Thursday, April 30, 2009

No-Retreat Law : Who is the victim here?

Yup I was browsing my CNN again. I tend to check it every day. Today this story jumped out at me. Law protects SUV owner who shot, killed woman. It got me thinking, which is usually the goal of my news wandering. I think the SUV owner had the right to protect himself and his family. I have seen cases where a cop will shoot if a vehicle is coming at him. Pretty justifiable in my book but then some think I am a nut so who knows.

My issue comes at charging the boyfriend with murder. Was he stupid to be stealing a car? Heck yeah. She made the choice to get into the stolen car with him though. I hate the loss of any life, but when that life is lost while committing a crime it makes it difficult to truly mourn. You mourn the person but you do not mourn the circumstances if that makes sense. I think her boyfriend never even dreamed she would lose her life. If he had known it was happening he would most likely have not stolen the car. Should he be charged with murder then? No, not in my book. She was a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time and with the wrong man. It does not bring justice to punish him for something he had no intention of happening. I could see a negligent homicide charge or manslaughter, but not murder.

In my eyes this woman was both victim and offender just as the SUV owner was both. It goes to show that there are many more shades of gray to humanity than we admit too.

Pay It Forward Update

So this morning when I stopped in to get my morning coffee, I found out something amazing. The pay it forward I started the previous morning was still going. Almost 30 people had continued it after me until the chain was broken. Then the barista told the next customer about it, but that it had broken, he prepaid for not one but 5 drinks.

The girls were both there (it was shift change) and they both thanked me and said that their day yesterday had just been amazing. That the kindness of all the people had made the day just a joy to work. Holly is my age, and she said at first she thought people were just doing it because they felt like they should, but as the day went on and she saw the joy people got from it, it had just made her feel so happy and appreciative to the amazing people she is surrounded by.

I couldn't believe that one simple action had had such an impact on everyone around us. I'm definitely going to continue small acts of kindness. The feeling of happiness is great, and I want more people to feel it too.

Coyote hunting



We go coyote hunting almost every weekend for fun. How does this relate to survival? Coyotes are hard to hunt. They are wary, fast and cautious. If you can hunt predators, not only can you keep yourself, your livestock and pets safe, but you can sucessfully hunt almost anything. So far we have not been sucessful. We have bought a few things that hopefully will help us.


First we have the guns. Hubby shoots an AR-15 varmint rifle. I shoot a 223 for now, my AR-15 is on backorder.


We have an electronic call that has various sounds programmed into it. We have a decoy that is fake fur that spins around on a stiff wire, looks kind of like some wounded animal dying.


We just bought some hand calls that will change up the sounds of the electronic call. Hopefully this will help as the coyotes have been hunted so much they are onto the electronic caller. Hubby and I each have one. Butch, our oldest has two (he doesn't know it yet, they are a birthday surprise). Bruiser and Spike each have a coaxer which makes a sound to get a running coyote to stand still.


Last but not least, we have Buckshot. He is a 4 month old mountain cur with some hound dog thrown in. His job (when he is full grown) is to bring in the coyotes that are too wary to get within rifle range. He will go out and play with the coyote. The coyote will either try to fight him or play. Either way at a signal, Buck will return to us and the coyote will amost always follow.

We will be spending the rest of the spring and summer training the dog and working on our calling skills. Hopefully this next season will be more fruitful than the last.

Ladies read; Men are advised to skip.

Angela from Adventures in Self-Reliance wrote an awesome post on feminine hygiene things in your prepping plans. Seriously guys, if you read that, I claim no responsibility.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flu that dare not speak it's name in Washington State

Tonight I went and had dinner with my sister and Mom. Sister is getting married in July and has been having a heck of a time picking a veil. Since I'm the maid of honor it's my job to help with these things. As we are browsing veils online and half-assed watching American Idol, a little reader board across the scene caught my eye. The part I caught was basically talking about a couple counties, and news conference, and to watch their news at 10.

Sister pulls up the channel's news website, and in big red letters you see "6 probable Swine Flu Cases". Apprently this covers 3 counties so far. King county (Seattle), Snohomish County (the 'burbs) and Spokane County (mainly Spokane Metro area).

The really fun part of this is that my mom is a nurse in South Pierce County, and my sister works for a government in a very very large building and is exposed to hundreds of people a day. This flu has a 7-10 day incubation period, and so likely hundreds if not thousands have been exposed by the original 6.

When I got home I google'd some, and found an article from the Seattle Times with some more details. The suspected cases are in a women, young child and male in King County. A male in Spokane county, and 2 more in Snohomish County; one a child and the other I can't remember. The women in King County also happens to be a Primary Care Physican (oops). The article stressed that the child in King County had not been to school during the period he/she was contagious.

I'm officially very very glad I stocked up when I did. No more extra outings ANYWHERE. If I need anything I'm not taking the boy and you can bet I'm wearing a mask. Even with the current US death rate (let's call it 1 in 100) what will it be in 7 days? 10 days? 14 days? A month? I'm not taking anymore chances. I don't care if they call me crazy, I sure as hell would rather be crazy then dead.

I'm burrowing into my hidey hole, and I'm not coming out for a long long time.

Pay It Forward

This morning I was driving to get coffee on my way to work, and when I was pulling up to the stand I saw a women who was obviously waiting to turn into the same coffee place. I was making a right hand turn, so I had the right away. However since she had obviously been waiting to cross I let her go first.

When I pulled up the window my coffee lady already had my drinks ready (I'm nothing if not predictable coffee-wise). I pulled out my wallet, and she poo-pooed me and explained the women before me was so thankful I let her go she paid for my drinks. Now, I get the theory behind this and I'm grateful for the drinks. But I was just being polite, and I'm a little sad that the world is so cold now that someone is so moved when they given their proper spot in line to buy coffee.

That being said, I didn't really know what to do. I didn't exactly feel like I deserved free coffee for doing the right thing. So I decided to pay it forward. I asked Cathy what I could do to buy coffee for someone else since no one was behind me in line. I ended up giving her $3 and she said she's make whatever they wanted and call it evens.

Now I like doing things for people. Be it buying lunch, coffee, giving away my canned stuff. It makes me feel good. I wish more people did it. It is so rewarding and at the same time encourages other do pay it forward also. If everyone took the time once a week to do something nice and unexpected for someone else, how much better could the world be?

food storage for $5 revisited

So I went shopping today for essentials for 2 weeks just in case this swine flu thing gets out of hand. I revisited my $5 a week food storage list and realized it was way off on some things. I know my family will certainly go through more than 5 lbs of peanut butter in a year. I actually have 21 lbs of peanut butter on hand already. I also have 3 growing boys. The list is still a good tool to help you see what things you might need, just adjust the amounts for your family. I have also copied this list into a word document so I can check off what I already have and focus more on the things I still need.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I just don't get it Part Duex

I spent a couple of days emailing and calling around trying to dig up some more information on our town's oh-so-wonderful new sewer. I've literally found out jack-squat. All the public offices I called were not help, and generally couldn't tell me who could. I did manage to find out that the city will indeed put a lien on your house for none payment.

Several options were given to homeowners over the last year or so. I'm not sure how these were presented to the public as I just found them on Google after a little creative searching. The options were; pay out of pocket, apply for a USDA rural development loan, apply for a grant from the city, and have a payment plan. As of May 6th, 2008 the city was still "researching the possibility of a policy for a payment plan" so I have no idea if it actually came to fruit. But according to the information I found you had to have been turned down for funds by at least 3 financial institutions (and have proof).

After some more Google-ing I actually found a page on it on the City website, complete with monthly updates. I couldn't access any of the info however as the PDF's wouldn't open on my computer, or my parents. I guess for now I'll just have to judge their progress from my front windows.

The property we live on is bordered by two roads; one main and one arterial. They spent two days last week tearing up the front 250 feet of my house on the main road, and decided to use their easement on our land to make themselves a parking lot in our yard for the weekend. So my son got to play soccer between a honey bucket, a Grater and a Backhoe.

Monday they finished up work on the main road, and this morning started on the arterial. I know this because I was awoken by one of the local city guys (who looked exasperated to be honest) letting me know that I had no water, because the vibration from the backhoe had cracked the water main. I didn't kick up a fuss because I had just woken up, but this happens to be the second time I've heard this excuse. Because the same thing happened to my friend's parents down the road. The city fixed it the same day, and agreed to adjust (and actually reduce) their water bill for the month. They didn't make me any such offer, but I guarantee you I will be informing my landlord, just in case they don't.

