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  • Baby Steps: Have to Evacuate? Take Your Info Along

    |5 COMMENT(S)

    Make sure to take your important information along if you evacuate

    Imagine this: A chemical spill and potential fire forces a sudden evacuation order in your area. You have ten minutes max to grab your kids, pets, keys, wallet, and emergency supplies and be on your way. What’s likely to get left behind?

    One item often forgotten in the rush of any crisis is information. You may need such info as immunization records (Bill cut his foot: when was his last tetanus shot?), homeowners’ insurance policy and contact numbers, or health insurance cards.

    Keeping copies of important documents and info in a form that’s handy to grab along with your emergency kit is a smart step in your preparation efforts. During any emergency, you won’t have the time or presence of mind to rush around gathering up birth certificates, documents, and important phone numbers. Why not prepare copies ahead of time and tuck them into a pocket of your kit?

    Follow these simple steps to add to your peace of mind and readiness:

    1. Make a list of documents, certificates, and papers you wouldn’t want to lose in any emergency situation. Consider the following:
      • Birth certificates
      • Marriage certificate
      • Social Security cards
      • Driver licenses
      • Life insurance policy numbers and phone information
      • Homeowners insurance policy numbers and contact information
      • Health insurance cards
      • Auto insurance cards
      • Passports
      • Up-to-date immunization records
      • Account information for all your credit cards and bills
      • Copies of prescriptions
      • Pet documentation (license and medical records)
      • Precious photographs, including a recent one of your whole family for ID purposes. Perhaps a picture with your pet(s) as well, for ID and proof of ownership.
      • Flash drives containing any computerized material you want to save—family history, creative works, correspondence, financial records, work files, etc.

       

    2. Make a list of phone numbers and email addresses you’d want to have with you. Don’t depend upon numbers that are programmed into your cell phone, as phones can be lost or destroyed. Don’t forget to include employers, employees, relatives, close friends, out-of-state contacts, doctors, poison control center, clergymen, and business contacts.
    3.  

    4.  Make a list of all your accounts, with numbers and phone information.
    5.  

    6. Gather up those documents from step 1 and make copies of them. Except for your driver license, put the originals in a safe, lockbox, or safety-deposit box at your bank. Consider making two or three copies instead of just one. You might want to leave one packet of copies with a trusted relative to keep for you. Think how grateful you’d be if (perish the thought!) your home had burned to have Grandma hand you a packet of all your most important documents and photos!  Some people also tuck a packet into their car emergency kit or somewhere else in the car in case it’s needed when they don’t have their emergency kit on hand.

      Seal your packet in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture and soil, and have only blank paper showing through the plastic to avoid advertising contents to would-be ID thieves. If you’re concerned about wrinkling or tearing, enclose a piece of stiff cardboard. Some people prefer to enclose each document in a plastic sheet protector and put them all into a binder, but while this would be perfect to hand to Grandma for safekeeping, it makes a more cumbersome package to tuck into your supplies. Your choice!
    7.  

    8. Put your packets together and place them where they need to be. Take a deep breath and put your feet up. You’ve done well!

    For additional information, check out the “Emergency Financial First Aid Kit

    What other documents do you think are important to include in your information packet?

    Sources:
    www.ready.gov
    www.readynation.com

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency binder, emergency preparedness, evacuation plan, Emergency plan, baby steps

  • Baby Steps: DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    Looking for a unique DIY present? Why not give the gift of soft, sweet-smelling laundry all year long . . . (and no, we unfortunately don’t sell a laundry-scented 100-hour candle . . .)

    Last summer, we wrote a post about how to make DIY Laundry Detergent, so we decided that we needed to make something for your dryer, too. DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls are a great present to give to your family, friends, and neighbors. I think they’re meaningful gifts and something that is useful to everyone.

    DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls

    The benefits of DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls

    • They reduce your drying time
    • They are free of chemicals often found in store bought dryer sheets
    • They reduce allergic reactions because they don’t include fragrances or chemicals
    • They fluff your laundry and reduce static cling
    • They are inexpensive to make (It only cost me $5.49 for the yarn. I already had the other supplies around my house)

    What You’ll Need

    • 100% Wool Yarn (not labeled ‘superwash’ or ‘machine washable’)—I found my wool yarn at Hobby Lobby. The brand was called “I Love this Wool.” Check your local craft store’s website for 100% wool yarn before making a trip there.
    • Scissors
    • A pair of old pantyhose
    • A blunt-tipped needle or crochet hook (a pen cap or tooth pick would work as well)
    • A little string or acrylic yarn (optional)
    • Essential Oil (optional)

    How You Make it

    1. Wrap a strand of wool yarn around the index and middle fingers of your non-dominant hand about 20 times. Pinch the wrapped yarn in the middle and pull it off your fingers. Wrap 4 or 5 loops of yarn around the center of this bundle to hold it securely. Using the bundle as the center of your ball, continue wrapping yarn around it in different directions, turning to achieve a fairly-tight ball shape. Continue until the ball is at least the size of a tennis ball.
    2. Use a blunt-tipped needle or crochet hook to tuck the end of your yarn under several layers of wrapped yarn until you can no longer see the end. Repeat the process described in steps 1 and 2 until you have 5 or 6 balls.
    3. Cut one leg off of an old pair of pantyhose (or use a knee -high stocking). Put one ball into the toe of the stocking, followed by the other dryer balls. Use the little string or acrylic yarn to section off each ball from one another (or just put one ball in the stocking at a time and tied a knot between them with the pantyhose). Tie off the open end of the stocking so that you have a “yarn-ball caterpillar.” Make sure you tie them tight! You don’t want them coming out in the washing machine.
    4. Throw the “yarn-ball caterpillar” into the washing machine with a load of whites or towels in hot water to begin the felting process. Then throw the caterpillar into the dryer.  You will want to wash and dry the caterpillar at least 2-4 times so that the yarn will felt and won’t come apart.
    5. Remove the dryer balls from the stocking. Then toss the balls into your dryer with a load of wet laundry. If you’d like, you can add 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil to the balls to scent your laundry as they work.

    How do they work?

    For each load of laundry, the dryer balls will bounce around in the machine, separating your clothes, and allowing more hot air to circulate through the clothes. This excess air will allow your clothes to dry faster and the tumbling dryer balls will help to make the laundry soft and decrease wrinkles as they hit the clothes.

    How long will they last?

    This is the biggest question I had while making my own dryer balls: How long will they last? I scoured the internet for an answer to this question. The common consensus seemed to be 5 to 8+ years—they’ll last you for quite some time. However, if you use Essential oils, you’ll need to re-apply them regularly to the dryer balls to infuse that scent into your laundry.

    Wrap Em’ Up!

    These DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls would be an excellent present because they are the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year (and beyond!)

    Place your wool Balls into a small wrapped basket or box and include a batch of our Emergency Essentials DIY Laundry Detergent to make a complete present. You can even leave a little note explaining how to use the dryer balls and what their purpose and benefits are.

    -Angela

    P.S. Speaking of laundry . . . top off your present with a Mobile Washer (hand operated washing machine). The Mobile Washer is perfect for washing clothes during a power outage or on a camping trip. All you need is a bucket, a little bit of your DIY Laundry Detergent, and a little bit of muscle to get your clothes clean. Check out how the Mobile Washer works in the video below.

     

    Sources:

    http://erinslittlesecrets.blogspot.com/2012/05/homestead-challenge-3-making-felted.html

    http://bodyunburdened.com/diy-wool-dryer-balls-natural-fabric-softener/

    http://www.diynatural.com/how-to-make-wool-dryer-balls/

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: DIY, baby steps, gifts, skills

  • Baby Steps: Spice up your holiday

    With Halloween over and Thanksgiving soon to arrive, before we know it Christmas will be here and those who start prepping for it now will have an easier, less stressful holiday season.

