pictures_with_words copy 6Nectar of the gods. . . glorious coffee.  I can’t imagine my life without it.  No only for its amazing flavor and energy boost is offers, but as images-14one who suffers with migraines, caffeine has been prescribed to me to help control them.  For me, it works really well.  As much as I love my morning cup (or 2, or 3) of java, hot coffee is not appetizing in the middle of the day during the hottest parts of summer.  Iced coffee is always a great option which I partook in by stopping at a local espresso stand drive thru, but at nearly $6 for a large double shot, it can get really expensive.  Besides that, I’m busy in the garden most summer days.  I don’t have time to get to the coffee shops.  My solution?  Making it myself for a fraction of the cost.  If you love your iced coffee, you really need to try this simple and delicious recipe.  It just might destroy the relationship between you and your favorite barista.  Honestly, no coffee-house has anything better than this blend.  And you will save a LOT of money!

I had a pound of whole coffee beans in my freezer that I used in this demonstration.  However, a rough ground bag is just as good.  Buy the least expensive brand you can get at your local supermarket works just as well as the expensive ones.  So save yourself some money and avoid the expensive brands.

Plus, you will be getting three separate recipes in this one post.  Obviously the iced coffee.  But I will show you how to make vanilla extract that you can use to make your own creamer!  Check out the links and video.

Now, gather a few things you will need:


pictures_with_words copy 8 1 pound course ground coffee – I keep my coffee beans whole and grind them as I need them.  For this large batch, I use my wonderful Ninja. But you can buy whole beans at the store and grind them on the course setting next to the whole beans (if you grocer offers them).

1 gallon plus 1 quart warm water – This will yield right at a full gallon of espresso-type coffee

PrepperPenny’s Vanilla Creamer using my homemade Vanilla Extract (check out my You Tube video at the end of this page)

Large air-tight container – Tall and thin or short and round, just make sure it is airtight and will allow your coffee to stay saturated

Colander(s) – As you will see, I use several sizes to make sure my grounds are completely removed and my espresso is dark and rich but not foggy


Pour luke warm water over coffee grounds

Pour luke warm water over coffee grounds

Simply empty your 1 pound of coffee into your container and pour warm water over it.


Place in airtight container and refrigerate for 24 hours

In a large, airtight container, pour 1 gallon plus 1 quart of warm water.  Give a quick stir to moisten all grounds and place the lid on.  Place in your refrigerator for 24 hours.

pictures_with_words copy 3

Straining equipment

You are almost done.  No stirring  or shaking.  After 24 hours, you have en amazingly strong cold espresso.  Now you need to strain it several times until you have removed any debris.  I start with a larger colander first, move to a finer mesh and finish with butter cloth.  You want to be sure to strain it enough to make a dark, rich coffee without any trace of the coffee grounds, otherwise your coffee will become cloudy.

pictures_with_words copy 4

Dark enough that you can’t see through it

Your coffee will be  dark and strong you will not be able to see through it!  That’s exactly what you want.

pictures_with_words copy 2

Now it’s time to assemble your iced coffee.   This is where you will use a combination to meet your specific taste.  I like my iced coffee creamy, so I mix coffee and creamer at a 50/50 ratio.  If you like stronger coffee, use less creamer and more coffee.  You can use your favorite plain or flavored creamer, the same kind you might buy in the grocers.  I make my own vanilla creamer which is what I use.  Click here for that simple recipe.

Add sugar or favorite sweetener, top with whipped cream and enjoy!  From experience, I can say that it will keep well in your refrigerator for at least two weeks.  Beyond that, it’s trial.  Mine has never made it past that two-week mark.

Iced Coffee

Rich iced coffee

Kick it into the stratosphere and make your own vanilla extract to use in your own creamer.  This is my video to make your own extract.  It’s great in this recipe and amazing for all recipes calling for it.


My Pantry ShelvesBuilding a home store has more advantages than you can imagine.  It’s a good concept, but certainly not new.  We are simply re-visiting ways our ancestors survived through droughts, winter storms and other severe weather.    Most of our parents or grandparents had root cellars or basements and would can foods to last them through the winter months.  It was vital to their survival to safely preserve and store food during the summer when it was abundant.  They didn’t have convenience foods and grocery stores to buy pre-packaged meals if their own supplies ran out.  They had to be diligent in food preservation, farming and complete self-reliance.  And basically, that’s what many people today are trying to get back to.

Most Americans have never seen our grocery supply interrupted except community-wide during major storms when shelves are stripped in less than 3 hours.  We have never faced an economic and financial collapse of the government, nor lived through a depression.  But in recent years we have seen how close we are to a collapse and how fragile our food and fuel supply is.  It has drawn a certain kind of American to re-visit how our parents or grandparents lived and are trying to emulate it as best we can.

THRIVE PantryAs with any significant lifestyle change, there are certain start-up costs.  However, in my own experience, I was able to recoup those costs and was quickly began seeing my grocery bill go down.   Some of your start up costs is as follows:

1)   Purchase of Freeze-Dried and powdered foods that allow for long-term shelf-stability.  You will begin to make your own spice mixes and blends, box dinners, powdered drinks, breads and more.

