Saturday, January 18, 2014

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - It doesn't cost much to learn

The tea kettle is getting a lot of use this winter!
We continue to feel the affects of the Polar Vortex and the blizzard conditions of a couple weeks ago.  Although Hubby was able to fix the plumbing, we are still considering options with the van between selling for scrap and seeing if a charity wants it like they did with our former van.  We had already decided, after expensive repairs last year, that any major repair would not be worth the cost.

I wasn't sure where to begin my post-storm writings this week.  I told my daughter I was "waiting for the spirit to move" and all I could come up with was a title.  Even then I changed it when I actually decided this morning (Saturday) what I wanted to run on about share.  Talk about "whistling Dixie!".

I have been interested in the subject of emergency preparedness since the 1980s and written about it online since the 1990s.  But even then I was surprised at how unprepared we were for the extreme cold weather.  It gets very very cold here in winter but -20 actual temps are not common at all.  For instance, we didn't know severe cold could affect an automobile as it did (other than the usual gas line freeze-up protection and antifreeze).

So I decided I need to go back to school... so to speak.  I've probably forgotten more than half of what I learned through the years about emergency prepping.  When I first got started, there was little information available other than Survivalist and Mormon websites (and both would agree the info was limited at that time).

The possibility of a Y2k crash changed all that with excellent information becoming available.  Some of the best was found from homesteading sources (those old enough may remember the "back to the land" movement of the 1970s and early 1980s).  I was able to accumulate a file drawer full of printouts as well as a shelf of books.

Those who scoff at Y2k are not the people I came to know through the event.  For information was learned and deep friendships were developed.  Many of my friends called 1999 the best dress rehearsal they've known for emergency preparedness and for some... simpler living.

And while I am on my Y2k soapbox (so you know never to scoff in the comments, hehehe)... it was a nonevent only because there were a few years to put repairs in place where necessary.  Do you know who made those repairs for the most part?  Computer scientists who were at least middle aged and many brought in from retirement. 

Because they were the only people who knew the computer language and had the necessary skills to work with old code.

Perhaps that is the biggest lesson learned a couple of weeks ago.  One could be stocked up as much they can afford.  One can own the latest and greatest preparedness equipment.  But without knowledge... in a real crisis one can be doomed.

And the good thing about gaining knowledge is this... it can be found free on the Internet.  I'm in the midst of doing more research on the subject again and I promise to share the good stuff I have found here.

I also highly suggest putting together a Pantry Lifestyle library.  That is different from my old preparedness library for the very reason I call these Saturday posts Living the Pantry Lifestyle and not something like Extreme PreppingIt is not about preparing for an emergency, it is a lifestyle of learning and doing.

Below is a suggestion of a few books to begin with, and if you notice only one is about actual prepping.  I included it because I love how it takes on the subject of "stocking up" in a humorous way while teaching a lot of good ideas.  It is one of those books where I would love to sit down with the author and chat.

A couple are urban gardening idea books which contain lots and lots of great information.  One of the best preparedness things we have ever done is to grow a small garden (and all these years later we are still learning!).

You see, a lot of people commented that it was a good thing my husband knew how to fix the plumbing.  Well, ever since I've known him he has been insistent on learning household maintenance skills.  Sometimes they worked out like on the old Tim Allen show, when one had to call an expert (at greater expense) to fix his "fix".  But most of the time he grumbled through the learning curve and gained one small skill at a time.

He knows a lot about carpentry since that was his hobby even before getting a Master's Degree in Wood Science.  He stays away from electrical after seeing his electrician father end up in the hospital recovering from a very bad shock... and my father-in-law was an expert electrical troubleshooter.  Hubby doesn't know a whole lot about modern cars but enough to know we need a good mechanic since we choose to purchase used cars.  ;)

So... here's what I am doing right now that doesn't cost much... or anything at all.

1) Continuing adding to my list of what (in a perfect world with plenty of income), I would want on my pantry shelves.  It's surprising what was not on the list before I started adding items as I ran out.

2) Typing out a copy of my "topping off" list to put in my purse, those things that are a priority on a last minute run to the grocery store (hopefully before the shelves are cleared).

