Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nothing is ever easy....

     As I've said before if I wasn't worried about the SHTF I'd be having a lot more fun discovering new/old ways of doing stuff. As it is I'm still having fun learning how to do stuff the old fashoned way. It's just I feel a little more pressure on getting it right. Sometimes you got sit back and count your blessings and see how far you have come, how much you have changed, and how much you have accomplished. It's all to easy to see what you haven't done, how much more you need to do. It's very easy to be negative instead of positive. That old cannard is the glass half empty or half full. Doubly diffacult when you have no control over what happens in your life.
    You can't control your utility raising your rates, but you can get cheap and do your baking, laundry on the weekends when rates are low. You can cut done on gas usage a bit but you still need to get to work, and let's face it most of us have a hard amount of fuel we will always use. I don't think anyone can be totally self-sufficient, I think that's why villages/tribes happen some folks have a special skill that requires they focus on making that valued item. The old village blacksmith for example: making a simple knife requires a lot of work and skill. They can't be out farming or gardening because they make the tools. Or folks that farm takes up most of the day. they have no time to make a knife not even counting the investment of a simple forge and fuel or skills needed.
     There still is a lot you can do to help make yourself independent. Buy enough food for at least 6 months will get you into the next harvest. Preserve what you can and learn to make do. I know I'm learning all the time and trying new ways of doing stuff. My garden isn't looking so great. Started all plants from seeds this year and weather has been a bit wonky. Practice and learn cause if SHTF you will deal with bad weather, poor soil and bugs or all kinds of things that screw up a perfectly good plan. Learn while you still have the backups of the grocery store. While you are learning you can still hit the farmer's market and practice preserving your food if you don't have a good harvest.
    I sometimes don't realize how much I've changed from being a consumer to making a bit of the stuff  I need to live. But when I think about it I'm a problem for the "Elites". I pay cash, I barter or trade, I buy low and eat high. I buy 2nd hand or I just make do without. I don't have pension or 401k, I bank with a local credit union. I'm the problem, I won't support the debt/credit economy. It's "indenture servitude" or slavery by credit/debt.
Big bad Feds could take my home, fine I'm ready. I don't like it and I'm happy to pay my mortgage. But the ultimate in power on any deal is the power to walk away.
   

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Balancing Act continues on unabated

    Huzzah, looks like this Flare of CIDP is easing up and I can get back to work on prepping. I got some bread baked and the beer fermenting over this last week.  Knocked down a few weeds with the weed wacker and few pulled out of the garden. It takes me some time to get stuff down in small  blocks with rest in between but at least now I can get something done.That's the part of the physical "balance act". We all have work around different claims on our time and energy. Don't feel bad if you don't get everything done at once. The Sun will rise the next day for you to do some more, and if the Sun doesn't come up, you weeding your garden will be the least of your problems.
    So onto the financial balancing act. I'm a firm believer in the main focus of all prep should be getting 1 year worth of all your "basic needs" comes first. Then backups for "emergencies" like the flooding or fires that have caused so many evacuations. You should have camping gear you can throw in the car quickly, a prepacked RV or friends /family you can stay with out of the Impact Zone. A little cash on hand for gas and stuff to tied you over until you get to your destination. After you have all these thing taken care of you may feel a bit lost on what to do next in your prepping or at least I did somewhat so I started looking at being even more self-sustaining and independent.
GET OUT OF DEBT!! This is the most critical thing for independence. Pay off loans, credit cards and get rid of all debt as quickly as possible. Otherwise you are debt slave in this system. I really like the "Debt-free Living" system. I used it to get out and stay out of debt. I suck at using Credit Cards so I don't have any, but I do have an Emergency Fund setup of 3 months of expenses and I'm working toward 6 months.  It does take a little time to get it done, especially with inflation of food and gas prices. Don't get discouraged it will happen if you keep working at it. Pay cash or use layaway to make purchases. I've used layaway on everything from a Propane oven, 2 guns, to a laptop. Kmart/Sears offer an 8 week layaway program nation wide and it's a great program.   lot more of local stores are starting to add layaway as an option.
   This can have a positive effect on how you look at your life. You start looking ahead toward the future and you have more control over your life instead of always reacting and being in "crisis management". Like today I've been planning some Xmas shopping for next month. Christmas in July!! Now I  have several nice sweaters I bought at the Macy's outlet for my sisters and ladies in the family that will be perfect gifts in December. In July camping gear and electronics go on sale so it's a great time to pick up bargains. Those little video recorders, MP3/4 players, toys are in the Summer Doldrums and you can get some really great stuff without all the pressure of the Xmas season.  You don't have to fight any crowds/mobs and actually enjoy the season. Heck I already got 2 turkeys sitting in the freezer for holiday meals. I'm hoping to do a Prime Rib again for New Years eve, and I want a fresh rib to cook. Since turkeys are already frozen anyway for Thanksgiving/Xmas I'll take the money spent on turkey and spend it on prime rib instead in Dec.

