Thursday, May 28, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - When REL-iance Becomes Real

Row Row Row Your ...Van...

I think we've seen enough natural disasters recently to REALize that we leave ourselves open for some serious doggie-poopy if we don't have sufficient storage or skills on hand. We can have all the food in Wal-Mart stored, but if we don't have power or a "Plan B "- well, lets just say the "up a creek without an ore" would easily apply in this kind of situation. If we ended up getting half as much rain as Texas has this week, we would be in the same boat as those who endured Hurricane Katrina as fast as a greyhound chasing a rabbit...ish... :) 

I found the following list on a facebook posting recently. I think the advice applies to most natural disasters:  

Things I learned from Huricane Sandy
1. The excitement and coolness wears off around day 3.
2. You are never really prepared to go weeks without power, heat, water, etc. Never!
3. Yes it can happen to you.
4. Just because your generator runs like a top, does not mean it’s producing electricity.
5. If you do not have water stored up you are in trouble.
a. A couple of cases of bottled water is NOT water storage
6. Should have as much fuel as water.
a. propane b. gas c. kerosene d. firewood e. fire starter (kindling, paper, etc.)
7. Even the smallest little thing that you get from the store should be stocked up on: 
(Spark plug for generator, BBQ lighter, etc.)
8. If you are not working, chances are nobody else is either.
9. I was surprised how quickly normal social behavior goes out the window.
I am not talking about someone cutting in line at the grocery store.
a. 3 people were killed at gas stations within 50 miles of my home.
b. I did not say 3 fights broke out, 3 people were killed.
10. Cash is king (all the money in your savings means nothing).
11. Stored water can taste nasty.
12. You eat a lot more food when you are cold.
13. You need more food than you think if your kids are out of school for 2 weeks.

14. Kids do not like washing their faces in cold water.
15. Your 1972 Honda Civic gets to the grocery store as well as a 2012 Escalade...but the Honda allows money left over for heat, food, water, a generator, firewood, a backup water get the idea.
16. The electrical grid is way more fragile than I thought.
17. Think of the things that are your comfort, your escape; a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a Ding Dong before going to bed, etc. Stock up on those, too. You will need that comfort after day 3.
18. You quickly become the guy in the neighborhood who knows how to wire a generator to the electrical panel, directly wire the furnace to a small generator, or get the well pump up and running on inverter power OR you are the guy whose Master’s degree in Accounting suddenly means nothing. (Love you, Steve!)
19. A woman who can cook a fine meal by candle light over the BBQ or open fire is worth her weight in gold. And women, whose weight in gold, would not add up to much, usually die off first. Sorry skinny women.
20. It takes a lot of firewood to keep a fire going all day and into the evening for heat.
21. All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it, or you can’t cook it.
22. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door?
23. Some people shut down in an emergency. There is nothing that you can do about that.
24. Your town, no matter how small, is entirely dependent on outside sources of everything.
a. If supply trucks stop rolling in due to road damage, gas shortages or anything else, you could be without for a long time.
25. In an emergency Men stock up on food, Women stock up on toilet paper.
26. I was surprised how many things run on electricity.
27. You can never have enough matches.
28. Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage. You need to know how you are going to handle that. It is really easy to be “Bob the Guy Who Shares” on Day 3, not so easy on Day 11. Just reality.
29. Give a man a fish, he eats for that day. Teach a man to fish and he will never be hungry again.
Now I get it.
30. All of the expensive clothes in the closet mean nothing if they don’t keep you warm.
31. Same goes for shoes...Love you, Honey!!!!
32. You cannot believe the utility companies. They are run by politicians!! Or so it seems.
33. Anything that you depend on someone else for is not available anymore.
34. Quote: “A man with a chainsaw that knows how to use it is a thing of beauty.” Hahaha
35. Most folks don’t have any emergency storage. They run to WalMart and get water and batteries and then fill their tubs with water. That is it. A lucky few will get a case of ramen and a box of pop tarts. That will be you neighbor’s supply (especially if you live outside of Utah).
36. Fathers, all the money you have ever made means nothing if you can’t keep your kids warm.
37. Mothers, everything you have ever done for your kids is forgotten if you kids are hungry.
38. You really do not want to be the “Unprepared Parents”. The kids turn on you pretty quickly.
39. Small solar charging gadgets will keep you in touch. Most work pretty well, it seems.
40. Most things don’t take much power to operate: computers, phones, radios, TV, lights
41. Some things take a ton of power to operate: fridge, toaster, freezer, hot plate, microwave
42. When it gets dark at 4:30 pm the nights are really long without power.
43. Getting out of the house is very important. Even if it is cold. Make your home the semi-warm place to come home to...not the cold prison that you are stuck in.
44. Someone in your family must play or learn to play guitar (or other musical instrument, you know, kind of like the pioneers to help the long nights pass easier).
45. Things that disappeared never to be seen again for a very long time: fuel of all kinds, matches & lighters, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic forks & knives, batteries (didn’t really see a need for them, flashlights ??? I guess), milk, charcoal, spark plugs (generators), 2 stroke motor oil (chainsaws), anything that could be used to wire a generator to the house, extension cords, medicines (Tylenol, Advil, cold medicine, etc.)
46. There was a strange peace to knowing all I had to do each day was keep my family safe, warm and fed, but my peace was someone else’s panic.
There were many things that were not learned in Hurricane Sandy, but reinforced. Those things were the importance of my family and their love and support (especially my lovely wife), that my Heavenly Father is really in charge-period, and finally that I am very thankful for the upbringing and experiences that have taught me and brought me to where I am....wherever that is!

