Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Canning Pickle Relish

I used the recipe for pickle relish from the Ball's Blue Book of Canning.
You never can go wrong with the BBB.

Below is a picture of the cukes, carrots and onions soaking.

These are the dry ingredients. Pickle spices and sugar. Add the vinegar later when adding the veggies.

Draining the soaked veggies.

Rinsing the veggies.

After rinsing the veggies, you need to squeeze out as much of the water as possible.

This is the pickle spices, sugar and vinegar boiling before adding the veggies.

Cooking the relish. I think it's a shame that those beautiful, brilliant colors of the fresh veggies are completely changed to something completely different and muted. Oh well. That's what it's gotta be.

After cooking the veggies and spices on the stovetop, load them up in jars, wipe rims, add lids and rings and process in water bath canner.

Here are a couple of my beautiful jars of relish. I think it was a great project for all those extra cucumbers I had this summer.

I think it's so awesome to think that one can bottle up and preserve hard work from the summer to enjoy in the middle of winter. It's a sweet reward for all the sweat and toil.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sanitation Supplies

I know it's not fun to think of stuff like this but you have to.  In case of just about anything, you need to consider how you're going to prevent disease and or deal with it.  So, here are a few things to consider adding to your supplies.  If you think of more, please let me know.

Feminine supplies - pads and tampons (There are reusable pads and tampons out there)
Toilet paper
Soap (liquid/bar)
Rubbing Alcohol
Hydrogen Peroxide
Various essential oils
First Aid supplies
Trash bags/plastic store bags (the smaller bags can be used to dispose of human waste if needed)


Paper disposable gowns
Lots of gloves
Laundry soaps
Dish soaps
Hand sanitizer
Paper towels
Plastic sheeting for a quarantine area
Some sort of outhouse,whether it be a small tent or a wood shelter

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not My Child!!!

It happened to me.  I had heard that it could but I thought I had raised my children better than that.  What am I talking about?

My six-year old daughter would NOT eat the ham/bean soup I made for dinner.  Can you believe that?  It was so good.  After a long time and much cajoling, she ate three bites and then outright rejected them.  That's the Reader's Digest version.  There is definitely MUCH more to the story.

Why do I tell you this story?  Because, you need to know that children will NOT eat anything if they're hungry enough.   It won't work.  You need to plan on other options for them.  Or get them used to the "beans" now before you really have to use them for survival.

Figure out what it is your child(ren) won't eat NOW.  Are there other ways to introduce the food?  I do grind my beans and put them in breads, cookies, spaghetti sauce and soups/stews.  But, that particular night, I just wanted bean soup for dinner.

I have a friend that has had to figure out how to introduce wheat bread to her children for the same reason.  That and powdered milk.  She's slowly figured out how to feed her children these basics of food storage, but it has taken years to get the strategy just right.

I obviously have some work to do with my little six year old.  She's a stubborn thing, but I'm thankful I discovered that part of her now and not when things could be super, duper bad.

Chicken Butts and Quinoa

That's a gross title huh?

I had to write this down somewhere while it's still oh-so-fresh.  Bleh!

We moved into the country last year onto a few acres and a big, fixer-upper house.  It's taken some adjustment.  Mostly on my part.

Cutting to the chase.....we have chickens.  We've only had chickens about two months now.

I just had the unique experience of caring for a laying hen with a prolapse.  That's doesn't sound so bad.  No, maybe not to you.  But a prolapse is kinda like a chicken hemorrhoid.  It's when the piping of the egg tube gets strained an starts to come out the vent...which is the egg hole.

Poor girl had a nasty mess down there.  I won't go into details but I had to bring her inside and clean her up.  Not only that, I used my witch hazel pads left over from my five children's births to clean her little vent.  THEN....THEN....I put triple antibiotic ointment on my gloved-fingers and rubbed it on the vent and actually pushed the prolapse back up in her.  Believe it or not, I think she felt relieved.

