Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Well, we did it. We have our 72-hour packs ready and waiting!! We have been meaning to do this for quite some time now... I mean, we HAVE been married for 150 days today (but who's counting) after all.

I did a lot of research. D and I discussed our plans for days before we executed them... Monday came, FHE plans were still undecided, and we went for it.

I'm a list person. I make lists of ALL sorts of things... baby's names, grocery lists, our tasks for the week, my baby weight, household chores to be done every day, my schedule down to "1. Prepare Breakfast 2. Eat breakfast"... EVERYTHING. So I made lists. I have lists of survival-related topics coming out my ears! I searched for the 72-hour pack shopping list list, and we headed to Wal-Mart!

We were excited to say the least.

We left WallyWorld with about eight sacks of "shtuff" and a couple hundred dollars poorer. Not bad considering we had to buy packs, food, an emergency radio, and all the other survival supplies needed. We were starting from scratch!

I went to take a picture of D carrying in some of the groceries and Super Man got them all!! And shut the doors to the suburban!! What the heck?!?

Oh and he wasn't pleased with himself at all. What a hunk.

Here's the loot, pre-packed!!

We had to get scissors to open the knife so we could open everything else, and voila! Ready and waiting to go into the bags!

The emergency radio...

My pack: stuffed! We were actually surprised at the amount of space left in these bags. They were $19.00 for goodness sakes, and you can almost fit a body in them! They have a ton of pockets, and several support straps. Good find, for sure.

A hymnal, a journal, and a Book of Mormon for some reading (D and I have scriptures in "senile size" just for fun. They're a tad heavy.)

We are rockin' those packs. Fo'sho.

And now for the important stuff...

72-Hour Pack

1 backpack -- $19.00
1 rain slicker -- $2.88
3 pairs socks -- $3.00
1 water bottle -- $3.00
1 gallon water -- $0.78
5 packets oatmeal -- $1.40
1 packet raspberry ice -- $0.20
3 packets hot cocoa -- $0.45
3 packets apple cider -- $0.60
2 granola bars -- $0.50
1 small bag jerky -- $2.98
3 packets ramen -- $0.60
2 small cans fruit -- $1.50
23 lifesavers -- $0.75
1 pack gum -- $0.75
4 fruit snacks -- $0.50
1 bunch zipties -- $1.50
1 can sterno fuel -- $3.00
1 pack tissues -- $0.60
4 small boxes matches -- $0.40
1 waterproof canister w/ matches -- $1.00
1 small bottle sanitizer -- $1.50
1 small bottle multi-use liquid soap -- $2.88
1 small first aid kit -- $6.88
1 emergency blanket -- $2.88
1 bottle insect repellent -- $2.88
1 ballpoint pen -- $0.50
1 roll camper toilet paper -- $0.60
1 small flashlight -- $3.00
1 7-in-1 tool -- $3.88
1 pocket knife -- $1.00
1 mess kit -- $5.88
1 whistle -- $1.00
1 pointed shovel -- $3.88
1 emergency radio -- $20.00
1 bag medication/vitamins -- ON HAND
1 sleeping bag -- $9.00
1 pair garments -- ON HAND
1 Book of Mormon -- ON HAND
1 hymnal -- ON HAND
1 journal -- ON HAND
1 pair Carhartts -- ON HAND
1 t-shirt -- ON HAND
1 hoodie -- ON HAND
1 beanie hat (something that covers the ears) -- ON HAND
1 pair gloves -- ON HAND

Special Considerations:
(that means these are in my pack because I'm a sissy, but not in D's)
1 tube chapstick
1 small bottle of lotion
1 travel size bottle contact solution
1 extra pair contacts (plus case)

TOTAL COST: $111.15/pack

(that includes 1 gallon of water and a sleeping bag)

So there you have it. We're more prepared today than we were yesterday, and that's what counts! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!! We purchased everything from Wal-Mart.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring has spr...er, wait, when is it?

At three a.m., I woke with a wicked bad headache.  I took two Excederine and fell back to sleep.  This morning I saw why I had the headache. 

Here are some beautiful spring pictures of our little brick house:

You can almost see my tulips there in the...oh, wait...nevermind, they are under two inches of snow.

