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The NEXT most recent 50 articles (those that came before the center column home page posts) are shown below for your reading enjoyment. Note, however, that all daily or weekly series posts are NOT included below (e.g., Daily YouTube videos, Quick Reference links, 99 Capacities, Gear Reviews, etc).

To locate these posts–as well as any additional older posts–please use the “Posts by Category” dropdown selection tool (the best method) or the search box both found in the right-hand sidebar. Otherwise click on any link below that perks your interest. Thank you.

8 EASY Ways to Save Money on Your Cooling Bill Without Breaking the Bank: Frugal Fridays

8-ways-save-coolingWe’ve never lived in a place where you didn’t need a heater in the winter and air conditioning in the summer… until our recent move to the Seattle area. Here, homes don’t have centralized air conditioning because they say you don’t need it. While that may be true, we’ve noticed the interior of our home can be a bit too hot these days, hotter than even the outside! Enough to make you sweat, in fact. As such, we’ve been learning to strategically open windows and doors to get a good breeze so a handful of the suggestions below will be about maximizing that strategy… 1. Determine prevailing wind direction (and use it) The first step is to figure out which windows and doors to open to get that breeze flowing good. Probably the best way to do it is to experiment one weekend to see what works for you but, in general, winds blow from west to east (with plenty of localized exceptions to that rule) so you could just start with opening any east and west facing windows ... continue reading...

What REAL Chicken Eggs Look Like

real-chicken-eggsI’m back in Kansas City visiting my in-laws for a while and one of the many benefits of doing so is that they get farm-fresh eggs from a friend who raises their own chickens. When making breakfast this morning I realized that many of you may not know what REAL chicken eggs look like so I snapped a photo… As you can see they’re VERY different from their store-bought counterparts. They’re different sizes, different colors, not always shaped perfectly, and the worst part… they’re DIRTY! Try selling these in the store. Although you cannot see from the photo, the yolks are also quite a bit more “vibrant” in color than store-bought too. I don’t know why this is but it’s something I’ve noticed over the years. The best part is that they’re probably significantly healthier for you too but I have no data to back that claim up. Anyway, I thought you might be interested to see what I consider REAL eggs if you’ve never seen them before. Enjoy. continue reading...

How to Make an Uber Match Even Better!

uber-match-featuredNote: This post was written by me and originally featured more or less as shown below at SurvivalLife.com. If you’ve yet to see how to make an “Uber” match, you’re in for a treat. To see the original article on how to create one, click here. If you want a self-contained fire-starter that you can rely upon to get a fire going when you need it the most the Uber match is where it’s at, in my opinion. To be sure, an Uber match is a near brilliant mesh of DIY materials that you may find around the house (matches, cotton balls, wax) and a bit of ingenuity. I can safely say that there are few other materials you can use to make one with such simplicity. Trust me, I’ve tried many options to create a better Uber match and wound up going back to the basics, if you will. I’ll explain in a moment. To make, you’ll need four matches, one cotton ball, string (optional but it made my life easier), and melted wax. Here’s the short ... continue reading...

What Type of Hunting Knife do You Need for Survival?

survival-knife-tang-2Editor’s Note: This article was written by Scott Moses of TheSharpestEdge.net. Please visit his site for articles on knives, reviews of knives, a sharpening guide, and more. What type of hunting knife do you need for survival? When it comes to thriving in the wilderness, you’ll want a hunting knife that will help increase your chances of survival – not something that looks nice or something that makes you feel cool. In this article we are going to cover some key points to look for when you buy your next knife. Should you go with folding blade or fixed blade? While both have their advantages, we are going to look at this from the perspective that of a hunting knife that will last a long period of time and needs minimal maintenance. First off, most modern folding knives have a spring to help you unfold it faster. If you have any experience with springs, you’ll know that at some point they tend not to “work like they used to” and will need to be replaced.  Normally, this would not be a big ... continue reading...

Did You Know?: There’s a Berkey Water Filter to Fit Your Family’s Needs

Image CreditEver since I purchased my first Berkey water filter several months ago I couldn’t be more impressed. I choose the Royal Berkey filter system at the time and it seems to work out well as I only really need to fill it once a day most days. That said, I probably could have opted for a bigger system since there are five of us. If it were our only source of water then I would have definitely gone bigger AND added more filters. Anyway, the point in today’s post is because many people don’t seem realize there are different sized units when the refer to the “Berkey water filter.” Best of all, I’m sure there’s one to fit your family’s needs. Essentially, the difference in systems is the amount of water each unit holds and, as you get into the large models, the number of filters you can install. But, for most of us, it’s really about the amount of water each unit holds. Here’s a quick breakdown (you can learn more about capacities and flow rates here): Travel Berkey = 1.5 gal. Big ... continue reading...

How to Make a Water Bottle Survival Kit

water-bottle-survival-kit-featuredI thought I would see how many useful survival items I could stuff into a small water bottle like this one (it’s 16-ounce, hard-sided): At 16-ounces it’s not a very big water bottle and that was a part of the challenge! Of course, you could choose a larger water bottle if you prefer and it doesn’t have to be hard-sided either. Since a water bottle is relatively small you could easily toss it into a bag, backpack, or the console of your car and not think twice about it. Here’s what I was able to stuff inside: In no particular order: Vaseline and cotton ball fire starters – I made these a while back and since they’re fairly compact they got tossed in. Besides, fire-starting can be a crucial skill and anything you can include to make it easier is a plus. Bic lighters x 2 – I was originally going to add just one lighter which is probably sufficient but I figured I had room so I added another. Bandanna – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody try to ... continue reading...

