Moving rocks and sand for the Outdoor kitchen setup

August 31, 2014

The mums bit the dust but that actually worked out as I could move my sink a lot closer to my main kitchen work area.  I laid a bit of river rock under the sink for drainage though I have a couple of buckets I will add for catching any water from cleaning veggies and fruits.  I might move the sink and the burners around a bit more once I get some more sand to build the foundation for the outdoor kitchen/canning area.  The overall concept looks good for a good work flow but there are still a few adjustments to be made.  My original setup was basically some river rock as a foundation and I did not anticipate the sand filtering through the rock as much so I will need more sand to finish up the foundation for all the cooking equipment.  I want to have a safe and level surface for all that stuff that has fire and high heat, as burning down the house seems contra-indicated for survival.  Putting down sand and rock should contain any sparks or grease from my cooking that could catch on fire and I am removing any fuel source like grass and plants from the immediate area.  The rocks I got from neighbor A. look good and add another fire barrier against any sparks. I grew up in an area that had forest fires and we had a chimney fire when I was a kid, so I get a little anal-retentive about fire protection.

Took the big round patio table over to the N. and L “the neighbor kids”. I got the table for free so I told them they could pay it forward and help the next person out. My house has a covered patio and great shade trees and their patio has just a small pergola and very little shade. A patio table with an umbrella holder would help them a lot for shade and getting rid of that table opens up a lot of space on my patio for the outdoor kitchen.  A win/win situation for both of us! Now I have the space for that rolling beverage  cooler I saw on sale and can’t afford to buy right now!  I’m a firm believer in what goes around comes around so I might be able to get that cooler in a couple of weeks on sale. If not I have a cooler I can use if I need it.

N. took a look at my wheel barrow tire and it looks like he fixed it with some of the tire sealant from his bike tool kit stuff. While I love my little garden cart sometimes the wheelbarrow is needed for jobs and if this repair holds I figure it worth that patio table.  My sister has some sand I can haul away and I think I have a plan for the busted bags that will be somewhat simple and I can handle moving the weight. The rolling box did a good job moving the 50 pound bags of sand around so if I use a bucket to hold the sand the little rolling box can move it fairly easily.

I should not be so hard on my sister as she is sort of new to gardening while disabled and she does not use the internet to get all the great ideas I get from you guys in cyberspace. It can be easy to forget what I was like starting out on my prepping projects and sometimes the hardest thing to do is step back and wait to be asked for advice rather than dictating a person should do ……  I believe you should try and help others and put a “bug” in their ear to prep but then stand back and waiting for that follow through on their part can be tough.

Like most of you I have tried to convince people to prepare and most just don’t get it.  So what I do now is show what can be done and how much better your life can be if you prepare.  I know I stunned my Dad when I got the wood stove installed without his help. In a weird way I think Dad got a little crazy over my water main issue more than I did because he was looking for a way to help me and would not wait for me to find a solution to that little problem, but had to go ahead and fix it.  Heck I’m an adult and dealing with these problems are normal if inconvenient.  All of us have a “brain fart” once and awhile so you just learn from it and move on.


I hate shopping on Payday but it wasn’t bad.

August 29, 2014

I was tempting fate by shopping the last Friday before a long weekend,  I was pleasantly surprised how well it went overall. I finally picked up Mom’s chicken from Albertson’s  using a rain check from last week’s sale, it only took three tries before the store could have whole chickens on hand as they sell out fast at $.99 a pound. Albertson’s had a coupon for Bud Light 30 pack for only $17.99 so I picked up a case for those family members that prefer store bought beer instead of my homemade beer.  Fred Meyer’s had a metal three tier shelf that holds 200 pounds per shelf for only $30.00 that I will be using in the basement for storage. I hope to add a few more of this type of shelving in the future especially the rolling five tier shelf for rotating/moving product. I got a case of the wide mouth half pint jars to hold the salves for $10.99.  Some people use a smaller 2 oz. plastic jar for this sort of thing but for only a dollar more, I prefer buying the glass jars.

Lowe’s has wood mulch and play sand on sale, four bags for $10.00 so the mini-van got to play farm truck hauling these bags home. The canvas tarp is working much better than the old beach towel in keeping the cargo area clean and neat.  Now the weekend is going to be busy rearranging some  plants and getting the outdoor kitchen set up for a better work flow. It looks like the mums sort of bit the dust but I will try moving them to a better spot with improved soil. With the petrified wood the neighbor gave me and the wood mulch I will be changing up the border around the patio giving it a nice decorative contrast of the dark mulch and the light color of the petrified wood add in some green of plants and herbs it will will look pretty and be functional.