2)   Purchasing Canning Equipment & Supplies

  • Quality Pressure Canner ~ The American Canner is the arguably the best on the market.  It is metal on metal without the rubber ring which can eventually fail.  It’s more expensive, but will last generations.  You can look for them at garage sales, Craigslist and eBay.
  • Water Bath Canner ~ This is an inexpensive purchase.  I got my canner at Wal-Mart for around $20.  Subsequently, I purchased a Ball-brand plastic basket that easily fits into an average size stockpot.  It’s perfect for small batches of food.  It holds up to 3 quart jars.  I use it often for small batches of jellies and jams.
  • Canning jars and lids ~ While many supplies like you see in kits are very nice to have, you can get by with only a jar lifter tool. The very best prices to get these types of supplies is at seasons end in the late fall.  Also, always look at stores like Goodwill or Salvation army.  I find them on Craigslist and at garage and estate sales.  Normal retail prices vary on size of jars but full retail runs between $9-$12 per case.
  • Grain Mill ~ I purchased two inexpensive mills but quickly realized that they would be inadequate for my needs.  I want to grind my flour in large quantities and those of different sizes from small Quinoas to corn and red beans.  I researched it exhaustively.  But I finally settled on the highly reviewed Country Living Grain Mill.  Again, it’s one of the finer pieces of equipment and its’ cost is reflective of that.  It was about $500.  I wound up purchasing some accessories, which I wanted, but you can do without.  It’s price is consistent with other mills of this caliber, and in some cases costs less than some.   This grain mill will also be handed down from one generation to the next.  It is a manual fly-wheel design that can be altered to be electric.  I wanted one that did not rely on electricity.   And it is 100% USA made.
  • Dehydrator ~ Here, too I began on the cheap.  And I got what I paid for.  I purchased a used round dehydrator I bought on eBay.  I didn’t know enough about dehydrating at the time to realize it was an old model and incredibly inefficient for the volume of food I was dehydrating.  Newer versions of the round ones have more features and I see them used a lot on the You Tube videos I watch.  But it worked well enough to make me realize that dehydrating was going to save me a lot of money, especially from what I was spending on commercially processed dehydrated food.  I eventually moved up to buying the very best residential dehydrator on the market.  That is not just my opinion, you can Google reviews and come to the same conclusion.

You also will need to learn new prepping skills;

  • Gardening ~ Using heirloom seeds will allow you to harvest seeds so you will never need to purchase them again.  You can find endless blogs, FB Pages and articles to teach you ways and what to grow.  Even if you are in an apartment or small space, you can still grow food using raised beds or various containers.  Things like herbs can be grown on your windowsills indoors.
  • Canning ~ I found the first steps to learning to can were intimidating.  I had never canned before or been around a material figure who ever did it in my presence.  But canning has come a very long way.  It’s not to be feared.  It’s actually very easy, whether you pressure or water bath can.  Just follow the strict guidelines, watch demonstrations on You Tube and contact your local Extension office who often hold classes to teach you.
  • Dehydrating ~ Basically, dehydrating is simply cutting food into small slices or pieces and putting in the dehydrator.  Sometimes however, there are one or two steps to take before your food goes into the dehydrator.  Again, the internet is an vast world of information at your fingertips that will give you the particulars to being successful in drying your own food.
  • Cooking with food storage ~ This goes to my point of making some minor adjustments in preparations, but cooking much the same as you already do.

I was buying dry foods from companies we all see advertised all over prepper pages, blogs and other survivalist sites.  I purchased all those name brands, but didn’t know to do anything with them except stack them neatly in my long-term storage.  Only when I started buying THRIVE food from ShelfReliance did I start to understand that I was really wasting money by continuing to store their food while going to the grocery store and spending outrageous prices for packaged foods when I now had the same ingredients in my home that commercial processors use to make dry mixes and entree’s, but without the additives.  My THRIVE consultant and ShelfReliance’s website taught me how to save money by actually using their food in my “conventional” recipes.MyCanned Food

They also have a program called The Q.  This is where I was able to set a budget for buying Freeze-Dried and powdered food and ingredients.  I then went into start building my home store.  I went online and started shopping and picking out the products I needed in my store.  Some of the powdered foods and staples I put on my Q were these:

  •  Butter
  • Shortening
  • Honey
  • Instant & Powdered Milk
  • Cheese Powder
  • Eggs
  • Sour Cream
  • Chicken & Beef Bouillon

Some of the Freeze-Dried foods in my Q were these:

  • Ground Beef
  • Chicken
  • Sausage
  • Various Fruits
  • Ham
  • Instant Beans and Lentils
  • Vegetables (Example)
    • Corn
    • Green Beans
    • Peas
    • Onions
    • Green/Red Peppers
    • Carrots
    • Broccoli
    • Spinach

I set a budget of $200 per month based on my overall grocery budget.  You can go as low as $50.  Each month, I received an automatic shipment of foods from my Q.  But I made sure I checked their sales for the month to be sure to replace what I could wait on with what I needed that was on sale.  Within a few months, my home was bursting with #10 cans of healthy and delicious food.

I also decided to become a consultant for THRIVE last year which helps to reduce my expenses even more as I pay “employee” prices and earn credit and a small income which I use toward food and emergency supplies.  I have been able to buy the sun oven and rocket stove without actually breaking into my own money.