3 Ingredient Homemade Deodorant My Wife Approves Of!

homemade-deodorantAbout a year or so ago I started making my own deodorant and haven’t looked back. Personally, I was fine with buying store-bought deodorant but my wife never liked the stuff much. In fact, she’s always had a hard time finding deodorant that both works AND didn’t make her break out… seems she’s sensitive to various chemicals in them. So, she searched and searched and found deodorant from Penny Lane Organics that she thought would finally work, and it did for the most part. Problem is that it was a bit expensive for deodorant and even this organic deodorant could make her break out. The best part is that it happens to contain the exact same ingredients as homemade deodorant! I’m not sure about the ratios but I figure they have to be close. Anyway, I’ve posted about making homemade deodorant in the past so you can read about my first attempt if you like. Suffice it to say, it’s super simple but I’ve changed the ingredients a bit and actually make quite a lot more at one time than I ... continue reading...

We Came to Conquer: The Continuous Rise of The Preppers

Photo via Pinterest They have been called many names: alarmists, over the top doomsters, mad, crazy. They call themselves the “preppers.” They are regular people with regular lives, who, just like all of us, would do anything to protect their homes and families—even protect them from the end of civilization, or the world as we know it. In September 2012, a poll by the National Geographic indicated that 28% of Americans knew at least one prepper. Around the same time, NatGeo ran one ... continue reading...

3 Easy Ways to EDC Duct Tape!

3-ways-edc-duct-tapeDuct tape is wonderful stuff. It’s so useful, in fact, that you should have some on you at all times and include it in your EDC. After all, if it was good enough for MacGyver, it’s good enough for me. Here’s my 3 most favorite ways to carry it… 1. Wrapped around a credit card This is without a doubt the easiest way to carry duct tape on your person. Just wrap it around a credit card several times (lengthwise) and slip it in your wallet, purse, or whatever. You could use any card that you like, from an old library card to gift card. I’ve done this for years and have used my duct tape stash several times since. Recently, I switched to using a business card because it can be trimmed down to more easily be the exact width of the duct tape roll AND it’s a bit more flexible which means it conforms to my ever-bulging wallet more easily. In fact, that’s what’s pictured above. This way is by far the best way ... continue reading...

3 Simple Tricks to Stick to a Grocery List and Stay Under Budget: Frugal Fridays

Image CreditI’ll admit it, when I was in charge of going grocery shopping years ago, I was VERY bad about purchasing items that were NOT on the approved grocery list my wife so diligently prepared. I know what you’re thinking and I’m not an impulse shopper! Not that I’ll admit, anyway. It was never really about the impulse buys walking down the aisles or even at the checkout counter–though I’m sure there was some of that–for me it was always more about having a stocked pantry and having more… of everything, from food to hygiene supplies and more. If they sold it, I bought it. You see, even though my wife made the list of what we needed for meals that week, she never really made the list of what we NEEDED. And by “needed” I mean continuing to add to the pantry nearly anything, including more caned goods, boxed goods, seasonings, and so on. Thankfully, I didn’t double our bill but it wasn’t unheard of for me to spend another $50-100 each week on extras. These days ... continue reading...

DIY Ranger Pace Beads With a “Manly” Twist: Make it Mondays

range-beads-finalI was bored the other day and decided to make my own Ranger-style pace counting beads for hiking and bug out. But, rather than using the traditionally accepted method of paracord and “girly” beads I figured I would “man it up” a bit and use paracord and machined nuts, you know, the kind that are used with machined screws. Why? Because I could! Note: if you’ve got some time on your hands and want to use ONLY paracord, check out this idea. Step-by-step to make beads Here’s how (click images below to enlarge) and follow along in step-by-step instructions below the images:  Cut a 26″ length of paracord (I would add a few inches if you have large hands and want to hold this around the wrist like I did). Remove the inner strands and fuse the ends of the sheath so they don’t fray using a lighter. Wait for the sheath to cool a minute then tie the ends together using an simple overhand knot. Take one of the inner strands and loop it through the paracord as shown and ... continue reading...

72 Hour Survival Kit GIVEAWAY: Food Fire Filter Bucket by Food Supply Depot!

The folks at SurvivalBased.com reached out and asked me to share their giveaway of three 72 Hour Survival Kits! I said “Sure” and you can enter to win below… a Rafflecopter giveaway continue reading...

Having a Great Time Camping Among Redwoods in Little Basin Park

6. My boys admiring a treeLast weekend we had a wonderful opportunity to camp among some of the most majestic trees on the planet: the great redwoods of California. Specifically, Little Basin state park in Boulder Creek, California. We also had an opportunity to sit in on a campfire and listen about some of the history of Little Basin… Apparently, it had been logged, was a ranch, HP used it as a campground for it’s employees, and some guy even owned it who liked WW2 memorabilia! I was amazed that so much had taken place there in only a hundred years or so. Anyway, I can say that I still remember seeing the redwoods as a kids when my parents brought me to see the Sequoias. I’m sure I acted as if was bored silly back then but they did make a lasting impression on me and one that I wanted to share with my own kids while we had a chance. I’m not sure if the trip will make a lasting impression upon them (they’re 11 and 8) but I do hope they ... continue reading...

Guess What Silly Problem Kept Me Stranded 300 Miles from Home?

