Saturday, October 28, 2017

Prayer Shawls - a Free Crochet Pattern

And now for something completely different!!  :)

Did you know that I love to create?  I crochet, knit, quilt, sew, scrapbook, and cross stitch.  I love to make things with my hands.  It is relaxing, satisfying, and helps me relieve stress.

I enjoy making prayers shawls.  I give them away always.  If I have a friend struggling with illness, grieving, or just needs some comfort I tend to lean towards making them a prayer shawl.  I also make them for others who I don't know.  While, creating them I pray over the stitches, think about their needs, pray for comfort, strength and healing.  The shawls that I don't give to a loved one or friend I donate to my church for their healing ministry. (No we don't "heal" people, but help and comfort them while healing.) 

I have another blog where I share patterns and such from time to time.  Here is the link to the prayer shawl pattern I created.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Holiday Shopping Safety

Recently I have heard of several new schemes that not so nice people are using to get women away from their car or to stop their car so the not so nice people can do bad things to them.

With only 9 weeks left before Christmas and the sun setting earlier and earlier, us women will find ourselves shopping and in parking lots in the dark.  Now is the time to prepare ourselves.  Personally, I hate shopping at night.  I particularly don't enjoy driving at night anymore.  I try to avoid being out after dark particularly alone anymore.  However, with the sun setting around 6 now and by Christmas, just before 5, I will find myself alone, in the dark, in a parking lot.

So, here is what I have heard before and this is what I will be telling my teenage girls.

Recent stories have told of bad people (sometimes bad women, not just men) will leave something on your windshield, like a shirt or a piece of paper.  You don't see it until you are in your car and getting ready to pull out of the parking space.  You stop, open your door, get out to take the item off your windshield and they grab you.

Sometimes you go to your car and a van with dark or even no windows is parked right next to your car.  You go to get in your car and they open the door and grab you.

Sometimes they will throw raw eggs at your windshield and then wait for you to stop to wash it off or get the egg off in some way.  Using your windshield wipers don't work as it only smears it and makes it worse.  Water mixed with raw egg will make it cloudy.

Your best protection is awareness.

1.  look around you, not at your phone, keep aware of your surroundings and others around you.

2.  keep your keys in your hand.

3.  keep your whistle on your keychain and don't be afraid to use it.

4.  if the hair on the back of your neck stands up, listen to it and go back in the store, ask the store manager to walk you out to your car.

5.  don't ever stop your car to take something off your car.  drive to a well lit place with lots of people like a gas station.

6.  if you have to stop, lock your doors, use your horn, call 911 for assistance.

7.  if you have a key fob on your keychain for your car, keep your finger on the panic button,  or the lock/unlock button, or whichever button will make your car look like it is acting funny so others will start to pay attention to it..

8.  if you can, don't go out alone.

9.  if you find someone grabbing you, scream, make a commotion, try to scratch them and poke their eyes, knee them in the groin.

10.  if you are alone, don't be helpful.  Don't help someone who asks for help in a parking lot.  If they need help, don't get close to them.  Go back in the store to ask for help.

Again, your best defense is awareness.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Park in a well lit area, as close as you can to the store.

Hope these little tips are helpful.

Visit me on Facebook.  Search "A Prepared Mom".  That's me!  :)  I post other things there.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wildfires - What to Grab When You Don't Have Time

Recently California, Oregon and other areas have been battling huge wildfires.  These crop up in the summer, usually when it is hot and dry.  They are caused by a number of things including lightning strikes, cigarettes tossed out a car window, or human negligence. These fires can cause huge amounts of damage to personal property and cause potential loss of life.

I have had dreams of fighting fires with a garden hose, but in the end I am not doing anything to help.  I am sure someone can analyze this dream!  Ha ha ha.  However, a garden hose is useless when a fire is raging around my home.

Here is a great exercise for anyone to do and is effective in so many scenarios.

