Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Equipment Review - The James Washer

** ***
When we first moved into our "shouse", one of my greatest challenges was laundry.  We had no running water, drains or electricity.  Before we moved, I had the luxury of putting a load of laundry into the washing machine and then getting on with the rest of my day.  It was a luxury I took for granted.  Once we had moved, laundry became an almost insurmountable task.  Rather than tossing a load in the washing machine and going about my business, I now had to get to know my laundry on a very personal level.

After hauling water into the house, I would put my 15 gallon galvanized wash tub on the wood cookstove and fill it with cold water.  Starting with the darks and a bar of Fels Naptha soap, I would start washing.  I soaped the clothes up well, scrubbed them against each other and then against the corrugations on the side of the wash tub.  I rubbed and scrubbed and lathered, rubbed, scrubbed and lathered.  Once I thought they were well cleaned, I plopped the sudsy mess in a laundry basket and went on to the next article of clothing.  I progressed quickly from the dark clothes to the colored and then to the whites.  I had to work fast because the water heated up as I washed.  It is remarkable how quickly a 15 gallon tub of water heats up when placed over the firebox on a wood cookstove!

Once all of the clothes had been scrubbed, I hauled water (cold, once again) into our bathroom and filled the bathtub.  I dumped the laundry basket full of clean but soapy clothes into the tub and agitated them with my hands.  I wrung all of the soap out (by hand) put them back into the basket, rinsed the soap out of the tub and started over again. I found that if I didn't rinse the clothes at least twice, they became dingy and fowl smelling.  Not having a wringer, I wrung all of the clothes by hand, which I found to be a poor substitute for the spin cycle.

Having a bucket full of clean clothes, I hung them on a clothes stand in front of the wood cookstove.  Due to the fact that I had rung the clothes myself, there was always a standing pool of water under the clothes rack.

Eventually, we graduated to a generator-powered, cold water only washing machine.  It was heaven!  Gone were the soggy clothes that took 3 days to dry (meaning that I always had wet clothes in front of the stove) and blistered knuckles from the constant rubbing in boiling water.

Since then, I have gone through about 3 washing machines.  They were all Craigslist finds, not even close to new, and most of them did a fine job, but when they would break, I would be back to doing laundry by hand.  That is, until we invested in a James Washer.  Realizing the incredible amount of work that was required to do laundry by hand, especially when you weren't set up for it, we knew that we needed to invest in some real, honest-to-goodness back to basics laundry equipment.

We bought a James Washer from some folks (who later became very good friends), along with double galvanized wash tubs.  Because our philosophy for preparedness is ruled by "use it, use it, use it", we took advantage of our first washing machine malfunction to put the James Washer to the test.

Laundry Day
(The kids, of course, were a lot younger!)

Princess Dragon Snack, helping
Setting the washer up outside, we filled it with water straight from the hose.  Allowing it to sit in the sun for about an hour gave us nice, warm water in which to wash our clothes. We put clothes in, being careful not to overload the washer, and proceeded to wash.  One thing we learned quickly was that in order to get the clothes as clean as our washing machine, we had to put about as much time into washing with the James Washer as our washing machine did on a normal cycle.  It took about 45 minutes of washing, rinsing, washing and rinsing before we thought our clothes were really clean.  Once we had finished washing, we drained the water and filled the washer with clean water from the hose, rinsed a final time and proceeded to wring the clothes with a wringer that was attached to the James Washer.  The wringer (which is Lehman's Best) did the job quite efficiently, but really is not made particularly well.  I think it will have to be babied to last for any length of time.  The knobs are wobbly and hard to turn and it basically feels like it may break at any moment.  That being said, it did wring our clothes out quite effectively.

We found that we were able to cut down on the washing time by pre-soaking our clothes.  We filled our washtubs with water, put laundry in them and went in to have a glass of iced tea.  Leaving the clothes outside in the washtubs allowed them to soak in increasingly warm water, making it much easier to wash the dirt out when the time came.

The James Washer itself is a lovely invention.  It is not as large as you might think, by looking at the pictures - only big enough for a pair of jeans, a bath towel, a few t-shirts and some undergarments.  It would struggle with bedding or large items like insulated cover-alls.  The dasher works very well - easy enough for children to use, and the plumbing makes draining a breeze.  The James Washer is very handsome. It is polished stainless steel with wood accents and would look wonderful plumbed into a bathroom or gracing the front porch.  It, however, is very thin.

