Using wool dryer balls in the dryer are a great natural alternative to chemically laden dryer sheets. Dryer sheets may contain a plethora of chemicals to decrease static, soften laundry, and smell good. The worst of these chemicals are Benzyl acetate and Dichlorobenzene. Many of the other synthetics are generally considered not as harmful in small amounts, but to someone with breathing or skin sensitivities they can still be a concern.
Although, for the last few years Jon and I have been working toward being more self-sufficient, prepared, and just living a simpler life, we are still far from experienced homesteaders. I must admit that we have spent hours picking, preparing, and canning our homegrown veggies to turn around and have frozen pizza for supper because we were too tired and didn’t have time for real food. Sadly, more than once we have taken note of this. Not only is it counterproductive, if we are not careful we could let such setbacks discourage us. So, when we had the opportunity to read and review Carol’s new eBook, “Homestead Cooking with Carol: Bountiful Make-ahead Meals”, we were ecstatic.
Are you as tired of winter as we are? Jon and I are both so ready for spring. We are as tired of the snow and ice as the chickens are. Although I understand the importance of winter and that every season has it’s place, I am just not a fan. We have done our winter chores, planned our garden, and ordered our seeds. And still we wait during another snow and wintry mix. Sigh.
Last year, I thought long and hard about joining The Seeds of the Month Club, but did not. I just do not join things on a whim. The more I pondered it the more, I wanted to join. When you look at the price per seed packet for these Non-GMO heirloom seeds it really is a great deal.
Three months ago we purchased the Bushnell 8MP Trophy Cam Standard Edition.
We thought it would be good to be able to “watch” the entrance to our land as we are not there every day. It is not a security camera, but it would document someone coming or going if we experienced any issues. We also thought it would be nice to see if it really was deer that was eating our apple trees we planted. But also, well I just really had been wanting one for a while now.
There is nothing more disheartening than having your berries be almost ripe one day, and completely wiped out by birds the very next day. It is amazing how fast birds can pick an entire berry bush clean. The simple solution is to net your berry bushes to keep the birds from getting to your precious berries.
We recently purchased Bird-X brand netting for our berry bushes and fruit trees. There are many types and brands of netting available, and I am not saying the other brands will not work as well. This is just the brand we purchased due to the price and the size (we are rather cheap).
Recently I was given the opportunity to review the newly released “The Gardening Notebook” E-book by Angi at SchneiderPeeps. I’ve had it for about a week now and quickly glossed over it when I first received it. However, I did not want to do a review until I could spend more time with it.
This is a fashion/safety post for the ladies. Some time back Jon and I took the conceal carry permit (CCP) class and registered for our conceal carry permits. Initially, I bought a belt style holster for my .38 Ruger. But a holster never really felt comfortable to me. This is probably because I do not usually wear a belt and I have right many “curves” so it always just felt like it was poking or rubbing me somewhere. I truly believe it is because of the shape of my body and not due to a lack of design of the belt holster I have.
So, for several months now I have been looking for a conceal carry purse. Like most women, my purse goes with me everywhere so it makes sense to keep my handgun there as well. What I found out is they are quite expensive! I do understand they need to be of stronger material for the liner as well as exterior. Conceal carry purses are made at a higher quality than the every day purse due to the need to securely support a heavy handgun safely. I really had hoped for something under the $100 range if at all possible.
I also am quite picky about the design of my pocket books. I need pockets and compartments in a functional size and design. While I always like a good looking purse I look for functionality first. That has always been a laborious task for me even before having a CCP and now having extra “functionality” requirements.
And lastly, well dangit I wanted something cute! I generally go with a leather bag of some sort. Leather tends to be more durable. But leather CCP purses were either several hundred dollars or were only in a biker or western style (neither of which I preferred).
So, after several attempts at looking I bought the Gun Tote’n Mamas’ conceal carry zebra-print basic hobo handbag from amazon for $75. Have I mentioned I love amazon? It is now showing for $80.
|Gun Tote’n Mamas’ Conceal Carry Zebra-Print Basic Hobo Handbag|
Just 4 days after my post, Is It Spring Already?, we had snow, thundersnow to be exact. Have you ever heard of thundersnow? It is simply a thunderstorm with snow instead of rain. It is not a common thing. This one was a doozie! The thundering was loud and plentiful and the lightening was bright! Have you ever heard that 10 days after thundersnow there will be another snow? I always have. I guess we will wait and see.
It has been raining pretty much non-stop since Monday. Everything everywhere had standing water. Yards, field, and some roads were looking like lakes. Thursday afternoon the wind was really strong. It had the potential for some serious downed trees and power outages. The lights flickered a few times. So, I filled the upstairs garden tub with water and told everyone to charge all of their electronic devices now in case the power went out. We had one flicker long enough that the TV did not come back on by itself.
Then, Thursday evening’s temperatures dropped changing the rain over to sleet and quickly to snow. It was some of the biggest flakes I have seen in a long time. Several of my facebook friends within 30 miles or less were reporting power outages. Luckily, we never had any power outages this time, but it is good to be prepared.