I dried her off and then according to the people who know more than me....we put her in a cage downstairs in the basement with little food and water and in the dark.  There she can rest and hopefully not lay any eggs.  That whole little system needs to rest.

That's what I did.  I learned a new skill I guess.  I only gagged twice.  The second time is when my daughter Lucy started to describe how nasty the chicken's butt looked.....WHILE I was cleaning it.


I was quite productive with other self-reliant skills today as well.  The chicken butt was just a bonus!

I made dinner in the solar oven.  Yay!!!  I also made up a bunch of quinoa to eat tonight instead of white rice.  I quite like quinoa.  My two-year old couldn't get enough of it.  My 13 year old son would rather have rice but he ate it without complaining!  Bonus #2

I finally strained my passion flower tincture that's been brewing for nearly eight weeks.  YAY!!!

These experiences--whether you succeed or not-- are crucial for developing self-reliance.  It's such a great feeling.  I did about the worse thing I could've thought of by washing that chicken's butt.  I was tough.  Next time, I'll know what I'm doing and hopefully catch it before it gets so bad.

I feel a little more positive and confident.  I'm very thankful for the internet and the advice others wrote concerning the chicken's issue.

Ok....closing down for the day.  I do have pictures of the solar oven meal and the quinoa.  I don't think you want to see pics of the chicken's butt. :)

Have a good day!!

UPDATE:  Our little chicken didn't make it.  Her prolapse was too severe.  After spending a lot of money at the vet, it was determined that she needed to be put down.  So sad!

AND.....our second little chicken that we ALSO took to the vet was too weak and she passed away in my arms on Tuesday night.  It was a sad chicken week for our family.  Alas, these are the things we're learning.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Preps

Not sure if I've done this or not but I figured I post about it anyway.  This is an email that I wrote to a group of people that are actively preparing and learning new skills.

I encourage you ALL to think about preparing for the winter months.  I think ice may be a part of our experience this year.  Make sure you have at least one alternate source of heat and light.  It's my understanding from reading a few accounts of people caught in an ice storm that IF you have an alternate source of heat, you will not be made to leave you home for a shelter for an undetermined amount of time.  I may not be 100% on target with that statement but I've read a number of experiences and this seems to be the norm.  

Our new house does have a fireplace but before that we only had forced heat which of course requires electricity.  So we bought a couple of the Big Buddy heaters that run off of propane. You can use the little propane tanks or get the adapter to use the bigger tanks.  This is what they look like.   You can do a google search to find a good price but this one is actually pretty good.  There are a couple of different sizes.  We chose the bigger ones because I wanna be really warm. :)  We did practice with it.  The Big Buddy used one small propane tank running on the highest setting for one hour.  It wouldn't have needed to be run like that especially if the room had be closed off to the rest of the house.  

Also, make a plan on how you'll close off your house and "live" in one or two rooms together as a family.  Have sheets or blankets ready to block of other rooms or hallways.  

Think about your sources of cooking as well.  You should still be somewhat prepared for that from your experiences prepping for the hurricane.  Do you have a camp stove?  And fuel? Do you have a regular gas stove that you can light manually?  Do you have enough water stored?  Especially those of us on wells?  If you don't have electricity, you don't get water.  You'll need to be able to flush potties.  

Sources of light.  You should have those from your hurricane preps too.  If not, run out to the Walmart and for about $11 you can buy a hurricane lamp and a quart of lamp oil.  If you have those solar lights out in your yard, use those as indoor lights during the nights.  Set them inside a mason jar or something similar and they'll be a bit more sturdy that way.  Then in the morning, put them back outside.

Have a few large tarps on hand too in case you have a tree fall on your house.  At least you'll be able to prevent precipitation from coming into the house to make matters worse.  

Chainsaws are always nice to have.  If you have one, make sure it's working properly and you have an extra chain or two.  

Have some games to play and books to read.  Crossword puzzle, word search and sudoko books are nice to have on hand.

You can charge your phones in the car.  I bought a bunch of those wind up cell phone chargers when Emergency Essentials had them for sale last year.  They did NOT work for our iPhones at all. I haven't found another option for charging yet.

Don't forget to have your car prepared as well.  Charger cables at a minimum.  You'll need at least one blanket, flashlight, food etc.  Think about giving those as gifts this year especially to your teenagers that have their own cars.   

I know it's not any fun to think about these things, but we have to.  It's so much easier to think about them now and prepare for them in the comfort and warmth of our homes than when we lose electricity and it's flipping cold outside.  Please get your houses in order this way.  Know where your blankets are.  Are there ready-to-eat foods that your family will eat if you don't have a way to cook?  We've been so blessed in our area that we've not had major natural disasters occur in a widespread way.  Let's take that as a blessing and do what we can with the resources we have to prepare.  Let's be strong and organized.  This is the only way we can confidently serve others as well.  If you're too worried about you own family and existence because you didn't prepare, you'll never be able to serve anyone else.  And we're here on earth to serve others and lift their burdens.  Many of you have lifted my burdens and that of my family with our recent move.  I'm so humbly thankful for your hard work, food and good cheer.  I struggled to muster it myself.  Continue to be that for others.  

Try to be one of the people that doesn't need to go out to the grocery store or Home Depot when there's the threat of a big snowstorm.  That's a great goal to have.  Figure out what you need to do so you don't have to be one of those little grasshoppers. :)  If you need any help or ideas, I'm always here to help and encourage.  But, remember there is One with way more creativity and help than I could ever give.  Rely on Him.

IF you have any other ideas or suggestions, please email them to me so I can share with others.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Facebook Posts

While in the midst of preparing for Hurricane Irene, I would get these ideas about prepping and randomly post them to FaceBook.  I had a number of people comment on how helpful the ideas were.  I thought I'd combine a list of my posts to have in one handy place.  I did "steal" a couple of ideas from other people who had been through this before.

  • We took the enclosure off and flipped our trampoline over. Hope that works.
  • Cook up some pasta and either freeze or keep in fridge in gallon size ziploc bag. Rather than waste water and fuel to boil the water if power is out, you'll be able to simply heat up some spaghetti sauce and add to the pasta. The kids will appreciate comfort food.
  • Double check flashlights and batteries. Make sure flashlights aren't corroded. How many batteries for each light. Do you have candles and matches? Hurricane lamps? Extra oil?
  • Check your yard for anything that can fly away. Secure trash cans, take down bird feeders. If you have rental properties, please ask your tenants to prepare their yards as well. The loose things may not effect your house but could effect others. Ask your neighbors to do the same.
  • The recommended generator time is 30-60 minutes every 4 hours for a refrigerator and 30-60 minutes twice a day for a freezer.
  • If you have a pool, you can submerge your outdoor furniture in it. It'll keep it from blowing around.
  • Get some cleaning supplies including bleach for the clean up too. It may not be your home that needs the help. Be prepared to help others.
  • Make sure you have a few pair of work gloves for all the clean up after she hits.
  • More ideas for prepping: get all your laundry done and dishes washed. If the power goes out you'll want clean clothes and dishes. Buy paper plates and plasticware so you don't have to dirty any dishes.
  • Please prepare! Lots of fresh water. Baby stuff--diapers, wipes, formula, lots of water

Hurricane Irene Lessons and Observations

Holes in my Preps:

Lighting sources
  • I need more oil and wicks for my hurricane lamps
  • I have two lamps but one doesn't have a chimney--need to get one
  • I did go out and buy some little votive candle holders--didn't have any of those

