Bartering and Ministry in times of Crisis

As someone who has lived through multiple large scale disasters as well as worked and lived in a long term training replicating third world living conditions after a major disaster, I have a few points that I would like to throw out for you all to consider.  Being prepared is great, but if you stay focused on just yourself and the ones that you are caring for, then you will start to self-destruct…and it will happen quicker than you think.  When you focus on helping others, even in small ways, you will get re-energized, realize that you are not alone, and it will make your situation a little easier to bear.  This is easy at first, but as time goes on it is harder to maintain.  That being said, if you soldier on, it will pay for itself — even after you establish your new normal. 

Some points to be aware of when preparing for a crisis and serving and/or bartering with people in the times of crisis:


  • Remember, "Loose lips sink ships."
  • Do not show off your XYZ – especially on social media.
  • Develop a network of like-minded people and a way to communicate that is not dependent on a functioning infrastructure.  HAM radios are great for this.  Please, get your license if you are planning on using a GRMS or HAM radio.
  • Set up a food stock to help out others and be ready for distribution opportunities after an event.  A few days of food for the elderly neighbor or the single parent family and a way to cook it could mean the world to them.   This will cost you very little now and may open the door to witness to them.  It is not only the right thing to do, but it may even improve your own situation as well. 

After a Crisis:

  • Never give food from your house.
    • Go to another location and barter/distribute from there.
    • Do not brag about what you have stored or say something like, "I’ll just run home to get more of X" – you run the risk of being followed home or worse.
  • Be aware that some people will try and barter for more than you have visible to see if you are have extra stocks somewhere else.   It could be on the level, but it may not be the case — discretion is key to staying safe.  i.e. – Don’t say, "Well, I can get that come back tomorrow."  Instead, say something like, "Let me ask around and do some more deals to see if I can come up with what you want.  Is there something else you are looking for?"
  • It is better to be known as the guy that can get anything than the guy that has everything
  • When helping others, sometimes it is good to charge a little — it has a greater value than the free hand out and lessens the likelihood of people coming to resent you because they feel they owe you something.  Pray about this and follow what the Lord is leading for you on this.

These are just a few things to think and pray about.  As always, please feel free to ask questions and add comments.



Posted in Barter, Crisis Preparedness, Food, Home safety, Life, Regardless, Ministry, Philosophy, Storage | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Easy Chicken Shredding

Perhaps I am the last girl on the planet to learn this nifty trick, if so, be gentle in the comments! :-)

How many of you shred chicken? Whether we poach our chicken, grill our chicken or use a rotisserie chicken from Walmart or Harp's, we shred our chicken. It's great for quick fajitas, chicken salad, chicken soup, you name it. The drawback is the number it does on our hands as we use our fingers to pull apart that hot chicken or two forks to shred those breasts.

I have found a quick, easy, and painless solution, Ladies (& Gents)!

If you have a stand mixer, no longer must you slave over shredding your chicken! Ta-daa!

Two chicken breasts and just a few moments on medium-low in the mixer (with the paddle attachment), and you have perfectly shredded chicken. Lovely!

So the next time you need some shredded chicken for a recipe, or you go out and get some bulk chicken breasts throughZaycon and need to freeze some of that yummy goodness, pull out your stand mixer and put it to work! (I did about 10 pounds of chicken breasts in just a few minutes!)

(A quick note — be sure to watch it as it goes, or you'll end up with chicken paste. Just sayin'.)

Til next time!


Posted in Life, Regardless | Leave a comment

Homemade Pesto — Yeah, Baby!

Another first — I made homemade pesto last night!…and I mean the real deal, not a Knorr packet or some other such substitution with things in it that I struggle to pronounce.  (Don't get me wrong — I've made my share of packet pesto.  This beats its socks off!)  Nope, this is a relatively quick recipe that I got off a box of Ball jars….that I had to slightly modify because their instructions resulted in black smoke billowing out of my oven!  Forgive me, I get ahead of myself.


