Saturday, January 28, 2012

Canning Sausage and Lentil Soup

It’s back! So far, here in the south, we’ve had a pretty mild winter with 70 degree weather and near spring like days. While I knew it wouldn’t last, I was thankful for every warm day. Well, that eventually had to end. We’ve seen no snow yet, but all last weekend we had an endless, cold drizzle. It was one of those weekends that make you want stay indoors, enjoy a warm kitchen and savor a hot, home cooked meal.

A perfect weekend for making soup!

My family’s favorite soup is sausage lentil. It’s made with Italian sausage and herbs, fresh vegetables and just enough red pepper to give it a kick. Whenever I cook this I double my recipe and can the leftovers. This is a great addition to our food storage although it really doesn’t last long. I like to can this in pint size jars for quick, single serve meals, and then throw in a few quarts for dinners. Feeling a bit ambitious, I quadrupled my recipe this time. I don’t know that I would that again! That’s a lot of soup and a lot of work! In the end it paid off though and I put up 14 pints and 6 quarts in addition to having dinner for the night. I’m hoping that will last until the spring when I’m looking forward to harvesting the veggies for this soup out of my own garden.

Sausage Lentil Soup


1lb Italian sausage

1 large onion

1 stalk celery

2 large carrots

1 zucchini quartered and chopped

6 cups chicken broth

2 (14.5 oz) cans dices tomatoes with juice        

3 cloves garlic              

1 tsp garlic salt

2 cups dry lentils

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp basil

1tsp oregano

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp thyme

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes


Brown and drain sausage, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for at least an hour or until lentils are done. The longer you cook this the thicker it gets. This is great served with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dixie Classic Gun Show

There’s NOTHING quite like a Gun Show to get the juices flowing! A WHAT you say?!? Yes, you heard me right… a Gun Show! Here in Raleigh, NC, we are fortunate to have the facilities to host The Dixie Classic Knife and Gun show twice a year. And, this weekend was the first of the year. As usual, the parking lots were overflowing with gun enthusiasts from all walks of the life and socio economic backgrounds. Though I’ve been to my share, I still find myself surprised at the people who attend these shows (No doubt, someone could possibly say the same of me and my husband). Anyway, on to the good stuff… As with many shows over the years, the selection of firearms and accessories continues to grow in selection and variety that seems to be orchestrated by master marketers. For
example, what would an antique firearms collector, a 21 year old young man, a retired FBI agent, hunter, or beginning/seasoned prepper (you know who you are!), just to name a few… have in common, or more specifically, find at one of these shows? Simple! Most anything they are, or are NOT, looking for… and at a reasonable price. Which reminds me… don’t forget to haggle a bit… especially when looking at accessories. While you may be tempted to wait until the last day to better your odds of securing a “Great Deal,” the truth of the matter is… most venders want their wares gone “yesterday,” so to speak, so haggle away, but please, keep it within reason.  Also, do your homework! If you’re looking for a specific item, be sure to understand features, availability, quality, and price so you’ll know a great deal be it the original product or alternative.

Of course, it’s always good to have a plan before attending one of these shows. For example, my husband and I were going to look at three specific CC handguns for me to consider as well as a tactical sling bag for me, an IWB and OWB CC holster for my husband, and 27 round clip for his Glock 30SF. In addition, my husband came upon a deal in the form of a very nice “Oil Poly Cotton Outback Style Hat with Shapeable Brim,” as pictured below. The hat was $35, but he managed to haggle the merchant down to $25. J  We checked the price for the exact same hat online and they were selling for $35, so we did indeed get a great deal. BTW, the $25 included all taxes! The hat seems a bit too lite as there was too much flash. The color is a darker and richer, brown.

While we didn’t make any large purchases, I was excited about my new tactical sling bagJ; however, I was equally disappointed in the selection of carry and conceal purses for ladies. There was only one vendor who carried them… and let’s just say… they were less than stylish. Humn…. Maybe that will make a great future project. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Food Storage Baked Cranberry Oatmeal

This post really goes back to buying what you eat for your food preps. When we first started prepping, I read all these articles about people going to the cannery and buying pounds of oats. So what did I do? I went to the cannery and bought fifty pounds of oats. The only problem is, I'm a grits girl. Other than the chocolate no bake cookies I make at Christmas, we don't eat oats. It didn't take me long to realize that unless I wanted to eat a lot of cookies, I had to find something to do with all these oats.

On a recent trip to West Virginia, my husband and I  stayed at a wonderful B&B. For breakfast, the owner made a delicious baked oatmeal. It was served warm and crispy and was laced with nuts and chewy cranberries. We sprinkled it with brown sugar and then topped it off with rich cream. After one bite, I was hooked. This is my version. Enjoy!