This is what I am talking about as far as balance. You know that certain things will always happen from buying school supplies/kid clothes in August to Holidays to birthday presents and cards. Stock up now, you are not cheating you are being smart.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What a miserable weekend

Sorry folks, I had lotsa plans and the ole body just went into shutdown. I did get few things done this week and weekend just not what I had planned.  A good example of being flexible and move with the flow instead of against it. Stuff will always happen at the least convient moment, so a good lesson for me  that I should have already learned.
Anyhoo got my laptop and I'm uploading it with the books and games I want to have on hand if I got to boogie. More work to be done but it's at home and ready to be filled with info.
Got  my pekes combed and brushed out. I think I could knit another dog from all the hair I combed off them.  Tried out a product (Bath in a Bag) from the local dollar store and it did a lot better job than I thought it would. Brand name Out! dog bathing wipes. Not perfect but a darn good subsitute for bathing a pet when water is hard to come by or a lot of work. I think you should do prep for your pets and have a least the same amount of basics for them on hand as you would yourself and your family.
So needless to say I bought a bit more silver and my Mom bought a bit more as well. Goodness knows we aren't big players we just do the best we can. I'm doing darn good on the basics from bulk food , to meat stored in the freezer, to the garden. We sure ain't the Hunt brothers we are just doing the best we can in a bad situation.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome Turdites, adding in few more items so you can find what you need.

Well I'm getting a lot more hits on the blog as more folks are getting ready. Absolutly faboo from my point of veiw. I want you able to take care of yourself. It makes life easier for me. Totally enlightened self intrest, I don't want you to attack me for a bit of bread, rice or beans. I sure don't want to shoot/kill you for it either, but I will in a heartbeat. The more that learn they can be self reliant and do something about it, the less targets anyone has to deal with.
I'm not noble I want you to learn and know you can take care of you and yours. So you don't fuss with me and my friends. Get your stuff together, be as ready as you can and you will be be greeted with an open hand. Try to lie,  cheat, steal, and trick you will be met with lead. Getting shot is generally contraindicated as a survival strategy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oh! muffins and other colorful metaphors

I so wanted to be wrong about our hired DC boneheads. But they are dumber than a bag of hammers. I'm not sure about others but I'm tired of playing "Wall"  and wrestling this pig. I think I'll keep dropping out, getting off the grid and ready to scoot if needed. My income is SSD and busted body, vet "benefits". Funny when I busted 4 vertabrea in my back it didn't feel beneficial. But stuff happens always and we serfs are left holding the bag. I'm working on the value added side of the game. I can't grow wheat, but I can bake bread or make beer and propagate yeast. I can't grow a lot of corn but I can make tortillas and good chips. I can't grow beef but I can make good jerky.
Will it work? I don't know. It's just the best I can do. I'm having a hell of a lot fun learning stuff. If it wasn't for that whole TEOWAKI or SHTF stuff I'd be having a great time learning and doing stuff.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pale ale is bottled!!

