back to school on the 20th and we have settled very quickly back into a routine. School was a bit more expensive this year to enroll. In the past six years, we have qualified for free lunches which also qualifies us for free registration. While I do not care for the program, it did give me some breathing room in the budget and it does help the schools out a lot with extra funding.

This year we have reduced cost lunches, but my kids take cold lunches a lot anyway so that will be okay. Since we make a lot from scratch I don't see this impacting our grocery budget too much, but we shall see.

Keeping it real. My kitchen floor right now!

Speaking of the grocery, that has been staying steady at $200 a month. Actually in August, I spent $175. I blame the garden for that! Ha! Yeah for gardens! We were also blessed with a lot of free produce and have been canning like crazy. I actually ran out of jars this year canning and will be getting more as soon as the budget allows. I did pick up two cases of pint jars last week.

We have been maintaining the garden which is starting to finish up. We dug up the potatoes and got a decent crop. I discovered we had ground cherries and am waiting for them to ripen. We have had a very decent crop of green beans, acorn squash, and cucumbers. The onions didn't get big, but they are still very usable. Tomatoes produced, but not well. Peppers, summer squash, and beets didn't do anything.

I do know one thing. I am done using buckets in my garden. I have tried for the last three years to use buckets to help expand my garden and grow more things. Plants grow, but do not produce in spite of using compost in addition to soil in my buckets. I am done with them.

The nesting boxes are up in the chicken coop. The chickens are four months old right now and should be laying soon. We can't wait! We used some more free sawdust after we cleaned out the chicken coop and put down a heavy layer this time. The old chicken bedding went straight to the garden where we had already dug up. The chickens have been taking the opportunity to take dust baths in the old bedding. What goofs!

We are really trying to cut expenses now. With a lot of birthdays and holidays coming up, we are looking for ways to keep costs down or make them disappear. I am also looking for a lot of good ideas for homemade gifts for the kids. I have one idea so far with hopefully more to follow. I have a board or two started on Pinterest right now for those ideas with more being added all the time.

We have been doing all the usual things to keep expenses down: mending clothes, pillows and blankets; making cleaners and laundry detergent; canning and preserving the bounty; shopping the sales only; driving less; not eating out; looking for free goods and accepting free goods; and staying home more.

I am starting to research having a calf or two next spring to raise our own beef. I am also looking for what breeds to have for our own meat chickens next spring. I am more than ready to raise my own meat! The price of meat has pretty much shocked me to my core. We are out of ground beef and ground pork. Having to buy them is a shock. $4.99 a pound?!?! Yikes!

Other than that, we have not been too exciting around the homestead. I have some more projects to get done like cleaning out the garage, build a new compost area, mulch and fertilize the garden, put plastic up on the windows, and selling a bunch of stuff in the house (we have way too much!).

I did put up a new tab at the top of blog for affiliate links. These are all companies I regularly use and believe in. I also included my eBay store where I sell books and miscellaneous items. I would love it if you all clicked on them, shopped through them, or just check them out. The income from this helps out this little family so much! Thank you in advance!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Raising Your Kids To Be The Opposite Of Society's Expectations

Some beliefs I have encountered:

Many people believe that kids need a gentle, coddling introduction to being a grown up.

Many people believe that kids cannot function on their own until they are 22-25 years old.

Many people believe kids do not need to have a job while in junior high, high school, or college. They should just concentrate on their studies and being involved. They have the rest of their life to work.

If the kids have jobs, they still don't need to pay any of their own expenses. They should save their money or just blow the money on junk.

Many people believe that kids need to go to college in order to be successful. As long as they graduate with a degree, they will be successful.

Many people believe that it is okay for kids to move back home after being gone for a few years and not have to contribute to the home or pay bills. They need to concentrate on finding a job and saving money to buy a car or a home.

All of these beliefs? They are the reason why we have a generation or two of adults who can not function in our society. They can not work or don't know how to work. They believe that someone else will always take care of them.

I don't know about you, but I want my kids to be independent, respectful, functioning members of society. I love them too much to be anything else. I want to see them succeed. I want to watch and love where life is taking them. That requires me as a parent to help them get to that point.