SourceI figured I would take a break from Frugal Fridays and briefly discuss my return trip from California (to Seattle, Washington). While I intend to share photos tomorrow of the fun time we had at Little Basin park in Boulder Creek, I did have a minor “hiccup” on the way home. Fortunately, everything turned out fine. And since my wife and I didn’t have our kids with us things were easier, but it was still frustrating being stranded 300 miles from home and having to spend the night in a hotel! What happened, you ask? We had another flat tire. If you’ve stuck around here for a while you may have remembered last summer (when we lived in Kansas City, MO) that we took a trip to the Omaha zoo and got stranded 200 miles from home with a flat tire and I was missing a lug nut wrench, though, the vehicle we have now is different than the one referenced in the previous post. Anyway, since then I swore I would have everything imaginable to deal with a flat ... continue reading...

Delicious Homemade Banana Bread

homemade-banana-breadIf you paid attention to last week’s “Make it Monday” post on the makeshift tea light oven then you will have noticed that I made some delicious homemade banana bread and so I figured I would share that recipe with you here. Personally, I LOVE banana bread and it’s always been a treat when my sister-in-law or my wife makes it. It’s so delicious, in fact, that I refuse to eat the store-bought stuff anymore… ever. I should point out that this recipe is adapted from a vegan banana bread recipe but can be easily made with “regular” stuff which is mostly what we had around so that’s what I used. I’ll just list what I used here. Ingredients 5 bananas, mashed (about 1.5-2 cups worth) 3 cups sugar (I used about 1.5 cups sugar and 1 cup honey; you can adjust to your liking) 4 eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 sticks butter, softened (recipe calls for vegan butter but you can use regular sticks of butter) 4 cups flour 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 cup milk (recipe calls for almond milk but I used regular “cow” milk) 1 tbsp ... continue reading...

Did You Know: Not All Fire Safes Protect Your Most Precious and Sensitive Valuables

Image SourceNot all fireproof safes are created equal. Gone are the days where the only “important” things that went inside them were paper documents, such as birth certificates, wills, deeds, and more. These days people put all sorts of things in them, from photographs (my wife is super guilty of this) to digital media such as CD backups and USB drives (my weakness). Since paper has a higher burning point than plastics fire safes didn’t need to be as good at keeping the inside temperatures down. With plastics being added to the mix, fire safes needed to be better able to keep the internal temperatures lower. In fact, the difference between a “regular” fireproof safe and a media/data safe is stated here: “A standard fireproof safe will protect anything made of paper such as money, documents, and folders. A media safe will protect anything made of plastic, anything containing magnetic or digital information, photographs, or basically anything that is not made of paper. Data Safes are used primarily for DLT, LTO, and other backup tapes.” Moreover, here’s the difference in temperature rating and the lower ... continue reading...

5 Silly Things I’ve Stopped Doing Now That I’m Broke: Frugal Fridays

Image CreditNow that we’re super-tight on money and we definitely have to watch every penny, I started to truly pay attention to the habits I have and it seems I have some silly ones, especially with regards to our utility bills. Granted, many of the following changes won’t amount to much besides a small difference in our overall bills but it never hurts to try and, besides, I feel better about myself already… 1. I stopped letting water running all the time It doesn’t seem to matter what for, from washing dishes to washing my hands, shaving, and even letting the shower heat up to a nice, cozy temperature… “let the water flow,” I said! Now, I see fewer reasons to let the water run and more reasons just to stop up the sink. Of course, I knew darn good and well that during an emergency (where power is out and utilities no longer function) that this practice would change. And, yes, I had a plan for that but I didn’t have a plan for just needing to be more frugal because we can’t ... continue reading...

America Unplugged Airs Tonight! See Scott Hunt (Engineer775 from YouTube) Go Off-Grid

Image CreditSeems I’m going to miss this one as I’ll be out having fun camping, but if you’re at all familiar with Scott Hunt (Engineer775 from YouTube) and you should be then you’re not going to want to miss this one! Hopefully they don’t try to sensationalize it too much. Here’s a bit about the show: “Sportsman Channel, a national television network, has a new show premiering this Thursday called America Unplugged. Hosted by former Navy Seal, Cade Courtley, America Unplugged is a new series that takes viewers on a cross-country journey to meet the folks that are unplugging from society. Each episode provides a riveting look at the excitement and danger of living off the grid…” Click here to learn more about the show continue reading...

The Audacious Risk Taker Theory by Dr. Alton of DoomAndBloom.net

Image Credit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/by Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones of www.doomandbloom.net You’ve seen it on TV and elsewhere. Young men ride bulls in the rodeo, a young woman jumps off a skyscraper with a parachute, a diver swims with a great white shark.  Are these people just Audacious Risk Takers, or is there a survival advantage to being a huge risk taker?  Also, could this be relevant to the type of survival scenarios that Preppers worry about? What could possibly be the benefit of taking big risks in times of trouble?  It’s hard to say, as the vast majority of people today haven’t been put in that situation. Since humans have existed, the most daring individuals probably instilled awe in the rest of the tribe. The respect gained from (successful) risk taking made these young men and women desirable as mates, and the Audacious Risk Taker gene lived on. I don’t have a lot of scientific proof to back this theory. Researchers, however, have done studies of the A.R.T. (Audacious Risk Takers). In these studies, they gave people a series of images of young ... continue reading...

How to Makeshift a Candle-Powered Tea Light Oven!

makeshift-tea-light-oven-collageFirst, let me state that I’m not a big fan of using candles for much of anything during an emergency situation. I think they’re a significant fire hazard especially after a disaster when people do dumb things… possibly like this. There are better, safer ways to light up the night and cook food during an emergency. That said, a week or so ago I read this post that Bev at SeasonedCitizenPrepper.com put up about makeshifting a tea light-powered oven with an old toaster oven. Well, since I happen to have a toaster oven I figured I would give it a shot myself. Here’s what happened (click images to enlarge and follow along below)… As I had no idea what to expect I figured I would try one tea light at a time to see how the temperature changed. Eventually, I figured out that I needed three tea lights to register a useful temperature and about five tea lights got above 225F. To get to 350F I needed only eight tea lights which was less than I expected and since I ... continue reading...

