Long Term Dry Storage Made Easy!

  Here is how to store beans, pasta, rice, lentils, corn or any other dry food for long term storage. 

50# Bag of Dried Great Northern Beans

50# Bag of Dried Great Northern Beans

  

We found a 50 pound bag of dried Great Northern beans at the local GFS food wholesaler while we were shopping for some other things.  It was all alone on the clearance shelf and marked down to $20.  That is only 40 cents a  pound for dried beans which normally sell for over $1 a pound! So we bought them to add to our long term storage.

 

Mylar bag in a 5 gallon pail

 

Mylar liner bags are available from numerous sources. We got ours from Emergency Essentials for $1.49 during one of their monthly sales. They are 20″ wide by 30″ tall which fits the 5 gallon pail with plenty of height to fold over and seal.  The pails we get from Walmart bakery department for $1.00 each including the lids.  They are food grade pails, although with the mylar bag liner that is not really important. The ones we get have had frosting in them so they are greasy and sticky but a little Dawn detergent and water takes care of that!   

 

30# of beans in the bag

 

 Just pour beans into the bag and pack them down until the level is about1 1/2″ from the top. We found that this was 30 pounds of beans. You need to leave room for the mylar bag to fold several times over the top of the beans and for the lid to sit down below the pail rim. 

 

 

 

 

Oxygen Absorbers (cleverly disguised as hand warmers!)

   

To keep the dry food protected for many years without going stale, we need to remove all the oxygen from the container.  To do this you can buy rather expensive Oxygen Absorbers OR you can be clever and buy Hand Warmers when they go on sale in the fall for hunting season.  These contain EXACTLY the same material (Iron filings and certain salts) that are used in oxygen absorbers. Just open a package of 2 hand warmers and toss them both into the bag filled with dried food. I got ours at Sam’s club in a box of 28 pair of warmers for $10. That is about 36 cents per 5 gallon bucket!

 

 

Fold bag over a wood rod

Fold bag over a wood rod

  Now, press th sides of the bag together and squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag while keeping the upper part of the bag wide and tight.  Wrap the top 3-4″ of the bag over a wood rod that is at least 3/4″ diameter and 24″ long.  This should lay on top of the bucket rim as shown in the photo to the left.   

 

 

 

 

 

Iron on HOT setting

Iron on HOT setting

   

With a cloths iron set to high setting but NO STEAM. cover the mylar bag and wood rod with a thin towel and while pressing down lightly run the iron slowly from one end to the other and back.

 

 

Check the seal

Check the seal

 Lift the towel and make sure that the bag is well sealed by trying to pull it open.  Check the entire length of the seal from end to end to make sure it is well sealed.  If it is not just cover with the towel and repeat the ironing until it is completely sealed.  You can move the mylar an inch or so and create a second seal line if you are at all concerned about the first seal.

 

 

 

Folding the bag over

Folding the bag over

   

Fold the bag over from back to fron and then fold in the right and left sides so that it lays flat and the rim of the pail is free and clear.  

 

 

 

 

 

Freshly Sealed Liner Bag

  

Your bag should now look like the photo on the left and should feel a little soft as it has some air in the bag along with the beans and hand warmer/oxygen absorbers.

 

 

 

 

Vacuum Sealed Beans!

Vacuum Sealed Beans!

 

 After about 24-48 hours you will find that the mylar bag has collapsed like it was vacuum sealed!  THis is the effect of the oxygen absorbers trapping all the oxygen (about 20% of the air we breath) in the iron filings of the hand warmers as rust (Iron Oxide).  The surface of the bag should now feel hard since the beans or other food is now vacuum sealed with no oxygen.

 

 

 

 

Tap on the lid

Tap on the lid

 

The final step is to add the pail lid.  A rubber mallet works great to set the lid or you can just use your hand.  Don’t use a steel hammer as it can crack the plastic lid.  Label the pail with the contents, weight and date of storage using a sharpie marker and then sit back and enjoy the feeling of having “put up” your own long term food stuffs!

 

The total cost of a 5 gallon pail of beans was:

30# Great Northern Beans on sale:                  $12.00

Food Grade pail and lid from Walmart Bakery:$   1.00

Mylar pail liner purchased on sale:                   $   1.49

Hand Warmers for Oxygen Absorbsion:            $     .37

Total cost to store 30# pail of beans:                $14.86

Cost to purchase and ship same thing from a bulk long term food provider: $59.95

Savings to Do It Youself: $45.09!!!

