PrepperGirl.com’s unexpectedly enforced hiatus must continue as the day job and other responsibilities continue to put me through the ringer, but don’t miss these great budget survival tips provided by commenter Grimm. Here’s a sample:
A cheap protein source is TVP (textured vegetable protein). It is dehydrated so it has a longer shelf life than most proteins like tuna or tofu. Since it has little to no flavor of its own you can add it to your other survival food without altering the taste but boosting the protein levels. $1 if you can buy it from the bulk dry goods at your local health food store.
A great way to build your BOB or GOOD bags with great items but staying in your limited budget is to buy your supplies one at a time and to shop around. Research can help you decide on the items you want and the average price range. Save if you have to to get quality items rather than dollar store crap.
Click here to read more. And thanks for the tips, Grimm!]]>
This gave me chills. It’s too important a message not to pass on.
Via Michelle Malkin.]]>
Tornado season is here, and if you live in Tornado Alley like I do, that means it’s time to make sure your storm preps are ready.
We haven’t had any majorly severe storms in our area yet this year, thank goodness, but I haven’t let that keep me from getting our storm closet ready. Unfortunately, our house lacks a basement or cellar, and as much as I’d love to, we can’t afford to install a tornado shelter or safe room, so we have to make do with our bedroom closet and a lot of prayer.
A walk-in, this closet is the only one large enough for us to fit into that doesn’t have any external walls. I try to keep it clean enough year-round for us to be able to duck in there if we need to, but I admit that over the winter I got lax on the upkeep and let it get pretty messy. So the first step was to clean it and make sure we had plenty of clear floor space for hunkering down. I also removed heavy objects from the top shelves and made room for old pillows and blankets to use for covering our heads.
Along with those, I also made room for the bug-out bag, which has a couple of changes of clothes, shoes, food, water, First Aid and medications, etc. (I need to do a post detailing what’s in our BOBs one of these days), and an additional bag with provisions for our pets, including the harnesses I crocheted for each of our cats. We also keep a shelf in there for some additional jugs of water, flashlights and batteries, a deck of cards and some travel games, and, of course, the weather radio.
We’ve been living in this house for three and a half years now, and so far we’ve never actually needed to use the closet as a storm shelter, although there have been a couple of times when I went ahead and stuck all of the pets in there while we kept an eye on the weather reports. I know the closet isn’t going to be much protection if we’re ever hit with a major tornado the likes of which almost destroyed Joplin, Missouri last year, which is where the prayer comes in. But it’s better than nothing, and I can sleep a little easier at night knowing that it’s there and ready if we need to use it.
I started my vegetable garden this year… or at least, I tried to. I tried to start some seeds indoors, but it’s been about a month since I planted them and so far there’s not so much as a single sprout. Part of the problem, or possibly THE problem, is that the only south-facing window that isn’t shaded from the sun is in my husband’s office, and by keeping them in there I keep forgetting to water them as regularly as I should. I also didn’t use heirloom seeds—I’ve read a lot about the importance of keeping heirloom seeds for your survival garden, but I’m not really clear as to why that’s important. But we didn’t find any at Home Depot when we went to stock up on seeds, and we decided to take our chances with some Burpee organic seeds instead.
Otherwise, I went by this planting chart for my zone, and planted peas, broccoli, arugula (I was going to plant kale, but I couldn’t find any seeds at Home Depot, so we decided to try arugula instead), spinach, red and green cabbage, and some herbs including chives, sweet basil, curled parsley and cilantro.
The herb seeds are a few years old—I bought this mini greenhouse herb garden starter kit when we first moved into our house and then never got around to planting it. So I thought I’d try using it to start my garden seeds this year, and try out the herb seeds that came with it as well. They’re old enough that I didn’t really expect them to grow, but I’m dismayed that none of the veggies are sprouting. I guess once they’re sure we’re not going to have another freeze I’ll try planting some outdoors instead (and come up with a system to make sure I remember to water them) and see if I have better luck. But this is a good reason as to why you should practice these things, and not just buy a can of “survival seeds” and assume you’ll be able to grow your own food in a disaster without ever having tried your hand at gardening.