I hope this list gave you a few reminders of what is truly important when/ if an emergency strikes. May we all be willing to learn from the experiences of others so we are ahead of the game. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - Root of the Matter

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When I was only a few weeks away from being married, my Oma had finished my dress. It was everything I wanted. It was just under $100. Who does that? She was AMAZING! What was more amazing is she showed me a handful of scraps. "This was all that was left." She said. Unbelievable. Someday I hope to grow up to be like her because it seemed to be she could do ANYTHING. The only thing she couldn't do? Plant those scraps and make more fabric. I guess nobody can do that. But, I have a secret EVERYONE can do. 

When you cut the end off of the celery, what do you usually do with it? Until recently, I didn't think twice about tossing it in the trash. Then I learned you can plant it and it can re-grow celery. WHAAAT? Yep, its true. Different plants are going to do better in different climates. I tried to regrow a pineapple, but because it is the wrong climate, it didn't do anything; however, I have seen people do it. 

What kinds of plants can you regrow?

Remember, if you try some of these, they would have only been kitchen scraps anyway, so you don't have anything to loose. Here is a list of foods that have been regrown from kitchen scraps. 

  • lettuce
  • celery
  • mushrooms (kinda picky, but still doable)
  • pineapple
  • avacado
  • lemongrass
  • potatoes (from peelings that have eyes on them)
  • sweet potato
  • ginger
  • mushrooms
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • onion
  • turnips
  • seeds from tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins etc
  • And several fruit trees from their seeds (apple, cherry, and lemon, but lemon trees don't survive local winters)
Here is a link to more specific information on regrowing these little wonders:

Awhile ago when I first started to experiment with the celery, I was so excited and planted it directly in my heavy clay dirt. Nothing happened. So, I figured it was just an ubran myth. When I started to plant my garden using the Mitleider Gardening System, and everything changed. 

Basically, when you use equal parts sand and pine shavings as the growing medium and then feed the plants once a week with the fertilizer recipe, amazing things begin to happen. If you follow the link just above this, it will take you to the recipe as well as videos from a Youtuber called LDSPrepper. He has a BUNCH of amazing videos that have been incredibly educational for me. 

Of the above list, I have successfully grown celery, lettuce, red potatoes, and garlic. I am excited to try more. Learning how to use things I would normally throw away is exciting and rewarding. 

Even though my Oma couldn't grow a new dress out of scraps like I can my kitchen scraps, she was still more than amazing. She did all kinds of things that most people wouldn't even dare try. At the age of 75 she wanted to learn something new, so she took up learning to spin wool. You're never too old to learn new things. The more you experiment, the more you will blossom - it keeps the mind young and sprouting like the root of the replanted celery fodder.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - I Ain't Skeered!

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Say yer prayers ya flea bitten varmint..

My family loves to watch Looney Toons. We get a kick out of Grandpa Petitt (and Tenney) laughing out loud at Wiley Coyote, Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny and all the rest of the crazy crew. It is so amazing to me that one man did all the voices for those characters. One of our favorite quotes by Yosemite Sam when he says, "I ain't skeered." 

