What Did You Do To Prep This Week

It’s been a long week, a week with a lot of stress and more than a few tears, but the funeral and burial are over and it’s time for everyone to begin to healing. My girlfriend has taken the loss of her father better than I anticipated  – I think the nine months she spent taking care of him helped.

While she is sad that he is gone, I think she is relieved that he will not have to suffer anymore. I watched my grandmother die of colon cancer fourteen years ago and in my opinion cancer is one of the worst ways for anyone to die; a bullet to the head would be more merciful.

I’m sorry for only posting guest posts this week, but I’ve been so busy, helping with the funeral and comforting my girlfriend, that I haven’t had the time or mental capacity to write anything useful. I’m just thankful to have had several great guest posts to fall back on.

Everything should be back to normal by Monday (I have a great post planned), thank you for being patient – one thing is sure, and that is that, I have the best readers of any blog. I am blessed.

I would like to thank Mark S, Heather T, Sam S, David T, Jerry L, Tracy M and Michael D for their donations over the past week. Thank you. Unless anyone has objections, I’m going to give the money to my girlfriend to help with the funeral expenses, since the funeral home has already called wanting payment.

On another note; if you have used the “Teotwawki Multi Lens Vision System” from TEOTWAWKI VISION.COM please let me know your thoughts and experiences with the product. This looks like it would be perfect for one of my friends, but I would like to get some feedback from you before suggesting the product to him.

I’ve often nagged at you to do at least one thing each week to increase your chances of surviving a disaster, so admitting that, I’ve done nothing myself,  makes me feel like I’ve failed to meet my own standards. I’ll have to double up on my preps in the next week to make up for it.

I know you guys have done better than I did this week – so what did you do to prep this week? Please let us know in the comments below.

Other uses for Vinegar, Baking Soda, WD40, Coca Cola, Fabric Softener Sheets and Paper Towels

This is a guest post by John M

Vinegar

When it comes to grocery store products, vinegar is liquid gold. People have been using it for ages – and not just for cooking and preserving foods. Vinegar’s versatility is virtually unmatched; there are literally hundreds of potential applications. Aside from its primary applications, here is just a small sample of all the other things vinegar can be used for:

1. Disinfect wood cutting boards.
2. Soothe a sore throat; use 1 tsp of vinegar per glass of water, then gargle.
3. Fight dandruff; after shampooing, rinse hair with vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.
4. Remove warts; apply daily a 50/50 solution of cider vinegar and glycerin until they’re gone.
5. Cure an upset stomach; drink 2 tsp apple cider vinegar in one cup of water.
6. Polish chrome.
7. Keep boiled eggs from cracking; add 2 tbsp to water before boiling.
8. Clean deposits from fish tanks.
9. Remove urine stains from carpet. (Heh. Hopefully, it’s animal urine!)
10. Keep fleas off dogs; add a little vinegar to the dog’s drinking water.
11. Keep car windows from frosting up; use a solution of 3 oz. vinegar to 1 oz. water.
12. Clean dentures; soak overnight in vinegar and then brush.
13. Get rid of lint in clothes; add 0.5 cup vinegar to rinse cycle.
14. Remove grease from suede.
15. Kill grass on sidewalks and driveways.
16. Make wool blankets softer; add 2 cups distilled vinegar to rinse cycle.
17. Remove skunk odor from a dog; rub fur with full strength vinegar and rinse.
18. Freshen wilted vegetables; soak them in 1 tbsp vinegar and a cup of water.
19. Dissolve mineral deposits in drip coffee makers.
20. Deodorize drains; pour a cup down the drain once a week, let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse.
21. Use as a replacement for a lemon; 0.25 tsp vinegar substitutes for 1 tsp of lemon juice.
22. Make rice fluffier; add 1 tsp of vinegar to water when it boils.
23. Prevent grease build-up in ovens; wipe oven with cleaning rag soaked in distilled vinegar and water.
24. Kill germs; mix a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
25. Unclog shower heads; place in a pot with 50-50 solution of vinegar and water, bring it to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
26. Shine patent leather.
27. Make propane lantern wicks burn longer/brighter; soak them in vinegar for 3 hours, let dry.
28. Act as an an air freshener.
29. Soften paint brushes; soak in hot vinegar then rinse with soapy water.
30. Remove bumper stickers and decals; simply cover them with vinegar-soaked cloth for several minutes.
31. Prolong the life of fresh-cut flowers; use 2 tbsp of vinegar and 3 tbsp of sugar per quart of warm water.

All of these vinegar applications, and scores more, can be found at this informative site.

Baking Soda

Aside from its primary use as a baking agent, baking soda is another grocery item with an almost countless number of applications. For example, among other things, baking soda can be used to:

1. Deodorize your refrigerator; put an open box in the fridge.
2. Remove odors from shoes.
3. Keep drains clean and free-flowing; use 4 tbspns of soda and flush with hot water.
4. Keep your underarms smelling fresh.
5. Soften your skin.
6. Relieve diaper rash.
7. Relieve sunburn; apply a paste of soda and water.
8. Extinguish small grease and electrical fires.
9. Polish silverware.
10. Clean your refrigerator. (Or your neighbors, for that matter.)
11. Remove cat box odors; cover the bottom of the box with soda, then top with kitty litter.
12. Clean and remove stale odors from thermos bottles and coolers.
13. Make dried beans more digestible by soaking them in a solution of baking soda and water.
14. Make wild game taste less, well, “gamey.”
15. Remove oil and grease stains from laundry; add baking soda to the wash water.
16. Remove stains from marble, Formica or plastic surfaces; apply a paste of soda and water.
17. Remove grease from garage floors.
18. Clean vegetables and fruit; sprinkle some in water, then soak and rinse.
19. Wash garbage cans.
20. Clean and remove odors from your dishwasher; just run it with soda instead of soap.
21. Inhibit smoldering butts in ashtrays.
22. Clean shower curtains.
23. Keep teeth or dentures clean. (Preferably, yours.)
24. Relieve indigestion and heartburn; drink 0.5 tsp of soda in 4 oz of water
25. Use as a mouthwash and/or relieve canker sore pain; gargle with 0.5 tsp of soda in 4 oz of water
26. Remove baked-on food from pots and pans; soak in soda and water for 15 min.
27. Relieve bee sting pain.
28. Make homemade Play Dough; combine 1.25 cups water, 2 cups soda, 1 cup cornstarch.
29. Remove feathers more easily when scalding a chicken; just add to the water.
30. As a windshield water-repellent.
31. Clean canvas handbags.
32. Shine chrome and stainless steel.