But THRIVE didn’t meet all my needs and I eventually learned of other resources to help my food budget.  The best one was my local LDS Cannery through the Latter Day Saints Church.  Now I buy my powdered milk, sugar, potato flakes and drink mixes through them.  Their prices can’t be beat.  But like with any company or organization, they have limits, too.  They don’t carry Freeze-Dried foods and no meat.  They offer only the very basic staples.

I’m now down to one grocery store trip a month.  And when I go, I’m very diligent in making a list and sticking to it.  I search for coupons and go to bulk stores to make the most of my budget.  Even when I don’t “need” frozen vegetables, if they are on sale I still buy them and immediately put them into my dehydrator and keep them in my pantry.   My food costs have gone down significantly and I rarely run out of anything.   And if I do, it’s just a matter of taking a moment to pull cans off my shelf and making another batch.

When it comes to milk, I have two little ones, 5 and 3 years old.  We go through a lot of instant milk.   I found it cheaper to make drinking milk from storage, even though it is more expensive per serving than fresh.  My reasoning is that to stop by the grocery store for a gallon of milk and even a loaf of bread always winds up being an armload (or more) of impulse purchases.  A quick stop to the store would always wind up costing $25 or even $100!  Impulse buys are killers of your tight budget.

Fiscal CliffBut with the political upheaval in D.C., I decided to take my regular Q deliveries of instant milk and stock them away.  If milk prices skyrocket as is predicted, I will pull them out.  But in the meantime, I will save my reserves until I need them more.  As long as prices remain stable, it’s wiser for me to buy fresh and save the instant.

I have several recipes posted on this blog.  These are mostly intended to use food storage.  You will find both mixes and meals.  I have many more recipes to share and post.  I will make a concerted effort to post more.

I grind my own flour, buy sugar in bulk to use in my kitchen pantry (different than my #10 cans in long-term storage), buy legumes and beans in large quantities and can or package them myself.

There are many families out there who also have home stores.  They may have built theirs differently, but this is how I built mine.  I made many mistakes along the way that were costly that I would have rather avoided, but were all good lessons.

Home Store

Click here to visit my THRIVE Store

But having your own store will require a different way of preparing your food.  Rehydrating dry food will require adjustments to liquids and a certain level of pre-planning to allow for the rehydration process.  It’s not like opening a can of corn and throwing it into a microwave.  I actually have very few “cans” of food on my shelves.  Not the kind of canned vegetables you see in about every kitchen across the country.  My cans are the big #10 size cans and the food inside is dry.  I have canning jars filled with fruit and vegetables I dehydrate myself.  I have canning jars filling my shelves with last summers peaches, beans, peas and pickles.  I even can a lot of meat.  I find I actually spend less time preparing meals because much of the work has already been done.

Below are either exactly or comparable with the equipment I have in my home.  It’s a lot of equipment and collectively it cost a lot of money.  But I did it one step at a time.  It took me about a year when my plan got on track.

pantryWhen MrPrepper and I built our home, we were both working professionals with successful career.  I wanted a home where I could entertain.  It was ~ and is ~ a lovely home that I am proud of.  That was 17 years ago.  To drive up to my home today, it presents itself much the same.  But cross the threshold and you will see the extreme change from that point back to the fence that surrounds a once picture-perfect landscaped backyard.  The room which once housed an antique dining room set now has no table.  The china hutch that use to display my beautiful ornate dishes, now is used for more practical purposes.  The antique cabinet beautifully displays a growing supply of my own canned and dehydrated food.  There is a set of industrial-style shelves that hold my canning supplies, bread machine and other food processing equipment.  There are two sets of Martha Stewart cabinets to hold the children’s toys and a computer which I use to teach my pre-schooler.

Walk further down the hall to the kitchen, and you will see an amazing set of even larger industrial shelves FULL of dehydrated and freeze-dried food that I use every day.  Things like powdered milk, eggs and sausage.  I won’t even go into all the things that are there, but it is one of the most impressive home stores you will ever see.  My once elegant kitchen is now filled with canning supplies, dehydrators, shelves and other supplies to support my new role.  You will notice the large antique crock fermenting cabbage or maybe a large batch of pickles I grew in the yard.White Pantry

Turn right and enter the family room where I took a very old TV cabinet and converted it into something cute and functional.  This cabinet has a strong sentimental value because it measures the growth of the children.  Inside, you see the valuable amount of storage it provides.  (Note the inside right door is where I keep inventory of these food supplies written in chalk)

Walk out to the patio to the once well-groomed flower-filled landscape and you realize you have just entered into another world.  My backyard chickens with their lovely coop and raised garden beds emphasize the seriousness and commitment I have to being as self-reliant as humanly possible.  There are containers that grow medicinal and culinary herbs dotting open spots on the large, covered patio.  Once in awhile, my little chaweenie, Gracie will be there romping with the chickens.  Here I stand in rubber boots, coveralls and a pair of leather gloves on.  I’m either working in the garden or cleaning the chicken coop.  I gather fresh, brown eggs and bring into the house.  I may be turning the compost heap I started last year or any number of other chores associated with a suburban home transitioning from a place where career professionals came home to unwind to a sanctuary filled with wonder and life.  My 3 year old girl and 5 year old boy play with toys on the patio or climb and play on the swing set.  Their playful giggles and sometimes spats are a joyous sound to my ears.  The BBQ or smoker will be fired up and cooking dinner that we will serve with fresh food from the garden and eat on the patio.

