Disaster Prepping or Hurricane Season

Well, hurricane season is upon us and remembering the rule ” a gallon of water per person per day” got me thinking.

I am a frugal person in a lot of areas in my life and buying a gallon of water for each person for three days was about $9.00.  That is for drinking.  And to be safe, I want to buy enough for a week…thus, $21 more or less.  Store in a dark, cool place. You could refrigerate one and then after using three, purchase more.  It is good to rotate your food and water.

But that isn’t water for washing dishes, brushing teeth and bathing.  In a real emergency, we might need that on hand, just in case.

I started saving my juice bottles and filled them with water and stored them away, too.  My mother drinks a lot of prune juice, I love orange juice and my husband is a big fan of tomato juice.  That is at least three containers a week.  You could also save your two liter soda bottles or recycle your gallon water bottles.

I also store 2 one gallon containers of chlorine bleach with my (juice) water bottles.  I read that  16 drops of bleach will kill germs in water and I think I would do that as a precaution even if I were washing dishes or brushing my teeth with the bottled water I filled myself.

I have also ordered some long term storage food that keeps for 25 years….enough to last for a week or so.  It is dehydrated/freeze dried so it needs water, too.

I was given a butane cooking stove (like for camping) that I can use on my kitchen counter for making a pot of coffee with my glass percolator and even heat a can of soup, etc.

A gas grill with a burner on the side would be great, too but I haven’t purchased one of them, yet.  I plan to make that purchase at the end of the summer when the grills go on sale.  We aren’t much for grilling out so it isn’t a priority for us.

But, the best thing to do, since long term storage foods can be costly is to get a plastic tub and fill with emergency foods.  That way it will be easy to move with you if you have to relocate.

The most important part of your emergency food/water storage is to rotate the items.  Make sure you put foods in the tub that you and your family eat on a regular basis so you can rotate it out.

I would suggest cereal/oatmeal, dried fruit or canned fruit  for breakfast.  I have the long term storage milk which by the way, Augason’s Morning Moo is very tasty.  Canned hams that keep for years are about 3.29 for a pound at Walmart.  Also, a good breakfast food if you are fortunate enough to have eggs to go with them.  You can also buy dehydrated eggs.  Who knew?

As far as drinks go:  powdered milk, coffee, kool-aid with sugar for the kids, lemonade packets that you add to a bottle of water is great.

Soups are handy for lunches and even ramen noodles though I haven’t eaten them myself.  A can of soup (like sirloin tips with vegetables) over a bowl of rice makes a filling meal.

Canned potatoes and vegetables are easy to rotate out.  I love the candied yams so I keep a good supply of them.

As far as meats go, just look down the isle at the grocery store and look for as many meats that your family will eat.  Variety is great. We like the ham and the roast beef in gravy.

ALWAYS check expiration dates.  I write on top of the can the month and year with a marker so it is easily readable.

It may seem like a lot of trouble but if you have an emergency, you will be glad you took the time to prepare.  Running to the grocery store at the last minute may mean you will forget important items as well as the cupboards may be bare at the grocery store right before a hurricane.  We couldn’t find the small butane bottles for our stove before hurricane Arthur came our way this year.

I remember the horrible pictures of the disaster when Katrina hit Biloxi/New Orleans.  I can only imagine how awful it would feel to lose your home and then to not even know how you were going to get food for your family.

One last suggestion, add some comfort foods to your emergency food storage.  Hot chocolate, hard candy, chocolate and perhaps gum will add a little joy to your lives.

One last thing: flashlights, batteries, matches and a first aid kit are essential to feeling really prepared.

Good luck and be prepared.


Best Cupcake Icing Ever

You can have professional tasting cupcakes with the Wilton Decorating Icing that is sold in Walmart in the cake decorating section of the craft department.  This icing can be colored with food coloring and it is great.  My sister, Bonnie puts the icing in a pastry bag and using the decorating tips makes little stars all across the top of the cupcake.  So cute.  The best part is the taste.  Yum!

i haven’t figured out her recipe for the cake which is always moist.  I have read on YouTube that putting an envelope of pudding mix makes a moister cake.  I love all the cooking tips on YouTube, don’t you?