Pale ale is done. While good tasting I'm not tasting a big difference, perhaps a bit lighter but close to the amber ale.
I'm not making beers based on color coordination so I think Amber ale it is for playing with on recipes.
Tried out the neighbor's beer quite dark and very dry. Not bad at all but I've found I like the fruitiness of the Cascade Hops. But I like wheat beers and I think they are a bit sweeter than barley based beers.
So I got a Dark ale to brew following the same recipe and ingredients. This should give me a base for branching out into my own brews.
Lessons learned:
  1. Sanitation is everything, rince/soak bottles then run through a dishwasher without the dry cycle. Even my Mr. Beer bottles have survived the dishwasher's lower rack. Scrub with a bottle brush if unsure of origin.
  2. Buy a small bottle of acid based sanitizer, I use 5 star for a spray bottle and for my buckets, bottles, lids and caps.  I keep a spray bottle and spare bucket for the excess as long as it foams a bit it's supposed to be good for sanitizing.
  3. White sugar as a prime for carbonation seems to be just fine. 2/3 of a cup in 2 cups of boiled water cooled per 5-6 gallons of beer and all bottles are good on carbonation with no explosions. I know some suggest corn sugar but I think it's a selling point. 
  4. I prefer "Tall boy" bottles rather than 12-16 oz. It just seems easier and faster to me. The local "Beer lady" has mini-Kegs" so I may have to check those out.
  5. These simple recipes for ales and wheat beer give me a good base to build on. But doing the "simple" very well is hard.  I think it is a lesson we often forget. Plus I really am enjoying the process and I got beer and no sin taxes paid. 
  6. cheers

I have the oddest feeling that IT has begun.

    I've been looking for a "Tipping point" that says the SHTF and I think it  has happened and I missed it. I'm not sure if it's been the media, the "ROB MOBs", TBTF or the PTBs but I think things are going down hill fast, for example:
  1. Weinergate: It's not about sex it's about the lying and CYA mentality of the politicians and Media lackeys. Charlie Rangel seems as long as Weiner wasn't going after little boys everything is Okay. 
  2. Urban riots up and down the easternseaboard during Memorial Day and the ROB Mobs, open gunfire in the streets of NY and Chicago has joined Detroit as a war zone. The politicians pass laws against salt, smoking and trans Fat.
  3. Polital theater and nothing has been done but a lot of talk. No budget, Obamacare not touched, Debt out of control. Obama and Boehner go golfing together.
  4. Treasury is looting federal pension plans. I think your 401k is next.
  5. Property law, contracts and the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 10th amendment under attack or simply ignored
  6. Police shootings, SWAT raids and beat downs are way out of control. Nice little object lesson in fear for you serfs.
  7. Wars without end and a 10 year old state of emergency still in effect from 9/11.The House could have defunded the wars and all 3 branches just extended the PATRIOT Act agian.
  8. People are actually bragging how long the can stay in a house without paying  their Mortgage. The average is 18 months now. TBTF banks can't afford to foreclose cause they will have to much toxic debt or they broke the contract and can't foreclose. But this is a very bad development for the rule of law and property rights and the housing market can't correct until losses are taken. 
  9. If gas prices aren't bad enough the EPA is now causing the shut down of 6 Coal fire electrical  power plants back east. So your rates will increace 10%-35% Which is code for 35%-40%.
  10. More flooding in the midwest means more expensive food & clothes this fall and winter.
     What can you do? Get out of any of the TBTF banks. I know you often don't get a choice is now servicing your mortgage, but close all checking, savings and credit card accounts as quickly as you are able. I recommend Local banks and Credit Unions. Google any local banks and find out if they are affiliated with the TBTFs. Plus I've had 2 CU help me rebuild my credit get car loans when I got disabled.
     Get debt free and go to cash as much as possible. Stop being a debt slave. Lot's of free ideas on getting debt-free around. Yes there will be pain, but once you start getting rid those "chains of slavery" you will feel a huge weight being lifted off of you. I live on less than $1100.00 per month. I pay for everything including my house payment and, no SNAP, phone or energy/ government assitance I make $10.00 per month to much to qualify. I don't go to food banks I give to them. That's only one person.  I make most of my bread and meals from scratch, I grow a garden. I don't go eat out or go to bars but make my own beer now.
     Get small on costs and downsize whatever you can based on cost/benefit ratios. Such as you can kill or downsize TV cable/sat. If you are like me you find you tend to watch certain shows or networks 75% of the time. Pick the programming that is the lowest cost and the closest match. Netflix, hulu, youtube are great free and cheap alternatives. DVD's are great, I used them a lot when stationed in Germany. You can get them for free at your local library. Plus you control the TV it doesn't control you.
    Don't step over a dollar to pick up a dime. Buy quality and look at long term costs. I use Magic jack as my home phone. I get a little echo but I'll put up with that for the price of $20.00 a year. Now my parents have me on their verizon cell "Family plan" as they worry about me being disabled. So I pay my part of their bill and they are happy. Plus I'm not a big phone user anyway. But it's nice to have when you need it, and they get a little help with the phone bill. Sometimes the cheapest option isn't the best option.
     Be creative and get out that "damn box" that everyone want's to put you in. Stop caring what others think and stop keeping up with the Jones. You are not your job, car, your house or your clothes. Stop putting others in boxes. I know I'm considered odd, at best and a "wingnut" or worse by members of my own family. because I don't play the game. One has lost a home, car and is declaring bankruptcy again. The other sibling is facing divorce and probably a bankruptcy or lost home in a year. I got bailed out by my parents when I got disabled, I've paid back 95% so far and learned . They got bailed out  no pay back and want more of the same. Yet I'm the weirdo.... :) But I sleep well at night knowing I'm doing the best I can not the least I can get away with.
     You can do it too. I'm not special just a little redneck girl from Idaho. Things are not magically easier for me cause I don't work or since I'm disabled. Sometimes it sucks just like it does for you. As a kid I grew up in what you call lower middle class or poor. But I had food a place to live and a new coat every other year.
If you can get your mind out of rat race are willing to do a little work and wait for what really matters and not give into whims. It is well worth it. For me it was my Mom telling me I'm impressed, A woman that worked 3 jobs as a single mother back in the 70's to keep her kids off welfare. That's good enough for me.