For even more baking soda applications, check out this site.

WD-40

You can’t get a gallon of milk at your local Home Depot, but you can often find WD-40 in a grocery store! WD-40 was originally developed as a water-repellent and corrosion preventer, but today the manufacturer claims the product has over 2000 uses. But, Len, if there are 2000 uses why isn’t this product listed at number 1? Well, the answer is two-fold: 1) because most of those 2000 uses are just variations of the same basic applications; and 2) this is my list and I’ll do as I want. (So there.)

Here are 20 of the more arcane ones which have actually been verified by the manufacturer according to Snopes:

1. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
2. Loosens stuck zippers.
3. Untangles jewelery chains.
4. Keeps pigeons off the balcony. (Apparently, they hate the smell.)
5. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
6. Protects silver from tarnishing.
7. Keeps ceramic/terracotta garden pots from oxidizing.
8. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
9. Lubricates squeaky home and vehicle door hinges.
10. Lubricates gear shifts and deck levers on riding mowers.
11. Eliminates squeaks from kids’ swings.
12. Makes home windows easier to open. (And it’s safer than a hammer!)
13. Helps stubborn umbrellas to open and close.
14. Restores and cleans vehicle roof racks.
15. Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
16. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles.
17. Removes residual duct tape adhesive.
18. Cleans bugs off of grills and bumpers.
19. Displaces the moisture and allows a car to start when sprayed on the distributor cap.
20. Removes black scuff marks from floors.

Coca-Cola

Paul Michael wrote an article for Wisebread that highlighted 51 potential uses for Coke (or any other cola product, for that matter). Here are some of the more interesting ones:

1. Remove grease and blood stains from clothing and fabric.
2. Clean oil stains from a garage floor.
3. Remove rust. (My mom said she used to do this as a kid do get corrosion off her bike – I guess she didn’t have any WD-40!)
4. Loosen a rusty bolt. (Another WD-40 trick. Am I the only one here beginning to think Coke is a main ingredient in that stuff?)
5. Tenderize and add extra flavor to a pot roast. (Okay. Let’s see WD-40 do this!)
6. Kill slugs and snails.
7. Help a lawn become lush and green.
8. Prevent an asthma attack.
9. Defrost a frozen windshield. (I prefer using hot coffee – black – but that’s just me.)
10. Clean burnt pans.
11. Neutralize a jellyfish sting.
12. Clean car battery terminals. (I’ve done this before. It works!)
13. Entertain the kids by creating an exploding fountain. (With the help of a pack of Mentos.)
14. Make your hair curly.
15. Age documents and photos.
16. Clean tile grout.
17. Make better compost. (The the acidity and sugar feeds microorganisms.)
18. Remove gum from hair.
19. Remove stains from vitreous china.
20. Clear up swimming pool water.
21. Deodorize laundry.
22. Remove dye from hair by pouring Diet Coke over it.
23. Remove marker stains from carpet.

Fabric Softener Sheets

Who hasn’t used fabric softener sheet at least once in their life? Most of us though use them to make our clothes soft and remove static cling as they come out of the dryer. But did you know that these versatile sheets can also:

1. Repel mice and ants.
2. Act as a mosquito, bee and yellow jacket repellent; tie one through a belt loop.
3. Prevent dust from settling on computer monitors.
4. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors.
5. Eliminate wastebasket odors; just place them in the bottom.
6. Prevent dust from settling on Venetian blinds; wipe them down and no more dust.
7. Deodorize stinky shoes.
8. Keep stored tents and sleeping bags smelling fresh.
9. Prevent musty suitcases.
10. Collect cat hair. (No word on whether it works on dog hair too.)
11. Act as a car or room air freshener.
12. Prevent thread from tangling; run a threaded needle through a sheet before sewing.
13. Collect sawdust resulting from drilling or sandpapering.
14. Eliminate odors from dirty laundry; place a sheet at the bottom of a hamper.
15. Remove splattered bugs from cars; scrub with a wet sheet.
16. Clean baked-on food from pans; put a sheet in pan, fill with water and let sit overnight. Sponge clean.

Paper Towels

What the heck can you do with a paper towel besides sop up spills? Plenty! Paper towels can also:

1. Act as a quick-and-dirty lumbar pillow. (You’ll need to use the whole roll, of course.)
2. Remove silk from fresh corn; just run a damp paper towel across the ear.
3. Act as a coffee filter. (I’ve done this before in a pinch and it works well.)
4. Keep lettuce fresh longer; wrap around lettuce head to soak up excess moisture. (I’ve done this for years.)
5. Prevent frozen bread from getting soggy as it thaws; simply place a paper towel in the bag before freezing.
6. Provide temporary sunburn relief; lay a damp towel across affected skin.
7. Clean your can opener; close the opener over a paper towel edge and turn the crank.
8. Keep cast iron pots rust-free; placed in clean pots, they’ll absorb moisture.
9. Remove crayon from chalk boards; place a paper towel over wax, then press a warm iron over towel.
10. Remove candle wax from carpet and upholstery. (Use the same method as above.)
11. Sprout seeds; place a few seeds between damp towels, then keep damp for two weeks.
12. Act as a cheap place mat.
13. Strain fat from broth; place a paper towel in colander and pour the broth through it.
14. Protect Christmas tree ornaments during storage.
15. Prevent bacon splatter in a microwave oven.
16. Remove residual grease from sewing machines; run the first few stitches through the towel.