Not much longer after that, there was another knock on my door. This was another worker, asking if I need to get out of my driveway that day. Granted I have decently unorthodox work hours, so this was about 8:30 am, but yes I had to work. He asked when and looked fairly anxious. I sighed took pity on the poor guy and asked when in the next 90 mins. would be best for them. He said now. I glanced on the couch at the Boy lazing around in his pj's, and sort of went 'uhhhhh'. Instead I offered to move my car to a neighbors driveway so they could do whatever they needed to do.

Once I got the boy ready to go and headed out, I could see why they had wanted to know if I was leaving. There was a 4 foot trench where the end on my driveway used to be.

So to recap: I have no answers, no water and no driveway.

The need to knows of buying in the current market.

So we got the house!!! Yay us! However others I know are looking to jump into the market right now so I figured it would be wise to post some basics that we have discovered through the process.

1. Fixed rate only - Do not ever ever EVER do an adjustable rate. That is how so many have lost their homes now.

2. Short sale = no bueno. Short sale means that the seller is selling for less than they owe so your offer is pending bank approval not owner approval. Usually this is someone facing foreclosure trying to get out before that happens. Another negative is that they take like 90 days at least for processing. Finally it also means that until closing other offers will be looked at so if someone comes along and offers $5 more they could very well take it from you.

3. No 100% financing - If someone offers you this there is a twist. Read the fine print and everything that goes with it.

4. Taxes, mortgage insurance, and homeowners insurance are often not added into a mortgage calculator so remember you will be paying these each month on top of what you finance.

5. Mortgage insurance is paid until you have 20% equity in your home. The faster you get there the better.

6. Pick the payment you want to pay BEFORE you look and prequalify. We went by what we want to pay not by what we qualify for. No point in being house poor.

7. You need credit above 650 for FHA and 690-750 and above for a conventional loan.

These are just the basics that we have learned. Do your due diligence. Research the are for comps, schools, and crime to get a good idea of what you are moving in to. If there is a houseing association read their rules and make sure you can live with them. Most of all good luck. This is an amazing time to buy that first home.

I swear I'm not that paranoid. Really.

I'm getting more and more concerned about the Swine Flu. Not necessarily getting my family or I getting it, but more the panic side. When this stuff spreads further and people are scared to go to the grocery store, work, or school is when things are going to get tricky.

My mom is a nurse, and she's concerned but not hugely. When the Avian flu came out in Asia a few years ago, her old work had the option for nurses to personally purchase face masks at the wholesale cost. She bought a ton of them for the whole family including various child sizes for the Boy (who was just a baby at the time). I called her yesterday because one of the outbreaks in California is near some of our family. Her advice for me now was just to be careful. Don't go places I don't have to, avoid large groups like sporting events or malls. Watch the Boy for any flu symptoms and track them if he starts to develop any (our family doesn't really get fevers, so doctors tend to say "well, you have no fever" when we're about to die we're so sick).

She and I also agreed that should either the Boy or I get symptoms instead of rushing him into the Army Medical Center (which was my Plan A previously) that I would call the doctors office. Because as she pointed out, we could just have the flu. It wouldn't help for us to not have it, and then unknowingly expose ourselves to someone who does.

I went a step or two further because well, I'm getting *cough cough* a little more paranoid. I went to the store this morning and stocked up on enough groceries and non-perishables to last at least 2 weeks without having to go to the store, even assuming we don't have power. I don't have as much water as I'd like, but I'm going to get some tonight at Wally-World. It's plain cheaper, and I'm going to go pretty late at night to our 24 hr one so I can avoid as much exposure as possible. My mom also suggested if I do stock up, to be sure and get medications just like for any other flu, so I'm buying some large bottles of (generic) Tylenol and things like that. I'm also stocking up on essentials like antibacterial gel (instead of soap), toiletries, soap things like that. I can fairly effective quarantine myself off from contact if need be, but I want to have at least 2 weeks if not more of vital supplies.

My mom basically told me I'm over-reacting. And maybe I am. But frankly it's a good reason to fluff up my food storage and rotate some out. If something happens, I'm more prepared them most. If nothing happens, I have 2 more weeks of food storage supplies.

Here chicky, chicky...

If you couldn't tell (or didn't read) the quote of the day yesterday, I finally got baby chicks. A friend of mine (who shall be hence forth known as the Logger, because well, that's what he does) has a good chuck of land not far from me with an orchard, space for a garden and a chicken coop.

We'd been discussing getting chickens for awhile, but hadn't made any firm plans. Yesterday I had planned a trip to see Lila, but it got canceled for unforeseen reasons and the Logger showed up shortly afterwards for donuts for the Boy. His friend (The Crabber, because again that's what he does) has been working to fix up the chicken coop, and the Boy and I went along with them to town to get some supplies. We stopped at the feed store to look around, and they had just gotten a couple batches of chicks. Before we knew it, we somehow were walking out of the feed store with 15 chicks and all the various supplies.

We got 8 white egg layers, and 7 brown egg layers. 8 are white, 6 are yellowish and one is black (so the boy can easily identify his). I'm not sure which breed they are because we forget to ask, so if you know, please let me know. Their names are Chicken (the Boys), LouAnne, Turtle, Drumstick, Noodle, Poopbutt, Scramble, McNugget, Omelet, Benedict, Poachy, Shelly, Huevo, Yoko and Dark Meat.


The chicks are staying in my garage for a bit until the weather gets warmer and we've finished the coop. It's actually sort of sweet to go in the garage and hear "peep peep peep-peep-peep". They have all survived so far (have I mentioned I'm pretty adept at killing things completely on accident?) but I figure since none of us know much about chickens it'll be a little trial and error least for a while.

Keep your fingers cross, and I'll pray to the Chicken Gods.

Conversations with a 10 year old.

Hubby teasing me about building some kind of backwoods retreat: "We can find other couples to come with us but they have to have hot...(spies our 10 yr old looking at him)..sauce. Cause you know how I like spicy food."
Boy rolls his eyes and mutters "Yeah right, Dad."
Hubby: "What!? You don't even know what I am talking about."
Boy: "You're talking about HOT CHICKS, aren't you?!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

Ryan the 2L: Are they done yet? I'm hungry.

Me: No.

Ryan the 2L: Why not?

Me: They aren't insta-grow food.

Ryan the 2L: Are they boneless?

Me: They are baby chicks Ryan. They don't come in regular and blob.

Via text message

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Being in limbo sucks so let's talk FLU!

While we work on the whole home buying thing it leaves the preparedness issue a bit in the "will get to soon" category. Don't want to add to what we need to move, lol.

Sooooo that leaves me with a lot of time to ponder other things. So the Swine Flu issue has been in my thoughts. I am hoping the reason for no American deaths is due to our vaccines, immunities, and health care but I figured it was important to remind people not using the vaccines and health care that they need to. Even if you know you have the flu please get it confirmed by your doctor. With so many strains out there it can help the CDC get a fix on trends and risk areas to have the data of our tests.

Also flu facts seem prudent to share here. Flu 'season" is typically October - May in the U.S. with peak falling somewhere between December and March. Being vaccinated is good but is not 100% protection as the vaccine is formed from the data I told you about earlier. Better to be vaccinated then not though.

The best fighter we have against flu are anti-viral meds. These need to be started within 12-48 hours of onset of symptoms hence another reason seeing the Dr. is important. Another good reason for anti-viral meds is that if a family member catches the flu the meds can help protect you from catching it.

All my info came from fluFACTS.com. Remember children and the elderly are most at risk but anyone can catch it!

Quote of the Day

When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.
Then I realized God doesn’t work that way, so I stole
one and prayed for forgiveness.





- Emo Philips

Impending Suds-dom

I'm thinking my next big foray into the homemade world is going to be soap. I'm not sure why, so don't ask. I'm sure there are a ton of things that logically should happen between where I am, and soap-making, but alas soap it shall be. Once you have a basic soap bar, you can use it for a million things. Shampoo, dishsoap, cleaning the house.. The list goes on a on.

I'm a little torn at the moment, because there are a couple different ways I could go. I could take the simple route and just buy the melt and pour bases, buy a soap making kit or go full hog and try to do it from scratch. At the moment I'm leaning towards getting a melt and pour base to start. There is a local natural remedy store that I believe would have all the oils and such I might want to add, and molds are decently cheap. This way at least I can get used to the process before trying to do it all by myself. Also lye freaks me out seeing as they used to use it to cover dead bodies (over share, sorry I know) and I've seen Fight Club one too many times. Lip print scars on my hand is not something I am interested in.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

Scene: Hectic Farmers Market on a Saturday Morning, the Boy is pawing through apples. He selects one and approaches the vendor.

