Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Month: December 2009

Homemade Candles

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Sometime in 2001 or 2002 I was doing computer repair service in Kingwood, Texas – which is part of Houston. The day started out typical enough, I got the work orders from the dispatcher and went on my way. One house that I was to visit changed my life forever. I knocked on the front door and this nice looking lady, maybe in her mid 30s answered. As soon as we went into the house I noticed the smell of candles and oils. The dining room table was covered with all kinds of supplies for making lotions, candles and other arts and crafts stuff.

The computer was fixed in no time, so I had a litle extra time before my next appointment – so I asked about the stuff the lady was making. She showed my a wide assortment of candles, oils, lotions,,, stuff that she made at home in her kitchen. I thought my girl friend might like a candle, so I bought one from her.

A few weeks later I went back and bought some more candles and a couple of bottles of lotion. The lady told me that her and her husband were moving to another town several hundred miles away, so no more candles. Well then, its time to start making our own candles.

Lets fast forward to December 20th, 2009, that is when Kristy made her most recent batch of candles.

Lets go over some candle making tips:
Do not use jars with thin glass
Do not use jars where the wick is close to the glass
Use hot glue to glue the wicks into the jars
Use popsicle sticks to hold the wicks in place until the wax dries
Do not use cheap wax
Do not use cheap wicks – Sometimes you get what you pay for, and cheap wax and wicks may not burn as good as the more expensive stuff.
The wax will shrink a little bit as it cools
If you use liquid dye, be careful with it. If you spill the liquid dye, it will stain anything it touches – this includes your floor or cabinets.


Gearpods adventure and survival system

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gearpods reviewUp until just a few weeks ago I had never heard of a Gearpods. Which is marketed as a modular adventure and survival system. When I was approached about doing a review of the Pod, the first thing I did was go to youtube and do a search. Well, no results came back – which is kinda strange. You can find just anything you want on youtube, except in that point in time I could not find a video about “GearPods”. Ok, we need to fix that problem.

When on a backpacking trip, organizing small items can be a real pain.  This is where the Gearpod comes into play.  Not only does it help organize items, it helps keep electronics dry with o-ring seals.

Not only does the pod have a cap on each end, to make the system where it can be expanded there is a slice in the middle.  To add another pod, just take the cap off one end and thread on another splicer.


Texas Department of State Health Services Recalls Oysters

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The Texas Department of State Health Services ordered a recall today of all oysters harvested from San Antonio Bay after reports that people in two states outside Texas have been sickened by norovirus after consuming the oysters. DSHS has received no reports of the illness in Texas related to these oysters.

Oysters harvested in San Antonio Bay between Nov. 16 and Nov. 25 are included in the recall. Consumers who purchased oysters Nov. 16 or later that have a label showing they came from San Antonio Bay are advised to dispose of the oysters and not eat them. The virus has not
affected other seafood.

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis. Symptoms usually include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramping. Symptoms usually begin 24 to 48 hours after consuming the oysters and last one to two days. Norovirus typically is not life threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects.
DSHS has received reports that about a dozen people in North Carolina and South Carolina have gotten sick with norovirus after consuming oysters from San Antonio Bay. State health officials in those states, with assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are investigating those cases.

San Antonio Bay is currently closed to the commercial harvesting of oysters.

For the official press release from the DSHS website, follow this link about the Oyster Recall.

Snow knocked out power to small town in East Texas

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jasper texas snowOn December 4th, 2009 East Texas received an early (and unexpected snowstorm).  It was not really a “snowstorm”, as compared to what the northern states get, more like some snow flurries.  But for East Texas, an area that rarely gets snow, it was more like a snow storm.  In all, may 1/4 inch of snow fell.

On the morning of December 5th, some of the residents of Kirbyville Texas woke up to no electricity.  This seems like a good time to discuss to your life revolves around electricity and being connected to the grind.

Lets do a quick self evaluation:

Can you cook without electricity? Some people are so connected to the grid that they can not even cook a simple meal without electricity.  Have a small camp stove – either propane or liquid fuel – on hand to be able to cook during power outages.  Maybe consider converting your home stove to either propane or natural gas.  Get an outdoor grill – these can be used for cooking outside during the summer time, and cooking when the electricity goes out.

jasper texas snowCan you stay warm without electricity? Some people have no way to heat their homes without electricity.  If this is your case, consider getting a kerosene space heater.  If your home stove uses propane or natural gas, the top burners can be turned on to heat part of the house – but be very, very careful with exposed flames.  Some people will turn on their oven, and then crack the door to allow the heat to escape.

Do you have a private water well? In rural areas its common for people to have their own private water well.  When the power goes off, their water supply also gets cut off.  There are several fixes to this problem – such as a hand powered water pump, solar pumps,,,,.  But one option is a type of air forced water well.  This is where the water is forced out of the well and into a holding tank using a air compressor.  When the power goes out, the holding tank has a certain amount of water in it – depending on the size of the tank.

