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Author: Gaye Levy

I grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, I started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. Awhile back I abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on on San Juan Island in NW Washington State.

These days I call Arizona home and am actively pursuing the purchase of a mountain retreat along the Mogollon Rim.

As you may have noticed, I am a bit of a glamourista but hope you do not hold that against. me. My bug out bag includes makeup and other items to make me look and feel good if SHTF.
Disaster Preparedness for Seniors and the Elderly

Disaster Preparedness for Seniors and the Elderly

This week I would like to explore some of the special preparedness needs of the senior and elderly members of our families and communities. At first blush, you may be saying, “Yes, I understand that there are elderly people but how would their needs be any different than mine?”.

That is a great question and certainly one that I have asked myself. But consider this: the elderly are less mobile and far less likely to be able to evacuate on their own. Their eating habits may be more finicky and, for health reasons, restricted. The need for life-sustaining prescription medications increases as with age, and perhaps most difficult of all, the sense and of fear may result in profound depression as the familiar and comforting world around them has changed.

For those embarking upon the family preparedness lifestyle, it is important to consider the special needs of elderly adults and to help educate and assist them now, before they experience a true SHTF situation caused by a natural, man made or economic disaster.

The checklist below is designed to be shared one on one with members of our older adult population (our moms and dads, grandparents, and neighbors). Review this list and use it as a guideline for initiating a discussion with these important members of our community.

10 Tips for the Beginning Prepper

10 Tips for the Beginning Prepper

This is the year of the Prepper.  Or so it seems.  For the first time, the Prepper is coming into respectability.  No longer is the individual or family putting a…

Disasters 101: A List for Those That Think It Will Never Happen

Disasters 101: A List for Those That Think It Will Never Happen

Disasters come in all flavors. If you are reading this blog, you probably know that but still, there is a huge contingent that thinks “it will never happen to me”. Think again.

Today, for the uninitiated who are considering the prepper lifestyle but have not committed, I have prepared a list of varying types of emergencies from natural, mother earth types, to the horrific, man-made types. Read through the list and you will understand why you need to adopt a family preparedness lifestyle.

Shall we start?

Some Tips for Surviving an Economic Meltdown

Some Tips for Surviving an Economic Meltdown

As difficult as it may be to fathom, the current lousy economy may not be the worst case scenario.  All I have to do is look around and be observant…

Review of Jared Diamond’s Collapse

Review of Jared Diamond’s Collapse

Following a tip from a fellow blogger, I watched the 2009 documentary, Collapse. In this film, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert details his unnerving theories about the inexorable link between energy depletion and the collapse of the economic system that supports the entire industrial world. Unnerving is putting in mildly. Ruppert’s view of world collapse is frightening and depressing.

After watching that piece, I was nosing around on Netflix and saw that another collapse-type film was available for streaming so tonight I settled in to watch National Geographic: Collapse. This time I got another view – a far less gloomy and cautiously optimistic view – of world collapse.

Unlike the Michael Ruppert, documentary, this National Geo film spins our world situation in a a bit more optimistic manner. It suggests that there is room for change and if we do so our society will sustain. But I digress. Let me begin with the question:

Is our civilization so absorbed by the spoils of our success that we can not see the dangers right in front of us?

Why Store Wheat – Wheat 101 for Newbies

Why Store Wheat – Wheat 101 for Newbies

Why store wheat? That has always been a question rolling around in my head. After all, I have never eaten raw wheat and to the best of my knowledge, wheat had to be milled, ground and otherwise processed before it could be come usable.

On the other hand, my education in all things preparedness has taught me that wheat – or more specifically wheat berries – is one of the cornerstones to serious long term food storage. Oh boy. What’s a gal to do?

How to Live on Wheat

A couple of weeks ago I contacted John Hill, the author of “How to Live on Wheat” and asked him if he would be willing to provide me with a review copy of the latest version of his book. (At the time I did not realize that he was almost a neighbor here in Washington State.) What a guy! I had a book in hand a few days later and I was off to the races. Yesterday I sat out on the porch and read his book cover to cover – an easy read – and I now get it.

Survival Lessons from the Real Life Story of 127 Hours

Survival Lessons from the Real Life Story of 127 Hours

127 Hours is a movie about real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston who slides into a canyon crevasse while climbing in Utah. His arm is pinned under an bolder and he has very little food and water. After being trapped for 127 hours, he literally cuts himself loose from danger but amputating his arm and lives to tell about it.

During his 127 hours stuck in the crevasse, Ralston must resort to his basest survival instincts. So what are the lessons learned from this true story?

1. First and foremost: Use your head! To quote Joel at Survival Cache: “Your number one survival tool is the grey matter that keeps your ears apart.”

In the movie, Aron took off on his climb in a remote location without letting anyone know where he was headed. That was not using his head! He also took very little water and food with him with no plan for contingencies. On the other hand, he figured out that the only way out was to disengage from the bolder so with much bravery, he cut off his arm.

How to store water for emergency short term use

How to store water for emergency short term use

Freaking out over water or simply a water freak? I suppose it really does not matter since when it comes to water, I am a hoarder. In addition to my 55 gallon water barrel, I have cases of bottled drinking water in the cellar and another case or two in the garage. Is that enough? Don’t know. Actually, I hope I will never have to use my stored water.

How about you? Did you ever purchase that water barrel along with a siphon and a bung wrench? Or, if like a lot of folks, have you put off that purchase due to financial or space limitations?

It was recently pointed out to me that barring the acquisition of long term storage facilities (such as the water barrel), there are numerous ways to collect and store ordinary tap water for free. Not a bad idea, actually, especially when you take in to account that you may also use the free, short term water supply for cleaning, laundry, toilet bowl flushing and more.

