Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Magic acorns, as my son calls them...

Here is a super easy, super quick craft for any lovely (little?) lady in your life.  My son calls them magic acorns...I call them super cute!
 Find caps that fit nicely on some round beads...this may be the trickiest part...although kids seem to love this step.
 Cut a short piece of beading wire - about 6" - and lightly fold it in half.  Then twist and twist until you get a nice loop.
Find the smallest drill bit you can, and drill two holes through the acorn cap.
Insert your wire loop through the holes.
 I twisted it once with my fingers and then held on to the top loop while twisting with little pliers.
Hot glue in your bead.  You're done...easy peasy.

If I had thought about it before I had wrapped up the package to send in the mail, I would have put them into magic walnuts too, but I only thought of it this morning.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Christmas KAL with Natural Suburbia

Have you joined the knit-along with Linda at Natural Suburbia?  There is a Ravelry group to share pictures and chat and everything.  This is my first knit a-long's kind of fun.  So here is my first project to share.  It is the meerkat, from Linda's etsy shop over here, but in miniature.  I used really thin yarn from my stash and tiny little needles (2.5mm I think).  This is the way N likes them, tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

What are we reading this week?  The boys are reading the lyrics to some Christmas carols to choose songs for school.  N's class is going to go sing at the hospital again, and S's class will be performing for the school.  The kids were all asked to pick some songs they really like and then, I believe, they will be voting on them.

Linking up with:  Keep Calm Craft on over at Frontier Dreams
                          Yarn Along over at small things

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

I am still here

Having some computer issues.  The laptop at home is fried and the computer at work doesn't want to let me do a gosh darn thing.  It keeps telling me my Picasa is full but then sends me on to Google+ and greys out the screen so I can't get past it.  Trying to resolve these things and hopefully I will be back soon.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Three things on Thursday - Adding to the food stash

If you have been following my blog lately, Thursdays have been all about preparing for emergencies (combined with Three things on Thursdays).

Last week's goal:  I did in fact by two jugs of vegetable oil (they were on sale -and the expiration date was 3 years...crazy!).  I also managed to clear away some of the non-food items from the pantry and put some of the dry goods into plastic totes.  They aren't air tight, but they should at least be insect and rodent proof.  For my third item, I picked up two cans of pineapple juice and one jar of buckwheat honey after reading   this post by Mackenzie at While the Water Boils last week...things to stock up on for cold and flu season...I didn't know about these two and added them to my stash.

I also added a tin cup -found at the Goodwill for next to nothing - to each evacuation bag (feeling very little house on the prairie...remember the one where they each get a tin cup of their very own for Christmas and are so excited they no longer have to share) as well as a bandana to each bag.  And I have partly packed a suitcase on wheels with spare camp bedding.  I say partly because it still needs sheets, but I don't have many extra of those...

This week's goal:
1) I noticed that I am running low on a few canned foods - corn, pineapple, and pears specifically, so if any
of those are on sale I will pick up a few.
2) I must get a photocopy of our important documents to include in the evacuation bags
3) I noticed our car emergency blankets were in the garage yesterday...don't know why, and my hands were full so I couldn't put them where they belong at the time.  Must remember to do that today.  Oh, and put the emergency candle back in there for the winter.  Won't hurt to check the whole kit while I am at it.

If any of you are doing this along with might want to go back and check the comments on some of the older posts.  Some very good suggestions have been made there.

So...what are you getting ready this week?  Are you focusing on one thing, or adding to what you already have?  Are you starting out or completely stocked?  I'm curious how people go about preparing.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Emergency planning - the evacuation bag

When I first set up our evacuation bag, the boys were quite little.  Too little to carry their own bags.  So I set up an area in the basement with things I could carry in a tote, and then some empty bags in case there was time to pack some more items.

Recently, I was reading this post/article and it really made me think.  The boys are definitely able to help carry some items in the case of an evacuation (a very very real possibility in the area we live in - it's known as Chemical Valley, and with the number of incidents lately, I am fully expecting an evacuation in my lifetime).