Go to the side of the house where MrPrepper erected a barn-style shed.  In there, you will find emergency supplies of equipment and food.  Things like fuel, generators and other equipment to

It is work.  More labor intensive than going to meetings and writing reports.  But this work is peaceful and rewarding.  Nothing like any job I have ever had.

This has become my life.  I’m so proud that I left my “career” in order to have this amazingly gratifying and rewarding life.  A life that is sure to keep my children balanced, regardless where life takes them.

Yes, MrPrepper still works.  I feel sorry for him that he misses much of these great days filled with serenity.  But we are a team.  He will retire in a couple of years and will slide right into his roll as my farm-hand.  I count my blessings every day having moved into this much better life.


Click to Visit My Online Store

Penny So much has happened since I last posted here.  MrPrepper retired, we adopted our two little grandchildren was finalized, the older of the two started kindergarten, we bought an RV and new truck and we are talking and looking at buying several acres in either Texas, Missouri or Kentucky where we can start our bona fide homestead.

We managed to have a wonderful Christmas among MrPreppers flu, the children both with colds and me with a migraine.  It was hard leading up to Christmas morning, but we put it together and the children loved it.  We incorporated Elf on the Shelf, which the children adored each morning discovering his mischief!  Definitely our new Christmas tradition.


Since I last posted, MrPrepper retired, we bought one RV and took a 6,000 mile trip from WI, IN and IL and back.  Upon returning, we promptly took the 19-foot RV to the dealer and upgraded to a 30-foot rig and a new truck to pull it with!  You can conclude that we have committed ourselves to doing a LOT of camping.  Of course, it serves dual purposes.  Not only is it our get away on weekends, it is in our plans as an emergency shelter if we ever have to bug out.  Yes, we have a plan for where that will be.

We have added two new members to the family.  During our trip to Indiana, we gifted a red-eared turtle we call Monroe (Marilyn passed away before we arrived) that managed to survive the journey back to Washington. Then we adopted a lab mix we named Sadie. 

SadieSadly, because of the somewhat unexpected trip back to the Midwest, I had to re-home my three lovely chickens.  But the coop is still there ready to welcome new girls in the spring.

Finally, and most importantly, the adoption for our 4 & 6-year-old grandchildren was granted on December 10th!  We have had the oldest his whole life and got his little sister 1 ½ years ago so nothing changed other than they are completely our own children.  We can make any decisions for them without having to go to court or get permission for.  Things like moving out-of-state.  

I started my business with Thirty-One Gifts for a couple of very good reasons.  1) I love Thirty-One and wanted to organize the RV with the product.  Why just buy all those organizers and bags when you can earn commission, right?  2)  With hubby retired, it gives me the chance to contribute to the family finances without going back to work outside the home. Washington!  And it’s going so well, I’ve promoted to Sr. Consultant.  That came with devoting significant time to build my business. 

And since MrPrepper is now retired, he has agreed to contribute to this blog!  Woo Hoo!  His knowledge and insight to important legislative issues about water and private property rights will be a great addition.

Also, since he is retired now, we are looking to possibly move to Missouri or Texas to buy a few acres and start the homestead I’ve been dreaming of for several years.  So this next step in my journey to self-reliance could be the most dramatic in finding and setting up a bona fide homestead with all the livestock I want to have.

So you see, life has been extremely demanding and has required my energies be placed elsewhere.  But I’m so happy to step back into writing and sharing the new journey we face as many things just opened up for us.


Thursdays 1

Come on over to the Homestead, grab your rocking chair of choice…a glass of tea and sit a spell!  This is a Blog Hop Y’all and there are plenty of posts to keep your attention…entertain you, educate you or make you smile…all day long.  Stay as long as you like; submit an article (or 2), visit other blogs, leave comments and enjoy your stay here on the porch…Thursdays @ the Homestead!

Here on the Homestead we are all about living a self-sufficient, self-reliant, and self-sustaining lifestyle in as natural, organic & frugal ways possible.

This Blog Hop is being hosted by:

  1. Modern Homesteaders
  2. Mary @ Homegrown On The Hill
  3. Penny @ PrepperPenny

What Can I Post?

Anything and everything related to: Homesteading, Prepping, Gardening, Cooking/recipes/food, Livestock of all varieties, Off-grid, Natural Living, Wellness/wholeness and Healthcare, Herbal, DIY & MYO!

Some Simple Rules Y’all


  1. This is a family friendly Blog Hop! Absolutely NO profanity or suggestive material at all – your post will be immediately deleted.
  2. Please link up only posts pertaining to the suggested topics.  Not sure if your post article fits?  Contact us, we’ll help you figure it out: info@modernhomesteaders.net
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  4. You may link more than one post, original content only, older or archived posts are A-Okay!
  5. Only real-food recipes please…no processed junk in our recipes or our tummies!
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  7. Please place a link back to this edition of the Blog Hop in your post.  That way your readers can benefit from all the great ideas here on the Blog Hop AND this helps everybody by drawing more traffic to your site.