Have fun baking.  And Bonnie, open a bakery.  Your cakes are beautiful and so tasty.

Deciding on your retirement location

My husband I are in North Carolina taking a turn caring for my 90-year old Mom.  It is quite a change for us to be away from our chickens and our two acres out in the country but we feel good about being with Mom and making her latter days of her life happy.

To be honest, I cried a lot when I first moved here.  I just missed my life that I had been living for 17 years out in the country with just me and my husband.   It is always difficult when you add another person to the mix, even when you love that person dearly.  Kind of like when you have a child.

I am around my relatives now which includes three sisters and one brother and nieces and nephews as well as Mom.  There are family gatherings, outings on my sister’s boat and meals with family at our home here.  Plus, one of my daughters (NC) and my only son (Washington, DC) came to visit.  I am hoping to see more of them since it is a lot closer for them to visit.

So, even though we had a lot of peace and quiet in Florida all by ourselves, there are things to consider as we get older.

If my husband passed away, I would be without any of my family down there.  It is difficult enough when someone passes away but then to have to uproot your life and move, wow, that would be really hard.

So, this time taking care of Mom is our trial period to see if we could be happy living in NC instead of Florida.  We are in a condo so no yard to care for which appeals to my husband, I think.  But seriously, if I were to live here permanently, I would have to have some property where I can have a few chickens.

Even though I am 64, we found some part time work that gives us something to do and some extra money.  If it weren’t for that, I probably would have looked for some volunteer work to do.

So, when the time comes for us to make changes in our living location, we are going to be deciding whether to stay in NC around my side of the family or move back to our property in Florida. At times I feel in limbo. Not necessarily a place I like to be so I am focusing on having fun with my family and enjoying this time with Mom.

Favorite Small Appliances

I was previously married and my ex-husband loved to buy gadgets.  He loved to cook so most of them related to the kitchen which is good.

My best buy ever is my Salad Master pots and pans.  I bought them in 1980 after some persuasion from my ex-husband.  The thought of spending $800 for them was one reason I was fighting his desire to have them.  But they have been great.  I got all sizes of pots and pans as well as an electric skillet and grater with a lot of attachments.

My mom use to buy a new set of pots and pans every couple years spending around $100 each time.  I know she spent way more than 800 dollars during the same 30 years.

So, one of my favorite small appliances is my electric skillet.  I love to put the meat in the skillet on low and let it cook for hours and make it so tender.   My Salad Master electric skillet is great because it is actually submersible so it is easy to wash.

I think my second favorite small appliance is my griddle.  Great for cooking big meals especially.  You can cook a bunch of bacon or sausage and then wipe it off with a paper towel and cook your pancakes or french toast.  It is really great for cooking a bunch of pork chops or you can cook your steaks on it.  I have a gas stove and I put my steaks in there but I have used the griddle.  I don’t use my griddle every day but I thoroughly enjoy it whenever I do use it.

I love my Hamilton Brew Station coffee machine, too.  The coffee doesn’t seem to get as strong when sitting.  You don’t have a coffee pot that you remove and pour.   You just put your cup under the ledge and push and fill your cup.  The pot turns itself off after two hours, too.   I believe you can get these coffee pots for about $30 bucks though there are some more expensive ones, too.

My microwave is also a much needed part of my kitchen though I don’t really cook with it.  I use it as a bread keeper most of the time.  I make popcorn, heat items and melt butter in it on a fairly regular basis.  Warming up meat in a microwave tends to make it tough.

Some people are afraid of gas stoves but I LOVE mine.   If the electricity goes out, you can always light the top burners with a match and still be able to cook.  I also like that I can tell if it is on low, medium or high easily and you can switch from one to the other faster than electric.  When you turn the gas off, it is off quickly.