After using our washer for about 3 weeks, the metal at the handle began to rip.  Sir Knight says, tongue in cheek, that the stainless steel is roughly 3 times thicker than a pop can.  And he is right.  The good thing is, that once you know were the weak points are, they are easily repairable (if you know how to weld).  We did find that less stress would be placed on the handle if we added more water to the washer.
The tear in the metal

The James Washer does have a lid that sits on the top.  I found that I never used the lid, unless I was leaving water in the washer to heat in the sun.  Other than that, I slid the lid under the washer to keep it from being trampled upon.  If you are storing your washer, the lid is nice to keep dirt from accumulating inside.  The lid sits on the top rather than being fitted, so if it is in storage, you must be careful not to bump it and send it flying to the floor.

All in all, the James Washer is the best option on the market.  It requires less work and is more effective than most other options.  The washer does not come with a wringer - that must be purchased separately, but is essential if you want your clothes to be dried in under three days.

We love our James Washer, but.........

Here is a question.  Sir Knight has been thinking about washing machines for quite some time (it couldn't have anything to do with my frame of mind when I was washing clothes on the cookstove?!).  He believes that he and Master Hand Grenade could build something sturdier (by far) for less money (the James Washer is expensive, about $500.00).  He would make it in three sizes, small, medium and large, with the largest being about the size of a 55 gallon drum with handles on both ends (specifically for a very large family, small village or to be utilized as a community washer).  What do you think?  Would any of you be interested?  Is there a need for another washer?  I would love to hear from you.

If you can afford the investment, the James Washer is a wonderful piece of equipment  (provided that you are prepared to repair it).  Knowing ahead of the need, how you will do laundry, will be essential for your mental well being!  I can guarantee there will be many other challenges facing you.  Not having to spend unnecessary time and energy on the daily task of laundry will be a tremendous relief!

We give the James Washer  ** stars.


I love the new "reply" button in the comment section.  It is wonderful being able to reply directly to a specific comment.  However, I have noticed that some folks are getting a little snarky.  Don't.  This is not the place to tear one another down.  We are going to need each other in the future.  We may not all think alike and we may wear our preparedness efforts differently, but we would be much better served by finding the common thread that binds us together.  You readers are an intelligent, well-healed bunch.  I have the sneaking suspicion that we really see the same train coming down the tracks.  We might have different opinions for dealing with the train, but we all recognize the problems.

Let's be kind to one another.  My children must speak with kindness on their tongues, or not at all.  How much more responsible are we than children?  I love hearing from all of you - many of you make me think of things I have never considered before - but please, don't attack each other.  We are in this together.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What part of "Police State" don't we understand?

They are watching.  They are listening.  They are acting.  No longer do we have the freedom to say what we want, write what we want or do what we want.  If our thoughts are not in line with politically correct standards, we will be sought out and reprimanded.  If we continue in our evil ways, we will be dealt with accordingly.

I am under no illusion that my blog is not being mined for potentially "seditious" content.  Some of my blog posts have been blocked from Facebook and Twitter.  The Constitution, in its intended form, is no longer governing this country.  We are at the mercy of the "jack-booted thugs" that have waged war against humanity since ancient times.  We thought that our precious liberties were iron-clad - that we would never succumb to an over-reaching government.  But we became complacent.  We didn't discipline ourselves to live according to laws of God.  And now, the fruit of our rebellion is ripening.

Recently, two people, traveling from the U.K., had the audacity to post irreverent comments on Twitter (whatever the heck that is) while flying into the U.S.  On their arrival, they were met by DHS (remember - the Jack-booted thugs I mentioned?), questioned and deported back to Briton.  They mentioned something about "destroying America", apparently referencing a drinking and partying binge and digging up Marilyn Monroe (a TV show reference, according to the article I read).  And for that, they weren't allowed to enter this country.  Really.

We have come to a point in history where our thoughts are being monitored and evaluated by numerous governmental agencies.  No longer can we freely express our opinions, thoughts or religious beliefs without the threat of reprisal, from which there is no redress of grievances.  We stand on the precipice of complete tyranny.  The Police State is rising. Only through a united stand for what is good and right can we stem the spread of the cancer that is our government.  We MUST stand for good in the face of evil, no matter what the cost.  If we do not - we will leave our children to live in a world of fear, poverty and bloodshed.

