Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, New Life?




I have been doing this blog regularly for a few months now and I've tried to sort of maintain what you have come to expect in content from my husband. I try to be consistent and motivate comments and discussion. I give up, truly, it's just not me. I realized it fully when someone said I was Prepper over the holidays and I felt deeply how much I dislike being referred to as a Prepper. I am definitely reluctantly the wife of a Prepper. My problem I think is twofold.

First, we are rebuilding our life at what is "middle age" all over again from the bottom up. In essence we are preparing after the fact with the pitiful little that's left. Unfortunately, we are not alone. The world has shifted dramatically in the last five years. However, in this moment as a couple it appears that we don't have a skill set that applies to either the old world as it passes on or the vague suggestions coming from of a newly emerging one. All we have is a goal to pay the bills, keep plugging away at the learning, help others when we can and going, doing and living the best life we can.

Second, as we approach 2013, it seems like our country is moving into more and more divisions: money, lifestyles, religions, goals. You name it seems to be splitting apart. It doesn't have to be that way. It really doesn't, however, it’s less than likely that we all had a spiritual awakening as the Mayan calendar ended so the future is uncertain. All of us have a great many ifs about how we all will live and what life will be like as we enter into this new year. I'm sure this is nothing new. I'm positive my great grandmother experienced all of what we are going through in her 100+ years of life (of course she had most of the skills we're striving to re-learn so she had about a zillion up on me). She never told me how she managed to handle all the changes though. She did give a hint about what to do when the American dream died though.  She told me about a time during the depression, having nothing, feeding kids, and the deep depression and fear that lead her to start the process of suicide. She said she closed up the house and turned on all the gas. After a bit one of the kids asked her why she was crying and she turned off the gas and opened everything back up because she didn't have an answer. She told me she guessed sometimes you just don't have words and crying is really the right answer then you just get up and keep doing and living the best you can. She always said you should have something extra in case you need it and you should put money away for emergencies because it helps lessen the tears when you have something. She was a tiny little Irish woman who was big on being able to hold your own. I think that's part of the reason why I resist being called a Prepper. I'm just doing what my grandma told me to do! I'm not doing anything extraordinary or irregular.

Let’s face it though when we prepare we are choosing the building blocks for the very bottom, the foundation, of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (food, clothing, shelter, safety) with no idea where the world is going or even what the possibilities are. Can anyone even afford to prep that completely? How do you keep it from being something more like hoarding? You know...oh I might have a use for those papers in an emergency...I better keep them...all of them...each and every last one I ever get....there might not be more! At this time of year, with all the reflection, I find myself asking "What the heck do we prepare for?". Will it be storms, war, the economy, solar flares, failure of government or just simply some other way of life we have yet to experience?  How do I plan and prep for 5 years down the road? We have grown kids, a young one, a grandson and aging parents. Do we plan and prep for more grandkids? Boys or girls and how many? Teenage angst is most definitely a certainty with our minion and I wouldn't even know where to start for elderly parent care. Do we prep for only ourselves or to help others? What about sizes...and weather...would cloth be better than already made clothing? Will the schools fail? Will we need school books and books on many subjects or that are more advanced? Will our youngest even have a college to go to when it’s time for going to college? What will jobs be like? IT, MEDICAL, FARMING....or will they bring back manufacturing? Will we finally live in the world of the future with flying cars, a green world with alternative energies that strives to protect the planet, or a unified earth much like that of Star Trek?

We've lost that hope for the golden future somewhere in all the uncertainty and our daily struggle with our current financial situation. It leads me to great reluctance in the area of 'prepping'. It is hard for me to continue to support it when it is hurtful to our present existence and I see so little reward in it. Learning simplicity, prepping, and the skills and knowledge that we have for home use sometimes seems more forced upon us by necessity rather than to have grown out of our own wants, desires and interests. I aim to try to turn that around in 2013. How we choose to prepare should be about living our daily lives the best we possibly can while making a good foundation for the future no matter what it brings.

(Hubby here ~ The Mrs. gave me the option of deleting the following paragraph or leaving it in. I decided to leave it as it shows some of the doubts that enter in to starting new projects, businesses, or lifestyles. Just so you know, I too have ‘issues’ with being called a prepper. It really is simply a lifestyle choice that I learned as a kid living in upstate NY, where we had regular rolling brown outs and sometimes went up to a week without power and where employment for my parents was sporadic. We had no other choice than to live as what folks today call ‘preppers’.)

It is my belief that MOST of this audience is a few steps ahead of me/us in homesteading skills and this blog is way below a great many of its readers capabilities. I can’t prove those statements are true though as next to no one replies in the comments here. I just want to let you know my husband is the Facebook half and I'm rarely there unless he tells me to go there...so if you are commenting there I may not always see it. He is also basically the webmaster for this blog...I type...he posts. Honestly if there were not a way to see the number of visits to the page I'd think no one saw it. In cyber numbers we aren't even a bit of mist in the air yet alone a drop in the bucket but my Internet savvy leaves something to be desired.

So bear with me as I begin yet again, renewing my commitment to not prepping, I really do dislike the term and all the connotations it carries with it, but to our goals of self sufficiency, learning, and all the small wondrous things I can find in this life. As I surrender to the cycles of time and search for purpose and meaning in a life caught in between two vastly different types of worlds, operating in both, belonging comfortably and completely to neither. I will bid you good tidings and a blessed new year.

Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Gift Crafting With Wifeofaprepper

Since it is that time of the year I thought I'd share one my seasonal pitfalls. This is otherwise known as the Christmas crafting crunch! I am absolutely horrible at estimating the length of time I need per item and type of craft. Possibly it's because I micromanage everyone else's crafting as well and all too often end up with my fingers in too many pots.

