Saturday, November 28, 2009

You can do what?

I have a tenant here at the rooming house that is most excellent at Guitar Hero. (That is a video game). She puts in two to three hours a day practicing her technique.
This is on a plastic guitar that plugs into a plastic box that plugs into the (mostly) plastic t.v..
She cannot play a real guitar, mind you. Just her pink, undersized, toy, plastic one.
I asked her how long she had been playing Guitar Hero.
A couple of years.
Now, if she had expended the same time and effort, not to mention money, on learning to play a real guitar, she would probably be a virtuoso by now!
She can not cook or bake. She can barely wash dishes...and then, only under duress. She can not sew a stitch. She has never gardened or raised livestock.
But, WOW!, can she play Guitar Hero!
Look, guys, the way I look at it, her parents did her a disservice. If the proverbial shit does hit the fan, her parents have condemned her to death. Or perhaps she can prostitute herself --there's a cheerful thought!--and in that manner keep a roof over her head and food in her belly.
She can always start learning some skills now. Except she has absolutely no interest in learning anything but the new riffs on her video game.

If you have kids, do them a HUGE favor.
No video games for Christmas.
Sign them up for a cooking class.
Or buy them a sewing machine.
Get them some cookbooks.
Get them a gun and spend time at the range with them.
Get them camping gear.

I sometimes despair when I see young adults like my tenant. They have absolutely no clue as to how really bad the world can be. They have been protected from harshness by well-meaning and loving parents their whole life. What a disservice to a childs survival that is!
Invest in your son or daughter's actual survival.
Yes, Junior or your Princess may be pissed that the video game or electronic doo-dad they coveted isn't under the tree, but let them be pissed. They'll get over it. Long after the video game or i-pod is useless and in the trash or stuffed in the back of the closet, they will remember going camping with dad, or sewing a dress with mom.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Multi-Purpose OCD

Okay, I have my own little personal form of OCD.
Been with me most my life.
I almost NEVER get anything that is single purpose.
Even if it is intended for only one purpose, I can usually find several purposes for almost every item I own.

I also have the tendency to drag things out of dumpsters or off the curb when other *wasteful* folks toss the item out.

Here's an example of both...rolled into one item.

A hammock.
One of my tenants tossed it out because it got wet and "started smelling funky".
The hammock was folded up in a matching fabric bag.
I took the hammock out of the bag, and both the fabric bag and the hammock in a bucket. I dumped a quart bottle of white vinegar in and added water to cover.
Let it soak overnight.

Wrung it out the next morning.
Washed it twice the next morning in the washer.
Dried it in the dryer with 3 fabric sheets.
Then hung it outside (nice breeze was blowing) for the rest of the day.
No funky smell. Smells sweet and fresh.
But, the ropes on either end...not in such good shape.
I cut them off and replace them with stronger para-cord (easy fix).
Also, as I was removing the old roping, I could see how the new roping would go in/on AND figured out how to make one of the many serapes I have into a similar hammock.

Now...why would I go to such lengths for an old hammock?
First, the hammock wasn't that old. Was, in fact, fairly new.
I looked online and found that the hammock (shown above) retails for 89.99.
Seeing how the hammock was constructed, taught me how to construct my own.
Also, when asked by the darling man as to what other purposes the hammock and bag could be used for OTHER than a hammock and's what I came up with:
Hammock in bag = pillow/cushion
Bag = Means of filtering debris out of water
Hammock = Net for catching fish in a water channel
Hammock = blanket
Hammock = Tied up in trees to safeguard food cache from wildlife
Bag = Berry picking/food gathering bag away from camp
Bag = Fish Creel
Hammock = Compact sledge to drag large game, injured companion, etc.
Bag = Filled with rocks for a weight (makeshift anchor for tent, boat, whatever)

See where I am going with this?
I live in a small space. One room, more or less.
I HAVE to utilize my space efficiently.
Therefore, most everything I own is, at the very least, dual purpose. The more uses, the better.

As for dragging stuff out of the trash...well....
My neighbor threw out a comforter about a month ago. I grabbed it from the top of his trash can and asked him if I could have it.
Okay with him, he said it had a tear in it.
The tear was TWO INCHES LONG!
This was a LUXURY comforter! From JC Penney's! I looked up the style and the price.
$199.00 (Pic at top of this post)
Holy Crap!
YES, I sewed up the eensy-weensy rip and washed it. It is on my bed right now!
Later on, if it later disintegrates, it can be reused for other things...I can rip it apart and use the fabric for pillows, tote bags, a dog bed, curtains, whatever and use the batting for a quilt or two.

Why, why, WHY do people toss out perfectly good items?
I have no clue, but I am glad they do (for my greedy hands to find and repair!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Food Storage for One Person from the Grocery Store

I know some people that read this are not on farms where they have ample produce to can and dehydrate.
Some people that read it do not order from one of the many online resources for #10 cans of long term food storage.
Some people do not go to a local LDS cannery for LTS (Long Term Storage).
Some people shop at their local grocery store and think it is nigh near impossible to effectively get a LTS pantry set up.
Here is a good basic list for one person for one month:

Basic Supplies and Needs For 1 Month
For one person, At least 1600 Calories A Day
Shelf Stable Grocery Store Purchased Foods

