Search results for: 'pet'

  • Predators on Primetime: Shark Week

    It’s Shark Week! Also known in my house as “The Week Mom Won’t Go Near the Ocean or a Pool and Becomes Leery of Bathtubs.”

    I hate sharks. I hate them with a phobic intensity that makes me shudder when I walk by the trout aquarium at Cabela’s. I didn’t see Jaws until I was an adult, and even then I spent most of the movie looking down into my lap until the scary music stopped. So you can imagine how much I love headlines like this one:

    “Shark photo prompts closure of access to ocean off San Clemente.”

    While fishermen regularly report shark sightings (the predators are attracted by large amounts of fish), the photographic evidence spurred officials to action in this case. Though the beach was completely off limits for a couple of hours after the incident, caution signs remained posted—signs, one official noted, that did little to divert beachgoers.

    It’s true that shark attacks are relatively rare (check out this hilarious but accurate comparison chart of shark attacks to other potential catastrophes from the Florida Museum of Natural History). However, they’re a real enough threat that the governments of Cape Town, South Africa; Western Australia; and Hawaii all publish their own shark safety pages.

    Whether Shark Week has you glued to the TV or locked in your second-story bedroom, if you’re planning on spending any time in the ocean, it’s smart to know your “enemy.” National Geographic has a thorough article on “Shark Attack Tips,” that includes strategies for avoidance, what to do in case of an attack, and tips for helping a victim.

    It also de-bunks some shark myths (for example, if you see a group of dolphins it doesn’t mean there are no sharks in the area. Dolphins and sharks not only eat the same types of food, but some sharks even eat dolphins!), and helps us understand things from the big fish’s perspective (sharks see contrast well and interpret thrashing around as injured and easy prey).

    Of course, the best course of action is always to stay aware, stay educated, and stay within the boundaries set by those responsible for your safety (like local authorities and lifeguards). But it never hurts to practice a hard punch to the gills once in a while.

     

    Any shark stories out there? Come on, scare me!

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Survival, shark, shark week

  • Tornadoes in Tennesse

    Tornadoes in Tennessee

    In the West we’re no strangers to summer storms. But we prefer the kind that pelt us with cool rain on a hot afternoon, and then peter out when it’s time to light the barbecue. Not the kind that knock houses down. That’s what Tennessee had to deal with recently. Fortunately, no one was injured, but emerging from your basement to find a pile of debris where your home once stood is not exactly a pleasant way to pass a summer evening.

    While this particular storm affected several states in the region, one county in Tennessee bore the brunt of the devastation, as high winds ripped up trees and structures. Fox News reports that ten homes and one grocery store were completely destroyed in the community of Speedwell, including the town sheriff’s home.

    NBC News speculated that one of the numerous reported tornadoes associated with a storm system raging across areas of New England and into the South could have been responsible for the destruction in Tennessee. Elsewhere, flights were canceled, cities lost power, and New York saw some flooding. Between the heavy rain, whipping winds, tornadoes, and lightning, this storm was a force to be reckoned with.

    As a reminder, we posted this little article (“Staying Safe as Severe Storms Head for the Midwest”) in June, which serves as a helpful reminder regarding preparation for storms of all kinds and also contains some great links to other articles and resources. We’ve also found some useful tips for road safety during summer storms at weather.com; and our friendly northern neighbors at Environment Canada have a fantastically comprehensive list of safety instructions, categorized by the threat (e.g., lightning, tornadoes, hail, etc.).

    If the weather in your area is cooperating nicely, however, enjoy your summer and use the downtime to educate yourself.

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Tornado, tornadoes

  • Fantastic Plastic: A Million Uses for a Grocery bag

    Any of you with diaper-age children already know the crucial importance of keeping plastic grocery bags on hand at all times. As a dedicated bag toter, I found myself vindicated this week by no less than Backpacker Magazine, whose online slideshow, “Survive With a Plastic Bag,” has got me thinking of other uses for this ubiquitous resource.