Let's face it though, I'm truly the only one with a crafting bug and everyone else just goes along with it. As I have other requirements on my time such as this blog, bible study, physical therapy, household stuff, babysitting, shopping, helping minion with end of the semester homework and crafting projects, all the recent school events and whatever else comes up in the next week this is indeed a challenge with only a week left to go.

My planned craft projects for this Christmas include a throw blanket made entirely from scraps and crocheted as a sampler (that is a lot of different squares made from different stitches). This is the only project I can say I started on before Halloween. In fact it was a challenge that went out to everyone in a social group I was in and although I left that group quite some time ago I haven't forgotten the challenge. It was a motivational exercise to get people thinking and inspired. It was put simply: make a blanket out of whatever one had on hand. So I did.

Unfortunately it is a very wonky blanket. The scraps of yarn I used were all different weights--some is baby fine, some is bulky, some stretches, some doesn't. Since I made this in bits and pieces it was easy to take it with me and work on it in the car or at the Drs., etc. However with all the traveling none of the gauges came out quite right. Kind of hard to keep your stitches even when you’re bouncing along the highway and dirt roads in my opinion. It is indeed a very wonky blanket sized at 56"x 72" without the border. I remained true to the challenge and did not purchase a single thing to make it. This is how it looks. The pictures of individual squares highlight what would now be called vintage yarns as they were left over from the 1970's, good preparedness can sometimes lead to hoarding impulses.






I also made a small purse for minion but you can't tell. It's a secret. It's made from one of the legs I cut off her jeans this summer. It has a crocheted flap and strap. I initially got the idea off the Internet. I cannot say I've followed anything other than the first step in those instructions. Me being me and minion being minion, I immediately had to change it. I've added eyelets so that I could crochet the flap and strap directly to the main body, rather than crocheting the flap and strap and sewing them on. The pant leg was rather worn so it seemed a sturdier option. I can't say if it was a bit more work or not but it seemed to come along fine. The final result seems to be a flap that’s much more flexible. Minion is tough on stuff so I hope it holds up.













I am currently in the midst of making a Double layer fleece quilt with crocheted edges for my grandsons' toddler bed.  Then I have some candle holders to make with glass bevels and some reclaimed wood. Then possibly some Jar mixes and some crocheted bookmarks. I finally but certainly not last I finished and will send off the little crocheted angels I made for my 2012 "pay it forward" gifts that I agreed to nearly a year ago as well. They will probably ship in January though.





The Mr.'s help is valuable and much appreciated while making gifts and I could not get them completed without him.

On the supply side....It had been awhile since the craft paint was out so that got replaced but we had everything else in the house. Minion is collecting veggie cans and beads, and popsicle sticks for her crafts and Other assorted crafting bling has also found its way into the sewing room as well. The Mr. may or may not have something up his sleeve in all likelihood I won't know until the day and hour of gifting arrives.

You can see some of these ideas at Kaya Self Sufficiency on pinterest. While most of the pins come from elsewhere we thought it would be a good way to present another opportunity for you to interact with us here at Kaya. It also provides a nice visual aid for future blog ideas. If you haven't been to pinterest I offer only this advice make sure you have some free time. It will suck you in just like that Tornado swallowed Dorothy and the result is no less wondrous or time consuming than a trip to Oz.

So Are you ready for Christmas or are you like me? That is, are you running about like a chicken with no head making a mad dash to finish the projects you committed to on time?

Blessed be and Happy Holidays. I want to let you know there will not be a blog on Christmas Eve or the following Friday due to the holiday and thusly no book review. Who has time to read with all these projects? I promise I will do one in January.

Sincerely
Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shopping With the Wife of a Prepper Followup

MSG



This Friday follow up centers around user responses to the blog from the Kaya group on Facebook. Instead of using direct quotes I have chosen to rearrange both my responses and the user responses, summing them up for the purposes of anonymity in this follow up.

Our User Responses

Our group discussion centered around the MSG used in the Knorr brand noodle and rice mixes and discussed the lack of affordability of pre-made survival foods such as Mountain House, Thrive and Saratoga Farms. There was a particular amount of concern that if these products are not consumed regularly one could unexpectedly have a reaction that includes diarrhea, migraines, and other symptoms in folks who may not even realize what the trigger is. The user emphasized that one should Make sure to try these foods before relying on them in an emergency. Most participants in the discussion agreed it’s cheaper and healthier to eat from your own garden. Suggestions included dehydrating and home canning as well as making your own mixes by looking up meal in a jar sites and making them without using the suggested meats. This user also recommended placing them in ziploc bags rather than jars for easier traveling. However it was also agreed that they do have a few prepackaged noodle meals in their food storage but they are seldom eaten. It was suggested packaged goods of this type might possibly be good for bartering too.

My Wifeofaprepper Response

This blog was incomplete and only an outline based on the concept of purchasing preps for a dollar or less when it was posted. Our budget at the moment is strictly limited and that is where the idea came from. It also accounts for the presence of things like Knorr noodles and rice mixes in our bug out bags for the time being. They are cheap, take a minimum of water and cook up well in one pan. I do want to thank our group members for participating and making others aware of the potential hazards of these items and suggesting alternate choices. I will be looking them up as well. It goes against the purpose and grain of my dear husbands groups and this blog but I truly feel that if you are dumb enough to pack foods without trying them first you deserve the results you get. My personal position as an author of this blog is that I'm here to inspire you to think, question, discuss and research things on your own.

I am not the sharpest tool in the shed and hardly the brightest crayon in the box but I take pride in being able to learn new things and think for myself. Likewise I feel it is up to the consumer to do their research on their own known issues. I cannot possibly anticipate each one. I myself am on a low sodium diet which the Knorr noodles and rice mixes are not the best for but I have made myself aware of that and compensate for in other areas of my diet. For instance most of my canned veggies and beans are minus the salt/low sodium.