  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic crushed (about 2 tsp if you use the fresh minced garlic)
  • 1 cup grated (not shredded) parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Now, Ball said to toast your pine nuts in a 450 degree oven til golden brown.  NOT a positive experience for me!!!  I put them in, went to deal with children and came back to black smoke billowing out of my oven.  Really.  It was hazy in the house for the rest of the day…and I think I smelled like pine nut ash.  The pine nuts were so charred they looked like coffee beans…and smelled a bit like them as well.  I kid you not.  ANYWAY, being an expensive mistake I determined not to duplicate, I toasted the next cup of pine nuts in two batches…in a skillet…on the stovetop…on medium heat.
  • When cool, combine the pine nuts, basil and garlic in the food processor and "process til smooth."  (I think next time I'll put the basil on the bottom, then the pine nuts and garlic and see if that doesn't make it a bit quicker to process.)
  • Add the parmesan and process til combined.
  • Start the food processor and add the olive oil in a slow, even stream.  Honestly, this feels like it takes forever…and ever…and ever.  All the while I was wondering how loudly Little Bit was going to be screaming once I was finished because I had NO IDEA it was going to take that long.  It was probably only a minute…two at most, but a food processor going for a minute or two?  It can bore a hole in your brain!
  • And you're finished!
  • I did put a cup of pesto in a half-pint freezer jar and top with olive oil.  It's been popped into the freezer so that we can enjoy a bit of summer in the dead of winter!  :-)

I thinly sliced some chicken breast and cooked it up with some evoo and salt & pepper while the pasta water was coming to a boil.  I cooked up some spaghetti (next time I'll use angel hair), and when it was cooked al dente, I added it to the skillet with the chicken, threw in about half a cup of pesto and "tossed" it together.  It was ridiculously yummy!  I made a caprese salad to go along with it.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been homemade french bread.  Oh yes.

When I had the leftovers for lunch today, I added in quartered cherry and grape tomatoes.  That sent it over the top…and it made it look a little Christmas-y!  Christmas in June?  I think I can live with that!  :-)

I know there are scads of other pesto recipes out there — if you have a favorite, do share!  I LOVE new recipes!

Posted in Food, Health, Healthy, Life, Regardless, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bug out Bag Part 2: A Practical list of Food & Water items to Include in your Bug out Bag

I am covering the below points from the following perspectives:

  1. You are going to be unable to get help from anywhere else but from the bag.
  2. You are going to need to live out of it for three days (72 hours) before any help arrives or you are able to arrive at your evacuation destination. 

Using these perspectives as a base-line, a bag can be scaled up to your desired size by increasing the amount of food by the desired amount of additional time.  That being said, I do not suggest on planning for a lesser amount of time if for no other reason that this is considered the bare minimum amount to be prepared for by most disaster organizations –  three-day supply of food and water, per person, and pack as if you will have NO access to refrigeration or time for cooking.