I have never gotten into using a crock pot though I have had a couple of them during my homemaking years.  I don’t like the smell of meat cooking in it.  Silly, I know.  But I have been told cooking beans in a crock pot is great.  I recently starting cooking beans for my husband and actually learned that I like them, too.  Well, some of them anyway.  When you take all that time cooking beans and then forget about them and burn them, it really sucks.  I have only done that once and don’t intend to let it happen again.  I heard a crock pot will keep that from happening.

Well, these are my favorites that have been with me over my past 45 years of homemaking.  I have tried many others but they are either stored away or given away or sold at yard sales.  These small appliances have proven to be the most valuable for my everyday life.

Dividing Buns To Freeze

I love a bargain better than anyone I know.

At Winn Dixie, they had buy one get one free buns.  So I bought one hamburger and one hot dog bun.  Well, with only two of us I realized they would go bad before we used all of them so I decided to freeze half of them.  I took one layer of hot dogs (4) and replaced it  with one layer of hamburger buns (4).   Then I froze one pack and put the other in my bread box (microwave, lol).

I freeze my loaves of bread, too, especially if they are on sale.  The bread is so fresh when you take it out of the freezer and let it thaw.

I keep saying I am going to start making homemade bread.  I have all the ingredients but still no food thermometer.  I don’t trust myself to tell temperature for the water for the yeast without a themometer.  Plus, I don’t need to gain any more weight and I know how great bread tastes fresh from the oven.  Yum!!!!

Now, if I could just get that upright freezer I have been looking to buy.  I will need it if I am fortunate enough for my garden to flourish this summer.   Canning is in the future, too.  I hope.

Older cars and renting cars

Since my husband has retired and we have been traveling more, we have considered buying a new car to ensure we won’t have a break down a long way from home.  We have been ripped off in the past when our car broke down…transmission….and we were five hours from home.  Staying in a hotel, eating out,  renting a car to get home, renting a car to get back to pick up our car and then later finding out the work was not done correctly and having to put it in our local repair shop and paying the entire amount of repair work over again.  That sucked.  Plus, we were there during a hurricane which made matters even worse.

So, in deciding about buying a car, we discussed the financial costs as well as our personal safety.  Going in debt for a new car would increase our debt for 3 to 5 years by at least 350 dollars more than likely.  That is certainly a drain on  a person’s income.   We are perfectly happy with car which is a 98 Blazer that is in great condition as far as appearances.  We have to put some money into her which always sucks but even if we have to put $2000 a year, that is still better than a $4200 yearly bill of car payments.  New cars can break down on you and they still need routine maintenance just liek our older model car, too.

So, we opted for renting a car when we are going on trips that far exceed our AAA towing distance of 200 miles.   We rented a car to go to Humble, Tx for 17 days and it cost right at $400.   If the car broke down, we knew we just had to call the dealer and they would bring us another car.  It was a worry free trip for me.   If we take 3 trips a year…which most would not be for 17 days….more like 5 probably, we still feel the advantage is there.  We are not obligating our income for years.  If we feel we can’t afford to rent a car, we stay home.

Plus, you aren’t  putting all those miles on your car which depreciate the value of your car.  If your car is newer, this could make a lot of difference for those trade-in values.

When we rented the car for the 17 days, we knew we had to be at our daughter’s house at an appointed time for them to catch a plane.  We were house sitting and dog sitting for five days and they then returned home and we spent time together.  They were depending on us.  Our car breaking down could have endangered their Christmas plans so it was nice to know, we could call the dealer if we have a problem with the car and they would bring us another one.

Our SUV car is perfect for around town and it gets 20 miles to the gallon so it is not too bad.  When we rented a car, we got 39 miles to the gallon with the Nissan Versa so that really saved us money on gas.   Plus, it is nice to drive different kinds of cars just to see how you like them for a future purchase perhaps.  We are really wanting a Versa now because the car was roomy enough for us and our luggage and the seats were comfortable which is important on long trips.