12 Wildfire Safety and Prevention Tips You Should Know

colorado-wildfireA week or so ago a commentor pointed out that there are always so many articles on starting fires and not enough about preventing them. Considering the most recent round of wildfires in San Diego and Arizona, it’s obvious this topic is a good one to discuss going into prime wildfire season. And, though home fire safety is related and equally important–if not more so–this post is solely about wildfires. What exactly constitutes a wildfire? According to wikipedia, a wildfire is: A wildfire is an uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, vegetation fire, and veldfire may be used to describe the same phenomenon depending on the type of vegetation being burned, and the regional variant of English being used. A wildfire differs from other fires by its extensive size, the speed at which it can spread out from its original source, its potential to change direction unexpectedly, and its ability to jump gaps such ... continue reading...

5 Body Lotion Alternatives – What Worked the Best: Frugal Fridays

5-alternative-lotionsCall me a girl if you want–ok, don’t do that–but I do like to use body lotion most days, often on my face, hands, and feet. My wife tends to use quite a bit and my youngest has needed some over the winter but seems to use less and less of it these days. The problem is that the stuff my wife likes can get expensive! What We Used to Use… Like I said, in the distant past my wife has purchased and used some very expensive lotions but in recent years has been willing to use some lesser expensive lotions, such as this Everyone Lotion which comes in a decently-sized 32 oz. bottle (note that there are different scents you can purchase). Personally, I like the stuff as a daily body lotion but it’s easy to want to slather it on since lotions like this are easily applied. Granted, I don’t feel like we use a lot of it but since we’re super broke these days I’ve been trying to find alternatives and, so, I hopped on the trusty ... continue reading...

Make it Mondays: DIY Vaseline and Cotton Ball Fire-Starters Without the Mess!

cotton-ball-vaseline-fire-startersHave you ever wanted to make your own Vaseline and cotton ball fire-starters but don’t want your hands to look like a mess after coating just one? Then you’re in luck because you can easily make your own Vaseline-impregnated fire-starters with ease. Here’s how in roughly four steps: It’s really easy, here’s how: Gather your supplies. A bottle of Vaseline, a handful of cotton balls, and a small bag. Any small Ziploc bag will suffice but I used small bags similar to these since I have plenty for some unknown reason. Invert the bag so that the outside is now inside and the inside is outside… you get the idea. Dip your fingers in the Vaseline and gather up a decent amount. Now, invite your buddy over for a prostate exam. Return the bag to it’s original, upright position… no, wait, that’s an airplane tray table. Just flip the bag back the way it’s supposed to be and try not to make a mess, insert the cotton balls, shove them to the bottom, and begin slathering away. It’ll take ... continue reading...

Fired and Frugal Fridays: Plastics, Difficult to Live Without! But You CAN Do Better…

no-plastic-goodsPlastics are everywhere and we interact with them all the time, often in the kitchen. Most kitchen plastics, it seems to me, are reusable but there are some which are not. Reusable plastics includes things like hard plastic cups, bowls, plates, Tupperware, utensils, plastic silverware, and more. The disposable ones include things like garbage bags, plastic storage bags (Ziploc bags), and straws. Let’s look at the disposables… Plastic garbage bags Personally, I feel that plastic garbage bags–especially the ubiquitous 33 gallon bags–are worth their weight in gold in a true SHTF scenario as they have so many uses. The 13-gallon bags aren’t quite as useful but still worth stocking up on. And, since we have quite a few of them we’re going to continue to use them. In fact, a single 90-count box could last us an entire year if we’re mindful of their use. This, sadly, was one of those aspects of living where I was more than happy to take out a half full bag of garbage just so I could have the garbage out that day or if it were too “smelly.” Yup, ... continue reading...

WTF? Wednesdays: Do NOT Buy Pants from LAPoliceGear.com!

operator-pantsFirst, do you see anything wrong here?… Right, the pants are different lengths. Despite what it may look like in the photo they are lined up evenly at the top. Let me explain… When I first saw the following video on Bombproof $20 Outdoor/Tactical Pants! from Chris at PreparedMind101 I was excited! So excited, in fact, I went online to LAPoliceGear.com and purchased two pair of these operator/tactical pants (in different colors). Of course, that was before we went super broke a few weeks back. Here’s the video so you understand my excitement… Second, I ordered two pair to save on shipping and they arrived in good time. Moreover, the pants looked to be in good shape. There was only one problem: one pair was significantly longer than the other pair… by at least two to three inches. And, since I’m short, I noticed! In my ever-growing wisdom, I’ve learned to check tags before aimlessly assuming things are correct and ripping them off. To my amazement, the tags on both pair of pants were correct: 34/30… yes, I’m short and getting fatter ... continue reading...

If You Haven’t Seen This Yet, Check it Out!…

summer-of-survivalI just signed myself up for an interesting new summer event, called Summer of Survival. Seems there’s a whole lot of FREE webinar training to be done over the course of 12 weeks from June 3 through August 21. The fun thing is that it involves all sorts of good people in the preparedness community, including: David Kobler (“Southerprepper1″ on YouTube) Dr. Cynthia Koelker (she writes good articles on medical topics often at SurvivalBlog.com) Joe Nobody (writes books on prepping) James Talmage Stevens (“Dr. Prepper” and has his own talk show) Marjory Wildcraft (writes a lot about living a sustainable life) …and plenty of others. If you recognize these names–and you should–you’re going to want to signup! They’ll cover topics from gardening to medical needs, bug outs, communications, herbal medicine, barter, and much more. Check out Summer of Survival and sign yourself up as I’m sure there’s always something mor continue reading...