If we don't act, then who?  If not now, then when?  Who will stand between good and evil?  It must be me.  It must be you.  The Police State is at our door.  Will we answer?

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Reluctant Leader

Prepping can be overwhelming.  As a woman, there are times that I think the majority of our preparedness efforts fall squarely on my shoulders.  I make the lists, I stock the buckets, I keep the budget and rotate the inventory.  I do a million little things that will ensure that my family will be well taken care of in the event of a collapse.  And, I have to admit, I have been tempted, once or twice, to wonder what my husband does other than buy the cool gadgets.

One day, as I pondered these thoughts, it struck me.  I am performing the duties of the Proverbs 31 woman.  I am managing my husbands estate and taking care of my family.  I am ensuring that I can laugh at the days to come by carefully planning and managing our preparedness efforts.  I am seeing the signs of the time and acting in wisdom.  But my husband's day is coming.

People naturally gravitate toward authority.  When there is a fire or a car accident, the fire department is summoned.  When crimes are being committed, the police are called.  In the event of a medical emergency, doctors are sought.  People have a natural need to be directed and cared for.  And it is what we are used to.  Who are people going to seek when the grid goes down?  My husband.  And if you are preppers, your husband.  They will seek those that appear to have a handle on the situation.  They will come in groups, they will come one by one, they will coming running and they will come walking.  But they will come. They will need to be fed.  They will need to be cared for.  They will need to be led.  They may need to be dispatched.

Preppers will be thrust into positions of leadership, either willingly or reluctantly.  They will be the Moses' and Abrahams' of this generation.  And they will lead well or lead poorly, but they will lead.  The weight of the world will truly be on their shoulders.  Not only will they be tasked with leading the masses into the future, they will be responsible for the direction of an entire society.  They will take their positions in history standing beside the patriarchs of old.

As preppers, we not only have to prepare our stores in abundance, we have to prepare ourselves for what the future holds.  Part of that preparation must be readying for the role of leadership.

One of the most difficult tasks the leaders of our families will face is conducting charity.  Who do they help?  How do they choose?  Do they run everyone off or take anyone in who is in need?  If you have been a prepper for any length of time, these are questions that you have grappled with.  So have Sir Knight and I.  Finally, we decided to go to the Bible to seek the answers.

First, we searched for who we do need to help.  We came up with a number of people that we would be responsible for.  Widows and orphans topped the list.  It says in James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress".  It also addresses who has a responsibility to the widows and orphans first.  "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God" and it goes on to say "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:4, 5:8).

There is exhortation after exhortation to care for an honor your father and your mother.  Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16 and Leviticus 19:3 all direct us to be honoring.  Joseph cared for Jacob while the famine was sore in the land of Canaan - can we do less for our parents?  What if your parents are being foolish, even having been warned?  Prepare for that and honor them anyway.  In honoring your parents, you are pleasing your God.

The poor need to be cared for also.  This must to be done with wisdom.  Great discretion and understanding will be required.  We are told in Proverbs 21:13 "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered".  These are the people you put charity supplies aside for.  This is your tithe to the Lord.

We do have to help people, but we are also called to turn some away.  We have to turn away the wicked man (Proverbs 10:3, Proverbs 13:25) and the foolish man (Proverbs 21:20).  There will come a time when you have to judge a man to be either poor (and feed him) or foolish (and turn him away).  There are many admonitions dealing with the lazy man (Proverbs 10:4).  "Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry" (Proverbs 19:15), we need not extend our abundance to such a man as this.  It should be obvious, but our plenty should never be given to a thief.  "Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel" (Proverbs 20:17).  I have the sneaking suspicion, that for most of us, he just might end up with a mouth full of buck shot!

While there is a necessity for charity, there is also a place for commerce.  Proverbs 11:26 says "People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell".  It would seem prudent to buy extra with the express purpose of providing (either through charity or selling) for those who, for one reason or another, did not store up against a day of calamity.

As preppers, we are already walking the path of leadership.  "Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor" (Proverbs 12:24).  We need to seek wisdom and understanding so that we will be good stewards of the abundance with which we have been entrusted.  "A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases his strength" (Proverbs 24:5).