Canned Meats and/or Fish 16 Cans (5 to 6 oz)
Canned Beans 8 Cans(15 oz)
Canned Vegetables 34 Cans (15 oz)
Canned Fruits 26 Cans (15 oz)
Canned Soups 16 Cans(15 oz)
Canned Individual Meals (Ravioli, etc) 16 Cans
Granola/Protein/Fruit Bars 18 Bars
Peanut Butter 1 Jar
Jelly 1 Jar
Nuts/Trail Mix 2 Lb.s
Dried Fruit 2 lb.s
Crackers 1 box
Canned Juice 2 Gallons
Bottled Water for Drinking 3 Cases of 16 oz bottles
Water for other purposes 30 Gallons
Electrolyte Drinks (Gatorade, etc) 1 Gallon
Bread 3 Loaves
Velveeta Cheese 1 Box
Eggs 3 dozen
Ready To Eat Cereal 2 Boxes
Oatmeal 1 box
Chips 2 Bags
Spaghetti/Pasta/Noodles 2 lb.s
Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce 2 Jars
Pancake Mix 1 Box
Syrup 1/2 Bottle
Honey 1 Jar (pint)
Rice 1 lb.
Milk (fresh/canned/powdered) 4 gallons or equivalent
Candy (Stress Food) 1 Bag
Cookies 2 pkg.
Condiments and Spices As Needed for personal taste
Cake/Brownie Mix 4 pkg.
Pudding/Jello 4 pkg
Bleach 1 gallon
Laundry Detergent 1 box
Bath Soap 4 bars
Toilet Paper 4 rolls
Vitamins 30 Day Supply
Dish detergent 2 bottles

Okay, that is a basic list for one month for one person using 1600 calories as a base, and using shelf stable, non-refrigerated items from the local grocery store.
For 3 months, triple it.

All you have to do is buy an extra item here and there and stock your pantry. Be very aware of expiration dates and *use by* dates. The food does not suddenly self-destruct on that date, but it is a good guide. Your best bet is to buy cans of food that have the further-est out date.
Also, if you print out the list and put it in your pantry or keep it in a notebook or such, you can take advantage of sales when they crop up.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Special Holiday Boxes for Troops

My darling man is currently deployed to Iraq.
I will be mailing his holiday box no later than the 20th of November.
Today's entry is an attempt to help those not familiar with mailing to the troops.

First, the box.
You get them free at the Post Office. Cost 12 bucks to mail to any APO address.
Doesn't matter what it weighs as long as it is under 70 pounds.

Here are good basic rules for mailing to Iraq/Afghanistan:
No alcohol (don't even try to sneak it in a bottle of mouthwash, customs knows that trick. Sneaking in alcohol is a great way to get a soldier tossed out of the Army...whether he asked for the alcohol or not)
Nothing explosive (well, d'uuuuh)
No knives or other weapons.
Nothing flammable. on to the good stuff:
Here's a list of goodies that is common place in *Care* packages that the troops appreciate:
Baby Wipes
Hard candies
Beef jerky
Deviled Ham (not the *potted meat* stuff, DEVILED HAM! UNDERWOOD DEVILED HAM!)
Snack packs of ham salad, chicken salad, that come with crackers.
Gold Bond Foot Powder
Gold Bond Body Powder
New socks
Pillow Cases (Seriously, most of the guys have no pillow cases! Get silly and send them one with a cartoon character--Spongebob is a favorite, also Superman and other superheroes)
Shower gel/Body wash
Cakes in a jar

Whatever you send, please realize the delivery time can vary between 2 weeks to 6 weeks depending on where they are.
Packages are frequently stored in un-air conditioned or unheated storage areas once they reach Iraq/Afghanistan.
Sometimes they are loaded on pallets, a tarp is tossed over them and they set them outside until a flight or a vehicle is available to take them to their proper destination.

So, that being said:

Packing the box:
Bubble wrap is a wonderful thing for padding the box.
You can also use crumpled up newspaper, plastic grocery bags and the like.
OR, use hard candies as a packing material!
Get creative! Socks, goofy pairs of boxers, a tee shirt with a funny saying, all make good packing material.

Now...on a more serious note....
I included elderberry syrup and honeyed ginger slices in my fellas last package.
The elderberry syrup for H1N1 preventative and treatment.
The honeyed ginger slices for basic coughs and colds and sore throats.

Terrific recipe for elderberry syrup can be found here:

The troops in my fellas AO have been given the seasonal flu shot, but are not being vaccinated for H1N1. Also, there is a high degree of skepticism about the effectiveness (especially in the medical community) about said vaccination. In places such as the Ukraine, China, Poland and Eastern Europe, it appears that the H1N1 has mutated or recombined with other viruses and has now become a type of Hemorrhagic Fever/Virus, meaning that blood fills the lungs and pours out of every bodily orifice. There may also be sores on the skin with bleeding presented.

Elderberry syrup has been shown to be effective against the H1N1 virus and other flu types.
So, my fella will have a couple of jars of elderberry syrup *just in case*.

When you send a package, you have to fill out a customs form.
On said form, you list the contents of the package.
I keep it simple:
Snacks, canned meat, home-made jam (simpler than explaining elderberry syrup on the form!), hygiene supplies.
About one out of 20 packages is opened is what I am told. I think that estimate is high, but I always assume MY package is the one that will be opened. So, if I include a present (such as for Christmas/Yule/Birthday) I do not wrap it, I just find one of those cute bags and tuck it into that.
There's my best advice, if you send packages, try to keep it neat and simple!