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Archive for the ‘Apartment living’ Category

I am happy to announce The Apartment Prepper’s Blog is now in the following website:  http://apartmentprepper.com/

Please change your bookmarks to the new site, as that is where I will be posting new articles.  I will not close this WordPress blog just yet, but all new articles will soon be posted on the new site.  So please change your bookmarks to http://apartmentprepper.com/

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will visit my new website!

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I am happy to be back home after being away for a week.  Now I can proceed with my bulk food storage plans.

Last week, I posted about shopping for food staples such as rice, pasta, pinto beans, etc.  in “Survival Food Shopping”  https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/survival-food-shopping/.

We then bought the materials needed to package these foods for long-term storage.  These were purchased online as I could not find a local store that carries them:

–food grade five gallon buckets with lids

–1 gallon size mylar bags

–oxygen absorbers (300 cc)

The following common household items will also be needed:

–iron

–flat surface such as a leveler tool or a wooden table with a cardboard liner

–permanent markers for labeling

–labels or masking tape so you can label the buckets

–empty jar

–measuring cup

Most sites I read recommended five gallon size mylar bags to fit into the buckets.  We chose one gallon bags instead for the following reasons:

  • One gallon bags of staples are easier to transport than five gallon bags.  Since we live in an apartment, there is always a chance we may have to bug out.  If we had to leave on foot with only the bug out bags, we would be able to carry one gallon bags of food between family members.
  • Since the goal is to keep the food fresh for as long as possible, if we open up the five gallon bag, we would need to use it all up.  Since we are storing in one gallon bags, they can be opened and used as needed, without affecting the rest of the batches.
  • If we choose to, we can share one gallon bags of food with others in need, such as family or neighbors, without compromising the rest of the bin.

Here are a few of  the materials I have collected. 

On my next post, I will go over the steps that I am doing to store the bulk food items.

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In my last post about using less of everything, https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/using-less-of-everything-hair-product-update/, I mentioned the next project was trying to use less deodorant.

The main purpose to these experiments is to try using less of common products to make our supplies last longer.  A side benefit is the money saved from not having to buy new supplies as quickly as before.  Regarding the use of antiperspirants and deodorants, many people are concerned about the aluminum content of these products and the effect this may have on health.  Interestingly, I found the enclosed article on MSNBC, “Great Unwashed Raise Stink about Being Clean Enough”  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39937951/ns/health-skin_and_beauty/ Is there a trend here?

I am now ready to post the result of the experiment.

I tried the following on different days:

  • Using no deodorant, but bathing daily.
  • Using a natural Crystal Deodorant.
  • Baby powder
  • Baking soda
  • Rubbing Alcohol

I did the experiment on days when I was working from home.   I was the test subject and I also did the evaluation.  As a backup, my family also gauged whether the remedies were effective or not according to the degree of complaints.  The main variable was the weather on various days;  I also tried the remedies on days with no workout, and on days when I did work out.

To my dismay, we had several days of intense heat and humidity in our area.

  • On cooler days (under 80 degrees), with or without a workout, all the remedies worked well.
  • On very hot days (around 85-100 degrees or more), WITH a workout, none of the remedies work.  At the end of the day, I checked it myself and I felt need to run, not walk, for a second shower.
  • On hot days WITHOUT a workout,  a combination of the crystal deodorant and baby powder worked very well.
  • Baking soda applied under the arms worked as well as baby powder on a standalone basis.
  • Rubbing alcohol under the arms is supposed to be a good substitute, as alcohol kills bacteria; this remedy also only worked well on cooler days.
  • On very cool days (75 degrees and under), without a workout, doing without deodorant altogether, with a daily shower actually worked well for 24 hours.
  • During the experiment, I found I was having to wash my shirts after wearing only once, particularly on the intensely hot days.  Therefore we used more detergent on those days.  This gives me an idea that my next experiment will be to try to make homemade detergent to see if is works as well as store-bought.

As a conclusion, the use of antiperspirants/deodorant is only necessary on intensely hot days, as I did not find a substitute that works as well.  So I am not tossing out the underarm products as truthfully, I won’t feel “confident dry and secure” on those hot and humid days.  However, on cooler days these remedies all work very well.  I actually bought the crystal deodorant for everyone in the family as I was satisfied with the result.  I am pleased that we can actually cut down on using antiperspirants or deodorant depending on the weather and level of physical activity.  Just between us, I think the family is relieved that this experiment is over.  🙂

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Last night my husband was showing me how to handle a rifle.  I have had some experience target shooting with a pistol, but this time he wanted to make sure I know how to hold the rifle and use the scope properly.   The rifle was about three lbs., plus a couple of lbs for the scope.  We practiced positioning it correctly, aiming and carrying it around properly.  This morning I woke up and my arms and shoulders were sore.  We did not spend hours practicing, it was only about 30 minutes tops!  But I was using muscles I did not normally work out on a daily basis so I got sore.

When we were trying out backpacks, the store clerk added weighted pillows to the backpacks to position them correctly, and had us walk around for 20 minutes.  At the end of those 20 minutes, my back and shoulders were complaining–I got sore just testing backpacks.   I did not think I was completely out of shape: my normal work out routine includes 30 minutes of walking a day, or about 1 1/2 mile and free weights for about 15 minutes.  But again, the walk is an easy pace, with no backpack to weigh me down.

Which got me to thinking, how prepared are we physically if the SHTF tomorrow and we had to run out of the city on foot, carrying our bug out bags?  Living in the middle of the big city, we would have to travel at least 20 miles to get out,  more if we wanted to get further away.  Our bags would be at least 20 pounds, and we would likely be traveling in 80 degree weather.  It would be pretty rough!  I know I’d be huffing and puffing, stopping every couple of miles.  I don’t know about you, but how far do you think you can get on foot, with a heavy pack, in either heat or cold?  What if you were being chased?  The reality is, even with my usual daily walks to maintain weight,  I am not in good enough shape for TEOTWAWKI.  I don’t know if there is even a way to get in shape for this sort of thing, but I have to try.

So I am changing my workout routine.  I will continue to walk, but will travel longer and longer distances (only in safe areas, and with a weapon.)   I will do more strengthening exercises for arms and legs.   The rest of the family is also on board about getting in shape.  Once we are in better shape, the family and I will go on extended hikes with our heavy backpacks.  If you are considering adding or changing your workout routine, please remember:

  • Get a physical checkup with your doctor, if you haven’t had one in a while.  We did our checkups over the summer, so we know our baselines for weight, blood pressure, cholesterol etc.
  • Start slow:  Walk or bike 10 minutes initially, gradually increasing pace and time as you get used to the routine
  • Listen to your body.  If you are getting too tired, or the weights are getting too uncomfortable, stop, go slower or use less weight.
  • Don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated
  • If taking walks, stay in known safe areas;  let someone know where you are going and be aware of your surroundings.

If things continue to stay “normal” as I pray they would, in a few months we’d be in better physical condition, maybe even lose a few pounds.   Taking up hiking would be a fun family activity, and if things in the city were to take a turn for the worse, hopefully this gives us a better chance to bug out and run for safety.

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My favorite survival cookware are cast iron pans.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with cast iron, they are the black heavy iron pans that have been around for hundreds of years.  They must be “seasoned” or coated with oil or they can rust.  But a pan that is used constantly and kept dry after use will last for generations.

My mother-in-law actually introduced me to cast iron pans.  Whenever I helped her cook anything in her kitchen, I marveled at how the cast iron pans cooked everything so well, retained heat evenly and performed like nonstick pans.  In those days, I used teflon pans, but they peel and shred after a while.  Teflon pans were also found to pose a health hazard.  If overheated, they release a chemical:  perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), known to cause cancer and birth defects in animals, according to a Consumer Reports article.  I tossed out all my teflon pans and asked my mother-in-law to help me find some cast iron pans.

She did not take me to a cookware store; instead she took me to Goodwill.  She said she found the best seasoned cast iron pans there.  In those days, new cast iron pans were not pre-seasoned and you had to work on it a while.  But people would toss them out thinking they were inferior to Calphalon or other name brand cookware.

If you are in the market for one, try second-hand stores like Goodwill first.  Only buy it is if you find a slightly rusted cast iron pan, all it needs is a little TLC.  The same process to salvage it, is the same process to season a new pan.

  • If you have a new pan, just wash and rinse, no scraping needed.  If you are working with a used, slightly rusted pan, wash with a strong dishwashing liquid and scrape out the rust with a steel wool.
  • Dry completely with a dish towel.
  • Coat the pan with cooking oil all over.  I have used vegetable oil, olive oil or peanut oil
  • Turn the oven on low heat, around 250 degrees and leave the pan in the oven for 4 hours.  Do not leave unattended.  It may get a bit smoky if the heat is too high.
  • Turn of the heat and leave the pan in while it cools.
  • Repeat the process over a few months until the pan turns black.  You now have a well-seasoned pan.