We have a Hobby Lobby moving in to the area so I thought I would check out some of the products they offer online and I found a great item I  can make myself and use for gifts. It was a canning jar but it had what looks like blackboard paint for a label or message. I have a lot of jars and I could paint them with blackboard paint and make some of pre-mix gifts in a jar and then add a recipe or message in chalk. The person getting the gift could then reuse the jar for storage and add their own label or message. I don’t think I would trust the blackboard paint in a pressure or hot bath canner but if you are using a vacuum sealer it would not affect the paint.  I want to try using the paint on my beer bottles as a reusable label for my beers that I think would look very cool for my home brews.  The blackboard paint might work on my plastic storage buckets/bins  as a label and date that I can change easily as I rotate them.

One of the biggest tasks I want to accomplish this fall is getting my preps better organized and easier to rotate. Getting the industrial strength shelving and adding easy to change/update labels will be a huge step in the right direction.


Another score on the plant front. Thinking about skills to add this winter

August 28, 2014

Neighbor S. gave me about a half full paper grocery bag full of hops she picked. I’m going to try a sun drying idea I have been thinking about using my canvas drop cloths and the south side of the house. S. thinks  she has a Cascade hops,  which is a nice all-around beer hops that is not very acidic but gives a good flavor to a beer without being overly hoppy in flavor. I like using this hops in my amber ales and lagers.  I prefer a simple clean tasting beer and I’m not much of a hop head like some home brewers. I tend to be like that with a lot of my cooking and baking as I prefer a few simple ingredients but trying to hit the combination that makes it perfect, at least to my taste buds.  I don’t like complexity for it’s own sake.  There seems to be something perverse about the human race that tends to make life more difficult than it needs to be and most people I have met seem to confuse simple with easy.

With winter looming in the forecast it’s time to think about some new skills to add during those long dark winter nights. It’s hard to add new skill in the fall though it is a great time to practice your preserving techniques. You might be a hunter and will camp out during your hunt and practice quite a few basic survival skills. I see Fall as a season to practice what you already have learned but winter usually has  a bit slower tempo and it is a great time to learn a new skill. I like planning out at least couple of skills to learn before September hits as it is “National Preparedness Month” and you can find a good sale or two for whatever you would like to learn. Another great sale that happen in September is the leftovers from “back to school sales. So getting some educational stuff is usually cheap.

What you choose as a skill is up to you but don’t just think in terms of survival but learn a skill for you mental and spiritual health. You might want to learn to play a musical instrument or take a cooking or baking class, learn a second language. Whatever you choose pick something that inspires you as a person. Heck you might want to learn welding, being a blacksmith or woodworking or more first aid. It does not have to be directly transferable to prepping though I tend to think most knowledge and skills will have that affect in some way.  I always thought origami as a very cool skill but I did not think of it as something that people do for a living. Alienware is a company that builds high end gaming computers and would hire people proficient in origami to fold the computer cables to create a smooth air flow for their high end gaming PCs. I bought a low-end Alienware PC and the cable runs are a work of beauty and function.

I think it is good to start thinking ahead because most hobbies or skills need some equipment to do the hobby. This give you a couple of months to figure out the budget you can afford and also double check to make sure you got your holiday shopping done.


Got 2 laps done at the Mall, Mom is improving and sharing veggies and fruits

August 27, 2014

Mom did two laps at the mall today without a rest break.  I took her to her Physical Therapy (PT) appt. and she had a lot better range of motion in her knee. She has another 3 weeks in the brace because of the partially torn ligament but over all, the recovery looks good so far. I’m very proud that the homemade pain relief salve is helping with her knee pain. I need to start making more types of salves with essential oils as they really do work as home remedies.

We did a little shopping and got all of the banking done today before the Labor Day holiday. We stopped by K-mart to get some of the “Smart Sense” Sparkling water that Mom thinks helps with her Fybro and dehydration from the drugs she is on for knee pain. I got two big bottle of the Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc with a buy one get on free for $12.99. I think these minerals have helped the most with my recovery time after working hard physically. I prefer using vitamins and minerals rather than drugs if I can get away with it. K-mart had a very nice tent with a center partition wall and a 72 in. center height for $99.00 that Mom put on layaway. I’m thinking of doing the same next week as I would like a nice roomy tent instead of the small one I have that is only good for sleeping. The tent could work as an extra isolation room/area for sick people that keeps them from contaminating the house. For the 14 ft. x 14 ft. floor space the tent is is compact and not to heavy to move around for “car camping”. Though it is to heavy for backpacking,  it might be okay for bike camping if you use a trike or have one of those bike trailers to haul it around.

