The shopping list is almost done for the weekend

February 28, 2013

Not to long ago I got a Baofeng radio via Amazon for $55.00 and free shipping. I’m still learning about it and I need to program it so I’ll be getting the USB cable and CD along with and another one of  the radio for my Mom so we will have some shortwave capability.  I still need to hook up with the local Ham radio club and get my lic. before transmitting.  But I like knowing I have another option for communication. This radio is only $50.00 at Amazon and has free shipping.  Ironically the Chinese are doing to Japan what Japan did to the USA by selling at a loss to eliminate the competition and then take over the market.

I’m getting another popup  rain barrel from Amazon so that takes care of the internet shopping.  My neighbor saw the little rain barrel and is interested in getting some for her house.  Collecting water is always a good thing from my point of view and at $36.00 and free shipping these barrels are great deal.  I know I talk about water storage/collection a lot but to me I see this one of the most critical needs for everyone.  Having clean water is more important than even food to have on hand only air and shelter rank higher for physical items you need to survive. Air I can’t store and shelter is taken care of already from clothing, tent, RV and then home.

I’m still getting the beans via C & C even though they are not on sale.  I’m budgeting about $60.00 to get another 100 pounds for my 7 year plan.  Since the split peas were sold out I’m hoping to get some this shopping trip, if no split peas are available I’ll just focus on Great northern and black beans for now and top off the drum with different beans, lentils to add variety  filling up the “Bean Drum”.  Once I get the the beans this weekend I’ll post up how well they fit in the drum and a 18 gallon storage bin to give you an idea about how much space is needed.  Depending on how you calculate your food storage even 200 pounds of beans should feed a person for 2-3 years.

Fuel and energy is a big item I have been thinking about a lot and part of my 2013 goals.  For cooking and smoking I  want to add another couple forty pound  bags of lump charcoal. For less than $14.00 a bag it’s a good deal and is great for cooking in the summer time so you keep the house from getting hot from use the the stove and oven. Plus you get to add flavor as well as a bit of variety to your diet and that is always a good thing to practice.  Gas prices have been holding steady at $3.55 a gallon for ethanol gas and my real gas was $3.65 on my last fill up. For about $40.00 I can topoff the van and fill another can of gas for storage. Mom found a person advertising a 100 gallon tank in the classifieds and while I want to just spend my money on fuel, storing it safely is a priority. Blowing yourself or your shop/garage/ home up is contra-indicated for survival.  Spending  the money to be as safe as possible is a good idea.

By the way do you have fire extinguishers for dealing with small fires and are they ABC types  that smother the flames?  If you have them you should store them sideways. Gravity will compress the chemicals in the bottom part of the tank and make it less efficient at putting out fires.  Store them sideways and give them a turn occasionally and they will be much more effective and last much longer between recharging.  Never store your extinguishers next to a fuel or heat source, store them close to your natural exit because as you escape the fire you have a chance to try and put it out early and if you fail you can leave quickly.

Another change for TP!  Big Lots has a 20% off sale this weekend via a coupon and the Big Lots card. That takes the price of the 12 packs of TP to under $4.00 each.  If you were planning on shopping at Big Lots this weekend is the time to get the most bang for your buck!


Paul’s case lot sale and reworking the numbers

February 26, 2013

Thank goodness I invested in a good calculator otherwise I would have worn out the keypad by now!  Paul’s is starting the spring time case lot sale and has some nice bargains on things I want to buy this month.  The single roll Western Family TP is $5.96 for 36 rolls compared to the Big Lots 12 double rolls for $4.88 each.  I can buy two of the 36 packs at Paul’s that are equal to three of the Big Lots double rolls and save about $3.00 overall.

Paul’s has canned tomatoes and veggies 2 cans for $1.00 and each case is about 22 pounds towards your overall vegetables if you are using the LDS food calculator.  I hope that my garden and the farmer’s markets have a good harvest and I will be able to preserve my own veggies. It is nice to know that you have some already on hand  in case Mama Nature has a snit about the weather. If your garden has a good year these cans can still have a place as backup for a few  years or go to the food bank/barter box. If your family is as nutty as mine some would prefer a canned product rather than something from my garden and a jar.

On Fats/oils I’m going to get another four pound brick of Lard rather than a vegetable oil as I have a few  gallons on hand.  I’m going to try out doing some potted meat with the lard and see how that works out for preserving meat.  I’m looking for a sale on Olive and peanut oil for this year.  I need to “can” more butter and Paul’s has a pound for $1.77 and this butter is a great cooking multi-tasker for cooking and baking.  Disclaimer the USDA says this method of canning butter or potted meat can never be safe so proceed at your own risk.