How Do I Do This Blog Hop Thang?


If you’re new to blogging OR just new to Blog Hops, (or need a reminder), here’s what you do:

  1. The post that you want to submit to the Blog Hop needs to have a link back to the Blog Hop either with a Button (provided for you below) or with a text link.  For example you might say in your post…”This post was shared on Thursdays @ the Homestead Blog Hop”, or “I participated in Thursdays @ the Homestead Blog Hop” and this would generally go at the end of your post.  Either the button or the text link is fine.  How do you make the link?  Copy the URL of Thursdays @ the Homestead from your browser address bar.  Then click or highlight your button or text, then click the “link” button on your blogging tool bar and paste the URL into that line.  Save and that’s it.

Here’s the button:

Thursday 2 

  1. When your post is all written, edited and linked up, then you need to link up your blog post by using the Linky Widget below.  Linky is very easy to use and self-explanatory.
  2. Please link the URL of your actual BLOG POST and NOT your blogs HOME PAGE. Most blogging platforms show a URL or shortlink at the top of your post when you are in your dashboard area.  Highlight this URL, it is what you will place in the Linky Widget.
  3. Homesteading/Prepping bloggers, please visit other blogs posts and comment…share the love!

How Can I Be a Featured Blogger?


Every Blog Hop, you the reader gets to “Like” the posts and from those tallies we get the Featured Blogs of the week-of which 3 are chosen!  There are a few extra steps to be done, to be considered for Featured Blog of the Week:

1. You must link back to the Blog Hop (any of the host’s sites) with the Button or a Text Link.

2.  Follow us on at least 2 Social Networks of your choice: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

3.  Please visit at least 2 Blog Hop posts and comment letting them know you found them here, don’t forget to “like” their Blog Hop Post Article too.

4.  By linking to this Blog Hop you are giving us permission to link back to your post if you are featured.  We will also include 1 photo from your post in the interest of sending visitors your way.

5.  If you are selected as one of our Featured posts, please come back and grab this very special button to post on your blog, our way of saying Thank You!

Thursday 2


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Ugh! Slugs!!

Slug can do a lot of damage!

Slug can do a lot of damage!

I am growing the best garden of my life.  My raised beds have made a world of difference.  Adding to that the square foot method with companion planting, I’m seeing amazing results.  My plants are all healthy and strong.  I’ve been so proud of the flawless growth on all my plants!


Signs of a slime trail









But I was mortified when I went out to check my garden today.  All was well until I got to my greenhouse which is where I am housing my potato containers.  I saw the unmistakable signs of slugs getting to my potatoes!  Eeek!  So what do I do?  Make a beeline to the kiddo’s piggy banks to swipe some pennies.  I needed copper and I needed it now!  I’m committed to not using herbicides or other chemical repellants.  Why would copper work?  Because the copper reacts to the slime and will actually shock the slug.  You can use copper tape, tubing or any other copper that you have laying around.


Placing pennies around your plants deters slugs

I sprinkled the pennies strategically around each plant and around the containers.  In addition, slugs are deterred by pine needles because of their strong acidity.  Living in the Evergreen State, I have plenty of those around  and used them in and around the containers, too.  Those buggers will have to make certain sacrifices to eat my food!   I know there are other methods out there.  I just wanted to share this quick and inexpensive way in case you find slugs in your garden.



Copper deters slugs


My Signature

IMG_2940I am really excited to announce that I will now be a contributing writer for the blog at ModernHomesteaders.net.  I have been a fan of theirs for awhile and being asked to contribute was very flattering and exciting.  I am scheduled to write for them once a week.


Click Here To Visit Modern Homesteaders

I will be talking about my road to prepping and the accomplishments I have made.  I hope to show how anyone, even if you are on a tight budget, how to start and build up emergency supplies and equipment.  But as importantly, I will be teaching alternative cooking methods, food preservation and other great DIY projects to help save you money.  I will share product reviews and a host of other things that should help you develop your own plan or hone in on the plan you have to move you ahead.

I’ve seen many things happen in the way of disasters.  Things like hurricanes, tornadoes, super storms, terror attacks and an economic system teetering in the brink of decline.  I see families displaced, left without a home to live in or even clothes on their backs.  I see these people at the mercy of charities and government agencies for their very survival.  I don’t want my family to be like those families we all see on television after such a big event. I hope you will follow me as I contribute to the great work Shane is doing at Modern Homesteaders.  If you don’t already subscribe to Modern Homesteaders, please click this link and visit them on Facebook by clicking here.

My Signature

Visit My Online Store

Visit My Online Store

Expedition Supreme Kit

Expedition Supreme Kit

Supreme 1 Year Food Supply

Supreme 1 Year Food Supply


As we all know, there are great tips and information about gardening, propagating and harvesting food from your garden.  A master gardener I am not.  I feel like I learn something new every day about growing my family’s food.  Watching the TV program, Through The Wormhole, I saw a doctor who is famous for cloning animals use honey as a growth hormone to start new plants in a demonstration for his approach to animal cloning.  I was fascinated because I know there are many uses for honey, but I did not know it was used in this way in the garden.