  1. Food items to consider packing:
    • 3600 Emergency Food Rations
      • Brands:  S.O.S. Emergency Rations, Mainstay, Dantex
      • Pro:  high calories, small package, long shelf life
      • Con:  They are not known to taste great ,and they can be heavy.
      • My Bag:  Mainstay (lemon flavor — I really do not like lemon flavored bars, but can eat them.  I am less likely to eat it "just because" and be without it when I really need it.)
    • MRE’s or freeze dried meals (3 days rations)
      • Brands:  MRE, Mountain House, Eversafe, Sure-Pak
      • Pro:  a full meal in a bag, enough calories to keep a person going
      • Con:  They need water to heat them and/or rehydrate the meal & can be bulky.
      • My Bag:  MRE Main course, side, and dessert with the heater bag.  I only include these items because the other items are too bulky versus the calories they provide.
    • Protein/Granola Bars
      • Brands:  anything that you would normally eat from your local grocery store
      • Pro:  They are inexpensive & provide a large # of calories for the space taken.
      • Con:  The dry bars crumble easily, and soft ones are easily crushed.
      • My Bag:  Cliff Bars – I like the way they taste; they fill me up, and they hold up well to having heavy items put on top of them.
    • Hard Candy/Gum
      • Brands:  anything that you normally would eat from your local grocery store
      • Pro:  They keep the mouth busy so the stomach will not think about how hungry it is. Helps produce saliva so that the mind does not think so much about your thirst.
      • Con:  If used in large amounts, they will accelerate dehydration.
      • My Bag:  Jolly ranchers and atomic fireballs – they hold up well to heat and freezing temperatures and take a long time to dissolve.
    • Canned Meats:
      • Brands:  anything that you normally would eat from your local grocery store
      • Pro:  Protein keeps the brain working well, & canned meats are inexpensive compared to other meal options.
      • Con:  Cans are easily dented and/or leak.  They usually require a separate tool to open, & they weigh a lot for the calories carried.
      • My Bag:  Leaks in the past keep me from putting any in my bag now.
    • Trail Mix/ Dried Fruit/ Dried Meat
      • Brands:  anything that you normally would eat from your local grocery store
      • Pro:  They are easy to eat on the go & give you a quick boost of energy.
      • Con:  They do not store for long periods of time.
      • My Bag:  Peppered Beef Jerky — I like the taste ,and the protein helps keep me feeling more normal.  I know that this increases my thirst but I plan accordingly.   Without water I would not recommend eating large amounts of any food.
  2. Water and Drink Flavorings
    • Filtration
      • Brands: Aquamira, Seychelle, Sawyer, Katadyn, MSR,….
      • Pro: They can keep you on the move without carrying as much weight.  They can be compact.
      • Con: They can be expensive (especially for reusable ones).
      • My Bag: I have a few coffee filters to pre-filter the water and a Aquamira Frontier Emergency Water Filter System (a fancy way to say a filter with a straw.) Be warned that this carbon-based filter does leave some carbon in your water which makes it look dirty, but it is not. The other straw filters that I have used are the Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight or a Seychelle Straw Water Filter Purifier Drinking Straw. I have used all three of these systems, and they have all worked well for me. I personally like these systems because they are small and a relatively inexpensive item for a go bag. If you are going to be using this bag often, I would go with a Sawyer or Katadyn system that is reusable.  These reusable filters do not pass trace carbon into the filtered water. That being said, the straw filters are under $20 each, and a good quality Sawyer or Katadyn will run at least $100. The straws are a one event item that can filter water up to the listed amount on the package. Storing them after they are used runs the risk of getting impure water the second time around.
    • Purification tablets
      • Brands: Katadyn, Potable Aqua, Coleman, etc.
      • Pro: They take up next to no room, they can treat everything that you do not see in the water (dependent upon the brand).
      • Con: They take a long time to fully treat the water – usually around four hours.  Once the seal has been broken, you have only thirty days to use the items before they start to lose their strength.  After sixty days, they are basically ineffective.
      • My Bag: I have Katadyn Micro Purification Tablets. They treat all types of containments in just four hours (yes, it takes planning ahead.) They are also individually wrapped and treat one liter per pill which means that I can use what I need and save the rest for later, if need be.
    • Hot Drink Mixes (for breaking the routine of drinking only water)
      • Brands:  anything that you would normally drink that comes individually packaged    
      • Pro:  It helps keep caffeine withdrawal at bay, & just holding a hot cup of something to drink can give you a sense well being and warmth.
      • Con:  Caffeine will accelerate becoming dehydrated
      • My Bag:  I have hot chocolate as well as chicken and beef bouillon.  I do not drink coffee so I do not have it in my bag.  If you do, plan ahead and have some.
    • Cool Drink Mixes (for breaking the rotinue of drinking only water)
      • Brands:  anything that you would normally drink you can get in individual packages
      • Pro:  They can make clean but unpleasant tasting water palatable, & certain brands can replace electrolytes.
      • Con:  They are easily punctured & can attract bugs if they leak in your bag.  If they are stored a long time, they break down and become a solid block.
      • My Bag:  Gatorade — it is a good boost of energy, and the lemon -lime flavor seems to really cover the taste of iodine water purification pills (at least for my taste buds).
    • A side note on packing the drinks for your bag — stay away from soda and alcoholic beverages!  Both of these will dehyrate you extremely quickly, and in a disaster situation, you certainly do not need to be ingesting anything that will impair your mental abilities.
  3. Non-Food items
    • Can Opener (non-electric) — Pack it with the food bag, but pack it so that it will not puncture anything.
    • Utensils (are provided in MRE’s)
      • An inexpensive solution is to save three disposable sets from a restaurant and include them with each day’s bag of food.
    • Water Bottle, collapsible water bag, canteen, collapsible cup
      • A space saver is to get a water bottle that nests into a cup that you can use to heat up food or drinks if you have a source of heat.