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk(I used powdered milk mixed as directed on package)
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Add eggs to milk and whisk together. Stir in extract and butter then add liquid mix to dry mix and beat. Stir in cranberries and nuts and spread in a greased 9X13 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. serve warm with brown sugar and cream.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Prepping on the Cheap!

So how to prep while keeping my family on a budget is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately. I mean, let’s face it, stuff is expensive. Grocery prices are sky rocketing, gas has taken a front seat in budgeting, not to mention the fact that our income, like many families, has decreased in recent years as the recession has continued.

This is also a concern I’ve heard echoed across the prepping community time and again. It’s easy to resent your neighbor when they can afford that new BMW(or water collection system) and you can barely afford to put gas in your old clunker. Well take heart, there are a few obvious, and not so obvious, ways to help your family prepare for the future without breaking the bank. Now I won’t lie. It does take a lot of extra work to hunt for deals. But if you’re on a budget and can only afford to spend… say $50 dollars a month on preps, you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a camp stove for that $50 or you can buy a used one at a yard sale for $5 dollars and still have $45 left for the month. There are many ways to save on preps and I hope to cover more of them in the future. But to begin with I’d like to touch on just a few to get started.

Yard sales:

Yard sales, estate sales, garage sales… whatever you want to call them, they are a great place to find useful preps. It’s amazing what people will deem useful and what they think of as junk that they will get rid of for pennies on the dollar. I’ve bought new hiking boots and back backs from aspiring hikers that never “found the time” to go on a hike. I have a collection of old glass oil lamps and even oil for the lamps that I’ve found at yard sales. The most I’ve paid for a lamp so far is $5 but I’ll go a little higher if it’s a really nice lamp. I’ve bought camp stoves, tools, wool blankets, apple peelers, barrels, ammo cases… The list goes on and on. I hit on a yard sale once held by an avid hunter that suffered a foot injury and could no longer hunt(my husband’s favorite yard sale to date.) I even found a yard sale held by a prepper couple that had accumulated so many preps over the years they were weeding out their overstock. The preps are out there, our challenge is to find them.

Craig’s list:

I’m convinced that anything can be found for a bargain on Craig’s list given enough time and patience. If you’re not familiar with the site, get to know it. It will save you tons when you’re looking for specific items you’ve not been able to find at yard sales. They even have a free section where people just want to get rid of things and want someone to pick them up. A word of caution here. I don’t go after curb alerts. That’s where people post their address and say first one here gets it. Nine times out of ten it will be gone by the time you get there and you’ve just wasted your gas. Neither do I travel to pick up items without some sort of picture of what I’m going to get. While the stuff might be free, again gas isn’t, and it defeats the purpose to go across town to find out the item isn’t what you thought it was.

I found this water collection barrel
for free on Craig's list!

Garden forums:

Gardeners are notoriously generous people. They love what they do and want to share their joy with as many people as they can. Join a garden forum. Gardenweb is a great one!  Forums are a wonderful place to get heirloom seeds and even starter plants for your garden. Become active in your state forum. Ours has a picnic/plant swap biannually where you can swap starts from your existing plants for starts of plants you may be looking for. Forums also have groups that swap heirloom veggie seeds and plants through the mail. Don’t have any seeds or plants to trade? Don’t worry. Like I said. Gardener’s are wonderfully generous and it’s pretty easy to find people that are willing to help you get started for the cost of postage. J

Coupons and Sales:

Ok, I know coupons aren’t for everyone. It takes a certain amount of organization and a lot of work, but the payoffs can be huge. If you’d like to see just how huge then Google coupon stockpile and take a look at the images! Some of these people’s stockpiles are astounding. If you’re looking to build a stockpile, but it seems it’s all you can do to feed your family on a week to week basis then this might be for you. Luckily, couponing has gotten much easier than when your grandma couponed. Today there are numerous sites that are dedicated to help make couponing easier by matching store sales to current coupons. All you have to do is print their list for your store and match up the coupons.  A few of my favorite sites are and If you decide that coupons aren’t for you then at least look at the sales. Buying a few extra of things your family uses while they are on sale can really add up over time.


Never discount the value of a little knowledge and some good old fashioned ingenuity. There are great resources available these days that can help you learn to do almost any project you need to have done. This can really add up to some major saving vs. paying to have something done or buying something new that you can make for yourself. Youtube is usually my first choice for visual instruction. Cable channels are great for things such as gardening. And then there’s still the ole’ reliable library.