    Backpacker’s six tips include some predictable, but still helpful waterproofing ideas, as well as some not-so-predictable ones, like using the plastic bag as a windsock or a whistle. I’m more than convinced I need a handful of these in my hiking pack and emergency kits. But just a little more digging unlocks the further utility of the plastic bag. Here’s just a sampling:

    • Survival Common Sense lists a bunch of different kinds of plastic bags—everything from Ziplocs to garbage can liners—and shows what you can do with them. I like the wallet-sized fire starter, in particular.
    • Outdoor Life’s Survivalist blog has a great little write-up on how to use a standard plastic grocery bag to collect water in the wild. Hint: it doesn’t even require digging a hole!
    • The Master Woodsman (we don’t know who he is, but we like his site) dedicates a whole article to the big, black garbage bag. His super impressive list of uses for the bag includes some shockers. On your own, you might have come up with the idea of making a shelter or lining a sleeping bag with a garbage bag. But would you have known that you can make a mattress, strong cord, or even glue out of one? Yeah, me neither.
    • In possibly the biggest mind-blower, this YouTube clip shows how to boil water in a plastic bag! I’m not going to pretend to understand why the bag doesn’t melt or ignite, but the guy in the video successfully hard-boils an egg in one over a bed of blazing coals. In a plastic bag!

     

    If you’re still not convinced (Really? What does it take, people?), check back on these previous posts to see still more ingenious ways to put plastic bags to use for emergency preparedness.

     

    Have we missed anything? What other emergency or survival uses do you have for these fantastic plastic bags?

    -Stacey

    Photo courtesy of Backpacker Magazine Ben Fullerton

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: skills, Survival, DIY

  • We’ve been posting quite a bit this year about water problems across the country, and most of the issues have been drought related. Need another reason to be extra thrifty with your water? Visit Toledo.

    According to NOAA, Lake Erie is in for its fourth consecutive year of higher-than-average incidence of toxic algal blooms. Blue-green algae may sound picturesque, but the slimy carpeting floating at the surface of infected lakes and seas can kill marine life—and wreak havoc on human bodies, as well. And algae doesn’t just mean a bummer day at the beach; Fox News points out that Lake Erie provides drinking water for much of that region, both in the US and Canada.

    These images from National Geographic show how really, ahem, eerie this phenomenon is around the world.

    Don't Drink the Water: Lake Erie's Toxic Sludge

    Photo Courtesy of National Geographic

    The state governments of Wisconsin and Florida have fact sheets available to clear up some of the misinformation about blue-green algae and help people avoid harm. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s page emphasizes the importance of keeping pets from playing in or consuming “icky-looking and smelly” (their words) water. And Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources strikes at one of the roots of the problem, cautioning residents against over-fertilization, since runoff feeds algae and leads to unnaturally aggressive growth.

    Besides vacationing somewhere other than the southwest shores of the Great Lakes, there are one or two things we can do to minimize our exposure to harmful algae. Check out the facts and tips in these water storage posts.

    Stay safe on the beach this summer, friends, and keep your drinking water clean and slime-free!

     

    --Stacey

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: water

  • If you’ve never heard of microgreens before (or you’ve heard of them but don’t know much else), I have a major treat for you today.


    What are Microgreens?

    Microgreens come from the same seeds as regular greens, they’re just harvested much earlier. So, depending on the type of seed, you could actually do four things with them: sprout them, grow microgreens, grow baby greens, or let them grow to full-size heads of lettuce (or broccoli, or radishes, or whatever).

    Microgreens: What they are and how to use them

     

    What are the Benefits of Microgreens?

    “Cuteness” aside, microgreens have some great benefits for homesteaders, preppers, and urban gardeners:

    1)      Many microgreens may have more nutrients than their adult counterparts, according to this article from NPR.

    2)      They have a turnaround time of about 14 days from planting to harvest.

    3)      You can grow them in very little space—raise them in a windowsill, on your counter top, or in a little corner of an existing greenhouse.