    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    The economic data sucks but I'm getting few more items taken care of...

    The Mesquite chunk charcoal went on sale at C&C  another 80 pounds should cover cooking, BBQ and smoking. I like the smoke flavor and it doesn't have binders and fillers like briquettes. Yes I know a total 360# of charcoal sounds like a lot to have on hand. But it doesn't take up much space in the shop.
          Pale ale  is bottled. Those reusable flip-top caps are a bit harder to attach than I anticipated. Should have practiced or attached them before bottling. Using all "tall boy" bottles this time almost made up for those lids.
        It's probably blasphemy using Mr. Beer plastic bottles, but I do like the lightweight and screw on caps for convenience and ease of handling. I haven't tasted a difference between the plastic and glass after it conditions though it maybe different if I stored it for awhile. I can see the plastic as a bonus camping or on the boat because it's light weight, resealable and can't break like glass. Even with all the cussing and cursing the new caps into place, I'm  reducing my time and energy spent on making/bottling beer  I take over a full bottle to neighbors and get more bottles I can use back. It also looks like a good barter item and I drink good beer that is to my taste instead of just buying what is available in the store.
        Had a whole day without rain and got most of the back lawn mowed. Still got a bunch of weeds to knock down and try and kill again in the alley way. Saw a few little sprouts starting in the raised beds and citrus trees have taken off since I moved them to a different room.  The 2 rain barrels are full and I haven't used any City water to irrigate.  Topped off another bin for canned goods and 25 # of sugar is in the bucket.
      Even with the CIDP flare and the rainy weather not such a bad week after all.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    I'm feeling closer to human....

    The weather has kicked my butt. It scares me a bit but life can be nasty. While I may hurt it does make me alert in those dark hours. I can stand watch during bad weather and in the dark of the night. While I maybe miserable I can stand watch (I'm awake anyway) I can make coffee, heat water and make stuff if not pleasant less unpleasant.
    Anyway I do hope that this weather has settled down a bit. I haven't forgotten I owe you some survival buckets a BOB or 2 and some indoor gardens. Plus your feedback. I am sorry it's taking so long. I didn't plan on a flare of my CIDP. Murphy can be a real asshole.
    You take the good with the bad and like Janus they are joined at the hip or head.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    I suggest you panic!!!