Debt Slavery and The Resilient Home

Debt is enslaving America.  It is killing our citizens, our cities and our country by draining away their hard won gains.  It is a drain on our families and it creates fragility in our lives.  The more debt we assume the less resilience we have to overcome random disasters.  Debt is insidious because we justify taking it on to get the things that we believe we need and are entitled to.  A good education, a nicer car, a biggerl home, fun technology, exciting vacations, … the perfect life right?  Sometimes we even take on debt for a seemingly good reason, for example buying prepping supplies in order to become more self reliant. Things like extra food, a home in the country, building a greenhouse or a chicken coop, buying a generator or chain saw.   All good stuff right?

WRONG! The resilient life is one free from the slavery that we place ourselves into when we take on debt that grows ever larger year by year.  A resilient life is one that can flex like a willow during the storms that disrupt everyones life.  Things like the loss of a job, a car breakdown, a storm causing damage to your home are all things that we need to be able to be able to deal with WITHOUT pulling out the Visa card.  Without debt, and with an emergency cash reserve, we can weather the storms of life.  With debt, a flat tire, unexpected medical bill, broken appliance or an emergency needing to visit distant family becomes one more reason to use the credit card and our debt increases.

The average student leaves college with over $25,000 in debt, some with 2-3 times that amount.  The average Personal Debt for every U.S. citizen is currently over $50,400! That makes the debt for the average household with 2 adults and 2 children over $201,600!  People, this is not sustainable and it means that we are living in a terribly fragile world where our population is living today on tomorrows potential earnings.

So what can you do?  GET OUT OF DEBT! Step one is to stop putting additional debt on your credit cards.  If you can’t bear to cut them up as least take them out of your wallet or purse and lock them away.  In other words, when you find yourself deep in a hole STOP DIGGING!  Next you must put aside $1,000 in a cash emergency fund.  That way if the water pump on the car needs replacing you don’t immediately have to whip out the plastic. Once you spend some or all of your emergency fund you need to immediatley work on replacing it. 

Once you are living without plastic and don’t dread the inevitable emergency expense you need to start paying off your debts.  Make a list of every credit card you have, the balance due, the minimum payment and when that payment is due.  Sort them with the smallest debt at the top of the list. This might be a $50 dentist co-pay. then sort the rest in increasing total balance due with the largest at the bottom. This might be a student load or car payment.  The point is to pay the minimum payment on EVERY loan so that you don’t get hit with massive late payment fees.  Then take every cent you have left over, after covering your monthly utilities and food, and pay on the smallest debt. In just a few weeks or a month you will have paid it off!  Relish in that feeling! Don’t you feel less stress… OK… a little less anyway?   

Once you pay off the smallest debt use the money you were paying the minimum payment to pay off the next largest.  Then use both to pay off the third. Then all three minimums to pay off the fourth. Get the idea? This is called the Debt Snowball.

For more information on this plan get the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.  It will change the way you look at money and more importantly, your debt.

Use Dem Bones!

 

Use dem bones!

We talk a lot about Reuse, Recycle, Restore and Renew around our home… I have a new challenge.  Use dem  bones!

Many of you, including myself, use a very costly supplement called Glucosamine for helping to maintain and repair cartilage in your joints. Have you ever wondered where Glucosamine came from?  Bones!  Do you have any idea how many nutrients are in bones?  Why throw something out that is not only good for you but at the same time adds so many flavors to ordinary recipes that call for stock.

Homemade stock is something anyone can make for pennies, and it is far superior to anything you can buy.   I just cut up a whole chicken for dinner, as usual, I set the back aside.  Let’s just admit that there is so little meat on a back it is hardly worth preparing.  But, it is excellent to use for stock.  I usually do one of two things, if my time is limited, I stick the uncooked chicken back in a Ziploc bag and throw it in the freezer. Then when I have several saved up, I will throw them into a stock pot, fill it with water, season it with what I have on hand.  Suggestions for seasoning: salt, whole pepper corns (3 or 4), a couple stalks of clean celery, a carrot or two, maybe a chunk of onion or a very small clove of garlic. I have even added a quartered apple for a GREAT flavor.  YOU are in control of the flavors!   Bring your pot to a boil, then bring it down to a simmer, let it simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Let it cool for a bit. Strain the stock through a screen sieve and store.  If you are using it within a week, you can stick it in the fridge. For longer storage, fill plastic or glass jars, leaving at least a ½ inch head space, and stick in the freezer. 