Make it Mondays: The “Big 3″ Homemade Cleaners

big-3-cleanersWhen we clean the house we usually only use three cleaners to get most everything: an all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and floor cleaner. Currently, we’re still using some leftover toilet cleaner that eventually I’ll have to replace but, by and large, these three cleaners do it all. And, obviously, I’m excluding homemade cleaners for doing the dishes and laundry. As you can see from the photo above, they’re all stored in standard 32-ounce cheapo spray bottles I got from Wally-World a while back. Eventually, I wised-up and decided to write the recipes on the bottles so that whenever I needed to make more I didn’t have to look it up. How brilliant am I? The one thing I wish I had done a bit differently was to more easily distinguish the above cleaners as people–usually the kids–accidentally grab the wrong bottle. It’s not big deal but just something to think about. Here’s the recipes we use, though, there are many others you can find online. Also know that the ratios are sized so that they fill ... continue reading...

Fired and Frugal Fridays: Say Goodbye to Paper Goods, Here’s How

no-paper-goodsThink you can’t get along without your paper plates, napkins, and paper towels? Think again. You most definitely can… and probably should try it. I know it’s possible since we’ve been doing just fine without them! Well, most paper goods, that is. Here’s what we’ve done thus far… Paper plates, bowls, and cups By and large we rarely used paper plates around our house unless we had friends with messy kids over. These days they never see the light of day anyway. Regardless, any and all paper plates (and bowls) we had lying around have been rounded up and saved for a real emergency. These days it’s reusable plates and bowls at all times. The same can be said for the few plastic cups we occasionally used. Honestly, there’s no reason to use them around the house anyway and since we have plenty of reusable cups it was a no-brainer switch. The only other thing we’re thinking of implementing was some sort of a daily tag that says who’s cup it is as we’re inevitably washing perfectly good cups for ... continue reading...

My Weaknesses List is a Heck of a Lot Longer Than My Strengths List! How About You?

Image CreditMy kids were finishing up their homeschooling lessons and one of them happened to be a final report on themselves. To be included in the report was a list of strengths and weaknesses. My youngest was having a bit of trouble thinking up some ideas to include in the weaknesses report so I tried to help. Whereas he had several strengths listed he had only one weakness which got me to thinking: “Man I wish my list could look like that!” Then I got to thinking what my list might actually look like (with regards to preparedness) and so, in no particular order, here goes nothing: My Strengths Situational awareness – This was something I’ve developed over time but I wasn’t always so attentive. In fact, when I was a kid my parents used to joke that we could literally move the house and I wouldn’t notice for three days. These days I’m significantly more aware of my surroundings and what’s going on… perhaps that just comes with age. Strategic planning – I like to have plans, methods, lots ... continue reading...

4×4 Off-Road Vehicles Make Little Difference in a Bug Out

Image SourceRecently I linked to an article on bug out route planning that reminded me why it’s so important to have good alternate routes picked in advance of any significant disaster scenario. There’s no doubt in my mind that ANY and ALL major roadways–be they highways or city streets–will become an impassable parking lot in no time flat. You really do need to have a better plan. Of course, there are those very rare circumstances where the ability to go off-road is a benefit but, IMO, I’d say they’re far and few between. As such, the oft-touted advice that you should include a 4×4 for preparedness is overrated. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have one than not, and I do, but I’d say that anyone who lives in a city or suburb shouldn’t make it a priority purchase. Focus on everything else first. Why? It’s simple really: most cities and suburbs that I’ve been through aren’t setup to allow for off-road driving whatsoever! Considering that they’re littered with an assortment of barriers, guard rails, drop-offs (or embankments), an assortment of annoying buildings, as well ... continue reading...

If There’s ONE Thing I’ve Learned About Dehydrating, It’s This…

Source“Low and slow” is almost always better than fast or hot. Specifically, longer dehydrating times and lower dehydrator temperatures will often produce the best results when dehydrating. (Note that there is an exception to this rule and that is when dehydrating meats. In this case, hotter temps are better.) If you simply followed the directions in the manual–or those printed directly on the Excalibur dehydrator–you’ll see a range of temperatures, from 95 degrees for dehydrating things like herbs up to 155 degrees for dehydrating meats and jerky. Vegetables are somewhere in the middle at around 130 degrees. My experiences When I first started dehydrating I did my best to follow the recommendations of time, temperature, and food thickness (of no more than about 1/4″). This became a bit of a chore especially for fruits, at least, with respect to what I got out of my efforts. Eventually, I gave up and failed to dehydrate anything for years… until I found Dehydrate2Store.com. This lady single-handedly changed my mind about dehydrating vegetables and I must continue to thank her for that. Once I realized that ... continue reading...

The Thing is, Nobody Likes Peas or Spinach…

Image CreditI was at the grocery store the other day browsing for some frozen vegetables to dehydrate since I recently started dehydrating again. If you’re unaware, frozen vegetables are THE best way to get into dehydrating on the planet, hands down. Coupled with an Excalibur dehydrator and Foodsaver (remember an appropriately-sized mason jar attachment) and you’ll be in business before you know it. I started with our favorites–carrots and broccoli–a few weeks back and now I was looking for something else to dehydrate. Normally, I would also choose green beans and corn but we actually have enough of that in cans so I figured I would wait on those. Anyway, I was looking for something different, something I normally wouldn’t dehydrate… …and then it hit me, why not dehydrate some peas? I quickly decided against it because nobody in the family really likes peas but they do occasionally wind up in our soups if a recipe calls for it. Except for that reason, we never eat peas. The adage “eat what you store, store what you eat” sounded quite appropriate ... continue reading...