As a wife, it is my great honor to help my husband prepare for the future.  I will secure the abundance, manage the estate, care for the people.  He will lead.  He will make the decisions that will decide the fate of his fellow man.  Reluctantly or willingly, he will take his place among the leaders of our future.  I intend to see that he is armed and ready.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Naturally Cozy Factory Tour & Coming Soon

I have long neglected the Naturally Cozy website.  It was definitely due for a face lift.  I still have a little work to do (I will be offering different colored snaps on the panty liners versus different colored threads) and I need to update some of the Paypal buttons.

We had a lot of fun choosing new pictures and the Tour gives you a really good idea of what we do and were we work.  The Factory Tour is a slide show, so it make take a little while to load on your computer.  You'll have to let me know what you think!

Coming Soon!

We are also in the process of expanding our offerings at Naturally Cozy.  Miss Calamity is making hot water bottle covers that we will be offering either by themselves or with a hot water bottle.  Tea Cozies will finally make it on our web page, hopefully in a number of different patterns.  And for those of you who sew, I found the  most wonderful thread holders.  These holders are made of cast iron and metal, unlike the plastic ones you find at your local fabric store.  They are wonderful and very affordable.  In the near future, we plan on offering cloth diapers not only for babies but for adults as well.  We need to be prepared for everything!

Miss Calamity's Comfy Cozy
(Hot Water Bottle Cover)
Tea Cozy
Thread stand
Cast iron base

Our Life in Pictures

Perfect afternoon respite
The "Ghost Plower"
Sir Knight and Miss Calamity freeing our driveway of snow
Changing the angle of the blade
Princess Dragon Snack and Master Hand Grenade shoveling
in front of the door
Princess Dragon Snack up to her neck in snow - literally!
Princess Dragon Snack and Master Hand Grenade burying Master Calvin
Now it's big brothers turn
Fresh homemade pretzels

2 C 4 T warm water (110°F or hot to the touch)
6 C flour
6 T brown sugar
1 T yeast

Mix water, sugar and yeast - let sponge until bubbly.  Add flour and knead.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide dough into 16 balls.  Roll each into a 20" rope.  Form into pretzel shape.  Place on cookie sheet.

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to boil with 1/2 C baking soda (the soda gives the pretzels the characteristic "pretzel" taste and texture).  Drop pretzels into boiling water, two at a time; boil for 10 - 15 seconds, turning over once.  Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

Place pretzels on greased baking sheets.  Bake at 425°F for 8 - 10 minutes.  After you remove from the oven, spritz or lightly brush with water, sprinkle with salt.

Rolling pretzel dough into ropes
Putting into the boiling water/baking soda
Boiling pretzels, two at a time
Draining on paper towels after boiling and before they are put into the oven
Cooling on a wire rack
Oh, yum!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Revolution or Reformation?

What an interesting study those two words are!  The word revolution conjures different connotations, depending on the intended reference.  One thing springs to mind when talking about the "Revolutionary War" and another entirely when listening to the Beatles "Revolution".  Considering the great chasm separating the ideology of the Revolutionary war and the political climate surrounding the writing of "Revolution", one has to assume that one of those events ought not to have been labeled revolution.

Obviously, the '60's were fraught with revolution, the consequences of which effect us today.  Revolution, by definition, is an attempt to overthrow established government or social structure.  Generally, revolution is achieved through massive bloodshed.  While loudly proclaiming equality for the people, revolution saturates the ground with the blood of its sons and daughters.  Answering the call of "a common purse", revolutionaries seek to lift society up by tearing it down.

Reformation, on the other hand, is the purging of corruption, whether in government, society or one's self.  Reformers seek, not to destroy society, but to improve upon it based on the wisdom of their fathers.  They seek to return to the knowledge and understanding of the great men who built this country with a foundation of truth.  Rather than destroying all that has made our country thrive, they seek to return to the principles upon which it was founded.

Reformation begins in the hearts of men.  It does not begin in the city square, with a wild-eyed radical calling for violence against "evil corporation" or in the classroom with a teacher leading children in a song about the "99%".  Reformation begins when one man sees the wisdom in his fathers words and acts according to the truth.  Reformation begins when one family chooses NOT to accept government help.  Reformation begins when one person takes responsibility for their actions - even if it costs them everything.

Revolution is a great beast that requires - no demands, a blood sacrifice.  It thrives on the flesh of the ones it claims to free.  Presenting itself as the great equalizer, revolution only serves to bind the ignorant and enslave the masses.