I believe getting food, fuel and items that you use everyday will be a better investment than anything else.  I have no trust in any paper investments and with the recent volatility in PM’s I think you are better off filling your pantry and a couple of gas cans of fuel rather than getting shiny bits of metal. If you still want to get some metal go to the bank and buy a few rolls of nickels as they won’t be worth less than 5 cents and may become worth a lot more depending on the economy.

While ammo is still in short supply or expensive, from what I have been reading most of the panic buying of guns is starting to taper off.  I think about the middle of March and through April we will start seeing more stuff on the market. If the pinheads in DC and the crazy states start backing off the bans and registration schemes.  Once things calm down a bit you can go back to filling up your security panty items.  Just like anything if you miss a sale you need to move on to other things you need or find alternatives.

Things you need will continue to get more expensive/FRNs losing buying power is something I have been seeing for about two years.  If you have just started or have slacked off a bit on prepping understand these things happen in a bad economy and you just move on to something else to get the most bang for your buck.  Retailers are hurting right now and want to move stuff off the shelf from winter to summer and some great deals/sales can added to another part of your preps.  People get over extended and sell via classifieds/yard sales or pawn shops.  Make sure you after you have covered your basics keep a little “Mad money” for those bargains and keep yourself out of debt or panic buying.   Don’t be apart of the herd as far as money is concerned as most of them will head right over the cliff and take you with them!

Sales, sanitation and shopping the rant free version.

February 25, 2013

Fred Meyers has the store brand coffee for sale at $5.99 for the big can.  Progresso vegetable soups on sale $1.00, no coupon and no limits.   I like Progresso soup and even a kid is capable of heating up the soup and making a sandwich for lunch. I’m hoping to score on some of tomato and minestrone flavors.

I am looking to spend about $30.00 at Big Lots for the paper products and batteries. Awhile back I  got a got a good buy on the regular rolls of TP now that they are shrinking in size I prefer the “double” rolls and moving the single rolls to the barter box and charity buckets. I’m thinking about starting a sanitation bucket to hand out or barter. These poo buckets could be stored in the shop without worrying about extreme temp. changes.  A few items would go a long way in helping to keep people healthy and hopefully not doing anything stupid.  I know they will will still do dumb stuff but a girl can dream!

The basic setup for the poo bucket would consist of:

  1. A 5 gallon paint bucket from one of the big box stores. Cost $3.50
  2. A bucket toilet seat from a camp store or Emergency Essentials. Cost $8.00-$10.00 Most of these seats close so I don’t think you would need to buy a lid for the bucket. I need to double check and see how well the seat actually seals.
  3. Four construction grade garbage bags (6 mil thick) for lining the bucket and short term storage of poo.  I know that places sell bio-degradable poo bags but they degrade in storage after a year or less.  Use one of the garbage bags to store the everything in the bucket so you only have to unpack the bag instead each item. Cost $14.00 for a box but you get about 8-10 bags per box. These bags are great multi-tasker so having extra on hand is good thing!
  4. Ten-fifteen regular garbage bags for trash of feminine hygiene products,  disposable diaper and things that should not be flushed. Cost $2.00
  5. Eight single rolls of TP should be enough for about two weeks for a family of 4. Females will use more and the guys will use less but hopefully that would be enough to last about 14 days. If a disaster lasts longer than that everyone will need to work on a long term poo solution. Cost about $2.00
  6. A large package of baby wipes. Cost $1.00 at the dollar store.
  7. Wood chips or shredded newspaper, dry leaves and straw for covering “your stuff” after you use the bucket. I hope any disaster would be on a short time frame or that sewage treatment keeps functioning but I don’t plan on it. These items will help keep down odors and if you need to switch to a long term solution they should help break down human waste. Cost Free-$10.00
  8. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)  food grade 4 oz. container,  for controlling flies and it also helps with odors. Cost $15.00 for five pounds and this is something you need to have on hand for everything from food storage to pet and kid safe bug  control. Five pounds will last a long time.
  9. Misc. Items. What I’m doing is setting these buckets up for friends and neighbors first so I have a good idea if they need baby diapers, female products or even adult diapers and barter in general.

That first fully stocked poo bucket will cost about $35.00-$50.00 but some of the items can be used for your other  preps. If you have priced a porta-potty you know these buckets are still cheaper and you can always use these items yourself. If you have to build an outhouse these buckets could be used as the seat after the bottom of the bucket is cut out and save you both time and money on construction. If you decide to go with a humanure compost type of set up these buckets are great for transporting waste.

