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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cooking with Food Storage: Potato Pearl Recipes

I have a lot of potato pearls from the church's home storage center. My husband loves potato pearl mashed potatoes but I really don't care for them, preferring the garden variety of potatoes (but I'd eat them if I was really hungry.) Now I'm excited to find two recipes for things that I do like using potato pearls. I thought you might enjoy them as well!

Potato Pearl Bread
5 c milk
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c potato pearls
2 T salt
2 T yeast
9-11 c flour

Microwave milk until hot. Place shortening, sugar, salt and potato pearls in a large bowl. Pour hot milk over shortening mixture and stir until potato pearls are dissolved. Cool. Add yeast. Mix in enough flour to form a soft dough, then knead 6 minutes. Cover and let rise. Form into loaves and place in four loaf pans. Let them rise. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Potato Rolls
2 pkg. yeast (5 tsp)
1/4 c warm water
2 c milk
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c shortening
1/3 c potato pearls
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
8 c flour (approximately)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Scald milk, sugar and shortening and set aside. Mix potato pearls with hot water to equal one cup. When milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, mix with potato water, yeast, eggs and salt. Add about 8 cups flour. Knead until smooth and elastic. Raise until double. Punch down, roll out 1/2 inch thick. Cut in 3 to 3 1/2 inch circles. Fold in half, pinch edges together. Place on greased cookie sheet. Raise until double (approx. 45 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Roll out Potato Roll dough (see above) into a rectangle. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, nuts. Roll dough up into a roll and pinch the seam closed. Cut in 1 1/2 inch slices. Place in grease 9x13 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Other Ideas for Potato Pearls:

  • Use as a side dish of mashed potatoes.
  • Use to thicken soup, stew or gravy by simply adding a handful to your dish and stirring until dissolved.
  • Use as the crust for shepherd's pie or other similar casseroles.

Source: Traverse Mountain 1st Ward Pantry Cookbook

Original: http://preparednessmatters.blogspot.com/2009/01/cooking-with-food-storage-potato-pearl.html

Provident Living: Practice Thrift and Frugality

"Practice thrift and frugality. There is a wise old saying: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Thrift is a practice of not wasting anything. Some people are able to get by because of the absence of expense. They have their shoes resoled, they patch, they mend, they sew, and they save money. They avoid installment buying, and make purchases only after saving enough to pay cash, thus avoiding interest charges. Frugality means to practice careful economy." - Elder James E. Faust

I love this quote and it is particularly apt at the moment considering the economic times in which we live. Here are some more ideas to help you "practice thrift and frugality."
  • Buy things used. Many things at our house were either free (from the side of the road or something someone was going to throw out) or purchased from a newspaper ad, a garage sale, a thrift store or e-bay and they're just like new but were a fraction of the cost of new items.
  • Eat out less. Making food from scratch is the cheapest way to go. Even if you buy pre-packaged food or easy prep meals at the grocery store, they will almost always cost less than buying even the most inexpensive meals from a restaurant.
  • Find free entertainment and recreation. The library is a marvelous resource with books, movies and fun programs for kids and book clubs for adults. Borrow books and movies from your friends (just remember to return them.) Form your own book groups, exercise groups and sports teams. Get out old instruments you played as a teenager and form a musical ensemble, find a tennis partner and play at the free tennis courts around town. Form playgroups for your children. Explore local parks.
  • Use your skills/talents to barter for other services. My mom used to barter piano lessons for dental checkups. I know someone who does taxes for dance lessons. Talk to your friends and neighbors. You might be surprised what hidden talents and skills they have to share.
  • Don't window shop. Make a list and stick to it. I often find myself at a store purchasing things I didn't realize I "needed" until I saw them. Don't go shopping just to look at things. Most people don't have the discipline to look and not buy. They end up spending money or make themselves miserable wanting what they can't have.
  • Throw away your catalogs before you look at them. If you don't see it, you won't need it.
  • Stay healthy. Exercise, eat right, keep the word of wisdom and you will save lots of money in health care costs.
  • Drink water. Forget soft drinks and juice. Stick to nature's best thirst quencher and you'll have more pennies in your pocket.
  • Cook large amounts of food in advance and freeze it. This allows you to save money by buying food in bulk, fills your freezer full of convenience food and will save you the cost of going out or buying prepackaged food. I can't tell you what a lifesaver it was having a freezer full of pre-made meals after I had twins. I probably would have had the pizza and Chinese restaurants' numbers memorized had I not taken the time to prepare meals in advance that I could just pop in the oven.
  • Maintain the things you have. Change your car's oil, rotate tires, change your furnace filters, fix leaky faucets, repair ripped clothing, etc. All these things will save you a great deal of money over time.
  • Sell things you don't use anymore. My friend took her kids' clothes from last year and sold them on e-bay for a hefty $600.00 (and she only has two kids.) You'd be surprised what people will buy from you if you make the effort to sell them. Go through each room in your house and decide if you really need items there. You'll be amazed at how many things you'll find to sell.
  • Eat less meat. It's expensive and there are lots of delicious meals that don't require meat.
  • Wash your clothes less frequently. Many clothes can be worn more than once and still be clean.
  • Consider your housing situation. Smaller is often better. You may not need all the house you have now. Plus smaller means less cleaning, right?
  • Save on transportation--take a bus, use mass transit, ride a bike, carpool, telecommute or only keep one car. If you get creative, you may find ways to save money.
  • Turn down your thermostat in the winter, and raise it in the summer. I'm not saying be uncomfortable, simply adjust it slightly so it's almost unnoticeable. You'll be surprised how much you can lower your energy bills by wearing warmer clothing in the house in the winter and keeping it slightly warmer in the summer.
  • Try designating a spending-free day or spending-free weekend on a regular basis. Cut out all incidental spending for a day or weekend. If you do this consistently over time, you'll soon have more money to rub together.
  • Use cash to purchase things. On average, people spend 30% more when they use a credit card instead of cash.
  • When you get unexpected money or a windfall, don't spend it on something extravagant or unnecessary! If at all possible, save it

Financial Preparedness: Downsizing Preparedness Guide

With the current bleak economic environment comes downsizing. Every day, companies announce new job cuts. Now is the time to plan for a job loss. Here are some tips which will help you prepare for a layoff.