LED Solar Rechargeable Area Lantern: D.Light S20

SourceThis D.Light Solar Lantern (the d.Light S20 Lantern to be specific) was brought to my attention by the Rev. Dr. Harris who occasionally comments here. I was intrigued so I recently ordered one but haven’t had it long enough to thoroughly review the light. That said, I still wanted to point it out here today. According to the dLightDesign.com website: The d.light S20 provides 8 hours of light on a full battery and uses proprietary, highly efficient LEDs. It provides 360-degree space lighting for any environment or focused light for studying, working, or cooking. The d.light S20 is designed to be extremely user-friendly and flexible. It has a detachable handle and includes an integrated solar panel that makes recharging simple and easy. The S20 can be carried, hung or placed on any surface to effectively illuminate the surrounding area. A highly efficient solar panel is conveniently integrated into the d.light S20 to make solar charging simple and easy. The S20 can also be charged from a USB source using the USB cable or a standard Nokia AC charger. The ... continue reading...

Dorcy LED Headlamps: Remarkably Nice Lights for Hiking, Camping, Bug Out, and More

dorcy-headlampsI was sent two Dorcy LED headlight flashlights–I prefer to call them headlamps– the 41-2096 and 41-2097 a few weeks back to review and, to be frank, I’m glad I got them. They’re quite nice for the cost (at less than $20 each) and may likely supplant my current favorite headlamp, the Energizer Pro 7. Ever since I purchased my first headlamp years ago I’ve never looked back. Gone are the days of holding a flashlight between my legs, wedged in my armpit or, dare I say… my teeth. Headlamps are wonderful inventions to say the least. If you don’t own one or several you’re missing out. What I’ve Learned About Headlamps Now, if you haven’t noticed there are dozens–if not hundreds–of options out there and I’ve tried a few of them over the years. Since then I’ve learned a few things including: Always ensure it has an adjustable strap (I had one in the past that didn’t), these do. Most all should these days. Best are headlamps that use common batteries and not funny watch style batteries (they’re not rechargeable), these use ... continue reading...

Almost Purchased LifeLock, Glad I Choose Another Option

SourceLast month on of my extended family members got their identity stolen and had several credit cards opened up, lots of charges… it’s a big ass mess. Sadly, it was an “inside job” of sorts and, as a result, has forced me to finally decide to do more to protect our financial security. As a result, I started searching for ways to be alerted to potential financial credit problems. Fortunately (or not) we don’t have much in the way of assets to protect, it’s more that we don’t want our credit destroyed. Obviously, the first thing I did was a healthy Google search which quickly directed me to several sites that seemed to compare various companies–there are a lot of them–with various rankings and so on; here’s one example. If you spend any time on these sites you’ll quickly figure out that they’re trying to sell you these products as affiliates. That’s not necessarily a problem for me but I don’t like it when sites do this as a supposed comparison review. Maybe it’s honest. Maybe it’s not. Anyway, as ... continue reading...

8 Reasons Why Upgrading to an iPhone is a Good Idea for Emergency Preparedness

SourceTry as I might NOT to do so, about a month ago I finally succumbed to peer pressure and upgraded from my ancient slide-to-open cell phone to a fancy new iPhone 4. Yes, I was purposely avoiding doing so for years. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered now if we weren’t looking to change cell phone providers and for the fact that my wife’s previous iPhone was having “technical difficulties.” The point is that I’ve got a darn smartphone and now the powers that be can track me wherever I go… oh, wait… they can do that already? Drat! Guess they can do it even easier now. On the plus side, upgrading actually did turn out to be a good move from an emergency preparedness perspective, here’s several reasons why I believe so: I can actually send texts without wanting to throw the phone out the window. Gone are the days of spending five minutes rotating through letters to say… anything. For emergency preparedness this means that we (or at least that I) can communicate faster ... continue reading...

Brown Rice Does NOT Go “Bad” in 6 Months!

riceThis has been bothering me for some time now as it seems I’m always seeing people stating that you should NOT store brown rice because it will go bad within six months. I’m calling B.S. here! In my experience, brown rice will not go bad that fast whatsoever. It’s similar to expiration dates on canned goods and/or medications. You know good and well that these are more like “best if used by” dates. The same can be said about brown rice… it’s best if used within 6 months. Granted, this is largely due to storage conditions. If your home/kitchen/pantry is kept hotter and/or more humid then your brown rice will be more likely to go bad faster just like any of your food storage foods. Of course, you can help to keep it from going bad as fast by storing rice in appropriate containers, and even the refrigerator or freezer will help here (so long as it’s protected from moisture). Personally, we keep ours in a five-gallon food grade bucket and use gamma seal lids for easy access. ... continue reading...

The Biggest Weakness of Basement Storm Shelters

SourceWhere we used to live (in the Midwest) basements and storm shelters we common place and for good reason: tornadoes and human bodies don’t mix real well. As such, a storm shelter is a wise addition to most any home. I’d certainly recommend one if you take your family’s safety to heart. Now, the typical image most people conjure up of storm shelters look like this: And it’s true these do exist, especially in older or more rural communities. The thing is that many storm shelters I’m accustomed to seeing in newer communities look more like this: Aside from the fact that the rest of the house hasn’t been constructed yet, there’s one glaring problem with the above shelter… can you guess? Yup, no door. And the problem is that it will stay like that. Well, it will probably be sheetrocked if the basement gets finished and they’ll add a hollow core door to make it look nice but that door will do you no good. Instead, you want it to look more like this: Ok, that’s a little overkill ... continue reading...

