December 30, 2013
This week my body had a mind of it’s own and did not want me to do anything. I brewed up a couple of batches of beer and just had nothing left for the bottling and that is an easy and simple job. I think the lager will be okay for sharing but the English Ale black porter is a bit more iffy to be ready on time. English ales are slow on carbonation and tend to like warmer temp for drinking so I will have to see if it is ready to go for New year’s eve. I used the regular beer bottles and the capper so I could give out a few 6 packs to those that like homemade beer so bottling did take a little extra effort. I think my Black malt porter is very tasty. While not a Guiness the flavor sort of leans that way and is very rich.
I think my next beer experiment will be pilsner which tends to be a very popular beer type here in the USA. I fell in love with a dark pilsner in Germany called Loher pils 1878 and while not the most popular beer in Germany, I really like the flavor and taste. I love to experiment with beer types and doing all types of beer. Most home brewers, I am told, do one or two types of beer they like and sort of stop at more any experimentation. Perhaps I have been lucky, but most of my beer experiments have turned out well. While there are some beers I do like better than others. All tend to be a lot better than I can buy at the local mega-mart. Do’t be afraid to brew your own beer. Beer is a great trade/barter good and it’s simple to Brew In A Bag (BIAB) to make all grain beers. You don’t need a lot of money to start and most of the items you buy are multi-taskers, from 6 gallon buckets to stock pots.
Well enough about beer next is stocking up and I’m getting close on the 7 year food barrels being filled. I want to get one more bag of dent corn and then the multi-grain barrel needs some other grains like Steel cut oats, pearled barley and some othe odds and ends. Variety will help a lot on avoiding food fatigue, so small bags of different grains are good to add to any long term storage. Have a way you want to cook all that you store and use your stored foods at least weekly if not daily. Add plenty of whole spices and different ways of cooking your basics will give you flexibility in your meal planning. You can get tired of eating anything day after day even if it is steak and lobster. See if turkey or hams are on sale this week. At worse you can practice cooking on the cheap or can the meat up for the pantry. Don’t worry if you make a few mistakes on flavoring and spices. That is how you learn and it’s best to learn when you can afford to make mistakes.
Do something new and challenge yourself with food. It might be cooking with a wok and learning Asian spices. Or it might be going Hispanic/S. American or even leaning how to make borscht with home grown beets. Get outside your comfort zone and do something different! Have some fun and enjoy your prepping. This is a lifestyle, I know I enjoy the journey and all that I have learned. I’ have learned to do my own char sui and make my own pork and seeds. I didn’t need to pick up a phone to make basic Chinese food!
December 26, 2013
Overall I have was well prepared for Xmas. I got the prime rib for less than $6.00 a pound which I consider a good buy since many ranchers had a rough 2013 with the cost of feed, storms and drought. The rotisserie did a great job on the prime rib. If you like an easy way to cook roasts quickly, I would recommend getting a rotisserie. I got a used Ronco at one of the local thrift stores for $6.00 and it works great for cooking a small roast indoors even during the summer without heating up the kitchen or if you don’t have time or fuel for using the BBQ/Grill. Speaking of grills, I was hoping to give my old grill to a family member but they are having some issues in the marrige. I will be holding off giving the grill to the family until I see if they stay a family. Choas at Christmas seems to be normal in this family, perhaps it the stress of the holidays that causes the cracks to become huge fissures.
I worked all year getting gifts for everyone and I was darned pleased overall getting what people would want as a gift but I did give a couple of duds. One of the bigggest drawbacks on buying gifts early in the year is life changes quickly and what seemed like a good gift in April falls flat in December. Supposedly a couple of years ago the family was going to pick names and get one really good gift per person to save money since times are tough. This year nobody remembered to get the names picked and so half of the family seemed to blow off buying gifts for a few family members. My sister and I got sort of over looked as far as any siblings giving us gifts. I know times are tough but even a card would have been nice, as they say it’s the thought that counts! I’m not to surprised as they don’t have a thought to give to me and my sister as can happen with blended families. Perhaps in time me giving gifts thought I’m on disability and “poor” will have some impact on them. I’m not holding my breath, as they are quite self-absorbed. I have to say, not getting anything from the “siblings” did hurt just a bit.