In retrospect, perhaps the Revolutionary War would have been more accurately described as the "Reformationary War".  The great men who laid the foundations of this country were merely following the examples of their fathers, and their fathers fathers.  The path of liberty had been paved by the authors of the Magna Carta, and before that, the Gospels of Christ.  Instead of being revolutionaries bent on overthrowing government, our founding fathers chose to purge the corrupt government of the British Empire and embrace the liberty of their fathers by establishing a government based on the preservation of the freedoms and responsibilities of the individual man.

As easy as it can be to champion revolution when we are face-to-face with evil, we must instead be workers of reformation.  Reform you heart.  Reform you family. And then reform your nation.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Our Pre-Packaged Life

Food.  Communications equipment.  Weapons.  Ammunition.  Pre-64 silver.  Medical knowledge and equipment.  Off-grid systems.  Fuel.  The list of skills, equipment and knowledge required for living in an end-of-the-world scenario is simply overwhelming.

Where meat really comes from!
When you consider the fact that we live in a pre-packaged society, the systems we need to have in place for grid-down situation seem almost insurmountable.  And, in truth, they are - but only if we try to do everything at once.

Everything we know comes pre-packaged and ready for our use.  Electricity is threaded down power lines, waiting for our consumption.  Meat comes in little white packages covered in plastic.  Milk comes in handy white jugs and bandages come with adhesive strips ready to apply.  Cell phones, email and Skype are readily available for our communications needs and debit or credit cards provide instant currency.  Someone, somewhere, anticipates our needs (or our wants) before we do and rushes to provide products and services so that we need not involve ourselves in the day to day drudgery of providing for our own selves.  And so, the thought of providing for even the most basic necessities of daily living overwhelms us to the point of paralyzation.

Where power comes from

Where power really comes from
So, where then do we start?  We start with something.  Rather than looking at the vast list of things to do to meet the end-of-the-world, we start with one thing.  Rome was not built in a day, it was built from the foundations up, one brick at a time.  Your preparedness goals will not be met all at once, they too will be built over time, one can of beans, one radio, one brick of ammo at a time.  Start with what you know.  If you like to eat, begin with food.  Buy canned food, learn about wheat, buy a grinder.  Start with something.  A little every week will build the foundations of your preparedness plan.  Don't, however, assume that buying things will make you prepared.  Gaining skills and knowledge is every bit as important as acquiring goods.  Take a first responders course.  Become an EMT.  Learn to be a HAM radio operator.  Take a self-defense class.

The reality is that you will never truly be ready.  You will never get to the point that you sigh and say, "that's it - I'm ready for the end-of-the-world".  But, just by starting, you are one step closer to preparedness.  Rather than obsessing about all the things you don't have, all of the skills that have eluded you and how short the time may be, start.  Build your foundation and your fortress will stand.

The-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it will not be pre-packaged.  It will not be convenient, simple or ready-made.  The sooner you begin to think outside of the package, the easier it will be when the package is no longer available.  Don't do it all at once, just start.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Future Cometh....

We have talked about it for years.  At first, it was with audacity that we spoke about the ridiculous notion that humans would ever meekly accept a cashless, identity-less society.  No rational, thinking human being would every consider being tattooed or imprinted or embedded with a mark that would serve as their only method of identification and trade.  And only a corrupt government would impose such an institution.

Now, we discuss these matters in hushed tones, worried that "they" might hear us and brand us terrorists.  Now, we wonder whether it will come under the guise of providing immediate access to health care records or protecting our children from predators or saving us from identity theft.  And we wonder if they are going to ask us to consent, or if they are just going to mandate compliance.

The future cometh.  Biometric "Unique Identification Numbers" are in the future of every citizen of India.  Although they are not yet in "chip" form, they will be using biometric information such as finger prints (of all ten fingers) iris scans and pictures of the face.  It is anticipated that UID's will be used for financial transactions.  A news article states;

Indeed, government “officials” have already stated that the database will be used by intelligence agencies for the purpose of monitoring “bank transactions, cellphone purchases and the movements of individuals and groups suspected of fomenting terrorism.” This will be very easy to do since the UID number will be entered anytime an individual “accesses services from government departments, driver’s license offices and hospitals, as well as insurance, telecom, and banking companies.”