Some really good buys out there right now and a rant!

February 22, 2013

I haven’t done a shopping post in ages and I have missed them.  Writing stuff out seems to help me prioritize better and  make sure I get what I truly need or want , not buy something just because it is on sale.  The ability to take advantage of sales make being prepared payoff  big because I seldom need to buy anything for the  next week or two.  This is one of the main reasons I recommend having 3-6 month supply on hand as your starting goal as you will have the ability to buy only loss-leaders and sales. This will have a huge impact on your budget by saving money right away.  Six months worth of food will allow you to get through one bad harvest,  I consider that the absolute minimum of stored food on hand.

Big Lot’s is having a sale that starts on the 24th of Feb. that has Sunbeam batteries on sale. 20 packs of AA, AAA  and 6 packs of C batteries for $3.00. This is an average  battery not a long life type.  I find they are good value based on price and how long they last in storage as well as in use. Double A batteries are easy to find, but C and triple As are a bit more difficult to get on sale and for under $10.00 you will probably cover most of your battery needs for a year. This would make a great addition to your barter box as these batteries will hold a charge even in storage.

Big Lot’s is also having a sale on toilet paper and paper towels. 12 double sized rolls of TP and an 8 pack of paper towels for $4.88 per package. I like the Big Lots brand as a good compromise between strength and softness for the TP. For your storage planning I would figure at least on “double size” roll of TP per person per week.  The Big Lots  paper towels allow you to use a half size sheet instead of a normal size sheet you see with more paper towels. I use a lot of rags, towels and stuff so the 1/2 sheet length works for me and my minimal paper towel usage. I’m not sure how many rolls of paper towels a family would need to store but I get by on a roll per month.

I’m still working on the Bean drum even if there are no sales.  I will focus on the cheaper beans and lentils which ironically tend to have the highest protein content.  The beans will be the most expensive food I purchase on average for my 7 year food plan. I figure I’ll get at least another 100 pounds of beans  and then wait and see if we get a few good sales to top off the drum. This for my long term goals for food storage as I already have one year or more of most food items. The 25 pound bags of beans say the have 298 servings per bag at 4 oz. of dried beans on average. A lot of food products understate servings per pound for a multitude of reasons from being seen as a good value or a diet food because of caloric count. Use your food storage and know how much it takes to make a basic meal for you and your family. Base the amount of food you store on a what you consider a good meal today,  not some arbitrary marketing number on the package. If it is a long emergency you can ration if you need too and shift to 2 meals a day or even lower but I figure most of us can figure out if the disaster is short term or long term within a few weeks and can plan ahead.

Whole wheat will be the next barrel and that one will be less than $90.00 for 300 pounds including the drum. Barring a huge price spike in the next 30 days or so. While I don’t wish a blizzard on anyone these snow storms may help out the drought in the mid-west. I could care less about Monsanto, corporate farmers or even the FDA/USDA, the average homesteader and small farmer needs the water. Hopefully the snow will seep in to the ground and we don’t see flooding because of a fast melt.  For me rice will be last because I stocked up a lot before I ever had the idea of the “drums”.  Theoretically I have already stored well over 5.5 years worth of rice.  Needless to say my approach to prepping was less than optimal or not quite as balanced as I thought.  Hey, it’s okay because now that I’m thinking very long term it will get balanced and I can save some money.

If a person dedicated $100-$200 dollars per month you could easily build/store over a years worth of bulk food for 1 person for a year or for a family of four at least 3 months in less than four months. I’m talking about storing stuff for good rib sticking meals.  This isn’t just a get by meal, but meals that fill both the body and spirit. I don’t have kids nor a husband but I do have family and will I watch those little rug rats starve because the parents are idiots. Will I let some great senior people starve or freeze because they believed the lies they were told?  Screw that! I’ll do my best to make sure the have a little propane heater and enough fuel for 4 days. I’ll buy up more  little butane heater and a few fuel cans for them out of my limited funds before I let them think the will die alone and the cold.  Screw the PTBs that see these folks only as votes or useless eaters. These are people created by God  given life and precious as diamonds. They are not bits of machinery nor cogs in a wheel.

I’m not in panic mode nor spending a lot more than my normal food budget on this project to get this done. I have a part of my budget dedicated just for prepping.  So it’s easy to change focus and prioritize if things change.  You can’t allow yourself to get tunnel vision and while goals are critical to planning once you have six month to a year of your basic needs. You have to practice being flexible to take advantage when things change and things will always change.