I almost planted my grape vines this last weekend, but decided against it. I almost planted my tomatoes; almost ignored the advice of the locals who have warned that we must wait until Memorial Day to plant warm weather crops. I have been trying to be responsible post surgery though, and decided to wait until the full six weeks had passed.  But surely I could plant one plat without overdoing it...
In the last picture, you can almost see the lump that was once my basil.  It is now hiding, black and dead under that snow right in the bend of this flower bed. *sigh*

In August when it is 104 degrees, I am going to look back on this time with longing, I'm sure. 
Right now though, I am cursing the cold, the snow, the lack of a greenhouse, and blackened basil.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Death on the Farm...

Over General Conference weekend, we were blessed with a delivery... a semi-Leah-inspired delivery...

17 Buff Orpingtons (16 egg-layers and one rooster) and,
21 White Cornish meat birds

They're growing like weeds (the meat birds grow more like our rhubarb... the end result is beautiful and delicious... in the meantime, you have a plant that can't GET enough food and that, if eaten in it's current state, would kill you. Eek.)

Here they are as chicks... Adolescent pictures soon to follow...

The egg-layers...

And the meat birds...

Now that I've successfully digressed on my digressions, back to my original thought...

I have been concerned about introducing our new herd with the old. We have (or should I say had) five Rhode Island Red hens and one feisty Banty (miniature) Rhode Island Red rooster named Hercules. (Side Note: "Herc" marches like a German General. No joke. It's hard to take him seriously while he's attacking you.) Anyways, I've been worried about melding the two herds into one. I would love to kill Hercules. He's attacked me one two many times when I've had eggs in my arms, and he comes after D any chance he gets... once he spurred him right in the back of the neck while D was bending over!!! He fights d-i-r-t-y. But mom has more of a heart than I do, and so he's still around. Our hens are getting older, and as I've mentioned three times already, I've been apprehensive... well... nature took it's course last night I'm afraid.

I got a call from mom this morning that began with four words you never want to hear at 6:30 a.m.

"Death on the farm."

Uh oh.

Sure enough, a raccoon got into the coop last night and drug away two of the hens. A third was left dead under the laying boxes. She'd been sick, and even coons don't like dirty meat. Needless to say, Hercules' harem just got smaller, and if this keeps up we won't have to worry about what to do with the mingling of herds.

There was another death on the farm. Names are being withheld for now until the deceased's family can be notified... more on that soon. Ugh.

***Just to lighten things up a bit - mom went to the store this morning to buy milk. She reached into her pocket for her credit card and pulled out two fresh eggs instead. The lady behind the counter just looked at her and said,

"Uuummmm... we're ALMOST to the point of bartering again, but not quite yet!"

Oh if only things were that simple. ***

Homemade Laundry Detergents

I went on the hunt this morning for a baking soda based laundry detergent. I found a ton of people who ADD baking soda to their regular washes - they claim it to deodorize and brighten the clothes, which makes sense - but I couldn't find any baking soda based recipes. I'll keep searching. Until then, I thought these were really interesting. Here are recipes for the "weak-of-heart" or those who just don't even want to THINK about handling lye in their home...


10 Homemade Laundry Soap Detergent Recipes

**The following article is credited to TipNut.com ---> http://tipnut.com (a FABULOUS website if I may say so myself!)

Here is a nice stack of different homemade laundry detergent recipes I’ve collected over the years. Do they work? Yes, I’ve had good luck with them.

Tipnut's Homemade Laundry Detergent

At the time I was using homemade detergent, we had a relative who was in trade school living with us. Every day he was mechanic grease from head to toe–the clothes cleaned up nice!

Making your own laundry detergent is a discipline and it’s not for everyone, but it definitely saves money–sometimes just costing pennies a load!

First Some Tips:

For the bar soaps required in the recipes, you could try Fels-Naptha, Ivory soap, Sunlight bar soap, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile, and Zote. Don’t use heavily perfumed soaps.

Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found in the laundry and cleaning aisles.

Some people with really hard water or well water may have to adjust the recipes if the clothes look dingy.

Although several of the recipes have the same ingredients, the measurements are different–some contain a higher soap to water ratio. Test and see which works best for your laundry needs.

You can make huge pails of this at once, or smaller quantities. Also if you can get your hands on a few empty liquid laundry detergent bottles they work great for storing the detergent. Just make a big batch and pour in bottles, cap then use as needed–shake before use.