    The Christmas season is a time of parties, a stream of festivities, a never-ending row of colorful lights, and a lot of fun.  Start preparing now so that you can enjoy the winter wonderland that surrounds Christmastime without being overloaded and overstressed. One huge stressor during the holidays is trying to get gifts at the last minute—this is never a fun way to spend the few weeks before Christmas. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what gift you’re giving all of your friends, neighbors, and family members this year.

    Usually for Christmas we all seem to get the cookie platters, baked goods, or holiday decorations. Although these standard go-to gifts are fun (and for some of us, allow us to indulge in our weakness of candy!), why not step away from the crowd and give an inexpensive, unique gift to those you love most?

    My sister actually gave me a fantastic, delicious recipe that will both sweeten and spice up your friends’ holiday—Pepper Jelly.

    Small colorful sweet peppers isolated on white background

    Mmmm! Pepper jelly matches sweet with spicy in a delicious blend of flavors using bell peppers, jalapenos, and a few other ingredients. This recipe is easy to make in large batches, and only uses a few ingredients per batch, making it perfect for a holiday gift.

    Pepper Jelly
    Yield: 8 ½-pint jars

    *You could even do both colors (in separate jars) to create a Christmas season feel

    1. Combine peppers, vinegar, sugar, and cayenne in a large pot
    2. Cook on medium until it boils
    3. Add the Certo, boil 5 minutes (let it boil for the full 5 minutes, or it won’t set.)
    4. Remove from heat
    5. Add food color
    6. Pour into jars

    Pepper jelly is a unique recipe that a lot of people haven’t tasted before, but is savory nonetheless. If sweet and spicy aren’t quite your taste, other traditional jams and jellies make great holiday gifts as well. For a variety of delicious recipes see our Jams and Jellies that please post.

     

    Storing your Jam/Jelly

    Short-term storage is a great way to seal your jelly, protecting it from bacteria until you are ready to dive into it. There are three ways to package your jelly for short-term storage: Traditional Canning, Freezing, and Storing to eat.

    Traditional Canning

    Traditional canning involves cooking your ingredients before sealing them in their individual jars by processing your batch in a boiling water bath. This process takes longer to do because of the cooking time, but ensures that all of your ingredients are clean and ready to eat.  As soon as the jelly is poured into their individual jars, cap them and place in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.  Remove jars and set aside to cool. Soon after removing from the boiling water, you should hear a ‘pop!’ indicating that the jar has sealed itself. If you are unsure as to whether or not it sealed, just poke the lid. If it concaves and then bounces back at your touch, then it did not seal properly. In that case, store it in your fridge and eat within the next few weeks.  You can store traditionally canned jelly for up to a year.

    Freezing

    Freezing is another way to package your jelly for storage. This process takes much less time than the traditional canning method.  After the jelly has been poured into its individual freezer-safe containers, let it cool before capping it, and then place it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Freezer jams can last up to a year in the freezer or a few weeks in the fridge.

    Store to Eat

    The last way to store your jelly is to store it to eat. Once you have poured the jelly into its individual jar and have let it cool, cap it and place it in the fridge. The recommended storage life is about a month, but I have had my Pepper Jelly in the fridge for two and it still tastes delicious. This type of storage is perfect if you plan to eat your scrumptious jelly right up.

     ***

    Jams and jellies are fantastic gifts to give anytime of the year because they’ll last. When you give jam as a gift, your friends can either break into the bottle immediately or save it for a time when their own sugary supply of holiday goodies gets low.  Jams and jellies are able to store for up to a year depending on how you seal it.

    Jams and jellies give you an inexpensive option when you want a unique, desirable gift for your loved ones. Freeze dried and dehydrated fruits and vegetables are perfect for adding into your jams/jellies without having to break your bank, just use a little here and a little there and still have plenty for later.

    -Kim

    Sources:

    http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/storing_jams.html

    http://www.betterrecipes.com/blogs/daily-dish/2011/07/27/how-to-make-homemade-jelly/

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: holiday, freeze dried food, Budget, preparedness, baby steps, skills, recipes, food storage

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