Got my beans for starting the “Drum” and helping out others

February 21, 2013

I ended up buying 100 pounds of beans though it didn’t go quite as I had planned.  C&C was out of split peas in the 25 pound bag which is kind of odd as it was not on sale just a good buy at $11.00 for a 25 pound bag. It was the cheapest item on the “bean” aisle but let’s face it split peas are seen as “poor folk” food and I doubt that split pea soup has suddenly become the trendy food item for most people. C &C does not accept EBT so folks are paying cash money for very cheap food.  I’m not knocking split peas, I like a good split pea soup but it’s not something I think is on the average Americans shopping list.  I did get some 25 pound bags of black beans, great northerns and lentils. Not on sale but they only cost about $50.00 total for 75 pounds so it worked with the budget. I did splurge a bit as Paul’s had the 16 bean soup mix on sale and I got 25 pounds for about $35.00. I love this mix, as it can be cooked all by itself with just a bit of salt and pepper and taste good.  It’s made here in Idaho so I’m supporting a local company and farmers.  The brand is Soranco bean products out of Twin Falls and this by far the best multi-bean mix I have found as far as taste. Store foods you like and want to eat is a primary rule on my food storage.  It’s not a good idea to store food you don’t like or don’t know how to cook because some expert said you need….

I got a really good buy on a Beef sirloin tip roast as well as a couple of small pork sirloin roast. If you see a boneless roast for a good price get it. You can easily cut up a few steaks from the hunk of roast and the leftover bits make great stew meat and is a lot cheaper than paying your local butcher to cube the meat.  Being your own butcher is not difficult once you learn how to work with how the muscles are laid out you can cut your meat as long as you work with a particular cut.  Cutting around some of the bigger bones can be a bit difficult so start with boneless chunks of meat and practice. If you screw up don’t sweat it as the protein in the meat is still good you just might have to stew or braise it cooking so it gets a bit more tender.

I got a bit more Toilet paper on sale and I’m working on my 100 rolls on hand goal.  I need to get busy and get more on hand for myself and barter.  I have backups but even with the increased cost of TP it is still a bargain in the scheme of things and I know I will always want/need it on hand. Once I get my yard cleanup done I need to have the utilities mark out buried lines at my house.  I found a great plan for an out house that can service 25-30 people but it is about 8 feet wide and  deep and digging into a water or gas line can ruin your day.  This idea is a basic plan for a 3rd world nation and can support a small village year after year with very little work and safely contains human waste.   If  Teowaki  happens  safely disposing of human waste will become very important and a block of neighbors could make an out house collection point that can safely dispose of human waste with some work. But hitting a gas line tends to be contra-indicated for survival so if you have a home in the city get the underground lines marked out.

I know it sucks that you may have to do so much work to help out non-preppers that probably ridicule you and call you names,  I know it does me.  But flies, mosquitoes, fleas and vermin don’t care that you prepared and your neighbor didn’t prep. The vermin move on to the next meal which is probably you, so while you are helping the ‘hood you are actually protecting yourself and family.  It might your own self interest to buy a few extra 5 gallon paint buckets and some toilet seats that fit them to hand out to local folks and hope they will practice a little safe hygiene. You know your neighbors better than I do, but I think sanitation or the lack there of will be a big killer if the SHTF.  We have seen folks do very foul things when stressed so best to plan for the worst and perhaps you might make your block a bit safer for yourself and family by planning ahead.

Thinking about stuff I want to have on hand and barter goods.

February 19, 2013

Coffee, my goodness I tried a small packet of coffee from the dollar store and it was truly vile. Tasted like a combination of old cinnamon and  ground dirt.  I’m not a coffee snob, Maxwell House or Fred Meyer’s store brand dark roasts are fine for me. I don’t seem to affected by caffeine headaches via withdrawal so I could get by without storing coffee if needed, but I don’t want too because I like coffee. Roasted coffee, whole bean or ground has a short shelf life of 2-3 years. But green(unroasted coffee beans) have a good shelf life in the 10 year + range and are moisture resistant. If you have a heat source that can maintain about 200-250 degrees F you can roast your own coffee. Only one state has a good climate for growing coffee beans that is Hawaii almost all coffee we have in the USA is produced internationally.  If the US economy collapses any imported good will skyrocket in price from OPEC oil to cheap plastic razors from China and coffee.