DO NOT conduct your job search during work hours or with employer-owned equipment. U.S. Employers have the right to monitor anything you do with company assets (computer network, computer activity, e-mail, etc.) This is a quick way to get you fired.
  1. Develop and enhance your network. Actively network with professional organizations and colleagues in other companies. Make efforts to increase your visibility inside and outside your company. Publish articles and/or make presentations at professional organizations.
  2. Be professional at all times. Don't burn any bridges at your current company. Speak to mentors within the company and line them up as references. You never know when someone you worked with or for may be in a position to hire you at another company or in a different position within your company.
  3. Sharpen your skills, learn new ones. Consider how your skills may translate into other jobs or fields.
  4. Update your resume and keep it current.
  5. Quietly do housekeeping at your current job. Often, after a layoff, people are given very little time to clean out their offices and remove personal belongings. Make sure you have a copy of your contact list at home, remove all personal files from your computer, take/send home copies of work product you want to keep, remove important possessions, locate copies of your performance appraisals and other personnel records.*
  6. Build your emergency fund and create a post-layoff budget. Immediately stop unnecessary spending and begin living on a barebones budget.
  7. Develop an exit strategy. Look into severance packages and what you may be able to negotiate on your way out the door. Create an agenda for discussion with the boss or human resources department. It's a list of all the things they could do for you on termination. Have it ready in your desk, because you never really never know when you'll be notified about your layoff. People being laid off are often provided with "outplacement" services - which includes career counseling, resume services, etc. Several weeks, or months, of vacation or continued salary will be helpful. Do not do anything extravagant with a severance package you may receive. It may take you as long as six months or more to find a new job.
  8. Always look for new career opportunities. Even if your current job feels comfortable and secure, you never know when your dream job may become available. Keep your resume updated and make sure that the right recruiters have your phone number. You should always have a passive job search in progress. That way, you’ll always enjoy a steady stream of job leads and you’ll have a head start on landing your next position if you get laid off. This may sound like obvious advice, but few people truly take it seriously until it’s too late. Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. When the layoff rumors start buzzing, goose your passive job search and get a little more active about exploring your options.
  9. Investigate your health insurance policy. Be clear on what your health plan covers, and figure out how much it would cost to extend your employer’s group insurance coverage through the federal program COBRA. Be aware that you would have to pay both the employer and employee shares of the premiums which can be costly but at least you’d get to keep the same coverage. Investigate independent insurance plans if necessary.
  10. Prepare a reference list. Create a list of people who will serve as references for you "just in case." If someone has had an opportunity to see you at work and views you favorably, ask if they will be a reference for you. Ask supervisors, managers, colleagues, co-workers, and even subordinates. Then, ask for their personal contact information so that you can stay in touch after you or they leave your current employer. Get approval from as many people as possible because there will be attrition as time passes.If someone doesn't agree or seems reluctant, don't use them as a reference. They could hurt your next job search if a potential employer calls them.
  11. Be cautious about using company assets for personal reasons. Stop using the company e-mail for personal messages to family and friends outside of the company. Be mindful of what is charged to the company credit card, etc. If there is a layoff pending, someone viewed as "abusing company assets" for personal use may be at greater risk than other employees.

*"Be careful about removing anything that the company would consider to be owned by the company, anything that would be 'proprietary' to the company, or anything that would compromise their business and your future (like customer lists, proposals, patent applications, financial reports, etc.). Note that, unless you've made other arrangements in advance, your employer probably 'owns' what you have created at work. They also own your office computer and the office supplies you use. Use your own judgment and ethics, but be careful. If something is marked 'company confidential,' leave it alone. Former employees can be, and are, sued for violating agreements. They can even be accused of theft. If you aren't sure, call an attorney outside the company. You don't want to become a "criminal" in the process of preparing for your next job search." - Susan P. Joyce, jobhunt.org

Sources: http://www.job-hunt.org/layoffs/preparing-for-a-layoff-office.shtml, http://www.lifehack.org/articles/management/how-to-prepare-for-a-layoff.html


State of Emergency

What a great phrase for the American lifestyle. Trick James over at Nebraska Preppers Network posted some excellent information compiled by the Trends Research Institiute this morning, it's even in mp3 format. Now, combine that information with this tidbit off of Yahoo News, talking about how it could be mid February before power is restored to people hit by the winter snow storm that ripped thru here Tuesday.

The roads here are still a mess, hubby spent 2 hours trying to get out of a ditch last night because of an idiot on the road with him. He chose the ditch over smashing our truck into a moron in a mini van on ice covered roads.

Here's a storm, blamed for 23 deaths so far and people being interviewed act like cooking on a gas stoveand heating their home with wood is some kind of miracle. And then there's the fellow with the 2 small kids that is worried he can't make it without power for 2 or 3 days. People, when will you realize that being prepared is the right thing to do? There is nothing in this whole world more important than taking care of yourself and your family in case of ANY emergency.

We all need to be thinking ahead, preparing for those odd occurances that could threaten our lives and our families. Store some food and water, get alternative heating lined up and know how to use it. Do you really want to be cooped up with a couple hundred strangers in a church basement, living on a cot? Or even worse, a FEMA camp with a couple thousand strangers, in a warehouse on a cot.

Please spread the word to your neighbors, become accustomed to the idea of being prepared and then do it. Get yourself a little FREEDOM INSURANCE.

Keep prepping!

(this is a duplicate post originating from Illinois Preppers Network )


I sorta fell off the real food bandwagon for a little bit there. I got back into a frozen food cycle for a week or so. In order to help me snap out of it I decided to make some pinto beans. Creedmore mentioned them recently which also had something to do with it. It was Sunday at about 3 oclock when I made this decision. I grabbed a 25lbs bag of pinto beans from the pirate trap and got looking for recipes. I found a nice easy one and got cooking. As a lesson I learned from the stew I didn't completely free lance this one. Didn't absolutely follow the recipe but I was headed down that general path.

I started with 3 cups of dry beans. They went into a pot on high until it boiled. Then it was backed off to warm to soak for an hour. After soaking the beans went into the crock pot. There was just enough water to cover them. I cut up some ham lunch meat that was about to go bad and threw that in also. After three hours on high I added a pinch of salt, pepper and about a third of an onion. Because it is never bad I threw a clump of brown sugar in. The beans cooked for about another hour and a half. Just keep on cooking them until they are soft enough. The great thing is that unless you completely ignore something in a crock pot it is pretty hard to fuck it up.

I ate some of the beans right away. It was bed time and I wasn't hungry but curiosity lead me to having a small bowl. They are pretty darn good. Today I had a bunch of them today with a pork chop and a couple of corn bread muffins for dinner today. It was downright grubbin. The pork chop definitely helped but using a chunk of corn bread to mop up the beans would be a darn good meal in and of itself. As Creedmore pointed out that is a darn good meal that costs about a dime. It might be a bit more expensive then that but seriously it is one of the cheapest meals out there.

I will probably be cooking beans again this weekend and am going to try a slightly different recipe.

Original: http://tslrf.blogspot.com/2009/01/beans.html

I Am Not A Hardcore Survivalist...What Do I Do Now?

Listen most of you, myself included, are not hardcore survivalists. As much as I would love to move to retreat in Idaho, be able to whip up a gourmet meal from a bucket of flour and beans, or slaughter a pig utilizing everything right down to the teeth...I have to face some facts:

I have a wife...she is very tolerant of my paranoia and even agrees with some stuff but living like Little House on the Prarie does not appeal to her.

I have a house in the suburbs...that about sums that up.

I have a job that requires me to be a part of civilization....

I kinda like where I am at right now and what I am doing with my life.

So what is a normal non-hardcore prepper to do?

Well there are several things you can do to get a leg up on 99% of the clueless masses.

1.) Stockpile food - This sounds simple but most people go about it the wrong way. They buy shitload of food that they have never eaten before because it is freeze dried or "that" guy recommended it. The correct way to stockpile food is actually a seven headed dragon to be honest.

Buy MORE of food you normally eat. Your goal should be to be able to live out of your pantry during time of crisis. Trips to the store should be only to replenish what you have used. If you use tomotoe sauce...buy enough for six months, not all at once of course, but by picking up an extra can every time you go shopping until you have six months worth. Always make sure you rotate by move older cans forward and putting newly purchased stuff in the back. This is the single best way to stockpile food. BUY MORE of what you NORMALLY EAT.

I have chosen to suppliment this apprach several ways. I have several cases of MRE's and Mountain house cans - all of which I HAVE eaten before and know I like and can live on if I had to.

I have a garden and I know how to can stuff. I have a nice stash of stuff that I have canned and set aside.

Love it or hate it I believe this is the only way MOST folks will be able to develop a plan and stick to it.

2.) Stockpile water - there are many ways to do this I chose the large barrels which a bit of bleach added to them. I have several cases of bottled water and I plan to implement a rain water catching system in the very near future. Make sure you have some method available to purify water should you have to drink from a questionable source. Bleach, iodine, chlorine, water filters...they all work, some better than others.