Lavender with cinnamon Cinnamon growth hormoneI’m sure many of you have seen this post going around Pinterest and FaceBook in using cinnamon as a growth hormone in starting new plants.  Well, I was excited and tried using it to propagate a new, beautiful lavender plant I got this year for Mother’s Day.  More than two weeks into it, I see nothing more than what I started with.  Clearly, the cinnamon will not work with lavender, at least not mine.  But this plant is so beautiful that I want to ensure to have plenty of it for years to come and having several copies of the same plant should help me meet that goal.

So, because the cinnamon is not working, I am trying honey.  Local and organic as it should offer the best local pollination in my opinion.  The uses for honey is vast.  I’ve seen many articles related to beauty, health and medicinal uses for it.  But I’ve not run across this purpose before I specifically started researching it.  From my research, I’ve decided to use the following recipe.

  • images-61 cup honey
    – Pure, or raw, honey is said to be better than regular store-bought honey (which has been processed) and yields the greatest results.
  • 3 cups boiling water
    – Mix the honey with your boiling water and allow to cool. Place this mixture in an airtight container (such as a mason jar) until ready to use, storing it somewhere away from light.

It sounds simple enough.  If you are interested in trying this method, click this link to find a well written article all about it.  I will let you know if and how this method works in comparison to the cinnamon method.




I am always excited and look for ways to build my shelf-stable pantry with inexpensive food.  But inexpensive sure does not mean inferior.  Especially when it comes to the topic I address today.

If you are new or have never pressure canned anything, chicken is the single simplest food to start with.  It’s the first thing I canned and highly recommend it.

You may or may not have heard of a company called Zaycon Foods.  Rather than explaining it to you, here is a great video to explain it all.  In short, it’s cheap, fresh and healthy!

Having been introduced to Zaycon, I’m a devoted advocate and client.  To learn more, please click here

But having just purchased 40 pounds of their chicken breasts, I had to get them processed as quickly as possible.  I set out to pressure can most of it.




Start by gathering all your supplies.  You need your jars, rings, lids, jar lifter, sharp knife (for trimming your chicken), pressure canner, saucepan (large enough accommodate the lids and rings you will be sanitizing).








Before you start anything, inspect the rubber ring in your canner (if you are using a canner with this), inspect the vent to make sure there is no obstructions, making sure there is no blockage.  I hope you can see here the blue color in the center of this photo.  It is your view through the vent in the lid of your canner.






I begin by getting my jars ready by washing them in hot, soapy water.












Get into the habit of checking each jar for any imperfections.  While I wash my jars, I run my finger around the rim to feel for any cracks or other anomalies.







Also, do a visual inspection of each of your jars.  While new jars rarely have cracks or other imperfections, they sometimes do.  And if you are re-using jars, the risk is higher so be sure to use only those jars that are pristine!











You have several options for keeping your jars hot while you prepare your chicken.  You can keep them in a large stockpot covered with simmering water or you can do as I do, keep them in a warm oven.  I set mine at 200 degrees.








Now I put about 3 quarts of water and about 1/8th of a cup of white vinegar in my pressure canner over a low flame (or heat if you are electric).  The vinegar is not necessary if you have soft water.  Mine is a little hard and this will prevent lime buildup in my canner and jars.  It is completely optional.








After washing your lids and rings, place them in your saucepan over a low simmer.  You do not want to boil them.  Just warm enough to soften the wax or rubber ring.








One-by-one, I pull out a hot jar and trim and cut my chicken and put them into my jars leaving a 1” headspace.  Whether I am handling raw meat or removing food from my dehydrator, I wear gloves.  In dehydrating, I don’t want to transfer my oils onto the food I just dry.  For raw meat, it is a level of safety.








I immediately place the filled jar into the canner.  I do not put the lids or rings on them yet.  This will keep the jars hot which is important so they don’t break when the canner comes to temperature.









Once my canner is full of jars, I will put a pinch of salt in each jar.  I use Pink Himalayan because it contains every bit of its’ minerals.  But you can use canning salt.










This step is critical in all canning projects.  Never, ever forget to wipe and clean your rims before adding your lids.  When I can meat or food that is particularly oily, I use white vinegar which cuts the greasy residue.







I use metal lids when I use new jars.  But they are good for only one use.  When I buy replacement lids, I purchase either Tattler or 4ever Recap lids.  If you are interested in these lids, here is a video to help you see their value.  I would post one for 4ever Recaps, but could not find one.  But they are essentially the same.  One thing I love about 4ever is that it is a woman owned company.  Hey, it’s personal.  I respect women entrepreneurs.







As you can see, the same metal rings are used with these lids and can be used several times.









With the jars all inside the canner and the lid securely in place, increase the heat under it to build pressure.  In this picture, you can be (behind) the vent where you will place the weight.  In the foreground is another vent on my specific Presto canner.  Not all canners have this.  But if yours does, as pressure builds this element will rattle and shake until stem builds up.  When enough steam builds, this vent will rise and shut allowing the pressure to continue to build.  When this happens, the vent that receives your weight (the one shown in the background) will begin to spew steam.  I allow this to build for 10 minutes before placing the weight on it.