I have been doing some thinking about the rolling boxes I got at the Office depot last week for $15.00 and I think they have some potential for camping/Bugout.  The boxes hold up to 65 pounds, has tow handle as well as the wheels and handle for lifting or rolling it around.  The lid on top makes the box a nice little table to set next to your camp chair. You could set up each box that holds your camp kitchen, clothing and sleeping stuff and one for cleanup and sanitation supplies.  They could work well as your shooting supply box holding your gun cleaning equipment some ammo for the range. Once the boxes are empty they fold flat and take up very little space.  Being disabled I’m always looking for ways to save physical energy and a rolling box is great.  If you have those in your family that tend to overload a backpack, this little box might be an answer to limit space but also give them a box that is easy to move around in case of a bugout situation. Add a couple of bungee cords and a person could strap the BOB to the box a roll on good terrain and not carry so much weight.

My sister came over and got a few of the Patty pans, green tomatoes, a bunch of herbs  and some of the plums I got from D.  My garden has done much better this year and I’m not sure I can get everything used or preserved so I have been sharing the early harvest plants.  While I’m not up to growing all I need on my little bit of ground I think 50% of all my veggie needs could be met once I get a couple more beds and learn more about preserving my harvest.  I still need to work on the growing vertically idea and add more substantial plant supports. Using the party buckets worked great for the potatoes and strawberry plants this year and I’m very excited about how the composting pile is working though it is early days for pile to work.   It’s taken about 7 years for me to get a good garden and I made a lot of mistakes without even realizing it but as my Aunt said “What makes you a good gardener is to keep trying and never give up”.

 


More shopping with Mom, peaches and plums from a family friend. God speed Sci

August 25, 2014

Took Mom shopping for a few things today and got her list for Albertson’s.  My Dad will go shopping for her but of course he never gets it right, or at least to Mom’s satisfaction. Plus Mom has never cared for feeling helpless or dependent,  she needs to move and get out of the house so she feels better mentally if not physically.  I think she was moving fairly well considering she had all new ceramic parts installed and a partially torn ligament repaired two weeks ago.  Her knee has healed enough that she can use the pain salve on most of her knee. That seems to be helping a lot!  I sort of like driving Mom around shopping as I get to check out the prices at stores  where I don’t normally shop. We stopped by Winco and I can say that Cash & Carry stomps Winco prices for bulk goods like flour, rice and beans if you buy in 25-50 pound bags but Winco has some good prices on canned goods (not #10 cans) and a few gallon items like vinegar. Looks like coffee cans are shrinking again 27.5 oz. down from 33 oz. We stopped by Walgreen’s and the large bandages 3 in. x 9 in. is $6.99 for a 12 pack box. I have a bunch of 4 in. x4 in. bandages but I need to get some of the larger sizes and Walgreen’s has the best price I’ve seen so far.

Speaking of the pain salve I need to make more as my neighbor A. really likes it and wants a jar.  I need to figure up the costs for making a jar but since A. has given me a great chair and some lovely rocks that look like “petrified wood” along with offering me a nearly new bathroom vanity and faucets.  I figure I owe her a bit of pain salve as payment.  A. gave this stuff to me for free but I want to give her something in return that helps pay her back at least a little bit.

When I got to Mom’s house D.  was there and I got to have a cup of coffee and she offered to drop off some plums and peaches from her family gardens to my place. This gal is “wicked smart” about gardening and growing stuff in this climate, heck she grows blueberries here and that is almost impossible to do in this area.  She put me on track for the correct grass seed blend for my place and just by sitting and having a cup of coffee I have learned so much from her!

Diana the peke is doing much better with her teeth. She had an abscessed tooth and is on some antibiotics for the week. The cyst on her tummy is growing and I have added a little rice bran oil for vitamin E which is supposed to safe for Dogs and can help with fatty tumors and cysts I have not seen any improvement yet. I figure I’ll keep adding the Rice bran oil till Friday when she finishes up the antibiotics, but I think Diana will need surgery to remove the growth. It won’t be cheap but I think can schedule the teeth cleaning and surgery at one shot and that will save a vet visit and it isn’t cancer so overall I can’t complain.

Sci-fi chick of the Bacon & Eggs  passed last week and I’m bummed out. I considered a blogging buddy and she made me feel like we were friends. My outdoor kitchen for canning was inspired her and she managed to do so much not only paying off her homestead but sharing how she gardened, canned , worked so hard and accomplished so much on a shoe-string budget. I love her 30 minute Dinner roll recipe though it takes me 45 minutes to make them! LOL  She was wonderful because she wasn’t perfect. She shared both the ups and downs of homesteading. God speed my friend!


Playing taxi driver and a few updates

August 21, 2014

I get to run Mom to her Doctor appt./followups as Dad has to run up to Montana for the weekend.  I’ll also be helping to do the garden and take care of the chickens a little bit as Mom isn’t quite up to doing much walking or moving around on uneven terrain.  Playing taxi is something me and my Kia mini-van seem to do a lot at least within the family. I don’t read a lot of good things about Kia’s on the web and very few people consider a mini-van as the vehicle when the SHTF and I’m not sure why unless it not a very “cool” vehicle.  I love my Kia and everyone I talk to loves the Kias they bought and would buy another. I have an older 2003 model Sedona but I can add up to 6 very comfy chairs or remove them for hauling and storage and it comes with a luggage rack standard for even more storage. I can add both my walker and Mom’s and still have a plenty of room to go shopping. While I would not take it off-roading the mini-van has descent ground clearance for an urban environment and has a bit of weight and you sit higher than most cars. For a  “grey man” type prepper vehicle I think it would be hard to beat the all around advantages of a mini-van.