Imagine an emergency person (firefighter, police officer, forest ranger) comes to your door and says you have 5 minutes to grab what you need and get out.  5 minutes only!  What do you grab?

1. Call to the kids. Shoes on NOW!

2. Tell kids to pack a bag quicker than quick!  (if they have their own bug out bag already packed even better) **point of note here:  My kids are quick packers.  They can power pack through lots of practice over the years of heading here or there every weekend.  My kids are also teenagers; this wouldn't work if they were younger.

3.  Grab our bug out bags, blankets, my purse, medications.

4.  Get dog in car with her bug out bag and crate.

Do I have time?  1 minute more.......what do I grab?  Fireproof safe, heirloom jewelry (I keep it in a separate jewelry box), emergency cash.

We get in the car and stop on the way out of the neighborhood where the emergency people are and ask for a point of contact to find out when we can return.

Did you imagine what you would do?  Where would you get hung up?  Is your bag packed already?  Kids packed? Pets packed? Emergency papers ready to go?

If you find you wouldn't be able to get everything together in 5 minutes, you know what you need to work on.

Start with emergency papers.  Scan pertinent information, birth certificates, insurance papers, passports, driver's licenses, etc, and put it all on a flashdrive.  Keep this flash drive in your bug out bag.  When things change grab your flash drive and update it then return it to your bug out bag. 

You may choose to not worry about clothing and that is fine.  It is replaceable.  Go for the irreplaceable things.  Heirloom jewelry, photos, etc.  We keep our heirloom pieces in a separate jewelry box that is quickly transportable.  I can grab it and toss it in a bag quickly.  It is all there. No worrying about searching through my other jewelry cabinet for specific pieces.  Our photos we keep on our computer and we back it up regularly on an external hard drive.  All I have to do is grab this external hard drive.

This is a great exercise to just go through in your mind and by actually doing it.  Practice is a great thing for a family.  Set a timer for 5 minutes and then go through the motions.  5 minutes is QUICK!  See if you can grab all you need and get out of the house with everyone and the pets.  This will also help you with what further prepping you need to do in order to get out of the house in time.

Wildfires not an issue for you?  There are lots of reason why an emergency official might come to your house and tell you to evacuate.  Gas leaks (this happened to us once), neighbor's home on fire, flooding (has happened to friends of mine).  I am sure there are other events as well.

What would you grab?  Would you be able to think if you were under pressure?

Make a list.  Then all you need to do is get the list and do what is on the list.  Keep the list with your bug out bag.  That is where you will go first and what you will grab first.  Then check off the list. 

Start your list with the essentials, most of which might already be in your bag. Then move on to the "other" things (for me this is the heirloom jewelry box, fireproof safe, external hard drive).  Practice this list.  Can you do it in five minutes?

Add additional items if you have 10 minutes and space.  If your car is small, you may have to drop some items.  If you don't have a car and must leave on foot, you may want to make sure your bug out bags are not too heavy.

What if not everyone is home at the time?  Have a plan.  Wait until you are out to contact the people not at home.  Grab their bag and items they need before you leave.  Once you are out of danger. Contact them to warn them not to go home. Arrange a place to meet.  This could be a pre-arranged place.

Comment below on things I missed. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Social Unrest - Prepping for a Protest Gone Bad

Recently we had a protest in our city.  I don't live in the city.  I live probably about 25 miles outside of the city on the outskirts of a suburban area.  The news prior to the protests warned us against going down to the protest site.  The police had blocked off the protest area and closed the streets well away from the protest area in preparation to help keep innocent bystanders away.  The police warned that if we didn't have a necessary need to be in that area to stay away.  The protesters were quite controversial and there was a potential that this could go very, very wrong if everyone wasn't "on guard".  In the end, the police did a great job.  They kept the protesters and anti-protesters away from each other and the situation didn't result in injury or destruction.

But what if.....