3.) Have at least one weapon that you can use effectively and store several hundred rounds for it. The minimum I would recommend is a defensive sidearm. Add a rifle or shotgun and your situation just got a WHOLE LOT better. If you are NOT armed you will most likely be a victim when the SHTF.

4.) For everyday life, get OUT of DEBT and start an emergency fund. Keep some of that cash readily available. To protect against job loss try and build up three months living expenses to get you through a job search and that meager unemployment check.

5.) Build a BOB (Bug Out Bag) containing everything you need to live for a week in case you need to hit the road. Make sure it includes a well stocked first aid kit. This bag should always be ready and never in an unpacked state. It should be something you are comfortable carrying and have been able to carry successfully for a distance. Listen when the SHTF it isn't a good time to figure out that the 60lb you packed is too heavy to go fifty paces with.

More to come...

...that is all.

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BeASurvivor/~3/_9AZPmajmpQ/i-am-not-hardcore-survivalistwhat-do-i_29.html

I Am Not A Hardcore Survivalist...What Do I Do Now?

Listen most of you, myself included, are not hardcore survivalists. As much as I would love to move to retreat in Idaho, be able to whip up a gourmet meal from a bucket of flour and beans, or slaughter a pig utilizing everything right down to the teeth...I have to face some facts:

I have a wife...she is very tolerant of my paranoia and even agrees with some stuff but living like Little House on the Prarie does not appeal to her.

I have a house in the suburbs...that about sums that up.

I have a job that requires me to be a part of civilization....

I kinda like where I am at right now and what I am doing with my life.

So what is a normal non-hardcore prepper to do?

Well there are several things you can do to get a leg up on 99% of the clueless masses.

1.) Stockpile food - This sounds simple but most people go about it the wrong way. They buy shitload of food that they have never eaten before because it is freeze dried or "that" guy recommended it. The correct way to stockpile food is actually a seven headed dragon to be honest.

Buy MORE of food you normally eat. Your goal should be to be able to live out of your pantry during time of crisis. Trips to the store should be only to replenish what you have used. If you use tomotoe sauce...buy enough for six months, not all at once of course, but by picking up an extra can every time you go shopping until you have six months worth. Always make sure you rotate by move older cans forward and putting newly purchased stuff in the back. This is the single best way to stockpile food. BUY MORE of what you NORMALLY EAT.

I have chosen to suppliment this apprach several ways. I have several cases of MRE's and Mountain house cans - all of which I HAVE eaten before and know I like and can live on if I had to.

I have a garden and I know how to can stuff. I have a nice stash of stuff that I have canned and set aside.

Love it or hate it I believe this is the only way MOST folks will be able to develop a plan and stick to it.

2.) Stockpile water - there are many ways to do this I chose the large barrels which a bit of bleach added to them. I have several cases of bottled water and I plan to implement a rain water catching system in the very near future. Make sure you have some method available to purify water should you have to drink from a questionable source. Bleach, iodine, chlorine, water filters...they all work, some better than others.

3.) Have at least one weapon that you can use effectively and store several hundred rounds for it. The minimum I would recommend is a defensive sidearm. Add a rifle or shotgun and your situation just got a WHOLE LOT better. If you are NOT armed you will most likely be a victim when the SHTF.

4.) For everyday life, get OUT of DEBT and start an emergency fund. Keep some of that cash readily available. To protect against job loss try and build up three months living expenses to get you through a job search and that meager unemployment check.

5.) Build a BOB (Bug Out Bag) containing everything you need to live for a week in case you need to hit the road. Make sure it includes a well stocked first aid kit. This bag should always be ready and never in an unpacked state. It should be something you are comfortable carrying and have been able to carry successfully for a distance. Listen when the SHTF it isn't a good time to figure out that the 60lb you packed is too heavy to go fifty paces with.

More to come...

...that is all.

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BeASurvivor/~3/_9AZPmajmpQ/i-am-not-hardcore-survivalistwhat-do-i_29.html

Avoiding Wildfire - Safety Tips for Burning Trash

Many people that live in rural areas routinely burn their trash due to the fact that they have no trash pickup services found in more urban areas. Make sure you do so safely to avoid the chance of a wildfire that could destroy your home or the home of your friend or neighbor.

Safety Tips for Burning Trash

1.) If you need to burn household trash, don't just pile it on the ground.

2.) Always burn your trash in a covered container. Stay with your fire at all times. It only takes a second for a wayward spark to start a wildfire.

3.) Avoid accumulating large amounts of trash over extended time periods. Smaller amounts burn faster and with less risk.

4.) Avoid burning trash during extremely dry or windy conditions. Pay special attention to any burn bans in your area. Keep a fire break of at least 10 feet around your fire.

5.) Avoid burning trash that may contain hazardous items. Toxic fumes from paint and other chemicals could pose a serious health risk. Debri from exploding aerosol cans may cause serious injuries.

You can get fire risk advisories for the State of Texas here:


Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Original: http://texaspreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/01/avoiding-wildfire-safety-tips-for.html

Life after the apocalypse

What if the doomsayers are right ... what if society, as we know it, really is about to collapse? Do you have what it takes to make it in a world without electricity and running water? Tanya Gold offers an essential survival guide

Link to this video

I am standing in a wood with a tall man and a dead pheasant. There is blood everywhere: on my shoes, my hands, my face. Why am I here? Because the man - his name is Leon Durbin - is preparing me for the apocalypse, now.

What would happen if you awoke one morning and everyone was dead? Or if, less melodramatically, the world as we know it - and our teetering financial systems - ceased to function? What if you awoke to find your bubble-wrapped, gilded life was over, and for good? Could you survive? Could I?

I am an urban girl. I have no skills except whingeing and bingeing. I can barely open a packet of Hobnobs without an explosive device. But, unlike you, doomed and dying reader, I have decided to prepare for The End, and I am prepared to share the life-saving knowledge I will accrue. This is your cut-out-and-keep guide to the apocalypse. Put it in a drawer. One day you may need it.

So you wake up; everyone is dead. For the purpose of this exercise, imagine it's like Survivors, the cheap BBC rendition of the apocalypse, where a plague wipes out humanity and then everyone is mildly annoyed that the trains are delayed. We could imagine total financial or ecological collapse leading to the failure of social structures, but let's say it's a plague. So, how long can you stay in your house?

The answer is: not long. According to the people at the National Grid, the electricity will stop. So will the water. These systems have buttons. Buttons need fingers. Fingers need people who are alive. You have a day, maybe two, of electricity. Then you will be in darkness, with no way of washing your face.

What should you do? You can steal food from supermarkets but the rotting corpses on the floor of Sainsbury's will be fetid fonts of infection. And if you try to sit out the plague in your home, you could burn or drown. After a lightning strike, fires will begin and they will not stop. And if you live in London, the Thames barrier will fail without electricity and the low-lying areas of the city will flood.

So you have to leave. But where do you go? The apocalyptic norm - see 28 Days Later and Survivors - is for survivors to sit in desirable country mansions, eat tinned tomatoes, develop post-traumatic psychosis and shoot each other. Never in any apocalyptic scenario in any movie I have seen - and I have seen them all - does anyone try to live off the land. They prefer to feed on the crumbs of the lost civilisation. It never works. How can you rebuild civilisation with tinned tomatoes? You need to grow your own food.

But where? I choose Devon. It is warm and wet and fertile, and I have been happy there. There are cows. This is where I would live off the land, but I need to learn how. This thinking has led me to Durbin and the dead bird.

Durbin is tall and tweedy. He is the sort of man who keeps firewood kindling in his pocket, just in case. He owns Wildwood Bushcraft, a company that explains how to survive if you are dropped into the wilderness with no supplies, no warning and no clue.