The Boy: Umm... Is this organic?

Vendor: Well, yes it is.

The Boy: *pauses and scratches his head* Yeah, but is it local?

Ninja Raccoon Night Attacks

My neighborhood has raccoons. Not just little cutesy ones either. Big, growly, mean ones. I know because I came face to face with one not long ago, and not only did it chase me in the house but it growled and hissed at me through the back door. I'm actually glad it didn't whip out a switch blade and slice my tires, take out a patrol car or hold a poor kitten hostage.


Apparently my brand spankin' new handy-dandy Compost Bin is a buffet of happy raccoon goodness. The other morning when I left the house to go to work, I realized that the front door of the bin had been torn off AGAIN. The raccoons had made off with everything edible. They even sifted through it to get the rotting onions off the bottom. And I know raccoons it was because they left their grubby paw prints all over my container. I guess I should consider myself lucky they didn't take off with the whole thing for use in their crazy psychotic raccoon fortress.

I'm thinking this weekend might be a good one to spend the stinking $20 and invest in a pellet gun. Lila's husband suggested baiting them, but mentioned it might kill some neighborhood cats. I don't have cats, so I don't see this as an issue, but I can see it possibly kicking up a fuss. I can't effectively lock the thing (I looked) and it's plastic so they'd probably just tear out the lock anyway.

Damn you raccoons! Damn you!

What's with the weather?

Remember last week when I was complaining about the 3 feet of snow in my yard? Well we had to mow our lawn Monday! We usually skip spring and fall here, it is really weird. We went from frigid temps to 80 degree weather in a week! I have tulips and daffodils blossoming and tons of other flowers growing too. My trees blossomed overnight! Crazy stuff.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Appliances! AHHHHHH.......

So when buying your first house you usually have to buy some appliances, lol. I am looking for gas stoves, built in microwave/stove hood things, fridge, and a washer and dryer set. I can not fathom the options out there. Seriously we have side by side, top freezer, bottom freezer options in a fridge. You can find washer/dryer sets that talk to you and stoves that are all digital and snazzy. How do you choose? So far my requirements are stainless (the dishwasher in the house we are buying is stainless), and energy star rated for the kitchen. For washer/dryer sets I need energy star rated and very durable as the Hubs work clothes are pretty dirty most days! Trying to navigate this mine field is enough to send me into the loony bin! Any thoughts? What brands do you like? What do you hate? Guidance is much appreciated.

The things my kids get into.

Maggy and Lila will tell you I am a "been there, done that" kind of mom. I didn't think my kids could surprise me anymore. After lighting spray paint cans on fire under the trampoline, riding motorcycles while standing on the seat, multiple emergency room and principles office visits, I really thought I had done it all. Until last night when I found myself vacuuming tiny glass shards out of my dishwasher. Did you know that some thermoses are pressurized inside? My middle son (nickname, Bruiser) was being good and emptying the dishwasher for me. He told me Dad's thermos had water in it. I told him not to worry about it right now. He proceeded to twist the bottom off the thermos, which was glued to the glass inner part, and the pressure inside caused the whole thing to explode. Luckily my stunned little boy was not hurt just very worried he was in trouble. My entire kitchen was covered in glass fragments. So yeah, now I can say I have vacuumed out my dishwasher. What will they come up with next? *shudder*

I just don't get it.

I currently live in the small town I grew up in. It's small probably only about 2000 people (and that's the area not the city proper), but nice. We have one grocery store, a couple little restaurants, and a smattering of other small businesses. The majority of the town is made up of older homes. It's a great mix of retirees, young families and middle-class empty nesters. Many of the towns in our area are completely dependent on one industry or another. Most of which have, or are going belly up. We are luckier then most as we are fairly close to several larger towns, all of which still have a decent amount of jobs and economic stability. That being said, our little piece of heaven is still having issues. Homes sit on the market, people are being laid off, businesses are having to cut back and times are getting tough.

Two years ago or so, our city council decided we needed a sewer. Now, this idea has been batted around for YEARS. Literally as long as I can remember. There hasn't been a need for one. We have no 'big business' or fast food places that would require one. And the city limits haven't changed in years (probably more then a decade). Regardless, the almighty City Council decided that we silly citizens need a sewer system.

I'm unsure of the politics behind this, I'll be honest. I don't understand how the city council (4 people) can just decide to do a project so large as this. I figure if the whole city votes on a school levy, why don't they vote on town improvement issues? Also, instead of a levy type system where the cost is added over time, it was decreed (I can't with good conscience say decided) that each property would have a one time hefty 'deposit' to offset the cost to the city.

Fast forward a year. Construction begins, and slowly but surely every road in town in torn to pieces, patched badly and start growing potholes like weeds. Everyone is annoyed, but it's not like you can boycott a construction zone when it's the only route home.

Fast forward another year. Construction is almost complete. The roads are still a wreck, and aren't being fixed because every penny the town has is going into the sewer. I live in a duplex, which is owned by my friend's grandfather. He warned me when I moved in last fall that he was unsure about how they were going to do the sewer system for the house, and that he might have to raise the rent a little. He explained that even though the duplex was on one septic tank currently, the city was possibly going to charge him twice for the property since it's technically two residences.

Last week, I got a letter in the mail from my landlord saying he was indeed raising the rent. It only went up a small portion ($25) and since I was forewarned I wasn't upset. May and David (my neighbors and the owners grandson and wife respectively) also got the same notice, and were apparently a bit surprised. Last night, BD (my friend and David's brother) had come over for dinner, and David and May ended up joining us. The discussion turned to the rent raise, and subsequently to the town sewer project. May apparently hadn't understood fully that the rent was going up because of the sewer deposits. BD had recently spoken to his grandpa (who owns the property) and so he knew the amount his grandfather would have to be paying. $4800. That staggered me. The city did charge him for two residences, so their grandpa is paying a combined amount of $9600. When I heard that you can bet I was thanking my lucky starts my rent had only gone up $25.

BD mentioned it must be very hard on the people, seeing as most people don't exactly have the kind of money hiding under the couch cushions. May, who works in the mortgage portion of a large bank, mentioned that the week previously a co-worker had mentioned an elderly couple from the community who had gone to the bank for a reverse mortgage on their home. They purchased it in the 50's, and had it paid off in the 70's. Because they were on a fixed income and couldn't afford the deposit, they were being forced to borrow on their home to pay the city.

We all wondered what would happen should someone be unable to pay the deposit, and if they had a choice in hooking up to the system, but none of us knew. This morning as I made my rounds through town on my way to work (Grocer, coffee shop, gas station) I made it a point to ask what people thought. I was shocked by the responses. Everyone I encountered was going to have to do something drastic to get this money by June 1st. Most were re-financing their homes, a few were taking from 401K or stocks. No one had the money. No one. There is no way to 'opt out' of the new system, and if you don't pay, well... the city puts a lien of your house. Simple enough for the city I suppose.

I really can't get my mind around this. The city has functioned just fine without a sewer system so far. Instead they are doing it regardless of need or cost to people who can't afford it, many of whom are already struggling, on unemployment or a fixed income. If it made any sense to add this, I would probably be in favor of it. It isn't bringing a single thing to our community. Na-da.

I just don't get it.

Free stuff

Free stuff is always good, right? Well I found a way to get really cool free stuff and all I have to do is tell people about it. It's called Buzzagent. You start off with smaller things, (my first two campaigns were sunscreen and insect repellent) and as you work your way up the ladder, you get cooler things. All you have to do is tell people about the products you are trying and report back to the company what you said and what reaction you got. You don't have to give any names so everyone can remain anonymous. You will also get coupons or samples to give away to friends and family. You take surveys that serve two purposes. It allows the company to tailor the offers they give you to your lifestyle and it earns you points to work your way up the ladder. Check it out, its pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You have got to be joking!

So y'all know my great feelings about Melissa Huckaby. If she did what she is accused of she needs to fry. Well in my obsessive news checking I found a new article on this thing. (Woman is too kind let alone calling her a person.) Murder suspect linked to another abduction. Seriously? She was under suspicion of drugging and taking another little girl. Had they prosecuted on this then Sandra Cantu might still be alive. I am so in shock and flabbergasted.

Quote of the Day

"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."


-Erma Bombeck

RIP Little Lettuce

I already killed 3 of my 4 lettuce plants. In only 48 hours. That must be some sort of record.