I’m having better luck with growing some green onions on my kitchen windowsill. I saw a tip on Pinterest that said to cut the bulbs off of store-bought green onions and put them in water, and they’ll grow. I started trying this last week, and I’ve already got several onions sprouting new stalks. This way I’m going to have an endless supply of onions, at least. I also saw another tip that you could do the same with the stumps of celery and Romaine, so I’m going to try those next. If all else fails, maybe I can just use this method to grow my survival garden in my kitchen window.]]>
You might know Cody Lundin from The Discovery Channel’s Dual Survival. Or you might know him as that guy from Youtube with the sustainable underground house. But if you don’t know, Lundin is a survival instructor based in Arizona whose instruction focuses primarily on indigenous skills—in other words, surviving off the land the way the Native Americans used to do it.
But Lundin broadens his teaching focus for When All Hell Breaks Loose, his manual for urban survival in a SHTF situation. Whereas in his survival school Lundin primarily works with hikers, campers and other outdoor sports types who are at a greater risk of getting lost in the desert or wilderness for a stretch of days, his book is more concerned about long-term survival for the entire family, and it’s deliberately written in terms that even Grandma and Grandpa can understand.
Although Lundin can come across sometimes as, in his own words, a hippy dippy New Ager, his advice in this book is practical and to the point, at times even blunt and crude to get his point across—that point being that if you don’t prepare for disaster, your chances of surviving it plummet. This book is comprehensive, including sections on both storing and finding food, building shelter, packing emergency kits and bug-out bags, security and self-defense, lighting, cooking, regulating body temperature, and hygiene in a grid-down situation; he even includes a section on how to properly dispose of a body.
As grim as all of that sounds, Lundin delivers it with a healthy dose of humor and a sense of hopefulness that if people will just take steps to prepare and learn some basic survival skills, the body count after a disaster will remain low, and YOU won’t be included in it.
Just reading this book has helped my husband and I to feel better prepared for the possibility of TEOTWAWKI, and we’ve included our copy in our bug-out bags. We’d eventually like to get copies for friends and family members, if there’s a chance that they’d actually read it; but even if they don’t, just having it on hand as a reference after a disaster would give them an advantage. We’ve been reading various survival manuals over the last few months, and this one is by far our favorite.]]>
The biggest problem I always face with a niche blog is that there comes a time when you just can’t think of anything to write about in that niche, and that’s what has happened with me here lately. It’s not so much that I’ve said all I have to say on the topic of prepping as that I just got a little burned out on the subject. I needed to back off for a while from the doom and gloom of the prepper community and stop worrying about what’s going to happen. I just needed a break.
But while it’s good to take a break when you start to feel burned out on something, that also makes it really hard to get going again. I have a list of topic ideas in a notebook from a brainstorming session I did over a week ago. But it’s hard to get re-started after a hiatus, even a relatively short one, because I always feel like said hiatus is the elephant in the room and I need to mention it so we can move on.
So here, to re-break the ice and jump-start this thing, is a random list of what has been going on with me.
And that’s what’s up at Casa de PrepperGirl. So what’s up with you? Let me know what I’ve missed while I’ve been out of the loop.]]>
In my recent post on Frugal & Sustainable Beauty and Hygiene, I mentioned that I was on the lookout for a good alternative to store-bought deodorant. Shortly after that post went up, my new best friend Pinterest showed me a recipe for DIY deodorant made from coconut oil, arrow root and baking soda. Sounds great! Except, arrow root is enough of a specialty item around here that I’d have to make a special trip to the health food store to get it, and it would also mean spending extra money on something that I wasn’t sure I’d use for anything else. So I kept digging, and found a similar deodorant recipe that calls for corn starch instead of arrow root. Bingo! Corn starch has plenty of other uses, and we already have some on hand. We didn’t already have coconut oil on hand, but it has enough cooking uses and health benefits that I felt good about picking up a jar on my last trip to Walmart.