Durbin leads me through the spindly, sleeping trees, pointing out different kinds of branch and bush, and their uses. According to him, the wood is a shop that will give you everything you need. "Willow bark can be boiled to relieve a headache," he says. "Yew is for making long bows. Oak is for shelters. Ash is for tool handles. Have you ever had a beech-leaf sandwich?" I don't bother replying.

To be competent in bushcraft, you have to be well equipped: before you leave the city, stop for a saw, chisel, spade, axe and hunting knife. Durbin has them all. They poke out of his rucksack in a manly fashion.

We arrive at a clearing and Durbin demonstrates how to light a fire. He places a small block of wood on the ground and puts a wooden stake on it, point down. He takes a bow, made of wood and string, places it round the stake and, when he moves the bow in a sideways motion, the stake rotates very fast. Its friction with the block of wood magically creates a pile of super-hot matter. It can ignite dry hay or bark. This creates a conflagration that can light a fire.

How will I get water? Durbin runs bushcraft weekends for angry executives here, so he knows where it is. "Water," I cry, lunging at a small stream. "Careful," says Durbin. "We have to filter the water with a sock full of sand. Then we have to bring it to a rolling boil." Why a sock? He ignores me.

Food is harder. It is winter and the countryside is closed for repairs. My two main vegetarian foods, Durbin explains, will be burdock root and hazelnut. Both are high-energy. You can make chips out of burdock and you can boil, mash and dry hazelnut to produce a repulsive kind of biscuit. Durbin picks up a spade and starts digging for burdock. He finds some, but it's rotten. "Winter," he sighs. "Hmmm."

So, with a fiendish flourish, I produce a dead pheasant from my handbag. I had spent the day before negotiating with the Guardian as to the legal and moral implications of murdering a rabbit for the purposes of this article. Finally we had compromised, and I had gone to a posh butcher's in Mayfair and bought this beautiful pheasant for £3.50. Durbin looks impressed. "You have to pull off its head," he says. "Just twist it."

I close my eyes and twist. The head comes off easily; it feels like wringing out a slightly damp scarf. Then Durbin makes a hole in the pheasant's bottom and I stick my hand up and clutch everything inside. Out comes a squelchy mass of once-living flesh. Durbin grabs the heart and cuts it open. "Very nutritious," he says. I am slightly sick in my mouth. I pluck, and soon I have a pile of bloodstained feathers - and a nude bird. Durbin sticks it on a spit over the fire. When it is cooked, we eat it. It tastes slightly of excrement but I still feel strangely empowered. It was much easier than I thought it would be, to rip this bird apart.

I now have bloodlust. I ask Durbin how to trap animals. I could theoretically shoot them, but trapping is more suitable for the lazy or incompetent survivor. He looks slightly nervous. "It's illegal," he says slowly. But I prod and he tells me about different types of trap. I could try the pit trap, he says, where you dig a hole in the forest floor, line it with sharpened stakes and camouflage it. It is for large animals - deer, wild boar, parents, other journalists. There is also the deadfall trap, which is for small animals. They saunter over a trigger mechanism, and a lump of wood falls on their head. Bon appetit and ha ha.

But what would I eat if I couldn't trap? "Bugs," says Durbin happily. "Worms." There are 40 calories in a worm, apparently; this is the equivalent of two Maltesers. "Or snails," he adds. "But quarantine the snail for three days before you eat it. It may have eaten poisonous plants, and you will have to wait until it expels them."

Now you need shelter. If I had the choice, I would probably look for a small stone cottage - hardy and easy to maintain - but if I am foraging, I have to go to where the food is. So Durbin shows me how to make a survival shelter. He hurls logs up against a tree trunk, and covers them with a foot of leaves and bracken and mud. "It is waterproof," he says. I climb in and lie down. It is a hole that only a troll could love. But there they are, the four pillars of survival: food, water, fire and shelter.

The next day, I go to Pullabrook Wood in Devon to practise my skills. It was easy to survive yesterday, with Durbin standing by. Can I cope alone? Pullabrook is a lovely wood, administered by the Woodland Trust. It is full of happy Tories and happy Labradors. But now I have my own mini-apocalypse. I fail at bow drilling. I find a stream, but a happy Tory says the water is poisonous, even if filtered by sock. Why? "Because sheep droppings have contaminated it," he says. Death by Sheep is only slightly behind Death by Snail in the encyclopaedia of embarrassing ways to die.

The first shelter I build is too small for me to enter. My second shelter collapses. I decide to abandon bushcraft. I will try my hand at farming. Woman cannot live on worm alone.

So, a few days later, I am standing inside an Iron Age roundhouse at Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire. Butser is a project that re-enacts Iron Age life. The roundhouse is huge and round and dim. I feel a bit as if I am standing inside a giant breast. Steve Dyer is the archaeological director. He is tall and red-faced, with a frizzy white beard.

"Roundhouses are easy to make," he says, waving his arms. He points out two animal skulls, tied to the entrance posts. Is that a cow's skull? Dyer grimaces politely. "It's a horse," he says, before proceeding to tell me how to make a roundhouse.

The ingredients are: 27 large oak trees, 60 small oak trees, 100 hazel trees, 100 ash trees, wheat straw for thatching, and animal hair, clay, manure, soil and water for the walls.

You will also need animals. Dyer escorts me to his pigpen to meet two nameless pigs. To domesticate animals, he says, you just have to enclose them in smaller and smaller areas. Provide them with what they need - food, water and attention - and they will obey you. You can then eat them, and peel them, and tan their hides for soft furnishings. But beware of sheep, he says, waving a bright red finger. "I know this guy called Si," he says. "He approached a frisky ram. It jumped up and broke his nose." I am back at Death by Sheep.

I telephone the psychologist Cecelia De Felice. I want to know if I will go insane in my new one-woman world, especially when faced with tasks such as chopping down 27 large oaks. "You will be in a state of trauma," she agrees. "You will quickly become lonely and paranoid. It is possible you will have a breakdown." And if I meet other survivors? Be cautious, she advises. "They too will be lonely and paranoid. Of course you are stronger in a group. But you do not know whether they will help you or just steal your resources. Trust no one."

I am (vaguely) confident I will not starve. But there is one other thing I am sweating over: nuclear power stations. Professor Alan Weisman wrote The World Without Us, a description of what he believes would happen to Earth if we all vanished. I call him. He says I am right to worry. Why? Because most nuclear plants are water-cooled. Water, he explains, in a dry, calm voice, needs to circulate around the reactors, or they will explode. If there were no humans to operate it, the plant would shut down automatically, and the water would be cooled with diesel fuel. For about a week. Then the heat from the reactor would evaporate and expose the core. "It will either melt down or burst into very radioactive flames," he says. So what would you do, Professor Weisman? "I would probably go to Canada," he says. "There aren't many nuclear power stations in Canada."

So, it comes to this. No matter how hard you try, Britain will probably become a nuclear wasteland. The snails that are your lunch will either die, or look very weird. So, again, what to do? My considered advice is this. You, Guardian reader, need to begin building a boat - a sailing ship, actually - to take you to - yes, Canada. Before you leave the city you should pause at a library and steal the entire boat-making and maintenance shelf. Canada may be your only hope of salvation. And that is as fitting an obituary for our civilisation as I can type. In The End, it turns out you don't just have to be the heroine of Survivors. You need to bloody well be Noah too.

Happy apocalypse.