Our primary source of heat is an electric heat pump. The home is also equipped with older electric baseboard heat that we do not use due to the lack of efficiency. I do check them once a year to make sure they are working in case we have to rely on them if there is ever an issue with the heat pump. I did rely on them for a couple of weeks about 6 years ago when the heat pump went out in February and had to be replaced. The power bill tripled from just 2 weeks of use! Still it was nice to have a backup and much better than freezing.
But what if the power had gone out? It has happened several times before in the winter. In the past we used a kerosene heater, but it is old and has some serious rust issues due to some leaks that occurred in our old shed before it was replaced. So, a couple of years ago during a winter storm we realized the kerosene heater no longer worked. Also, always be very careful using kerosene heaters indoors because of the fumes (carbon monoxide) that it puts off when it burns. They are still better than freezing, but just be vigilant about monitoring them.
That year we ended up buying a small portable propane Buddy Heater from Tractor Supply. Money was tight and we needed heat, but it was really all the extra we could afford.
|Photo Credit – Tractor Supply|
We have the smaller model that uses the camping size propane tanks. We now keep a few (not a lot) of camping propane tanks in the case of an emergency. Tractor Supply also has a larger model that connects to a tank the size a outside cooking grill uses. Neither is ideal for long term sustainable heat, but it will keep you from freezing in an emergency. The last time it was used, it was the only heat we had for several days. We had to bundle up and everyone slept downstairs in the living room, but it kept us from freezing.
This fall we also purchased a Champion 3500W/4000W portable generator from Tractor Supply that was on sale.
It has not been needed yet, but it is a nice addition to our emergency preparedness arsenal. This generator is a descent size, but still not large enough to run a heat pump or even water pump for our well. Still it can be used to run our freezer and refrigerator and we could run an electric space heater in addition to other electric items (alternating of course).
Remember, if you are relying on a gas generator for preparedness, it is best to have some gas stored as well in case the nearby gas station pumps do not have electricity. If at all possible buy more gas at the time of the emergency to sustain yourself longer, but that is not always an option. Gas cans come in all shapes, sizes, materials, and prices. Gas cans are NOT all created equally. Some really are worthless so take the time to research types of gas storage options as well as what is legal and safe regarding “stock piling” gas. We would prefer to have metal military style vented 5 gallon jerry cans. However, they are a little pricey.
The Moeller Scepter Vented Gas Can (5-Gallon, Military Style) is the best plastic alternative I have found.
This is a good tall and slender shape and size for taking up the least amount of floor space. Anything bigger than 5 gallons is going to be difficult to handle and transport (especially for a female) unless it is equipped with a pump. With all the new safety can regulations, being vented is also important and rare. The gas will not pour well and will inevitably be spilled and wasted without venting. The price of gas alone is enough to not want to waste it. However, if it is an emergency and you have a limited supply every drop is precious. Lastly, do remember that gasoline has a shelf life. Although proper storage conditions can increase the life of the gasoline, it is still best to rotate it into your regular use with the lawnmower or other gas equipment. Additives can be bought and added to the gas to extend the life as well. Do your research on the topic and decide what is best for your situation.
Although we have not gotten our home and living situation completely sustainable, we can survive several days in an emergency situation. Our goal is to be able to survive indefinitely without electricity, but this takes time, money, and effort. Where ever you are on the preparedness path do not become discouraged. It is easy to become overwhelmed. Just be on the path making some kind of forward momentum. Any kind of preparedness is better than none at all.
I have been in want of a food dehydrator for some time. I used to have one many moons ago, but I never got around to replacing it. Not too long ago I found a blog post for zucchini chips by The Creative Home and then shortly after came across a review of the Excalibur dehydrator. This rejuvenated my quest for a food dehydrator.
I had inevitably looked at Walmart first. I then turned to Amazon where I do a lot of shopping. I despise going to the store and shopping. I absolutely love shopping online if I can get a good product and deal with little to no shipping charge. I also happened to have a gift card for Amazon that I had received for Christmas.
There were so many options on Amazon that range from $28 to $385! Although the Excalibur received a glowing review I just cannot fathom spending $200 to $300 on a food dehydrator for the home. That just seems excessive to me. So, I set my limit in the $60ish range and started looking there. I like to read the reviews when available and there were many.
I opted on the Nesco American Harvest FD-37 400 Watt Food Dehydrator for the low low price of $30 and got a 2-pack of the easy clean screens to see how they worked. You can also get the fruit roll-up screens as accessories. All of us have outgrown fruit roll-ups so I did not purchase those.
Information is powerful. One problem with many emergencies is getting the right information or getting any information at all. Even a weather related emergency from a winter storm can cut a family off from all lines of communication. It is important to be able to hear news updates, weather alerts, and the current state of affairs so that you can make informed decisions.
We recently purchased the Discovery Expedition AM/FM/SW Weather Radio. We actually bought ours from Sears as we had some shop rewards to redeem. I can no longer find it on the Sears website so the link is to the same radio on amazon. This is a reasonably inexpensive small model that has AM/FM, shortwave, and NOAA Weather. It has a hand crank on the side and a solar panel on top that can charge the built in Ni-MH battery. It also has a handy USB port that can charge phones, ipods, or anything equipped with a USB charger.
|View of the box and hand crank|