    4)      They’re an easy, efficient way to get the familiar flavor, color, and texture into your food storage meals—think micro cilantro on your favorite tacos—and makes more meals possible, like a nice leafy salad (without the expense and labor of a full-grown garden).


    What Kind of Greens Can I Grow?

    If you’re worried about variety, you can put those fears to rest right now. A Google search for microgreen seeds landed me tons of sites to choose from, and from a quick glance at a few of those sites, here are some of the varieties I saw:

     

    Amarinth Arugula Basil
    Beet Broccoli Brussel Sprout
    Buckwheat Cabbage Cauliflower
    Celery Chard Chia
    Chives Cilantro Clover
    Collard Greens Curly Cress Endive
    Fennel Garlic Chives Kale
    Kohlrabi Leek Mizuna
    Mustard Parsley Pea
    Radish Sunflower Turnip

     


    How Can I Grow Microgreens at Home?

    It’s easier than you might think to grow microgreens. Follow these steps, and you’ll be in business:

    1)      Pick a fairly shallow tray (3-4 inches high). Make sure it has drainage holes. A lid is also really helpful.

    2)      Fill it with 1.5-2” of damp potting soil.

    3)      Scatter the seeds evenly across the soil. Don’t sow too many, but you can sow many more than you normally would if you were growing full-size veggies.

    4)      Use a board to gently press the seeds into the top of the soil.

    5)      The you can either:

    • Cover the seeds with a damp paper towel, which you’ll keep there until the greens need light
    • Use a fine-mesh sieve or colander to scatter a shallow layer of soil over the seeds.

    6)      Water well (but don’t overwater) to get things started, and keep the soil damp but well-drained until harvest.

    7)      Attach the lid, and put the tray in a sunny area. (If it gets too warm, these tender little greens can burn, so vent the lid if it seems like the container needs to cool down a bit).

    8)      Water regularly so the soil stays damp (but not soaked), and enjoy watching your greens grow!

    9)      Harvest at around 14 days. To harvest, simply cut the stems just above the soil line with a pair of sharp scissors.

    10)  Compost the used soil, and start again!


    How do I Use Microgreens in Recipes?

    Use your imagination to come up with great ways to use your harvest! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    1)      Make a microgreen salad—treat the greens just like you would full-size greens.

    2)      Use them in place of full-grown lettuce on sandwiches, hamburgers, tacos, tostadas, or any other recipe where you’d typically use lettuce.

    3)      Add them to soups for a fresh flavor and a slight crunch.

    4)      Top off a delicious appetizer with just the right hint of flavor.

    5)      Make your food tasty and beautiful by using microgreens as a delicious garnish.

    6)      Juice them.

    7)      Add them to a smoothie.

     

    Have you ever grown or used microgreens? How do you (or would you) use them?

     

    --Urban Girl

     

     

     

    Sources:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/08/29/160274163/introducing-microgreens-younger-and-maybe-more-nutritious-vegetables

    http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/growing-microgreens-indoors

    Microgreens: A Guide to Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens by Eric Franks & Jasmine Richardson

    http://www.growingmicrogreens.com/microgreen-seeds?ps=60

    http://sproutpeople.org/seeds/microgreens/

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: gardening

  • iStock_000011554172Small_america

    To celebrate the diversity of our amazing country, we’re highlighting some traditional recipes from each region of the United States. The best part is many of these recipes can be adapted to fit your food storage needs.

    As we “tour” the country, you’ll learn where some of America’s favorite dishes originated and why they’re special to each region. Click on the pictures below to find recipes for each dish, and then add them to your food storage recipe collection.

     

    New England

    Enriched by the influx of Native Americans, as well as Irish and Italian immigrants, the New England area has introduced America to foods like potatoes, chowder, pork, cabbage, pasta, sausage, baked beans, and flavorful sauces from Italy. Did you know? New England cuisine also gave us tasty treats like apple pie, cranberry sauce, and blueberry muffins.