So how can you safely store the water right out of your tap?

Getting Prepared Week 18: What if all is lost? Lessons learned from the recent tornadoes.

Getting Prepared Week 18: What if all is lost? Lessons learned from the recent tornadoes.

I am finally back home after a week long hiatus to the big city. Traffic, dirt, noise . . . yuk. Anyway, I am very thankful that I have my quiet little cottage here on San Juan island. Enough personal stuff; it is time to get back to the business of prepping.

The horrific storms sweeping through the southeast have not gone unnoticed from my place here in Washington State. As with the Japan quake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown (which, for some reason is no long newsworthy) the massive destruction to homes and the fabric of normal life are gut wrenching. I keep thinking about the folks who thought they were prepared: plenty of extra food, water, auxiliary power and cash to get by in the event of a crisis. They too lost everything.

So once I again I raise my hand and say “What happens if my home is swept away along with all of my precious preps?” Now that is one heck of question, especially since we personally (oops, here I go again with the personal stuff) have made so much progress this year in preparing our little homestead to be self-sufficient.

Below is a list of the lessons I have learned from this latest disaster in Alabama, Tennessee and other areas of the Southern United States.

Food Storage and Beans: Using Mylar bags and a Food Saver

Food Storage and Beans: Using Mylar bags and a Food Saver

Yesterday I wrote about cooking dried beans. I was able to prove to myself that preparing delicious beans was really possible without using a can opener. And talk about thrifty! When purchased in 50 pound sacks, the cost is just a tad over 50 cents a pound.

But long term storage of that many beans is an issue. Many sources will say that the shelf life of dried beans is about a year but in reality, the self life can vary according to room temperature and other variable.

As beans age they lose their oils, resist water absorption and won’t swell. Worst case, they must be ground to be used (and thus you will commonly see uses for “bean flour”). Storing beans in nitrogen helps prolong the loss of these oils as does cool temperatures. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, the consensus is that you can plan on a storage life of 8-10 years at a stable temperature of 70oF and even longer if stored at cooler temperatures.

Okay, sounds good, especially since I already have a Food Saver . But, as I learned during my foray at Bean Storage University, the standard food saver bag is not enough. I need some Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers .

The following video is great. Although it is kind of long, it shows you how to easily pack up those beans for long term storage and is definitely worth the 8 or 9 minutes to watch.

How to Cook Beans from Dry

How to Cook Beans from Dry

While having dinner with friends last week, the conversation came around to emergency food storage and, more specifically, beans. The consensus around the table was that beans were a great item to have stashed away in our pantries but that cooking dried beans was a pain in the arse and not altogether something we wanted to do.

Well I needed to chew on that one (and no, I am not referring to tough cooked beans.) I had been harping on S.H. for awhile asking him to keep an eye out for canned bean bargains during his weekly foray to the big city.

Now wait just one darn minute. I can cook beans. I know I can. Just how hard can it be?

So that is what I set out to do. I bought a one pound bag of kidney beans ($1.49) and cooked them up. It was so easy– no mess, no hassle, and I ended up with five cups of beans for the same price as a 15 oz. can of beans yielding 1 1/2 cups of beans.

How easy was it? I used the “quick soak” method described below and they were perfect.

The Black Umbrella Rip Off

The Black Umbrella Rip Off

Being a night owl, I watch ABCs Nightline following our local news at 11:30PM. Imagine my surprise (and disgust) when I saw that the Bernie Madoff family was pitching about $100 bucks worth of advice and a set of emergency contact numbers for $750. And if you are a big spender, for an additional $250 you get a go-bag.

According to the Black Umbrella web site, here is a description of the $750 kit:

Basic Family Preparedness

Up to 4 go cards
A family reunification plan
A family communication plan
Prepackaged go bags (priced separately)
So what is in that “Go Bag” priced separately at $250? Eye goggles, a PVC raincoat, batteries, a first aid kit, a radio, four aluminum, personalized, emergency contact cards, and a giant black Sharpie marker. There’s more. If you go to the Black Umbrella web site you will see that all of these so-called custom go bag emergency supplies are off the shelf items sold through Amazon.

Say what????

Lessons from Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD

Lessons from Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD

This week I took a break for my hands-on effort to get myself ready for anything and everything that may happen in this world. With ten weeks of plans and projects behind me, I simply had too many preparedness projects that were started but not quite complete. Time to get cracking, S.W.

For those of you joining me on this one week at a time missive, I want to remind you that we are all very human. So don’t be hard on yourself if you started something but did not quite finish. After all, one of the reasons I write this blog is to share and commiserate our profound humanness.

Anyway, getting back on track, last night I cheated. Instead of reading Cormac McCarthy’s book, The Road , I watched the movie. I wrote about the book a couple of weeks ago when it was recommended to me by a fellow cruise passenger. But time was of the essence; I simply wanted to learn the message of The Road now.

Well, let me tell you something. It is dark. It is depressing. And it is a must see on many levels. So what is The Road about?

From the ash-covered, post-apocalyptic remains of Appalachia, a Father and Son take to the road in search of a better life. Hope is waning, the Father’s health is failing, and the journey is impeded by nomadic bands of cannibals. The movie is an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, set in a fictional near future in which the world has been virtually destroyed although we are not quite sure what caused the destruction.

Baking Bread and Why You Should Do It

Baking Bread and Why You Should Do It

The information in this article, Baking Bread and Why You Should Do It, has been updated and incorporated into an all-new, enhanced article. Simple Comforts: How and Why You Should…