TIP: Freeze the stock in ice cube trays. When frozen empty them into a freezer bag and store in the freezer.   This method is great when you want to use just a little stock or even just warm up a hot cup of broth for a cold morning!   Before you freeze your stock measure how much liquid your ice cube tray individual cubes hold.  That way if your recipe only calls for ½ cup of stock, and you have premeasured your “cubes”, you know just how many to throw in the pot.

If you have a pressure canner, you can the jar and store on your pantry shelf.  Last Thanksgiving, we roasted two large turkeys. When all the meat was picked to the bone, I cut the carcass up to fit into two large stock pots, seasoned and let simmer for a few hours.  When all was done I canned 18 quarts of turkey stock.   Again, this was for something most people just throw out!

 If you are someone that uses rotisserie chicken, as many I know do,  SAVE THAT CARCUSS!  After you have taken all the meat off of the bones, break the bones up enough to put in a stock pot.   Fill with water and season to your liking and voilá…you have homemade stock with what you’re probably would have throw away!

A Simple, Inexpensive Magnetic Project to-do List for your Home

So much to do and so little time! 

I remember reading an article, when I was much younger, that the reason time seems to go faster as we get older is that when we are 6 years old a year is only 1/6 of our entire life.  (Probably more like 1/4 since not many of us have developed a cognitive organizational infrastructure to store memories until we are at least 2-3 years old.) By the time we are 60, a year is only 1/60th of our life, and by comparison, seems to fly by! 

Today I want to share an organizational idea we came up with that lets us jot down one time or repetitive tasks, prioritize them as our needs and financial resources change, and track our progress in a simple elegant way.  

  1. Start with 1/2″ wide adhesive magnetic tape that you can pick up at a hobby shop or hardware store.  Cut the tape into 3″ lengths. 
  2. Now lay a sheet of colored paper on the table and remove the protective covering on the adhesive side of the magnetic tape.  Press the tape onto the paper starting in one corner. 
  3. Repeat placing each magnetic strip next to the previous one until the paper is covered with magnets.
  4. Turn the paper over and using an X-acto knife cut the paper between all the magnets.
Magnet Strip

Adhesive Magnetic Tape on the back

 

Now write a task on the paper side of one of the magnet strips.  It can be a short term, one time goal like “Buy a Pressure Cooker” or it can be a recurring task like “Bake Bread” (weekly), ”Plant Corn Seeds” (yearly), or “Clean out the Garage” (never ending!).  The point is to put on each strip a goal or task that you want to accomplish. 

Tip: Make sure you make lot of extra blank strips for when you think of new things that need to be done.

 
 
 
Now take the strips to your refrigerator or any other steel surface.  In our house we put our To-Do list on the hollow metal door leading to our garage.  That way we see it every time we leave the house.  It reminds us of things we want to accomplish as we are headed
Our "To-Do List" Door

Place your Magnetic Job Strips on a metal door or refrigerator

outside or to the store to pick up supplies.   The great part about this system is that unlike paper list (which are also way cool to create and then cross off with a flourish when you are done!) is that you can move the strips around on the metal surface.  Pick an area for each member of the family.  We put each person’s name on one of the strips and that creates the start of our “Active List” area for each person.  For example Mark might have “Clean out Garage” while Audrey’s list could have “Quilt for Grandson“.  We also put lists for our kids that we consider Money Earners.  We have jobs, that the kids can do, that we are willing to pay to have done.  The kids can pick a job like “Mulch the Flower Beds” and we will explain the scope of the work and negotiate a price.  When you’re done with a job you can either erase the task and reuse the job strip or, if it a recurring job like “Rake the Leaves“, you can move it to the Job Storage Area of the metal surface. That way, as the seasons change, or you need a job done again, you can just move it to the Active List area for the person who is responsible to get it done.

Prioritization is another advantage of this system.  Have you ever created a to do list and the item at the top of the list, that you thought was SOOOOO important, never seems to get done?  Why is that?   Often it is because the task required financial or time resources that never seemed to come together. Maybe you realize that in order to reach the goal that you need to do some other things first.  Or maybe you look at the list a few weeks later and realize that it wasn’t so important after all.  Whatever the reason, your priorities have changed.  Just take the magnetic strip and move it down the list a ways.  Maybe put a new task above it that will prepare the way to make your dream goal happen.  Move things around on your lists as your needs, the season or just the spirit moves you. 

Studies have proven time and again that when we write down our goals we are more organized and motivated to achieve them.  And remember…

Whatever you can concieve, and believe, you can achieve!

