Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Storms

Recently if you have been watching any news you have seen some of the damage that has been done in the recent spring rain storms that have come through the midwest, south and mid east. We have been getting some really severe storms with heavy winds and tornados. We are certainly not in tornado alley and I have no idea how people can live with the daily summer threat of tornadoes there. However, we have had more than two or three years' worth of tornadoes right around our community this spring. We had at least two touch down yesterday. In fact I saw the big storm cloud that produced the tornadoes yesterday evening while I was checking on our garden. There was a huge cloud with a ton of lightening and lots of thunder. I could hear it off in the distance but I could tell that it wasn't going to affect us, as it was too far to our northwest. We didn't feel a bit of the rain, but it was a little windy.

Today we are currently under a tornado watch and a severe thunderstorm warning. I have been watching the weather all morning so far.

This brings me to my point. Do you have an emergency plan in place for your family? Do you have a weather radio? Do you have a good supply of flashlights and batteries? Candles, lighters or matches? Do you have a particular place in your home to sit and wait out a tornado or whatever weather emergency you experience from time to time in your area? Now may be a good time to go ahead and begin to prepare for a weather related emergency or earthquake. Just by thinking about it can prepare you a bit more than you are prepared now....just sayin....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Yes, I coupon. Is that a verb now? Coupon? I know it is a noun but can I use it as a verb? I think so. So, I coupon. I collect coupons, save coupons (the noun) and then use coupons to buy the things we need. That is couponing, right? See a verb again.

Yesterday I talked about Food Storage here. I talked about wanting to increase our food storage in our house to three months worth of food. That is a lot of food, especially for a family of 5. How can I just go out and purchase three months worth of food with our budget? That is where couponing comes in to full force.

I used to think that using a coupon here or there really wasn't worth the time. By the time I paid for my Sunday paper ($1.75) and then the hour or so cutting out the coupons that I wanted to use or at least the coupons of the products that we actually use, then going to the store and seeing that the coupon for the specific brand really didn't make it cheaper than the generic label I was already buying normally, made no sense to me. Seriously, NO SENSE! So for a long time I stopped and was happy with just reading the ads in the Sunday paper, tossing the coupons and then buying the generic of whatever we needed. This made sense to me. I figured I was saving money buying generic and then using my Valued Customer Card on top of that for other items. This satisfied me.

Then it occurred to me, after reading a post in a forum, I was doing it completely wrong! ACK!!! I could be saving a ton more money and I wasn't getting the whole idea of couponing (the verb).

Now I am going to let you in on a little secret: Have you seen the TLC show "Extreme Couponing"? These women go out with their coupons and buy up a shelf full of deoderant, or mustard, or apple sauce, or whatever. A. SHELF. FULL! Then come home and organize it on their pantry shelves (or the shelves in the basement or garage, or under their kids' beds) and sit back and glow from their experience. Now this is extreme! And yes, I think they have an addiction problem too! However, the basic premise is this.

When you begin couponing you start to collect coupons for the items you use, pasta sauce, salad dressings, deoderant. Then when the stores put these items on sale you take all your coupons and buy up enough that you feel comfortable with. It could be a couple of the item or it could be a shelf full. I am not judging. Then that item comes off your weekly shopping list for a while. So if you are going through a bottle of salad dressing a week and it is on your weekly shopping list and you buy 8 bottles then you won't need to shop for it for 8 weeks. Slowly, and I mean slowly you will see your weekly shopping list dwindle and your stock up list (the items that are on super sale and you have a coupon for) will increase. You begin shopping your pantry for the items you need weekly and not the grocery store. These are for the items that are shelf stable, like packaged, jarred and canned items as well as items you can freeze if you have a big enough freezer. Eventually you will begin to run low of salad dressing so you start looking for the sale again and you use your coupons you have been gathering all this time.

There are several websites and blogs that can help you find the rock bottom prices on items in your area. I began with This is a great site and includes a forum for couponers (people who coupon) to chat with each other and beginners to learn from the experts. There is a charge however for the site and you get to pick the stores that you want the information from. The less number of stores then the cheaper your membership is. However, I have found that gives you the same information and it is completely and utterly free! How cool is that, and saving you money too! Happy couponing!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Food Storage

I alluded to this in another post where I talked about using our camper for emergency storage, in case we had to evacuate quickly for whatever reason. This past winter we had some slow times in our household and we didn't have as much income as we had in past years during January and February. In past years my husband worked some in these months but this year he hardly had any work. Therefore, we were lacking in the money department.