How I pack my bag:  I sort each day of food into its own Ziploc bag, and then put all three days’ worth of food into a larger bag.  It is easy to pull out an individual day’s worth of food without sorting through a large bag on the fly with no repacking necessary.  Also, I know that once I have eaten all of the food in that bag, I have nothing else for the day. This helps keep me accountable and less likely to over eat due to stress.  (It's a great way to prevent a food shortage!) 

Any other ideas or comments are welcome.

Posted in 72 Hour Kits, Church Preparedness, Crisis Preparedness, Frugal, Life, Regardless, Philosophy, Storage, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Homemade Strawberry Syrup

Strawberries from FreeDigitalPhotos.netIt's strawberry season!

I'm always looking for something new and yummy to do with the huge amount of strawberries in my fridge.  I love that Aldi has their strawberries for 99 cents a pint!  So…each time I go in, I buy about a gallon's worth of strawberries.  My fridge is bursting with strawberries!

Some will be made into freezer jam. 

Some will just be eaten. 

Some were made into strawberry syrup this morning!

It was soooo easy, and I need to thank my sister, Michelle, for the inspiration.

Honestly, I have purchased my last bottle of syrup.  Real maple syrup is not in our budget, so I've gotten whatever has been at Sam's.  I am done with feeding Mr. Big straight high fructose corn syrup…and I'm done with him feeding it to the munchkins.  (I don't give them syrup — waaaay too messy — but they do "baby bird" bites from their Daddy & Pa.)

So, this morning, I finally stepped out and made my own syrup…and strawberry syrup at that!  My husband's comment when he tasted it?  "You need more practice!"  (Don't take offense for me, it's really his loving way of saying, "Make this again…and again…and again!")

Without further ado, here's how I did it — with some ideas for substitutions if you don't like processed sugar or butter.  :-)


  • 1/2 cup white sugar (Rapadura or sucanat would probably work.)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (Muscavado would probably work.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp butter (Coconut oil might taste nice.)
  • 3/4 pint strawberries washed, capped and diced
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • In a small saucepan, combine your sugars, water, and 2 Tbsp butter.  Bring to a boil on medium heat.  Stir it occasionally as it comes to a boil.  Once it begins to boil, turn the heat down to low for a few minutes, then add your strawberries.  There may be a skin on the top when you add your berries, just stir it in.  Allow the strawberries to cook for 3-5 minutes.  You want them to soften up, but not get yucky.  (Yes, that's the technical term!)  Remove your saucepan from the heat, and, while it's still hot, use an immersion blender to blend everything together into a smooth sauce.  If you don't have an immersion blender, I highly recommend that you get one!  But for today, you could put it in the blender or a food processor.  Once it's all smooth, stir in the vanilla and 1tsp butter, and you're good to go!

You could do this with most any berry.  It is so very yummy, easy, without high fructose corn syrup…and made with ingredients that you probably have on hand!

If you have a syrup recipe you enjoy, please share in the comments!


strawberry photo courtesy of

Posted in Food, Life, Regardless, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Prepare an Emergency Bug Out Bag (Part 1)

Why you need a 72-Hour Bug Out Bag

If you have to evacuate your home during a voluntary or mandatory evacuation, you probably won’t have time to think through what to pack, let alone locate all the essential items quickly and calmly. This is just one reason why you want to have your own personal emergency bag packed and ready to get you out the door to safety in case of an emergency.  Also, for those of you that want to do ministry work after a disaster, this is type of bag would allow you to leave your house shortly after being called.  Of course, ministry occurs only after you insure that your house and most importantly your family are safe.


How to Prepare an Emergency Bug Out Bag


1) What is a bug out bag?

A bug out bag is a packed bag full of “gear” that you keep pre-packed for use in case of an emergency. When something happens that forces you to evacuate your home and normal services are interupted due to the event, you will be able to use the bag that you have prepared to transition you more smoothly back into your new normal (i.e. What things look like as you recover and move forward.).  It allows you to more quickly recover from an event that effects your life.  This bag can also double as a way for you to continue to do some sort of ministry during and after an event.  You will use it to help keep you going so that you can:

  • keep your ministry going. 
  • help people that are affected.
  • be a helping hand at your local ministry or church that is opening its doors in response to an event in your area


2) What kind of bag do I need?