Most people that live in the north – dealing with winter storms is probably a fact of life.  Kinda like dealing with the heat is a way of life in the south.  So if anything was skipped in this article, please post your comments in the Winter Storm Preparedness thread of the forums.

Dyno Powered Devices

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Back on 08-08-2007, forrestdweller posted an interesting thread on the forum. At the time it did not get very much attention. As I was going through some of the older threads, I took notice of it.

Dyno Powered Devices are really underrated and overlooked. As I walk around the local big box mart, there are Dyno Powered Devices all over the place – but there is no disaster on the horizon either. If there was a hurricane looming in the distance, you can be rest assured that people would be buying every Dyno Powered Device they could get their hands on.

Instead of waiting until the last minute, go ahead and stock up on a couple of those items.

There are a couple of items that I would like to recommend.  The ecotwistr from EDC Depot and the Shake Flashlight from ReadyPro.

eco twisterThe EcoTwistr has a unique design, in that the tail end of the flashlight twist.  In my test, 1 minute of twisting provided over 10 minutes of light.  The flashlight is small, compact and fits the hand well.  This makes it perfect for children, keeping in the glove box of a car or truck, or in a backpack.

The Eco Twistr has a lanyard attachment for a wrist strap, which comes in handy.  The Eco TwistR is only about 3 – 4 inches long.  Which makes it perfect for people with small hands.  When the power goes out, hand it out to the kids and say “there ya go.”  With a flashlight that you “twist” you dont have to worry about the kids hitting anything as the “shake” the light.

shake flashlightThe shake flashlight is your classic “shake flashlight” – you just shake it a few times and the battery is charged.  This flashlight has a rubberized construction, which gives it a sturdy feel and it has a built in lanyard strap.

In my test, this flashlight is brighter then the twistr, plus its a little bigger.  This one might be a better choice for adults instead of kids.  Adults might be a little more careful when they “shake” the light so they do not hit anyone else or knock anything over.

Post your comments in the Dyno Powered Devices thread of the forum.

FTC Required Disclosure:  The owner of Survival Boards (Kevin), received flashlights from EDC Depot and Ready Pro at no cost to himself.

Good hot meal after a disaster

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Some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation has happened, the moral of the group is down, everyone is acting depressed or irritated, what do you do to help resolve the issue?  What can you do to help improve the morale of the group?

Never underestimate the power of a good hot meal during times of stress. After a disaster, and stress levels are up, food can be used as a comfort blanket.

When my family returned home after hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Ike, we found the yard covered with tree limbs. One tree in the back yard had blown down, but landed away from my house. Some of our group started cleaning up the yard, and piling the limbs up. While this cleaning up was going on I started cooking.

The pit was fired up, some sausage and steaks were cooked and we all had a feast right before dark.

It was of great comfort to have a good hot meal after a stressful event. The night before, it sounded like we had a train sitting on top of us for about 8 hours. The next morning everyone was stressed out, and edgy, but the hot meal was like a turning point for that day.

After a stressful event, plan on the group using a feast to comfort and reassure them that life will return back to normal. Then is not the time for powered eggs and freeze dried foods. Pull the steaks or ribs out of the freezer and cook them up.

The food in the freezer should be eaten before the packaged stuff anyway. So its a win win situation. The group gets a good hot meal and the perishable foods are eaten before they spoil.

Never underestimate the power of a good hot meal. It can really help with the morale of the group.

Post your comments in this thread of the urban survival forum.

Related Articles:

  1. Prepping the Bug Out Location
  2. Stockpiling food, ammo and fishing supplies
  3. Hastily assembled and ill equipped survival plans
  4. Bug out location essentials
  5. Long term survival plans
  6. Surviving a long term disaster

Patio Gardening Project Finale and Review

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This is the finale to our patio gardening project.  So lets discuss how things went, the results and the types of seeds we should stockpile.

Overall, I was how the project went.  Even though the box that the plants grew in was only about 6 inches tall, it seemed that the plants grew pretty good for the amount of sunlight, water and fertilizer they received.

Because the growth of the plants was stunted, lets not grow anything that takes a long time to mature – like watermelons, or squash.

Instead, lets focus on plants that can grow quick, do not require cooking and can be eaten at any time.  A few examples of these include greens, radishes, and cabbage.

Considerations for a late season patio garden

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If your stocking up on seeds for a patio garden, cold weather garden, or shaded garden, here are some things to take into consideration.

Due to the lack of sunlight, the plants growth might be stunted, the plant may not mature, and if it does mature it might take a lot longer then normal.

Because of the slow growth, plant crops that:

Can be eaten at anytime – do not need to mature
Mature fast
Rich in nutrients
Do not require to be cooked
Grow well in partial shade
Do not require lots of sunlight

Some examples:

Greens – collard, mustard and turnip
Rutabaga – root crop, eat the leafy tops

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