And if you don’t have or want to use coconut oil, apparently the corn starch and baking soda are all you really need.
I haven’t yet had time to whip up a batch, so I haven’t had a chance to road test it. But a few days ago when I had run out of deodorant and didn’t yet know when I’d make it to the store again, I Googled other alternatives, and found this article that swears by simply spritzing your pits with rubbing alcohol. I didn’t have any alcohol, but I had some witch hazel, which contains alcohol, and instead of spraying it I swabbed it on with a cotton ball. But it worked — I remained non-stinky for a full twenty-four hours.
I hope to make a batch of the coconut oil and corn starch version in the next day or two. It takes a few days for the stuff to set up, so hopefully next week I’ll be able to report on how well it works. Meanwhile, do you have any natural or frugal tips for beating BO, preferably that would be possible to sustain in a survival situation? If so, please do share in the comments.]]>
Recently when putting together a bug-out bag for my pets (more on that in a later post), I realized that I needed harnesses for each of my three cats. We have carriers for each of them, but once we get to our bug-out location we don’t want to keep them crated the whole time, and we don’t know how safe it will be to let them run around unsupervised. But faced with no money to go out and buy three harness and leash combos, I turned instead to my massive yarn stash, and to the Internet, where I was sure I’d find instructions on how to make some harnesses.
The Internet didn’t fail me. A simple Google search turned up this simple crochet pattern for a leash and harness combo. Since I sometimes make jewelry, I already had the jump rings on hand for joining the two, so all I needed was the time to whip up three of these babies. I got them done over the course of three evenings of watching Cheers reruns on Netflix with my husband.
I modified the pattern a bit by following one of the suggestions in the pattern’s comments to add a front strap connecting the two loops to keep the neck loop from riding up and add a degree of difficulty when it comes to escape. I can’t exactly say that the finished product is a hit with the kitties; when I tried them on, they each reacted by either just lying down and giving up on life altogether or by trying their darnedest to back out of the thing. But they didn’t get out of it, and the fit seemed to be comfortable enough. When the weather warms up we’ll start having practice outings to try to get the poor dears used to being leash-walked.
By the way, if you’d like to learn how to knit and/or crochet — both handy skills to have in a post-grid situation — head over to The Survival Mom’s web site, where she has a list of links to online lessons on yarn craft.]]>
I’m in the process of weening myself off of store-bought beauty and hygiene products. There are a lot of reasons for this; for one thing, it’s saving us a lot of money. Products are expensive, and even the cheaper alternatives like Suave or generic brands add up to quite the chunk of change over time. The natural alternatives I’m switching to tend to be much more frugal, and they tend to be things we keep around the house already.
Store-bought products also tend to violate the survival rule of only packing or storing items that have at least two or three different uses. Oh, sure, a bottle of hairspray can double as fuel for fire starting in a pinch, and as a flame thrower if you find yourself under attack by a zombie horde, but most other beauty and hygiene products are pretty much single use. Also, if TEOTWAWKI ever happens, it’s not like I’ll just be able to skip down to Walmart for new shampoo and toothpaste when I run out. Natural alternatives tend to be a little more sustainable, and by switching now, at least I’ll stand a chance of being able to keep up my beauty routine after the poo hits the fan.
One must-have item for a natural, product-free beauty routine is baking soda. This stuff has so many uses that it would behoove all preppers to keep at least a case or two in their survival pantry. In addition to many wide and varied uses in cooking, baking and cleaning, baking soda also makes a great substitute for shampoo. I’ve been cleaning my hair with the stuff for a couple of months now, and it’s never been healthier or more manageable. It also makes a terrific exfoliating facial scrub when mixed with a little water, and I think it’s fairly common knowledge that it can also be used to brush your teeth. You can even make a whitening toothpaste by mixing it with hydrogen peroxide — something I plan to start doing once our toothpaste runs out.
Apple cider vinegar is another common household staple that would come in handy in a long-term survival situation. Not only should it be kept around for its use as a home remedy for several different ailments, but also for its beauty and hygiene uses. It can be used to condition hair (it pairs great with baking soda shampoo), as a toner to help balance your skin, and to remove stains from teeth.
The other natural product replacement in my new survival beauty arsenal is olive oil. I don’t think I need to tell you all of the benefits of olive oil for health and for cooking, but you might be surprpised, as I was, to learn that olive oil makes a fantastic facial cleanser. Yes, really. I was skeptical, too, but since I’ve tried it I’ll never go back to a soap-based cleanser. My combination skin is clean and non-greasy, it has a healthy glow, and best yet, I no longer need to use moisturizer, thus eliminating my dependency on yet another product. I do add a dash of castor oil to my olive oil cleanser to help cut the greasiness in my acne-prone T-zone, and it works like a charm; and castor oil doubles as a laxative, so I’m still abiding by that “at least two uses” rule.
I’m making pretty good progress switching my beauty and hygiene routine over to an all-natural one. I still need to find an alternative for antiperspirant and deodorant, and eventually I’d like to learn how to make my own soap. Of course, I don’t know if I’ll be able to replace my makeup with natural, multi-use household alternatives, but somehow I think that if the world ends, running out of concealer and mascara will be the least of my problems… unless it means I get mistaken for a zombie. Yipe!
Do you have any natural beauty tips to share? If so, let’s hear about ‘em in the comments!]]>
One question I see pop up from time to time in preparedness forums and comment threads is, “What can I do to prepare if I have a limited income?” Another variation of this question is, “So really, am I screwed?”
The problem with a lot of budget-conscious advice is that it always tends to assume that there is some luxury you can easily give up to help meet your goals. But what if you’ve already given up all the luxuries and you are already surviving on a diet of Top Ramen? Do you just plan on stockpiling as much ramen as possible and hope for the best?
Believe it or not, there are things you can do. If Top Ramen is literally the only food you can afford, then yes, try to stock up on extra every week. But look into more nutritious alternatives that are almost as inexpensive, like rice and beans, and inexpensive protein like canned tuna. You should do this anyway—ramen is just not that good for you, and you need protein.
But whatever you are eating, the key is to pick one non-perishable thing each week to buy extra. You don’t have to buy in bulk; even one canned item a week will add up faster than you know. And don’t forget water! Gallon jugs of drinking water are typically less than a dollar. If you drink soda, buy the two-liters and then rinse and refill those with water and add them to your stash. Whenever you get a bottle of water, refill it and save it. You get the idea.
Growing your own food, if possible, is an even better way to prepare. Seeds aren’t that expensive, and it does not take a lot of room to sprout them (and in a pinch, the sprouts of many seeds can be eaten in order to add greens to your diet). If you live in an apartment, you can start a container or windowsill garden. Few things in life are more satisfying than eating vegetables that you grew yourself.
And don’t forget the abundance of free food in this country. I am not even talking about Dumpster-diving. The fact is that almost every region of the US has a selection of edible plants that grow in the wild. Right now, if I had nothing else to eat, I could go in my back yard and gather enough dandelions to feed me for a few days. Other food that grows in my yard without my even trying includes wild strawberries, violets, a Redbud tree (the blossoms are edible) and a mulberry tree. Get online and go to the library to familiarize yourself with the edible plants and wildflowers that grow in your region. This knowledge could some day be the difference between life and death.
If you live in a region that’s prone to cold weather, have a plan to keep warm and to prepare food if your utilities get turned off.