Some of the recipes call for large amounts of water. Check with a local restaurant to see if they have any empty large pails from deep fryer oil–that’s how many restaurants buy the oil. See if you can have one or two of the pails after they’ve emptied it–just wash them out really well before using. They’re big, heavy plastic and very sturdy when stirring the soap and hot water.

10 Homemade Laundry Soap Detergent Recipes

Recipe #1

1 quart Water (boiling)

2 cups Bar soap (grated)

2 cups Borax

2 cups Washing Soda

1. Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.

2. Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.

3. Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.

4. Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

Recipe #2

Hot water

1 cup Washing Soda

1/2 cup Borax

1 Soap bar

1. Grate the bar soap and add to a large saucepan with hot water. Stir over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

2. Fill a 10 gallon pail half full of hot water. Add the melted soap, Borax and Washing soda, stir well until all powder is dissolved. Top the pail up with more hot water.

3. Use 1 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).

Recipe #3

Hot water

1/2 cup Washing Soda

1/2 cup Borax

1/3 bar Soap (grated)

1. In a large pot, heat 3 pints of water. Add the grated bar soap and stir until melted. Then add the washing soda and borax. Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.

2. In a 2 gallon clean pail, pour 1 quart of hot water and add the heated soap mixture. Top pail with cold water and stir well.

3. Use 1/2 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).

Powdered Laundry Detergent – Recipe #4

2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (finely grated – you could also try the other bar soaps listed at the top)

1 cup Washing Soda

1 cup Borax

1. Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.

2. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

Recipe #5

Hot water

1 bar (4.5 oz) Ivory Soap – grated

1 cup Washing Soda

1. In a large saucepan add grated soap and enough hot water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until soap is melted.

2. Fill a large pail with 2.5 gallons of hot water, add hot soap mixture. Stir until well mixed.

3. Then add the washing soda, again stirring until well mixed.

4. Set aside to cool.

5. Use 1/2 cup per full load, stirring well before each use (will gel)

Recipe #6

2.5 gallons Water (hot)

1 Bar soap (grated)

3/4 cup Washing Soda

3/4 cup Borax

2 TBS Glycerin

1. Melt bar soap over medium-low heat topped with water, stir until soap is melted.

2. In a large pail, pour 2.5 gallons of hot water, add melted soap mixture, washing soda, borax and glycerin. Mix well.

3. Use 1/2 cup per full load.

Recipe #7

2 cups Bar soap (grated)

2 cups Washing Soda

2 – 2.5 gallons hot water

1. Melt grated soap in saucepan with water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until soap is dissolved.

2. Pour hot water in large pail, add hot soap and washing soda. Stir very well.

3. Use 1 cup per full load.

Recipe #8

2 gallons Water (hot)

1 bar Soap (grated)

2 cups Baking soda (yes baking soda this time–not washing soda)

1. Melt grated soap in a saucepan with enough hot water to cover. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently until soap is melted.

2. In a large pail, pour 2 gallons hot water. Add melted soap, stir well.

3. Then add the baking soda, stir well again.

4. Use 1/2 cup per full load, 1 cup per very soiled load.

Powdered Laundry Detergent – Recipe #9

12 cups Borax

8 cups Baking Soda

8 cups Washing Soda

8 cups Bar soap (grated)

1. Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.

2. Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

Recipe #10 – (Powdered)

1 cup Vinegar (white)

1 cup Baking Soda

1 cup Washing Soda

1/4 cup liquid castile soap

1. Mix well and store in sealed container.

2. I find it easiest to pour the liquid soap into the bowl first, stirred in the washing soda, then baking soda, then added the vinegar in small batches at a time (the recipe foams up at first). The mixture is a thick paste at first that will break down into a heavy powdered detergent, just keep stirring. There may be some hard lumps, try to break them down when stirring (it really helps to make sure the baking soda isn’t clumpy when first adding). I used 1/2 cup per full load with great results.


Liquid Detergents Note

Soap will be lumpy, goopy and gel-like. This is normal. Just give it a good stir before using. Make sure soap is covered with a lid when not in use. You could also pour the homemade soap in old (and cleaned) laundry detergent bottles and shake well before each use.