3) Looking through my pantry to see where the Mother Hubbard syndrome has set in.  Being on a fixed income, I don't have a lot of extra funds for the pantry so when I do make a purchase... it needs to fill an important space on the shelves. As an example - I seem to always run out of canned tomatoes.  I was able to stock up a little on baking items as they went on sale over the Holidays.

4) Purchasing a heavy duty flashlight with Amazon credit and researching other items to add eventually.  I learned I need to buy an LED flashlight.  My very favorite sturdy old flashlight was dropped on the cement floor of the garage (we won't say who but his initials are H.U.S.B.A.N.D.) so since it must be replaced, I have read LED is the way to go.  ;)

5) Purchasing a very inexpensive battery operated radio for power outages.  While the $75.00+ jobbies are nice as they have a lot of bells and whistles, all I need is to receive basic information.  A more expensive radio with a NOAA weather station is on the Wish List.

6) Thinking about May and the garden already.  I know I want to plant Swiss chard for the first time, as well as arugula and kale again.  I've decided with such a small garden, one needs to concentrate on nutrient rich foods as well as those things I always plant like tomatoes and green beans.

7) I switched items around in my kitchen since I no longer do a lot of baking and needed more counter space.  I'll put a picture on Show and Tell My World this Week.  ;)

8) Making lots of soups as well as lentil stew as they are frugal and perfect for this kind of weather.  I'm also reading through my cookbooks and a few recipe blogs looking for more soup ideas.

9) Speaking of weather, I am looking into ways to stay warm should the power go out.  We have another round of subzero temperatures moving in. 

10) Perusing the following books... (and yes, these are Associate links and I earn a tiny percent if you make a purchase through the link or through the widget). 

Food Security for the Faint of Heart: Keeping your Larder Full in Lean Times... here.  This is a great book to give to someone you want to gently nudge into deepening their pantry.  To show her humor, she has a chapter titled "Men Will Come with Guns and Take Your Food" followed by one titled "Women Will Come with Food and Take Your Guns".  ;)

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces... here.  I have a large yard but little of it is in sunny spaces.  So I absolutely love this book about growing food in a small space organically.  Lots of pictures, easy instructions! 

Little House in the Suburbs... here.  Sometimes a great blog does not transfer well to a great book.  But this one is wonderful.  Just what you would expect from the skills learned while "homesteading" in the midst of a city!   This book is different than the former in this... Grow Great Grub is more about growing our own food while Little House in the Suburbs contains total homesteading on a small lot info.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette... here.  Simply the poster child for what a Pantry Lifestyle encompasses.

I'll return next week with more information about what I'm doing as part of our Pantry Lifestyle.


Vee said...

Ahhh, yes, I see that Amy is still a neighbor of my sister's. And look! I remembered to return. If I had an extra twenty in my pocket these days, I'd purchase that one. Wonder if it is at my local library. I am wondering what the plan is for replacing your van. One might be able to get along with one vehicle living in the country as you do, but there does need to be one. Praying to that end.

Echoes From the Hill said...

The Complete Tightwad Gazette was my survival guide when I was the single (divorced) mom of three. I still use some of the recipes and reread the success stories when I feel I need more motivation! I practically have them memorized.

Rain said...

I don't comment often (ever?)
but wanted to let you know I really appreciate your Sat. posts. Thanks for all the great book suggestions.


Mary Jane said...

Hi Brenda I think the subject you picked to write about is very interesting. I have 2 of the books you wrote about and I ordered the other 2 books. I am very interested in the subject of staying warm during a power outage. I am changing the subject you were discussing but I wondered if you have seen the picture on NASA website called the Hand of God cloud. It was created by an exploding star. It is a wonderful sight.

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
I have read The Tightwad Gazette for many years, it is available at my local library. Very good stuff indeed! I am practicing the art of keeping a pantry full in case of an
emergency or in case I am just plain out of money. Sure does help. But I need more practice in keeping up with it. Have a wonderful week end. Love and Hugs, Nana

Anonymous said...