How do I do that?

1. Teach kids skills while they are young. All my kids learn how to cook and know basic cooking skills. I want to know they can feed themselves. They learn how to do laundry. They mow the lawn. They are in charge of animal chores and taking care of the animals. They also help around the house and do whatever chores I assign them.

2. Teach kids to work. My kids do all the things in #1 to learn skills, but to also work. I don't pay an allowance, but I want them to understand that to get anything you have to work for it.

3. Teach kids to pay for their own things. This is a tough one. When my kids turn 16, I don't buy a lot of things for them anymore. I buy their food, basic necessities, car registration, car insurance, and first vehicle. Other than that, they buy their own stuff. They want to dye or perm their hair? They pay for it. They want clothes, jewerly, and shoes? They pay for it. Their grandparents buy them a fair amount of things, but they refuse to buy everything the kids want too.

4. Encourage kids to get a job. Let me rephrase that: Strongly encourage them to get a job. By telling them they have to pay for the things they want, they will want a job anyway. But I still encourage them to get a job. My girls' jobs (so far) have included babysitter, cook, waitress, bartender, cleaner, camp counselor, teaching assistant, and the list will continue to grow. Has it hurt them? No, not at all. In fact, those jobs have helped them decide what they don't want to do in life.

One of the things that stuck with me at Shali's college orientation was in a parents' session, they encouraged the kids to be busy and to have a job while in college. Why? Because kids that are busy going to classes, working, studying, and being involved with college activities were more productive and had better time management skills. Those kids are also better students and more successful in life.

5. Do not coddle kids. I teach mine from an early age to work out their problems and deal with people themselves. I will always be there to help, advise, and defend them if need be. However, I teach my kids to be responsible for themselves. They have had to explain that they lost homework and library books, were late for school, and/or missed a lesson. If those things were my fault, I wrote a letter of explanation and apology. Otherwise, my kids have to explain themselves.

I also do not take my kids everywhere with me. They stay home by themselves at age 10 or older depending on maturity level. By age 12, they are watching their siblings while I am gone. I do not have daycare in the summer and the older ones are now responsible for the ones that can't drive. They do have wonderful grandparents that help out, but the responsibility is on their shoulders. I do "pay" for them doing this by providing gas money, but I feel kids should have to help out at home.

6. Teach kids that education is important. This one comes with a twist. I do not believe that all kids should go to college. I tell my kids that they should go to college if the career they are going into requires it. However, if they are interested in a trade, then go to a trade school or go to work right away. Military service will always be a possibility. College is not for everyone and they should not waste their time by getting a soft degree that will get them nowhere afterwards.


Kids will appreciate this when they get older. Sometimes they will argue with you on it, but the goal is for them to be functioning members of society that will not want to freeload off of you or the government.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, September 1, 2014

30 Days of Preparedness: Personal Protection and Awareness - What Will You Do To Protect Yourself?

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When you go out for the day, do you know where you are going? Are you aware of potential situations that may impact you? How do you plan to protect yourself (and loved ones) if danger threatens you?

Those are questions I think about everyday. They are not easy questions, but they need to asked just the same. Many people think the officers of the law will protect or they will depend of the kindness of strangers to protect them, but that is not good enough for my family and I. Many people also think that having just a gun will protect them, but without the right skills and smarts you may be in just as much trouble.

Personal protection and awareness is just that: being aware of yourself in your surroundings. You should have the skills to be aware of the dangers of almost any situation and the smarts to understand how to deal with that situation.

You need to ask yourself these questions:

1. Where are you?

2. Who is around you? Is someone causing trouble, acting foolish, or look like a danger in any way?

3. Who is around you that will need protection besides yourself? Is your family or friends with you? Does someone look vulnerable or look like they would not be able to potentially deal with danger?

4. Where are the nearest exits in the building or any place you are at? Where are good areas to hide if need be? Where do you need to go if a natural disaster happens (i.e. tornado, hurricane)?

5. What are the dangers? Are there large trees or heavy pillars that can fall? Is there a large body of water nearby? Does the building appear to unstable?

Being smart and recognizing who and what is around can already save your life. Then you need to move onto how you will protect yourself if you are threatened.

I believe in multiple levels of defense. You should be ready to practice self-defense at any time. You should be ready to physically extract yourself from a dangerous situation. Taking self-defense classes is one of the best things you can do.


You should also carry items to help defend yourself. You should carry one or more of these items:
Whistle
Pepper spray
Mace
Knife
Stun gun
Taser
Pistol or revolver that is comfortable and legal to carry

I have multiples of these items on my person or in my EDC at almost all times. My college daughter carries pepper spray and a knife which does not violate her college's weapons policy. My teenage daughter carries a knife with her that does not ever go into her school. The key to carrying any of these things is to keep them concealed as to have the advantage and to know the weapons policy of the places you frequent.

Another key is to have the skills and smarts to use these items. Practice with them. Learn to use them correctly. Learn what situation they should be used in and why. Understand the pros and cons of everything you carry to protect yourself. Teach others about using them or to not touch those things.

When you are aware of the situation around you and have the tools to deal with the potential dangers, you will be better able to protect yourself.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

30-days-prep2

Thanks for joining the Prepared Bloggers as we work our way through 30 Days of Preparedness. September is National Preparedness Month so you will find everything you need to get your preparedness knowledge and skills into shape. Take one post each day, learn as much as you can about the topic and make it a part of your preparedness plan.

Day 1 - Ready, Set, Get Prepared! Welcome to 30 Days of Preparedness from PreparednessMama 
Day 2 - The Family Meeting Place and Escape from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 3 - I'm Safe! How to Communicate with Family in an Emergency from PreparednessMama
Day 4 - Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan? from Home Ready Home
Day 5 - Preparedness For Pets from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 6 - The Escape Exercise from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 7 - It all Falls Apart Without Mental Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 8 - It's a Matter of Emergency Kits from A Matter of Preparedness
Day 9 - Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights from Food Storage & Survival
Day 10 - Cooking Without Power from Mama Kautz
Day 11 - The Importance of a Shelter & Staying Warm and Dry from Trayer Wilderness
Day 12 - The Importance of Having The Right Tools In Your Pack from Trayer Wilderness
Day 13 - Practice Living Without Electricity from Food Storage Made Easy
Day 14 - How We Choose The Right Gear - (including the MultiFlame Tool) from Trayer Wilderness
Day 15 - Water Storage & Purification from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 16 - Food and Water for a 72 Hour "Go Bag" from Homestead Dreamer
Day 17 - 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and How from Melissa K Norris
Day 18 - Planning Your Pantry from The Organic Prepper
Day 19 - Stocking Up on Non-Food Items from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 20 - Dutch Oven Cooking: Off-Grid Before Off-Grid Was Cool from The Backyard Pioneer
Day 21 - Pressure Canning the Harvest from Timber Creek Farm
Day 22 - Personal Protection & Awareness from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 23 - KISS First Aid from Herbal Prepper
Day 24 - Mommy, I have to go Potty! from Mom With a Prep
Day 25 - Fire Starting 101: The Why and How of Lighting a Fire for Survival from Food Storage & Survival
Day 26 - How to Filter and Purify Water from Prepared Housewives
Day 27 - How To Make A Shelter from Trayer Wilderness
Day 28 - Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged from The Organic Prepper
Day 29 - What Is Char and Why You Should Have It To Start A Fire from Trayer Wilderness
Day 30 - How To Utilize Bushcraft Skills and Forage From The Wild from Trayer Wilderness

30 Days of Preparedness: Stocking the Non-Food Items

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People often forget that while they need to have plenty of food stored, they also need the other essentials in life. What would be those you ask? Items such as batteries, toliet paper, feminine supplies, soap, deodorant, and other essentials make life so much easier and better smelling for all of us! Plus there is a lot of items we do not use every day, but we would certainly need in case of emergency!

How do you plan to address these things? Do you plan on making them yourself or having them on hand? Either way, you need to have the items on hand!


What do you need to have on hand when stocking non-food items? I have a list of things I definitely want to have on hand, but that list could look different for everyone. Here is some questions I ask myself and you may want to ask yourself to start or beef up your non-food stockpiles.

1. What are you prepping for? For example: power grid failures, EMPs, natural disasters, financial collapse, job loss, rising food costs, etc. What items will you need to deal with those situations?

2. What does your family use on a daily basis that they could not live without? I do not mean electronics. I mean personal care items, clothing, etc. Keep track of what they use and start making a list. Have the members of your family makes lists of things they use also to make a better list.

3. What items will you need to have on hand if you have no power as opposed to having power? I have flashlights, batteries, solar chargers, and crank flashlights/radios in case I have no power, but those things would not be a necessity if we had power. I want to be ready for either contingency.

4. What do you need to keep on hand in case you can not go anywhere, need to service your vehicle,  or medical services are not available?

5. What do you need to have on hand to protect your family and yourself?

6. If you garden, have pets, or keep livestock, what do you need to have on hand?

7. If you have a baby, small children, or elderly people to consider, what do you need to have on hand?

After asking yourself those questions, start making a list. I am including a link to a list I keep with me in case I have some extra money or see a great deal to add to my stockpiles.

 Non Food Shopping List

I also look for multipurpose items. I do not like to keep things that only have one purpose, but I know that does need to happen. I also look for items that do not require electricity or can be solar powered.

Also remember, two is one and one is none. I may be able to have too much of an item, but I don't want to take the chance of running out. Neither should you.

A list I did not include is personal security and protection. That list will look different for everyone and greatly depends on what you want to do and what you already have on. I believe in multiple layers of security, but I have friends that believe in just knives and guns. To each their own.

What items do you like to include on your list? What else would you consider?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

30-days-prep2

Thanks for joining the Prepared Bloggers as we work our way through 30 Days of Preparedness. September is National Preparedness Month so you will find everything you need to get your preparedness knowledge and skills into shape. Take one post each day, learn as much as you can about the topic and make it a part of your preparedness plan.

Day 1 - Ready, Set, Get Prepared! Welcome to 30 Days of Preparedness from PreparednessMama 
Day 2 - The Family Meeting Place and Escape from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 3 - I'm Safe! How to Communicate with Family in an Emergency from PreparednessMama
Day 4 - Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan? from Home Ready Home
Day 5 - Preparedness For Pets from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 6 - The Escape Exercise from Laughingbear Adventures
Day 7 - It all Falls Apart Without Mental Preparedness from PreparednessMama
Day 8 - It's a Matter of Emergency Kits from A Matter of Preparedness
Day 9 - Nine Great Emergency Light Sources Other Than Flashlights from Food Storage & Survival
Day 10 - Cooking Without Power from Mama Kautz
Day 11 - The Importance of a Shelter & Staying Warm and Dry from Trayer Wilderness
Day 12 - The Importance of Having The Right Tools In Your Pack from Trayer Wilderness
Day 13 - Practice Living Without Electricity from Food Storage Made Easy
Day 14 - How We Choose The Right Gear - (including the MultiFlame Tool) from Trayer Wilderness
Day 15 - Water Storage & Purification from The Busy B Homemaker
Day 16 - Food and Water for a 72 Hour "Go Bag" from Homestead Dreamer
Day 17 - 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and How from Melissa K Norris
Day 18 - Planning Your Pantry from The Organic Prepper
Day 19 - Stocking Up on Non-Food Items from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 20 - Dutch Oven Cooking: Off-Grid Before Off-Grid Was Cool from The Backyard Pioneer
Day 21 - Pressure Canning the Harvest from Timber Creek Farm
Day 22 - Personal Protection & Awareness from Living in Rural Iowa
Day 23 - KISS First Aid from Herbal Prepper
Day 24 - Mommy, I have to go Potty! from Mom With a Prep
Day 25 - Fire Starting 101: The Why and How of Lighting a Fire for Survival from Food Storage & Survival
Day 26 - How to Filter and Purify Water from Prepared Housewives
Day 27 - How To Make A Shelter from Trayer Wilderness
Day 28 - Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged from The Organic Prepper
Day 29 - What Is Char and Why You Should Have It To Start A Fire from Trayer Wilderness
Day 30 - How To Utilize Bushcraft Skills and Forage From The Wild from Trayer Wilderness

Friday, August 29, 2014

Why don't you do what they do?