There are many more resources out there, but for the sake of length I’ll leave them for a future post. My main point is there are ways to prep on a budget. They may not always be the easiest or fastest ways, but that’s ok. I think easy and fast are contrary to the beliefs most of us have come to embrace in our search for a more self sufficient lifestyle. Instead, it’s important to face our difficulties, continue to learn, share our thoughts and knowledge… and prep.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Prepping!

As preppers, I’m sure most of us have faced the distress and worry of family members that refuse to see the value of prepping, or even stocking up on a few things for that matter. We personally have talked to all of our family about this matter at one point or another, with little results. Oh, I have one brother-in-law that takes a mild interest. It suits his lifestyle of hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman. Still, he hasn’t made it a priority in his life to seriously prepare his family for unforeseen disaster. Through couponing, I’ve also managed to enlighten a few family members to the benefits of food storage under the guise of saving money. On the other end of the spectrum, I also have a sister that, for a while, was convinced we were going off the deep end and were going to run off and join a cult. Fortunately, I’ve not felt the need to do that either. Hah! Never the less, all of these things left us with a conundrum. How were we going to prepare for ourselves AND an extended family that refused to see the need in doing so for themselves?

Then the answer came to me one day last summer as I sat at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table enjoying a glass of iced tea and a few hours of conversation. She had been reminiscing about her mother who had passed away a few years prior. Grandma, as we all called her whether she was our grandma or not, was an avid canner. My MIL was telling me a story of when she was younger and helping to can up a batch of green beans. Grandma had canned the whole mess in a hot water bath and had ultimately lost all of her green beans to spoilage that year. And boy, was she ever mad, my MIL recounted, her eyes tearing from laughing, while she told of emptying all the jars of spoiled green beans in the field. Luckily, Grandma didn’t give up on her canning. Instead she enjoyed many years of canning, sharing the work and satisfaction with two daughters, as she created not only great meals but great memories. It was then and there that I decided what my MIL’s Christmas gift from us would be. A new canner and a Ball’s blue book of canning. Yes, I’m giving her the gift of a canner because I know it will make her a little more prepared. But I know it will also bring her many hours of joy and hopefully a few more good memories.

 Now, having two daughters of my own that are both young adults, I can also see a gift I can give them. And here it is…

Yes, that’s a near empty canning shelf you’re seeing. And, yes, as a prepper I should be ashamed. But I don’t see that as a barren shelf but a shelf of potential. It’s a shelf of future skill for me to teach my daughters and a shelf of happy memories to be made.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Girl Prepper!

Ok, so I’m not a superhero prepper. But I aspire to be. The truth is, a year ago I didn’t know what a prepper was. I happened upon it by chance through coupon forums and then through youtube. Boy was I amazed. I guess we’ve become so conditioned towards our current lifestyle of consumerism and convenience that it had never occurred to me that people actually lived like this. Amazed, I began watching more and more videos and reading more and more blogs. Somehow it all made sense. I was even perturbed that it hadn’t occurred to me before.
Yes, that’s how we were meant to live. A life where we took responsibility for ourselves. A life where we could be more self-sufficient, know how to live without the helping hand of a power-grid, the convenience of Wal-Mart, or even the drive-thru if Wal-Mart was too inconvenient. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not ready to schlep off my whole life and way of living but I was ready to begin to learn. I was ready to become a prepper.
It wasn’t long before I started sharing my new found knowledge with my husband. Now, he wasn’t quite as in the dark about things as I was. He has always kept up with politics, and world economics as well as other threats such as EMP’s and the possibility of terrorist attacks. He just didn’t realize that there was a whole community of people preparing for the possibility of these events. Once he did, prepping made as much sense to him as it did to me. In fact, I recall having a conversation with him not long afterwards about how could we have missed this?
It makes such common sense, why isn’t everyone doing this? Heck, a hundred years ago, everyone was. Only it was called life, not prepping. Have we become so spoiled to modern conveniences and so caught up in the rat race that we’ve all forgotten how to live? Quite possibly, I believe.
So join me in my new endeavor to learn how to live. I’m going to be doing lots of experiments in the future as I work to make our lives more self-sufficient. I’m learning how to can and working on growing a garden in soil impossible to grow in. I’ve started our food storage and will be working on my carry and conceal license. We also have 18 acres of raw mountain land that we will be developing into a retreat for our family. We plan to start clearing the land in the spring and will be building a small cabin on it ourselves. In other words, I have a lot of work to do and I hope to share it all here. I hope you’ll all join me!

 Thanks for stopping by!