Having plenty of food and water on hand (and knowing where to get more of it if simply going to the store is not an option) is necessary if you are going to ?bug in? and stay put in your home during a crisis. But in a lot of situations it might be safer to bug out and leave your home. In this event, you should try your best to invest in some basic gear, none of which is expensive if taken individually: a hunting knife, a hatchet, one or two tarps and a good length of paracord, something to carry water in, something to boil water in, a pocket survival kit that includes fishing gear and a compass, and a reliable way to start fire.
Of course, all of these things are useless if you don’t know how to use them, so it’s important to invest some time learning about survival in the wild. Watching shows like Man Vs. Wild, Survivorman, Dual Survival and Man Woman Wild will go a long way toward equipping you to take care of yourself if you find yourself needing to go camping indefinitely during a crisis. All of these shows are available on Netflix streaming, but if you don’t have or can’t afford a Netflix account, you can find pertinent clips (and sometimes even full episodes) on YouTube. You should also look up Ray Mears on YouTube. And if you are unable to watch online videos, then at the very least get thee to the library and look up books and/or DVDs on wilderness survival.
And don’t just watch and passively absorb this knowledge. If possible, try to get out every so often and practice what you learn. Chances are that you live within driving distance of someplace that offers free camping. This includes most lakes, beaches, national forests and many state forests and parks. I am not advising you to deliberately put yourself in a true survival situation, but simply going someplace where you can SAFELY practice building fires and fishing and foraging without incurring legal penalties will go a long way towards increasing your confidence in your ability to survive.
Whether you stay or go, another important consideration is self-defense and the ability to hunt for protein (personally, I hope and pray that the day never comes when I am forced to kill my own meat, but if that day does come I plan to be ready). Owning firearms is a personal decision based on a lot of factors, but if you do decide to purchase a firearm, be sure you can also afford an occasional trip to the local gun range (and the necessary practice ammo) to practice and learn how to use it properly. Gun ranges usually offer training classes for reasonable fees. As for purchasing a weapon and the ammunition to go with it, good deals can often be found at gun shows and private sales for second-hand weapons, and occasionally you can find good sales on brand new weapons at sporting goods stores.
Another option is more low-tech weaponry such as the cross bow, bow and arrow, or a plain old sling-shot, all of which can do some damage (and take down small game) and don?t require the constant purchasing of ammunition.
A good self-defense class, if you can afford one, is also a good idea. Often community centers and churches will offer free classes in basic self-defense, especially for women. Ditto a first-aid class.
Finally, the biggest piece of advice I can offer someone struggling financially who wishes to prepare for an uncertain future is: learn a new skill. Preferably a skill that will be in high demand after the SHTF, but one that can be put to good use in the mean time starting a side business to earn the extra income you need to help you prepare. Learning how to make and repair clothing (knitting, crochet, sewing), how to preserve food (canning, drying), how to repair weapons, cars or machines, how to make things like soap or candles that will be hot commodities after a disaster—these are all things that you can learn quickly (well, with the exception of mechanical repairs), that you can start making extra money from right away (if nothing else, open an Etsy shop—it’s easy and the fees are nominal), and that will be a welcome addition to a community of survivors, or at the very least, can be used for bartering.
Even if you can’t pick up a new skill, chances are there is something you can do to make money on the side while people are still willing and able to spend money on luxury items and services. If you are good with computers, it’s easy to set up a virtual assistant business. Like dogs? Get paid to walk them. Like kids? Get paid to babysit. Do you play a musical instrument? If you live in a city, find out if there’s a spot where you can busk for tips. You can also offer music lessons. Do you already knit or crochet, or know another type of craft? You can not only sell your creations on Etsy, you can also get paid to give lessons. If you have a reliable car or truck, you can start a courier or delivery service. There are all kinds of ways to increase your income if you put your mind to it. And if you ever lose your meager-income job or your social security check, your side-business might just be the thing that keeps you afloat.]]>