Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Butane Soldering Iron For Convenient Repairs

Soldering irons are handy tools for us DIY type folks, but sometimes getting it to where you need it can be difficult or just plain dangerous.  Not to mention that if the grid goes down and you need to make a quick repair, an electric soldering iron just won't do the trick.

I found this neat item on E Bay and thought, for the price, I just had to give it a shot.  For the price I paid, and the usefulness, I will certainly be ordering another real soon!

This handy tool uses the same canister for refilling as my butane camp stove...really convenient not to have to stock 2 sizes of cans!  These irons are all over E Bay for under $10.00 DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR!

Check out my You Tube video...

Monday, April 27, 2015

Movie Monday - Zombie Apocalypse

This Week On Movie Monday

Zombie Apocalypse

Most preppers really don't buy into the whole zombie apocalypse fever, but could we be looking at it the wrong way?  Of course, there is no scientific support of anything that could make the dead rise from the grave and begin violently eating the flesh of the living, but there does seem to be some data that would indicate the possibility of a viral pandemic that could make its victims behave in a zombie like manner.  Of course, if you really don't subscribe to this theory, this week's Movie Monday should at least be entertaining.

 These films are presented as an exception to the copyright act as fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire. See bill c-42 article 29.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Product Review - Valley Food Storage

Food products are tough to review.  Simply, most reviews depend on individual tastes, which vary largely from one person to another.  That being said, I have reviewed food packages in the past that were OK and acceptable by my standards, as well as those of my family...and believe me, 5 year olds can be pretty picky!

Another issue with these food packages is that so many of them come from the US.  I have always tried to keep things on this blog as Canadian as possible, so when the folks over at Valley Food Storage contacted me about reviewing their products, I had a few questions for them regarding shipping issues.  They replied back quickly enough and assured me that they do ship product to Canada on a regular basis and have experienced no issues in regards to delays, or customs.

I received the package in about a week's time from the day I got the shipping notice.  It was a variety pack which included 4 packets...

Strawberry Cream of Wheat (5 servings)
Multigrain Cereal (5 servings)
Pasta Primavera (2 servings)
Enchalada Beans and Rice (2 servings)

So, let's get into these pouches and check them out one by one...

First off, we'll look at the strawberry cream of wheat.

I know the camera on the laptop isn't the best, but you can probably tell that it looks a bit watery.  That's because after following the instructions on the package, the result was a thick goop at the bottom of the bowl with a foamy water on top.  Waiting longer and stirring didn't help.  This was disappointing, as there was an inviting aroma of strawberries.  Believe me, the aroma was all there strawberry taste whatsoever.  

Next, let's try the Multigrain cereal.

As you can see from the picture, I am using my butane camp stove for this review because that is what I will likely be using AT BEST when I need to get into my 25 year storage food.  Again, this cereal just didn't take up the water the way you would think it should.  The end result was a bland, thin bowl of plain grains.  As a matter of fact, this one went into the dog dish, and the pouches EVENTUALLY ate it up.

After 2 less than successful attempts at breakfast, time for the entres.

We'll start off with the Enchilada Beans and Rice.

This time, the directions offered an option for a thicker product by using 1/2 cup less water. Having learned my lesson already, I figured that would be a good idea to try.  After the recommended cook time (15 - 18 minutes) and the recommended stand time (another 5 to 7 minutes) I ended up with a bowl of something that looked quite appetizing.  I expected undercooked beans, but I was wrong.  The beans were tender, but the FD vegetables seemed a little tough, which is a common problem with these types of foods.  Unfortunately, it didn't take long for my palate to become overwhelmed with the taste of salt.  Another thing I notices was that I had a decent sized portion in front of me, but it was supposed to be a serving for 2...ok, maybe as a side dish, but definitely NOT for a meal, with this entire bowl packing a mere 460 calories.

Last, but  not the worst (fortunately) comes the Pasta Primavera.

Again, we can see a decent sized bowl of pasta here, but remember...that's 2 servings.  The sauce looked a little on the thin side, even after the recommended standing time, but once it cooled an extra minute or 2 in the bowl, it turned out all right.  The pasta had a good texture and the sauce actually had a cheesy flavor, not overwhelmingly salty, and was overall not bad!  The FD peas however, did cook a little unevenly with some being perfectly tender, and others being a tad crunchy still.  I have to admit that I did eventually eat the entire bowl as I sat down to write this review, so I guess we could call this one a success.

In general, I wasn't impressed with this line of food storage.  Sure, there was one good dish, but I would not pay the $11.95 US for what is supposed to be 2 servings.  Unfortunately, these products turned out to be overpriced and underwhelming.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Movie Monday - Killer Tornadoes

This Week On Movie Monday

Killer Tornadoes

Understanding How Tornadoes Destroy and Kill


With tornado season just around the corner,  I thought this might be a great topic to look at this week.  The majority of tornadoes reported in Canada occur between May and September.  Sure, there have been tornadoes from January through April, and also in November and December,but the possibilities really ramp up for the 5 months in between.

This documentary will cover tornadoes from the US, and unfortunately, a lot of people will think that those devastating EF5 storms just don't happen here.  Well, those people would all be wrong.  Although rated on the older F scale at an F5, the Eli Manitoba Tornado that struck on June 22, 2007 would easily qualify as an EF5 on the new Enhanced Fujita Scale.

In this movie, you will hear a lot of references to El Nino in relation to tornadic activity.  This year, the NOAAs Climate Prediction Center has predicted a 70% chance of El Nino effects this summer.


Canada experiences an average of 62 confirmed tornadoes per year

 These films are presented as an exception to the copyright act as fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire. See bill c-42 article 29.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Lifeline Right Outside Your Door

Community. Do you have one?

 If you answered yes then you are who some would consider to be the fortunate ones. You have either made a decision to be involved in one, live in one, or have created one around you. Your community may be the people you live close to, or the people with whom you spend your time. When people are suddenly in a situation where they are in need, it’s then that they recognize that they either do, or do not, have a community around them. Those who don’t may be alone for many reasons, but two stand out. Either they have chosen to live separately, or they live in an environment where everyone is so busy with their own lives that they don’t know the people next door. It is this latter group for whom this article is written.

 After a disaster, one of the most common recorded statements is in reference to how the “community really came together”. Splashed across the news are stories of people helping one another, sharing resources to others in need or lending a hand to someone they hardly know. This is a wonderful phenomenon, but it’s sad that it takes a disaster to force us to meet our neighbours. Imagine if this same group of people had some idea of the skills and resources among them ahead of time. How much better prepared they would be!
So what can you do to help define the community that’s around you? There are the obvious answers – one being to get to know your neighbours, but for some that’s an intimidating prospect. Not sure where to start? Then try these well-known, but often neglected suggestions:

-          Go to or hold a neighbourhood BBQ

-          Garage sales – go chat with the neighbour who is hosting it, or host one yourself

-          Go for walks in your neighbourhood and look those you pass in the eye and say hi

-          Though somewhat cliché – go ask your neighbour for a cup of sugar. Really. Go do it.

-          If you hear that a neighbour has been ill, bring over a meal

-          Offer to help shovel a driveway or mow a yard

-          If someone new moves into your neighbourhood, bring them a plant or a treat and welcome them. Unfortunately this is a lost act of kindness in a lot of neighbourhoods.

There is strength to be found in having a community. If you don’t have one yet, then take a moment and reach out to those around you the next time an opportunity arises. You never know what lifelines you may be establishing without even realizing it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Time To Get Gardening, Or, At Least Planning For IT

Even with the snow still lingering on the ground, now is the time to turn your attention to the outdoors and your food production for the coming season. Growing your own food is a sustainable way to prepare yourself for hard times. With some simple storage and preservation methods, you can produce some of your own food storage right out of the dirt!

When planning your garden, think preparedness. Try to grow foods that are nutritious and can be stored. Of course, having a way to can, dehydrate, or cold store your produce not only helps, but is a must for the prepper gardener. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of something that I grow that can’t be preserved for later use by at least 2 of those methods.

Be creative and search out new ideas for storing your produce. I used to grow a very limited amount of greens because there was no really good way to preserve them and the kids wouldn’t eat them anyways. However, I just came across a really neat blog post suggesting that I dehydrate them and use a blender to turn it all into powder which could be used in soups, stews, sprinkled on salads, even hidden in a meatloaf mix! Sounds like a great idea, and this year I will surely be opening up some new ground for more greens.

We all know that we should eat what we store and store what we eat…well the same goes for growing. There is really no point to growing wax beans if your family just doesn’t like them. There are a few exceptions to this however, like the trick I use in my pasta sauce of putting zucchini in a blender,then mixing it into the tomatoes while cooking it down. Not only do I get a boost of nutrition, but it stretches the tomato crop that much further(and the kids are none the wiser).

Keep an eye on the frost date for your area. Believe it or not, you may be closer than you think to have to start long season crops indoors. The information on the back of your seed packs will let you know how long before the last frost that they need to get a much needed head start so that you can get the expected yield. If you haven’t ordered your seeds from a catalog yet, it may already be too late for some of the early starters. That doesn’t mean that you’ve missed the boat completely though as almost every hardware store, grocer, and yard center already have their seed selection out on display. If you look closely enough, you will even find some heirloom varieties too!