Not only is your seed list full of good nutrients but also some of the more expensive veggies at the markets. Plus growing them yourself organically they are sure to be less !! I am looking foreword too to any new ideas you can pass our way. I will look into these books. What would you want in an emergency radio and what not need? We haven't gotten one and Have started looking. Here it is in the 70s and 80s. Warmer than usual even for S. Calif. We are not used to trying to stay warm much but if our weather changed or power out many of us would be hurting as we do not stock up on blankets etc. An electric blanket will do us no good if the power is out either! :) We have had two mild earth quakes recently too and that naturally reminds you to keep thinking preparedness also. With your experience you can sift through the information better than we might.
We have been eating down things and reevaluating what we keep in the pantry and why. Out with some of the old and in with some better new things. I know to not keep all foods and supplies in one place in the house in case one area is wrecked and the rest ok. Thanks Brenda for keeping us informed. Sarah

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love the idea of being prepared. I do keep a stocked pantry and try to maintain it. Will you be posting your "lists"? I'm interested in what is on your list….thinking maybe I should have a "top it off" list also.
Have a great weekend.


Raquel said...

I have a very good suggestion for if the power goes out. Our furnace went out 2 weeks ago, just at the beginning of the polar vortex. Here in Missouri, we had temps with wind chill of -35. We got a ventless propane heater and set it up with a 100 lb cylinder, which holds approximately 24 gallons of propane. We set that up on Sunday, then our furnace was fixed on Friday. It took approximately 18 gallons of propane to heat our approximately 1600 square foot house and it kept it a comfortable 70 degrees all the time. The heaters themselves are very reasonable - $170 at Menards, slightly higher at Lowe's. Of course you would have to pay for the propane, but you can buy your own cylinder for $88 at Menards and then just have the price of the propane itself. It is very low odor. They have them that you can mount to the wall permanently or freestanding. There will be an initial installation fee and you will have to have copper tubing and some fittings. My husband works in the propane business and installs these all the time. Sure saved our bacon - and pipes and such. We put ours in the basement of our raised ranch and it worked like a charm. Mostly we are very thankful to God that he gave hubby the experience and wisdom on what to do. Please get the word out - once the initial cost is over,which would be around$300 or so, then all you have to make sure you have is propane.

Bellen said...

One of the best ways to stay warm during a power outage is to have a designated room to use. Wear hats, several layers of clothes, fingerless gloves. Use a tent, inside, at night with sleeping bags etc. Make sure you do not have leaks around windows and doors.
All of your book selections are great. The Complete Tightwad Gazette I found interesting but, I guess because of my age, nothing was really new to me. Good to read however to remind me of things I'd forgotten
Wrote down 2 of your quotes: "Lifestyle of learning and doing" and "Without a real crisis one can be doomed". Need to impress the importance of this on a couple of my neighbors - their coping skills are to drive somewhere and have someone else take care of them.

Glenda said...

Hi Brenda,

Great subject and needed as discussion. The books you choose are excellent and we love each of them. There are so many wonderful books and blogs on 'preparedness' in case of a national disaster, a weather disaster, loss of a job/income, etc.

We have frequent power outages here in the West and have a wood cookstove and a woodstove; one on each level of the house. These have been such a blessing when the power goes out like it did last week for 14 hours one day when it was in the teens temperature wise.

We, also, have a backup generator which, fortunately, we haven't had to use yet, but it is at the ready. I keep LED candles in each room of the house for two purposes. In case the electricity goes off we have an immediate source to turn on until we grab the flashlights and LED lanterns; plus, since they have timers and we are in our 60's we use them as 'middle of the night' nightlights. I have them set to come on at 3 a.m., so when I arise at 4 a.m. the livingroom, kitchen, and my study are already lighted. Since we have two LARGE Golden Retrievers to stumble over in the dark, it makes our environment safer.

I hope you don't mind one suggestion. Don't forget to check out those vegetables and herbs that grow well in shaded/semi-shaded areas. Some vegetables and herbs actually prefer the shaded protection.

I'm looking forward to your upcoming posts. I always enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Little House in the Suburbs is doing a "prep along" right now for those interested.

Sorry to hear about your van. There does come a time when it just doesn't pay to keep repairing a vehicle. We donated our old Volvo to charity that uses the money for breast cancer research.