Cold water to remove blood stains

I don’t think I knew this when I was young.  Thinking everything comes cleaner with warm soapy water, being young and dumb, I made this mistake with blood stains.  So, for you young women, especially with kids with boo-boos, use cold water to remove blood stains.

I remember a day in high school when I wore a white skirt.  Math class ended and a nice young man told me I had blood on the back of my skirt.  I wanted to die.  I am sure my mom washed this stain out for me and other than the embarrassment, never gave it another thought.  We take a lot of things for granted when we are growing up and have a terrific mom at home taking care of us.

As my children grew up and left for college, I realized I hadn’t showed them many of the things that I did every day for them.  They called me often at first and occasionally now to ask how to cook something or some other tidbit they couldn’t remember how to do.

My daughter, Bonnie has just bought her first home and is going to plant a garden and is interested in canning and chickens and all sorts of things I actually have knowledge about.  So they do still need me!  Yea

Army of Syrups

You know I love a bargain, especially on food.  A few years ago, Winn Dixie had Miss Butterworth syrup on sale, plus I had coupons (which is rare for me) so I ended up getting each one for 75 cents and they normally sold for almost $3 each.  I think I bought 8 of them.

My daughter, Bonnie came for a visit and when opening the cabinet noticed my battalion of Butterworths.   She teased me about it for years.  Recently she sent a picture of two bottles of NyQuil and commented that she was starting her army.

Flat Bacon

During a phone conversation with my sister today, I was also cooking breakfast.  I love to share my tips with her because she always makes me feel so good about the things I share with her.  We are a lot alike….energetic and happy the majority of the time.

So my bacon kept curling up and I don’t own a bacon press so I use to cut the edges that were curling up to relax the bacon and it would lay flat.  Problem with that is you can damage your pan with the knife.  So what I do now is take a pair of SCISSORS and cut through the curled edge that is already up in the air.  Then I press it down with my spatula and the bacon is then lying flat and cooks evenly.  I hate over cooking my bacon just to get the white fatty part cooked.

This works great guys.  I also love having an electric griddle to cook my bacon and pancakes.  They only cost around 20 dollars.

Stocking Up for Disasters

My background in restaurant management tends to make me be a bit of a “stocker upper” just because it is such a nuisance to be out of something …. especially if you need the item to prepare a meal to put on the table right now.

Flipping through the channels, I found a Doomsday Prepper show so I just had to watch some of it.  My goodness, some of these people are living in fear.  Being prepared is one thing but some of what they do is just crazy.  One guy was building a castle out in the woods, high on a mountain so he could see in all directions and was teaching his kids to be prepared to defend the castle.  That all seems crazy and I hope and pray he never needs his fortress.

But it did make me think more about my own preparedness for problems that can occur in my part of the world.  Hurricanes certainly take the electricity out in some areas for days and even weeks.

Some people are in a position where they could lose their job and it could take them weeks or months to find another job and from what I understand, you don’t just walk in the door and get food stamps that day.  Unless you have a lot of friends and family, you may find yourself without food in your cupboards and refrigerator.

My husband got the flu a couple years ago and he was out of work for three weeks.  He had sick leave that he used so it was no loss of income for us but what about the hourly employees out there that don’t get sick leave?  A lot of people live paycheck to paycheck.

So, I would like to suggest that you start a food pantry (larder).  There are a lot of websites dedicated to help you figure out what to buy.  You can take 10 dollars a week and buy a little at a time.  Especially when things go on sale.  Those low prices on sugar or those buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO, as it is called around here) tea bags are a great way to start.  You may think it is hard to fit into your tight budget but try buying a couple things when you can catch them on sale.  Like toilet paper and dish detergent or laundry detergent.  But as you use it, catch it on sale again and buy more.  I don’t even remember the last time I bought any of those three items unless they were on sale.

