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Saturday, April 25, 2015

What to do with food storage when moving

Here is an email I received:
Hi Amy,

I hear you're the guru of food storage.  We're having movers for the first time and there's a possibility we'll have them store our stuff for the month of July.  I'm sure they won't put it in a climate controlled area, so I'm worried about the heat' s impact on our food storage shelf life.  It's all the basic cannery stuff, maybe a couple cans of freeze dried fruits and veg, sugar, but mostly beans and quite a bit of wheat.  I do rotate some of it, but dry beans are a pain and I just don't anticipate getting through all of them before we're closer to 15-20 years in the can.  This was a wedding present from my parents, gleaned from their storage, so it was already 5 or so years old and in 7 years I've used about a year's worth of the original cans of wheat, rice, etc, but I've hardly touched the beans.

I just feel like there's potentially a big difference between a couple days in a UHaul when we moved to NC versus a month who knows where, so I'm wondering if I should try to sell it for less than the cannery charges and then add some savings and buy new when we get settled in our new state.  That would also let me improve the ratio of our storage to align better with what we actually use, though of course we'll still store a good amount of beans for protein completion.

Any thoughts or advice is appreciated!

 Dear friend:
I really don't have a good answer for you.  It is true that a month in a hot storage unit in July is going to damage your storage.  You will have to decide if you want to sell it.  I assume that people who buy it are going to want a super good deal or no one is going to bother buying it.  You might have to give it away.

 You will have to weigh these questions:  Is it worth it to you to pay to move it across the country with it already going down in nutritional value?  Can you stand to sell it for very little (or give it away)?  Do you want to buy all new, or do you have the money to buy all new?  If you get rid of it, would you procrastinate buying new, and therefore not have any food storage for awhile?  Would it be better to keep this already-paid-for food, even if it has lower nutritional value, instead of having none?  It all depends on how soon you think a personal disaster or national disaster is going to happen. 
That is all the advice I can think of.  Best wishes with your decision.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ice Storm Forecasted for Tonight

Have you heard?  A big ice storm is possibly going to hit us tonight!  The latest news I saw said that ice would accumulate 1/4" to 1/2", and that is MORE THAN ENOUGH to bring down trees on top of power lines.  Be extremely cautious and start getting ready right now for being without power for a few days.

I'm the new Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the GL Ward. I had that calling for 4 years in the MV Ward too, and kept a blog all that time, so there is a lot of information on here. We have lived in N.C. since 1987, so we have lived through several of these ice storms before.)
You only have a few hours left, so please collect many of these supplies before the electricity possibly goes out for a few days:

Make sure you have lots of foods that don't have to be cooked, or are easily prepared on an outside grill.
Does your baby have enough formula, diapers, etc. in case you can't get to the store for a week?

Charge your cell phones, cameras, laptops, and ipods.  Put gas in your cars, in case the gas stations are without power.  Get out your flashlights and lanterns and heavy sleeping bags or blankets.
Practice lighting your gas log or fireplace.
Run your dishwasher, you don't want dirty dishes sitting in there while the power is out. Make sure you do all your laundry. 

You probably won't have any power for a few days, so you will also need a source of heat. Contact your friends with woodburning fireplaces or gas log fireplaces, see if you and your children can stay with them if necessary.

Don't worry about the food in your fridge and freezer, it won't thaw out with the temperature so low.

Did you know that if you have no heat, you can set up a tent in your living room and sleep in sleeping bags, and the temperature inside the tent will be much higher than in the rest of the house? If you have a gas log or fire place, make plans for how you will isolate that room from the rest of the house, to keep the heat contained. Maybe you can shut some doors. Or if you have an open floor plan, can you nail some blankets around the stairwell so the heat won't go up the stairs?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thirty Seconds to Evacuate- what do you take?

This week, an acquaintance of mine sent this email out:

"Last night, our downstairs neighbors' dryer caught on fire and we needed to evacuate.  It all turned out okay for most of us, only the neighbors with the fire had damage.  But the thought I had was - it always happens to someone else until it happens to you.  

So here's your exercise - you now have 30 seconds to evacuate, what are you going to grab...ready go...

The neighbors with the fire had the bucket they tried putting the fire out with.  No coats or jackets.  They called the fire department and knocked on the doors on our side of the building.  Very altruistic.  

Their next door neighbor grabbed her dog.  I can't remember if she had a jacket on or not.  She said she wished she had grabbed her car keys.  

The other upstairs neighbor - they had on their pj's and sweaters.  I don't think they grabbed their dog because I didn't see it out there.  

Thanks to the church teaching emergency preparedness, I had - kids, coats, shoes, keys, wallet, cell phone, my glasses, two of the four 72-hour kits (the ones with money), and my bike trailer (it kept the kids contained while outside, plus it was by the 72-hour kits, plus I love it).  

I'm really glad I had at least practiced mentally at some point.  I probably could have cut off several seconds if I had physically practiced (I did my fair share of scrambling).  Things I wished I would have grabbed - external hard drive, the other two 72-hour kits, and an emergency binder containing all our important information (SS cards, birth certificates, insurance docs, etc.), but it doesn't exist yet (I bought the binder and page protectors last week but haven't put it together yet).  

Other things I learned - it is hard to come off an adrenaline rush like that easily.  I'm still shaky today and nothing bad even happened (to us).  Putting something for comfort in the 72-hour kits means a lot more to me now.  Also, the fire department got here quickly (they are a couple blocks away), but it still takes awhile for them to set up, get the water hose connected and in position.  I'm sure it was a matter of seconds, but seconds are sooooo slow when you're desperate for things to get moving.  And last, Brett wasn't here, so the kids and I needed to be more prepared to do it by ourselves.

Anyway, we're fine and I feel weird sharing, but I really felt like I needed to share to encourage you to make sure you are prepared.  We know what we're doing for family night this week.  =) "

I hope you all think about emergencies like this and have a plan in mind.  As for me, I'm probably in big trouble because my important stuff is all over the place.

And here is what another one of my friends said:

"I was just going to add that at night I always sleep with my purse, phone and a pair of shoes by the bed. If there is a snow or storm warning I tuck a bra, my contacts and phone charger in my purse, too. I also make sure there is nothing blocking the stairs or doors in the event we have to get out in a hurry in the dark.

Let’s just hope we don’t have to put our plans into action.."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Vegetables picked in October

Here is a picture I took a year ago in October.  We were moving from one house to another.  We had neglected our garden terribly, and it all looked like weeds. 

During the last week we were in our old house, we wanted to get the garden looking halfway decent for the buyers, so we spent a couple of hours tearing out all the "weeds".  Imagine our surprise to find that all these vegetables had kept growing, even after we had quit watering, weeding, or caring for the garden at all for several months.

We live in North Carolina, and being a beginning gardener, I did not know the growing season was so long.  I hope that in future years I will keep planting and watering much later in the summer.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cell phone chargers

As I have come to rely on my cell phone more and more, I have felt the need to keep a charger with me at all times.  I keep this little auxiliary battery charged, ready to charge my phone if the power goes off.  I have a different charger port in my car, and my husband has a different auxiliary battery that he keeps in his car.

We certainly learned the wisdom of having these chargers when our power went off for 20 hours.  It is such a comfort to be able to get your email and phone calls when everything else is shut down.

(Of course your phone depends on if your cell phone tower has power, but that is another subject.)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Solar Yard Lights: Use them inside

 Solar yard lights are such a great thing to have.  They can light up your yard on a regular basis, and then when you have a power outage, you can just bring them inside.

I bought these at Lowe's in 2013.  They were about $64 for 8 yard lights.  The best thing about this particular design is that the top lid (with the LED light bulb in it) comes off of the rest of the apparatus.  This enabled us to lay the lids around in the house, and they put off a nice amount of light.

In the picture above, you can see how the lid comes off separately.  Usually, solar yard lights are made all in one piece, so you can't take off the top.  Therefore, you must place the stick down into a pitcher or jar to stand it up when it is inside your house.  This design is much better for use in an emergency situation.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Normal food for 72 hour kits

 I prefer to buy normal food from the grocery store for my emergency food supply.  Ready-to-eat meals like this one last a couple of years, and are more convenient for me to buy than ordering MRE's ("Meals Ready to Eat").

(Note: "72 hour kit" is a term that is  going out of style.  After Hurricane Katrina, people have realized that you need to be able to take care of yourself for much longer than 3 days.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

25 year old lids get brittle

We bought a lot of wheat in buckets in 1987.  In the last few years we have found that the slightest touch or weight will shatter the lids.  They have become very brittle, so we have to keep replacing them.

This photo should also serve as a warning not to ever stack buckets on top of each other!  Maybe these lids would have held up another bucket when they were new, but not when they were older.

(Note: If I want to stack two buckets, I put a board in between them.  The sides of the buckets seem  strong enough to bear the weight if it is spread out on a board.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Still using my solar oven

In my other house, it was such a pain to use my solar oven because I had to keep it in the upstairs spare bedroom.  Now, it is much more convenient because I keep it in the garage.

On a sunny day a couple of months ago,  I had some potatoes setting on the counter, and I saw them one morning and decided I would throw them into this black pot with a little water, chopped onions, and seasoning.

I put them outside about 9:00 am, and forgot about them for about 5 hours.  When I looked in the pot at 2:00 pm, the potatoes and onions were soft and tender like they had been cooked in a crock pot.  They were delicious!   My only regret was that I hadn't put a roast in there with them, that would have been even better.

This is what I learned: 

I was under the impression that I had to go out and turn the solar oven to face the sun about every half an hour.  I guess that isn't necessary. 

I thought I had to open the solar oven periodically and wipe the condensation off of the glass.  It appears that wasn't necessary either.

My decision:  I should use my solar oven more often!  It is easier than I thought.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Storing Bandages

I was inventorying my medical supplies, and found that I had a lot of over-the-counter medicines (which I need to rotate) but I really didn't have many bandages or supplies to treat wounds or cuts.

I went to Target and bought all of these items, hoping I don't ever need to use them.  I am hoping I won't need to rotate them very often.  The only thing I see that might go bad over time is the adhesive on the bandages or tape.  The items without adhesive might be good forever.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vacuum sealed chocolate got too hot

 We moved into a new house last fall, and later found these melted chocolate chips that I had vacuum sealed the previous year.  We think they got too hot in the truck.
I was going to throw them away, but my husband said, "Don't throw it away. That chocolate is still good."
He melted the chocolate in the bottle in a pot of water, and dipped graham crackers in it.  Mmmm mmm good!  I'm so glad I didn't throw those jars all away.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vacuum canning Chocolate Chips

 I like to buy chocolate chips when they are on sale, and then vacuum seal them into canning jars.  I use this white attachment that fits into the port on my FoodSaver vacuum sealer.  I own a "wide mouth" and a "regular mouth" attachment.
Here are the chocolate chips after I vacuum sealed them.  They are supposed to stay fresher longer without the oxygen surrounding them.