I do however agree that new additions to your diet can cause problems. In the prepping world it is pretty standard practice to rotate your stock. This generally helps to prevent adverse effects during emergencies as it is food you are already comfortable preparing and eating. Whether it is regular food or survival foods such as MRE's, Mainstay bars, or foods specially developed for a long shelf life Such as Mountain House, Saratoga farms or Thrive I recommend you check their contents and include them in your regular diets and rotation of food stores. I know the survival foods are expensive but you should prepare and eat everything you plan to use in an emergency situation at least once.

When you are hungry, on the go or without basic modern conveniences is not the time to find out your survival bar tastes like cardboard and is hard enough to break a tooth or that what you are allergic to is either an ingredient or that it is made in the same factory as something you are allergic to causing issues to arise from cross contamination. We've actually had really nasty tasting survival food that I can guarantee you we would be hard pressed to eat even in an emergency. My husband has actually broken a tooth on a survival bar. My personal recommendations based on actually eating these items are Mainstay bars, thrive and Mountain House. We have mainstay bars and mountain house in our preps. For myself there are some sodium issues with certain mountain house products and I made myself aware of them purposefully.

 As our gardening skills get better and we get drying equipment built or bought and our home canning skills expand beyond jellies you can be sure fresher and healthier things will be in our preps. Until then we squeeze every drop out of our budget. We like many others don't just plan and prep for one contingency or the other. We never know if a tornado is going to carry the house off to Oz without us or if we'll be snowed in for a couple weeks and its 50 miles to town so we tend to take the bug out bags with us in the car as well. We've had the opportunity to find out the hard way that it's better to be prepared than wishing for it. We have uncooked beans, rice, plain noodles/macaroni, flour, sugar, sauces and etc. for sheltering in place. I think We will definitely be checking into making some of those jar mixes to supplement both types of prepping.


If you are interested in jar mixes you can check out these sources:


There are also kindle books such as “100 Easy Recipes in Jars” by Bonnie Scott currently listing for $3.99.

I would like to thank the members of Kaya Self Sufficiency Group on Facebook for their participation and discussion. They are always an inspiration and full of helpful information and tips. It is much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shopping With the Wife of a Prepper


Today's (or rather Mondays) blog beginnings looked like this:

Shopping With the Wife of a Prepper

TOPIC - self sufficiency means making your budget work no matter how small, poor man’s prepping, 10 (?) Prep items you can buy in a regular store for a $1 or less for your bug out bag.
KEY POINTS - small, lightweight, easily prepared or used, easy to pack. When you shop on a teeny budget you cannot be a food snob and go around insisting everything be organic, fresh, and non-GMO because the harsh reality is that you'd have a teeny set of choices and a difficult time of it in an emergency. Yes, you can buy rice, beans, and etc. then mix your spices and bag them all up but in an emergency they will take more water and more fuel due to a longer cooking time. These suggestions are for B.O.B.'s and situations where cooking fuel or water may be limited and you need a meal quickly.

Take pictures of item, price tags, cooking requirements, etc...
Odometer readings (?) For taxes
Follow at end with easy recipe--BLACK BEAN AND CORN SOUP

TO DO...Verify prices and take pictures of the following--
·         Noodle mixes, I am thinking particularly of Knorr brand because they generally require only water (usually 2 cups) and cook great in 10-12 minutes at altitude $.89
·         Rice mix--again Knorr brand specifically takes only water and cooks great at altitude $.89
·         Idahoan brand Potato flakes--come in small packs and assorted flavors, use 2 cups boiling water $.99
·         Canned Tuna (chicken is good too but costs more) $.85(?)
·         Canned foods such as fruit, veggies, and beans. Price varies $.66-$.98
·         The college student standbys of instant soups, Ramen and boxed macaroni and cheese prices vary but can be as little as $.17
·         Sample sized Shampoo, tooth paste, deodorant and wipes
·         Small quantity generic meds-acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antihistamines $.88
·         Small box Band-Aids, peroxide/rubbing alcohol
·         Depending on where you shop instant coffee and creamer($ store usually) $1.00

INCLUDE NOTE--Dollar stores have great essentials for Sh.I.P. like multi-pack toothbrushes, full size toothpaste, soap, first aid items, buckets, bungee cords, baggies, foil, playing cards, food and even paper plates and plastic utensils too! This saves on water and plates will burn.

Needless to say life happened and my planned blog did not happen...So what you get to see is my preliminary process in attempting to create a more in depth blog. A brief outline, a to-do list, and any specific thoughts or notes worth including. Much that was planned fell by the side of the road this week. No worries, it all shall come about at some point in the future. A well-documented shopping blog is to be included.

All is not lost though. I can still leave you with a short simple recipe I hit upon awhile back when our cupboards were essentially bare. This is good by itself as a meal or as a side dish with fajitas or quesadillas. I have served it with tortilla chips, tortillas and flat bread with cream cheese, and with corn bread. I haven't tried it but it would probably be great with sopapillas too.

This is also a great one pan emergency cooking recipe providing you have a hand powered can opener as it can be eaten cold.

BLACK BEAN AND CORN SOUP
·         1 12-15 oz. can black beans drained but not rinsed
·         1 12-15 oz. Can cream style corn
·         Tomato Salsa to taste--I just pour it in, I'm guessing maybe 1/2 cup but it is a crucial ingredient as it is the only seasoning!
·         Sprinkle top with shredded cheese if desired.

Combine all ingredients and heat thoroughly. It tastes ok cold with tortilla chips but is awesome when warm. Oh one more thing ~ this is not overly spicy unless you choose to use a very spicy salsa. The choice is yours.

Wifeofaprepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.