I think we all know the type. Those little fellas who want to look tougher than they are. He might have what we would call "little man syndrome" or "his bark is louder than his bite". But, I think Yosemite might be one of my heros. He will take anything on despite his height, or maybe a slight lack of brain power. He even promoted prayer :).

Elder David A. Bednar last month in General Conference spoke about fear. He said:

"In our daily lives, endless reports of criminal violence, famine, wars, corruption, terrorism, declining values, disease, and the destructive forces of nature can engender fear and apprehension. Surely we live in the season foretold by the Lord: “And in that day … the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them” (D&C 45:26).

My purpose is to describe how fear is dispelled through a correct knowledge of and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I earnestly pray the Holy Ghost will bless each of us as we consider together this important topic."

We don't have to look far to find that this is indeed true. In fact, without the proper knowledge, it can be terrifying. There is some crazy doggie poopie going on right now. If we aren't careful, we can become paralyzed by it. We can't kick all the bad guy's hineys. We can't stop earthquakes. We can't stop ____________ (enter any number of things) So... what can we do? 

Elder Bednar explains some things and gives some excellent advice:

  • Adam and Eve first felt fear in the Garden of Eden after they had transgressed - it is part of our mortal existence.
  • Alma exhorted the people to not be fearful, but to call on God for deliverance. As they did so, they hushed their own fears.
  • Jesus said when we do works of righteousness, we will receive peace. (D&C 59:23)
  • Trust in Christ. Confidence in Him (and his plan) brings hope.
  • ...and much more

He also explains when Peter walked in water for a short period of time before he began to sink, only when he took his eyes off the Savior, and noticed or (focused on) the wind and waves did he begin to sink and cried out. Are we different today? When we take our focus off of Christ, we notice all the things wrong with this world and forget the promises he has made to the faithful. When we replace our fears with faith, we begin to see miracles happen. This is my favorite scripture of all time. 

“Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).

That's pretty incredible if you ask me. Thank you Yosemite Sam for reminding me to say my prayers, and thank you Elder Bednar for reminding me why we say our prayers. We can look at those dark clouds and with confidence say, "I Ain't Skeered."

Friday, May 1, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - My Vacuum Could Be My Fridge?

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How Could This Keep Things Cool?

Oxygen is both our friend and enemy. We need it to live, but it also is a culprit in our food going rancid. When we have dehydrated food in a can that has been opened, we have about a year before it isn't good anymore. Moisture can get in every time we open the lid and can ruin the food (it happened to me with freeze dried strawberries...and they are not cheap). How can we solve this problem? The vacuum sealer. 

Many people have a sealer like this:


Ok, maybe the title is a little misleading. A vacuum sealer can't really be a fridge in the fact that fridges keep things cold. But!... it DOES slow down the "aging" process for food - that's what a fridge does right? When we vacuum seal left over dehydrated goods, it will keep them fresh (did I say fresh and dehydrated in the same sentence? - oh boy). It will keep the leftovers from getting soft from moisture exposure or rancid from oxygen exposure (light and temperature also are players in this game). If you don't have a vacuum sealer yet, I have an electricity free alternative that will be a little more work, but less expensive than buying the electrical version. This is what it looks like:

This is how you use it: 

This is where you can get it (best price I've found, around $40.00):

The Vacuum attachment you can get here (around $10):

So for about $50 (minus shipping) you can get a refrigerator!  I mean vacuum sealer. 

The things I have vacuum sealed are:
  • nuts
  • raisins
  • dried vegetables (broccoli, onions etc. )
  • dried fruit (lemons, apricots from our tree, strawberries etc.)
  • and entire meals in a jar
Everything that can be vacuum sealed must be totally dried. You can't can fresh strawberries, put it on a shelf and walk away hoping they will be there in 6 months when you go to use them. It is because of the moisture. Natural enzymes in the food break down the food with moisture. With no moisture (like dehydrated and freeze dried foods), the natural goodness is still there. But, it sits there like a faithful friend, until you're ready to use them. 

Here is a simple recipe that can be vacuum sealed for Bowtie Alfredo. 

Here is the recipe for a Cream of Something Soup base:

Hopefully we've given you some ideas that will empower you to vacuum seal some food. It is an amazing tool and some day may be of more worth to you in the future than your refrigerator. If you ask me, I think that's pretty cool (even cooler than a fridge). Thank you little vacuum sealer. I owe ya one.