I'm hoping it's just shock from the transplant, because the last lettuce soldier appears to be quite happy. Of course that was this morning, it could very well be dead by the time I get home.

Your time on the Earth was short, little lettuce starters. But do not be sad, for tomorrow you shall be compost.

So during one of my many midnight mind wanderings.....

I had a thought about essentials we will need should the worst happen and all our self-reliance skills be put to the test. I realized I hear a lot about precious metals, foods, weapons, a home with the ability to power itself. We talk of ways to can, to prep meat, to provide for our families in needful times. One necessity I have yet to get much detail on is clothing! If stores have failed or become super expensive how will we get clothes? So I have decided part of my survival storage will be a good amount of durable, easily dyable material, basic clothing patterns, and oodles of needles and thread and buttons. I really don't want to have a huge supply of ammo but have to go hunting naked because I thought nothing about providing clothing for my family. I'll let you guys know what fabrics I found that seem to suit best and are easy to sew. Luckily I have an infant so my first forays into sew from scratch can be tiny clothes!

I don't care if it's small, it's still a garden.

Alright, alright. It's 3 planters. But they are BIG planters. Kind of. Whatever, it's my garden so shush.

This weekend I went to one of the big box stores (which I'm starting to hate a little to be honest) because I wanted to pick up the compost bin my sister had recommended to me (but that's another blog). Since I was there anyway, I decided to pilfer through their gardening section and see what I could find. I had a basic list of what I wanted: Planters, potting soil, watering can, yata yata.

I ended up buying 5 planters. 1 large deep round one (for my carrots) 2 medium long ones, and 2 smaller long style ones. I also bought 2 bags of potting soil (one organic compost, one Miracle Grow. Normally I would have stuck with organic but I need all the help I can get). I also bought a trowel and some gloves. I looked at buying watering cans, but couldn't find one under $15, so I scraped the Norman Rockwell picture in my head of me watering plants while the boy plays with a puppy in the background. Instead I bought one of those 42 level hose nozzles and called it odds and evens.

I got home, lugged the bags of potting soil (soooo heavy) out of my trunk and got to work. I ended up filling the tall round pot, and one each of the long pots. I tried to mix the soil about 50/50, but with the Miracle Grow most concentrated on the top and tapering off towards the bottom. Gracie recommended I put gravel or sand in the bottom to help with moisture control, but I didn't have any, and I was impatient. So if they all die, this is an official disclaimer that she told me so.

The carrots went in the tall round, since Gracie and I discussed it and we figured they need lots of 'down' and less 'out'. In the larger long planter I put in the onions and my lettuce. I don't think it'll be big enough for ever, but I plan to move one species over to the other pot in a couple weeks. The small planter is the home of my chives, sage and English thyme.

They all need full sun (at least for Spring) so I have them in the front of my house where I have the most sunlight. So my little garden is tentatively up and running.

Here goes nothing.

Name This Flower

This poor little flower has randomly sprouted in the beds next to my house, and I have no idea what it is.

Anyone?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sometimes being prepared means throwing something away.

Yup, you read right. Throw it away!! Now I know you are wondering what on earth I, a self-proclaimed survivalist blogger, would tell you to throw out huh? Throw out what you don't use. Seriously if you have an ice tea maker (guilty as charged) that hasn't been used in years, get rid of it. That space is much better with something you will use like that gorgeous new canner! My new rule is going to be that if I have not used it in a year it is going to goodwill. Let someone who will use it gain some use out of it.

I am getting rid of my George Foreman grill. I love it and it works great, when I only had the Hubs and I or the Hubs, Bug, and I to cook for. Now I cook for at least 6 people a night so the itty bitty grill makes cooking take longer rather than being a helpful tool. The ice tea maker is going too. I actually prefer sun tea anyway and since I am moving to a desert I will get pleanty of sun to make it with.

Also I know I keep clothes for way too long. If it has not been worn in ages and the fabric can't be used for scraps then donate it. Someone else can get some use, you get a tax write off, and you make room in your closet.

So declutter, make room for the things you use and need and trust me you will feel better too!

topsey turvey

I ordered a couple of these things online a week or so back. Of course the next day I find them at our local Walmart, go figure. Anyway they came in the mail and today I bought two tomato plants to put in them. It's pretty simple to set up and get going. We will see how well the tomatoes do. You get three basic parts; the topsey turvey itself (going to refer to it as TT), and two pieces that will form the lid.





You are supposed to use seedling plants but of course I was impatient and bought plants that were almost grown. I had to gather the leaves and gently push them through the opening in the bottom of the TT. I did good and only broke one branch on the biggest plant. You then add the dirt. I found that the 8qt bag fills the TT almost to the recommended depth.



Use the hook they sent with it or something equally strong. It gets HEAVY at this point. Put the green ring part of the lid on the top and line up the wire hangers in the slots. (If you buy this you will understand) Hang the TT and put the other lid part on lining up the slots with the slots on the ring part. Congratulations! You have an upside down garden!




Attack of the Dilly Beans

So I picked up about 2.5 lbs of Green Beans on Friday and decided to make my first attempt at pickling. Or pickling of sorts anyway. A friend had suggested I make pickled green beans, aka Dilly Beans. It seems fairly simple, and in actuality it was. I found two different recipes, and they seem about the same, except they used different amount of beans, and one called for mustard seed (which I didn't have anyway). Of course, I had an amount that was between the two recipes (seriously, I can't win with this stuff) but since either way it involved doing a raw pack (putting the raw stuffs in the jar and covering with a syrup or brine) I figured I would just make a little bit more then I'd need, and then I wouldn't be short.

I trimmed and cut the beans, getting rid of any with bad spots or wilted bits (During this, I also had my jars heating on the stove). I started my brine mixture (water, vinegar and canning salt) pulled out the hot jars, but let the lids in my hot water. I packed the jars, adding a clove (or two if they were small) a few sprigs of dill and packed the green beans in on top. When the brine was ready I ladled it into the jars, popped on the hot lids (fresh from the hot water, and yes I usually burn my fingers) and screwed them down with the jar bands.


I hadn't ever used my canner as a water boiler before, so I called Gracie in a panic early in this process. She talked me down, and so I had a good idea had to do it before I started. I had the canner already heating up with an ungodly amount of water in it on the stove, and once the water hit 140 degrees (I just use a candy thermometer) I put my cans of beans in. Let it heat to a "rigorous boil" per my canner's booklet, boiled for the allotted time, and pulled the beans out of the hot water, shoving them in my usual corner to cool.

They seem to have turned out great! I haven't tried any yet (I'm letting them 'stew' for bit to really season). The only thing I'm a little perturbed about is the shrinkage of the beans themselves. I shoved the cans full, yet I always seem to get a .5-1 inch of space once they are heated and sealed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Made an offer!!

We made an offer on a house we love. One thing I am discovering in this process is that I am terrified and excited all at the same time. This is the start of a wonderful chapter in our adult lives. It is absolutely time to make this leap. It also is the start of huge responsibility. If the dish washer breaks we have to fix it. I love that we will have something beautiful to show for all of Hub's hard work. It is way past time for him to feel like the money he earns goes to something fun and beautiful and all ours. I am excited to have a place for the girls to play. I am excited to have more than one bathroom! I am excited for not hearing stomping above our heads at all hours of the night. I am so excited for actually using my closet to store clothes rather than tools and Christmas decor and books! I am terrified. Have you noticed how expensive a good water heater is? And window treatments and paint colors and flooring. Appliances can knock you on your tail. We need this step and this journey into home ownership. Wish us luck!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Year round vrs 9-month schools!

So I am thinking I found a house, though so much remains in the air. Gorgeous with a great layout for us and the kiddos. Nice location. So I decided to look at the schools whose boundaries we would fall into. One is a dual language program. They teach all grades in Spanish and English. The other is a normal program with values I really like. Both are year round. Where we currently are is a 9-month calendar. On one hand I like the thought of year round especially because my eldest is struggling a little with her reading so it would not give her a chance to forget everything. On the other I am worried she will feel overwhelmed with no major time off. I just don't know. I mean most schools are on this year program so we will have to do it and the schools we are closest too are some of the top rated in the state so that's a great thing. I just hope that it works for us. Any dear readers have experience with year round schools? Let me know what you thought about it.

Quote of the Day

"If you want to learn how to build a house, build a house. Don't ask anybody, just build a house"

-Christopher Walken

Find the hope!

So once again the all to common news article has appeared about a parent killing their children, spouse, and then themselves due to money worries. We have been hearing about so many who have lost all hope and resorted to death to leave their worries behind.