It's easy to think that India is a long way away - that will  never happen here.  But think again.  History has taught us that evil will make its way around.

Beware.  The future cometh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


A lot has been written about charity during a time of crisis.  Most of us believe in storing extra, with the express purpose of sharing our subsistence in times of trouble.  Many have put food and equipment away for family members that don't yet see a need.  Still others make it a habit to stock extra supplies for whoever they may encounter.  But where does charity end and TEOTWAWKI Economics begin?

Recently, as I was making my way through Genesis, I found the answers to the questions of TEOTWAWKI Economics.  Most of us know the story of Joseph.  His brothers sold him into slavery, he became favored in Potiphar's house, Potiphar's wife accused him of molesting her, Joseph was sent to prison.  In prison, Joseph earned the favor of the Guard, made friends with the inmates and interpreted their dreams.  Joseph then stood before Pharaoh, rightly divined his dream and became ruler over Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself.  Seven years of plenty came.  Joseph built storehouse and procured massive quantities of corn and other fodder.  He gathered when the harvest was abundant.  Then, of course, came seven years of famine.  As the plague of famine threatened to overrun the land, Joseph opened his storehouses.  He was steward of Pharaoh estate and managed, with wisdom, the selling of provisions to the famished people of Egypt and the surrounding areas.

The SELLING of provisions is key.  He did not give the corn away, he sold it.  First, he sold food for money.  When the money ran out, he took cattle in exchange.  After the cattle, it was horses, flocks and asses.  Then came the fields.  Joseph bought EVERY man's fields, in the entirety of Egypt, for the price of  stored corn!

"And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. 

And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.

And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.

And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.

When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:

Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh, and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.

And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh's.

And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof."

                                                         Genesis 47:14-21

There are two basics principles at work in these verses.  The first is that it is not immoral to take payment for items stored through wisdom.  It is expected that the people who fail to provide for themselves will be required to exchange payment, of one kind or another, for their daily bread. The second truth in these verses is that you NEVER want to be in the position of selling all you own, even to your own person, just to buy a portion of bread.  Can you imagine being removed from your land, into a city (or refugee camp) for a meager supply of wheat or corn?  Heaven forbid!

"The prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it".

Realizing that the economies of a post-TEOTWAWKI world will be greatly changed from our current economies, we should be spurred into action.  Prepare yourself not only to survive the coming storm, but to meet the new world with wisdom and understanding.   Supply your larder with food, your magazine with ammunition and your mind with understanding.  Only then will you truly grasp the impact of TEOTWAWKI Economics.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Good Deal Alert

Socks.  They are the bane of my existence.  It used to be a simple matter, buying new socks.  You went to Penny's, picked out your favorite socks, bought them and they lasted a year, maybe two.  They had footie socks, crew socks, over-the-calf socks, boot socks, athletic socks, tube socks - whatever you wanted.  Little by little, their sock inventory dwindled.  Then, even if you could find what you wanted, they were junk.  Holes developed in the heels, fingers went through the tops when trying to pull them up.  Arrgh!

Sir Knight is rather particular about his socks.  He likes over-the-calf socks that stay in place all day long.  You would think these are simple requirements.  Good grief!  I tell you, it is harder than it looks!  First, trying to find over-the-calf socks is getting more and more difficult.  And, when I do find them, they are either too expensive to afford or they are low quality, falling to Sir Knight's ankles before lunch or developing holes within weeks.

Of course, any time I do find decent socks, I buy as many as I can afford.  A couple of years ago, I found some military socks (OD, Sir Knight's favorite color) that were great.  They wore like iron, were cost effective and had silver running through them (an anti-fungal).  Unfortunately, the supply dried up and after buying about 40 pair, we couldn't get any more.  40 pair may sound like a lot, however, we do have a teen-aged son.  They can wear any socks out in a hurry!

So one day, I was wandering through the latest issue of Sportsman's Guide (HQ Military Surplus).  Surplus is a weakness of mine and I always try to get my hands on the catalogs first.  When I came across some used Swedish wools socks, I knew I had hit the jackpot.  Yes, I did say used.  But, come on, they wash them!

Sir Knight was a little unsure about buying used socks, but we went ahead and ordered some, willing to give them a try.  The price was right, $24.97 for 20 pair, and they were wool, indicating a higher-than-normal quality.  They came in a plastic bag with the traditional military surplus odor.  The first thing we did was pair the socks (there were about two pair that were crew length, rather than over-the-calf, and there were a couple of different manufacturers), pinned them together and tossed them in the washing machine.  After one washing, they still had a faint surplus odor, but after two, the smell was completely gone.