As a benefit for us preppers,  they can be used over an open flame in an emergency, and will cook evenly.  Also, use of the pan adds iron to your food, which helps avoid an iron deficiency.  Because they will last a lifetime, you don’t need to spend money for replacement pans.

Cast iron pans are now available pre-seasoned.  You don’t have to go through the process if you don’t feel like it.  Just remember the pan should not be left sitting in a sinkful of water.  It should be rinsed and dried after use and coated with a thin layer of oil.  They are still fairly inexpensive, around $10 for a non-seasoned pan, and about $20 for a pre-seasoned one.

Since I am still new at prepping, I know I still need a few more items to round out the survival cookware.  Leon over at Survival Common Sense has an excellent article about Dutch ovens.  Check it out at http://www.survivalcommonsense.com/2010/09/27/dutch-oven-survival-kitfeed/ .   I have not tried Dutch ovens but will not add it to my list, along with the sun oven.  Once I try them, I will be sure to post about my experience.

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One of the recent comments on one of my postings, from Madmax808 (thanks!), mentioned stocking up on Spam-the canned meat kind, which got me thinking about it so I picked up a couple of cans that were on sale.

For anyone who has never tried Spam, it is a canned meat by Hormel, made of pork shoulder and ham.  It looks like a pink brick when you first take it out of the can.  A lot of people hate it, but there are a great number of fans out there.   My parents actually introduced me to Spam.  Since they were kids during World War II, they grew up eating Spam as a special treat.  Meat was scarce back then so having a little meat, even from a can, was a good thing.  My Mom made me Spam and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread up until high school when I got too “grown up” to bring Mom’s lunches to school.

When our family visited Hawaii a few years ago, we found fast food places like McDonald’s actually served Spam, egg and rice for breakfast.  Not sure if they still do, but we tried it and it was pretty good.

Here is the quick recipe:  Slice Spam into thin slices.  Fry in a bit of oil until browned and sprinkle sugar on top.  Serve with scrambled eggs and white rice.  Or, make a breakfast sandwich with Spam, a fried egg and American cheese between two pieces of sliced bread.

There are lots more ways to cook Spam, but these are my favorites.

This is not a paid endorsement and I have no connection to Hormel.  I am always on the lookout for inexpensive foods with have a good shelf life that the family likes.  I think Spam is a worthy addition to the larder, as it is actually pretty tasty if you cook it the right way.


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Last week we heard the Great Recession which began in 2007 actually ended in June 2009.  Just a few days before that declaration, we also read that 1 in 7 Americans lives in poverty.  I am not an economist and don’t claim to be an expert in these matters, but this sure does not feel like a recovery to me.

I have a feeling it can still get worse.  These are already happening (in no particular order) and are likely to continue:

  • Commercial real estate foreclosures
  • Increased unemployment
  • Continued residential foreclosures
  • Increased homelessness
  • Increasing food prices
  • Increase in crime
  • Bank closures
  • Store closures
  • States slashing funding for public programs

Which got my husband and I having a conversation about:  “How bad can it get for us personally if the economy gets even worse?

I had not actually thought about the nitty-gritty details.

First a definition of what is “worse?”  Worse to us would be if we both lost our jobs at the same time, and could not find new jobs right away.  We rent, so there is no house to lose.  We do still need to pay rent on time, or we would get evicted.  So, let’s say we’re both out of a job, that would mean cutting all expenses except food and utilities.  That means no more cell phones or basic cable; our budget would be bare bones.  If we get unemployment checks, we may be able to continue living in our current apartment, but what happens when unemployment runs out too?  We don’t have a lot of family in the area.  If there were no jobs out there, and unemployment benefits are no longer available, we would have to sell everything we own, and move to a one room apartment.  We’d be cramped, but have a roof over our head.  But once the money runs out, then what is left?  That is how families become homeless.

I don’t think I had ever considered the possibility that we could become homeless if things got bad.  But homelessness is happening to many families who have already had the bottom fall out from under them, so I have to think it can happen to anyone.

All the more reason to continue prepping for an uncertain future:  continue to save, store food, water and other necessities, take care of security and acquire a few skills like canning, fishing, etc.  I am grateful we are able to prepare now, to hopefully protect us from this possible worse case scenario in the future.

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