Granted I know how money worries can cast a dark shadow over life. I know how it feels to wonder where the next paycheck was coming from. Luckily we have remained fairly steady through this downward economic time. We lost about half of the hub's retirement fund but we are young enough to be able to bounce back probably. Hubs has remained employed and we are moving and able to use the housing trend to purchase our own first home. However we had some very very lean years in the beginning. Where Hubs worked 2 jobs and I worked 1. Never though did the hope fade that we would be able to make a better life for us and our children.

The biggest problem with the current economical trend is that so many are loosing their hope. Hope is the one thing that can get us through rough times. This will pass, a new day will dawn, we will recover. We will learn from this and make better choices in the future. We can and will be okay!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The joys of herbs!

So I am thinking once we make this long move of ours about setting up some herb boxes. I want the ones I use a lot, like basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and such but I think I also want some that are more medicinal. Like allspice is great for the common cold, or aloe that is used for many things besides sunburns. I think that knowing more about herbs and knowing different ways to use them medicinally is a good thing for any family working on preparedness.

What are your favorite herbs for food or for medicine?

Bacon made Comedy? My life is complete.

I haven't hidden my immense love for bacon. In fact, I practically shout it from the rooftops. I found this video on a bacon blog (yeah, they really exist I swear!) and had to post it.

Quote of the Day

Hubs - I am not a Republican and sure as hell not Democrat. What does that make me?

Lila - American!

*Discussion after we watched more political coverage on CNN.

Here's an idea....

Don't use PROPANE inside your HOUSE.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Funny

Funny#1 Pictures, Images and Photos

Obama........ Devil or Savior?

So there are many opinions about our president. To some he is the savior of the world. He will fix all our financial woes, help our jobs and families, and grant us eternal life. To others he is the devil. He is going to strip us of our rights, torture the poor, turn us communist, and leave us all to live in the wilderness as we get nuked for having a black president.

I think both sides are plum crazy. Obama is a man. He is a man with a huge job ahead of him and the weight of a nation on his shoulders. I didn't vote for him BUT I stand behind him 100%. I think he wants what is best for our families, our livelihoods, and our nation. To expect miracles is a bit much as is expecting the Apocalypse to occur just because he is the president. We need to give him the chance to do his job. Analyzing the first 100 days for hours on end accomplishes nothing. Seriously give the man a break, he is only human. Yes his mistakes and triumphs will impact all of us but until you do the job you don't get to assume you can do it better.

Is it Spring yet?

I know that it's April, but since Gracie and I have both had snow in the last week (stupid weather gods!) I really haven't been able to get a decent jump on the garden or anything remotely outside-ish. This weekend I plan on getting the composter my sister showed me, hopefully plant my starters from the Farmer's Market last weekend, and doing some (more) canning.

One good thing about staying around the area you grew up (especially when it's a very small town) is you know everybody. Seriously. Today I stopped at the grocery store because I wanted to can something besides strawberries and apples. I happened to have gone to school with one of the guys who works in the fruits and veggies and he told me that they had just gotten an excellent batch of green beans. I grabbed a bunch of those (it's probably several pounds to be honest) and also some baby dill. I actually found a mix of pickle spices also, so I'll probably try some with fresh herbs and some with the seasoning.

Once again, I will try and keep you up to date on my adventures and please, keep your fingers crossed for me.

Meatloaf by Lila

Since Ms. Maggy did such an awesome side dish I figured I would complete your meal with a main dish. Yup you read right. Meatloaf! That oft dreaded creation people suddenly have to work late to avoid. Happens to be a favorite in my house. It gets devoured. I never have left overs. Now I am currently cooking for about 7 people usually but I'll give the recipe to happily feed 4 here.

Set oven to 350. You want 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, Place in bowl. Add 1 egg, some garlic salt, season salt, Mrs. Dash or what ever favorite seasonings you like. Add 2 pieces toast (Yes actually toast 2 pieces of bread) pulled into small pieces. Mash it all together. I use my hands but I am sure a potato masher would work. Get out a glass baking pan. I use the square for this amount. place meat mixture into the pan and make a loaf shape. I usually make mine about 3-4 inches thick. Coat loaf with ketchup. Stick in heated oven for 45 minutes and then check by cutting into the center. Thicker obviously takes longer, thinner will be shorter so check it sooner if needed. Great with Mag's potatoes and green beans!!

Also the same mixture can be used to make delectable meatballs. Instead of baking simply roll into balls about 2 or 3 inches round. Melt butter in a skillet and brown the balls. Drain grease and add 1 regular can diced tomato, 1 can water, 2 cubes beef bullion, a table spoon sugar, seasonings you like. (I use a regular Italian blend) Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. Awesome over egg noodles!!

Potatoes O'Maggy

This recipe is great for those potatoes you just aren't quite sure about. When you can't tell for sure if they are still good, or whether they are officially supporting other life. This is a bit more involved then your regular fried potatoes, but they are worth it, and can even streach from dinner to breakfast.

I wash and peel the potatoes, then dice them into roughly 1/2 inch chunks. These don't have to be perfect, trust me. Place them in a mixing bowl lightly coat with oil and toss lightly with salt, pepper or any other spices you like. I usually use rosemary, or skip the salt and pepper altogether and use Johnny's Seasoning Salt. Dice 1/2 a large white onion, and peel 5-8 cloves of garlic, and add these to my potato mix. Also cut 4-6 slices of bacon into chucks, and cook then set aside.

I pour the whole shebang into a casserole pan (size depends on how many I'm feeding) cover with tin foil, and bake in the oven for about an hour at 350 (check and stir around every 15 mins or so) in the last fifteen minutes, add in the bacon and leave off the foil to get some color on the tots. This goes great with a steak or pork chops. It can basically substitute for any other potato-ish side with dinner.

I almost always have left overs from this (as I'm physically incapable of cooking for 1 or 2 people) so I will save the remnants and grab them out in the morning. Simply throw them in a sautee or cast iron pan over medium to medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of oil (if you're like me, and seem to pick out a lot of the bacon bits before you re-cook it, you might want to add more. Sausage also goes great in this). Once the potatoes have brown and have a nice crisp you have a couple options. You can serve them straight up with the usual breakfast subjects ala Potatoes O'Maggy, or you can make what I like to call a Leftover Scramble.

For a Leftover Scramble you need either a cast iron or over safe pan (trust me on this) and if you do use an oven safe pan, I highly recommend you use a fry pan or skillet. Otherwise you risk make a scrabble-mess, and having sad face because you don't have breakfast. Heat your oven to 350, and simply pour a plain scrambled egg mixture (I use 2 eggs per person. 3 if I know they are a big eater) directly over the potatoes in the hot pan. I also occasionally add green onions or cheese (or both) into the egg batter, and it makes it very very yummy and adds some texture and color. Allow to bake approx. 15-25 min depending on the amount of eggs you add. And please be sure it's throughly cooked before you remove it from the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I think it's a good thing that there are bloggers out there watching very closely and holding people accountable. Everyone in the news should be able to hold up to that kind of scrutiny. I'm for as much transparency in the newsgathering process as possible"

-Anderson Cooper

Holy Home Compost, Batman!

My sister sent me an email last night with the subject "I think you need this". This could have included many things at this point; some sort of kitchen device, a baby chick, maybe anti-psychotics? Instead I was delight to see a picture of a home compost bin and the words"You can make your own dirt!".

The really sad part is, I honestly got really excited. I've been looking into home composting for awhile, and just hadn't found anything practical yet. Like I've said many times before, I'm on a limited budget, so spending $300 on a home version just isn't in the cards (regardless of it being $50 off).

The version my sister sent me appears to be a Keter 120 Gallon Composter. That is an optimum size for me, and a great price (about $60-70). I really didn't have a ton of organic scraps when I started this adventure. But now that I'm canning and cooking almost exclusively at home, I'm starting to get a good size pile (and right now that's what it is, discreetly hidden under a tree in my side yard). I'm going to head to the local big box store where she saw it this weekend, and depending on my paycheck this week, I might make the investment. I was also thinking about getting a kitchen bucket because well, I'm lazy. I don't want to have to run out to the big bin every time I have a handful of scraps.

Hopefully this works and doesn't just turn into a pile of rotting gross.

Seriously people......

knock this crap off.