Mom and Dad gave me some nice little gifts. Mom made me some slippers and Dad got me a bottle of wine that I really like a lot, plus he cut up a bunch of wood for me when my shoulder was hurting. My neighbors cleared off my sidewalks in the front and backyard and I gave them some beer. Very nice gifts that cost nothing in cash, but save me a lot of physical energy. I got a bit spoiled having Dad come over and cut up wood and had to go out today and cut up the wood myself. Over the last two dys I got the front porch somewhat organised to store both the party buckets of wood. I cut up three buckets worth of the mill ends and found out my little shoping cart/box works great for getting a load of of the apple wood to the front porch.
I hope I haven’t whined to much. I love giving gifts and enjoy it when I get the gift a person really likes and doesn’t say with the dissappointed voice “How nice”. The reason for the season is giving and it has been a “lessoned learned” for me. Just because some people are self absorb doesn’t mean I should get into a game of “Tit for Tat”.
December 20, 2013
It was a bit of a race against the snow but Dad and I got the load of apple wood home with a few hours to spare. I filled up two of the party buckets from the cut wood Dad had in the garden cart. I even have some of the apple wood on the porch since I’m just burning it overnight. The box of Apple wood we get is cut so most of it will fit in my wood stove without any cutting or splitting needed. But I’m getting a nice stack of apple wood I need to cut down using the chainsaw so I had some leftovers from the first box and this box had quite a bit of the larger chunks of wood that needs cutting. I’ll get another box of wood after Xmas, then I should be good to go if we have the “normal” after New Year’s cold snap. The hardwood pile is slowly starting to build up and Dad thinks one of his buddies might have some hardwood we can get that will be a little cheaper per cord. Maybe in Feb. I can afford to buy a whole cord at once. I’m not saving money overall with the stove purchase yet, but once the stove is paid off next year I should start seeing a payback plus I think the wood stove adds value to my little house if only to me.
I have two batches of beer fermenting in the basement, a lager and an English porter. Since I’m using the wood stove instead of the furnace in the basement the temp. has dropped to just about optimal for those cooler fermenting beers. I need to try an Ale and see if it likes the new temp as well as the lager. I stopped by the beer lady and got the fixings for an amber ale and getting the brew pots ready for the Oatmeal Stout that I want to use for my first beer soap. The beer Lady also has another 15 gallon barrel for me I will pick up on the 30th of this month. I seem to be the only one buying these barrels which kind of surprises me because she is giving me a great deal for a food safe barrel. Who knows, but if the SHTF I may go into the water selling/barter business. At the very least I will have some water barrels I can send to family members for a short term disaster.
I got the Prime Rib for New Year’s eve for $5.85 a pound at Fred Meyers. I’m going to use the rotisserie to cook the Xmas eve Prime Rib and Dad is cooking up a Ham along with a bunch of finger foods and snacks. I saw that Fred Meyers had some turkeys for .98 per pound so after the holidays I will be buying my turkeys for next year. If I can afford 3 or4 I’ll take a swing at canning some BBQ turkey for the pantry.
It started snowing this evening and Smokey the cat is most displeased. She is a bit of a nut and while she has all the arrogance of a good cat she also likes the doggie snacks alot better than her kitty snacks. I figure eventually I’ll break even on costs getting only the doggie treats even though they are more expensive than the doggie biscuits the new treats are a lot cheaper than the kitty snacks.
That’s about it from Casa de Chaos I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.
December 17, 2013
I was heading out for my walk with Mom and there was Dad setting up his stuff to cut wood. At least I had the garden cart filled with wood to cut but it’s amazing just how quickly he can fill up my party buckets and the cart with cut mill ends. In just over an hour he filled five of the buckets and cart. It can be a little frustrating with this disability that I could only fill about 2 of the buckets in that amount of time, but that is how life is and nobody said it would be fair! I did get a few items moved and organized on the front porch so I can make a larger stack of the apple wood and a person can walk easily without running into anything. The front porch can be a junk catcher so it would be nice for it to have a designated purpose.
It’s a little odd how hard for me to reset mentally from cutting wood to the next project. Usually I can react fairly quickly at least mentally if not physically. I think I’m still recovering from the last few projects so I guess I will take it easy and do more puttering rather than start a to do list for a little bit longer. Wednesday will be for paying bills buying gas and a little bit of shopping and I am getting the stuff ready for another batch of beer I can make on Thursday. Friday will be for a wood run out to the orchards. The week has plenty of things to get done.