Don’t be afraid to try new things…especially if you have a problematic crop from years past. Even I admit that there are just some things I can’t get the hang of growing well. My nemesis is peas. Try as I may, year after year, I just don’t get a crop, so out they go from my plans. Instead, I’ll try using the space for a dryer bean that I can use to supplement the protein shelf in the pantry. Besides, I can live just fine without peas!

Don’t forget to keep track of how much you plant and how much you harvest. I use a database I made in Access, but a pen and paper will work just as well. Once the season has come to an end and the stalks are all in the compost pile(you DO have a compost pile, DON”T YOU?) then you can look back and make adjustments. What crops were you short on? Plant more of that one accordingly next year. What crops were you giving to friends until they hid inside their homes when they saw you coming with yet another armload? Dedicate less space to that one going forward.

Let’s not forget about seasonings. I always have space dedicated to herbs to season my food with. Don’t add too much to foods that you plan on canning as the end result will be less than ideal, but dry and store them seperately and add them as you cook for dinner.

Some final points:

1 – grow what you eat
2 – have a way to preserve it
3 – start early seeds indoors now (or very soon)
4 – track sow/harvest and make adjustments in subsequent years
5 – leave space for herbs and seasonings

Now, stop reading and go get your hands in the dirt!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Guest Post From Lee Flynn - Incorporating Water Storage Into Your Emergency Food Supply

Building your own food and water back up emergency supply is a smart plan to incorporate in the face of an unexpected emergency or serious disaster. FEMA recommends storing at least a two-week supply. However, most survival experts believe a three-day supply should be sufficient for an immediate response to a bad situation. With just a bit of forethought, careful planning, and regular maintenance, anyone can easily create and maintain a basic emergency food storage supply. Here’s some key information regarding which foods to select and how to properly store them as well as how to maintain your fresh water supply.

Emergency Water Storage Tips

In an emergency situation, having enough clean water to drink is one of the top priorities to consider. The average person needs a minimum of two quarts every day. People living in warmer climates, nursing mothers, young children, and sick people need even more. Water is also necessary for proper hygiene and adequate food preparation. Stockpile at least one gallon per day per person. Consider stockpiling a two-week supply of fresh water for every member of the family. If this isn’t possible, just store as much as you possibly can.

If your supplies are running somewhat low, never try to ration water. Just try to drink the amount you require today, and look for more tomorrow. Reduce your activity level and stay cool in order to minimize how much water your body requires.

For the healthiest results, buy food-grade water supply containers from camping or surplus supply stores to use for your long-term emergency water storage.

Stockpiling Emergency Food

• Store your emergency food in a dry, cool, dark place. A basement is an ideal place to store food since it’s darker and cooler than the rest of the house. Be sure your area is easy to get to if there’s any damage done to your home or if flooding occurs in the basement. If your home doesn’t have a basement, use the crawl space or a closet centrally located in the home, whereby the support beams would hopefully support the bulk of the roof during a serious storm or earthquake.

• Make sure all food items are properly sealed in quality airtight containers. Store any loose packages of nuts, dried fruits, and sugar in sealable, airtight jars in order to protect your storage food from any subsequent water damage or pests.

• Use high-calorie food choices that offer a great deal of nutrition and don’t need refrigeration. In general, dry foods like beans, white rice, and pasta have an extended shelf life and provide numerous calories as well. For a bit of variety, protein bars, nuts, and dried fruits are all excellent choices. Chocolate candies aren’t the most nutritious food, but serve to lift your spirits during a difficult emergency or disaster, which is a great help if there are young children in the home.

• Check your food storage periodically for any items that may be past their expiration date. When selecting items to eat, take the first-in, first-out approach. This method will help you preserve your food to make it last longer. While most commercial emergency food kits come equipped with the date on which they were originally packaged, any other food needs to be marked using a permanent marker in order to keep track of the date.

Food Storage Containers

Any food items you intend to store for an indefinite period of time should be properly stored in food-grade containers. Containers like these won’t transfer any non-food or toxic chemicals into your food. Usually, a food-grade container has the acronym ‘HDPE’ stamped on it or a #2 near the recycle symbol. Thoroughly clean your containers with warm soapy water, rinse, and completely dry before storing any food in them. Also, be sure the lid you buy for your food-grade container is both spill-proof and airtight. Gamma lids and lids with gaskets are perfect since they don’t require an opener.

Healthy Nutrition Tips

During a disaster and after it’s over, it’s crucial to maintain your physical strength. Consider the following:

• Drink enough water to allow your body to properly function; ideally 2 – 4 quarts per day.
• Eat at least one nutritious meal every day.
• Consume enough calories to perform any work that’s necessary in your situation.

Lastly, include a vitamin supplement in your emergency food storage supply to make sure both you and your family are getting an adequate amount of nutrition when you need it most.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Movie Monday - How To Build A Wood Gasifier With 7 Trumpets Prepper

Movie Mondays have been a popular and informative posting series here at the CPN.  I've shared more than a few documentaries from the BBC and National Geographic.  As you could imagine, it's not always easy to find something relevant and interesting to post.  To help out with that, I've turned to my friend Che from the OPSN and shared a few of his videos.  Following on that same path, I recently got in touch with the folks at 7 Trumpets Prepper and gotten their permission to share this weeks presentation. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Guest Post from Dan F.Sullivan at SurvivalSullivan

Outdoor Cooking Tips for the Average Joe

While outdoor cooking is more of a recreational activity, when disaster strikes and we’re all going to be out in the woods building shelter and making fire, we won’t have a choice but to do it every day. We might as well get good at it right now…
There are plenty of articles with tips and tricks on how to make fire even in the most adverse conditions (can you believe you can use an ice to make one?) but very few on how to cook on it.  Outdoor cooking isn’t hard but one wrong move and the fire is out or the food gets burnt. It all depends on the cooking method and that’s the first thing I want to discuss.
The main ways to cook outdoors include:
·         cooking on a rock next to an open fire (it can’t get simpler than this)
·         cooking on open fire (as long as you have a fireproof container such as a camping pot)
·         cooking on a grill placed on open fire
·         cooking over coal by wrapping food in aluminum foil or even leaves
·         using more advanced tools such as the volcano grill
The cooking method you use is dictated primarily by the type of food you have and by the cooking utensils you have at your disposal. And before we move on to the tips, the thing I want you to remember is that you can always find a way to cook something. Some of the cooking tips below might even surprise you…
Outdoor cooking tip #1: don’t cook over the flame. There are exceptions to this (such as when you want to fry something) but most foods need to be cooked on the coal, not on the flame. This is how most newbies manage to burn the food.
Let the fire settle down first until it burns down to coal, that’s when you get a more even heat that will better cook the food. When the coal starts to look brightly-red, that’s your queue to place your food on it.
Outdoor cooking tip #2: use tinfoil for open fire cooking
This is one of the easiest ways to cook on an open fire. You just wrap the food in tinfoil and place it on the burning coal. Make sure the fire has slowed down first, you don’t want the flame to burn down the foil.
Even so, you’re still gonna want to use heavy duty foil to make sure it holds through high temperatures. If ashes get inside your food, you’re not gonna like the taste so much. If you’re using regular tinfoil, you can just wrap the food twice to obtain the same result.
Outdoor cooking tip #3: use oil or grease on the grill to prevent the food from sticking
Outdoor cooking tip #4: use a paper bag
The reason I like this outdoor cooking method so much is because it doesn’t require a grill or any fancy cooking equipment. All you need is a brown paper bag which will be placed directly on the coal. The trick to making sure it doesn’t burn is you put inside something greasy, such as bacon. The fat in it is the one responsible for the bag not bursting into flames. (There’s a video showing how to do this on YouTube right here.)
Outdoor cooking tip #5: cooking AROUND an open fire
Rock frying is one of the easiest ways to cook something. You just make your fire, put a large flat rock next to it (to allow the heat to penetrate it) and you put your meat or whatever you want to cook on that rock when it’s hot enough.
That rock is going to be on one side of the fire so, if you have more stuff to cook you just need to put more rocks and more wooden planks around it. Of course, rock frying is something of a last resort in outdoor cooking due to the fact that you have to place your food directly on the rock, making it less than ideal.
Outdoor cooking tip #6: your food should not be thicker than 1.5 inches.
If it’s more than an inch and a half thick, you might end up with food that’s overcooked on the outside and raw on the inside.
Outdoor cooking tip #7: put liquid soap on the outside of the pots you use will make it easier for you to clean them afterwards.
Outdoor cooking tip #8: always keep your food hung in a tree somewhere as the smell may attract wildlife. Better yet, put it in sealed containers since it might even attract humans! Post-SHTF, of course.
Outdoor cooking tip #9:
There’re a couple of tricks to making fire in a way that won’t give away your location. The first one is to do it right below a tree; the branches will dissipate the smoke as it goes up. The second one is to continuously feed the fire with tinder. Obviously, making fire under a tree requires you to be ultra-careful even after you extinguish it.
Outdoor cooking tip #10: be patient
Just because the meat looks good on the outside, this doesn’t mean it’s fully cooked on the inside… unless you like it rare. Make sure you allow enough time for your food to cook and don’t be fooled by how it looks on the outside.
Outdoor cooking tip #11: if you happen to burn one of your fingers, grab with it one of your earlobes. The natural oils will block the air from coming into contact with the burnt skin.

Learn More by visiting Survival Sullivan