I saw this wonderful story on my yahoo headlines. Child abuse spikes as U.S. economy flounders.
My goodness people!! Life right now is tough for a lot of people. Jobs are scarce, money gets tighter every day, hopelessness abounds. I understand the stress of that. The worry of 'Will I be able to provide for my family this week?'. No longer do we take our 401k for granted as we watched half of it disappear. No longer does the adjustable rate mortgage sound like a good idea. Life has changed. That is no reason to take out a fear or frustration on the children. They are our future. They are the reason we fight to get our economy back. They are the reason we work where ever we can even if it sucks or is below us. You can bet your butt I would be working in fast food if needed. Please remember there is hope always. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always and end to the rough patches in our life!

Homebuying with a twist.

So we are currently looking for a house to buy. Looking at listings, checking locations and schools and neighborhoods. The twist is I am doing it all from well over 1000 miles away. Luckily I have trusted people close enough to the area to actually view the houses for me but I have to say buying a house sight unseen is a bit nerve wracking. Add that I have some important things on my list of needs and it is down right terrifying. Being all preparedness minded means I want space enough for decent food storage, an area to at least have some herb boxes if not a few more things. Ideally I would have a full garden but when in the desert not a lot grows there bountifully. I want a house that I can easily, if slowly, make as energy efficient as possible and that has space for a generator to be added. I have narrowed it to a couple options. My peeps will check them out top to bottom with tons of pictures. They will also do a basic inspection for me so we can be as informed as possible. Wish us luck!!

Quote of the Day

"You know what I was thinking? We should... *loud noises* Crap, I just fell off the treadmill!"

-Gracie via cell phone

(She's no longer allowed to walk and think at the same time)

What has happened to society?

First off let me tell you, its still snowing here. We have somewhere in the area of three feet of snow. Now yesterday when it was really snowing hard, my neice got into a roll over accident with her family. Thank goodness everyone is ok. But here's what really pisses me off. There they are on the side of the road trying to get their toddler and baby out of the wreckage of their totalled vehicle and NO ONE STOPS!!! They used their cell phone to call 911 but while they waited for police and ambulances to get there, cars sped by; drivers staring. Finally someone from church spots them and pulls over. By this time there is nothing for him to do but give them a chance to warm up before going to the hospital. Wait..this gets even better. At the hospital, the dr askes what happened. They tell him they were in a roll over...... Are you ready for this?......The dr says "Oh, are you the ones that were just down the road here?" HE PASSED BY THEM TOO!!! What is wrong with the world today that people can drive by a family (with BABIES) stranded on the road in a snowstorm? Especially when its obvious they were just in a wreck. We live in a rushed, uncompassionate, uncaring world. I didn't believe that we as a society were this bad untill yesterday. It just makes me sad to think about how people are too busy to help each other anymore.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quote of the Day

Ryan the 2L: I love it

Maggy: Teabagging or Tea Parties?

Ryan the 2L: Both

Armed and fabulous.

So recently we started our gun collection. My husband almost died from joy when I not only said yes to buying weapons but gave him a higher monetary number than he expected. So we bought 4 weapons. A .308 which my husband is in heaven over. I think if we had a fire he would grab the girls with one arm and the .308 with the other. We scoped it and I think it makes him drool seeing the red, green, or black crosshairs, lol. We also bought a .17. I have been told that this one will be easier for me to handle as I am 5'4" and more lower body strength from my ballet days. We bought me a .40 for personal protection. I haven't been out to shoot it yet but the Hubs lovs it and I like how small and manageable it is. Our 4th is another drool worthy gun in the Hubs eyes as it is known as the Judge. It is a .45 Long Colt. I have never seen a revolver with a barrel like this. Talk about scary. Plus at 5 lbs it isn't nearly as light as my .40. We bought a few hundred rounds for each gun as well.

Now this is only the start of the collection. I want a 9 mm for my conceal carry weapon. We want a few shotguns, probably a rifle for me, and a semi-auto for Hubs at the very least. I also recommend something not requiring ammo. We have a compound bow for that reason. We will probably buy me a bow as well so that I have something I can pull. Hubs' bow takes a bit more strength than I have.

Global Warming my butt!!!

I have a glacier growing on my front porch! It started snowing sometime last night and it is still coming down. Last I checked we had almost a foot of snow. These pictures were taken a few hours ago.

The snow now covers the motor on the mower. I am ready to move somewhere tropical!

The Spatula To End All Spatulas


Anyone who cooks regularly has faced the same dilemma. I like to call this Why-did-I-buy-this-piece-of-crap-itis. Everyone has that one kitchen utensil that they hate. My personal bane is the Spatula. I've had a bazillion of them; some melted (oops) some warped, some cracked and flecked (ew). On the beginning road of my canning adventure, I went to a kitchen store with my sister looking for non-reactive things for my jamming and pickling. I wanted a small spatula for tapping out bubbles, and anything I might need.

My sister shoved me past the regular culprits and tossed one of these in my hand. I don't remember her exact comment, but it was something along the lines of "I know this is kind of expensive, but seriously it's worth it. You won't regret it." I took it home, shoved it in the back of my utensil drawer with the rest of the useless spatulas. A few days ago, I needed to scrap an awkward size bowl and reached in the drawer, fished around blindly and pulled it back out. I'm sure I shrugged (or at least my brain did) and I went to scraping. It works like magic! It got out seriously every last drop. Then when I made the snicker doodles, I used it to mix the dough, and it worked amazing again. The tip is just flexible enough to allow you to scrape everything (Seriously, this thing is like a window squeegee) but it's stiff enough to use as a mixing spoon.

Highly, highly recommended from Maggie. Buy one, it's worth it!

Wow, the French are good for more then food!

The French Navy tracked Somalia pirates through the night after they attacked a ship called Safmarine Asia, and captured them at dawn.

The pirates also attacked another US vessel called the Liberty Sun, which was taken humanitarian aid to Kenya. They attacked using RPG's and small arms fire, but despite having 14 boats of armed men, were unable to board.

One of the lead pirates justified the upscale of attacks on US and French vessels by saying that "The U.S. and French governments should know this because they started the aggression on us."

I'm sorry, Pirate say what? We started what aggression? Last time I check you attacked two of our ships carrying humanitarian aid to your countries! God forbid we feed you starving kids.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Death!!!!!

Okay so I am definitely a lover not a fighter but sometimes..... While this opinion will earn me flack I am sure, I happen to be for the death penalty.

The prosecutors in the Casey Anthony murder trial have finally grown a pair and decided to pursue the death penalty. I think it is about dang time. Any one who kills a child whether their own or another should not be allowed to breath. Harsh, sure, even cruel probably. Children are the only innocents left in the world and they darn well deserve some old fashioned justice.

I hope they pursue the death penalty in the Melissa Huckaby case. As soon as they included the 'rape by instrument' charge I decided I would happily volunteer to flip the switch.

I think honestly serial child rapists and child murderers should be automatic capital cases. I am all about forgiveness and growth and chances, I really am, but some circumstances just do not deserve forgiveness.

Time to introduce the amazing awesome splendid....... yeah you get the point!

Hehehe. Not to toot my own horn or anything. I'm Lila! 2 daughters, a husband I adore and a smattering of family that I take care of pretty much fills my days. Gracie and Maggy are my besties and totally help keep me sane. I tend to be the sunshine of the three of us much to the other girls annoyance or joy depending on the day. While Gracie and Mags are focusing on food my areas of prepardness prep right now are weapons and money money money. The food will come once I have a house rather than this small apartment. We are moving over 1000 miles soon so the house is coming! I am a liberal mormon. Yup I know... total oxymoron, but true! I am a bit of a nut and dance to the music in my head most days. Any other info you want to know just ask and I am happy to answer.

Introducing Lila!

We are going to have another author on our blog! Lila is an amazing friend of Gracie and I's, and she will be a great addition to the blog. I don't want to spill too many beans about her, so I'll let her tell you herself when she gets the chance.

My Personal Food Storage Battle

The more things I'm doing on my own (in a self-reliance manner) when it comes to cooking, canning, and eating seasonally, the more issues I'm having with my pantry. Every time I buy something new, be it bread flour, regular flour, huge amounts of sugar, salt, etc. the more space I'm having to find. And frankly it's space I don't really have.

I'm lucky in a couple ways. My current living situation has an attached garage, and due to some previous tenants (not sure which ones to thank, but the thanks is there) there is an abundance of shelving that is perfect for storage. And must of it is off the ground which seriously cuts down on potential bad things from creepy crawlers and furred invaders.

I'm unlucky in that seeing as that place I live is older, but not old enough to be of the "make everything yourself days" I don't have a ton of inside the house storage space. I would honestly kill someone (or at least do physical harm) for a walk-in pantry. I like my food where I can see it. And lately since I know I'm going to need large amounts of the basics (see above list of recent purchases) I need to consolidate my wares.

So not only do I need useful small storage, but I need large storage containers that I can have be not only airtight, but also accessible. I want to be able to rotate my storage through my kitchen,a and I'm really only feeding two people so having huge containers of food just isn't justifiable.

Gracie posted about food storage before and since I'm lucky enough to have her as my own personal guru, I've gotten quite a bit of help. But I've moved from the "what might I need" to "what should I get", and Gracie sadly can't just pick a few things and I buy them. I've been cruising a couple sites, and most of them seem to like the Snapware line of products. I've found some for a good price on Amazon.com that I like a lot. As a single mom, I can't go blow a couple of hundred bucks on stuff. I'm going to have to buy in bits and pieces.

Anyone have any recommendations for brands they use and like, or any to stay away from?

How to F'Up some Pirates: The Videos

CNN has two great videos out about the Pirate Attacks in Somalia (which 4 more ships have been captured since my last post; One was Greek, and one was Lebanese-flagged Togo, 2 were small Egyptian fishing vessels). This video is an interview with Vice Admiral Gortney, Commander of the US Navy Fifth Fleet. He describes some of the tactics and choice made in regards to the rescue of Captain Phillips.

This is pretty interesting to me as a (former) Army wife, since the Navy hasn't had a huge jump on the action in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one freak out, I'm not saying they haven't done anything, it's just a little complicated when the war being fought is well... in a desert. And it's high time for the Navy to F*up some Pirates. The biggest parts of this are going to be Government support (which I think it has) and Public support (which I also think it has). Once the public is up in arms, it's very very very hard to ignore on the government level. Especially if you like your job, it pays to listen to the people.

The second video is a legal analysis on what to do with the captured Somali Pirate, who according to reports has been singing like a canary on a US Navy Vessel. I'll leave the complicated stuff to Ryan the 2L, since it's his specialty but I gleaned from it that basically we have him in military custody and we don't have to return him to anyone under international law. We do however, have a treaty with Kenya and it's possible he will be handed over to them. And I'm pretty sure Kenya might actually do something justified to him.

I'm personally in a complicated spot in this. I'm not a fan of "shoot first, ask questions later" as a general rule of warfare. BUT Ex-hole spent a large chunk of our marriage in Iraq, and many of our friends didn't come home because both sides in a war don't have to play by the same rules. I think if you're a damn pirate, you shouldn't expect to be given any sort of pause. When you kill people and hijack their shit for a living, you have to understand it may not look so good should you be caught.

At the same time, I don't know if it's possible for the US to declare "war" on the Pirates. We obviously can't declare war on Somalia (the entire country isn't behind this after all), but what can we do should this escalate further?

I guess we'll have to see.

Update: I just saw this article, and it looks like the Pentagon is planning some small special ops forays into Somalia and the Pirate strongholds. Game on!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend Recap

The Boy and I went to town for our (now) weekly farmer's market trip, and I spent a few dollars more then last week but I'm not too shocked or surprised. I got more apples, including a hybrid breed called CrispGlo which are amazing! Seriously, if you can get your paws on some of these DO IT. The Boy is very picky about his apples (like his mama, he's a Cameo guy) but I had to hid these so I could use some of them for oh I don't know, cooking?!

My friend who is helping me with a little garden, and oh so kindly donating both land and work, should be finished up with the roto-tilling soon. Since he's putting in so much initial work, I offered to deal with some of the starts and things. I talked to one of the nursery owners, and settled on buying some starts. We are now the proud owners of carrots, lettuce, yellow Spanish onions, thyme, sage and chives. I'm probably forgetting something, but you get the gist.

I also bought some more Irises, and this bunch has the slightest tinge of blue and purples and might be prettier then the last. I made some of the apples into (yet more) apple butter, and tomorrow I'm going to take a shot at Apple Pie Filling. I would have attempted it today, but I didn't have nutmeg. And despite my protest that I think nutmeg is useless (mostly because I didn't have any) Gracie swore I need some or it wouldn't really taste right.

And today was also a bit of a celebration! Ryan the 2L and I have finished our Lent Fast and both managed to lose the 10% total weight loss bet. I still 'won' by 4% overall, but I don't think Ryan wants to admit it. Since today was the first real day I could eat 'whatever' I wanted, you can imagine I've been thinking it over for awhile. But this organic, self-sustaining thing is getting to me a bit and I couldn't force myself through the McDonald's drive-though. Or Jack in the Box. Or Taco Bell. And yes, a little piece of my soul died with it.

Instead, the Boy and I made Snickerdoodles! I found a pretty easy recipe on RecipeZaar and they came out gorgeous! The Boy had a ton of fun rolling the dough in the cinnamon mix, and they smelled like heaven coming out of the oven. The recipe is pretty easy, and luckily I could involve the Boy with little to no mess.

Jack Sparrow never would have been this stupid.

Ryan the 2L over at TSLRF wrote a great blog on how the Pirates are responding to the rescue of the American Captain yesterday off the Somali Coast.

Check it out.

How did I miss this?!

Saturday, my dad kindly agreed to watch the boy so I could grab some Easter treats. I didn't get much as I plan on making some cookies and things tonight, instead of feeding him an insane amount of jellybeans or the like. I like him calm and low in sugar (and frankly I'm sick of scraping him off the ceiling after every holiday).

When I went to pick him up, I noticed a magazine sitting on the table. I glanced at the cover and was a bit confused. Grizzly looking guy, snowy cabin, big husky... and the words The Back Woodsmen. I snagged it and settled down to breeze through it real quick, and instead spent about 45 minutes going through every word. It had a wide variety of topics, from how to spot native fruit trees to how to make bottle cap candles.

According to my dad the magazine has been laying around his house since January. I don't believe him because I know my current domestic insanity would have led me to something like this like a homing beacon.

I have to say, I'm already in love. It's very no nonsense writing and editing, and you can tell these guys know their stuff. Nothing is horribly impractical, even for someone who is a newbie to survivalist things like me. You can find them online at backwoodsmanmag.com, with articles from the current issues, a merchandise store and other recommendations for books and things.

You can order the magazine online (much to my happiness) and subscription is insanely cheap (respectively) at $23 a year, $44 for 2 years or $250 for a lifetime subscription. It does take 6-8 weeks for your subscription to come, but the magazine is bi-monthly. I ordered both a year subscription and the March/April issue (back issues are $5 each). I'm really excited about this new addition to my reading, and I'm sure I will try some of them for your enjoyment.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thank you, US Navy Seals

The Captain of the Maersk Alabama, who gave himself as a hostage in place of his crew, was rescued from a lifeboat where he has floated for days with Somali Pirates. This has been going on for days (in case you've been living in a hole) and I'm sure everyone is thankful he is alive and safe.

I hope these attacks can be quelled, but well, I doubt much will be done by anyone seeing as no one has really tried yet. Except the French. But well... yeah.

If I were a Rich Girl: Kitchen List

This is a completely random and irrational list of things I would have in my kitchen, should one of those "obscure relative dies and leaves you loads of cash" emails come to fruit. Otherwise, well, I'm a cheapskate.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer
: Even if I had a million dollars, I refuse to spend an extra $150 to get it in lime green. I'm pretty fine with hand mixing (builds the biceps) but considering I'm doing this on my own, it gets a bit tedious when trying to do 5 things at once. I can't say I'd mind having this take some of the load off.

Atlas Pasta Maker: I've tried to hand roll pasta in the past, and even made a fairly decent batch of ravioli's once. BUT I don't not have the patience or practice to make it paper-thin like you need to really have it work well. I'd love to be able to make whole grain pasta, and spinach pasta on my own. *Note: I'll probably cave and buy a smaller, cheaper one eventually*

KitchenAid Food Processor: This particular one is twelve cups, and I'd probably actually lean a bit smaller for just me and the Boy. Once again, this is something I don't need but it would be a nice little splurge it I could afford it.

Le Creuset French Oven: (Excuse me while I wipe off my drool) This is numbero uno on my list! It cooks everything, does everything and I want it. I want it yesterday. Actually, scratch that just get me the 6-piece set. I'll take that in yellow, thanks.

Cuisineart Ice Cream Maker: My parents have an automatic ice cream maker, but it seriously makes about a pint of ice cream. You stare and stare and stare all day, and in the end you get two bits. This one makes 2 qts. which is enough for a big get-together, or to freeze for later. On a more realistic note. Ex-Holes family has one of these which are actually a lot of fun. The kids spent a bit rolling it around in the grass (rolling, no soccer) and poof! Ice Cream.