Friday, December 7, 2012

12-7 Friday Follow Up




As there were no comments or opinions on my question "to Pepto or not" I in return have no follow up.

This is a good thing actually as I am sore from push starting the car and physical therapy and swamped with projects that need to be completed. We are going to have a brief discussion about budgets, the car and Christmas instead.

I know that having something put away for emergencies should include money. That way budgets don't get interrupted, things get fixed, and you have it if you need it. Honestly speaking though there usually just isn't anything left to put away in our budget. For those who insist we just need to cut out extras we have narrowed expenses to the point that there isn't much to cut out. Mortgage, utilities, land-line phone/Internet (leaves no business if we cut it), Netflix (instead of satellite TV), Gas to town=one full tank, medication and doctor co-pays, pet supplies and groceries. That's it. We don't eat out. We don't go to the movies or even rent them. We only go to the big town once a month and the town with the medical clinic twice a month; we walk everywhere else. Nearly everything we buy is second hand. Anything that isn't is usually bought on lay-away. This helps us a bit given the current situation. I do generally plan a couple months ahead in my budget.

I am grateful that as a kid we didn't always have the best of things. Through this I actually know quite a bit about fixing the car. However when we made the decision to move to a rural location we luckily enough were also in the market for a car. That afforded us the ability to choose based on our new location. We looked specifically for a manual transmission and 4 wheel drive. In some ways this creates more areas that could need repair but in some situations it’s of great benefit. When you are having battery problems is one of those areas. We were able to push start the car by popping the clutch if we had an automatic transmission we would have simply been stuck. Thankfully there is a parts store in the small town 25 miles away and that's where were going anyway so we were able to replace the battery. For anyone who hasn't done this in a while...you'll be interested to know one dead car battery now equals approximately 100-120 USD out of the budget.

Replacing the battery left the remaining problem: How to shop for a dozen people (all family, all getting us something) with about $30 and 19 days until Christmas. Our budget is a bit smaller than anticipated.

Therefore I am opening this up to your suggestions. In keeping with our 50/50 rule we will be hitting the 3 thrift stores (2 in big town and one in our small town), the dollar stores, and a craft bazaar tomorrow. My requirements-Quick, easy, simple and of course low supply costs are essential. Please note that in the next 19 days we must still uphold the blog, Facebook and website support, cook and clean, tend to minion, see the doctor and finish off all our started projects.

I myself must finish one crocheted afghan (assembling it now), start and finish a second afghan, refinish some reclaimed wood (the Mr. is helping with this) and cut/assemble some stained glass, finish my pay it forward gifts, and help minion with her hand crafted gifts for four people. I would also perhaps like to sleep at some point.

So if you have a favorite standby for gifting or something awesome you've received in the past that meets those criteria PLEASE SHARE IT. It is my goal to get it all accomplished, make most everyone happy, and most of all finish on time.

Much appreciation and gratitude,
WifeofaPrepper

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Influenza




Have you ever had one of those weeks that left you wondering what the heck hit you? Well I know what hit here. Some nasty horrible tummy bug, usually called the flu. It started on Monday night with little Mr. Man, my grandson, who is a year and a half old. Then my husband with the cast iron immune system was down. Then Mr. Mans' mommy and daddy both had it at once. All this time I was feeling pretty good and fortunate to have escaped. You See, I usually get sick before everyone else. Nope not this time, this time I got it after everyone else and twice as bad. There is just something about the flu that makes you wish you were dead. Keep in mind none of us have had the 'flu' in about 5 years. Vomiting, chills, diarrhea, severe stomach ache, aching body, followed with headaches and dehydration, it wasn't pretty and it smelled pretty bad too. It was an ugly scene. Some Pepto could have made it a lot better.

Having given the last dose of Pepto to Mr. Man’s daddy around Thanksgiving we found ourselves all out. Funny or not so funny thing is we were out, our adult kids were all out, and to make things worse our little town store was sold completely out too. I'm guessing we weren't the only ones with the flu in these here parts. So I said no problem we have Pepto chewable tablets in our preps right? Yes, err, umm, actually no, could not find them. Now, that's a major problem. In the back up first aid kit then.... uh maybe? Worth a shot. Yes! Triumph Imodium AD... wrong... EXPIRED about 8 months ago.

My poor Mister was holding up pretty well given his immense lack of sleep but I could have cried from frustration at this point. I had given up on taking the natural route and was looking for the Pepto after about 9 hours of almost non-stop diarrhea that had been preceded by vomiting. I had a very bad stomach ache and I really needed a chance to sleep and rehydrate a bit. We are a family that experiences tummy issues of one sort or another semi-regularly. We manage as much of it as we can with probiotics and other natural solutions but we always have Zantac and Pepto in the house too. Although Zantac is the more regularly used product Pepto is our secondary standby. We are rarely if ever out of Pepto because it's not the first choice, no one likes it much really. Yet, Zantac doesn't do much for diarrhea. What was I gonna do?

I did what I usually do when I'm sick. I went back to bed. Yes, I still felt horrible. I still had an upset tummy and all, but I am one of those people who generally believe your body knows what it is doing. Keep it hydrated, soothe it with some mint and chamomile tea in small amounts, eat small amounts of easily digested starchy foods, and sleep it off. In this case I fell on my old sick time aids of bouillon cubes, herbal teas, and jello mixed as a warm drink served with saltines and noodles. I slept off and on for two and a half days or so.

Now I feel better and realize here we were supposedly prepared and there was not a single anti diarrhea medicine to be found for at least 20 miles. It is sadly laughable but it certainly is a wakeup call. A call to check and recheck supplies more carefully, more thoroughly, and definitely more frequently. Check amounts, types and expiration dates on medications, insect repellents, sunscreens, etc. It serves also as a reminder to check for things we don't always think of. For instance even though there wasn't any Pepto it would have been helpful to find some Gatorade powder to help replenish what my body was losing.