 

Why Resilience is Important in Our Lives

When we decided to start this blog it was the result of over 15 years of working to build resiliency into our lives.  Of course we didn’t call it that at first.  We were just called ourselved homemakers and then later in the process homesteaders. Maybe I had a stronger than normal self reliance bent based on years of being being a Boy Scout when I was young.  So what lead me down this road?

During the mid 70′s, I had my first exposure to resource scarcity when the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 hit while I was in college.  I sat in long lines, like so many others, waiting to fill my little Volkswagen Karman Ghia with gas. For the first time in my life, I suddenly realized just how quickly things could go from ”the Land of Plenty” to strict rationing of a commodity we all depend on for our way of life.   

I began reading news articles and magazines like Mother Earth News (no Internet back then!) which talked about building solar heating panels, wind generators, growing your own food and developing a little thing called “Self Reliance”.  I was so intrigued with the concepts of alternative energy production that I started a company, with my first wife, in 1975 called Eternal Energy Company and for 10 years we sold and installed thousands of square feet of solar thermal heating panels, hundreds of wood burning stoves, performed energy audits of homes and businesses and installed energy conservation products. I spoke at dozens of conferences, trade shows and civic groups to explain the topics of alternative energy systems and energy conservation. 

But then a funny thing happened…  Oil started flowing form the Purdhoe Bay oil fields in Alaska in 1977 and while energy prices continued to increase, they peaked in 1981 and then began to fall and everything got better!… or did it?  I sold my alternative energy business in 1985 as low fuel prices dried up demand for our products.  I began working in the computer technology field and getting farther from my alternative roots.

Fast forward to 2007.   We were living The American Dream. But it was becoming a nightmare.  We were heavily in debt with cars, student loans and consumer credit card debt totalling nearly $100,000.  The interest aone was over $700 a month.  We were living the life but wondering how we were going to make even the minimum payments. What we were REALLY doing was living way beyond our means. We were living today with tomorrows money.  We were the consumers that society wanted us to be, and we were enjoying the ride! 

One night my wife sat down and asked how we were going to pay off the bills we were racking up.  I had no response… but she did!  She handed me a book. It was Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover“.  I read it like a thirsty man who just found water.  We started “the program” that week and never looked back.  It took 2 solid years and a total reprioritization of our life but by 2009 we were DEBT FREE!  We had done it… and it felt great!   But because of who we are, we began looking for the Next Mountain to Climb!  It wasn’t too hard to find.

Resilience is defined as “The ability to recover quickly from illness, change, setbacks or misfortune.”  Resilience is most commonly understood as a process, and not a trait of an individual.  We see resilience as the process of making our lives more secure and structurally sound; learning and practicing the skills we need to support the livelihood of our family; and securing the tools and supplies we will need in case there is a significant disruption in the socio-economic systems that support us every day Resilience is not paranoia, it is not becoming overwelmed by focusing on only the negatives that could happen.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  It is a slow and purposeful structuring our home and our lives to become secure and flexible in the face of certain change. 

Certain change? Yes, I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have change in their life. We have had our share and so has our extended family.  We have gone through divorces, loss of jobs, sold a house, remodeled another, starting and lost a business, financial trials, battled cancer, natural disasters, car accidents, sickness, injury and  the untimely deaths of parents, spouses and children.  I am not fishing for sympathy, God supported and delivered us through it all, but I list these simply to make a point.  The most likely “disaster” that will befall you is of a personal nature.  While we can joke about the Mayan Calander predicting the end of the world, or soberly listen to the drums of war beating yet again in the middle east, I believe that resiliency is what we need for reasons that are much more likely to affect our daily lives. 

Will the cost of food and fuel rise faster than your income? Based on the following table it seems that the trend is for higher food costs every year.  

Annual Food Inflation Rate
2011 Year . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.7%
Last 5 Years. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3.2%
Last 10 Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.8%
Last 20 Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.6%

What would happen if you were hit by an inattentive driver on our way to work? A few days of insurance hassels and repair shops or several months in the hospital with no income… or worse.

How about job loss in an economy that is currently flat lining at a 22% unemployment rate. (No it is not at 8.6% as the government is reporting. Check out John Williams Shadow Stats website if you want the unvarnished truth.)

