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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tip of the Week…Preparing For City Dwellers, Part 1…Making Room


New Jersey - Hoboken: Washington Street Browns...
I was reminded yesterday that many of you live in the city where preparing can be a little more of a challenge and the things you are preparing for may be a little different than those living in the suburbs and wide open spaces. The next few weeks I will be giving tips for those living in smaller quarters.
The place to begin is by cleaning house. That’s right. If you are going to prepare and prepare well you will need to accumulate not only knowledge and skills but also supplies. But, if you live in a small apartment where will you store those supplies? It’s time to clear the clutter and to evaluate the ways in which you are using the space you have.
Step one: Go through cupboards and closets and toss things you are not using. If you have parents or grandparents with a larger home they may be willing to store a few precious items that are just too important to toss.
Step two: Seriously examine you storage options. A linen closet does not have to store linens. It can be a perfect place for food storage. It’s time to think out of the box.
We all know the value of under-bed storage. You can purchase risers for your bed, thus adding increased height for taller items and easier access. Higher beds are a popular decorating trend! Purchase under-bed storage boxes, wire baskets or visit a Mailboxes-type shipping store to peruse the various sizes of shipping cartons available to fit your space. Wooden drawers or bins with rollers would be ideal for easy access. The cost of store-bought solutions can be shocking, so watch for sales, or innovate with what you already have on hand. That may be an obvious solution so…
If you have a deep closet with a bar for hanging clothes, move the bar as far forward as possible. Make sure you still have room to hang clothing. Add shelving to the back wall of the closet. Even if the shelf is narrow it can be used for smaller items such as soup cans, ketchup, or shampoo bottles.
Add an additional shelf. Most closets have a shelf above the bar on which you hang your clothes. Look for wasted space above that shelf. Add another shelf if you can, and take advantage of the space all the way to the ceiling. Since this shelf is above head height you can also make it deeper than the lower shelf. Remember you don’t have to use this for food storage but it is a great place for Christmas decorations and items you use only occasionally.
In children’s rooms, lower the clothing bar and add shelving above. Most clothing bars are hung higher than they need to be, even for adults, creating wasted space on the floor — which usually collects lots of clutter.
Add a shelf at floor level. Either hang the shelf from the wall or build a shelf unit that you can take with you when you leave, especially if your are a renter. Place canned foods under the shelf and you still have room for shoes on the shelf itself.
Don’t forget the back of a closet door. An over-the-door shoe bag makes a great place to store spices, packaged seasonings, glow sticks, mylar blankets, medical supplies and other small items.
Under a Staircase
If you have enclosed space under your stairs, it could be a huge cavern just waiting to be put to work. Even an open staircase offers possibilities.
If you have an open staircase, you can install custom cabinets, shelves, storage cubes on the wall, or a bench with storage underneath to utilize this space in a fashionable way. If you don’t care about fashion, then it’s a great place to stack your supplies.
If your staircase is enclosed, create access to the space within by adding an opening and a door, and store away! You will need to clear this with a landlord but they will probably love the idea since it means they can now advertise the apartment with more storage space, a real plus.
Add Shelving
If you own your home or even if you don’t, hang a shelf on the walls, a foot or two from the ceiling, in all your rooms. Baskets can be placed on the shelves and used for storage.
A shelf over a doorway can also add a great architectural touch to a room. Home improvement store have lots of decorative brackets at every price point.
You can build a simple book shelf around and over a doorway completely framing it. Store preparedness and other books, candles, photo albums, and baskets filled with small items.
Furniture
Instead of a dresser, use an armoire. An armoire will double your storage space but without taking extra floor space. Add shelves and fold clothing on the shelves. Add baskets for small items. You probably don’t really want green beans stored in with your clothing, so why not move the sheets and other bedding into the bedrooms and empty the linen closet for preparedness storage.
Remember to look up … Baskets, hat boxes, and other decorative storage containers can also be added to the top of the armoire for even more storage, and can be decorative as well.
Instead of a coffee table use an old trunk. Cover with a piece of glass for a smooth surface, make a cushion for a comfy foot rest, or leave as it. To make a simple cushion purchase an inexpensive sheet of wood product and cover with a foam pad or batting. Stretch fabric over the top and staple fabric to the bottom of the board while stretching it tight.
Make or purchase a loft bed even if you do not have more than one child sharing a room. Even when I was in college we all fought over the top bunk. Move an additional dresser or shelving, under the loft and clear out room in the closet for food storage. You can often purchase bunk beds inexpensively at garage sales. It is a simple task to convert to a loft.
There is often more room next to your bed than your side table takes up. Consider getting a larger bedside unit, a small dresser, a trunk, a small bookcase to replace your standard bedside table. Many things will work as wonderful, attractive bed side tables.
Bathrooms
Have a big bathroom? Add a dresser and store your supply of toothpaste and other bathroom products where these items are ready to use.
Roll towels and place them in a basket in the bathroom freeing closet space.
Add storage above the toilet. You can purchase a ready made shelving unit or create your own. Try hanging square wicker or wire baskets with the openings facing out. Roll towels and store them here instead of in a cupboard. Now the cupboard is free for emergency storage. Use a smaller basket or closed container to store smaller items. Place these in the baskets you have hung on the wall.
Cupboards
Do you have a lot of open space in your cupboards? Add more shelves. This is such an easy fix. If you are stacking cans in the cupboard you can easily add another shelf. Adjust shelving to accommodate the size cans you wish to store on them. Leave about 1 ½ inches above the can so you are able to easily access your stored food.
Pre-laminated shelving is ideal — it is easy to clean, and there is no need for shelf liners. Home centers will cut the boards for you so take exact measurements with you. If your shelving has the plastic supports, this would be a good time to replace them with the stronger metal ones. If you have cupboards without the pre-drilled holes for shelving, you will need to get some 1×1s and add supports for each shelf.
Roll towels and place them in a wine rack hung on the wall. Our hutch came with two built in wine racks. What are we going to do with that? Roll place mats and place them in one and remove the other and add a basket to hide small items like cookie cutters. Now you can use the cookie cutter drawer for pudding, gelatins, seasoning mixes, dry soups and spices.
Remove pots and pans from cupboards and hang them. All the decorative wrought iron curtain rods on the market now make an easy way to create a custom looking pot rack; just add hooks.
Baskets, baskets everywhere!
I use baskets to free up other space. I store TP in a tall, tiered sewing basket in the corner of a guest bathroom, which is decorative and holds about 15 rolls. Sheet music is stored in a picnic basket next to the piano. Baby bottles and bibs are in a basket that decorates a dining room hutch.
Now it’s your turn. Look around and consider how you can make more room for storage in your home.
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Instructables Paracord Contest