     New England Corn and Potato Chowder

     New England Corn and Potato Chowder

     

    The South

    Known for its soul food, seafood, and pork dishes, the South has introduced the taste of Spain and the British isles to the US. Some southern favorites include cornbread, ham, bacon, pit-barbecued pork, deep-fried meats and vegetables, hushpuppies, collard greens, and black-eyed peas. But don’t forget about dessert: sweet potato pie, banana pudding, and red velvet cake are all southern favorites.

    So, kick back with a bowl of cracklins (deep-fried pork skins) and a tall glass of lemonade or sweet tea and check out these delicious southern treats.

     Southern food: Chicken Hushpuppies with Blackberry Mustard

    Chicken Hushpuppies with Blackberry Mustard

     

    More Southern Recipes to try:

    Easy ‘Nana’ Pudding

    Fried Green Tomatoes 

     

    Cajun and Creole-Louisiana

    Although Louisiana is technically considered “the South,” the cuisine and culture of rural southern Louisiana and the city of New Orleans are so distinct they deserve a section of their own. So, have you ever wondered what the difference between Creole and Cajun food is?

    Creole cuisine refers to a blend of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Native American, Canary Island, and African influences on food available to the early settlers in the area.

    Cajun food features what is called the “culinary holy trinity” of onions, bell peppers, and celery, included in most savory dishes. It emphasizes one-pot meals such as Jambalaya (influenced by Spanish paella), Dirty Rice, and Crawfish Etouffée.

    As they say in New Orleans, Bon appétit, e laissez les bons temps rouler!

     Beignets

     Beignets

     

    More Recipes from Louisiana to try:

    Shrimp Etouffee

    Creamy Cajun Chicken 

     

    Midwest: America’s Heartland

    The central heartland of America, also known as the Midwest or the “nation’s breadbasket,” consists of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Often, when we think of the Midwest, images of rolling hills, farms, and fruit and grain fields come to mind.

    Did you know that many of America’s favorite foods originated in the Midwest? Hot dogs, hamburgers, corn dogs, ice cream cones, pretzels, Reuben sandwiches, and our favorite dairy products (cheese!) were all first made in America’s Heartland.

    Aside from the American favorites we enjoy from this region, the Midwest also has a strong German, Polish, Hungarian, and Scandinavian influence, bringing us foods like sauerkraut, Cornish pasties, bratwurst, goulash, and rye bread.

     Cornish Pasties

     Cornish Pasties from America’s Heartland

     

    More recipes from the Heartland to try:

    Chicken Paprikash (Hungarian)

    Lefse (Norwegian Flatbread)

     

    The Southwest

    The rustic cooking of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and southern California is a combination of Mexican, American cowboy, and Native American foods combined with the domesticated beef and pork grown in Texas. Tex-Mex cuisine, a type of food combining Mexican and cowboy dishes, thrives in this area.

    “Fresh-Mex” cuisine, Chimichangas, Nachos, Fajijitas, and Chili Con Queso and several variations of Chili were also developed in this region. In fact, the spicy meat and/or bean stew we call Chili originated in Texas. Other variations include casseroles like Chicken-Green Chili Enchilada casserole and Tamale pie. Tortilla soup, which originated in the Southwest, has also become a popular favorite in restaurants and homes across the country.

    Todos son deliciosos!

     Tamale Pie

    Tamale Pie

     

     

    More Southwestern Recipes to try:

    Horchata (Spiced Milk)

    Authentic San Antonio Tex-Mex Chili

    Mexican Rice (with tomatoes)

     

    The Northwest

    For our purposes, the Northwestern United States includes northern California (San Francisco and farther north), Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, and parts of Montana. As with all regions, the origin of those who settled there, combined with the cooking of the Native Americans and the available natural foods all contributed to the cuisine.

    The northern forests abound with game and the waters teem with fish and seafood. This region brings us meals like elk steak, venison sloppy joes, and lamb stew. In the waters, Salmon is king among the fish of the Northwest. Scallops, mussels, shrimp, and clams are popular favorites, as well. In addition to the meat and game, apples, peaches, berries, apricots, cherries, and sweet onions grow in abundance in this region.

    Mixed Berry Pie

     Mixed Berry Pie 

     

     

    The California Coast 

    California—especially Southern California—has developed a cuisine so unique that it qualifies for a discussion of its own in American cookery. Blessed with a climate that produces nuts, fruits, vegetables, and a coastline full of fresh seafood, California cooks emphasize using local produce and seafood in season. They prefer to keep it light and healthy, quickly cooked, and combined in unusual ways. However, the food in this area also has influences from Mexican and Southwestern cooking.

    “Fusion cooking” originates here, combining flavors and foods from different ethnic traditions in new ways. An example would be a combination of Chinese or Thai ingredients topping a pizza. Check out our recipes from the California Coast.

    Cherry Walnut Salad

    Cherry Walnut Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

     

     

    What’s your favorite state or regional recipe?

    -Angela and Sharon

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • Veggies on the Fire Escape: Starting your Small-Space Garden

    As I sat down to write this post, my four-year-old expressed some interest in what I was doing. I explained that some people don’t have grandmas with lots and lots of land where they can plant gardens (like my four-year-old does). Some people don’t even have backyards. So where, I asked him, do you think those people could plant gardens?

    “They could build a planter box. And put it in their bedroom.”

    Um, sure.

    But assuming your bedroom doesn’t get a full six hours of sunlight (or that you don’t want your tomato pots draining onto your carpet) is there a solution for yard-less would-be gardeners? You bet, says BuzzFeed’s Rachel Sanders, in her aptly named article, “How to Grow Herbs and Veggies on Your Fire Escape.”

    Sanders’ article takes small-space gardening to the next level, telling us where to put and how to arrange those containers, as well as what and when to plant for maximum yield. Divided into 17 handy tips, her list includes considerations that commonly get overlooked—everything from “does my landlord allow plants on the balcony?” to keeping mint from staging a hostile takeover of your property. (Heads-up: she also talks about squirrel-proofing your garden, which accounts for the naughty word in the article.)

    Not yet convinced that there’s such thing as an urban green thumb? We’ve written here before about container gardening and ideas for re-purposing junk as garden real estate.

    And here are a few more resources that will have you fairly running to your nearest home and garden store.

    Before you start your fire escape garden, make sure that it is legal to do so in your city. Several cities have fire codes and laws prohibiting fire escape gardening.

    Whether your backyard looks more like Green Acres or Eva Gabor’s beloved penthouse view, you can grow a lovely and tasty garden this season!

    -Stacey

    Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: gardening, gardening tips

  • Pet Prep in the News Again

    Most of us know that more than 1,800 people died in Hurricane Katrina almost nine years ago. What we may not know are the circumstances surrounding each individual casualty. For example, Fox News reports that more than sixty of those 1,800 people perished because they wouldn’t leave their pets behind.

    But casualty counts like the one above only tally up human victims. According to one estimate made by Marty Pagliughi, Director of Emergency Management for Cape May County, New Jersey, something like 100,000 household pets were lost in the flooding and destruction of Katrina.

    The Fox News article, “Beachside County Builds Hurricane Shelter to Save Pets, Encourage Evacuations,” is the second pet-related story I’ve come across in the last month or so (read the first, “Is Your Pet Safe?” an inspiring story of a former firefighter turned emergency pet rescuer).

    This recent Fox News article involves a county office in New Jersey that saw a problem to be solved in the numbers reported above. As the report puts it, “officials realized the absence of pet-friendly shelters was putting their residents in potentially life-threatening situations.”

    Cape May County’s solution? Dedicated mobile shelters equipped with power, water, heat, air conditioning, and space for 120 animals. The county currently has two of these facilities available and operating, and stations them near existing emergency shelters so owners can be near their pets.