Got new idea about saving some money. I don’t watch all that much TV and I’m think getting an Amazon Prime account might make better financial sense for me compared to even my cheap package of channels via dish sat. I’m a voracious reader and having access to sharing and free books is part of my thinking for saving money. Amazon Prime costs $80.00 a year and dish costs about $320.00 per year. I can buy the programs I wish to keep for a low price and that doesn’t include all the free book sharing or shipping. I have a big advantage in that I spent several years overseas and sort of broke the hold that TV held over me. Amazon is offering free month of Amazon prime so I can try it for a month while keeping my dish sat to see how well it works out. Saving twenty dollars a month may not sound like a lot but every little bit helps.
December 16, 2013
I spent last week healing and resting up. The shoulder still twinges a bit when I move it wrong, but it is a lot better than it was last week. I seemed to be moving into hibernation mode with very long naps so I guess I was even more worn out than even I thought originally. Any way it’s time to get working again as it is easy to get a bit lazy getting stuff done and just doing the daily chores can pile up quickly if you don’t stay on top of them.
The amber lager that I make with the Zythos hops is brewing on the stove and I got my wheat beer bottled so it can carbonate. I’d like to get a couple more batches done this week but I’m just putting those on the “want” to get done list not the “have” to get done. I used the wood stove for heating the big stock pots and they got up to 130 degrees F. in about 30-45 minutes with just a small fire going. That is going to work well if I need to use the wood stove to heat water for cleaning up. The big double burner propane stove will work if I need to boil water in the big pots. I have plenty of propane tanks on hand from when I was planning to use the Mr. Buddy heater as my backup heat source.
One big advantage of how I prepared is I started off with fairly inexpensive equipment and as I could afford to upgrade the cheaper and smaller stuff became my backups and or trade items. In a way I started building my backup items first instead of last which is probaly the opposite way most people prepare. Another big advantage is I have had to use or practice most of my backups so I’m very familiar with them, rather than trying to find time to practice with a new item or gadget. There are some great reasons starting off small and inexpensive rather than just spending a lot of money all at once and then figuring out how to use it.
I didn’t cut any wood today but I got a couple of garden cart loads into the shop. I should be able to cut up at least 2 of the party buckets worth of wood without wearing myself out. The apple wood has sort of spoiled me as I don’t have to cut most of it to use it in the stove. I think the apple made this cold snap a lot easier on me physically than if I had to use just the mill ends. I have had a lot better luck using the embers from the night before to start the fire in the morning.I think a couple more loads of apple wood will see me through the coldest part of winter. The mill ends work great for warming up the house quickly and then I can just use that wood for when it’s cool during spring. The wood stove is offering a lot of lessons some hard but most have been simple if not always easy.
If you are single never use the whole bag of Bear Creek soup. They aren’t kidding when the package says 8 servings!
December 13, 2013
I’m not actually saving all that much money yet on the wood stove. I’m still making the payments on the loan as well as adding some hardwood. I sort of figured on those items as well as a bit of a learning curve on what wood to buy and how everything would work out in the long run. With that being said I have cut my electric use in half or more this winter so far and even with this early cold snap the wood stove is doing great! One of my goals for 2014 is paying off the stove early and to keep adding hardwoods through the year so that my woodpile is ready and paid off before the winter heating season begins next year. A part of my planning consists of there will be things I don’t plan for and it will add anywhere from 10-30% to the cost of my plans. It’s not perfect but usually the surprises are pleasant ones rather than those that leave you scrambling when you underestimate costs.
My spy reported in and one of my niece’s and family don’t have a grill. It’s probably silly that when I think of a grill or BBQ I think of family and friends getting together but to me that is sort of a cornerstone of family and community. Plus it gives the kids a way of cooking that is not grid dependent. Anyway my spy pumped them for info and seems to think they would love a little gas grill. So I will hit up Dad and see if we can deliver the grill next week or sometime this month for an Xmas present to them. It’s a very nice free standing Char Broil gas grill that I cleaned up and repainted so it looks almost new. I’m still deciding if I want to give them a full propane tank to go with it. I will have to see if I can replace the tank in a reasonable amount of time even if they blow me off. I’m not so worried about the “adults” but they have a little one and making sure the kid gets a hot meal is important to me!
I tried out one of the Bear Creek soup mixes and I have to say it was pretty good. My Mom says if you can find the soup mix under two dollars each it is a bargain and I agree. Two meals for a family four for under two dollars is a bargain and since most of the mixes only need water they would make a very simple and quick meal for almost anyone to prepare. What I’m going to do is repackage the mix for single servings and add them to my GHB and BOB but a family could easily use half a package of mix if they needed to bug out. I don’t think you can overestimate just how much a hot meal can mean to you mental well being when things are tough. Since you have time to plan ahead I think you should try and make things as easy as possible because if bad times hit you need every advantage you can make for yourself.