We have seen social unrest situations go very, very bad in recent years. We have even seen looting and social unrest (looting, crime, vandalism) in areas struck with a natural disaster ( hurricane, flooding, etc).

So what do we do?  How do we prepare?

There are two options: bug-in or bug-out. The preference in any situation is to stay put.  Stay in your home, stay where you are.  But sometimes you will need to get out of the area and if things go bad, you might be away for a little while.

Let's look at a few situations:

1.  You live in an area where potential unrest could happen and have warning that unrest could occur.  Let's say you know a protest will happen close to where you live.  If you have warning, you may want to leave the area until the potential threat is gone.  If I were living in the area where our recent protest was occurring, I might have thought to leave as well.  This was a potentially violent protest and if I lived where the police were blocking off streets, etc, I probably would have packed up the family and left for the weekend. It just makes sense to avoid the threat. 

What do you pack?  Clothing, cash, perhaps your valuables (if you feel your home could be compromised), portable food (things you don't need to heat up or cook - think protein bars, easy snacks, fruit, water), a special toy or stuffed animal (for kids who might need that comfort).  Copies of your important papers, insurance papers, etc.

If you leave and the social unrest happens your home may be compromised and potentially destroyed so pack the really important things you need and prepare that you may not be able to return to your home for a little while.

Now I am not saying to pack everything.  That is a bit overkill, but I am saying to pack a day or two of clothing, maybe a few extra pair of underwear, a blanket or two, emergency food, paperwork, etc.  The basics of a bug out bag along with an extra this or that.

2. You live in an area where potential unrest could happen but you have NO WARNING and it is happening.

Always your best option is to stay put, but if the danger is eminent and you feel safer leaving then leave.  Grab your BOB (bug out bag) and get out of Dodge!  This means that you need your car to always have some gas in it.  You don't want to have to stop at the next block to fill up.  It is best to be able to get out of town and then stop for gas.  So if you are living in an urban area or where potential unrest could happen you will want to think about keeping your car at least half full with gas and your car emergency kit is up to date and filled at all times.  You will want to be one of the first ones out so be ready.  This is where keeping a bug out bag packed and ready to go is important.

3.  The social unrest has occurred and the police have everything on "lock down".  There is a city-wide curfew. 

At this point you have survived the potentially violent phase but now the aftermath.  The city is on lock-down.  Stores are closed. There is a mandatory curfew in the city.  You must stay home. It may be a few days before the curfew is lifted and it may be a bit longer for local stores to open and the city to get back to "normal".  This is where your food storage and emergency supplies will come in handy. You will not feel the need to have to get out.  Your typical emergency food storage and supplies will keep you going until you can get to the store.  Thankfully, you have already stocked up on food and other necessary supplies so staying at home will be no problem.

In the end, preparing is the key.  Know your dangers. Prepare for the worse, hope for the best.  Have your bug out bag ready to go.  Keep your papers and insurance up to date.  Keep gas in your car.  Have an emergency supply of food and necessary items.

This is just another example of how your food storage and your bit of preparation can help you in the end.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Much Needed Break ----- Prepping For a Trip

Yesterday we took a much needed mini vacation.  It was only a 24 hour vaca but it was so so so good to get out of town for even just an overnight trip.  My husband and I and the three teenagers packed in no time flat (we are record packers trained by many years of traveling to and from our beach house or river house each weekend) and we hopped in the car and headed an hour away for the night.

The plan was to check into the hotel and then go out to eat a nice dinner, spend the night and then the next morning go apple picking, have lunch and then meander back home again. The plan went splendidly!  It was perfect weather.  We found an open air mall and walked through a few stores and then had a wonderful dinner in a great Italian Restaurant.  The next morning we awoke and had a bit of breakfast in the hotel. Then we packed up, checked out and headed to the local apple orchard.  We ended up with a bushel of apples, three bottles of wine, a gallon of apple cider, and two dozen apple cider donuts.  It was wonderful to just hang out with my family and my kids.  We get so caught up in the mess of the days that we forget to just be together.  As the kids have gotten older it has also become more difficult for us to schedule time together, and when we are home we often find ourselves in separate rooms, doing separate things.