One of our favorite DIY sites, Instructables.com is hosting a Paracord Contest. The grand prize is a Leatherman with a custom laser etched message of your choice. Paracord is one of the best gotta-have-some-with-you preparedness items. The inner strands can be used for fishing line while the outer shell on its own provides a strong shell for wrapping or weaving other objects. Really, the possibilities are endless.
Have a look at the Instructables Paracord Contest here.

Cooking Off the Grid

by TheSurvivalaMom
People have to eat and water has to be safe to drink, no matter what. A lot of preppers are planning to use propane, butane, and kerosene fuels for cooking and heating water in case of emergencies, natural disasters or the end of the world, and that's smart. Longer term planning, though, raises the question, "What do I do when the fuel runs out?" It's very easy to imagine shortages of all fuels, including gasoline and diesel, even as a temporary condition. As another alternative, I suggest giving some thought to how you'll prepare food and heat water without any liquid or gas fuel whatsoever.

One option is a solar oven. A solar oven can be as simple as a box lined with aluminum foil or, my preference, the Global Sun Oven. If you're like me, anything that is overly complicated or inconvenient is rarely used, and that is why I love the Sun Oven. It's portable enough to be taken on camping trips, light enough for my kids to carry, and the set-up takes just a few seconds. As long as there is sunshine, this baby can cook anything from hard boiled eggs to roasted chicken to casseroles and cookies. I learned that I can make homemade chicken soup with a simple combination of noodles, veggies, water, and raw chicken. Yep, raw chicken. As the soup heats up and cooks, the chicken and water create a rich broth, so I don't have to use canned broth or bouillon cubes for flavor.

You can even pasteurize water in a solar oven. Water actually pasteurizes at temperatures below boiling, and I recently discovered a terrific low-tech method to determine when water is safe to drink. The Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI) is a simple, small polycarbonate tube that contains a small amount of wax. This wax melts at the same temperature required for pasteurization of water and milk. Dangle the WAPI into a container of water, and when the wax is melted, you know the water is safe to drink! When the WAPI is removed from the water, the wax hardens, and it's ready to use again and again. Brilliant!

With solar ovens, you never have to worry about fuel, and this is a big advantage. The cooking process may take a bit more time, depending on the type of oven you use and how much sunlight is available at the time. You can help the oven cook faster by refocusing it toward the sun every half hour or so. This is just a simple process of angling the oven in the direction of the sun, taking no more than a minute or so.

On overcast days, a solar oven isn't going to work, but there are other options for grid-free and fuel-free cooking. Take a look at stoves that require very small amounts of charcoal or wood. Although wood is technically a fuel, it isn't something you normally have to purchase or rely upon an outside source to provide. The Stove Tec Rocket Stove is an example of this type of stove. It's small and portable, and as long as you know how to start a small fire using tinder and small sticks, you're good to go. Along with a stove of this type, you'll need a few pieces of cookware that can be used over an open flame, and then plenty of practice!

Cooking off the grid is a challenge but one that is worthwhile, whether you use your knowledge on camping trips, during a power outage or all-out TEOTWAWKI.

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