You see the point of resilience is to create a buffer of TIME between you and ANY potential disaster.  Can you keep problems from happening? Of course not, but you CAN make them easier and less stressful to resolve and come out the other side stronger and more at peace than someone who makes no plans and has no financial, food or energy buffer to fall back on.   So what does it mean to be resilient?  Start immediately to get out, and stay out, of consumer debt. (We will write more on this in later posts.)  Build  reserves that can help support your basic needs should you loose your income through job loss or illness. This includes both financial and food reserves.  How much? Start small with a $1000 Emergency fund and later build it into 3-6 months of “Life Change reserve.  With food start with a few cans of tuna or stew, a box of Mac ’n Cheese and build it into several months of food that you normally eat and which stores well.  Start a garden and grow as least some of the food you consume.  This can be as simple as a tomatoe plant in a pot on your porch or as ambitious as a full garden.  You will now be more self reliant than 95% of your neighbors… and far more tranquil about life!

Want to go to the next level? Pay off your mortgage, raise chickens or other livestock, or build a green house. Develop multiple income streams to reduce sole dependence on any one. Add solar panels to your house or a wood stove; you will love the charm and warmth!  Become connected to other resilient persons in your community.  Check out the farmers market!  Take a class to learn a new skill.  The sky is the limit!

We plan on using this blog to share our experiences and ideas as we become a Resilient Home and invite you to join us in the quest for personal satisfaction and security through a prepared lifestyle.

Grow Perpetual Green Onions for Free!

If you love green onions for adding a fresh taste to salads, sauces and even scrambled eggs like we do, then you will love this money saving idea!  Green onions are bulbs that will regrow if you just plant them in a pot or window box.  Like chives or asparagus, you can clip the green shoots right from their growing container and they will grow right back. But how do you get started? ( Just click on a photo to enlarge it)
Buy green onion starts from the grocery store… not the nursery!

Cut off the bulb end but don't throw it away! In a container filled with good compost or potting soil plant the bulbs with the root end down.

 

Bury them so the cut tops are right at soil level and water them.

 

In less than 2 weeks green sprouts will appear.

As you get more green onion bulbs just poke more holes and plant them as well.

A month later and you will have all the green onions you need!

Homemade Christmas Presents

IMG-20111215-01817

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year for sharing and giving to your family.  At The Resilient Home we want to share the things that we have been creating all year long.  This year that means sending family homemade Sweet pickle Relish, Black Bean and Corn Salsa and Apple Butter along with a couple of bars of Audrey’s homemade soap!

Jars of Salsa and Apple Butter and labels
Jars of Salsa and Apple Butter and labels

 

Getting Ready:

We start with pint jars of yummy treats that we put up this fall. Here we have Salsa and Apple Butter along with labels, cloth scraps, ribbon, Sharpie markers and scissors.

 

 

 

 

Handwritten Labels

 

Handwritten Labels

Add a personal touch with handwritten labels for the jars of your favorite condiments.  We got these adhesive labels from Lehmans.Using Rotary Cutter to make cloth squares

 

 

 

 

Using Rotary Cutter to make cloth squares

 

Cutting Cloth Squares:

We use a rotary cutter to cut 5 1/2″ squares of cloth.  Choose a thin cotton fabric so that the jar lid rings can be put on over it.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Trim off Corners

 

Make Circles from the Squares:

Next Trim off the corners of the cloth squares to make a circle.  This doesn’t need to be perfect!  It is easiest if you fold the square over twice so all the corners are together and then cut them all a the same time with good scissors.

 

 

 

Screw the Jar Ring over the Cloth Circle

 

 

Cover the Jar Lid:

Next center the cloth circle over the pint jar lid and screw on the jar ring.

 

 

 

Tying a Ribbon around the Jar Ring

 

 

 

Add a Ribbon:

Add a ribbon around the Jar ring into a simple bow for a finished look.  Using a contrasting bright color adds a nice highlight.

 

 

Finished Jars ready for Gifting

 

 

 

All Finished!

These jars can be given as gifts to family or friends and they will love the presentation as much as the wonderful contents! Happy Gifting!

Hello world!

Audrey and Mark are Online! Wow, we have been talking about this for so long and we are finally here.

Our goals are simple and yet profound…

  • To share our experiences in building a resilient home for ourselves and our family…
  • To provide encouragement and advice to those who choose to follow the same path…
  • To live a simple and fulfilling life, under God’s provision, no matter what the world throws our way.

Welcome to The Resilient Home!

Welcome to The Resilient Home

  • Favorite Quotes

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
    -Robert Heinlein

    One extends one's limits only by exceeding them.
    -Chinese Saying