December 12, 2013
As you can tell I’m not really happy about what I have read so far about this great compromise of the D’s and R’s. It looks like this budget is going to be more of the same sort of can kicking and does nothing to to address the deficit or debt levels of the government. The PTBs have all but declared war on the TEA party and conservatives so I guess we will get to see just how high a debt a government can run up before it implodes on itself. It should be interesting from a historical stand point, but I suppose watching a bomb countdown is interesting while it lasts.
There are a few advantages with having a budget in place before the next shutdown in that government checks probably will get paid and can’t be used as a threat against citizens. If you were saving up your cash just in case you were not to sure if you would get paid next month you can probably relax a little. We should start seeing some great bargains after Xmas as most inventory levels are very high and business will need to sell quickly in order to reduce their tax burden. Let’s not forget that many people that bought stuff for this cold snap may have the payments come due next month and might be getting rid of some winter preps on the cheap along with paying for gift bought for Xmas and maybe cash poor. I think that selling those items is foolish but if I can get a good deal I’m not going to pass it up!
I am looking at the goals I want to accomplish next year and some items I want for the yard sale list. I am doing the lists a little differently by splitting them up between Need to have and Want to have on hand. My need list has become pretty small and my want list has gotten quite a bit longer compared to the last few years. I hope to focus on skills and new projects rather than trying to build up my equipment and goods as those items are in good shape overall.
Don’t get complacent and keep working your plan. You don’t have to get everything at once because the PTBs are going to do all they can to keep the system going if only to protect themselves! I think eventually they will lose control of this monster they have created but I try to setup myself up that I’m always gaining in self-reliance so if they hold it together I’m still better off. If they do lose control I will be somewhat in charge of my own destiny. I certainly saw a huge savings on my summer electric bills going to the small window A/C unit and even with the cost of wood and the stove I am seeing a savings on winter energy costs. I try to get things now that will payoff in the near future and will save money in the years ahead.
December 10, 2013
Dad came over and cut up a lot of wood for me. He brought over his chop saw and filled all the party buckets extra full and my garden cart. One of the party buckets he filled lasted a day and a half instead of just a day like mine usually last. All I had to do was drag the buckets to the front porch and grab a few of the smaller Apple wood logs. The party buckets are very easy to drag one handed with the good size rope handles. By the weekend the weather should be back to normal for this time of year with highs in the 30’s.
Overall this was a good test on using wood to heat the house in very cold weather. The apple wood helped out a lot for keeping the house warm overnight and I’m getting about a 7 hour burn time. I just used a couple of the small logs during the day and another two at night and even during the cold snap the house stayed nice and warm. I also learned how to control the heat a little bit better so I save wood thaat way. I still have more than half of the stack of wood and adding about a cord of the fruit wood with the mill ends will give me a good wood mix for a normal winter. Adding another box of worth of the apple and a metal can for the hot ashes will be on my shopping list for next week.
Finally got to some beer making today. It was easy to start because I had the stock pots filled with filtered water and the grains were ready to go. I’m going with my favorite German style wheat and I’d like to do up the black malt porter next. My neighbor’s roommate is moving back to Colorado and I would like to give her a six pack as a going away present. She is the one that worked as a barista and got me a stack of big burlap bags for my projects. Very nice gal though a bit scattered brained, of course looking back at myself in my early 20’s I would probably consider my younger self a bit of a nut too.
Not much else to report than I’m going to take it a little easy to let the shoulder heal up some more. I’m allergic to pain it hurts me and while I’m a slow learner nothing like a pain to call attention to me overdoing it! Still trying to decide what to do about the Xmas gift giving thing. I’m thinking about letting it slide and perhaps the other kids will decide to support it or we can go out and buy more gifts and have folks decide which way they prefer to do the Xmas gift thing. I still have couple of people to buy for but those are just the ones I always have to pump for info and try get an idea for a gift without giving it away I’m looking for a gift. I’m not very good at being subtle.