In the end, it was a much needed, quick, break from our lives.  Ahhhh.....

So how do we prep for emergencies while we are on the road?

1.  Pack for layers.  The weather was going to be fairly warm but might be chilly inside places or at night.  We pack for layers.  A sweatshirt, a sweater, a tank top.  Light jacket. Long pants, short pants.  Extra underwear (just in case we end up having to stay longer than expected). Extra outfit (in case we stay longer or in case we spill something and need an extra outfit). 

2.  Toiletries. Normal toiletries plus a full set of nail clippers, tweezers, nail file.  (it is amazing how often we need one or more of these items while we are away!  Plus they can come in handy if you need a mini tool for something or another. Trust me, you will use them.)

3.   Flashlight.  I carry a small but bright one in my purse, particularly when traveling.  AND I used it while we were away.  Now it wasn't for an emergency but the lighting was dim and the flashlight came in handy.

4.  Snacks.  We pack snacks and a cooler of drinks and water bottles when we travel.  We don't always eat or drink them but if we find ourselves stranded somewhere we have some protein and some carbohydrates and veggies to snack on until we get rescued.

5.  Blanket.  In the winter I try to pack a blanket for every person in our family in the car.  We will use them while traveling to sleep in the car or just snuggle under when my husband declares the car too hot and turns on the AC or the heat down.  This time it wasn't too cold yet and I grabbed two blankets.  My son brought his own as well.

6.  Emergency car kit.  We always have emergency car equipment in the car.  Basic tools, battery jumping cables, rope, chain, extra fuses.

7.  Extra battery charger for our cell phones.  We have a portable charger and I make sure it is all charged and ready to go - you know, just in case.

8.  Small first aid kit.  My small one is a small cosmetic bag size.  It has a few band-aids of different sizes, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, and benadryl.  Oh, and antacid.  It is not big but it works for us. When the kids were little I also carried a thermometer and a few other items. Now that we have grown most of them have their own bags and carry the items they feel are necessary for them personally, like feminine supplies, allergy meds, etc.

Do we overpack?  I don't think so.  Did I use everything I packed?  No.  I didn't use the first aid kit. No one needed any band-aids this time, but we have needed them in the past.  We also didn't use our car emergency kit, but it is always good to have it around for those times when we do break down.  I didn't need to extra battery charger either but it is small and always good to have.  Yes we ate some snacks, not all, yes we used the fingernail clippers and the nail file this time. I used a blanket on the bed in the hotel room because my husband loves to crank up the AC and freeze me out of there.  I already told you I used my flashlight and well, packing in layers is always a good idea.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Whistle Can Save Your Life

Yes, a whistle can save your life!  Put on your list of emergency supplies to get a whistle.  I have one on my keychain.  It is a small plastic "very loud" whistle.  The "very loud" part is what was in the description when I bought it.  And it is very loud.  But any whistle in a pinch will do.

As a woman I worry about attacks in parking lots when I am walking out to my car at night alone.  I always get my keys out in the store prior to leaving.  I have my keys in my hand and thus my whistle too.  If I feel threatened (knock on wood - haven't needed to use it yet) I can blow my whistle.  That will get other people's attention and hopefully ward off those who want to do me harm.  However, there are lots of other times where a whistle will come in handy too.

Have you heard of the instance where you get lost hiking?  The thought is if you get lost the best thing to do is to stay in one place and blow your whistle every so often.  You can use the SOS method of blowing your whistle, three loud blasts, and people searching for you can hear it.  Yelling and screaming can be effective but it takes a lot of energy to yell.  Blowing your whistle is much more effective and efficient.

If you are in an emergency situation where you are covered in rubble, whistles are effective for people finding you. 

So when a weather emergency occurs (tornado warnings, hurricane, etc) put a whistle around your neck and you will have it in case you need it. 

Whistles are inexpensive and can be found usually in the sporting goods section of Walmart, Target, Kmart, and in sporting goods stores.  Get one with a lanyard so you can put it around your neck.  They are usually only a few bucks if that.  In fact buy two or three!  They also make great stocking stuffers!!

Pack one in your bug out bag, put one in your car emergency kit, put one on your keychain and in your purse. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Emergency Planning on a Budget (a $5 plan)

A few ideas for how to stock up on a budget:  I was thinking more about the post I wrote the other day here and wanted to give a few ideas on how to stock up with just $5 a week.

I have said before that I am not a "hard core" prepper.  But I do like to have some supplies on hand at any given time.  My "emergencies" are not the sort like the end of the world, full-blown nuclear meltdown, complete economic collapse, or an apocalypse type event.  My "emergencies" are more of the "oh my we had to pay a large bill this month and are a little short of grocery money", winter storms, hurricanes, and oops the power went out.  I find that from time to time we have to use our supplies for one of these reasons.

I don't buy the long-term, 25 year food storage items.  A 5 gallon bucket of oats or whole grains or even flour isn't going to do me much good in the long run because that is not how I cook everyday.  Yes, I bake bread and sweets from time to time but it isn't my norm.  I buy extra of things we use everyday.  I like to have a three month supply of things so in case we need to use our food storage/supplies the items we normally use are there. 

How do I get a three month supply of things?  I start slowly and I stock up on things we use.  When things go on sale that is when I buy and for the most part food items go on sale at least once every three months.  At that time I buy what I need to the next three months.  For example, we use ketchup quite often (I have kids - it is part of the food pyramid!) I estimate we go through a bottle of ketchup a month. So when ketchup goes on sale I buy three bottles.  We are not big on canned veggies and tend to eat more frozen or fresh veggies.  We can't really stock up on fresh veggies for three months but we can stock up on frozen veggies.  Frozen veggies are regularly $1 a bag.  We eat fresh as often as we can but we use at least 3 bags of frozen veggies a week, sometimes more.  3 bags a week for a month is 12 bags.  Three months worth is 36 bags of frozen veggies.  I don't buy 36 bags at once.  I don't have that much money to spend on it at once.  So I buy a little at a time.  I will get a couple extra bags each week at the store until I have stocked up.

If you were to budget $5 extra a week to spend on emergency supplies you could plan out how you can spend it each week.

Immediate needs:
Food -
Water -
Lighting -
Cooking -
First Aid -

Start with water.  It is easy to grab an extra couple gallons of water for $5 a week.  A case of water bottles is usually $2.50-$3.  You can buy at least one case and then a gallon of water for $5.  Do this for a couple weeks and you have quite a stash of water.

Food - Start with foods you can eat without heating up.  Tuna packets, canned pastas like ravioli, beef a roni, spaghetti-o's, etc.  They are better hot but you can eat them cold in a pinch.  A box of protein bars, box of dry cereal, pop-tarts, instant oatmeal.  Canned fruits, apple sauce, canned and bottled (shelf stable) juices. Start slow and buy on sale.  These are all items you can eat without heating up. Make sure the cans are the flip and pull type or make sure you have a hand crank can opener.  Canned goods do you no good if you can't get into them.

Alternative cooking - One month save your $5 a week and try to find a camp stove or use your $20 this month to buy some cast iron pots and pans you can use on your grill or over an open fire.  Camp stoves like this one is a bit more than $20 new but you can buy one on Craigslist or at a yardsale for about $20.  If you own a grill or plan to use an open flame fire to cook in an emergency then use your $20 to buy second hand cast iron pans and pots.