Once we feel the strain we tend to tighten the belt a bit more and start to look at ways to make us feel a bit "looser" in the wallet. Sometimes we start selling stuff and other times we look for what we have in the house to get us through.

Thankfully this year I had a bit of a stockpile of foods in the pantry and we used a lot of what we had stored to help us round out our grocery budget. I was glad I had the extra on hand. Prices seem to be rising both in groceries and in gas. This little stock of food helped us out.

Beginning in April we moved our pantry from the downstairs family room closet to the first floor hall coat closet. We built shelves and moved our coats to our rooms. The closet was just a catch all for junk on the floor of the closet and old coats that we rarely wear. The closet is close to the kitchen which helps a ton in meal prep. While we were moving it I realized that we had really gone through some food that I had stored. I was not only impressed that we had this store of food and it could help us during our lean months but was also amazed at how little we had left.

This brought both me and my husband to start thinking about stocking up again. We were convinced that this is the right and good thing to do for our family. Both of us began looking on the internet for food storage organization. We found these awesome boxes to help store and rotate your canned goods. We haven't bought them yet but will be buying them soon.

We also found that many Mormons store food. This sent us through a ton of blogs dealing with food storage acquisition and storage organization. They are awesome at creatively storing food.

Now don't get me wrong. I am NOT a survivalist, I am NOT a greenie, and I am NOT thinking the world is going to end or anything. I AM thinking that we have lean times in our household.

Eight years ago we had a hurricane come through our city and it wiped out our power in our house for 14 days and our phone for 28 days. We had two toddlers and an infant at the time. I wasn't as prepared for that disaster as I could have been but we survived it. This event also taught us that we aren't immune to natural disasters where we live. Being more prepared will only help us next time.

So there are many reasons why we are going to stock up on food and related items. You may have some reasons too.

"They" (the Mormons, survivalists, and preparedness people) say to work toward a stock of three months supply of food that you already eat first. Also stock up on water. Then stash some cash for emergencies only. Once you have done that then they say to work towards a year supply of food with basic staples.

So my question today is, do you have a store of food for your family? How long can you go with the food you have in your home right now?

Summer Plans

This summer we are planning a big trip. It will involve several states and camping. At this point we are not sure what we will be camping in. Our current trailer is a 1993 or 1994 (can't remember it is so old) Coachman Catalina. It has done us well but it needs some work. The running lights on one complete side is not working so we can't tow it in the dark, which poses logistical problems. It also needs a new A/C unit as ours is on the fritz. The wallpaper is falling down in places and our kids are growing out of their bunkbeds. One child still sleeps on the couch. It has no slides and we all can't sit at the table at the same time.

We were so close to purchasing a new 40ft. fifth wheel and had the financing all lined up and a deposit on it and a signed contract when the scandalous RV dealership sold it out from under us. We are assuming they got a higher price for it and therefore a better deal for them. We were so sad but in our family, where this sort of bad luck follows us, we roll with the punches and obviously there is something better out there for us. Okay, I am still mad about it and so very disappointed, but I can't do anything about it so I move on.

Anyway, back to the trip. We are still planning it even though we don't know what we will be going in. This year we are planning for 5 weeks. We will first go to Delaware and visit the Dupont Botanical Gardens. We want to see the pretty flowers and the fairy garden they have there. Then we want to go to Philadelphia and see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, The Franklin Institute, The National Constitution Center, Betsy Ross House, and maybe get in the Philadelphia Zoo. I am thinking that will take three days. We also want to try to get in Valley Forge.

Then we want to travel through Amish Country, tour about there a bit. Then move on to Gettysburg and then Harpers Ferry. This will be a possible quick one day trip for each. Then we have to be home for The Pickle to go to Boy Scout Camp. After his week at camp we will pick him back up and then go to Tennessee and into Nashville. We want to see the Grand Ole Opry Building, the Worlds Fair park, and perhaps pick up a show or two. Then move on to Memphis and eat some BBQ (Memphis style) and see Graceland and spend a day on the Mississippi River. Then we have to be in western South Carolina for a family reunion.

So this is the plan and as with the Sears Family, plans can change quickly and without warning. LOL