    Okay , not really but things are not getting better economically. We have broken records of more folks getting more Federal assistance than they pay in taxes. That's not counting all the US Corporations, banks and the big business welfare queen's subsidies, grants and mandates. This year's harvest is not looking good between flooding, tornadoes and regulations. Same for oil and now it's global for both energy and food. I'm sure many of you have been very unhappy with the political situation in DC. Both Bush and Obama, Democrat and Republican. As a recovering Reagan republican/ conservative I understand. We got Bush out and got Obama in 2008. We kicked Pelosi out and got Bohener in 2010 and still nothing has really changed. Different rhetoric but we still don't have budget and we are still piling on the debt and added in another War. 
    I'm not sure about you but I don't think voting changed anything. So what can you do? Besides panic....
    1.  Realize that the only actions you can control are your own. How you react to it is what you do to protect yourself.
    2. The Feds don't care about you. Governments are not compassionate, people are compassionate. When any idiot in DC starts spouting off about how they are lowering taxes. What they are really saying is they will let you keep more of the money you have earned. A bit like a mugger that takes your wallet , yet gives $20.00 back so you can buy gas or cab faire home. Do you feel greatful to the mugger?
    3. Food is still relatively cheap for now. I know you are dealing with inflation on every thing but it will get worse. On average we Americans only pay about 10-15% of income on food. Now imagine you have to pay 40-50% of total income on food or even 70% as they do in the Middle east? I don't think food stamps will cover that. So you must stock up now. I know I never thought I'd (dollar cost average) food. I did that on investments. But this time is different, but in a bad way or perhaps we've been spoiled children and it's time to growup. 
    4. Get debt-free and stop feeding the Beast. I know I was a Yuppie wanna be. Flashy car, a big home in the suburbs, play the market/mutual funds. I was bloody brilliant until I got sick and ended up 100% disabled and spent over 3 months in a nursing home recovering and social security doesn't pay until you've been disabled for at least 6 months and most folks have to re-apply at least 2-4 times before they get benefits. So who will pay your bills for the next 6 months to 3 years? Not counting the medical care costs. I'm a Vet so most of the costs for medical care were covered. But if my parents hadn't covered my mortgages and payments I would have lost everything. I still took quite a beating but I kept everything I paid cash for and kept nothing I was in debt for. Cut up your credit cards get rid of that HELOC and pay them off. It's totally worth it and Layaway plans are coming back. Make an "Emergency Fund" of 3-6 months of bills. Yes, it will hurt a bit at first but once paid off you will be free of those economic parasites that drain you.
    5. Grow your own food, provide your own energy.  Even if you start a few herbs in a window and move up to container gardens, raised bed/square foot or to a few acres. Start now and practice growing and preserving. I love learning drying, canning, salting, smoking and fermentation preservation. Growing and making my own food from salsa to bread, kim chee to beer. There is so much to learn and unlearn in making real food. I'm learning to butcher Pirmals of beef and pork. I could do basics for fish but suck at "fileting" a fish. But it all about what you can control. If I cut up primals I don't have to worry about "Meat Glue" or the USDA saying Ammonia can be part of my hamburger, I've not yet not put ammonia on the ingredient list of my hamburger as a anti-microbial agent. The Fed's don't mind me ingesting ammonia but Heaven help me if anyone pours it into a storm drain or river.
    6. I'm still working towards power. A small solar setup and bikes and or animals seem about the simplest and doable on a small budget. I can't run my home or car forever on petrol-chemicals. It would be cost prohibitive. Idaho does have a lot of Hydro-power and the Geo-thermal energy has hardly been touched. Natural gas might bring a good alternative in the future against oil but you can't make plastics or 100's of items that are based in petroleum. But always store what you need and build toward what you can't store.
    7. Insurance If you drive a car or own a home you got insurance. Well you are alive and by virtue of that fact, DC says you will buy health insurance. Cause some how insurance is healthcare or body shop repairs for your car or a fire station for your home. That kind of thinking must be taught at Ivy league schools which I could never afford But no insurance I know of prevented the bad things that insurance protects against.  But anyway what is your insurance for an economic collapse, recession or depression? So bad stuff can happen even if insured.
    I suggest you panic! and depend on yourself and not DC or your State or the Media. 

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Amber Ale in the bottles!

    Amber ale is carbonating/conditioning after fermenting a few extra days because of a flareup I had. It seems okay as I took the lid off the fermenting bucket, nice yeast smell, almost fruit-like compared to the Wheat beer. The Hops I used had very fruity aroma and I think it came through very well. 
    Bottling went  a lot quicker this time. I used some "Tall boy" bottles as well as a case of longnecks. I was better prepared and had set up a stool so I didn't have to stoop so much filling bottles on the floor.
    I almost  forgot to prime with sugar. I had the sugar already disolved and cooled and added it in 1/2 way filling the bottling bucket so no harm done.
    I guess the last thing is to see how this batch carbonates in 7-10 days.





    Update:
    Did a taste test on the Amber ale. Still needs a bit more time carbonating/conditioning.   I really like the fruity flavor/aroma of the Cascade Hops. It's not at all sweet, and very smooth on the tongue. I think this amber ale could end up as a great summer beer. Nice clean finish with just a bit of hoppy flavor that fills  the nasal cavity as it is swallowed.
    cheers