Belgian Waffle Maker: Once again, I'd be more then happy with a little cheaper one like this but if I was splurging I want one of the cool flippity ones. Waffles are a big deal around our house come breakfast. If I whip out the waffle iron, I'm practically beating the Boy off and trying to keep as many waffles as I can away from him at least until they get to the table. Right now I have the standard square waffle iron, and well, I like Belgian waffles more.

For Grills I would take both the Weber Genesis and regular Weber Charcoal Grill. I love the taste of a charcoal grill, nothing beats it. But sometimes you can fight the ease and stability of propane. Oh, and ah, throw in a EGG Smoker while your at it.

I think that's about it, but I'll probably think of a ton more once I post this.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

"A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows."

-Doug Larson, columnist

storage solutions

We want to have more food storage, we really do. Problem is, where do we put it? I have a pantry full of food, but I have three growing boys who keep raiding it. I have one small cupboard that is full of food storage but we really dont have anywhere near enough. I think I am going to have to start putting some of the cans under the bed. Any solutions to my storage dilemma was totally welcome.
I love, love, love the shelf reliance system, I just don't have any place to put it. This is the coolest thing, it rotates the cans just like at the grocery store. I think we are going to have to clear out a place in the garage and install one. They even have stratch and dent sales! How cool is that? I know I can get my hands on plans to build something similar, I just have to ask the right people. More on this as I find info.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter!

Seeing as this weekend is Easter weekend, I doubt Gracie or I will be around too much. I'll try to check in from time to time, but I'm going to be pretty well booked with family and various celebrations. We both have some auto-posts ready to go so you won't be completely abandoned, but we won't be up on the comments much.

I do plan on taking another trip to the Farmer's Market on Saturday, and I will let you know what spoils I make off with. I'm considering trying some meat and spaghetti sauce canning this weekend so I'm sure if I do you'll get a blog about it early next week.

In the meantime; Stay safe, be happy, and be ready for the unexpected!

Friday Funny

The Wonder that is Cake Pops...

I decided last night to go with Cake Pops for the Good Friday party today. I tend to get a bit fixated on things sometimes (jam, anyone?) and these have been no exception. I saw them recently on Bakerella, and I knew if I didn't try these stupid cake pops I'd wonder and whine until I did. So, better to try it out now and get it out of my system. I ran to Walmart, grabbed some cake mix and a can of butter cream frosting (I know, I know! But sometimes I only have so much time in a day!), some eggs for the cake and dying, and some small craft sticks since I couldn't find any lollipop ones and I didn't have time to shop anywhere else.

I ran home, threw the cake mix together, plopped it in a 13x9 pan and put it in the oven. When it was finished and nice and lemony smelling, I pulled it out out of the oven and let it cool. Honestly this was the hardest part for me. I have no patience, seriously none. You can't start the next step until the cake has totally cooled off, and I'm guessing I checked it 55 times before it was ready.

Once it was done (finally, stupid cake) I broke it into pieces and crumbled it with a fork in a large mixing bowl. You add about a can of frosting, but start with about 3/4 and work your way up. The density of the cake can really vary how much you need, and no one likes a soggy cake pop. Roll them into balls, I found 1.25-1.5 inch balls worked best. Any bigger and they're hard to handle, any smaller and they tend to crack on the sticks. Place the finished ones on a greased or lined cookie sheet, place in lollipop sticks (or sticks of your choice) and place in the freezer.

While in the freezer, melt either chocolate or candy melts in a double broiler (or if you're lazy like me a glass bowl over a saucepan). Pull the cake pops from the freezer and dip into the coating of your choice. I shake off the excess and then place them (stick first of course) into a Styrofoam block. This allows them to dry without the flat spot from setting them back on a sheet.

Here is the finished project! Hooray for Cake Pops!


They were a huge hit, and all the moms wanted to know how to make them. These are so simple (really, if I can do it, you can do it!) and can earn you a lot of points for style and creativity. You can play with a infinite mix of cake and frosting and decorations for the shell.

Cake Pops get a 5 star rating in my book, and I'm sure I will make some more very soon!

No thanks, I will just lay here and watch YOU walk in place

We have wanted to get into better shape for quite some time. So yesterday we heard an ad on the radio for a very lightly used treadmill. We took a drive to see it, felt it was a good deal and the rest is history. I knew I wasn't in great shape, but HOLY COW, I didn't think I was as out of shape as I am. After almost a half hour on this fantastic machine, I hurt all over. The dog was not as impressed.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quote of the Day

My three boys just came home from school a few hours ago and I thought this was appropriate.

"You're going to feel every moment of being a mom ... you're also going to be making sandwiches until you die."
Unknown

Why? Because I refuse to die first. That's why.

A year ago, I had little-to-no want to have any sort of food prep or real domestic knowledge whatsoever. A few things happened this fall and winter that made me a bit more concerned about taking care of my family if something were too happen. For instance we had a once a century type snowstorm this year, followed immediately by nasty floods. Luckily the power stayed up and running, or things might have gotten desperate pretty fast. But as it were, people were stranded at their homes, grocers ran out of food. I went to a local grocery store and felt like I was in Mother Russia. No eggs, long lines, cash only. I couldn't believe how quickly some of the basic social systems lagged.

This experience made me quite a bit more aware of how I did things on a day by day basis. I had no idea how survive outside of the normal everyday realm. Just about everything we ate was created with things only purchased at the grocery store. I didn't make a single thing by hand, and beyond that I didn't have the foggiest idea where to start if I wanted too. So I took it upon myself to learn. I had help from friends, and did a lot of research. I spent the money and bought a couple books, and started on the road to self-reliance.

Luckily for me, my family has taken my sudden domestic 'insanity' pretty well in stride. My father is LDS, so he's all for it. My mom is a little taken back, but she's very supportive. My sister thinks I've completely lost my marbles, but since I'm giving her some of my canned fruit she's managed to keep her thoughts more or less to herself. I'm not saying I could survive all on my own should something happen, but I sure wouldn't be the first to die.

Now, I also have some amazing friends that need specific mentioning. Ryan the 2L and Theotherryan (or TOR) and TOR's Wifey. You might have heard of them (okay, chances are you have) as they run the amazing Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest. I've known the Ryan's since I was knee high to a duck, and although TOR's Wifey is a more recent addition, she is equally amazing. The Ryan's have introduced me to the scope of the 'survivalist' world (although I still swear I'm a hippie) and helped ease me into it, while still letting me take my own way. I'm very excited to be their sister blog, and hope I can do them justice.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On the Prowl: Kid Friendly Eater Treats

I was recently invited to a friend's families annual Good Friday celebration. This involves a lot of different things, but I'm basically planning to spend an entire day at their home. The Boy will probably be in heaven, he loves playing with other kids so an entire day of playing is going to be surreal for him. Lots of things are planned, including an Easter Egg hunt, so it should be fun.

My dilemma is this: it's a potluck style lunch. Normally this would be easy, I have a bazillion potluck-style ideas, and a bunch more I'd like to try. But this one has to be uber kid-friendly, and Easter themed. I have a feeling I'm going to end up being asked to bring "cookies or something". In case you don't remember, I'm not a baker. I'm not that good at it. Period. I can make basic cookies, but when it's time to impress I'm at a loss.

I asked my sister, the "Baker" of our family and she told me to take pita and hummus. I'm sorry, sister say what? Hummus? This is little kids. I need child-proof finger food, preferably dessert-ish. Where did you get hummus?

My mom was also little to no help. Gracie gave me a couple ideas, and so did Lila but I'm generally drawing a blank. I want to do something more creative then sugar cookies, but still simple as I have to perfect it in one night only.

I'm currently obsessed (No, really) with Cake Pops from Bakerella. The possibilities are endless, and Bakerella made some adorable Easter bunny pops that I might be able to handle if I simplify the faces a bit. I'm very aware of what I can and cannot handle, and teeny tiny bunny faces I'm pretty sure falls into the latter. I've been browsing for the pastel candy corn, and have yet to find it so I think I might have to expand the search area.

I also consider making some meringue cookies like these Easter Story Cookies. Having the boy pound pecans and explain that Jesus was beaten is a little further then I'm willing to travel per say, but meringue cookies are my favorite. We have a mint chocolate version my family makes every year at Christmas, so I'm pretty sure I could hack it.

Other then that, I'm pretty well out of ideas. Anyone have any suggestions?