Now that we have an alternative cooking plan - let's go back to food again.  Now you can start stocking up on lots of foods each week with your $5.  When planning what you will buy try to buy items that will make a meal. One week buy instant pancake mix and a bottle of syrup.  The next week buy a package of pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce.  Another week buy canned soups that are ready to eat (Chunky, Progresso, etc).  This way if you have an emergency then you have a full meal and not just random parts of a meal.  Relish and crackers don't make a meal. You could eat it but it wouldn't be appetizing.

Alternative lighting - For $5 you can buy 5 small flashlights. (Walmart has them in the camping department, they are small but pack a bright led light)  You can buy a package of AAA batteries for $5 to go with your small flashlights.  For $10 you can buy a larger lantern.  For another $10 you can buy a package of D batteries for the lantern.  I used to stock up on candles but now I go for the lanterns and flashlights. Just the other day I found a great hanging battery operated light on sale for $3.49 at Office Max.  I think they were intended for a locker.  You could hang it in your locker and have a light so you can see your books.  The light is bright!  I bought 2.  The fact that you can hang them up on a hook or in a closet on a rod makes them perfect for your emergency supplies.  You can put it in the bathroom on the towel rack or hook it on a cabinet door knob in the kitchen. Each was under $5. Candles are cumbersome and dangerous as they have an open flame and can catch your house on fire if you aren't paying attention.

First aid - again, use your $5 to add to your first aid kit.  One week buy band-aids, next week buy ace bandage, another week buy antibiotic ointment like Neosporin.  One week buy pain-reliever (Advil, Tylenol, etc) another week buy chapstick.

Now that you have the basics for an emergency where you won't have power, begin to think bigger and start to plan and stock up for a time where you may be without a job or there is an illness in the family and money is tight, or when you just need to pay an extra bill this month and groceries and basic supplies will be hard to come by.

Make a list of popular meals that your family likes a lot.  Start to stock up a little at a time so that you have all the ingredients for these meals.  Stock your freezer with meats, veggies, and quick prepared meals.  Stock your pantry with spices, gravies, taco seasoning, canned goods, condiments, canned fruits and juices, boxed mac and cheese, soups, and anything else you normally buy.

Consider purchasing deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine supplies, soaps, shampoos, and other toiletries.  These can be some of the most expensive items you purchase on a regular basis.  Stocking up on these when they are on sale or when you have a coupon is a wise choice.  Other items to stock up on is laundry detergents, bleach, household cleaning supplies, and hand soaps.  Again the key is to buy these when they are sale or if you have a coupon.  No coupon?? Consider emailing or mailing your favorite brands and tell them how much you like their product.  They will often send you high dollar coupons in the mail.

The key here is that if you do a little planning.  You biggest emergencies won't be the end of the world type scenarios but the little annoyances of daily life. I can't tell you how many times we have used our food storage because of an unexpected expense or lack of money for some reason. Power outages are our second most annoying "emergency". I am glad that I have an alternative cooking plan and alternative lighting plan.  Our daily life doesn't change that drastically when these things happen because we have a plan.  Buy the things you use and eat.  Food storage isn't any good to you if you don't like what you have.

Benefits of food storage:  I love being able to go into the pantry and having a variety of options available to me.  We eat it on a rotation all the time so that no food goes bad or gets out of expiration date.  Because I have stocked it with the things we eat anyway, we are always rotating our foods.  My grocery lists look a little different sometimes because I am always restocking my food storage and buying the items when they are on sale not just when we need them.  So sometimes my grocery list will not have any meats on them or any veggies.  Sometimes my grocery list looks quite odd as it isn't "balanced". But I find I am saving money this way too!  :)

I also love being able to reach under my sink in my bathroom and immediately replace an empty toothpaste tube, or grab a new deodorant.  I always have an extra. I never run out of anything I need.  When I notice that something is starting to get low, then it goes on the grocery list.  I might not get it immediately because it might not be on sale.  But it will get purchased before I completely run out of it.