Well, that’s it. Remember, these are only partial lists for each of these products.

If you have any favorite special applications for any of these items, don’t be shy! Share them with the rest of us. Keep Smiling

Hybrid vs. Non-Hybrid Garden Seeds

by Jerry Greenfield

non hybrid garden seed

How does your garden grow?

A lot of conversation has been going on about non hybrid seeds versus hybrid seeds lately , so I thought I would delve into this debate a bit more. Obviously, everything I have to say is based on my own experiences and my own conclusions, but there are definitely some serious scientific facts involved in my conclusions. I encourage all of you to do your own research and experiments to come up with your own views on heirloom versus hybrid.

In my experience, I have had much better results when gardening with non-hybrid seeds. Hybrid seeds, because they have been artificially pollinated to produce certain characteristics, do not save well. The second generation of seeds will not produce a copy of the first generation seed, and most of the time, the seeds are sterile anyways, which means little to nothing will grow.

Because of this, anyone from your simple hobby gardener, all the way up to your professional farmers who have thousands of acres of farmland, must buy new seed every year to plant. In my opinion, it’s a vicious cycle. It just seems like taking one step forward and two steps back: You get one generation of plants with the desired characteristics, but then you cannot save the seeds for the next generation and you have to buy all new seeds to plant the following year.

So, although you may get a higher yield with hybrid seeds (or they may grow faster, or bigger, or whatever), growing with hybrid seeds ends up costing you much more in the long run because you have to keep buying new seed every year. It just seems to make more sense to me to be happy with what nature gives you in the non-hybrid seed (heirloom seed) and to be able to save these seeds year after year.

In addition, let’s also take into account that hybrid seeds are not natural. I am a strong believer that nature is the way it is because it’s supposed to be that way! Heirloom equals natural. Heirloom seeds have been the way of nature since the beginning of time. Why, why, why do we (humans) always insist on messing with nature? Can’t we just be satisfied with what it provides us and leave it at that?

Sorry, I am getting a bit heated! Let me take a deep breath and calm down…better. As I stated above, my views on hybrid seeds are definitely based on my own experiences, but as a survival gardener who has gardened for decades, and always done it naturally, I think I can contribute to the debate with some expertise.

You can agree with me or disagree with me—it’s up to you—but whatever side of the fence you land on, base that decision on your own conclusions. Which means, do your own research, conduct your own experiments, and stick to your seeds!

Safe Survival Canning

This is a guest post by Bonnie of Opportunity Farm Eastern WA

As a long-time Master Food Preserver, I applaud the recent interest in canning for long-term survival. However, I am appalled at the recklessness of those who think that anything that is commercially canned can be safely canned at home.

People who post instructions on-line for the home canning of bacon, butter, milk, lard, pickled eggs, refried beans, pumpkin puree, bread, and cake, without warnings about possible problems, are doing their readers a grave disservice. Home canned food that could make family members ill or even kill them is not a good survival tactic.

Many of those people say their methods are safe because, after all, they’re alive, aren’t they? It’s good to remember this truism: Past performance does not guarantee future results.

But, people ask, why are commercial canners able to safely can these foods but I can’t?

The answer to that is equipment. At home, we can’t do things with the rapidity of the commercial canneries; the food can cool too much. We also can’t get consistently high temperatures for many foods, especially the dense ones. And in spite of the faster processing, even commercially canned foods can still end up contaminated with botulism toxin.

Botulism toxin thrives in moist, airless, low-acid environments. The only way to kill the botulism spores while canning is to heat the contents of the jars to 240 degrees F. Because water boils at 212 degrees F. at sea level, and never gets any hotter, pressure canning with steam is a must. Steam under pressure can bring the temperature of the food in the jar up to 240 degrees.

Thick foods, such as refried beans, pumpkin puree, and even pickled eggs, are too dense to safely can at home. It’s easy to can beans and pumpkin chunks safely. They need only to be mashed when you are ready to use them.

Vegetables that are pickled in the modern way with vinegar, as opposed to fermentation, should be briefly processed in a water bath canner, or stored in the refrigerator. Pickled eggs should always be stored in the refrigerator. Neither water bath nor pressure canning pickled eggs are solutions. There are no tested recipes for canning pickled eggs.

Are modern pickled eggs any different than the pickled eggs that were a feature of old saloons? Not substantially. The main difference is that the saloon patrons usually ate those eggs within a few days. We are so used to the idea of keeping food around at room temperature that we forget how many of those foods are kept “fresh” with chemical food preservatives.

High-fat foods such as bacon, butter, and lard pose a different problem. The fat can protect botulism bacteria from being killed by the high heat of a pressure canner. The bacteria can then be shocked by the heat into producing the botulism toxin.

Canned cakes are perennial favorites of the “anything can be canned” bunch. Not only do they meet the botulism criteria of being moist, low acid, and airless, the center of the cake just doesn’t get hot enough to kill botulism. It doesn’t matter if the oven temperature is 350 degrees; the internal temperature will not get anywhere near 240 degrees.

The same holds true for bread. It’s much better to bake your cakes and breads fresh rather than depend on dubious canned baked goods. (I am not referring to fruit cakes that are sold in decorative tins. Those are preserved with alcohol, not canning.) If you feel you must preserve baked goods for the long term, put them in the freezer.