This batch contains pint size jars.  I processed it with 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes as per the Ball Complete Book.  After 75 minutes, you will turn off your heat and allow the pressure to level out.  This takes about an hour in most cases.  Once the vent in the front drops back into its’ normal position, it will be safe to remove the weight as shown in this photo.  But you must still use caution because your metal canner is still very hot and can cause serious burns.   But you can now remove the canner lid.







After you remove the canner lid, you will begin taking your jars out of the canner and placing them onto your counter using your jar lifter.  Please, never try using anything but a canning jar lifter.  This can be quite dangerous if you try using tongs or anything else not specifically designed to safely handle boiling hot jars.  The foods in these jars are still boiling aggressively.







You will not allow your jars to set out on your counter overnight to allow them to completely cool down.   You do not want them to be moved or disturbed while they cool and the rings set on the rims.  When using metal lids, you will begin hearing a distinctive “ping” as they seal.  Music to your ears!







The following morning, I removed all the rings from my jars and tested their seal.  To do this, you simply lift the jar by the rings.  If it sealed as it should have, they will not release.  Now they are ready to be washed because the jars will be oily and a bit icky.  Just wash them in warm, soapy water, rinse and allow to dry.








Once the jars and lids are completely dry, label then with content and date.  In large batches, it’s easy to just print out labels.  If it’s just a few cans, just use a permanent marker to write it on the lids.









My yield for approximately 25 pounds of chicken was a dozen pints and six 1 ½ pint jars.  You can store them all in the boxes they came in.








But I have a canning pantry that beautifully shows off my healthy food and keeps it all readily available for my regular menu planning.  This antique cabinet has two glass-front doors so all my company can see and covet my invaluable prepping skills.




As you can see, following standard practices for sanitation and canning, chicken is quite easy to pressure can.   If you are just beginning to try your hand at pressure canning, this is one of the absolute easiest recipes you will find.  Buying in bulk is cost-effective.  Having your investment safely stored in canning jars requires no electricity and is shelf-stable for up to two years.




Finally, just to show you that having a jar or two that does not seal only allows you to eat it sooner!  I had one jar that did not seal properly.  But the food inside is still perfectly fine.  I simply added barbeque sauce and we had sandwiches for lunch.   I always plan on how to incorporate whatever I can into a meal within about a week.  And by having this happen to one of my jars allows me to show you how beautiful the canned chicken is.  As you can see, it’s much like canned tuna.  You can see how moist and flaky it is.  You can use this for chicken salad, on green salads, in soups and stews, enchiladas.  Just use your imagination.  It has so many delicious uses.









Prepping For Pets

k10370297Welcome! This article will be addressing how to be more self-sufficient in regards to common health problems for our household pets and bring awareness of what over-the-counter medications that can be used for dogs and cats.  AKA…fur babies! Many people keep on hand in their homes a variety of OTC’s for themselves of which many, surprisingly, are safe to use for our pets.  I am not in the medical profession, human or animal, so I do suggest that you consult your veterinarian or do your own research before using or if you question any OTC’s mentioned.

As a lot of people try to plan for natural or economic disasters, medical emergency planning is usually a top priority.  You stock up on medical supplies, OTC medications and you may even be frugal with your Rx meds by taking lower-than-instructed doses just to “stockpile”.  But what about your pets? What have you done or know to prep for them when they may not be feeling well.  Not just during a disaster, but  to have on hand for everyday life?

k7919617If you are anything like my family and most Americans, our pets are furry or feathered family members and are an important part of our lives. Like children, when in distress, they look to us for help.  If they only could talk and just tell us what the problem is!  This can be so unsettling as to what you should do as a pet owner/parent but with a little information and  inexpensive OTC choices, your pet could be feeling better quickly.  In my own home over the years, we have had various situations and there seems to be three choices: 1.) Do you call the vet and/or jump in the car and drive your pet to the vet immediately?   2.)  Research symptoms on the Internet.   3.) Do nothing and hope for the best?  We have done all three, but it is fast becoming a very different world and being self-sufficient is more important than ever.  With more and more people out of work,  lacking enough work or on a fixed income, one needs to be super savvy on how you spend your money.  Also, in a natural, economic or SHTF situation, you may not even have the first two options listed above to even consider, so as a prepper or a non-prepper  you may want to have information at hand to possibly remedy the problem.  Do you know whether you can use a human OTC diarrhea medication on your dog or cat?  Is it safe to give a cat an aspirin? What if your dog swallowed a sock…or even, two socks! What should you do?  All three of these scenarios have actually happened in our home. The  information, with this article, will give you an idea of what OTC choices you may have in your home for some very common ailments.

Sick dogBelow is a link to a PDF file.  Please feel free to print out this chart for  OTC medicines. This chart is just a small list of common OTC’s that you may already have in your home or it may give you an idea of what to purchase to keep on hand.  The chart is self-explanatory.  Also, there is a website with a link available that I would highly recommend that you read and print out to also include in your home pet medical library. This home remedy guide will cite various health scenarios and what OTC’s are recommended to help your pet.  This website is by a California veterinarian and  he offers this information to print out free of charge.  The doctors name is Dr. Greg Martinez and his website is http://dogdishdiet.com/.  Please visit his site and sign up for a free copy of Dr. Greg’s 11 Practical Home Remedies for Your Dog.  (I am not associated with Dr. Martinez or his website). All you will need to enter is a user name and an email address. His site will then email you the link to these home remedies. I have printed this information out myself and have it in our home pet binder with copies of  their up to date vaccines and any other pertinent health information for each of our pets which consists of three dogs, a cat and a very talkative conure (small parrot). This binder would go with me if we were to vacate our home in an emergency and also is taken when we travel in our RV.   Again, please remember to use any medication, prescription or OTC, with caution.  Consulting your vet prior to use is always the best method.  I have already discussed these medications beforehand with our vet and we are very fortunate that our vet encourages the use of email for questions.