*If you can’t find Fels-Naptha locally, you can buy it online (check Amazon).


You can add between 10 to 15 drops of essential oil (per 2 gallons) to your homemade laundry detergent. Add once the soap has cooled to room temperature. Stir well and cover.

Essential oil ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil

Friday, May 21, 2010

This is what I want to try next......

in the backyard.

Materials list

You'll find most of the materials you need at a home center, except for the cardboard barrel, often used by movers. (You cut it in half lengthwise and use it to form the oven's curving top.) Look online under Barrels & Drums for a local source.

  • 14 concrete building blocks (8 by 8 by 16)
  • 14 concrete cap blocks (8 by 2 by 16)
  • 68 firebricks (2 ½ by 4 ½ by 9)
  • One 28- to 30-gallon cardboard barrel
  • One empty 1-quart can
  • 6-foot square of 6-inch wire mesh (used to reinforce concrete driveways)
  • 10 feet of 30-inch-wide chicken wire
  • 4 feet of rough-sawed redwood 2-by-4
  • 2 feet of redwood 1-by-3
  • 16 1 ½-inch deck screws
  • 3 feet of 6-inch-wide aluminum flashing
  • Eight large wheelbarrow loads of adobe soil (heavy clay garden soil)
  • Three bags Portland cement
  • 1-foot square of ¼-inch galvanized wire mesh
  • Exterior latex paint
  • Optional: 24 precast 1- by 2-foot concrete steppingstones
You'll also need a tape measure, hacksaw, circular saw with masonry bit, wire cutters, saber saw, drill, screwdriver, large wheelbarrow, hoe, shovel, sturdy rubber gloves, sponge, small piece of scrap lumber or plywood, old towels, and plastic tarp.

How to build Sunset's classic adobe oven - Photos - Sunset.com


Big enough to bake several loaves or pizzas at one time. What do you think Laura Lu? You in?

Chickens and Cheese...but not in the same dish

Sugar came home!


Turns out she hadn't gone far though...had hunkered down on a nest in a corner of the big barn. I've got pictures to prove it. Ready to point at Lu and laugh, Angela?

Seems the coop just didn't afford enough privacy for her taste. Now we're just hoping for some Australorp or Buttercup/Speckled Sussex mix chickies to appear in a couple of weeks. We're worried about her safety because she is not in a very secure area of the barn, but she has managed to survive for a couple of weeks, so we're going to leave her be.

I also finished my cottage cheese experiment. It took longer than I anticipated because I had to throw out the first batch of milk. It didn't clabber quickly enough and I decided that maybe the bacteria had died because it was too old or something. So I got fresh and started again.

After 36 hours, though, the new batch still hadn't done anything but get tangy smelling. I looked on the trusty internet to figure out what was wrong, but didn't see much to explain the problem. So, what do I do when I'm stumped and even Google can't help?

I called my Mom.

Poor mom got to spend two weeks with me recently...three, actually if you count the time she was here for spring break before she came back to take care of me after surgery. I say poor mom not because I'm so terrible to hang out with, but because it was snowing and we keep our house at a crisp 60 degrees most of the time. She froze.

"Your house is too cold."

You read it right. My house is too cold for milk to clabber. I hope Jon reads this.

So, I turned on the oven for a couple of minutes and then stuck the pitcher in the oven. When I got home from school, lo and behold: curds and whey!

After a few minutes on a warm burner, it separated a bit more.

I poured it into a cheesecloth line colander and then hung it up to drain some more while I went back to feed my chickens some kitchen scraps and get some photographic evidence that Sugar isn't dog food. Also took the first pictures of my chickens as adults. I'm living on a veritable petting zoo, I tell you.

Side note: my neighbor is raising two bummer lambs for the neighbor on our other side. They are cute as, well, lambs...

Back to the cheese. When I returned from the photo shoot, this is what was awaiting me.

Mixed in some kosher salt to preserve it, poured some fresh cream over it, put some on a salad and the rest in a jar, and stuck it in the fridge. Texture is grainier than most cottage cheese, but it is sweet and flavorful. And it took care of two quarts of milk that would have otherwise gone bad.

Mozzarella, here we come! Which is good, because this

is our Friday night tradition and what would go better with an already stellar pie than to top it with homemade mozzarella?