  • I'm a little concerned about my food in the freezer but I have a plan if things start to go bad.  
  • I didn't have a cooler, so I went out and bought one.
  • Ice or frozen things.  I didn't get any bags of ice.  Instead I put cases of bottles of water in the freezer and moved to the cooler.
  • I wish I would've cooked more-- like a roast or whole chicken to have quickie foods to eat.
  • Water-- we didn't have the water storage we usually do because we've been using it a lot recently. Left that to the last minute but thankfully we were able to find plenty.  I think we were able to get 17 cases of 24 bottles.  I hate that I was unprepared for that.  I did have 14 cases in the food room but that's not enough if the water isn't potable.
  • I wish the house was cleaner.
  • I wish ALL the laundry was done including sheets.
  • I'm not convinced that we shouldn't have boarded up our windows.
  • I'm annoyed that my neighbors aren't taking care to clean up their yards. Don't know what I could've done about that.
  • We didn't take good care of our generators.  One of them wouldn't start so thankfully we were able to sell it for $300 the morning of the hurricane.  Thank goodness for Craigslist.
  • We need to run the generators once every couple of months. We started with three.  One didn't work and we lent one to Sam's mom and kept the biggest and newest for us.  Who would've thought we'd be down to one.  Crazy!

What I've done right:

  • Have and found my hurricane lamp and oil.
  • Had all my flashlights and lanterns in one place.  Checked them all to make sure there were no corroded batteries.
  • Pulled out one of my crank flashlights that is supposed to also charge a cell phone.  The charger part did not work.  Good to know so I don't have to worry about making that work. But, need to find out if there is a device that would work.
  • I do have solar yard lights that we can use also.

  • Taking the advice from a good friend and mentor in preparedness, Cheryl Driggs (, I bought some pudding cups and fruit cups for the kids as something fun to eat.  I never buy those and they've been begging me to eat them ever since I brought them home.
  • I also bought some Reese's Peanut Butter cups (lots of those) mostly for Sam but the kids will beg for those as well.
  • Other fun food I bought:  sugar wafers, strawberry frosted Pop Tarts (for me), cookies, cake mixes (to use in the dutch oven or solar oven), other various crackers and cookies.
  • We cooked 11 lbs of pasta and put them in gallon sized bags in the fridge and freezer.  My thought is that we're not going to want to use the fuel or the water to cook it when we want it.  This way we'll be able to add a little pasta sauce or butter and have some comfort food.  You may think that's a lot, but trust me--for this family it'll be gone in a couple of days.  We eat a lot of pasta anyway and if we need to share, that'll help too.

  • We cleaned up the backyard spic and span.  Flipped over the trampoline.  
  • Got all the laundry done...almost (at this writing just before the winds are about to hit)
  • The house is fairly clean.  
  • Flashlights are loaded with fresh batteries, oil lamp is trimmed and ready, other candles on the counter ready to be used if needed.
  • I have plenty of ways to cook without power.
  • Purchased fresh bleach and disinfectant wipes.
  • Have plenty of wipes and diapers for the baby.  Wipes for us to use too.
  • I got a great deal on propane tanks fro Craigslist a few weeks ago.  6 tanks for $80.  We had all of those filled.  Plus we have about 4 more that were partially filled.  I feel comfortable that we'd be able to cook on my Camp Chef stoves if we lose power.
  • My dad gave us a butane stove a few months ago with a set of 4 butane fuel canisters.  This will allow us to cook indoors if necessary.  The stoves cost around $20 on Amazon.  That's a very inexpensive investment in prepping.

The strong part of the storm hasn't hit yet as of 9pm on Saturday August 27.  We've had one little blip of a power outage.  Hardly lasted a second.  I've heard that surrounding areas are losing power.  That stinks.

I have one more load in the washer to go into the dryer.  I'm hoping for just a little more time.  Fingers crossed.  

I'm anxious for this next phase.  I've heard reports from friends down in Virginia how horrible the winds are.  Lots of trees are falling.  I do worry a bit about our house.  Sam and I toured our yard.  He thinks we'll be alright.  I'm kinda wishing we had boarded up the windows.  I'll know on the other side of this storm if that was a mistake.