Original: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/29/apocalypse-survival-guide-tanya-gold

Inventory Check: Honey

How much honey do you have put away? And why should you?
  1. It's a good healthy sweetener.
  2. It has lots of vitamins and minerals. Full of nutrients.
  3. Has a VERY long shelf life. Honey has been found in ancient tombs, still viable. It will keep for (probably) forever.
  4. It has anti-allergen properties. If it's honey grown near your location, it will have been gathered by your local bees, from local flowers. Eating local honey on a regular basis will help your body build up immunities to local pollens.
  5. It's a good substitute for pancake syrup.
  6. It's anti-bacterial. Smear a little on a small wound to help it heal.

Remember to never feed honey to a baby. Most experts say baby should be older than one year old. Honey may contain bacterial spores that can cause infant botulism, a rare but serious disease that affects the nervous system of young babies. As kids get older, their bodies are better able to handle the bacteria.

Warning: Honey imported from China has been found to be tainted. Be sure to buy local honey only.

We go through about 3 pounds a month. So we buy 3-4 of the 5-pound bottles at Sam's Club each month. Good deals.

Note: Keep your honey containers after emptying. When you get a chance to "keep bees", be sure to harvest their honey and wax, while leaving the bees plenty of honey for their own needs.

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/inventory-check-honey.html

Audio Podcast: Making Beer and Mead at Home

icon for podpress Episode-131- Making Beer and Mead at Home [52:25m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Today’s initial show notes will be very brief and I will back fill them with resources and bullet points mentioned in the show this evening. Due to the reminants of yesterday’s ice storm my morning drive took almost three hours. So I will just put up the audio and back fill later on.

Tune in today to learn the basics and some of my personal tricks for makeing beer and meads at home.

Original: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/survivalpcast/~3/526497833/episode-131-making-beer-and-mead-at-home

Water Storage In Suburbia

I finally, FINALLY got around this weekend to getting my water storage project completed. A couple of months ago I found 55 gallon plastic drums at Baytec Containers and ordered two brand-new ones. At that time they were only $69 a piece. They’ve already gone up to $99 a piece, in part I’m sure to the rapidly worried public over possible water and food shortages in the future.

In addition to the drums Baytec offers a entire range of caps, plugs, and pumps. I bought a simple plastic economy model but it did fine during my testing this weekend. Filling was a breeze, just extended the hose into the basement and it took maybe 10-15 minutes to get both filled. As most do I simply used Clorox to prepare for storage, adding 1 fluid once to each barrel. I let them sit for 24 hours, opened them up and found the water to not really have any noticable smell or taste of chlorine (that’s not good). So I added another 1/2 ounce to each and that seemed to do the trick.

I’ve only got 110 gallons in storage, in addition to whatever I can salvage (hopefully) from the water heater in case of an emergency. I’ll have 5 people to care for (me, my wife, my kid, and both my parents) so I hope to have enough water to last a month. That’s really the bare minimum anyone should keep around. If the future brings even more bleak news about our water and food supplies I will probably get at least two more.

The barrels are not that big and I have them stored under my stairs in the basement which was completely wasted space to begin with. The cost is nothing compared to the security of being able to live comfortably for a month without assistance.

Original: http://blog.theconspirator.org/?p=53

Emergency Kit Tips

While your home will probably be safest place to be during an emergency or crisis, there may be times when you will need to evacuate the area or leave your home. Here are some essentials tips for your emergency kits.

Emergency Kit Tips

(1) Your emergency kit should be placed in portable containers located near an exit of your house. This is so you can grab them quickly on your way out of the house in a serious emergency or disaster. Do not overload your kit, backpack or portable container. If you wind up having to carry it a long distance to reach safety or shelter you will appreciate the lighter weight.

(2) Each family member should have their own kit with food, clothing and water. You may want to include an extra emergency kit for any relatives or persons visiting you. In an emergency this will give you needed additional items and resources in an emergency. You can distribute heavy items between the emergency kits for adult members to keep the weight of children’s emergency kits at a minimum.

(3) Enclose the extra clothing, matches, personal documents, and other items damageable by smoke or water in plastic to protect them. Make sure it’s weather appropriate for the time of year. Don’t forget to include raingear. If it's raining when you have to evacuate, you will appreciate having dry clothes.

(4) Keep a small flashlight handy in the top portion of your kit. This way you can find it quickly and easily in the dark. Have more than one! If a flashlight gets lost or broken, you will need another one.

(5) Personalize your kit. Be sure you fill the needs of each family member and don’t forget to provide any needed prescriptions for inhalers, medicines, eyeglasses, etc.

(6) Inspect your emergency kit at least twice a year. Make sure there aren’t any missing items. Rotate your food and water. Check your children's clothing for proper fit and size. Adjust clothing for winter or summer needs. Check the expiration dates on all batteries, light sticks, hand warmers, and any extra food items and water you have stored. Be sure to include appropriate foot gear, such as hiking or snow boots.

(7) Consider the needs of elderly people as well as those with handicaps or other special needs. For infants, store diapers, washcloth, ointment, bottles and pacifiers, as well as other special supplies.

(8) Be sure to make copies of important personal and business documents and store them in a safe place. Include photos and I.D. for all family members.

(9) Identify an out of state contact person so family and friends can communicate with you during an emergency. Keep the information written down and easily accessible.

(10) Plan for a meeting place if you cannot meet at home. Designate an emergency meeting place if you become separated during a disaster or emergency.

It is difficult to prepare for every emergency situation that you may face. Having an emergency kit handy and easily accessible may give you the needed edge to survive.

Staying above the water line!


Original: http://stealthsurvival.blogspot.com/2009/01/emergency-kit-tips.htm

Provident Gourmet: Peasant Food

Stock Simmering

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Peasant foods are often equated with subsistence living. While it’s true that peasant food is eaten by the poor, the food itself is far from what most people imagine. It’s hearty and healthy and tasty, made from local seasonal ingredients. We in America have drifted from eating real food to eating fake foods, pumped full of artificial ingredients and flavor enhancers. Soy, high fructose corn syrup, salt, and non-food ingredients are in virtually all highly processed foods. Even meat comes pumped full of water, artificial flavorings and vitamins.

We pay for this artificial food in many more ways than mere money. We pay with our health, our taste buds, and our economy. Diabetes and high blood pressure are only a small part of the health problems caused by eating so much artificial and limited foods. Digestive problems, allergies, asthma, skin and hair problems, attention problems – these are all affected by diet, these and even more. Science is only now beginning to prove the ills that beset us from over-tampering with our foods.

The poor of other countries eat healthier than we do, with our Little Debbie cakes, sodas, highly sugared breakfast cereals, artificial energy bars, and mass-farmed high hormone inoculated meats and milk. Our poor sup on sugar and spun air, on salt and soy, on artificial colors and artificially boosted vitamins. Those breakfast cereals shout “100% of your minimum daily vitamins”, and you have to stop and ask, “Why would I want to get 100% of anything from one single food or meal?” 25% or even 33% would make more sense.

Peasants once ate meals that were mostly grains, flavored with vegetables, and maybe seasoned with a bit of meat. Here in the south, the poor lived off of cornmeal. Cornmeal mush for breakfast, with a bit of butter and jam stirred in. Sliced cold mush with cheese for lunch. Fried mush with greens for dinner. Mush with sugar and cream. Cornbread with beans and maybe a ham hock. Cornmeal pudding. Cornmeal gravy poured over potatoes and string beans. Cornmeal stew with chicken shreds and celery and carrots. Cornmeal dumplings. Hot roasted cornmeal “coffee”. Cornmeal is survival food, what we ate when there was nothing else, and what we eat because it tastes so good. Crescent Dragonwagon’s The Cornbread Gospels gives many good recipes for all kinds of good food made from cornmeal.