December 8, 2013
It can be tough for me to ration physical energy when I’m feeling good. It’s almost a race what will give out first, my project list or my body. Let’s say my body has a mind of it’s own and it won this round big time! I don’t know if many other folks with disabilities do this but the few I know do sort of the same thing of trying to get as much done on good days as they know they will have bad days in the future. I thought I took a break for recovery in time to save a bit of pain but I was wrong. I felt absolutely awful Sat. night and somehow my left shoulder decided I needed to stop using it for awhile today. I could still move the left arm some and finish up the dishes, do laundry and get some no-knead bread dough made so that worked out well. The hot muscle rub and aspirin is helping to ease some of the pain. While my example is a little extreme having some basic OTC meds and chemical hot and cold packs that are not dependent on electricity are a must have for any prepper.
I marinated a pork roast using the Char Sui marinate and it was so good! Made up some rice and added some sesame seeds and it really hit the spot. I think letting the pork marinate for 24 hours rather than over night would have made it better but I knew this would be a learning experience. The Char Sui has some sweet and you want to get that to caramelize so using a rotisserie or BBQ I think is better than a wet cooking method. I think it’s kind of cool that I can make a easy meal of pork roast and have the fixins for pork and seeds later. I missed having hot mustard in the house, another thing to add to the shopping list. I will try out the stewing method with what is left over of the roast add some frozen Asian veggies and try out the rice noodles. You got to love a roast that gives you three or four meals in addition to yummy snacks.
I might have been a little optimistic in what I can accomplish this month. I may only be able to the basics of cutting wood for right now to keep the power bill low and just handle any minor little things that come up in life. I want to get the soap making and cleaning beeswax going but it might have to wait till next year. I knew I was pushing my limits and so not accomplishing those goals this year is not so bad. I think a person should push the limits of what they are capable of and if things don’t work out you just learn to adjust.
December 6, 2013
Oh crumbs ! I lost a little bit of frozen vegetable and meat in my little fridge’s freezer. My fault completely as I did not notice the fridge and freezer had only one controller for both areas. I was making some lager and thought the fridge might do a better job at maintaining the temp. in late summer. Well the fridge idea didn’t work for the lager and I forgot to adjust the temp back to normal. Thankfully the freezer wasn’t full though I had a nice little turkey in there and losing that hurt the worst. I don’t need the turkey for holiday meals as I like to do up a couple prime ribs for my contribution for Xmas and New Year’s Eve dinners at my parents. No real damage overall except for me kicking my butt for wasting food because I didn’t pay attention.
I didn’t manage to screw anything else up and a few ideas are working out better than I had anticipated. I managed to fill the garden cart with mill ends that filled up two of the party buckets. Though using the cart moving the apple wood was not quite as easy as I had hoped carrying it to the front of the house. I’m spoiled that I have sidewalks and concrete for most of the garden carts paths that make moving loads super easy. The wind was a little unpleasnt while moving the wood around outside, but cutting wood in the shop was very comfortable. The weatherman has forcasted some snow overnight so we will see how the little cart does, at worse the party buckets should be easy to drag over snow. I would like to get a small wood rack for holding the apple wood on the front porch. I don’t need a big one and I can wait for them to go on sale. I think that it would make a good spot for the wood as well as be easy to get to and would look a bit better than just stacking it on the floor. There is a bit of a learning curve working with the wood for me since it has been so long not having a wood stove. Life is hard enough, make the things you control as easy as possible.
We are dealing with a bit of drama in the family as most families do from time to time. We have a a few homebodies and me I’m almost hermit like and then we have quite a few “people persons” that love being around others and find that energizing. When Mom and I took our little camping trip we were quite happy just chatting or reading a book and Mom doing her knitting and just sitting around listening to the quiet. Most of the other members of the family tend to want a schedule of having fun and lots of people around the fire. We do have a divide between those that are solitary and those that are more group oriented. Anyway things got a little complicated and I simply decided to ask the person what the heck is going on and got a nice straight forward answer and no drama! Now my sister is a more work as she is bi-polar and get’s a bit unsure of her value and needs an emotional pump up at times and I kind of clobbered her when she stated I didn’t like her. I doubt she really believed what she was saying she just wanted a bit of ego reinforcement and I didn’t play the game. Well she has apologized for that statement and I will take over a bit of internet research that she wants and hopefully she won’t try to play that game again for awhile.
It looks like I will have to be the responsible one again, as my parents are getting a bit older and they need to know that someone will watch after the family when they are gone. I’m not sure how much luck I will have with my brother and sisters but perhaps the next generation will take a bit of advice from time to time. I have the preps on hand now, so I guess they might as well get used to the idea I will be in charge!