Some of my first items to buy were Ragu spaghetti sauce and boxes of pasta.  Since we eat it once or twice a month, I can easily rotate it in and out of my pantry.  Don’t buy a lot of something that you won’t eat on a regular basis because it will expire and you will have wasted money.  I figured we use 2 jars of Ragu a month and one box of the seashell pasta noodles make two meals so I bought 6 jars of Ragu and three of the pastas.  That is enough for three months.

Then I caught the canned vegetables on sale for 50 cents each and I bought 50 which we eat this item twice a week normally.  So that’s enough for 25 weeks which is almost 6 months.  The expiration date is very important and you must check each one.  They didn’t expire for 15 months so I knew I was safe to buy that many.

So my pantry has 6 containers of coffee, 5 pancake syrups, 6 peanut butters, 6 jars of blackberry jam, 4 vegetable oils, 5 bags of sugar, tea, kool-aid, soups, spices and so on.  Basically, I buy when things are on a really good sale, not just pennies off.  I buy only what I know we will eat and use in the allotted expiration date and things that store well.

The freezer/meat department is a lot harder to stock up on.  Since we don’t normally eat canned meat, I have bought dry beans and rice (both long shelf lives) and nuts in a can for protein.  Again, I love Winn Dixie’s BOGO sales in the meat department and my freezer is almost always full to the brim.  Knowing if the electricity went out, I could lose all that stuff but I guess I would start cooking on my gas stove right away to save as much as I could.  Cooked food keeps a lot longer than raw food.

The most important thing to have is water.  We have a well but it runs on electricity.  We have talked about getting a hand pump for it but so far its is just talk.  In the meantime, I would suggest getting some of those 88 cent gallon jugs from Walmart.  I believe you need a gallon per person per day so I am thinking we need fourteen for a week.  Plus, we want to get maybe four of those individual 24 packs of water for drinking.   Those would easily be rotated out because we keep bottles of water in our refrigerator all the time.  Well water doesn’t taste bad but it tastes different so I keep bottled water on hand.

We have a gas stove so we have extra propane bottles enough to last a year actually so we will always be able to cook on our gas stove even if we have to light it with matches.  So we have a couple of those long multi-purpose lighters put away.

We also have a kersosene heater and kerosene for emergencies, too.  Actually, the kersosene heater takes the chill out of a house rather quickly especially in our single wide mobile home.  It is like having a fireplace except the heat doesn’t go up the chimney. They are amazing now, too.  No strong odor except when you turn it off there is some odor but we sit it on the back porch when we turn it off.

So to sum up:  food, a way to cook the food including propane, water and other drinks with sugar,  a heat supply, and paper products an extra five gallons of gas in the shed.  And remember, first in first out for rotating.  I write with a magic marker on the top on my containers what the expiration date.  It makes it easier to see when I do my monthly check to see if there is something I must use before it expires.

Also, as a reminder, you won’t be able to flush your toilet or shower.  If a storm is coming, fill up your bath tub with water to use to flush your toilet.  In our case, we save our old milk jugs and fill them with water and store them outside.  We have chickens so we have about fifty milk jugs filled with water and use it to fill our water containers for the chickens so it serves a dual purpose.  Push comes to shove, I would drink that water because I thoroughly wash and bleach the containers before I put the water in it.  Also, bleach can be used to sanitize unclean drinking water.  I think I saw on Dual Survival, you put 16 drops to a gallon of water but I am not sure so look it up if you are interested.

So, family and friend, please do not think I am going off the deep end thinking Doomsday is around the corner.  I just want to be prepared for storms that could come my way.  In the meantime, stocking up has saved me money, too. The only thing I have thrown away is mayonnaise and it was a buy-one-get-one free item.   I know as a mother, I would not want to tell my children or grandchildren that I didn’t have any food for them.  Which is another reason I want to stock up some extra items.  I have relatives living close by and I know I would need to share with them if they were out of food.

In closing I would like to add, fear is not from God so don’t fear what the future will bring.  It is in His hands.  But God gave me a brain and being prepared for what I can handle myself, just makes sense.