In other places, the primary survival food was something else – rice, for example. A large part of the world relies on rice to survive, and I can’t even begin to enumerate all the lovely, delicious, inexpensive, and positively gourmet ways to prepare rice. Like cornbread, rice fills every culinary role, from breakfast and snack food to main course to dessert. Rice milk. Rice cream. Rice balls. Rice pudding. Rice stir fry. Rice soup. Popped rice. Rice patties. Rice cakes. Rice porridge. Tea rice. Rice pilaf. Rice paella. Rice sushi. Rice gumbo. Risotto. Yassas. Check out Alford and Duquid’s Seductions of Rice for rice recipes.

Beans are another peasant food to which we pay nowhere near enough attention. Like cornmeal and rice, beans can fill every culinary role, even making a fudge that tastes every bit as good as the candy, only smoother, richer, and with a better “bite” (in my opinion, and I love good chocolate) than most fudge. My favorite bean book is Ken Albala’s Beans: A History.

Another important poverty food is dairy food: milk, buttermilk, cream, sour cream, cheese, butter, and yogurt. These continue to play an important role in poverty diets because served with beans and grains, the three together provide a balanced protein combination. We don’t need a lot of dairy product which is what makes it so economical. A little bit really does go a long way. Of course, if you are raising your own dairy goats or mini cows in your back yard, you’ll have plenty to eat and share around. There is no single decent cookbook or treatise on just how marvelous and important this food group is. The closest book available to that is Anne Mendelsohn’s Milk, so I offer you a collection of books on the subject: There’s the Sokol’s excellent And That’s How You Make Cheese, Sonia Uvezian’s Book of Yogurt is a very good resource, Diana von Glahn’s The Great Big Butter Book is decent enough, but not as comprehensive as I’d like, Offerico Maoz’s Flavored Butters is a bit better, and that’s it.

Add eggs to this collection, and you’ve formed the basic quad of peasant cookery. Eggs were the best and cheapest source of meat for peasants and the poor all around the world. Chicken eggs were one of the few sources of meat the rich allowed the poor to eat without the penalties that accrued from eating pigs, cows, deer, and other animals. Roux and Brgdale’s Eggs is a fairly comprehensive cookbook for eggs, but lacks a really good history of eggs. Still, it’s one of the better resources available.

Finish off your peasant cookery with seasonal vegetables and fruits, and you can cook delicious, nutritious, gourmet meals inexpensively year round, and have a good stock of survival food that you are comfortable and happy eating. Grains, beans, dairy, and eggs are more than survival foods, they are everyday foods, and comfort foods, and are easy enough to dress up into gourmet foods that will rival anything ever served in a fancy 5 star restaurant. You’ll hardly miss the huge slabs of meat to which we’ve become accustomed to seeing as the main part of the meal. Meat should rightfully be considered a condiment, a seasoning, a side dish and that’s just the way it is in peasant cookery.

Original: http://gallimaufree.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/provident-gourmet-peasant-food/

Lets Talk Sparks

I have had the opportunity to work with many people and it concerns me how very, very few can build a fire. An order of younger kids but for the greatest part neither can the majority of the adults. Take away everything but a knife and some matches, and the number that CAN start a fire drops even more dramatically.

Many cannot strike a match; others cannot operate a simple butane lighter, and the vast majority who can have no concept of "wind", distance from standing up to fire lay vs burn time of match, etc etc.

Backtracking a little: This is Mid-Western forestland. some pine-cedar forest.Forget using those types; they are not common. We have Oaks, ashes, maples, elms, walnut, hickory (this is hardwood land), and so on. Oaks dominate the uplands and the usual suspects dominate the bottom lands.

I can and do teach these folks the ignition end of fire building without much difficulty - ferrocerrium + prepared spark-catchers, matches, butane lighters - all are fairly simple to teach a skill on except matches elude some folks (practice, practice, practice).

I conclude we've scared the bejabbers out of enough generations now (don't play with matches) that many people "instinctively" fear that they will spontaneously explode into flame and die if they so much as strike a match... this is not extreme hyperbole on my part; you have to observe as many folks as I have, but it's there - something is there... very frustrating, but persistence, patience, practice and a few tricks I use seem to work.

So I've had great success with the spark/flame end of things. But when it comes to materials gathering, prep, fire lay... arrrrgh!!! Either not enough repetitions (that's all the time consuming part) or no matter HOW well they demonstrate they understand & can do it, the next time that kid/adult needs to build a fire, they doofus it up as if they never knew anything. ( A FEW do OK except that they plod along at an agonizing pace, taking an hour or more to get everything set up and ready before striking the first spark/flicking a Bic) Darned few seem to retain any skill.

I think part of the difficulty is lack of practice - I can have a learner strike and move dozens of matches under my supervision in a fairly brief time span, but in that same time span, only one full gather/prep/lay is possible. It DOES NOT help to have them work in groups - the dominant person takes over and no one else learns anything (...and I know how to manipulate the group dynamics, but that's MORE time). Gotta happen one person - one fire lay. SO any one else have noticed this as well.

May your blades stay sharp, your guns shoot straight,your fires burn warm, and your wits stay about you......Scout Out!

Original: http://scoutinlife.blogspot.com/2009/01/lets-talk-sparks.html

Prepper vs. Survivalist

from RV Survivalist Guide by RV Survivalist
So I see that the great oracle of doom, John Galt, now considers himself a "Survivalist" instead of a "prepper". His point - that we are now IN the anticipated scenario; no longer GETTING READY for it.

Now, I'm not a big John Galt fan. I listened to a broadcast he did recently where he re-capped his 2008 "predictions". Humbly, for him, he recounted all the wrong ones. Much longer list than anything he got right.

What qualifies these "forecasters" anyway? Look...pull your RV into any small town, and duck into the local diner for a cup of coffee and forecasting will be all around you! I guess nowadays some get celebritized for it.

So what are we? I'm still a prepper. Many things to obtain, yet, before I feel "comfortable" being uncomfortable. I've mentioned many already:

Wind turbine mounting where I can dis-assemble quickly
Battery meter
Tire covers & 110v air compressor
More food
More gold
More ammo
More barter items
Green Miracle - it's my favorite "green product"
More vitamins - I'm not selling; and I'm not pickey!
Solar battery charger for 9v; AA; AAA batteries
Couple of acres of land w/ water source
Motor scooter
Community of like-minded

So with all the gloom and doom around every new google search - I'm going to try to focus on what I can to today - this week - this month in order to position myself as best I can. I refuse to let somber predictions keep me from being prudent with what is still very much available today.

Original: http://rvsurvivalist.blogspot.com/2009/01/prepper-vs-survivalist.html

Meet my new friend ZEB (Zero Energy Building)

Lights or cash in your pocket–pick one How would you like to pay little or nothing for your electric usage for the rest of your life? Or at least for as long as you live in your net zero energy home…and for anyone who lives there after you.

Net zero energy buildings are a ground-up proposal. If you are building, it’s definitely something you should take a look at. There’s really no reason not to have a goal of producing all the energy that a building uses. It’s kind of an off-grid wet dream.

zHomes is pursuing just that in my immediate area. They recently had a ribbon-cutting in Issaquah, Washington. As Timothy Buckley stated, “The technology is there. There’s nothing new under the sun.”

Zero Energy Buildings, or ZEBs, is not a Pacific Northwest phenomena. There’s actually a contest on the east coast set up by NESEA , the Northeast Energy Sustainable Energy Association. Even without a contest, net zero energy building would seem to be the smart thing to do.

Even if you aren’t building from the ground up, you should take a look at the basic tenets of the concept and see how much of it you can work into your current existing abode. Start with extreme insulation—which will help with both hot and cold weather—and move right along to solar and wind energy.