While the USA could produce more oil, coal and Nat. gas. Eventually we could manufacture plastics, steel and silicon CPUs. We can’t grow coffee in the USA . While central and south america do grow good coffee I think we may see those prices go up quite a lot. Coffee is an import good, no matter what as it must travel across an international border or across the sea. Now think about what you need daily and where it comes from…. Is it imported? as most things are from yarn to TVs. Where does your food come from?  How about your bullets, primers and gun powder if you reload. This is panic shortage that caught the ammo and gun makers off guard and is totally man made. It’s not like the drought in the midwest though the corn grain shortage is mostly government made via burning ethanol in cars rather than feeding people or animals. You can’t beat “Mama nature” you got to work with her not against her.

Don’t say it won’t happen in the USA because it has happened in the past. Ask the Sandy victims about getting hit with dying hurricane and less than 3 months later a snow storm that dropped snow not measured in inches but in feet.  How are the costs for food and energy shaping up for your budget? I know that the basics are costing me a lot more money at the store and gas station.

After you have covered your basic needs and a few wants and everything over that is simple.  We have seen time and again that in a disaster bread, milk and eggs are gone quickly, who knew that French Toast is the “perfect” survival food in a disaster 🙂  Beer and wine is also cleaned out, the freezer section and the meat aisles are often emptied but bulk goods like sugar, salt, flour beans and rice or canned food aisles might not be emptied.  I think it’s because so few people know how to cook real food. If it can’t go in the microwave somehow it will be impossible for a lot of people to cook a meal just using the basic staples. Even the much derided ramen noodles can be a great little barter item.  If you understand that most people couldn’t cook real beans and rice if you handed them a five pound bag of each and would feed them for a couple of weeks.  A loaf of bread could become a great barter item, but flour, yeast, sugar, oil and salt individually not so much.

So a few ideas to keep in mind when you are filling your barter box:

  1. Is this something I need or would trade for? There is nothing wrong with starting your barter box with things you want and use like toothbrushes, toothpaste and other items once you reach your storage goals.  Who knows how long a disaster may last but it always seems to take longer to recover than most people think it should.
  2. Never underestimate people being stupid or short sighted. Booze, tobacco, chocolate, coffee, soda and a lot of other goods that are not a need are very much in demand and are great barter items.
  3. Value added items such as homemade bread or canned vegetables or fruit might be the only thing for some people because they have don’t have the skills needed to make food to eat.
  4. Basics like seeds, tools, planters, buckets, traps, fishing poles/nets. Things that can help a person survive and make and catch food. Hooks, safety pins,  needles, fabric and duct tape. Band aids, Gauze, aspirin, heat rubs and cough drops.
  5. Books, cards,dice, puzzles, games and small radios I think will be a great barter item as folks have to learn to  entertain themselves. Musical instruments might be included but since I can’t carry a tune in a bucket I don’t store these items.  I read about the Weimar Republic’s inflation and farmers often ended up trading food for grand pianos so it is an idea to keep in mind.
  6. Stoves, heaters, candles, lighters,  flashlight and fuel. I don’t know what you bought first when you started prepping but one of my big items was having a source of light, then a start of food and water and a way to heat the food and water.  You can make rocket stoves from leftover cans as well as 100 hour paraffin oil lamps from used canning jars. This will reduce waste and you will have a great little item made basically from stuff you would normally just throw away in the trash.  I have seen the sterno cans at the dollar stores and I was very surprised that I could buy a set of 4 butane cans at Cash & Carry for $6.67 add a few little butane stoves and you have a great little item for barter or friends and family to cook if the power goes off.
  7. Storing some basic goods that can be used by the experts. While you might not know how to knit or sew you could store some thread and yarn and you might be able to trade unfinished goods for a finished product. A doctor or dentist might have all the skill in the world but without the tools of the trade there is very little they  can accomplish. Same for a carpenter, mechanic or bricklayer. While you may not have some skills that does not mean you can’t store some tools of of the trade and use that as barter to get things done.  I get quite a lot of work done by sharing tools. I have had folks cleanup my yard just so they can use some of my tools to clean up their yard.

I’m just want to spark a few ideas for you and some of the things I have stored.  I always look for something I will use to make my life easier. That might sound selfish and it is, but unless I take care of myself first,  I cannot take care of anyone else. Next I try to think of my family and friends that don’t prepare and what they might need to survive and then I look at the greater community. You can’t provide for everyone so even in barter you have set goals that are realistic and that you can accomplish.

Got clothes?

February 18, 2013

Your clothing is your first shelter against the elements and since shelter is one of the main items you need to survive it makes sense to have a good supply of clothing that is good for months or even years!  I don’t know about your skill level when it comes to cloth goods but I’m not sure I could make a pair of socks or even panties even if I was handed a few yards of cotton. But I can buy up extras as clothing goes on sale.

I have been getting extra socks and T-shirts, shorts and sweats when they go on sale. I prefer cotton when I buy most of these items as it breathes and is good for the summer time heat that can get over 100 degrees regularly. I like wool for cold weather but some folks skin is irritated by wool but if you wear the cotton against your skin and the wool on top you can get the benefits of both fabrics as well as layering to conserve heat.  Sweat is a killer in the cold and having extra clean t-shirts and socks to replace a sweat soaked item will keep you much warmer as well as cleaner.

Now is a great time to look for sale on winter gear on sale. Coats, hats, boots and gloves are things you will need next winter or perhaps to replace items that will wear out in a couple of years.  Get the basics that are good quality and a good price that will last for years working around the house. Yeah they are kind of the work wear basics that you see people that work outside year round wear and then you can add a few items for your inner Fashionista. Kind of like when I was a kid and you had your “school clothes” and your play clothes!

If you find a boot, shoe or sneaker you like and fits you get 2-3 pairs and rotate the days you wear them. They will last much longer than if you simply bought another pair after wearing the first pair out. Buy good quality boots that can be re-soled and repaired. You might be surprised how many folks do that kind of work especially around a military base. Good combat boots can cost a bit of money but they can be re-soled and repaired a lot cheaper than a new pair and you don’t have to break in a new pair of boots.  If you live next to a military base many of the “dry cleaners”  do alterations or repairs on clothing so they are a great place for extending the lifetime of clothing if you are still learning to sew.

Repair work on clothing is not hard to learn or practice. Get a book or Google it on the internet and you can find some very simple instructions. If you have a needle, thread and a willingness to learn you might surprise yourself on what you can do as simple repairs and patching.  One thing I have learned is sew up any holes before washing. Nothing like a good spin cycle and dryer to test your stitches.  Many sewing repairs occur at the seam, so you already have a guide to assist you in your repairs. Last but not least remember you will be learning as well as practicing so if you screw up it’s no big deal.  Little projects that don’t work can always go in the “rag bag” .

Supplies to store are things like buttons, zippers, Velcro, buckles and all kinds of fasteners. Get a good supply of thread at least in basic colors of white, black, red, blue and whatever colors you prefer to wear. Get good quality scissors, like a good knife this is not a tool to get cheap. I have bought good quality scissors for $10.00 but that was more luck than knowledge. Ask around and take your time on this purchase, heck if you go to craft or fabric store you could probably ask 3-5 different customers what scissor they would recommend and get a set of good ones.  Don’t be afraid to ask customers (browsing mode) in those craft and fabric stores if you are in the sewing section.  Most people love to be seen as an expert or at least knowledgeable and love to help a person out.  Also many of these stores of free or cheap classes for projects or know of classes so don’t be afraid to ask for info!

For myself  I have been adding a bit clothing on sale for myself and now I’m adding stuff in other sizes that can either be used by friends & family or as barter. These items can also make great presents and be part of getting all you holiday items done early instead of panic buying at the last moment. I walk in a little Mall five days a week and they have a Macy outlet and a Burlington coat factory and you would be amazed at what I have bought for $5.00-$10.00 or less.  I’m not saying you can’t shop for bargains but good quality clothing and shoes are not just something you wear but should be seen as an investment in the future!


Planning ahead and staying focused

February 16, 2013

A person might think I have worn out the buttons on my calculator as many times as I have been punching numbers the last few days. Getting my food drums started has been my major focus  but two items bounced up on my radar.  Gas because of rising cost $3.50 a gallon  and Silver because it went on sale for under $30.00 per oz. This kind of price volatility makes planning my prepping budget even a couple weeks out much more difficult. I’m going to add more gas rather than the silver at least short term because silver may come down a bit more in price but gas is almost guaranteed to keep rising in cost. Another thing about silver is that it is only good if  you can trade it for what you need or want and as  a store of value.  If you don’t have all of your basic needs covered it’s best to forget about PM’s for a bit and put those little FRNs to use on something you know you will use in the future. Rather than hope some item will become more valuable in the future as barter or even as money.