I can say that I'm worried.  I wish the hard part of this storm would've hit during the day instead of the middle of the night.  Oh well.  I'm concerned about potential flooding in the house.  My neighbors didn't clean up their yards.  Even when we asked if we could help them move their outside furniture, they just said they'd turn it over.  They've got bird feeders and bird baths and all sorts of other crap all around their house.  It's rude to not take care.  Their stuff isn't just going to stay in their yard and only effect them.  Their carelessness will potential effect this entire neighborhood.  That angers me too.

I am SO tired.  I haven't slept well in the last three nights and I've been working so hard to get the house and family ready for the storm.  Will I sleep tonight with the storm raging?  I don't know.  I'm finding myself extremely apprehensive.  

I was originally going to leave and take the kids to Virginia.  That may have been the better choice but I would've been sick with worry to be away from Sam.


I praise God that this storm was not nearly as bad as it could've been for our area here in NJ.  We did take in a little bit of water in the basement but not bad at all.  Our electricity stayed on throughout the storm and we were able to receive statellite tv transmission for most of the night.  We did lost internet and cable.  Sam had a wireless "hot spot" device that allowed us to maintain access to the internet.  That was a blessing as well.

The kids slept out in the living room together.  I went to bed still a bit nervous of the forthcoming high winds and the repeated tornado warnings.  I would say that we were not prepared for the potential of tornadoes.  I've got to mull that one over a bit.  Our basement is full of moving boxes that have been packed, so it would've been a very uncomfortable night if we would've had to stay down there all night.  In our new house, I'll make sure we have a room that is finished and comfortable for hunkering down there in case of a tornado.

Other things on our "would've done" list are:
  • clean out the refrigerator and freezer as one of the first things to do to accommodate ice and other extra foods such as milk and water bottles
  • have some "blue ice" frozen and ready for the cooler
  • Sam wishes he would've had a good trailer with a flip down tailgate for moving the generators and other opportunities of service.  We'll work on getting one of those.
  • lighting--as mentioned above
  • more practice with my alternate sources of cooking in case the power would've gone out - solar oven, volcano stove with the dutch ovens
  • general organization - just being able to find what I need when I need it.  I did pretty well with that, but there is WAY more organizing that could've been in place.  In my own defense, I am in the process of packing and moving my house.  BUT, because of a great iPhone app, I was able to find a couple of the things I needed in boxes that had been packed.  The app is call "Box It Up".  I highly recommend it.
  • One of the things I did in anticipation of being without power for a while is to print math worksheets for the kids.  My friend Cheryl Driggs advised others to get back to a sense of normalcy after the storm regardless of the power.  So, I made plans to school the kids throughout the upcoming weeks.  I'm glad for that counsel, but glad that we get to maintain our current lifestyle.
  • I did get all the laundry done - in fact, as I pulled the last load out of the dryer, I thanked God and told him it was ok if the power went out now, but quickly relayed that I'd appreciate it if it never went off. :)  Ha!  
  • I'm glad I stayed with the family as a whole.  I'm glad I got to practice preparing.  Glad I didn't have to use them, though.
  • Funny story:  I bought the pudding cups for the kids to have something fun to eat.  Leah, my five year old, kept begging to have on all day Saturday.  I kept telling her they were for later when the power went out.  Sunday morning she asked for one.  I told her that because the power never went out, no pudding cup.  Poor thing. :)  Actually after I giggled for a bit, I told her to enjoy one for breakfast.  So cute.
Most of all I am thankful for God's merciful hand during this storm.  I'm so grateful for the lessening of the storm.  Most look at it as the weather people and media hyping this storm to be worse that it was.  I know in my heart and soul that it was the good Lord and His mercy that prevented a major catastrophe.  Say what you will, I know He lives and He loves us.  I know He answers prayers and is kind and loving.  I'm thankful that I was able to see where my preparations were lacking without experiencing the consequences of them.  I'm thankful for the sudden thought of inspiration that would come to me during the preps.  I'm thankful for others' experiences and their words of wisdom that helped guide me.