Thank you for reading this information. It could help your beloved pet feel better and that will have you feeling relieved!  I look forward to sharing more self-sufficient ways in the future in the areas of care, feeding and prepping for your pet, sewing tips and projects, quilting, upcycling ideas and RV’ing. Until then….

Live life with heart!

Patriot Patsy


Prepping for Pets – OTC Home Remedies for Dogs & Cats

article-1286539-0A0845BE000005DC-905_468x644One of the event’s I prep for is a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) or Solar Flare and Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP).    With all the things going on in North Korea today particularly, a nuclear missle launched into the atmosphere would take down sattelites.  That would completely shut down our electronic grid.  No grid, no cell phones or other electronic communications.

With the advancement of technologies that run our lives today, the damage and devastation of either a CME or EMP would likely be catastrophic for our way of life.  Certainly, everything will be different.

There was a major event which happened in 1859 with what became known as The Carrington Event.  Should a similar solar storm erupt in the coming years, it will release a massive amount of high energy charged particles streaming toward Earth.  It is reported that it WILL penetrate Earth’s magnetic shield.

Can a Carrington Event happen again?  Of course!  Will it?  Eventually.  You may be surprised to learn that you have lived through two relatively recent events.  First, in March 1989 a solar storm crashed the Hydro-Quebec power grid and resulted in loses estimated to be in hundreds of millions of dollars.  Again in 1994 a solar storm caused major disruption to communications satellites, network television and nationwide radio across Canada. Neither of these storms was particularly powerful in comparison to the Carrington storm.

So when I heard that there will be a new series, also called The Carrington Event, I got excited.  For anyone, especially committed preppers, knowing and seeing what life might be once such an event happens will serve to give us further knowledge which will take some of the surprise out of it when it happens. It will also allow us to evaluate what and how we prepare.  Set to premier this summer, I can’t find an exact date.  But follow me on Facebook and I will be posting all the information I find.


The Carrington Event Series

Today’s Space Weather

Apple Pie Filling

apf_jar_doneThis is a delicious and easy recipe for always having apple pie filling on-hand and in your pantry.  This recipe is so easy and cost effective, you will never buy it in cans again.  Unlike store-bought pie fillings, you have complete control of the ingredients that go into it and can adjust the flavor to satisfy your unique taste.

This recipe does not have to be canned.  It can be frozen or can be used immediately.  But if you want to can it to build up your home store, it needs to be water bath canned for 25 minutes for quart jars.

The recipe calls for Clear Jel.  Please don’t use any other product because the results may not be favorable.  Here is a little information about this product from the Washington State University.

Clear Jel® is a corn starch derivative, and is a commercial thickening product used by bakeries and for frozen food. This product is used the same as flour or corn starch. Not only can it be used in preserved pie fillings but it can be used anywhere you would use flour or cornstarch as a thickener. It makes great clear gravy without the lumps, as well as puddings and sauces. It is used widely by bakeries and restaurants.

There are two types of Clear Jel®, “instant” and “regular”. “Instant” does not require heat to thicken. The product will thicken once the liquid is added. “Regular”, on the other hand, must be heated. When canning pie fillings, be sure to use the ‘regular’ Clear Jel® product.

For this recipe, use “regular” Clear Jel.


Apple Pie Filling
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: PrepperPenny via PickYourOwn.org
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 1 pie
This recipe is based on making 1 quart of pie filling. If you want more, just multiply the recipe by how much you want to make. Follow safe canning procedures by sanitizing your jar(s), lid(s) and ring(s). Process the canned pie filling in a water bath canner for 25 minutes.
  • 3-1/2 Cups Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar or you can replace with other sweetener
  • 5 Tbsp Clear Jel®
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1/2 Cup Cold Water
  • 3/4 Cup Apple juice
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh or Bottled Lemon Juice
  1. Prepare you apples. Blanch them in 1 gallon of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and keep the hot cooked fruit in a covered bowl or pot.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients into a saucepan and cook (stirring constantly) until the flavors marry and liquid thickens.
  3. Using your hot, sanitized jar(s), begin layering apples and liquid. The liquid will be thick so you will need to layer the apples, liquid, apples, liquid about 3-4 layers of each per quart jar until it is full.
  4. Wipe the rim of your jar(s), add the lid and ring and process in your water bath canner for 25 minutes.
  5. When making your 8″ pie, use as little of the liquid as necessary. This will make for a crispier pie crust and prevent it from being soggy. But I save it, heat it and pour it over the pie (and ice cream if serving it ala mode) as a delicious syrup.


Layer your ingredients

apf_jar1 apf_jar2-1 apf_jar3




apf_jar4 apf_jar5





















Photo’s via PickYourOwn



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