Emergency preps aside, it would have been good to know what other things in my cupboards would have helped my tummy. Where is the wisdom of my grandmothers when I need it? Oh yeah that's where I learned my body knows what to do when its sick, just keep it hydrated and sleep. It all depends on the cause. Thanks.

I looked some stuff up on the Internet and, while I haven't found any one way of dealing with a severely upset stomach from viral or bacterial causes that I can recommend, I do tend to agree with most of this article located at http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/10-home-remedies-for-diarrhea10.htm

Based on the next two links perhaps I shall just skip any further Pepto Bismol treatments altogether.

If you really want to scare yourself look at the history of Pepto Bismol and do a quick search of the original ingredients. Yikes!

So what do you think, in an emergency situation is it better to have some Pepto Bismol in the bug out bag?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Friday Follow Up ~ Book Review: "Poverty Prepping"




My apologies for the delay in posting. A rather nasty round of the flu hit our little corner of world. I will probably write something about it a little bit down the line.

 It seems I sparked a very spirited conversation about "pop tarts and crackers". Let me first and foremost say they ARE NOT the food items RECOMMENDED BY THE AUTHOR. The author was merely commenting on the fact that you could survive a week on "pop tarts and crackers" if that was what you had on hand. I agree with Susan Gregerson on this point. You could survive on "pop tarts and crackers" for a week. It is my hope that you would have plenty of water on hand because they are perhaps the two driest foods you could have but if push comes to shove her premise that anything is better than nothing is correct.

As much as I agree with that I simply cannot get behind the idea of chapter 3 titled "Don't Obsess with Nutrition". In my opinion in a crisis situation proper nutrition becomes more important than ever and if you are going to make the effort to prep you should make the effort to do so in a nutritionally balanced manner. Even on a limited budget with good rotation practices you can include foods that offer nutritional diversity.

All that aside, my final comment of Monday's blog was more a question pertaining to the standard food shopping habits of people in general. Next time I will emphasize my point more clearly.

"It is a sad commentary that the author notes that you would be fine “after eating pop tarts and crackers" for a week. IS THAT REALLY ALL THE FOOD PEOPLE KEEP IN THEIR CUPBOARDS? Is that your experience?"

Do people really buy so little that if they were suddenly stuck for a week, missing their "regular" shopping trip, all they would have is pop tarts and crackers? Where we currently live, the probability of this is scenario occurring is very low however when we lived in the city the chances of this happening to people around us was much greater. Oddly enough it seemed they were much more likely to have pop tarts too! Life in our small town certainly is much different. That's not saying we don't have pop tarts available it just seems less folks eat them.

Finishing up I'd like to note that due the flu Monday’s blog will be moved to Tuesday. I have one other bit of information/change to note as well, I have been formally added as an author to Kaya, Google however did not like me using Kaya as my namesake so I will be signing both the blog and any comments I leave as wifeofaprepper from here on out.

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: "Poverty Prepping" by Susan Gregerson


Book review of “Poverty Prepping: How to stock up for tomorrow when you can't afford to eat today”
by Susan Gregerson



Available as a Kindle book or limited supplies in paperback.
Other offerings from this author include prepper fiction and a blog.


Version being reviewed is the kindle version, copyright April 2012.
Number of chapters: 10
At the time I purchased it the kindle version was 99 cents on Amazon. This morning it is still priced at $0.99. The author includes links and her email in the kindle version.

Review:
I was drawn to this book by the title with the thought that perhaps it would impart some knowledge that being poor hadn't already taught me. I also thought to myself more people than ever are beginning to join the ranks of prepping, self sufficiency, and simplicity and they are doing it with less expendable income than ever, maybe this could help. Oh who am I kidding amazon suggested it, it was only a buck and I said what the heck.... for a buck I'll try it. I only sort of wasted my dollar and here’s why:

This is a very beginner level book geared towards prepping for short term situations. (The general time frame given for need or use of stored items was three weeks.) It would be great for someone new to prepping, limited funds or not, who has no idea where to begin. It really is a great starter book in much the same way as Dick and Jane or Cat in the Hat are great for beginning readers. It is very basic and easy to understand with a no nonsense type of common sense that is easy to read, easy to understand, and more importantly easy to apply. The author succeeds in approaching the subject from a low income point of view while lightly covering the topics of the most basic ingredients, proper rotation and storage. She also offers simple ideas and Recipes for how to use the basic food items she recommends. The author also encourages gardening, foraging, and bartering to both augment your food stores and enhance your ability to survive.

It is however my opinion that any experienced Prepper, farmer or person who has lived in a rural location for a while will find this book too basic, no matter how broke they find themselves. The one exception to this is the Prepper who thinks everything must come from a prepping or survivalist geared company to be any good. I whole heartily recommend this book to them for the sheer practicality of it. So if that is the way you approach prepping I suggest you invest the dollar and get this book. It could very well shift the way you think about prepping.

As someone with a low income who preps, I found a few things particularly annoying however. First the author relies heavily on referring one to the Internet for information, recommending YouTube many times, yet she did not mention how or where someone may access the internet if they do not have it available to them at home. May I suggest your local library?

Second some subjects are particularly lacking in knowledge and information. For instance her discussion of fishing was primarily about her lack of knowledge in that area. In the discussion on raising your own animals for food the author briefly discusses rabbits but doesn't mention chickens at all. I was dumb founded. I'm sorry but in my opinion chickens seem like an obvious choice to mention along with rabbits in that chapter.

My Final analysis: This is a quick read that is Great for anyone just starting to prep with no idea of where to start or how. This is not meant for experienced preppers or "country folk". It is important to keep in mind that non-food items are considered expendable by this author and that the recommended period of need to prep/store for is again three weeks.

Best tip: Buy one item at a time. Normally I would give only one tip but the author mentions caulking around the lids of food grade storage containers for an extra seal and I list it here because I would not have thought to use silicone caulk as an extra sealant for storage buckets. Now I have and I might.

My favorite quote- while discussing caching your supplies the author offered up this bit of advice ~ "Make sure you won't come back to dig it up and find a Wal-Mart built over it."

Would I buy it again? For myself, I would not. I would probably buy it for someone who is just beginning or hasn't given any thought to prepping though. I do highly suggest you stop by the accompanying blog however as I have seen things there I haven't seen elsewhere.


It is a sad commentary that the author notes that you would be fine “after eating pop tarts and crackers" for a week. Is that really all the food people keep in their cupboards? Is that your experience?

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Update



Yay! It is BLACK FRIDAY! You want to know the best part? I'm here at home with my girls. Normally I would be getting right to my projects, organizing m'inion with crafts and utilizing this day to its fullest but I fear I have a turkey induced coma.

It managed to hang on through the night and seems to be lasting the better part of the day. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family, friends and yes indeed even some complete strangers. The day was filled with shooting, horses, cards, good conversation and more food than two dozen plus people could eat in a week yet alone an afternoon. It was a good day indeed.

It appears from the replies to the "self sufficiency during the holidays" blog post that many of you are of like mind and are also bringing self sufficiency into the holidays. It helps to know that we are not alone; no matter what the personal motivations are. I hope you are enjoying this day of national madness in a way that makes you feel blissfully relaxed.  For all my friends who are participating in the shopping craziness; I hope you find what you went out for and stay safe. Rumor has it that the deals aren't that great and not as many folks intended to go out and shop today. Truly, I'm just glad to have discovered that we aren't the only "fruitcakes" embracing a less commercial attitude about the holidays. Bonus is At this point it looks like most of our family has hopped on board for the fifty-fifty rule and plans to try to do as little brand new big box or chain store shopping as possible.

Thank you all for taking time out of the busy holiday week to visit us here. We are still experiencing slight difficulties, conflicts and errors with posting comments via mobile devices. We are working on resolving these issues as soon as possible. If you get stuck while trying to enter your comment I suggest using the preview feature and then choosing edit. It worked for me. You will notice we have updated the page and added a ‘subscribe via email’ button at the upper right to make following us easier. Once again it's a work in progress and your feedback is the best judge of how we are doing so please leave us a comment and let us know how we are doing. Please feel free to contact us at Kaya Self Sufficiency on Facebook if you are unable to post a comment here.

Many Thanks and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours
Kaya

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Self Sufficiency During the Holidays




The Black Friday ads started arriving in my inbox a little over a month ago and we've marked out Thanksgiving and Christmas break on the calendar too. So I did what every self sufficient prepper does; I checked our bug out bags for appropriate seasonal clothing and sizes; then I started checking my supplies and making lists for seasonal gifting. I haven't been to a black Friday sale in decades. While I was doing this I wondered how everyone else manages self sufficiency during the Holiday season. Do you buy the big items you otherwise wouldn't buy or have you embraced simplicity? Do you make your own gifts rather than buying them? Do you have a never ending to do list associated with the holidays or is it finally a time of relaxation? If you make stuff, did you start in July or wait until the last minute? In short I was really wondering: Am I the only fruitcake that does this? I have a crafting list that seems to get longer every year. I really need to start my projects much sooner than I do because even though I start gathering ideas in June or July I usually don't start my projects until around Halloween. Right now I am making two blankets, a purse, some Christmas ornaments and I have mittens and a rug planned as gifts as well. Think I'll finish it all by Christmas? I'm not positive I will but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Honestly, I think I've become that beloved old great aunt that gives you stuff she made for Christmas that you have no idea what to do with so you smile politely and go home and stuff it in the back of your closet somewhere. I swear all the inspiration I get from Pinterest will be the death of me yet.

I do try to be conscientious in my gifting but Christmas is really hard sometimes. People tend to have grandiose expectations and we have a teeny tiny microscopic budget that stretches less every year. Unfortunately this year many people I know down sized their incomes and thus their budgets and spending have been down sized accordingly. We have adopted simplicity throughout the greatest part of the year. To us that means not buying things if we can avoid it and buying handmade or thrift store finds when we must absolutely buy something. The exceptions here are socks and underwear because truly who wants to wear someone else's used underwear? It’s harder during the Holidays though as some of the people we give gifts do not practice nor appreciate this fine art.

To solve this dilemma we have decided to try what I am calling the 50/50 rule. To sum it up briefly fifty percent or more of the holiday shopping budget must go towards handmade, homemade, or thrift store gems and fifty percent may go towards brand new commercially sold items or gift cards. In our case we amended thrift store and handmade to include any used or handmade item in general which opens up venues like Etsy, Amazon and GameStop. Living in a small town you can't always find what you are looking for without looking online. You can also safely bet that craigslist and Freecycle will be searched this year too. Our personal challenge, keep the budget to a very minimal $10-20 per person this year. I know it’s not much given today’s prices but it is our hope that by shopping this way our money will stretch pretty far and more importantly we will support small businesses and charities in our area.

If there is anyone out there thinking "Oh My Gosh What a Cruddy Christmas that’s going to make!" I can only offer up the following.

We've gotten Lucky brand jeans hardly worn at the thrift store for $3/pair and at our small town thrift shop we've gotten even better deals on Brands like Levi, Wrangler, Cruel Girl and Rocky Jeans. Shirts and sweats from American Eagle, Aeropostale, and many others. Outdoor gear from Columbia, Carhartt and North Face. All in good shape, all less than $10. We can get used books and movies super cheap and get great discounts on video games as well. Meanwhile other items if purchased correctly lead to rebates, rewards, and more importantly gift cards. Will we have the latest and greatest or the newest trendiest thing out there? No probably not but we should still have a nice Christmas that is within our budget. Include our homemade projects that won't cost much more than our time and labor and it should be quite nice indeed. We will see how well everyone does shopping with the 50/50 rule. I have a feeling we will all be surprised at what we can find without getting brand new.

Now you might think I jumped right over Thanksgiving and into Christmas but I didn't really. It’s simply that Thanksgiving is so much easier than Christmas for us. We buy our meat from a local butcher shop in our small town. The majority of meat they sell was raised locally and while this isn't quite the same as raising and butchering our own animals we feel it's perhaps more important. It helps to support our small town and provide jobs where not many exist. It also supports the areas ranchers and farmers by keeping their costs down and ensuring they have a buyer. All of this provides us with a superior product at a reasonable price while limiting long haul shipping and building a community that works together. Most of the other items for thanksgiving dinner are stuff we have on hand; canned veggies and cranberries, Potato flakes and dry stuffing mix all make excellent prep items.

Now it’s your turn; Leave me a comment on how you handle self sufficiency during the holidays?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,
Sincerely Kaya

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

A New Start for an Old Blog Update


11/17 Update

First I'd like to thank you all for visiting the blog. Additional thanks go out to those of you who posted or tried to. We have first and foremost been made aware of some conflicts and difficulties with posting comments. We are working on resolving these issues, as well as updating the page and adding a ‘subscribe via email’ button. I did receive the following comments and suggestions via Kaya on Facebook.

From the Kaya Group on Facebook suggested future topics are
1. Making your own stuff--soda, snacks, deodorant, laundry soap and soaps in general,  canning, dehydrating, and solar cooking
2. How is the rabbit raising going?
And From the Kaya page on Facebook we received the following...
3. Favorite homesteading books, especially livestock, gardening, preserving and cooking and all that jazz.

I hope to cover our adventures in snack making, cooking, canning, and dehydrating in our monthly cooking and recipe article. We do not make our own soda as we don't generally drink much of it but we may possibly have been persuaded to post about making our own root beer in the future. I will also cover our favorite books on homesteading in the book review each month. You can find many of the books we enjoy on the Kaya website as well. I will be happy to post on our garden, the rabbit, and our ongoing projects on a regular basis, perhaps in a monthly update. Things we haven't yet tried but will be trying in the coming new year are soap making--laundry soap to crock pot bar soap, building and using a solar cooker and making our own deodorant. I cannot promise much information on livestock as we live in a small town on approximately half an acre and are not permitted to have livestock. We may however have a serious discussion about adding chickens to our homestead come spring.

Once again many thanks for your participation and suggestions. I look forward to covering some of these topics for you as we move ahead in our journey towards self sufficiency.

Sincerely Kaya

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A New Start for an Old Blog


Kaya: The wife of a Prepper

DUE TO VETERANS DAY THIS BLOG HAS BEEN RESPECTFULLY DELAYED IN POSTING. THANK YOU VETERANS!

If you have followed this blog you will know two things.
   1. This blog has been irregular and sporadic.
   2. I have on occasion authored a few of the blogs.

What you need to know going forward is that I have taken over this blog. I will be writing and my husband will be handling the publishing and web posting.

That means changes!

First and foremost, I am not the Prepper or Researcher my husband, the previous author, is. My blogs will be less technical and more chatty.
Second, I have different areas of interest, experience, and knowledge. Do not expect to see blogs only about prepping or self-sufficiency.
Third, no matter what people prefer to think or say my being female changes the general point of view.

Due to these notable differences the content of this blog is most likely going to be vastly different most of the time. It is my goal to be consistent and timely in my postings and while writing about my/our real life experiences. I plan on posting bi-weekly, Monday's and Friday's. Monday’s posts will consist of a weekly topic. It is my goal to have a monthly book review and a monthly recipe posting as well. As it is my hope to create something that is more interactive, Friday’s posts will cover comments, questions, additional links and information concerning the weeks topic based on your responses... if I get no response... then Friday will not have a blog posted. Be forewarned, there will be delays or preemptive postings on Holidays and at other times throughout the year as family duties or illness precipitates. I am all in favor of holidays, weekends, and honoring family commitments. I also cannot predict when I will be too ill to write, if I could it would certainly make my life easier. I will however endeavor to be consistent, fair, honest and on time in posting.

My first weekly topic is a brief introduction for those who don't know me.



I am the wife of a Prepper. I participate in prepping activities; however, I am not always the most enthusiastic Prepper, homemaker, or self-sufficiency person you will find. In fact in many ways I am just your average everyday person.  I am 43 years old, the mother of two and grandmother of one. I am a high school graduate with some college and technical training. I am disabled and I am finally a stay at home mom after multiple jobs, career changes and many years of working the night shift.  I grew up in a large extended family in a large city.  We have a cat, a dog, and a rabbit. What makes me different is that I now live in a small town with a much smaller family by choice. In fact we live in a 95 year old fixer upper in a small town on the plains. I never would have imagined living where we do, much less enjoying it as much as I do. I enjoy reading, gardening, crocheting and Facebook as well as a plethora of other things. I am re-learning how to sew and have many other things I'd like to learn. My life has been deeply influenced by my elders; I was lucky enough have many of them available to me well into my twenties. Though I believe strongly in god I do not go to church. I do ask, please don't try to convert or save me. I promise; I won't try to convert or save you! When I mention God, it's because that is my personal belief. It is not meant to change your beliefs; they’re between you and the deity of your choice. The same goes for anyone else who comments on this blog, to each their own. I will not tolerate foul language, slamming of myself or anyone else. Negative, mean or spiteful attitudes or any other form of disrespect, Fear mongering and conspiracy theories have no place here and I will delete them. This is a blog about us, a family, trying to do the best we can with what we have where we are and as such I want this to be a family friendly place. If you wouldn't say it that way to your mother, grandparent, or child then don't say it that way here. To keep things simple you can address me/us as Kaya. My husband, the Kaya moderator and webmaster, shall henceforth be referred to as “the Mr.” by me for the purpose of this blog and my youngest, who is still at home, is known as minion. That concludes this brief introduction. I hope I can find a groove, hold your attention, and entertain you while discussing relevant topics.