    Other cities are recognizing the same need and putting facilities and programs in place. And in case you missed the previous pet post, here are a handful of helpful resources for your own emergency pet prep:

     

     

    Do you know what your city or county has available for its four-legged residents? What steps have you taken to ensure your pets’ safety in an emergency?

     

    -Stacey

    Editors note: Error in the statement in the first paragraph. More than 18,000 people did not die in Hurricane Katrina. The statement has been corrected to say "more than 1,800 people died in Hurricane Katrina."

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: pet preparedness

  • Could you Survive an EMP?

    Are you ready for a blackout triggered by an electromagnetic pulse? Experts such as Peter Vincent Pry, the executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, warn that the civilian world isn’t as prepared as they should be.

    An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is a burst of electromagnetic energy that can come from nuclear missiles detonating in Earth’s atmosphere or from super solar flares (explosions on the surface of the sun) that reach our atmosphere. This burst of energy is capable of disabling or even destroying electronic devices connected to the grid (cellphones, computers, television, toaster, etc.) whether or not they are plugged in.

    According to Watchdog.org, “Electricity is the lifeblood of the modern world. Food, transportation, medical facilities, and communication systems all need it to function.” In our daily lives, we use electricity for even the simplest of tasks: cooking our food, washing our clothes, lighting the dark, charging all our technological devices, and more.

    Not only would an EMP interrupt daily tasks, it would prove detrimental to many people’s way of life. The kicker is… we could prevent it, but we don’t.

    To read more, check out Watchdog.org’s article “Experts: Civilians not ready for EMP-caused blackout

    If the electric grid went down in your area, would you be able to survive? Think about the following questions:

    • How will you keep your perishable foods safe to eat?
    • How will you light your home?
    • How will you provide warmth?
    • How will you communicate with loved ones?

    If you can answer these questions, then you are on your way to preparing for a blackout. Make sure you add the appropriate gear to your emergency supplies. Consider adding some of the following:

    Also check out these other categories for more gear that could help you survive a blackout:

     

    Adding the right gear into your emergency supplies will make a huge difference if you find yourself without power for days on end. Learn more about what you can do to stay safe and prepare for an EMP-caused blackout with some of our Insight Articles:

    What preparations have you made for a blackout?

    --Kim

    Sources:

    http://watchdog.org/138940/solar-flare-emp/

     

    Photo Courtesy of WatchDog.org

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: solar power, communication, power, Blackout

  • Is your Pet Safe?

    Is your Pet Safe?

    I must be on a happy endings kick, ‘cause here’s another one that had me crying great big, sloppy, happy tears. When Jen Leary suffered an injury that prevented her from doing her job as a firefighter in south Philadelphia, she made a minor change to her career path. Instead of rescuing humans, now she rescues animals. (You can watch the video that made me tear up here.)

    Her organization, Red Paw, does for pets what the Red Cross does for people affected by disasters. It rescues pets from emergency sites; offers food, shelter, and medical care; and works with volunteers to provide foster care and adoption services.

    And while it’s strictly local at this point, the idea is beginning to catch on. In fact, according to a write-up in Philly.com, the organization has more than 17,000 followers on social media (check out Red Paw’s Facebook and Twitter pages), and the city’s Office of Emergency Management actually enlists Red Paw’s help in its emergency response efforts.

    According to Leary, Red Paw is the only organization of its kind in the country. And while Red Paw is certainly the most thorough service provider for animals, if you don’t live in the Philadelphia area, there are other organizations you could contact for help with animals in an emergency situation. Notably, PetSmart Charities has an emergency relief arm, the AKC’s Pet Disaster Relief collects resources and works with local emergency management centers, and the American Humane Association’s “Red Star” mobile animal relief service has helped on disaster sites across the US.

    In addition to accessing large-scale rescue organizations, there are steps you can take on your own to prep and protect your pets in the event of an emergency. Check out the posts and resources we’ve collected below.

     

    Don’t leave Fido and Fluffy out of your plans when preparing for an emergency—every member of your household deserves to stay safe!

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: pets, pet preparedness, pet

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