You need a backpack that you can comfortably carry over a long distance (such as a few miles) and still have energy to do some work after you arrive.  It is also important to be able to have your hands free so that you can quickly use your hands for security and for moving items that are in the way. You can use a new or an old bag, just be sure the straps and seams are sewn on securely. If it is not waterproof, treat it with a waterproof spray or purchase a backpack cover. Also, drain holes in a pack will help if any water gets inside.  Packs with lots of compartments are handy for organizing your supplies, and ones with zippers or buttons are preferred so that things do not slide out when you are carrying the pack.  I also suggest that you urbanites pick up a “carry on” style bag that can be pulled on wheels.  This way you are able to roll the bag for a good distance in order to save your back, but you still have a backpack inside of the "carry on" ready to grab if you have an area that you can no longer use the wheeled case.


3) What do I put in my bug out bag?

This will partly be determined by where you plan on staying and/or ministering while using your Bug out Bag. You need to keep in mind that your bag will look different than everyone else’s, and this is the way it is supposed to be.  BUILD YOUR pack so that it meets YOUR individual circumstances. Remember, you are planning to live out of this bag for three days. It is meant to keep you alive for three days not provide luxury. (That being said, for me a couple of candies that I like help a lot with my mental well being while going through a tough situation like this.) 

Can I really and I MEAN really move this bag when it is loaded down? (A 20 year old guy that runs marathons has different abilities than the 80 year old grandmother, but they each need to have a bag.) Please do not be intimidated by other people's large and/or “fancy” and/or techy bags – some of those people that have one cannot even carry it to the car and/or use the gear and/or know what to do if the tech breaks or fails.  The most important thing is to have one put together.  Even if it does not meet all of your needs, when something happens it will make life that much better having some of your needs met than having all of your needs unmet.  

  • How much can you carry?  To get an idea of what you are capable of doing right now, try walking a couple of times around a sport's track (usually a half mile) with four gallons of water in your bag (roughly 8.3 lbs each for a total of at least 34 pounds plus the weight of the backpack).
  • Pack your essentials with total weight and space in mind.
  • Remember the rule of "two is one, and one is none" when putting a pack together (e.g. waterproof matches & a lighter to make fire).  
  • For bulkier, heavier items, if you cannot use it a couple of ways, throw it out or learn how (e.g plastic tarp can be used as a poncho, tent, or to help waterproof the backpack).
  • Keep in mind that you may have to carry this bag over some rough terrain, so please consider what it would be like to go up a steep hill, over fallen trees, or perhaps through deep snow.


4) Concerns and things to think about when putting together your pack.

  • Is this going to be very expensive?
    • It does not have to be.  You can put together a pack for almost nothing or spend thousands.  I have done packs that cost under twenty dollars (even this year — 2012). Get creative and think beyond what items were orginally designed to do.
    • Get what you can to cover as much as you can now and then, as budget allows, upgrade the pack and repurpose your “old stuff” into a new pack for a spouse or a child.
  • How much time is this going to take to do?  I don’t want to become my whole life
    • Initial set-up is not too time intensive (it can be put together in 2-4 hrs.) but afterwards, it is just a few minutes every few months for upkeep.
  • Does it meet what I need for my environment?  (Phoenix, AZ packs will look very different than Boston, MA bags.)
  • When building the bag, you want to make sure that you have considered the following things:
    • Food and Water
    • Shelter/Bedding/Clothing
    • Light/Warmth/Fire
    • First Aid/Medical
    • Equipment/Gear/Tools
    • Communications/Directions
    • Security/Personal Documents

 Coming up — more specific information on items that can go into a bag and some of the pros and cons of those on the list.




Posted in 72 Hour Kits, Church Preparedness, Crisis Preparedness, Food, Ministry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Culturing Kefir

Ok, so have we established here that kefir is pretty good stuff to be eating on a daily basis?  Yes?  Good.

Kefir's a living organism, so there are a few things to keep in mind before you get started —

  • The starter for kefir is called "kefir grains."  Not to worry — this "grain" has nothing to do with wheat…or any other glutinous substance.  They're called grains because that's what the individual pieces apparently look like.  To my eye, it looks more like cauliflower heads in a clump or in a chain.