The Double Edged Safety Razor: Saving up to $100 a Year Shaving!

safety-razorI’ve had a love/hate relationship with my Mach 3 Razor for many years now. I’ve tried different options over the years, from alternative disposable razors to an electric razor for my face and even the HeadBlade for shaving my head, I’ve always come back to the trusty Mach 3 blade. While easy to use and relatively safe on my skin the blades are super expensive! Even buying them in larger packages of 15 still costs me over $2 online and nearly $3 in stores per blade. That sucks. Sadly, they only seem to last me for a handful of good shaves at most. A helpful solution to extend Mach 3 blades Fortunately, I did find a helpful solution a year or two ago with the RazorPit which claimed to extend blade life many times over: And, though it did help some I can’t say I got dozens of shaves out of my blades. Let’s say it doubled blade usefulness at best; in reality it’s something less than that. I say this because the wear indicator eventually gives out no ... continue reading...

IMO, Bunker Survival is Crazy!

bunker-survivalI can only imagine trying to survive in an underground bunker post-SHTF or for any reason, really. I know it sounds like a workable plan but it is, in my opinion, likely a horrible experience, to say the least. Granted, it’s probably better than death by nukes or hordes of zombies. Regardless, I’d imagine it takes a special kind of person to be willing to stay in one for more than a few days at most. In reality, most of us would likely go stir crazy if days turned into weeks, months, or longer. As such, I feel that those who built bunkers to survive in specifically for TEOTWAWKI+1 are fooling themselves. This is especially true for those people that believe their loved ones are similarly able–and willing–to survive for long periods of time underground. I just don’t see it happening. Why? Because we, as human beings, NEED certain things in live… to feel human, that is. It’s just not natural to be cooped up for extended periods of time. Obviously, if you’re choosing to live underground ... continue reading...

Buy These Wireless Battery Powered Ultra-Bright LED Spotlights

SourceAbout two months ago I linked to a video on these Mr. Beams MB360 Wireless Motion Sensing Spotlights which I feel are a very good deal for the price at about $20 each (a 3-pack is $50 total). In the same post, however, I mentioned the fact that I choose to go with a more powerful Mr. Beams MB390 Wireless Motion Sensing Spotlights (3 pack) which I feel are a better upgrade. For starters, both models run on D-cell batteries, the MB360 uses 3 D-cells whereas the MB390 uses 4 D-cells. This makes either option able to be recharged fairly easily depending on the type of battery charger you buy and if you purchase some AA to D-cell battery adapters then it’s even easier to recharge AA batteries and keep the spolights functioning. The’re also both weatherproof, install quickly using a few screws, have auto shutoff, etc. Now on to a few differences… The MB390 model is 300 lumen output as opposed to 140 lumens for the MB360. I know this doesn’t mean that they’re double the brightness but from my brief research online watching videos and ... continue reading...

Thoughts on Maximizing Your Prepping Efforts

power-upOne of my more favorite prepping “solutions” is to utilize an inverter connected to a car battery to power the refrigerator/freezer. So long as you have gasoline to run your vehicle this idea can work for a long time. After all, a vehicle’s engine is a rather efficient generator. (note: I didn’t think of this on my own but, rather, heard it from Steven Harris of Solar1234.com.) And since the only investment is in a power inverter (an 800-watt inverter should do nicely) which can be had for about $50, an extension cord (here’s a decent 50′ 12/3 cord) for about $30, and gasoline in gas cans which you should be doing for a variety of reasons anyway, you can have a makeshift generator setup ready to go for significantly less than purchasing an actual generator. Of course, there are some very good reasons to invest in a generator eventually, but for most people I’d suggest starting with the aforementioned strategy. In so doing you have both a strategy to rely upon faster as well as a ... continue reading...

Easy DIY Aquaponics: Let the Fish Grow Your Organic Food!

ediyabox1 Note that this is a review: if you’re looking for Easy DIY Aquaponics website then please lick here. Why am I writing this? Well, when I was thinking about buying Easy DIY Aquaponics, there weren’t many real reviews around so I thought I’d write one quickly to help any of you who are in the same position I was. But be warned, I’ll be going into both the good and the bad points, so if that’s something you might not want to hear, then you may as well leave now… I do want to point out that a few weeks back I took a look at a course titled Aquaponics 4 You: Step-by-Step How to Build Your Own Aquapoics System which initially got me excited about aquaponics. Actually, I was interested and excited BEFORE I found the course… hopefully you are too. And, while I’m still glad I reviewed it, one of my biggest complaints about the course was that I “felt like I jumped right into the middle of a story that I wouldn’t have honestly understood had ... continue reading...

How Effective are Security Windows and Doors? Your Choice Could Save a Life!

[Image provided by author] Home security is a major concern for homeowners, and the type of windows and doors you use can help to make you safer. Keeping intruders out of your home becomes increasingly important in an urban survival/disaster scenario, and every second that an intruder is delayed by a security feature is another second that you can use to react to the threat. Many companies sell specialty doors and windows to keep intruders out, but some of these products are more effective than others. When choosing any type of security for your home, you should do your research and find out just how effective the item really is. Let’s look at some popular solutions and how much security they truly offer. Security Windows and Window Films Windows are one of the most common ways that burglars and other intruders enter a home. In many cases, windows are easier to enter than doors. While almost everybody locks their doors, people often leave windows open, especially in warmer weather. Even ... continue reading...