I think it’s  a good idea to think about how quickly rising costs will effect your budget in the short term.  Even a 25 cent jump in the cost of a gallon gas will affect my budget a lot more than a $3.00 per oz.  jump in the price of silver because I use gas daily and silver is something I use as a store of value.  I’m not saying don’t buy PMs if you are in good shape for all your basic needs and it is a good buy right now.  But if you are buying hoping that people will trade food, water, ammo and fuel just because you have a shiny coin I think you are making a big mistake. Plus 100 gallons of gas is about the same cost as 10 oz. of silver. That amount of gas could last over six months fueling my car if I’m frugal, allow  me over 600 miles range in my RV if I needed to bug out or run my generator for a couple of months at least. While the 10 oz. bar gives me a very pretty paperweight unless someone wants to trade it for something of value. Gas is something I know I will need,  silver is speculation!

Think about how willing you would be to trade some of your basic food items and exactly how much someone would have to offer you to to sell ten pounds each of rice,  beans and grain. Add  a pound of sugar and salt and say a 1/2 pound of olive oil. That is enough food to feed a family of 4 for about 2-3 weeks. Think about value not cost,  especially as you don’t know when or if  you might be able to replace it.  Today you can buy all those items for about $50.00 or less at the mega-mart but if all those stores are empty you won’t be able to replace most of those items unless you can grow and process them yourself.

You can’t eat silver, gold, stocks, bonds, 401k/IRAs or paper money.  You can use many of those items to help keep pace with whatever happens to the economy but they won’t feed you or keep you warm at night. But a $12.00 shovel will dig a hole for a root cellar, an outhouse and start digging up the yard for a garden.  A good 18 inch bow saw with a few extra blades will cost about $20.00 or less and I know I was surprised how quickly it would go through wood that was up to 4-6 inches thick even with my handicap. Keep value and not price always in mind when you plan your budget and goals.

I promised myself I would nothing today and failed!

February 15, 2013

I was very tired on Wed. after getting the beer done and in the bucket to ferment.  My sleep schedule has taking a big hit from the shift of weather from 0 degrees F as a high to 50 degrees in a matter of a week.  I’m not complaining just stating fact.  I’m really happy to see some sunshine and the warmer temps.

So anyway I figured I got quite a bit done this week and I could afford to be lazy on a week day. But I didn’t get all of my beer brewing equipment cleaned up and I hate leaving my brew bags dirty even if all I do is give them a good rinse.  So I took them to the tub and using the shower sprayer, I noticed the bathroom could stand a cleaning so I sprayed the sink and toilet down with a little cleaner and went to work on the bags in the tub that would need a cleaning after the bags anyway. Heck since I was cleaning bags anyway I might as well let the bathroom cleaner sit a bit and then wipe everything down after I was done with the bags.

Of course the clean smell started getting to me in a good way after a bit so I decided to give floors a quick hit with the vacuum cleaner and then the kitchen floor started bothering me.  I don’t get too crazy over the kitchen floor in springtime  as the cat and dogs will  replace all  paw prints within minutes of me mopping but it worked out nicely as the critters stayed outside till the floor dried and I discovered the floor can stay white for at least a few minutes 🙂

Of course now that I got the floor clean I started noticing the cabinets and walls need a good cleaning as well and got a small start on that with a little bit of pine oil cleaner. Remember more cleaner is not a better cleaner and if you go to strong you can drive yourself out of the house with the fumes. So while a few pots were soaking I started on one wall and the appliances with the pine cleaner. I like the smell of pine oil cleaner and it’s got some germ fighting capabilities so it was a good start.

For most of your cleaning needs if you go for commercial products. You can clean just about everything in your home with just bleach, pine oil, Ajax/Comet, Dawn dish soap and Sudsy Ammonia.  If you add in Baking soda, Borax, vinegar and fels naphtha, you can make a cleaning product for just about every surface in your home.  Never mix any type of ammonia product with bleach as you are making a toxic gas that is capable of killing you at worse or leave you an invalid at best!  That combination was used in the gas attacks of WWI and it will ruin your whole day.  If you don’t make your own soap buy Ivory soap bars. You can often find these bars 3 for a dollar and the are great multi-taskers.  Besides cleaning your body you can shave the bars let the shavings dry out a bit and use it as a laundry or dish soap. Figure about 1 bar of soap per person per month for storage.

