Friday, January 14, 2011

Learning to Wash

Have I told you much about plans for the cabin? While creeks and lake abound, there is no access to running water. At all. While a super cool rain harvesting system and a small well are in the works, for awhile water will be precious and a chore.

So I'm learning now to wash in tubs. Sinks. I'm making myself do this so it won't be a shock or another thing I'll have to figure out once I'm facing other cabin-building challenges this spring. Granted, I'm only washing for one, but it's still a process to wash, wring and dry by hand! (And of all the things I can do without, clean sheets and clothes is not among them.) Fortunately, I've had a little help along the way.

First of all, I found a kid to teach me how to wash clothes without a washer. Priceless. I mean, few of us know how to do this anymore. Glad there's still someone out there to teach us before it matters.

Second, I cheated. I found this washer thingy. It is amazing. At first I was skeptical it would do anything but make suds, but somehow this little baby gets things clean. The ultimate test was Millie's blanket after she romped through slushy/muddy snow. (Dog hair. Dirt. Blech.) No problem for this thing. And, dare I say, it's kinda fun and a great way to relieve some stress.

Next, I found a soap that's tough, rinses clean, and didn't freak my skin out. (I have hyper sensitive skin.) Variations of this laundry soap recipe have been circulating the internet for some time, and there's a reason: this soap is the real thing. Affordable, easy, and does exactly what soap is supposed to do. I got the Laundry Soap Starter Set because it was easy. My Mom made her own batch after rounding up the ingredients from WalMart and the local hardware store. Either way, it was a smart, economical move, I think.

Next up, I plan to grab a clothes wringer. And I've forever loved the clothesline. But for now I'm delighted to have clean clothes with no electricity and limited water! Anyone else out there have memories/experience/tips for washing sans a Maytag?

(In case you wondered, I do not receive any compensation for talking about products I love. And Lehman's has no idea who I am. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seed Starting Guide

The temperature outside is 0 degrees. Exactly. I don't care where you're from, that's cold. But inside, all is well. I've pulled out my seed catalogues- a favorite January past time- and have settled in with a Sharpie. Time to get circling, planning, and dreaming. I can't wait for my first garden on the land!

I wanted to share with you gardeners out there, hobby or otherwise, the amazing Lazy Gardener's Seed Starting Chart that Gayla of You Grow Girl dreamed up. Download the chart, then run over to the accompanying link and get the frost dates for your area. Plug in your date and this handy chart will tell you when to plant what. No counting, guessing, or keeping track! How handy is that?

Looks as if I need to be gearing up for Kale and Lettuce. Better get a move on!  -Brin

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pet Preparedness

Millie is in the doorway of the house in Kansas and, despite my pleadings, won't come out to play in the 8 inches of snow. I didn't want to get out either, but we ran out of dog food. Here I am, careful in my preparations, and run out of dog food in the first 3 days of a winter storm.

Oops. I have to do better.

For those of us with pets, let's be prepared. As we ready our families, homes and pantries for tough times, let's not neglect our precious pets. Here, then, is a quick guideline of what I'm trying to keep on hand for the animal in my life:

Food. Keep at least 2 weeks of food in a clean, airtight container.
Water. Store at least 1/2 gallon of water per pet, per day. (More or less depending on animal's needs and time of year.)
Pet Medicine and Medical Records. My vet had no trouble advancing me extra of Millie's medicine. In some instances, this may not be practical or possible. Do what you can. Also, keep a copy of your pet's current vaccination records on hand.
First Aid Kit. For a pet? Absolutely. Bandage rolls, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, latex gloves, flea and tick medicine, etc., are good to have on hand. Keep one at home and one in the car if you can.
Current Picture. A large, printed photo of your pet will be invaluable should he/she go missing or be separated from your family during a disaster.
Carrier, Crate or Harness. Depending on your animal, you'll need something suitable for transporting your pet and keeping them safe. A favorite blanket, toy, or treat inside wouldn't hurt, either.

Undoubtedly there are other things you can add to this list depending on your pet, your location, and your lifestyle. Think it over and stock up for your pet as your time and budget allows.

For a complete list and more information on pet preparedness, check out the ASPCA approved cheat sheet on ready.gov listed here. (See, even the government recommends this preparation.) And as always, if you have suggestions or tips, please leave them in the comments so we can all learn. Thank you!

Monday, January 10, 2011

January List

On my stock up list for January: blanket(s), bandages, butter, beans and books. Better get busy.

What better to quietly work at as it snows, anyhow? This morning I got my trusty sewing machine, moved it under a bright window, and began stitching. Outside the window, snow dances. Over in the corner, Millie snores. It's peaceful.

I'm wanting to have a pillow, linens, and a warm, beautiful blanket at the cabin for everyone in my family. By the end of the year, that will be 11 people. Wow. It's a lot of sewing. Maybe, once these are done, I'll wrap and seal these in SpaceBags with a few sprinkles of lavender buds. Yes, I think that's what I'll do.

I continue to get handfuls of emails every week about preparedness. I quickly ran out of time to get the resources emailed out. If you're truly interested in preparing your family in case of a storm, layoff, extended illness, etc., there is a staggering amount of information and resources out there. I began as a student of preparedness a year ago, and in that time have picked up countless books, articles, and tips... many from bloggers or websites desiged to help concerned folks. So here's my recommendation: start your own hunt. Google "preparedness" and see what pops out. Get a feel for what's available. Then, maybe start here: The Survival Mom, $5 Preps - You CAN Afford to Prepare, and Food Storage on $5 a Week. As you find what fits your lifestyle, family, budget, time, faith, and level of concern, you'll quickly find your favorite resources. Some may stop there, others may go Patrice Lewis style, others may end up a Rawlesian.

The best advice I can give? Just start. Start somewhere. I make a habit to concentrate on buying certain items every month. From there, I try to pick up three extras of what I run out of every week. (Need a new toothbrush? Buy three extra. Toilet paper? Three extra. Canned peaches? Three extra. Dog food? Ha. At $20 a bag, I only have one extra. It's okay. Just do what you can. For your budget, that may mean an extra can of soup, fruit, and box of mac and cheese every grocery run. Ultimately, know that, more than anything, our faith (spiritually) and our ability to adapt (physically and mentally) is what will ultimately see us through whatever this life throws at us.

If you have resources or tips of your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments. Questions, too. Criticism of preparedness and the desire to provide for yourself and your family in uncertain times? Move on and do something productive and meaningful with your time. This likely isn't a forum for you. -Brin

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My heart and prayers are with all those affected
by the tragedy in Tucson.