So, a new plan was in order.  I found what I think looks to be a pretty good list for an evacuation bag over here.  I am using this as my starting point.  Obviously, the boys won't be able to carry everything on this list, and quite honestly either will I, so I am starting with the basics and I can add to it later.  After all, a bag with a few items is better than no bag at all, right?
 Dividing up the items for each of 4 bags..
In my "internet research" I have found guidelines saying that a child should carry no more than 10% of his/her body weight in a backpack.  I have also found guidelines saying that they can carry up to 25%.  N weighs about 65 pounds.  6.5 pounds of weight is really not that much, considering his school backpack outweighs that by quite a bit.  16.5 pounds, though is way too much.  I am aiming for around 10 pounds for his.
 So far, each of the 4 bags has the following items:
-2 bottles of water.  They say enough water for 72 hours, but come on now, how much will that weigh.  We also have jugs of water with handles that we can grab on the way out the door if we need them.
-2 fruit cups, one pepperoni stick, 3 small boxes of raisins, one sesame snack, and some mints.  I plan on adding more food but I have been having a hard time finding things that are shelf stable for a year - and realistically, I won't swap out the food more than once a year.
-utensil - one each fork, knife, spoon.  These came from our camping gear.  They are in here as per N's request, in case we can stop to buy food - but have nothing to eat it with.
-one rain poncho, one 2-pack of hand warmers, on chap stick.
-one roll of toilet paper, a few small garbage bags, some moist towelettes, a waterproof container with bandaids of various sizes, and one of those elastic wrap things for when you twist your wrist/ankle (actually, that last one is just in the boys bags - the adults have a roll of gauze).
-one mini deodorant, one toothbrush wrapped in aluminum foil (my bag has also a tube of toothpaste, a bar of soap, a mini bottle of dish soap, and a hand sanitizer that may or may not stay in the bag - I have issues with hand sanitizer but this one was already in the house "gifted" to us by a friend), and two wash cloths.
-a variety of mini glow sticks and a candle in a jar with some matches - as per N's instructions.  This is a family project after all, and the idea of an evacuation bag kind of freaked him out.  Adding his input really helped.  My husband's bag also has a hand crank flash light that is also supposed to charge a cell phone battery.
-two or three pairs of socks.

I still need to add to each bag:
- a couple pairs of underwear, and a few t-shirts.
-some more food - some type of cracker like product, some dried fruit, maybe some nuts.  I am struggling with this part as I am unlikely to rotate it out very often.
-our pertinent information - photocopies of health cards, licences and such...I had some and was about to put them in when I realized they were all expired and I need to do them again.
-a small blanket of some kind.
-the boys want a plastic drinking cup added.

TIP: If you have a child that has been toilet trained for less than one year, I have read that you should include some training pants in here as well, as the stress of the situation is likely to make them regress.
TIP: Although I usually try to avoid shopping at the Dollar Store because it's all over-shipped, over-packaged, and I over-spend,  I went there for this project.  Several of the things on my list were bought in a package and divided up (bandaids, glowsticks, matches, etc)

I also plan on making up a plastic tote with overflow items like a proper first aid kit, flashlight with batteries, cat food, etc.

This is a portion of my pantry/food storage - lots of non-food items have ended up there and need to move.

For three things on Thursdays, I am continuing to fill in the holes in my stored food supply.  If you have not yet started to collect, I found a list over here that breaks down a 3 month adult supply of food into 52 weeks of preparing.  Obviously, it can be tailored as you wish, but I love reading other people's lists as a starting point.

Last week's goal update:
-I did in fact follow my plan and purchased an 8kg bag of rice.
-I have been struggling to find plastic containers for food storage, but recently read an article on Pinterest where they were storing food in 2L plastic bottles.  Now, I will be looking out for those - we don't buy them, but some of my friends do, so I will see if they will collect them for me.  I did manage to empty two plastic totes that I will be putting the dry pasta and bags of grains in.  All right for now, while I continue looking.
-I had planned on buying a couple of jars of cocoa powder. I bought one and found it rather pricey, so I also added a jar of cocoa mix and two boxes of the herbal tea N loves because they were all on sale half price.

This week's goal:
-I need to buy a bulk size container of cooking oil of some type because I have just finished mine off - I pour it into smaller bottles to use it.
-I need to tidy up my food storage area - it is in fact our pantry area (in the basement) but non-food items have found their way there and I need to move them all out to make room for this plan.
-an extra bundle of toilet paper if there is any on sale this week, or garbage bags, or batteries...this will be my flexible item.

I know a few of my readers are working on this too.  If you have a tip, idea or suggestion, kindly leave a comment.  What is in your evacuation bag?  If you were left without power after Hurricane Sandy, what is something you found helpful or wish you had already stocked up on?

Herbal Tea

The return of cold weather usually brings with it the season for colds/flu/sniffles.  My youngest son has had a sore throat for a few days, so I bought him some herbal cough drops.  Yesterday, when I was double checking what herbs were in them, I realized I have about half the herbs listed already on hand from this summer, so we made a tea to try out.
I don't know if it is the herbs, or just the fact that we were having a nice hot drink, but our sore throats disappeared like magic, and have stayed away for hours at a time...we made some more this morning and he brought some to school in a thermos.  I have already had mine, and more sore throat disappeared again.