Two Battery Storage Myths Debunked

SourceStoring batteries isn’t rocket science. Far from it. But sometimes it seems like batteries are a “mystical” part of preps and that they should be treated with “kid gloves” lest they fail you when most needed. Nope. Not at all. In fact, the good news about batteries is that they can–and should–be treated very similarly to your food storage. Simply keep them in a cool, dry place and you’re good to go. Really. Myth #1: Keep batteries in the fridge or freezer to increase longevity While true that storing batteries in a colder environment is better than a hot one, there seems to be no benefit to storing batteries in the fridge or freezer. Personally, I used to do this because I thought it was the right thing to do but now I just keep them on a shelf with some other preps. I should point out that excessive moisture levels can be a problem for batteries so you’ll want to store them in ... continue reading...

I’m Thinking About Buying a Beekeeper Suit, Maybe You Should too

wasp-nestNow, I’m not saying I have the answer here but I’ve been thinking about buying a beekeeper’s suit lately, and it’s not because I plan on keeping bees anytime soon… someday I might like to try it. Instead, I’m thinking about SHTF situations where I may have to deal with a hive of bees or, more likely, a nest of yellow-jackets or paper wasps. Granted, I’ve never bothered with a bee suit thus far but, then again, I’ve never had to REALLY deal with them on my own, at least, nothing more than a healthy wasps nest here and there. The problem for me is this: what if something goes wrong and I get a few too many stings and wind up having a bad reaction? A reaction bad enough where I would need hospitalization? During SHTF the expectation is that proper medical care won’t be available and so it’s “every man for himself!” With this in mind, and understanding that prevention is worth a pound of cure, I figured that I should have something at my disposal that could help ... continue reading...

If I Had the Chance to Start Prepping All Over Again, Here’s What I Would Have Done…

SourceThere’s no doubt that prepping is a journey, a life-long one, in fact… at least for anyone who takes it seriously. And, even though I’ve been at this seriously for a few years now and “interested” for several years, I often feel like I wasted too much time and money and could have been far better prepared if I only knew then what I know now. Of course, I shouldn’t be kicking myself. That’s just the way we learn. And sometimes it’s our mistakes that teach us the best. In this case, however, I’m not discussing my mistakes but, rather, a few regrets. Hopefully, you’ll take some of the following to heart if you’re still relatively new to the prepping lifestyle. Note: the following are roughly in my order of importance… I WISH I Had Understood the Critical Importance of WATER to Life I  wish I had understood early on how truly important water is to survival. Sure, it’s a no-brainer now and I’ve got stuff to deal with it but if I had a do-over I would have jumped ... continue reading...

Are You Missing This Useful, Back-Saving Gardening Tool?

SourceI’ve never claimed to anything but a hobby gardener at best and even that’s to be debated at times. Sadly, as a hobby gardener I’ve purchased my fair share of dumb tools that promised to make my life easier. Time and again I’ve realized that there are only a few worthwhile gardening tools that I bother to use. One of these tools is the trusty garden fork (also known as a spading fork) and not to be confused with a pitch fork, another tool I’m slightly fond of but not the subject of this post. FYI, according to Wikipedia a garden fork and pitch fork differ as such: “Garden forks are slightly different from pitchforks, which are used for moving loose materials such as piled hay, compost, or manure. Garden forks have comparatively a fairly short, usually wooden handle, with a “D” or “T” end. Their tines are usually shorter, flatter, thicker, and more closely spaced.” Basically, a garden fork is shorter and sturdier than a pitch fork, but there’s a bit more to it than that… In particular, ... continue reading...

I’ve Been Scoping Out My Neighbors Lately and Found Some Good Stuff…

SourceYeah, I’m not ashamed of it: I’ve been scoping my neighbors stuff lately. Not to steal it, mind you, but to get an idea of who might be useful post-SHTF, who might have stuff to barter with if I absolutely had to, and otherwise just to be a bit of a nosy neighbor. Obviously, I can’t see everything but when we walk I have a bit of time to glance here and there and I’ve seen some potentially useful things, including: Several homes nearby that have some good stacks of firewood–one thing I’m missing is a wood stove–but cut and seasoned wood is always useful. A few homes have year-round greenhouses which could indicate they’re more prepared than most or, at least, have something I might want. A few homes with RV’s and boats. While I’m not sure if either would be very useful without gasoline but, hey, why not mention it. A family that raises chickens. I always love farm-fresh eggs, don’t you? The same family has horses which can be used to do some serious work in the right ... continue reading...

Create Energy Independence With Your Own DIY Solar Power, Wind Power!

earth4box1Note that this is a review: if you’re looking for the Earth 4 Energy website then please click here. Why am I writing this? Well, when I was thinking about buying Earth 4 Energy, there weren’t many real reviews around so I thought I’d write one quickly to help any of you who are in the same position I was. But be warned, I’ll be going into both the good and the bad points, so if that’s something you might not want to hear, then you may as well leave now… First know that this is something that I’d purchased a LONG time ago now… years, in fact. Honestly, I’m amazed it’s still for sale which must indicate it’s still a wonderful source of knowledge! As I’m sure you’re well aware, there aren’t too many options when it comes to DIY off-grid energy independence. Sure, there’s hydro power which is awesome if you have a nearby rushing river to harness but I surely do not and chances are you don’t either. Similarly, you might believe that a human-powered gizmo is ... continue reading...