There are some foods that seem like they should be safe to can, but are not recommended. Milk is one of these. It is not dense, nor is it high in fat, but there are no official guidelines for canning milk at home. It might be perfectly safe, but no one really knows. It is incredibly expensive to test canning recipes and apparently no one has ponied up the money to pay for the testing.

A good rule of thumb is if there are no recipes available in trusted canning guides, then either no tests have been done, or it has been tested and found unsafe. Either way, it is safer to preserve the food some other way, use it fresh, buy a commercially canned product, or do without.

Another common error is to think that if the lid is sealed, that is, being held down by the vacuum in the jar, then all is good. That is true as far as mold and other bacteria go. But remember, botulism likes a vacuum. It is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. Correct canning procedures are the only guarantee that your home canned foods will be safe. Make sure you follow ALL the instructions for canning, including adjusting time or pressure for your elevation.

In spite of being a common bacteria, botulism poisoning is extremely rare. The main danger with the botulism toxin is that it damages nerves. In fact, the military considers it to be a biological weapon. There is no cure. If the anti-toxin is taken soon enough, the damage can be halted, but never reversed. The nerve damage causes severe health problems and can shorten one’s life.

Does this mean that home canned food is teeming with botulism? Not at all. Safely canning food at home is a simple matter. Just follow the instructions and recipes that can be found in canning guides such as the Ball Blue Book and So Easy to Preserve, published by the Cooperative Extension/The University of Georgia. The Extension website – National Center for Home Food Preservation – is www.uga.edu/nchfp. It’s loaded with safe recipes. Handouts from your state Extension office are usually available for free or a small fee.

If you have questions about food preservation, Extension employees can usually get you in touch with a Master Food Preserver.

Note M.D. adds – I reccomend the” Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving“, it’s easy to understand with good illustrations and tasty recipes… 

Agree, disagree have anything to add please do so in the comments below…

It’s a Sad Day

As you know my girlfriends father has battled cancer for the past several months – this afternoon he lost that battle. He is now at rest and will have to suffer no more. He was a good man and will be missed by many – God rest his soul. Thank you all for your prayers.

Information For a Crisis

This is a Guest Post by Michael – find out how you can guest post here.

I have been having a bout of Internet connection trouble lately, which has really slowed down my surfing and my rapid access to information. Normally, this problem is more annoying than anything else, but it got me to thinking about “what if” scenarios.

I am a borderline computer junkie, so 99% of my news, reference info, and weather arrive via the Internet. I own only a handful of reference books, and rely almost completely on the Internet to answer questions I might have about this or that. If my Internet went down, or I was somehow cut off from my cyber library, I’d be up ye ole creek.

My present preparedness task is to compile an information survival kit, which will provide me with vital information for a crisis or disaster situation. I am implementing a two-prong approach that will give me a source of day-to-day information, and also an archive of important documents. One neat feature about this information kit is that it requires little time, and almost no money!

In order to compile the day-to-day aspect of my information kit, I started by asking myself a few crisis-type questions in order to discover what information I would need I my kit. I was surprised to learn just how much I relied on the Internet and electronic gadgets for information.

Here’s a simple example of my problem. In order for me to telephone my sister, I must retrieve her phone number from an electronic address book gadget. What if there was an EMP attack? What if my electronic address book went belly up? Well, my sister’s phone number would end up in the bit bucket, that’s what!

Old Fashioned Hard Copy

There is something to be said for simplicity, and not much is simpler than words on a piece of paper. Here’s a rundown of my “low tech” crisis-ready information:

1. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of my family members. Don’t just include the ones you call often. Include lots of family because in a crisis, you never know who you may need to contact. Land line phone numbers should be your primary focus. Often times, cell phone circuits are quickly overloaded.

2. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of my immediate neighbors.

3. AM & FM radio station frequencies that my crank-up/solar emergency radio can pick up.

4. Local city and county offices, like non-emergency police, dog catcher, emergency management, social services, public safety, and the main office, which can give me additional numbers if needed.

5. DHS and FBI phone numbers. Who knows, maybe I’ll have to call!

6. My bank’s and insurance company’s phone numbers, along with account and policy numbers.

7. Phone numbers for my post office, grocery store, doctor(s), pharmacy, etc.

8. Phone numbers and account numbers for utility companies that service my home. I would also include garbage and recycling.

9. Phone numbers and associated contact information for my schools and churches.

10. License plate numbers and VIN’s for all my vehicles.

11. Other information I use on a regular basis, or that I retrieve from the Internet.

A word of caution, however. Since your information list will contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII), you might want to devise an easy-to-remember method to encode relatives’ phone numbers, your account numbers, etc., in case your list falls into the wrong hands. One simple method is to use generic titles like, “Uncle Jack”, or “Sister”, for your relatives. You can also write your account and policy numbers backwards, or use some other simple method to disguise them. Be creative, but keep it simple.

If you have access to a computer and printer, you can organize and print copies for you and your family members. You should review the list with your family members so everyone is familiar with what information is available. For the lists that go in your bug out bag(s) or car(s), I suggest laminating them for durability.

Document Archive

Your browser may not support display of this image. Technology is great nowadays. You can use an encrypted USB thumb drive to store important documents and data, and place it in your bug out bag or your car. It is essential that your data be stored in encrypted format to prevent unauthorized access to your personal data.

I store my data on an encrypted SD memory card that I keep in my wallet since it is so thin. SD memory cards are available in many capacities up to 32GB. Use whatever fits your needs.

I set up a special folder, named “__CRITICAL”, on my home computer where I store all my important documents and data. It took some time to scan hard copies into .pdf documents, but I feel the time was well spent. I have electronic copies of my driver license, deed to my house, birth certificates, insurance cards, passports, car title, and much more, along with an electronic copy of my old fashioned paper list.