Original: http://ourright2selfreliance.today.com/2009/01/28/meet-my-new-friend-zeb-zero-energy-building/

family finances

I know that many of you are still working on your three-month supply and/or water supply. Keep it up! Don't stop because we are shifting gears. Acquiring these items takes time. Keep your lists in hand and purchase things as you are financially able.

For the next while, our goals are going to center around financial preparedness. Don't worry, this is not going to be an elaborate or difficult-to-understand tutorial on financial terms or economics. Instead, we're going to focus on five easy anyone-can-do goals to help us be financial prepared. These goals come from a pamphlet released in 2007 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, titled All is Safely Gathered In: Family Finances. These goals make up a sound financial preparedness plan that are beneficial regardless of your religion.

Here is the message found within:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Latter-day Saints have been counseled for many years to prepare for adversity by having a little money set aside. Doing so adds immeasurably to security and well-being. Every family has a responsibility to provide for its own needs to the extent possible.

We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve.

If you have paid your debts and have a financial reserve, even though it be small, you and your family will feel more secure and enjoy greater peace in your hearts.

May the Lord bless you in your family financial efforts.
The First Presidency

I love the promises at the end of this message. I have personally experienced the peace that comes from financial preparedness. Hopefully as we set goals in regards to financial preparedness, you'll be able to find that personal peace as well.

Original: http://iprepared.blogspot.com/2009/01/family-finances.html

Meet the Herb Blogs

If you're interested in herbs and herbal medicine for your family, then you will want to check out some of these herbalist blogs. I don't read them every day, but then hardly any herbal blogs are posted every day. It is more like once a week or a few times a month. But by reading these blogs, you can greatly increase your knowledge of herbs, herbal lore, and herbal medicine. These are not listed in any particular order but there are ones that I like a lot and have learned a lot from.

The Medicine Woman's Roots

Kiva Rose writes very well and her blog is entertaining, knowledgeable and fascinating. A great resource.

Methow Valley Herbs

Some really neat herbal chai recipes this month.

Kitchen Witchen Beginner Herbal

Tammy says she's a beginner but she's quite wise. I picked up my goldenrod salve from her and Kiva Rose--it's great stuff for sore muscles and arthritis.

Herbal Medicine and Spirit Healing the Wise Woman Way

Susan Weed's excellent webpage. Sign up for her free ezine if you're interested.

The Essential Herbal

The blog supports a magazine that I want a subscription to next time I have extra money.

The Herbwife's Kitchen

Some excellent articles. Use the search function and find what you're looking for.

There are many other really great blogs on herbs. Rather than try and list them all here, see the links on the herbalists' pages above. Click on those and find even more.

And, in a category all its own is this one--a list of the top 100 herbal blogs and pages. A very useful list!

Back to Nature: Top 100 Herbal Blogs

Good luck and enjoy!

Original: http://handmaidenkitchen.blogspot.com/2009/01/meet-herb-blogs.html

When and How to Bargain

New Car

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Bargaining is a lost skill among most Americans. We’ve spent so long just paying the asking price or doing without that we’ve forgotten how to bargain. We feel a touch guilty when we try to negotiate a better price for our new purchases. “Or best offer” has always been seen as a way to buy used items, not new ones. In today’s climate, when people are increasingly hunting for less expensive alternatives and doing without and seeing that store markups are often in excess of 300% or more, there’s resentment at paying full price.

Sometimes, though, paying full price is not only acceptable but the right thing to do. When you are patronizing a store that opened recently, you should pay full price if you shop there. When you attend an arts festival, the artists are charged very high prices for their booth spaces and few earn enough to cover their expenses, so pay full price there, too. Custom made items should be paid for at full price because it was specially made to your specifications.

Other times, it’s not optimal to negotiate. If there are lots of the items in stock, it’s iffy to negotiate. If it’s a best selling item and they keep lots in stock because of that, there’s little point in negotiating. If there are lots in stock because it isn’t selling, it may be a very good time to negotiate. Chain stores often have set prices and aren’t allowed to negotiate, so if you receive a firm “No”, end it there and either pay full price or shop elsewhere. This isn’t universally true – some chains can negotiate on some items, especially if you are a frequent shopper there. In both of these, you won’t get much of a discount by negotiating, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Some stores will negotiate on some items and not on others and the only way you’ll know is by asking.

Now, good times to negotiate are when the store is already having a sale, and the item you want isn’t specifically included in the sale. Asking may get you a discount on what you really want instead of what’s on sale. This can work in grocery stores, particularly in the produce section. Another good time is when there’s a surplus that isn’t selling. That means paying attention and waiting. Clearance stores, stores going out of business, discount stores, and flea markets all are good places to negotiate a better price, but a lot of high end places are also willing to lower prices if asked in the right way. Furniture stores, clothing stores, home d├ęcor stores, even jewelry stores may be willing to negotiate with you over price if approached correctly.

Once you’ve located a place that has something you want and the price is more than you’re willing to pay, check to see if the items are custom pieces or handmade, if it’s a newly opened store, if it’s a chain that can’t negotiate. If not’s one of those, you may be able to negotiate.

Now you need to know how to negotiate.

Shop midweek, when the store is empty, or at least when the salespeople outnumber the customers. That way, it’s easier to make the salesperson a mentor and helper, which makes them more willing to get you a better price.

The most important step is to make the salesperson a partner in your shopping. Establishing a rapport early on is crucial to successful bargaining. Be aware that some salespeople work on commission. They want you to buy. You want the best price possible, but without hurting their commission. Encourage the salesperson to think creatively about ways their need to be paid can be met along with your need to get the best price. Salespeople are your best advocate, so treat them well.

Prepare yourself beforehand. Do some research. If you’re going to buy a new sofa, find out what’s the trend, what’s on sale, what their competitors are offering. Ask questions like “How does this sofa compare to Sofa X sold by Competitor Z?” Compare it to other sofas in the same store and ask similar questions.

If you decide to push for a still lower price, keep your questions theoretical. Say things like “Maybe I could buy it if…”, and “I might be interested if….”

If you don’t see any identical items on the floor, don’t hesitate to ask if you could get an additional discount for the floor model. The floor model isn’t always for sale, and it never is if there’s more just like it in stock, but if it is for sale, you might get an additional 10% off.

Ask about free delivery and installation, too. Sometimes those can be pricey, and by getting them free, it may clinch a sale. Very few salespeople earn a commission off of delivery and installation charges, and if giving that to you causes you to buy, it’s a win-win situation all around.

Don’t push too hard or you may create bad feelings. The salesperson will stop feeling like a helper and start feeling used. If you push anyway, and the item has a problem, they won’t remember you kindly and your after purchase service may suffer. You can tell you’re pushing too hard if the salesperson pulls away from you, takes too long to answer, starts speaking brusquely, and/or stops looking at you (this is the body-parl in America; in other countries, this will be different).

The willingness of stores to negotiate depends on many varied circumstances. Don’t let one store’s refusal affect asking at another store. Even if times were financially stable and prosperous, it still makes sense to negotiate prices anyway. The way to become wealthy is to spend what you must but no more than that. Save your generosity for the handmade items, the artisans and custom work, and bargain for the rest.

Original: http://gallimaufree.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/when-and-how-to-baagain/

Goin’ North Dakota

Japanese Art

Staying warm is a spendy thing. Unless I am completely out to lunch, it will probably get more so in the future.

With those antecedent premises, and an already too high electrical bill, I am going to discourse on the mistaken concept of central heating. The house I live in runs on a heat pump. These are one of the cheapest possible means of central heating available. It is still too expensive and wasteful by a long shot.