Kefir Grains

  • Keep your culturing kefir in glass or plastic.  I prefer using a glass quart jar.  For our family, it takes us about two days to work through about a quart of kefir.

Kefir in a glass jar

Kefir that has cultured long enough for the curds & whey to separate.

  • Use only plastic utensils when dealing with your kefir grains — the grains react with metal, and you could kill them.
Kefir spoon

My kids' baby sporks work great to transfer the grains!

  • Either let the containers you're putting your grains in air dry, be dried in the dishwasher or use filtered water to rinse out your quart jar.  Chlorine from tap water will damage your grains.
  • Never, ever put honey in with your grains — the honey's antibacterial properties will KILL your grains.
  • The warmer it is, the faster your kefir will culture.  If it's culturing faster than you're using it, put it all in the fridge once it's cultured as long as you like.  It will keep for a long time in the fridge.  Just remember to add a bit of milk to it every few days or it will starve.  Ack!
  • There is a yeast that kefir produces, which is all well and good…unless you're making yogurt and you get some cross contamination.  The yeast gets airborne and will culture in your yogurt.  This makes for some unpleasant flavors in your yogurt.  So how can you prevent this?  Make sure that your culturing yogurt and culturing kefir are as far apart in your kitchen as possible!
  • You can use cow's milk, goat's milk, or even canned coconut milk to culture kefir! 

Milk for Kefir

  •  (If you're interested in making your own carbonated beverage, you'll need to get some water grains.  I haven't done that yet.) 
  • *Note* — Kefir grains feed on the natural sugars in the milk.  Once they've cultured 48 hours, you need to transfer them to fresh milk or add some milk to their container so that they have more to feed on.  (Granted, this is not hard and fast — I had some in the fridge for three weeks that I was sure had died because I hadn't added any milk, and they survived just fine!)
  • If you can get kefir grains from a friend, that's great!  If not, consider ordering from

Here's how you "do" kefir:

When you get your cultures, understand that it's going to take them a little while to get used to tKefir in a glass jarheir new environment.  If you've had to order them, you'll have to rehydrate them before they'll culture.  (I got my grains from a friend, so I don't feel qualified to give you much info on rehydrating grains.)  If they've been frozen, let them thaw in the fridge for an easier transition.  Once they're thawed, add some milk and put them in their jar on the counter.  I keep my jar covered with a paper towel secured by a rubber band.  I've also used canning rings to secure the towel in place.  It's super important not to seal the jar with a lid.  Carbon dioxide is released during the culturing process, and if you've ever made your own ginger beer, you know that the pressure of carbon dioxide building can explode a glass jar!

Let your grains sit in the milk on your counter/refrigerator out of direct sunlight for 24-48 hours.  You'll notice that the milk becomes a bright white.  I have no idea what causes that, but it is so very cool to see!

You have a couple of choices at this point — you can either just add more milk and swirl the grains, cultured milk and fresh milk together or you can transfer the grains to a new container of milk all together.  (When we were at a 9 week, off-grid crisis response training last fall, we cultured goat's milk in a gallon jar.  Each day, we just added the fresh goat's milk to the gallon jar and used a plastic ladle to draw out whatever we wanted to use.) 

Kefir spoon

My kids' baby sporks work great to transfer the grains!

To transfer your grains, get a second glass jar and fill it 3/4 full of milk.  Using a plastic spoon of sorts, pull out your grains and put them into the fresh batch of milk.  (When I first started out culturing kefir, I tried to pour the cultured kefir through a slotted spoon into a fresh jar.  The slotted spoon would catch the grains, and then I would put them back into the original jar with fresh milk.  This is probably an easier way to go if your grains are small.  Mine are huge now, so they're pretty easy to fish out.)

Once you've transferred your curds & whey, cover your kefir with a jar lid that is NOT snugged down and place it in the fridge.  Understand, it will continue to produce carbon dioxide…you really don't want this exploding in your refrigerator.  What a mess!  Cover your fresh milk and grains with your paper towel secured by a rubberband, and place it on your counter to sit for 24-48 hours.

The longer the kefir cultures, the more curds form and the whey separates.  (The photo above was probably a 72 hour culture…with some of that time in the fridge.)  This is OK.  You can stir them back together again or pour off your whey to use in other recipes.  There are so very many uses for kefir (& yogurt) whey!  (That's a whole different post….) 

Something to keep in mind — Kefir is magnificent stuff! Wonderful!!!!  However, to the tummy that's not used to it, kefir can be quite startling, so…start out slow and easy, trying as little as a tablespoon twice a day for a few days.  It's going to take a little bit for the kefir to set up house in your GI Tract! 

Please, if you have any questions, please ask in the comments below, and I'll answer them to the best of my knowledge.  smiley

Posted in Food, Health, Healthy, Life, Regardless, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Barter Anyone?


This is a list of some possible items that you might have extra of in your house to trade with if something were to happen that would require operating in a bater economy.  We encourage people to buy only what they will personally use, and rotate through these stocks like they would with any other items. 

For those of you that are wondering about the absence of alcohol or cigarettes on the list – they were left off of my list because we do not use them and these would potentially open us up to additional risk that I do not want to expose my family to.  If you have any questions about items that are on the list or other suggestions to include, please feel free to leave me a comment!  I will do my best to answer your questions.

On a side note, we don’t have everything on this list, so we hope you do so we can trade with you!  smiley


List of 99+ Possible Barter Items


  1. Coffee
  2. Tea
  3. Sugar
  4. Salt & Pepper
  5. Skills (carpentry, sewing, metal working, plumbing, etc)
  6. Spices (whole spices store longer)
  7. Hot sauces
  8. Hard Candy
  9. Bibles (personal opinion is they should be given away)
  10. Kitchen and wooden matches
  11. Needles and sewing items
  12. Duct tape
  13. Pencils
  14. Pens
  15. Paper
  16. Note pads
  17. Toilet paper (will be a luxury item)
  18. Tooth paste (and a recipe on making more)
  19. Baking soda
  20. Tooth brushes
  21. Soap
  22. Rubbing alcohol
  23. First Aid items
  24. Over the counter meds (allergy meds are often over looked)
  25. Antibiotic creams (especially w/ analgesic)
  26. Antifungal creams
  27. Reading glasses and contact solution
  28. Socks (wool and non-cotton are premium  items)
  29. Tarps
  30. Plastic Sheets
  31. Tools for gardening
  32. Gloves
  33. Hand Tools
  34. How-to manuals (use, don't trade)
  35. Ammunition (22LR small in size & weight)
  36. Water Filters
  37. Firewood (seasoned wood will go fast)
  38. Two-stroke oil for chainsaws
  39. Chainsaw blades
  40. Coleman fuel
  41. Knives
  42. Axes
  43. Saws
  44. Sharpening Stones
  45. Manual Can Openers
  46. Vegetable Oil (for cooking and lighting)
  47. Lighter Fluids
  48. Disposable lighters
  49. Magnesium fire starters
  50. Kerosene
  51. Charcoal
  52. Diapers (disposable or cloth)
  53. Baby Wipes (Do not store long term)
  54. Washboard
  55. Laundry Detergent
  56. Vitamins
  57. Tampons
  58. Condoms
  59. Warm Clothing
  60. Thermal Underwear
  61. Underwear
  62. Belts or belt punch (people will be losing weight)
  63. Aluminum Foil
  64. Garbage Bags
  65. Paper Towels (will become a luxury)
  66. Garden Seeds (Non-GMO and Non-hybrid)
  67. Clothes Piins
  68. Fishing Line, hooks and other fishing items
  69. Batteries
  70. Solar Calculators
  71. Flashlights
  72. Garbage Cans (metal especially)
  73. Sunscreen
  74. Sunglasses
  75. Nail Clippers
  76. Bug Repellent
  77. Rope (especially heavy load rated ones such as for rappelling)
  78. Nylon Cord
  79. Candles
  80. Canning Jars and Lids
  81. Bicycle Tire Tubes
  82. Bicycle Chains
  83. Tire patch kits (use, don't trade)
  84. Air pump (use, don't trade)
  85. Board Games
  86. Playing Cards and dice
  87. Kids coloring books and crayons
  88. Rodent traps
  89. Razors
  90. Tang (1 serving-100% Vitamin C for a day)
  91. Glue
  92. Non-Scented Bleach (the liquid only stores for about a year before you need to replace it)
  93. Cleaning Supplies
  94. Hats (especially wide brimmed ones)
  95. Locks (pad locks and gun locks)
  96. Binoculars
  97. Slingshot and replacement bands
  98. Solar Recharging station (will be a great on-going income item)
  99. Barter Coins (pre-1964 silver dimes, quarters and half dollars and Pre-1982 copper pennies)


Posted in Alternative Energy, Barter, Crisis Preparedness, Solar Energy, Storage, Wind Energy | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

I Can Can!


Eons ago, I "helped" my mother can.  We canned green beans and tomatoes and peaches…and a myriad of things that I don't even remember.  She instilled a healthy fear in me of canning with a pressure cooker — she had one of those ancient ones of the era of potentially exploding pressure cookers.  I guess it was beyond a "healthy" fear; actually, I have been too paranoid to can anything.

Moving into the world of prepping has brought me to the point of acting…in the face of my paranoia.

Thankfully, I follow some great blogs, Little Wife on the Prairie (Hi, Rachelle!) and The Frugal Girl to name a couple — both of whom have done fairly recent posts on canning.  Funny, now that I think about it, they were both posts on making jelly from juice!  Anyway, they each had their own spin on things, but the combined effect was that I felt empowered enough to at least give jelly-making and water-bath canning a shot.  Whew!

I did call a local friend to come help. 

I thought she was an experienced canner.

I thought wrong.Little Bit & Granny Franni

She did want to learn, though, and so she came to play!  She loves my kids…which is really a blessing because a good portion of her help was keeping Little Bit out from under foot!  Thanks, Granny Franni!  wink

I'm not going to go step-by-step on this.  Really.  I don't have the time, and, honestly, you don't want to hear about my flubs and panics of yesterday.  Well…maybe you do.  If nothing else, it would make the rest of the world of canners feel really good about themselves!  Sorry 'bout ya, but you're going to have to get those strokes somewhere else today!  Hee hee!

Regardless of my flubs, though, we got four quarts and one pint (and a little bit more) of grape jelly made.  (Had I filled the jars sufficiently, it would have just been the 4.5 quarts.)  We canned the four quarts and put the other in the fridge.  I had also made homemade apple butter.  Oh my.  That's some delectable stuff.  I made just over two quarts, but we only canned one quart, sent a pint home with Granny Franni and put the remainder in the fridge.

You'll notice in the picture that there's a jar of clear stuff.  My husband wanted us to try out canning water.  It can be done, and that quart will be on my shelf for a few months, and then we'll see how well it aerates and tastes.  I don't see us doing that for any kind of large water storage — it's not incredibly practical.

So…for my first foray into canning, it was a bit nerve-wracking, but I know I can do it…and I know that I'll be better next time…and, yes, there will be a next time.  smiley





Posted in Canning, Food, Healthy, Life, Regardless | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Use FEMA in Your Church Ministry

Once your church has decided to set up some sort of disaster ministry, one of the first things that I encourage your team to do is take several Federal Emergency Management ACT (FEMA) courses.  Like it or not, FEMA is the one in charge of most large crisis events, and the model they use has been adopted across the nation by firemen, police officers, and other officials that you would interact with during those events. 

These courses are online, free to anyone, and they allow your team to get nationally certified by FEMA.  Being FEMA certified will better prepare your team to interact and work alongside the officials that are managing the response.  The more that you learn about the inner workings of the Incident Command Structure (ICS), the better equipped you will be to interact with the ICS leadership to minister and get helpful information to the people that you are working with in the midst of crisis.  Getting these certifications exposes you to the vocabulary Incident Command uses, helping you communicate with officials in a way that they understand, potentially opening a door for you to minister to them as well.  

The introductory trainings that lay the ground work for the way things are run by FEMA and other official groups in a disaster are IS-100.b Introduction to Incident Command System and IS-200.b ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents.  I have included FEMA’s comprehensive list of the online classes that are offered here




Posted in Church Preparedness, Crisis Preparedness, Life, Regardless, Ministry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment