Being Prepared

It was a year ago Saturday that I first wrote a post about being prepared. I felt the need to mention it again and the need to make another post about it as a bit of a public service announcement. My posts about anything other than food or projects don’t tend to get a lot of views, but thank you for reading and for hopefully considering preparations. I grew up as a girl scout, and that taught me a lot of basic survival skills, but more than that, I grew up in a way that has made me want to be prepared for whatever may happen. For that reason, during college I was often the “mom” of the class due to me carrying around just about anything I could need. Hungry? I had snacks. Cut? I had band-aids and a styptic pencil. Pain? I had Ibuprofen and Alieve for Migraines. Just about anything I could need I had, making my bag about 5 pounds heavier, but at least I always had a way to help the situation I was in. It wasn’t always that I would need something, but on the regular when I would need something I always had it.

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When I got married, we had many different goals for our life. When two people come together in marriage, it’s good to have common objectives and goals for the future, and that includes talking about what our priorities should be and what goals we should work towards. Of course, it was always a goal to have a garden and this blog, but I had no idea at the time the pandemic was coming. I have experienced hardship in my life while growing up, but there are many from my generation that didn’t experience any hardship. I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder when it came to making sure we had food, but the pandemic just encouraged me to go until I’m satisfied. It sounds like it’s a bad thing, and if I were stocking up when the stores were empty, then maybe I’d feel a bit more self conscious, but I’ve always been overly prepared with non-perishables and canned goods. So what were some of the biggest changes I made?

One big change I made was trying things I had never cooked with before. The pandemic started to become serious 8 months after I got married and moved in with my husband. My biggest changes were beans and rice. Growing up, I never had them, so even though we don’t have to rely on just beans and rice, each ingredient can contribute to a healthy diet without eating like someone who is in poverty. Another huge change was buying ingredients to bake. I had never had anything significant made from scratch at home. If it comes in a box, why go through all the effort? Well, the basic ingredients for baked goods gives you a well rounded kitchen and a blank slate for so many recipes. Further, I had never had food seasoned by anything other than salt or seasoning packets. Spices add so much life to food, and there are so many cultures you can visit though food and spices. Eating just to eat doesn’t make it an enjoyable occasion, that’s why spice is so important. Try food that is new with spices you may or may not like, even just to say you tried it!

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Those were just some of the basic changes that has helped me to grow as a home chef and as a person. Of course, we never thought we’d be in this situation, but we were glad to be partially prepared before, and thankful we needed very little during the thick of it. This time made us change our goals as a family. I discovered I had a huge love for gardening. This year was my first garden, and it was amazing. So, though we just bought this house less than 2 years ago, we do plan to eventually move to a property with more land for gardening, and maybe some small livestock.

In closing, what are somethings that are good to have on hand?

I’ve found canned meats to be helpful. I like to have a month’s worth of meat in the freezer at the beginning of each month. If you can can your own food, you definitely should, if not, know of good ways to keep what you have good in case of power outages. Fresh fruits and veggies don’t last long, but they are still necessary for a healthy diet, so having even some dehydrated fruit is good for emergencies. Flour is so versatile. Bread, cake, pizza crust, tortillas, and pasta, are a few foods to make with it. You can also use flour for thickening a sauce, coating your food for frying, and making batters. Another thing I like to have is evaporated milk. Condensed milk is sweetened while evaporated milk is just concentrated milk, all you need to do it thin it out with water, then you have a standard milk for whatever you need. Have an extra case of water in the house at all times, you never know if the well may stop working, or if the town needs to do maintenance on the water pipes. And finally, having a first aid kit is very helpful in an emergency. Though the situation may be stressful at the time, it’s nice to not have to worry about having a clean wrap because you should have one in your kit.

Thanks again for reading. I have a real passion for taking care of others and I hope this will give you inspiration for what you may need, or a glimpse into the mind of someone who likes to be prepared.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers! Thank you for subscribing to my blog and for your visits. Thanksgiving is a very special holiday to me. I began this blog a little over a year ago and Thanksgiving was the first big set of posts I was able to upload. Thank you for allowing me to do what I enjoy to do. I love cooking and I’m very glad to be able to cook for my family, and I’m glad I can share my recipes and experiences with each one of you. Let’s make this new year a better one, and I hope you get the opportunities and/or motivations to accomplish some of the things you’ve always desired too! Have a great day and happy thanksgiving!

Squirrels in the Attic

Josh and I purchased this house the end of last May. Lustrons, I’ve heard, can get all sorts of critters in them, usually into the attic through gap in panels, or into the access panels in the utility room through gaps along the side of the house.
We began hearing noise in the attic almost as soon as we moved in. There was a gap in the roofing between the roofing and where the gutters attach. Shortly after hearing them scratch in the walls, we heard them chewing on our metal house. Since the weather was good last weekend, we decided to finally seal it. Josh cut a piece of sheet metal to help close the gap where they had been chewing. Finally, we added a screw between the panels where there would have been one, but must have fallen out at some point before we bought the house.
The next morning, Josh had work, but the squirrel got back to chewing. I went outside once the sun came up, and saw the fuzzy little faces of at least 3 babies trapped in the attic with a very frantic mama biting the new sheet metal piece. Josh went to work, and I decided to free them. I grabbed the ladder, undid the new screw, and added a block of wood for her to get her babies, and we left it for 3 days before we sealed it up again. The day I had been opening the roof again, Newman and I had heard some noise in the utility room. And after a few hours, we also heard some cries from a little squirrel that must have fallen into the utility room wall. I told josh and he grabbed a small trap from his parent’s house that we set up that night, but we didn’t hear anything more after that. There are plenty of ways into that wall since we usually have some mice, shrew, and voles passing through in the winter. Josh and I inspected the space when we were pulling out the trap, and there were no signs of a squirrel. We are sure the mama was looking and managed to get the little guy out.
All that to say, never a dull moment in this house! We’ve sealed everything back up, and we’ve seen no signs of anymore of our squirrel friends. We did by a spray animal repellent that we’ve applied, and it may be doing something, who knows!

Being Prepared

I’m a bit of a hoarder, and that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe one day I’ll show you my green room’s storage unit to show you what I mean… Anyway, I tend to overstock on everything. I currently have 2 unopened containers of toothpaste, 13 rolls of untouched toilet paper that will last me and my husband over 3 months, and I have a small horde of canned foods.

Why am I posting this? That’s a good question. I feel kind of embarrassed to say it’s because I went out preparing yesterday. I spend a lot of time listening to the news and some time with my ear towards YouTube, and I just want to be prepared. I grew up as a girl scout where we share the same motto as the boys with “Be Prepared”. I also grew up in a house were we always seemed to be in need of an essential. I just want to be prepared, and I want to make sure my family is prepared.

Yesterday when my husband and I went to the store, we had a shocking realization. We first went to a hardware store. When we went there last Saturday, there were stocked cold face masks right when you enter. Because we remembered that, we decided to go there first. The shelf that was once completely full have 4 boxes left, and 3 of which were opened. Beyond that, these boxes had a sign saying “Limit one per customer” and were $20 for 20 masks. We had a shocking realization at that point that this may not be a simple cold. We checked their safety gear section and they were also out of normal respiration masks. Our second stop was CVS down the road. Surely a pharmacy would have some, right? Right? The selves were empty where there had been the $9.49 and $4.49 face masks. We got some cold medicine and some hand sanitizer and we decided to visit the grocery store. We stocked up on groceries because it had been several months since my last big haul. We got the essentials, and also more canned foods and water. We found some face masks there of all places, and we decided to get a couple.

What prompted my trip was the illness, but I wasn’t expecting the results to be as bleak as they were. I live in a state that doesn’t even have a single case. I live on the east coast, far from the quarantines, so why was there already such a need? Don’t panic. There is no need for that, but would it hurt to get a couple weeks worth of cans? Would it hurt to get some water and a bit of cold medicine? I just don’t know. Nobody seems to know how bad or how weak this illness is going to be. On some levels, even I was at the front of the line preparing, and it’s already getting tougher to find things. Worst case, you have a bit of extra food and you don’t have to go shopping for a bit, right?

The Bayberry Candle, A Christmas Tradition

One of the most prevalent traditions every Christmas was the burning of a bayberry candle. Every year we would light our taper at about 5 pm on Christmas eve, and it would burn until it extinguished at about 3 am on Christmas morning. Though it seems weird, but our tradition was that it needed to burn into the next day, and that it needed to burn completely. By lighting the candle at 5 pm, it was usually well burnt down by the time we were going to bed, at about 10-11 pm. If the candle wasn’t burnt enough, or the candle wasn’t firm in the holder, we would simply place the candle in our empty sink for the night.

Origin & Old Saying

The story I have seen from several websites was that bayberry candles were made by the colonists for a special occasion, because their normal candles had a foul odor as they rot, and it took many bayberries, 15 lbs, to make one candle (2019; Bowen, 2016; SallyeAnder, 2017). Now, Bayberry candles are burnt as a tradition for luck and blessing for the coming year, and bayberry candles are burnt either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve ( 2019; Bayberry Candles:Beeman-candles, n.d.; Bowen, 2016; SallyeAnder, 2017).

There are also a few versions of the old saying including:

  • “This bayberry candle comes from a friend for on Christmas eve I do send.For a bayberry candle burned to the socket, will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.” (2019)
  • “A Bayberry candle burned to the socket brings food to the larder and gold to the pocket.” (Bayberry Candles:Beeman-candles, n.d.)
  • “This Bayberry candle comes from a friend, so on Christmas Eve burn it down to the end – for a Bayberry candle burned to the socket will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.” (Bowen, 2016)
  • “For a bayberry candle burned to the socket brings joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.” (SallyeAnder, 2017)

(2019, October 16). Retrieved from http://www.alleghenycandles.com/bayberry_candles.html.
BAYBERRY CANDLES: beeman-candles. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.shopbeemancandles.com/bayberry-candles.
Bowen, E. (2016, October 11). The Bayberry Candle Christmas Tradition. Retrieved from https://colonialcandle.com/blogs/news/bayberry-candle-christmas-tradition.
SallyeAnder. (2017, January 26). Bayberry Candles: An American Tradition. Retrieved from https://sallyeander.com/bayberry-candles-an-american-tradition/.

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