As this is the first of the weekly topics I'd like to see everyone who reads this blog post a comment. This will help me in two ways. First it's a way for me to take a head count. Second it allows you submit your suggestions for future topics and I encourage you to do so.

Many thanks and much gratitude,
Sincerely Kaya

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Journey in a Nutshell


This is a brief recap of the previous post:

I was recently asked how we manage self sufficiency on our minimal income. I gave an answer that while adequate I feel left a lot out of our story. I is actually WE, a family of three ~ primarily 2 adults, a third grader, our dog, cat and a recently acquired rabbit. Minimal income in our case is defined as around $15,000.00 a year. We had always primarily been city dwellers, had a really nice dual income that within a year became nothing. After our experience we have decided that emergency preparedness recommendations are the barest minimum in our opinion and as we've moved through the learning curve we've blogged, researched, written notes, saved things to a dozen files moving further away from preparedness and more into self sufficiency. As I admitted before I am hardly an expert or even proficient on these topics in my own opinion but I am stubborn and persistent. I basically stated that we follow a basic set of rules and that we try to find out how my great grandma would have done it and see how it's changed since then and pick a way in the middle.

The basic set of daily rules we use are:
1. Make a list 2. Trouble shoot it 3. Make a Budget and stick to it. 4. Allow for some extras 5. Garden and 6. Learn something new

If you want to see the whole blog it is here: "Our self sufficiency Journey"

Now for some specifics...

Things that my great grandma did that encourage self sufficiency
1. Use cash, don't have credit cards
2. Don't borrow if you can help it. The only loan you need to carry is a home mortgage
3. Garden
4. Hang laundry out to line dry
5. Cook from scratch. You can download many old cookbooks on kindle for free

Things that help our budget
1. I do my shopping once a month and buy larger packages. I don't buy many pre-packaged foods, juices or soda.
2. I shop local ~ this may seem like a paradox but my local butcher is cheaper
3. I shop thrift stores, second hand, and consignment shops for clothing, by all means get on their mailing list and go when there is a sale.
4. Look on Craigslist, Freecycle, swap meets, auctions, estate sales, and local "junk" shops. We needed a lawn mower badly, had no money for one, and got one off Freecycle that required minimal fixing of the handle. It's worked for three years now.
5. Netflix through the internet is a bonus for us because where we live there is satellite TV or nothing so it saves us money while giving us that bonus.

Things we do for free
1. Use the Library’s access to books, CD's, DVD's, ebooks, and even kindle books
2. Town events ~ parades, picnics, celebrations, Fourth of July, etc...
3. School events ~ our participation supports our schools, our child, and our community
4. Use the parks and playgrounds
5. Talk to and help out our neighbors when we can

Things we're learning
1. To be better gardeners
2. About rabbits and chickens
3. Canning
4. Home repair
5. Home crafts

Things we do to help our emergency preparedness
1. Store water
2. Purchase one extra or over sized item each month
3. Home canning from the garden
4. Garden
5. Have emergency kits and plans and practice

Places we've sought help and information
1. Local groups/Library ~ big help
2. Town offices ~ found out we can haul our branches and receive wood chips in return at no cost and that we can have chickens but no roosters
3. County offices ~ They have all kinds of information and can sometimes point you in the right direction if you have no idea who or where to look for information if you can give them the details they can often give you the answer
4. Local utilities ~ you need to know if you have buried cables, if they have right of access, and this is sometimes more questionable But they can sometimes point you in the direction of other helpful services
5. Churches ~ this is hit and miss sometimes it's like hitting the four above all in one place, sometimes it's like standing in the Sahara and looking for a lake.

Now there is a category "we get this when" or "we'll get this when" because our lives are like everyone else's and we get busy, we have celebrations, we fail, we forget, it’s not in the budget or we simply need to take a break and go on a nearly unheard of thing called a vacation.
1. Dinner out ~ usually the cheapest fast food available or our local pizza
2. Soda, Starbucks, ice cream, pie, junk food in general, etc...
3. Commercial pesticide ~ I'm thinking of ants we've attempted to eradicate all summer
4. Extras ~ yarn, a toy, house decorations, DVD's, CD's, books, magazines, video games, etc...
5. Tools to do the job right because it’s not always immediately in the budget and it takes some time to find them used.

Now that is 35 specific things we do in our life that enables us to live very moderately on our present income. It includes very little travel, very little of what the main stream considers an entertaining weekend, and it certainly isn't designed to stimulate the economy through commercialism. It is not a hardship though sometimes it is financially difficult. We enjoy our garden, the time spent at school and community events, and our local library. We appreciate the things we have and the ones we get. We savor every new skill we master and the lessons learned when we don't. In some ways we've managed time travel and arrived at a point in time where we have all the marvels and potential of the future combined with the slower pace, values, and sense of community from the past. It's a wondrous place to be if you know how to see it.

As always, here are my companion sites:

Don't forget, the advertisements on either side of this blog help us keep the internet on and the research going. I do hope, as always, that you learned something or got some new ideas. Thanks for reading!
Joetta Napolitan