Sir Knight loves these socks (and I must admit, so do I).  They are very long (reaching all the way to the knee and even having to be folded back down).  The elastic is great, holding the socks in place but not binding.  They are remarkably cushy and tremendously warm.  They are not nearly as thick as boot socks, but thicker than athletics socks.  We wore the socks for about a month (just to prove them) and then ordered 60 more pair.  They are great and will be an invaluable stock up and preparedness item.

Living in a cold, northern climate, wool will be very important in the winter months.  Sir Knight has to wear steel-toed boots for work and his feet are always cold in the winter.  With these socks, his feet are comfortable - not hot, but comfortable.  And another added benefit is that wool retains up to 95% of its insulation value when wet - cotton sure can't do that!

If you are looking for great socks at a good price, check out these Swedish surplus wool socks.  You won't be sorry.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tea and Crumpets

I have to admit - I don't think there is a better place in the world than my kitchen at tea time.  The kettle boils merrily on the cookstove, sweet aromas fill the air.  Children bustle about, excitedly telling their father about the adventures of the day.  Sir Knight kicks back in his rocking chair, presiding over the whole affair like a king holding court in his throne room.  As humble as our little kitchen is, the potentates of the world don't reside in such splendor.  No matter what the day holds, our kitchen always calls to us, encouraging us to rest in its warm embrace.

In the winter, when the stove is bubbling along, I like to make crumpets to accompany our afternoon tea.  Crumpets are quite unlike English muffins, in that they are soft, almost chewy.  They have a pungent, yeasty flavor that is only enhanced by butter and jam.  They are divine warm, just off the griddle, but are equally wonderful toasted or warmed in the oven.  It is worth making a double batch, as they freeze well (however, ours never stick around long enough to freeze).

Although there are a few more step in making crumpets than there are in typical yeast breads, they are  not difficult.  Crumpets are not split, like English  muffins, rather they are buttered on the top (there are lots of little holes, allowing the butter to soak into the middle).  In France, they call them "Les Eponges" or "Little Sponges" because of the way they absorb copious amounts of rich butter.
3 C flour
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 T yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 1/4 C water (lukewarm)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 C milk (lukewarm)

Sift together the flour and cream of tartar in a large bowl.  Mix yeast, sugar and lukewarm (110°) water in a smaller bowl and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.

Mix the yeast mixture into the flour to make a very thick, but smooth batter, beating with a spoon for 2 minutes.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot until the batter is doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Add the salt and beat the batter for about 1  minute.  Cover the bowl and let stand in a warm spot  until the batter increases in volume by about one-half, 15 to 20 minutes.

Dissolve the baking soda in the lukewarm (110°) milk.  Then gently stir it into the batter.  The batter should not be too stiff or your crumpets will be "blind" - without holes - so it is best to test one before cooking the whole batch.

Heat an ungreased, very clean griddle or frying pan over moderately low heat for about 3 minutes until moderately hot; your palm will feel warm when held 1 1/2 inches above the griddle for about 30 seconds.  Put a well-buttered crumpet ring on the griddle and heat for 15 seconds.   Spoon or pour 1/3 cup of the batter into the ring.  The amount of batter will depend on the size of your crumpet ring.

As soon as the batter is poured into the ring, it should begin to form bubbles.  If bubbles do not form, add a little more lukewarm water (from the tap is fine), a tablespoon at a time, to the batter in the bowl and try again.  If the batter it too thin and runs out under the ring, gently work in a little more flour and try again.  As soon as the top surface is set and covered with bubbles, 7 to 8 minutes, the crumpet is ready to flip over.  Cook the second, holey side of the crumpet for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale golden.

Butter the crumpet rings well after each use.

Water, sugar and yeast "sponging"
Pouring the yeast mixture into the flour mixture
Beating the batter
Covered with plastic wrap
Doubled in size
Stirring the baking soda into the milk
Mixing the soda/milk mixture into the batter
A buttered crumpet ring on an ungreased griddle
Full crumpet rings
See all the holes forming?
I use tongs to remove the rings before I flip the crumpets
Crumpets, fresh from the griddle
All dressed up for tea time