So this year we are heating the North Dakota way. We pick out a couple of rooms, heat them when we need to, and leave the rest of the house cool to cold and just pass through. We choose the kitchen as one of the rooms, it has a fireplace and it can be separated from the rest of the house with a simple curtain. Since I cook in 99% of the time, that heat is conserved. A $30 ceramic heater from Costco keeps the temp nice for the most part, and when I cook or bake, the room is toasty.

My room stays cold around, 40-50 F and I just sleep in there. The boys room has the TV and the games so we have a ceramic heater in there as well. It stays on at night until bedtime, then turns off when they are in bed. I turn it back on in the morning when I leave for work and I leave the heater on to keep the kitchen warm when they wake up. It limits the use of the living room, but the only thing there is the TV for football on Sunday.

When I think about it, this is how my friends in China live. I was always amazed about how cold they kept their homes. But the kitchen was warm there and everyone congregated to make it even warmer.

The winter won’t last forever, we will get through a couple of months of inconvenience and we will be plenty warm enough. Hell, because we are stuck together, the boys and I are talking more than we used to. All in all, these might actually be the good days.

Original: http://mightaswellliebackandenjoyit.blogspot.com/2009/01/goin-north-dakota.html

Won’t The Zombies Just Take Your Food Storage Away Anyway?

Whenever I do these classes and start posting about food security, we come up against what I would call “the zombie issue” - the idea that marauding hordes of some sort will immediately emerge if we ever need our food storage, and promptly take it away from us. There are a host of reasons I don’t buy this, one of them being that I think the “0 to Zombie in 30 seconds model skips over the fact that a whole lot of grey areas exist in between 0 and zombie ;-), and most of the middle territory is far more likely to be enacted than the most apocalyptic anxieties/fantasies.

But for the purpose of the discussion, let’s imagine that there’s been some major disruption in food supplies and the undead are getting hungry.

Now I’m still somewhat skeptical of the “zombie theory” for a number of reasons. They include:

1. The assumption is often made that the zombies all come from cities, and by implication are often one of those “thems” - which to me suggests that underneath our zombie worries are some older and uglier assumptions about who we’re really worried about. We saw how this played out in New Orleans, where reports and assumptions about violence were far greater than the reality - most of the violence that actually occurred was caused by people who thought they knew that bad guys were coming for them - even though they weren’t. Our fears of the other from the city are complicated, and not always rational. Sometimes, they create the situation they fear.

2. The zombie theory tends to assume a well organized, armed populace of people who have guns and maybe gas (or maybe walk in an organized fashion), but no food, descending on a population of unarmed, pacifist agrarians. This is seriously messed up for a host of reasons.

a. The trip out of the cities is longer than most people think. Let’s say that a mass of angry, hungry zombies plan to march out to the countryside to get food, say, from New York City. Well, before the zombies get to me, they’ve got to cover 200 miles of suburbia, not filled with food. Then, they have to be able to recognize and obtain food from the farms - that is, they have to be able to look at the oats and say “yum, let’s take those…and thresh and hull them and roll them into oatmeal and eat them!” If they are on foot (and let’s assume this isn’t winter), they are going to run out of steam somewhere in White Plains, long before they hit my neighborhood. If they might make it here, and run into the harsh reality - most rural areas don’t have a lot of gardens, and the things they produce often are the components of food, rather than food as most people who don’t cook recognize it.

b. Rural people are armed and work together well. Guns are usually among the tools of ordinary work out here - people hunt, they run off predators, they butcher livestock and use their weapons. Is it possible that zombies could overrun things? Sure, but it would take a fair number of zombies. How did they get trained? Where did they master the territory?

3. For the most part, and there are historical exceptions, zombie hordes are not what you have to worry about most in difficult times. That is, if people are truly hungry, what people will worry about most is not the “random evil folk from far away” but their near neighbors who compete with them for resources. This is much more likely to be expressed as a rise in the crime rate - less zombieism, much more “I beat you up and took your cash and food on hand.” Now that’s not good either - but preparation for dealing with those basic crime security issues is rather different than for preparing to fight off the local zombie warlords. In that case, your community is needed and essential.

Crime rates against people didn’t rise much in the great Depression, although light theft of food or small amounts of money did. For people who wandered about looking for work or food, they were more likely to be victims than the perpetrators - in many towns the homeless during the Depression were thrown in jail, and used in forced labor, simply for the crime of being poor. They were victims of crime quite often. Crime rates did rise in places like Russia after the Soviet collapse, but the zombie reality never kicked in. More crime has its tough parts, I don’t diminish this, but people who live now in extremely high crime areas find strategies for dealing with it. I’ve lived in such areas myself.

My point isn’t that no one will take your food away - maybe someone will. Or maybe you’ll lose it to fire, flood, or having to evacuate. Life doesn’t really come with certainties. But I think we have a disproportionate fear of being targeted, in part based on the idea that we’re all going to experience things equally. Now if everyone stops getting food all at once, it may be pretty obvious who has the food. But how often does that happen? There will be some rich folks and poor folks in most likelihood. We probably won’t know what our neighbors have - some will still have a job and maybe some food coming in, some may be relying on stores, some may have virtually nothing.

I don’t find myself compelled by the idea that your stores will make you a target - or rather, any more than having a job or any other thing most of us don’t plan to give up unless we have to makes us a target. In fact, most of the victims of rising crime are poor people in poor neighborhoods - that is, right now, the targets aren’t the fortunate, but the unfortunate. And that tends to get played out over and over again - it is the refugees and those without anything who lose the most. Not always. But history stands against the “your stores will mark you” analysis.

But most importantly, all of this assumes that your stores exist entirely in isolation - that you in your house sit there with your food and eat when others are suffering. But I think that’s very much unlikely for most of us - I’m sure if things get really bad, we’ll develop some kind of insulation against suffering, simply because we can’t help everyone. But at the same time, those we’re in relationship with aren’t going to disappear, either. And we are very much unlikely to live in a world where we know now, today, that this is the last crust of bread, and there will never be any more, and thus, sharing will starve our children. That happens in novels, and not much in real life. In real life, what happens is that you share, and the next day, perhaps your neighbor shares the food he found with you.

Indeed, in most poor cultures, the obligation to share is taken far more seriously than it is here. In poorer times the fairy tales about the widow who gave the last crust of bread to a poor stranger, and about greedy rich people taught the cultural message that you shared because it was right, and also because what you shared returned to you.

Joetta Handrich Schlabach, writing in _Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook_ (a wonderful book) writes of a story a friend of hers who was visiting Lesotho. She visited a friend ‘Me Malebohang. They discussed the bad pumpkin harvest, and how ‘Me Malebohang had only 8 pumpkins for the whole winter. As the friend got up to leave, ‘Me Malebohang offered her guest the largest of the pumpkins. When the guest refused, saying she couldn’t take one of her pumpkins, ‘Me Malabohang answered, “We Basotho know that this is the way to do it. Next year I may have nothing in my field, and if I don’t share with you now, who will share with me then?”

And even if you imagine that the worst case scenarios came true, the “last crust of bread” scenario becomes a reality, there is this - for some of us, how we live our lives matters as much as the lives themselves. In the end, if, G-d forbid, we are confronted with that choice, I at least have to believe that those harshest and most uncertain moments are the ones that you most need your own moral underpinnings - doing right may be more important than one more day.

But realistically, I don’t expect that most of us will face anything like that particular set of tragedies. That doesn’t mean life won’t be harder, and that some people won’t go hungry - indeed, America has plenty of hungry right now. But not because we’re all fighting over one last crust of bread.


Original: http://sharonastyk.com/2009/01/29/wont-the-zombies-just-take-your-food-storage-away-anyway/