I do use a few commercial cleaner that make cleanup a little easier for me. I really like the Lysol brand of bathroom cleaner. I get it for a great price and it’s cheaper than the Scrubbing bubbles brand and does a great job. Dawn dish soap is one of my favorite cleaners and I have used it to get rid of grease stain on t-shirts even after the shirt had run through the dryer. If you have a Family Dollar store check them out. I think the “Family Dollar” dishwasher detergent they sell is the equal of Cascade and cost about half as much.  I get a great deal on brand name cleaning supplies at Family Dollar.  Big Lots is another great store for bargains on Brand name cleaning supplies and the Sun Brand laundry soap seems a good value for me and I use cold water almost always when I wash my clothes.  You get the liquid soap for about $6.00 for 120 loads and that covers my laundry needs for a year at 2 loads per week.

The reason I bring this up is most cleaning supplies have a great shelf life except for bleach after it is opened. Tide detergent is being used as a barter item among folks on EBT as it is not food so they must pay for it. If people are willing to steal and barter an item in good times it’s probably a good bet that they will do the same in “hard times”.  Another reason is a good cleaning product will save on water usage as you are not having to clean something 2 or 3 times.  Last but not least a clean home is a healthy home.  Living in filth is hard on you mentally as well as physically. The people that keep themselves clean in refugee or even the “death camps” of Nazi Germany almost always were the healthiest  people in the camps.  In WWI men would go through battles, get gassed and shelled and hold up okay, but would break into tears of living in the filth of the trenches and not having a prospect of getting clean after a couple of weeks or months.  One sick person can be a huge threat to a community via the spread of disease.  Practicing good hygiene is absolutely critical to good health.   Got Soap?

Baking bread and puttering around

February 12, 2013

Got a couple of loaves just about ready to come out of the oven. Talk about your aroma therapy, something about the smell of bread baking is just good for the soul.  Got some red beans soaking and a small chunk of pork thawed and ready to marinate over night for a Southwestern style beans and rice dish.  Using the left over heat from the oven to season my favorite cast iron skillet.  Use lard if you are able, too season your skillets it work by far and away the best compared to other food oils.

Speaking of food oils have you stored enough?  Good fats are a little hard to store long term and are critical to stay healthy.  16 pounds  per person of fat/oils  a year is what most sites recommend and I’m good with that amount.  Sixteen pounds equals about 2 gallons of liquid oils and I have had my olive oil last a lot longer than the recommended 2 year shelf life.  Lard also has a long shelf life but I don’t have a good measure that I can say it’s good for more than 2 years. This is one item you can afford to splurge on as a little bit of fat can go a long way. One thing great about oil is if they smell good they are good.  Rancid oil smell will keep you from wanting or trying to use it. So don’t forget to rotate your fats.

If you are getting a good on your bulk goods storage  and feel confident.  This is a good time to add some spices (especially imported spices) and get your kitchen herb garden started in some small pots inside the house. I know here in Idaho we are finally getting enough hours of sunlight to start at least a few small planters of my favorite herbs like basil and I’ll order the hops next week.  If you haven’t done it yet get out the seed book and get to thinking about what you want in your garden this year. I think a garden is going to be very important this year.  I so glad I got the rototiller last year it is going to make the plant beds a lot easier to put in.  It seems even my dogs were suffering from spring fever as they have spent most of the last two days outside!

I got my stockpots all setup for brewing a batch of amber ale that I hope I can trade to the neighbors for a little yard work. They are great people and have brewed some beer but after working all day, getting up the energy to start a batch of beer is kind of difficult, plus they really seem to like my beer so it’s an easy trade for me. They would do it for free if I just asked as they helped me the yard last year.  Plus those stock pots add some humidity to the air.

I have the plan all setup for getting the 175 pounds of beans next week, add the metal drum on the first of March and then go to work on the whole wheat drum on the 3rd week of March. I should be able to get all 300 pounds of wheat and the drum for about $100.00 and that will just leave the rice drum to finish up the pallet of food in April.  I’m quite surprised how quickly I have been able to get this  food project done and add a few items from the 2013 goals list. I need to have the rain barrels set up to catch the spring rains if I want to have a good stockpile of water for the garden and lawn as well as a backup water source.  But that will be done by the end of March so I should be in good shape with over 600 gallons “stored”. Building the Ice house/shack is getting moved toward the later part of the year. Since I missed the hard freeze this year I’m okay with delaying the project for a few months.

Last but not least it’s time to start your yard/garage sale shopping list and stashing away some cash for those items. Don’t forget to set the price you want to pay so you don’t go over your budget. If you are a prepper like me,  it is all to easy to go over budget as I tend to think about all I don’t have on hand. Keep focusing on your goals as well as the difference between “Need to have” rather than the “Want to have”.