Update on the grass seed: It seems that giving the grass seed area a daily watering of short duration is better than watering a lot via the sprinkler 2-3 times a week. The areas were I laid out a thin layer my new compost back in July has broken down and worked into the soil.  I’m a little slow at times learning but I finally figured out what I’m doing is building a new layer of topsoil. Building topsoil the natural and cheap way is not fast but I have been quite surprised that you can make a very good start on making good topsoil with all natural ingredients from a composting heap adding some mulch and not killing the weeds but adding good plants for your area that displace the weeds in time.  Heck I have only been doing this new method for about 6 weeks and about 2 weeks with the new grass seed and the water main area is growing grass and taking on a a green hue if not vigorous growth yet. My idea for the grass is to become somewhat established this year as I improve the soil in hopes of very good growth next spring. I see the potential and my theory seems somewhat sound but I won’t really know how well it works till next spring.

I was chit chatting with my Aunt who is a great gardener about how I’m gardening and how well it seems to be going and she said that a good gardener is one that never gives up and is persistent, I would also add that is willing to learn!  I have seen a folks that give up after a year or two of gardening and most of the time it is not their fault as we have had “wonky” weather the last couple of years as this area seems to be shifting to hotter dry summers and colder somewhat wet winters for high desert.  Well I’m not going to let a simple thing  like weather stop me. I have spent over 7 years just trying to grow strawberries and about 3 years trying to grow potatoes in Idaho. I got about 10 strawberries and I think I’ll do a bit better on potatoes but what made my garden this year is I got a bit smarter and I did not quit trying.

If you are hitting a wall in your gardening don’t be afraid to try something a little different. Form me it was using my party buckets and adding store bought soil and mixing it with my yard’s soil with the rototiller along with starting a large compost heap. Using seeds and plants that are better suited for my region and mulching with a vengeance to save water. I think I’m getting a bit better working with mama nature instead of imposing some arbitrary human timeline or schedule.


Mom and I walked today and I did some shopping UPDATE

August 20, 2014

Mom did her first walk in the mall since her surgery.  She did only one lap but that is about a mile, I think she did great.  The doc and other medical personnel are starting to realize she’s not a wimp and she will work hard to get the the knee back into shape.  Mom is using a walker instead of crutches, personally I prefer a walker instead of crutches for being less painful on your arms and the walker gives you a lot more stability compared to crutches. If you are stocking up on that sort of thing for your home health preps I recommend you get a used walker instead of crutches!

I love back to school sales and I got some great deals. At Office depot they have a Lexar 32 GB jump drive for $11.99 so I picked up two. One of the jump drives I will try with my Roku recording TV shows to see how it works with the new Digital converter box. The other jump drive I will use to make digital copies of important stuff like pictures, critical paperwork like insurance and Birth certificates that sort of thing. I have a smaller 16 GB drive I carry at all times in my EDC bag and I can tell you they are very handy and most likely if a disaster hits I will always have access to copies of my paperwork.

Office depot had a rolling box with extendable handle for only $15.00 and it come with a lid. I have a box that is similar though it cost $20.00 and did not come with a lid. The rolling boxes are great for moving heavy stuff from the shop to the house. I use the first box as a wood box for the stove. It makes getting wood in from the woodpile a breeze especially since I have a concrete sidewalk from the woodpile to the house.  The boxes are not all-terrain but in a town or city it makes hauling loads much easier for me.

There some more shopping I would like to do but I will have to hold back for a few days as I have to take Diana the peke to the vet Friday. She has a growth on her stomach that needs to be checked out and I’m not sure of the cost that will be involved to have it removed.  I think it probably just a mammary growth/tumor that some older female dogs can get occasionally.  The area doesn’t feel hot and Diana doesn’t seem bothered by it in the least so it’s not painful to her. I think at worse it could be a cancer, I don’t think it is that bad, but it is best to find out right away.  She might need a day surgery to remove the growth. I can swing the cost of a day surgery for a benign tumor fairly easily. If it’s cancer the cost would be prohibitive and then I would just keep her comfortable and go as long as she had a good quality of life.  I can’t see doing chemo at her age and it would be very hard on her physically.

UPDATE: Diana has a cyst and not any cancer. For now we are just keeping an eye on it and if it doesn’t bother Diana we just leave it alone!


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