Here is what we used:  peppermint, lemon balm, lemon thyme, red raspberry leaves, echinacea leaves, and this morning I added borage flowers because they "gladden the heart" (according to a book I once read, and I just love that phrase).
Last night I left the leaves whole, this morning I crushed them up (pictured above).  It is super tasty, and we feel great.  I might make up a batch and put it in tea bags so the boys can have one whenever they need it. 

Do you have a blend you love?  Do you use it for medicinal purposes or just for a nice warm drink on a cold fall or winter day?

Linking up with: Fall Harvest Link up at The Backyard Farming Connection
                         Wicked Good Wednesday at The Wilderness Wife
                         barn hop over at Homestead Revival
                         backyard farming connection
                         Winter on the Homeacre - Hop at the self sufficient homeacre
                         The Backyard Farming Connection's permanent link up
                         Wildcraft Wednesday at the Self Sufficient HomeAcre
                         Making your own Herbal at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

Monday, 5 November 2012


 garden fresh root veggies
roasting pumpkins from the market
 finding treasures at the flea market (these actually fit my spinning wheel)
 my boys
dyeing wool with carrot tops again (tin again, but without the cream of tartar - still yellow)
 getting ready for a sale in two weeks

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Three things on Thursday - Planning for Emergencies - Part two.

Last Thursday was the first post in what I intend to be a weekly series on planning for emergencies - the (three) weekly baby steps I am taking to get myself and my family prepared to make it through a power outage, an evacuation, a Chemical spill, etc.  Kind of timely in the face of the storm that has been all over these past few days.

We were lucky this week!  We lost power off and on Monday evening, then lost it all through Monday night until about 8:30 Tuesday morning.  Just long enough for the boys to have their school cancelled as the school was without power as well.  Power was restored to our street early and life returned to normal for most people.  Although several branches and a few half trees fell on our street we have no damage.

I learned a few things - where my plans are lacking...
Heat - Although we have several walls in our house - only our second story has doors.  Even if we had some sort of heat source in the case of a power outage (which we don't at this point), it would be pretty hard to heat an area of our house.  Something we need to figure out.  Also, we would be able to heat food with our gas cooktop - but only if our gas line was not shut down as well...something else to look into.

I had actually spent a few hours on Sunday making up some candles in glass jars in case of a power outage (PS - I don't watch the new, so at this point I was completely oblivious to the fact that there was a huge storm heading our way - I knew about the hurricane, but not that the winds were expected to reach us here).

I like candles in jars because of the kids - I like that they are self contained - and also, they have lids so when we are not using them, the wax doesn't get all dusty.  I had been saving glass jars for a few weeks and had some wax ready to be melted down.  I had big problems getting the wicks to stick to the bottoms of the jars, even with the metal pieces sold for that purpose, so it took me a couple of tries before I figured it out.
So far, I have 6 candles that I plan to keep stashed away for power outages only, although when I get to the vehicle emergency kit, I might snag one for each vehicle.

I also tried to make some taper candles in this antique candle mold I have, but all I ended up making was a huge mess.  I had to melt the wax to get it back out because the candles were just simply stuck.  I have to figure it out before I make some beeswax candles in it - although in the meantime, we might just dip some beeswax candles instead.
Note:  all the information I could find on the internet agrees - the way to get wax out of clothing is with paper towels or paper bags over the wax and then iron it with a clothes iron - I will be doing that this weekend :)  I did say I made a mess.

N enjoyed the wax melting, but ran out of patience with our many failed attempts at filling the jars.  I think he might enjoy the dipped candles a bit more - so he can see the progress.

I had planned to look into the evacuation packs but I couldn't find the backpacks.  The boys say that I brought all of our old backpacks to the Goodwill.  I don't remember doing it.  So my "non-food" goal for this week is to find some bags to use for the evacuation packs.

Now for the three things:
My goal for this past week was to buy soy sauce, popcorn seeds and honey.  I bought one of each (it's bits at a time).  I found out our favourite popcorn seeds are "unavailable at this time" which is why I only bought one.

This week, I will be looking for one item in bulk (probably a big bag of rice), some sort of container for storing dry goods (a lot of good a large bag of flour will do me if the bugs get into it) and cocoa (I just learned that it has an extremely long shelf life - years and years, so that will be a good one to have.  Cocoa with sugar and canned milk - I think that will work).

I know a few of you are thinking along these lines now as well - what are your plans for this week?  PS - I know the prepper sites all say that you should keep your preparations secret but I say we help each other along instead.  Please leave a comment with the steps you are taking - make it anonymous if you wish.

Linking up with: Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams