Motherhood

Get Prepared!

I think that just about everyone was a little under prepared for COVID-19. It wasn’t expected and that surprise caused a mass effect to everyone in the world not just some countries but all of them. Wow when you think about the effect of it, it’s mind blowing! Stores everywhere sold out of all sorts of sanitation products some you still cannot find, they sold out of toilet paper, they sold out of a lot of food items of all kinds, the meat factories/processors are to my knowledge booked pretty much the rest of the year solid or close to it; this virus caused a mass wave of chaos and the domino effect is still going just now in other forms. I wasn’t prepared for this or anything like it to have happened; but like a lot of people out there I want to get prepared. In my opinion this is not over and it will continue to unravel the world as we know it. I want my family and I to be able to survive and stay fed & healthy if things were to shut down again; and with everything the way it has continued to domino downward it is completely possible it will happen sooner rather than later. Now the questions is how will I accomplish this?

Make a Plan

With anything you set out to do in your life before you can really accomplish anything you need to come up with a plan one what it is you are setting out to accomplish. I find that the best way to make a plan is on paper. I am old fashioned I guess because while computers are great and all I would rather write it all out visually in front of me on paper. I will write out what I want to stock up on by writing my list up by individualized categories. Doing it this way will help keep things organized. For instance our family of five consists of me, my husband, our two older boys, & our new infant so we will have to plan to stock up on baby items on top of regular items for our family. The best way to keep all of what we need organized is by writing it out and separating each item into categories. Just like I did below.

Look for the Best Deals

Now is the time to start stocking up for the coming Winter months especially living here in Iowa where I know it already comes with its own set of challenges without the possibility of another wave of COVID-19. We tend to have really cold Winter’s with lots of snowy days and I know that with how things are currently getting regular items from the store may be near impossible this year so it is better to be safe than sorry. It is the tail end of July 2020 and Summer is getting ready to come to an end here in a couple of months by the middle of September we will have that colder weather setting in. The start of Fall then Winter will follow after that by a couple more months. I look at my weekly store ads and when I do go into our local stores I look for every possible deal that works for our family and that we can afford to get at the time. I have gotten into the habit to pick a little bit of extra up even if we don’t need it at the moment I am sure we will in the future. Stocking up little by little will be helpful for us in the future especially for the upcoming colder months. Also when I go to my stores I look in my clearance aisles just in case! There is clearance in the grocery sections and the household areas and if you can’t seem to find yours you can always ask!

Preparing a Stockroom

Having a location for everything extra that is going to be stocked up is something else that you need to think about. Where ever it is keep in mind that a cool dry location such as a basement or room with no windows would be ideal. Unless of course your basement gets damp or has a habit of flooding…
Most people have a pantry room or location for pantry items; if not make one! You will need a place to store all of the extra items that you have acquired for the upcoming Fall & Winter months. I am in the process of creating a pantry space upstairs on our main floor but our basement will also be a great place that doubles as a storage area as it never floods and has the ideal conditions that you need to store our items. Besides finding the location to store your extra goods you need to be able to store them properly depending on how long you are preparing for. I am mainly stocking up for the Fall & Winter but I am also looking into storing some of my items longer term. I will do a post over that when I get everything that is needed to do that process. Most of the longer term storage items that need to be prepared are food items. Things like toiletries & cleaning products just need to be stored somewhere that they will not get damaged and somewhere that is out of reach from kids. Be sure to store items like medications in a lockable case or up high to keep kids out of it. We use a tool box with a padlock for storing our medications.

If you have a freezer or freezers this is where you should store items like meats & vegetables unless you plan to can those things then make sure you learn how to do it properly to prevent botulism. As for my family we will be utilizing our freezer space for things like meats, extra bread, freezing vegetables/stocks, & extra milk/dairy products. I always make sure my freezers are well organized, that way I know where everything is and what I have available to use. It is important to make sure you are familiar with items in your stockroom/pantry and/or freezer so you know what you may need more of or less of. A good way to make sure that everything is used first to last is by organizing. Make sure you label items with a date somewhere that is easy to see (if the date is at the bottom use a permanent marker to write it on top of the item). This will help keep the items in order and help you use the older items first and rotate your stockroom easier.

Gather Essential Non-Food Items

We all need food/water to live but for some that is not all that they need to live. Some people require medications to survive or will need machines such as nebulizers or sleep apnea machines to be able to breathe air. If you fall into this category you should be figuring out a plan to get extra medications if you can afford to do so. Try talking to your doctor about setting a plan in play. See if you can have extra scripts on file for a just in case scenario I mean its worth a try. Some medications are restricted but some are not. Breathing machines will need electricity so even if you had thought about getting a generator for your freezer but haven’t gotten around to it think about medical needs as well. That generator should be bought sooner rather than later as your life could depend on it. Generators should be on your list for sure due to medical necessity of course but also if you have food stored in the freezers and refrigerators that you and your family depend on. And depending on the type of generator you will need to plan accordingly. If it is a gas generator you will need to stock up on gasoline as well as having a place to store gas cans out of the elements. You luck out with solar generators as the sun is free and has its place in the sky so no need for storing it. Just keep in mind that you should become familiar with a solar generator and how to fix it if it were to become unusable during a necessary time. Having books and manuals on the items you are obtaining is also another great thing to have in storage. A library of sorts will help bring you knowledge especially if you lose power and the internet is down; that phone may only be good for holding down a page in a book in the end!

Prepare for Any Situation

While we currently live in the modern age where things like electricity & running water come easy to us there could be a future where those things rarely or no longer exist. You should prepare your mind and your family for a scenario where clothes will be washed by hand, food will be cooked over a camp fire, and just about everything else will have to be done the good old fashioned way. You may have a pantry or freezer stocked to the brim but what will happen if that runs out? Being able to grow your own food is just as important in my mind so stocking up on seed packets & gardening supplies is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The best way is to prepare your mind; knowledge is power! This brings me back to a topic I have already touched on but in the end may be the only way to obtain knowledge which is to have a library of all sorts of books & manuals somewhere safe away from moisture. You may not need it now but some good survival books and how to live the old fashioned way books might do you some good some day. Instead of only depending on what we have now you should learn to depend on other things that we take for granted or at least keep them in stock. You should keep things like matches or lighter on hand. Those batteries will only last for so long and with out gas for a car or the internet getting more after you run out may be impossible. To go along with the ability to light a fire think about stocking up on some candles or something to use for a lamp (oil lamps). Lehman’s has a variety of old fashioned items at their store HERE as well as a variety of oil lamps HERE that’s worth checking out. I have even read that some citrus fruits like oranges can double as a olive oil lamp that will burn just like a candle. The point is you should prepare and get knowledgeable about those things.
At one point in my life I was very enthusiastic about prepping I learned a lot about preparing for a SHITF scenario or scenario’s. I have filled my head with knowledge that until the year 2020 happened I had not seen a real need for those preparations until 2020 happened and is still happening. It like oh well that will never happen and I guess somewhere along the line I just believed that. Even though I was sure wrong because we all live in that impossible year I am glad I was able to fill my head with the knowledge all that time ago. I feel prepared in a way because I am not just starting out in this prepping world and I know some of it already it is just putting what I know to good use and continuing to learn from this point on.

Get Prepared!

Covid-19 hit most of us out of nowhere but some of us not so much. Some of us were able to prepare and will continue to do so. Those of us who are now awake and just starting out need to get prepared and get to learning how or what needs to be done to do so. You shouldn’t be discouraged because you are not already prepared you should charge the mound and go for it. It was only a month or so ago that the stores were sold out of just about every kind of food item, meats were so high priced or out of stock altogether, essential food items were out of stock, & the postal system as well as the internet was so backed up it felt like it would never get un-stuck. It just happened and I am afraid that it is not over just yet and may not be for sometime. Get prepared now while you still can because the system could break all over again just like it did not that long ago.

Thanks for reading, while your here check out some of my other posts. Drop a like below and follow this blog! Also follow me on social media.

Motherhood

DIY Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars

During the month of July & into August before school starts I will be sharing fun at home projects to do with your kids. Most will be inside because it has been super HOT where we live and my boys have just become super bored lately. They are about done with summer and want to go back to school. I will be sharing some fun at home crafts/activities me and my boys will be doing along with step by step instructions and pictures so you can do them as well!
Summer with my kids has been pretty wild they are always looking for some sort of adventure so what better than making a pair of DIY pair of binoculars. My little guys love pretending to do just about anything and with this fun little craft they can use their binoculars for all kinds of adventures through out each day.

DIY Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars


What You Need

  • (2) Empty TP Rolls or (1) Empty paper towel roll cut in half per pair of Binoculars
  • Roll of String or Yarn. (Optional)
  • Scissors (if you need to cut a paper towel roll in half & for cutting string)
  • Tape or Glue (Elmer’s White Glue)
  • Decorative Paper, Stickers, Or Markers for decorating. (could even use paint)(or do what we did)

Directions

1) First you take your tp tubes and decorate them however you wish to decorate them. (We ended up combining steps 1 & 2 together by turning our white Elmer’s Glue into paint by adding food coloring to it. Then we used old brushes & painted the tubes, then stuck them together and let them dry).

2) Next Glue the two tubes together like the picture below. You will need to clamp them together applying pressure until the glue dries enough to set down for further drying and so it doesn’t come apart when you do set it down.

3) This last step is optional especially if you have little kids and are worried about strings being around their necks. For this step poke two holes in each of the outer sides of the tubes and measure the string needed by tying one end to one side of the binoculars and see how far you would like it to hang down. Cut the string at the desired length and tie the other end to the other side of the binoculars.


Enjoy New Kinds of Adventures

Thanks for reading this post. Drop a like. Follow this blog & follow me on social media. Come back for the next Fun DIY project/activity; Baking Soda & Vinegar Volcano Experiment. In the mean time check out my last DIY project HERE.

Motherhood

Gardening 2020: What I Learned

I have had many gardens in the past all in the ground as using containers in the past have been total losses. This year I got a late start to things as it was being that I was at a hospital from late February to middle of April with my youngest son. I didn’t have the time or really equipment I needed to get the ground ready to plant directly in for all the things that I planted; but this year was a good way to learn. Even being away I was trying my best to prepare by ordering seeds & things I needed to plant a food supply for the summer. I ordered online due to covid-19 and because in the area I was in was a big city. It was highly advised to not go to the stores and at the very end of being up there at the hospital they wouldn’t let you into the NICU if you had been out and about, plus why would I put my child’s life in danger by going to stores. Anyways back to the ordering; online shopping hadn’t quite gotten backed up but little did I know it was about to. Everything I bought or wanted to buy was either very low stock when I bought it or the things that were out were well out! Everyone went nuts, people who weren’t even thinking about planting a garden was now planting a garden; way back I decided my family & I were going to have a garden this year but I didn’t want to get things too early in the year since at that time it was wintery outside. Never will I think like that again, ever. I think my new motto will be always be prepared; even if you don’t need it now.
In the middle of April my son & I returned home; I needed to get things planted but had to wait a week until they came in the mail. I started my heirloom seeds out in ice cube trays, egg cartons, & any small containers I could find. While they grew from seeds to seedlings I got a section of my yard plowed by hand coming to the conclusion that I need the grass to be killed or I need a machine because I had just given birth not too long before so everything was still a little sore. Plus I felt weak still because I had been on bed rest prior to birth for a few weeks. I was able to get a plot of ground tilled up by hand for my corn; but then decided to give container gardening a try just to get the food in the dirt and growing. I wanted to do a variety of food I settled with these: Romaine Lettuce, Baby Spinach, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Watermelon(not sure on variety), pumpkins(just to see if I could get them to grow), broccoli, bell peppers, garlic, sweet peas, green onions (from grocery store scraps), & sweet corn.

This is a current picture of my garden today. My corn went through an apparent wind storm or what I have concluded that some animal jumped off of my fence down into the stalks luckily not damaging them too badly. I used an old shirt cut in strips and some stakes to tie them up until they get strong enough on their own again to stand freely. As of this morning they have put on silk and ears of corn are starting to grow.
Now for the rest of the garden its a rather sad site. I have decided I planted too many plants in my containers in some. I recently moved three tomato plants out of the bucket in hopes to save them put them in the ground. The ground where the buckets are setting on has a tarp under neath to keep the grass & weeds down as well as to make a plot ready for next year. I am going to be readying a new plot area for next years garden here in the future and will write about how I do that. When I planted the tomatoes into the ground all I had to do was easily dig because under the tarp the grass & weeds were non-existent. Now I know I have too much planted in other buckets as well; I am at a junction where I could transplant them to the ground but I just am so dissapointed in how my garden has turned out I don’t really think I care at this point. I just want to do what I can do this year then restart next year. I am also worried that the plants if transplanted will die rather than root in the ground. Seeing how it has been death heat outside lately it is near impossible to in turn do any kind of outside manual labor anyways with out heat stroke. I will say this the tomato plants I have planted in the ground have started to fruit versus the ones in the buckets which have not. I read/learned that if you prune off the lower leafs of your tomato plants that will help them grow better so I have done that the best I can.

For everything else I am just trying to wait & see what happens. I have a couple of watermelons starting to grow; I learned that as long as you have a plan to support the weight of the melons you can grow them in containers. My plan is a work in progress… My lettuce & spinach died the first week of planting. The broccoli is a failure, you see in my area we have those stupid Japanese beetles that eat everything and I am afraid after finding them in my garden recently they have gotten my broccoli for sure. Also my broccoli has started to flower which is not great if any of you have ever grown broccoli; when the broccoli plant starts to flower from what I have read and experienced the vegetable will almost never grow. It started to grow then in garden terms it bolted and has done so because of the extreme heat recently. I am hoping it can be saved and I am going to be reading and researching what can be done with the plant even if it has bolted.

If anyone has any suggestions for everything else please help me out. I think I will be planting the peppers in the ground directly as they seem to be thriving and I feel they are less likely to die during the transplant like a lot of other plants. In my conclusion for my growing season which is not yet over for some of my plants unlike others it is. I will be doing my in the ground planting next year and will be able to be more prepared. My plan is to placing tarps or heavy mats over the ground areas through the winter into spring so that the grass & weeds do not grow. And then I will be able to work the ground a little easier since I do not have a tiller of my own. I will be changing the location of the garden as well; it just isn’t a big enough space for a full sized garden and it isn’t very easily accessible. I kind of just threw this years together quickly as I didn’t plan on being put on bed rest as no one really ever does. That unexpected event changed my plans for sure then on top of that along came covid-19.
My advice for other people having similar issues with gardening is to plan it out. Make a set plan; plan ahead because everyone is going to want to grow their own food now and some may still continue to do it next year as well. Make a list of what you are going to do, what supplies you will need, and when/where everything is going to go. Gather supplies that go on clearance at the end of this season at your local stores to plan for next year. If you get seeds make sure you store them in an air tight water proof container out of the sun so they will last until next year. If you plan on taking seeds from this years harvests you will need to do that properly here is a video link that takes you through that process, via Roots and Refuge Farm. In the video she explains the process as well as some helpful tips on making sure your fruit/vegetables are pure when they put fruit on.

Things may have not gone the way I had planned but I will still make due with what I have been given for this years harvest to come. I still have some plants that will give a good bounty. I will take the knowledge I learned from this years planting/growing season and use it next year to hopefully have a better season with even more next time I plant. If you have had similar experiences with gardening don’t give up, its a learning experience that will help you get better at gardening for years to come. You just have to stick with it and keep on trying until you get it!

Thanks for reading! As always drop a like below and follow me on social media. Check out some of my other blog posts by using the search bar located at the bottom of my Welcome page.

Meal Time

Homemade Crock-Pot Yogurt

There’s always something new to learn even when you think you are not capable of learning. Recently I have been challenging myself to learn new things; coincidentally you have a lot of time during a quarantine. One of those things, making homemade yogurt in the crockpot. I have been thinking about it for sometime reading through recipes trying to find well the courage to just go for it! I like many other people am afraid of failing; it’s silly but if I failed I would have wasted and I don’t like to waste things especially food.
I went ahead and made this recipe once already because I wanted to make sure I did it right! Seeing to how I am now sharing it with you guys must have turned out great! Now there are a variety of ways to make homemade yogurt with all sorts of fancy gadgets; the fanciest gadget I have for cooking in is a crockpot. I will start off by saying this is not my recipe; I found it on pinterest and will leave the link at end of this post to credit the owner of the recipe I used. I am sure that like me some of you are skeptical about making food at home that is just so easily bought at the store; that is why I felt like a post needed to be written. Someone needed to test it out, showing that its not that hard to do! And yes it is easier to buy yogurt from the store by the larger amounts but in the end this will save money & you can make it healthier because its tailored to you.
In order to start your own yogurt you will need 1/2 Cup of store bought yogurt with live cultures, but after that as long as you keep at least a 1/2 Cup of the yogurt that you make for a starter for the next batch after and so on you won’t have to buy it at the store. Imagine one less thing to have to purchase at the store. Sounds pretty great to me! Let’s get started.


What You Need

Crockpot (the recipe calls for a half gallon of milk)
Big Blanket/Comforter or Large Beach Towel
1/2 Gallon Milk (whole milk works best)
1/2 Cup Yogurt With Live Cultures (you can use plain or flavored)

Quick Notes

After doing quite a bit of research I found that this may be the easiest recipe out there; this makes a good yogurt but it is a bit thinner than other recipes out there that require a few more steps. I found that this is an enjoyable recipe since I don’t like really thick yogurt anyways.
Something else to note is that if you use a flavored yogurt starter there may be an after taste to it. I used a container of the Cherry Starburst yogurt with live cultures for my first batch and have not noticed an after taste; I also added strawberries to it and a little sugar to sweeten it. If you want a plain yogurt I would use plain yogurt; it is up to you. (Note: I made this second batch of yogurt using a starter from my first batch where I used a yogurt that had a color to it because it was cherry so that is why my yogurt is pink in color; I did notice that the second time round the color has become less noticeable in the final product.)

Making Crockpot Yogurt

1) Add the 1/2 gallon of Milk to your crock pot; I put a crock pot liner in before hand just a preference of mine when using my crock pot.

2) Put the crock pot on low & cook the milk for 2 hours 45 minutes

3) When the time is up, turn off the crock pot and unplug it. Keep it covered with the lid.

4) Let it cool down for 3 hours Just leave it on the counter in the crock pot with the lid on it.

5) When the 3 hours are up take a small bowl and add the 1/2 cup yogurt starter & a few spoonfuls of the heated milk to it; stir together until well incorporated. (just a small amount of milk)

6) Next add the mixture back into the crock pot and mix it into the rest of the milk. Mix well. Put lid back on.

7) Now wrap the crock pot up with the blanket/comforter or large beach towel, making sure it is unplugged and the lid is on it. I set mine on the kitchen table. (make sure it won’t get knocked over or messed with) It will need to stay wrapped up for 8-12 hours, from the time you wrapped it up. (overnight works best)

8) After it has set for 8-12 hours it should be thickened. At this step you can strain out the liquid which is the whey or leave it in its your choice. I left it because I don’t have any cheese cloth to strain it through. Cheese cloth is what you would generally use for that step. If you google alternatives for cheese cloth you may find something that will work. (Here’s an updated Cheese Cloth Hack)

9) Put it into what ever airtight container you will be using.

10) Let the yogurt cool in the refrigerator for a few hours before eating.

It will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
Be sure to save 1/2 cup of this yogurt for the next batch.
After it has cooled you can enjoy it as is or add fruit & something to sweeten up a bit like honey or maple syrup. You can even freeze it for a summer treat. I am hoping to write a post about making homemade frozen yogurt so stay tuned in.

I hope you enjoyed this step by step recipe by Crystal Paine. Make it, Share it, Enjoy it!
Thanks for reading. I hope I can encourage you to try new things and share them with others. There is nothing like learning something new!

Original Recipe HERE.


I am also linking video to Jamerrill Stewarts Video on how to do this in both crock-pot or instapot. Then I am linking another video from Our Tribe of Many doing their homemade yogurt. These are just to show you some extra steps and I love watching these ladies cook they really know their stuff!

Thanks for reading; Check me out on social media help me get some followers! Drop a like below.

Meal Time

Chocolaty Chocolate Milk Muffins

Upon looking in my fridge I discovered about a 1/4 of a gallon of chocolate milk about to expire tomorrow according to its date. By the smell of it I would say that is pretty spot on! What to do with it, was my impending question. I will bake it into something of course.

Did you know that you can use milk that is past its date or that has spoiled to cook with? The trick is to use it before it gets chunky!

After some thought I settled on Chocolate Muffins but with a twist because I would be using chocolate milk instead of regular milk and I ended up adding some other ingredients in to make it just chocolaty enough without over sugaring them. In our house we try to use everything up the best we can so this was right down our ally.


Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Oats
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup Milk Chocolate Chocolate Chips

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 Egg
  • 1 2/3 Cups Chocolate Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Melted Butter
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit
Grease a 12 count muffin tin with oil.
Muffin baking cups are optional. (grease those if your using them)

  1. Combine all dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, except chocolate chips.

2. Then add in the vanilla & egg.
3. In a separate bowl mix the melted butter in with the chocolate milk to temper them before adding to the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
4. Lastly add in the chocolate chips. Stir until incorporated. (Mixture should not be too thick or too loose somewhere in between.)

5. Fill the muffin tins up about 3/4 full each with mixture. (if you have extra just fill them up to top, be careful to not overfill though)

6. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes (when you poke a tooth pick in it should come out clean with no batter on it)

7. Enjoy


This recipe allows for the chocolate chips to give it a little extra sweetness through out the muffin. As a mom I don’t want breakfast to be filled with too much sugar so if you like sweet muffins (or really cupcakes…) feel free to up your sugar content a bit more before baking! They are sweet through out with out being overly sweet. My kids enjoyed them! They are the perfect breakfast or quick go to snack that won’t send you into sugar coma.