I then created a batch file and a desktop shortcut which I can double-click to copy the contents of my “__CRITICAL” folder to my memory card. You can use a USB thumb drive in place of a memory card if that is what you already have.

Setting up a batch file is simple, and can be accomplished using an ordinary text editor such as notepad or wordpad. Just save your batch file with a “.bat” extension instead of “.txt.” I know nothing about Linux or Apple computers, so you guys are on your own in this regard.

Here is my batch file:

xcopy /E /M /I /Y C:\Users\michael\Documents\__CRITICAL\*.* X:

The syntax of this xcopy command causes only changed files to copied to my memory card when I double-click my desktop icon. If you want to always copy every file to your memory card or USB thumb drive, use this syntax:

xcopy /E /I /Y C:\Users\michael\Documents\__CRITICAL\*.* X:

Be sure to use the path and drive letters that apply for your situation. In my example, “X:” is the drive letter assigned to my memory card.

After you completed your information kit, add to it anytime you discover new or overlooked information that would come in handy during a crisis.

What do you think?

What Did You Do To Prep This Week

Before we start today, I would like to send a big thank you to Tomthetinker for his donation – when I checked my paypal account, I was shocked at the amount he had sent. His was the largest single donation, I’ve ever received in support of the blog. Thank you, so very much, you are greatly appreciated. The money will be put to good use.

I would also like to thank everyone for their suggestions after posting about my bout with bloggers block, in two days, I received over 300 emails with suggestions and ideas for future blog posts.  I now have a long list of stuff to write about over the next several months – thank you all. With over 1,400 posts logged, I suppose a lack of ideas at some point was unavoidable.

We have two new advertisers Watertanks dot Com and Preparewise dot Com – go over and take a look at what they have to offer and don’t forget to mention The Survivalist Blog when you place an order. On the same note, I’d like to let other potential advertisers know that we are out of space and will not be accepting anymore advertisements untill more space becomes available. 

The ads pay for this blog and provide a service for readers when looking for survival supplies, but I don’t want the ads here to overpower the content or distract readers in any way, so there has to be a cut off point. Of course, we could be like that other survival blog with 50 banner ads in the sidebar LOL.

Okay, lets see what did I do to prep this week…

Finished reading “Lights Out” by David Crawford – Lights Out is a great book and I suggest everyone who likes fiction read it. No, I’m not going to give away the storyline here because I don’t want to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it yet, but I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Seasoned all my cast iron cookware,  added more turmeric powder to the spice rack – turmeric has been used for over 2,500 years in India and boasts numberous health benefits including the prevention of certain cancers and inflammation. You can buy turmeric in supplement form but I prefer to add the powder to my food as I’m preparing it.

Been looking at a used Ruger Mini-14 GB I don’t need it, but the price is low enough that I could resell it for a profit, if I decided not to keep it. The Mini-14 is a good little carbine it’s stronger and can take more abuse than the AR-15 but it isn’t as accurate.

Built another chicken-wire fish trap (another idea for a future blog post) these traps are great for putting meat on the table and are easy to hide from anyone passing by including the Game Warden LOL.

Last weeks “What did you do to prep this week” received over 300 comments as far as I can remember this is the most comments we’ve had on any single post to date – lets see if we can break that record again this week.

What did you do to prep this week? Let us know in the comments below…

Show Me The Money

Guest Post by Jim Murphy

MD has posted articles on debt and self-reliance, in the past. Highway to Self Reliance and Get Out of Debt Once and for All, just to name a couple. For things to really sink in, I am the kind of person who benefits from having details presented to me in black and white. Give me the facts and hard numbers. Show me the money.

Record foreclosures are expected this coming year and property values will likely take another dip. We have already been informed at work that our contribution to our medical insurance each week is going up 17% starting in February ( I am still grateful to have it). We will not be receiving a pay increase to offset the costs (not that anyone really thought that would happen). We can already see inflated prices at the grocery stores and don’t know where prices will peak. They say gasoline may hit $5.00 a gallon by the end of the year, who really knows.

Highly unlikely that any ones job will provide cost of living increases to keep pace with all of this. These financial demands are going to put increased pressure on people’s budgets (that are already under tremendous strain) and that is the reason that I’m submitting this post. I’m sure many will make it through without any problems but for those of us with a “humble” existence (which I wouldn’t trade for anything), some shared information could make a bumpy road a little bit smoother and may help with the monthly prepping budget.

When my wife and I got married in 1988, we had a 5 year plan to finance a home and start a family. We lived 5 years at an apartment, building good credit, both of us working as much overtime as we could possibly get, and saving every penny we could get a hold of. At the end of those 5 years we had a nice little nest egg.

At the time in 1993 (prior to the housing bubble), it was easy to find homes in every price range. We settled on a 3 bedroom ranch with one bathroom on the outside of town. A 20% down payment locked in the low-interest rate we wanted on a 15 year mortgage. Our modest choice left us with money still in the savings account and allowed my wife to be a “stay at home Mom” while we started our family, which is exactly what we wanted. At least we started off on the right foot which probably saved a ton of “heartache” later on.

Both my wife and I come from very humble upbringings and know the value of a dollar. I can’t describe what happened over the years, however, there was some sort of sleeping at the controls that took place. Maybe sleep deprivation from when the kids were little, I don’t know. I blame myself for much of it. My head was buried deep in my hind end. I simply wasn’t evolving with the changing situation from year to year.

Going from cash banked and a good handle on finances to several thousand in credit card debt in 11 years time, with 3 children, happened just slowly enough, I didn’t notice it unfolding. 4 years left on our mortgage, car payments, and all the normal monthly expenses (utilities, food, etc), we suddenly had a financial “panic attack” and felt the urgency to try to address the situation we found ourselves in.

I realize there are a lot of people who incurred 10 or 100 times the debt we did, and would say, “I wish I ONLY had $6,000 in credit card debt. This same story can happen at every level of income and I’m sure it does. I realize every ones story and income are different and I’m just passing along our personal experience. Our story is not nearly as extreme as some but as my Dad says, “ $1.00 is a lot of money when you need it and don’t have it”. I also want to mention that had my wife and I NOT spent those first 5 years of our marriage doing what we did, (saving money for a down payment and going with a modest home) it would have been worse, much worse. I’m truly convinced of that. One pearl of wisdom I will always remind my kids of, SAVE YOUR MONEY.

In hindsight, our financial slide was having enough money to pay for all monthly expenses/wants/needs BUT having ZERO extra cash at the end of each month. Then charging our Christmases on plastic and just paying the minimum payment over the next year. Repeating this same cycle for several years. The previous year was not paid for yet, and we were charging the next one. Doing so unnecessarily, that’s what really sucked in our case.

Bringing everything to light, we sat down and discussed / penciled out what we could completely do without or reduce the monthly expense of. The first spot light fell on me. I was a cigarette smoker for 24 years of my life. At the time, smoking 5 cartons a month. When I quit smoking, cartons were $40.00. For years I would say, “when we get the house, I will quit.

When our first-born comes, I will quit. When I turn 40, I will quit.” Hadn’t happened yet. With $200 out the door each month and no benefit at all to the rest of the family, I finally got it. It took 12 weeks (3 months) for me to quit so the savings was not immediate. I used the nicotine lozenges and they were just about the same price as a carton of cigarettes. However, they worked for me. After looking back, what I was spending on cigarettes each year could have easily paid for each Christmas and still had money left over.

Also, by being a smoker, my health insurance premiums at work and my life insurance premium at home cost quite a bit more than a non-smoker. About double.

elt2jv made mention in a previous post (Stretching Your Resources in Uncertain Times) about not dining out. Most eateries in our area are about $12.00 to $20.00 a head now. I’m not talking about fast food places. We ate out every Friday night. At that time it cost about $10.00 a head, times 5 of us, times 4 times a month= $200.00 a month.

Just by kicking a bad habit (one that I happened to really enjoyed) and not eating out, we had $400.00 a month to put towards paying off our credit card debt. The misappropriation of funds was what put us in our pickle. The money was there, it was just being used in one area when it should have been going somewhere else. Simple elementary school math skills can either be your best friend or mortal enemy.

We have experienced it a little in each direction. Financial discipline was a lost art that was quickly being rediscovered. UNTIL I SAW THESE NUMBERS ON PAPER, I just wasn’t thinking about it.

Cancelled our cable TV for 24 months. At that time, our cable bill was $54.00 a month.

We destroyed our gas charge cards and began paying cash for our gasoline. Easier to see the cost each week when the cash is actually coming out of your pocket at each refueling. Creating more efficient driving habits with our 2 vehicles and traveling less, put another $25.00 or so a month towards our debt .

MD just covered this one with his “Why aren’t you using Coupons” post, but I still think it’s still worth mentioning. After our mortgage payment, FOOD was the SECOND LARGEST MONTHLY EXPENSE. With 3 kids to look after, a household to run, my wife wasn’t really in the mood to check all the local sales and clip coupons. We worked together on this area and saved on average another $50.00 a month.

Years later, I found out from MD on this website how to start a pantry with $10.00. We put a much higher priority on trying to be more self-sufficient after the fall of 2008. By putting forth the effort to build a significant pantry, having the luxury to wait until your brands are on sale to buy and using coupons, takes that $50.00 a month savings beyond that. Easily $100.00 a month and better at times.

Not counting quitting smoking (did I mention how much I actually enjoyed smoking?), if we just count eliminating dining out ($200.00), cable TV ($54.00), going a little easier on gasoline consumption ($25.00) and grocery savings ($50.00).That’s $329.00 A MONTH of EXISTING FUNDS to either pay down debt, acquire more preps or just save for a rainy day/ big-ticket item (used vehicle, generator, personal protection, etc.). Our actual total was $529.00 A MONTH, once I quit smoking. How did I not see this sooner? Oh yeah I remember, head firmly planted up hind end. All that credit card debt should have never happened. The money was here every month.

After making that discovery, one can only imagine the anguish of mailing out the checks each month to finally put that debt to rest. No one but myself to blame for the major financial blunder. By going the route we did, we 1.) paid our credit cards off in 2 years time, 2.) paid cash for Christmases, 3.) put a “little” cash away, AND maintained our credit rating all in that same period. Since then, we have taken giant steps to preserve our simple way of life. One other discovery, with property taxes, vehicles, utilities, food, clothing, medical expenses, etc., you are NEVER TRULY DEBT FREE. However, without a few dark clouds hanging over head, prepping is a bit easier and life is less stressed.

We have found excellent quality used furniture for sale through the local newspaper. Call for more info and if it sounds like something that might work (color, size, etc.), go look. Found a few nice pieces this way, cheap too. I’ve come to find out older couples downsizing because the kids are grown and gone, have the nicest stuff and are usually very reasonable. Same for their used vehicles. Most take good care of their vehicles and are reasonable about a price when it comes time to sell.

I have NEVER purchased a NEW car or truck. Let the original owner take the BIG hit on vehicle depreciation. I will roll the dice on a used vehicle purchase through a private owner any day of the week rather than try to purchase a used vehicle off a lot. Also, a local credit union here offers lower interest rates on used car loans than the dealers and local banks.

MD has mentioned the importance of not putting yourself in further debt when you are prepping. I believe most of the readers are already as financially lean as can be, a great pool of knowledge. For the rest of us, HOW MUCH CURRENT INCOME COULD YOU FREE UP A MONTH IF YOU REALLY HAD TO? Until I actually had the hard numbers in writing, in front of my face, I simply never thought about it.

What can and can’t be eliminated in your monthly expenses? And if it can’t be eliminated, how can you reduce the monthly cost of it? Cable TV, internet provider, insurances, or ANYTHING ELSE you can think of. Who provides a quality service/product for the least amount of money? GIVE US SOME HARD DOLLAR AMOUNTS. SHOW US THE MONEY! Also, sharing your stories of how you are handling/have handled your debt, could be enlightening to many and greatly appreciated.

I am interested in anything you could possibly share on these subjects. Many, many thanks to you, MD, for the opportunity to share our personal experience and ask these questions of your readers.

Preparing for Power Blackouts – Plan Ahead and You Can Weather Any Storm

According to dallasnews.com cold has crippled 50 power plants, triggering blackouts for thousands across the Dallas-Fort area. Power outages are nothing new and thousands of homes are without power every year in the U.S. most for only a few hours, but some for days or even weeks – would you be prepared if the power stayed off for several days or even months?

Such extended power outages are a real possibility after a serious hurricane, winter storm or even the result of a terrorist attack affecting the power grid or an EMP strike. The U.S. runs on electricity, without a functional power grid the U.S. would come to a standstill. Without electrical power, gas pumps no longer work, scanners at the supermarket will fail, radio and television stations go off the air and computers fail to connect to the web.

Could you provide for your family?

Everyone should plan for and prepare for the possibility of being without power for an extended period of time, but where do you start. What do you need to put away so the next blackout won’t become a nightmare. Let’s take a look…

Have Safe Water

Every emergency kit should begin with a safe supply of drinking water. Granted, if you are on a municipal water supply your water may not be affected by a power outage, but you should still stock up. If backup power fails at water-treatment plants then that water may become unsafe for drinking or cooking and need to be boiled, or treated before use. Including water in your emergency kit is always a good idea no matter how secure you think your current method of supply.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing at least one gallon of water per day per person for emergency use. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking they state. You’ll also need to take into consideration age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate to determine needed qualities. And don’t forget about your pets, they need water too.

I live off-the grid with most of my water provided from a nearby spring, but I still include stored water in my emergency kit. The easiest way to store drinking water is to simply buy bottled water from the supermarket shelf. But it is cheaper to store water from your own tap. I store most of my water in six-gallon water jugs bought in the sporting goods department at my local Wal-Mart for the purpose. But you can use cleaned 2 liter plastic bottles instead.

Some of the readers of The Survivalist Blog, have asked about using milk jugs for water storage, and I always recommend against it. While milk jugs can work short-term, they are prone to leakage and the plastic deteriorates quickly. Milk jugs are also more susceptible to bacterial growth because of milk proteins that are often left in the container even after cleaning. A much better solution is two liter plastic soda bottles.

If using two liter plastic soda bottles the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends sanitizing the bottles after cleaning with dishwashing soap and water, by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, there is no need to add liquid household chlorine bleach to tap water before storage as this water has already been treated by the water utility company. In this case all you need to do is fill the bottles to the top and tightly screw on the cap.

Emergency Food

Next you need food. This should include things your family already eats you just need to store extra for your emergency kit. Canned soups, meats, nuts, fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, dried fruits and vegetables and crackers for example will last at least a year if stored in unopened air tight containers.

Self-rising flour, corn meal, sugar, salt, rolled oats and other died goods should be stored in air tight, food safe containers made of plastic or glass to keep out pests and moister. One mistake a lot of people make is not using what they’ve stored. They buy up a bunch of foods for emergencies; they put it on the shelf and end up throwing it out when it passes the listed expiration date.

This can be avoided by implementing a simple food rotation program.

Date each container with a permanent marker or date stamp and use on a first-in first-out basis (FIFO). As each item is used in your normal everyday meals, replace that item with a new product of the same value, date and repeat. If you follow this simple principle you will never have to discard food from your emergency kit and will always have a fresh supply on hand for emergencies. With canned foods this rotation can be automated by building or buying a building a rotating canned food shelf.

I suggest you keep at least a two-week emergency food supply on hand at all times, several months to a year would be even better, but isn’t practical for most people. This food storage calculator is a big help when determining needed amounts, but it isn’t exact and you will have to make the final decision based on your family’s eating habits.

Heating and Cooking

Most power outages in the U.S. happen during periods of extreme weather. For example, in 1993, I was without power for three weeks after an ice storm blanketed my area. Luckily, I had a fireplace for heating and cooking and a supply of wood to keep the fire burning. But, many folks aren’t so lucky and need to make other preparations for cooking and staying warm.

Kerosene heaters can be used for heating and even cooking with certain models, for example the Alpaca Kerosene Cooker. Kerosene can be stored in large quantities for long periods of time without any special treatment. It has been estimated that a gallon of kerosene will provide about the same heat output as a wheelbarrow load of wood!

Kerosene is easy to store and has a longer storage life than does gasoline. I store kerosene in blue cans marked for its use. Mistakenly pouring gasoline into a kerosene heater, could have dire consequences. Following a color coding system helps avoid this possibility.

The main disadvantage to using a kerosene heater is that they can be smelly if not used properly, they have to be refilled every few hours and the wick needs to be replaced every few months depending on how much the heater is used during that time.

The standard fuel container color coding system is blue for kerosene, red for gasoline, and yellow for diesel. I suggest you follow this system. You’ll need roughly two – three gallons of kerosene per day with continues use, so for two weeks you would need a minimum of 28 gallon.

Keep in mind that this is only an estimate and actual usage will depend on several factors. Including but not limited to the type of heater, quality of the fuel, condition of the wick (don’t for get to add an extra wick to your emergency kit) and environmental conditions where the heater is used.

Propane heaters like the Mr Heater Buddy can be used indoors and in my opinion they are safer and more efficient than the kerosene heaters mentioned. I’ve used one of these heaters for the past two winters to heat my travel trailer with no problems what so ever. They work great and I like not having to refill the tank every few hours or needing to replace the wick as is the case when using kerosene.

I drilled a two-inch hole through my floor beside the outside wall and connected a 100 lb propane tank to my Mr Heater Buddy heater via a hose adapter and filter then sealed the hole around the hose with expanding foam insulation. This also has the advantage of keeping the fuel source outside. One 100 lb tank will last me over a month even in the coldest weather, if I keep the heater burning at the lowest setting.

The downside to the Buddy heater are that they are difficult to cook on and you’ll need a stove just for that purpose if you don’t already have a gas cook stove in your home. I suggest a small propane Colman camp stove; these can be found in the sporting goods department at your local Wal-Mart or Kmart.

It is recommended that portable gas camp stoves not be used indoors as the fumes can be deadly. Using the stove in a ventilated area will help reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. In other words crack a window or door and have a working carbon monoxide detector if you must use the stove for cooking indoors. And make sure the stove is turned off after use.

Miscellaneous Suggestions

Most of these items can be stored in some sort of bug out bag, five-gallon plastic bucket with gamma seal lid or plastic totes until needed.

  • A good first aid kit
  • A sleeping bag for each family member
  • Several pairs of wool socks for each family member
  • Thermal underwear for each family member
  • A battery-operated or crank radio and extra batteries
  • A deck of cards, jigsaw puzzles, and board games etc.
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Battery-powered lamps or lanterns
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Prescription drugs and other needed medicine
  • Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Chemical fire extinguisher
  • Battery powered smoke alarm
  • Battery powered carbon monoxide detector
  • Disposable plates, bowls and utensils (to avoid wasting water washing dishes)

If you have any other suggestions or questions feel free to ask in the comments below. Stay safe my friends.

PrepareWise Food Storage – Giveaway

Want free freeze-dried food and survival gear? Let PrepareWise give it to you! Details here.  Also Paladin Press is offering 40% off everything through Feb 7 2011. Don’t forget to mention The Survivalist Blog dot Net when you place an order. Thank you.

How to Make and Use Spruce Pitch Salve

Guest post by Jenny Lamb of The Last Frontier Blog

It’s easy to make spruce pitch salve and oil. There are no pine trees in our area, but if that’s what you have, then you can substitute it for spruce, and make Pine Salve. Spruce pitch (and pine) has many wonderful uses, and is one of those little things I wouldn’t want to be without in the woods. I first discovered its value after an insect bite that wouldn’t stop itching. I smeared on a little spruce pitch, and within minutes the itching, swelling and redness were gone. I’ve since used spruce pitch salve and oil for many things:

  • On spider and other insect bites and stings
  • To prevent or cure infections of ugly scrapes
  • As a natural, safe and effective underarm deodorant
  • As a lip balm and hand cream to help kill germs and prevent illness
  • To increase circulation and speed healing of a sprained ankle
  • It makes homemade soap smell fantastic! I don’t know if it still has antimicrobial properties after it’s made into soap. I kind of doubt it, but it still smells delightful.
  • How to Make Spruce Pitch Salve and Oil

    About ten years ago, I was peeling the inner bark of a spruce tree to make a basket and came upon a large pitch pocket. I wondered if I could make a salve from it. That would be much handier than finding a drippy spruce tree and scraping the pitch every time I needed it. I’m always on the lookout for medicinal plants.

    To make spruce pitch oil and salve, just find some pitch dripping from a tree, or some saturated bark on a limb or dead tree. If you have bark beetles, that shouldn’t be a problem. Scrape off some pitch or saturated bark, place it in a jar and cover with an edible oil. I like olive oil, but you could use any vegetable oil, including oils that are solid at room temperature such as coconut or palm oil. Even rendered animal fats work. If using a solid oil or fat, melt it over low heat before adding the pitch. It’s best to avoid collecting the pitch in wet weather.

    Once you have collected your pitch and covered it with oil or melted fat, replace the lid and keep the jar in a warm spot. If you have a sunny window, that’s a great place to let it brew. I keep it on the warming shelf of my woodburning cookstove for a few weeks during the winter. Try to remember to shake the jar daily, at least for the first week. As the pitch dissolves and is extracted from the bark, you should notice the scent getting stronger. After a couple of weeks or more, strain through several layers of cheesecloth, a paper towel or disposable coffee filter.

    It’s now ready to use. I keep the oil in a little squirt bottle. Salve is more convenient for a backpack, first aid kid, or in your bags while traveling. To make salve, pour the infused oil into a pan and add 1 ½ to 2 Tbsp. of beeswax per cup of oil. Over very low heat, stir and melt the wax. Now, pour into a clean jar or a tin, and allow to cool and solidify before closing the lid. If it’s too thin, melt again and add a little more beeswax. If it’s too hard, melt with a little more infused oil.

    That’s it. To make your load lighter if you don’t want to pack around a jar or tin, you can scoop a little salve into a small zip lock plastic bag and place it in your survival kit or first aid kit. I hope this is helpful.

    I Need Your Help

    Writer’s block it happens to every blogger, but it’s still a pain in the butt. But don’t worry, it never lasts more than a day or two before ideas start materializing in my brain and then onto the computer.

    To help me break through the block, I’d like for you to email me with any ideas for posts that you might have. Don’t hold back send any and all ideas, even if you think your ideas are dumb or far out, trust me they’re not. If you’re thinking about it is important.

    I know what you’re thinking, why not just leave a comment with your idea – well for one, I don’t want others bloggers to lift your ideas for their sites, before I have a chance to expand on them here…

    What are your waiting on – looking forward to your response.