My son is smart kid. He appeared to be not paying attention to the television at all last night while I was watching Doomsday Preppers. Most of the time, I see a lot of eye rolling and room leaving from my kids when that show comes on. While I pick up a lot of good information on that show, I don't always agree with what everyone does. He doesn't know that though.


He was playing with his Legos with his back to the television. He seemed to be building a super airplane out of three different kits when he looked up at me and asked:

"Why don't you do what they do? Why don't you prep like that?"

A very good question, son of mine. So much for thinking you weren't listening. Kids are more observant than we give them credit for being. I decided to flip the question back on him. I asked him:

"How do you think I should prep? What do you think I should be doing? Should I be doing what they are doing?"

He shrugged and answered that he didn't know for sure, but we weren't doing what they were doing on the telly.

He is right. We aren't doing everything other preppers are doing. We don't have the money for some of those projects. We are still learning some of the skills that many people already have. I wanted to ease myself into some of the major steps I have taken. Some projects take time to develop and implement. While I admire other preppers for what they are doing, I am not sure what they are doing is the right step for us.

I look at some things a little differently in prepping, choosing a self-sufficiency approach. There are many baby steps as well as big steps that need to be taken and have been taken. I am afraid if I just jump all the way in, I will drown myself. I do know I need to do more and try to do all that I can.

However, kids don't have that same approach to life in general. Why? They see no problem in jumping into something without thinking about potential snags to their plans. They dream big and can live bigger. Dane is just getting to the age where he thinks about consequences, but knowing his genetics, it will be awhile before he fully realizes the consequences of his decisions and plans. Poor kid.

Maybe I need to be more like my son and just jump in to get things done. Or maybe I should show him that not everyone will do the same things to get ready for what disasters life has in store for us. Either way, we will be doing what we need do instead of asking why don't we do what they do.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Make Your Own Face and Eye Cream

One of those areas I haven't given up my vanity on is my face. I don't wear a lot of cosmetics, just concealer and mascara. After I get out of the shower, I put on clear lip balm to keep them from chapping. Then I put on eye and face cream.

I ran out one morning and decided to go to the store to buy some more on my lunch break. What I saw just about made me lose my lunch! Eye cream was $12.00 for a little tube and face cream was $14.00 for a small bottle.

Are you kidding me?!?! I don't care how long they last! That is a lot of money!

Then I started reading the ingredients. I couldn't pronounce over half of the ingredients and this was suppose to be their healthy, all-natural line of face products. That is just ridiculous!

I still broke out with acne which has plagued me since I was pregnant with my first child. Nineteen years ago. Ack! I like looking younger, but I have no need to look like a teenager!

Time to start doing some research on how to make my own. I love how some people just had a few ingredients, but I didn't have those ingredients on hand. I didn't love recipes that called for emulsifying and reducing and letting the concoction sit for several days. I needed to find something by the morning or my face, mainly the cheeks, would crack from dryness!

I saw several people on different boards suggesting the use of coconut oil. Coconut oil is the miracle cream/oil of our household. I found out that coconut oil had antibacterial qualities and was great for sensitive skin.

Hot dang!

Then I started wondering if I could combine my face cream with my eye cream.  I am all about a simple morning routine. I like to be able to sleep longer!

After a successful six month trial, I can tell you this works. I haven't had a breakout since the first month. I do still have the occasional blackhead on my chin, but I can deal with that. I do wash my face with an olive oil based face cleanser, but that is all I do. I use this cream afterwards.

Face and Eye Cream


1/4 cup organic coconut oil
4 vitamin E softgels (optional)

Warm the coconut oil enough to make it soft, but not hot and melted. Clip the end of the vitamin E softgels and squeeze them into the coconut oil. Mix together. Put mixture into a small container, preferably glass, but plastic works too. 

I will tell you the vitamin E is optional, but I added it to the mixture to give a boost to my eyes. My skin gets extremely dry around my eyes in the winter and this helps. I hope it helps you too!

Thanks for reading,
Erica