The Survival Buzz #143

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 5, 2019

Welcome to this week’s Survival Buzz with an update on my own preps and announcements from the Backdoor Survival blog.

This week has been a busy one as I got caught up on some reading in preparation for the newest Book Festival.  Although it shouldn’t be, reading preparedness books and survival fiction has become a guilty pleasure; guilty only because it takes time away from actually doing something.

No to the wonder bag

This week I made my first batch of healing lotion bars.  While they look beautiful and do a better-than-wonderful job of moisturizing, they are not yet ready for prime-time.  Lotion bars and how to make them are a dime a dozen all over the internet and I want mine to have the beneficial healing qualities of essential oils.  I just don’t have the quantity and mix of oils quite right yet.

I also had a chance to use my new Wonder Bag.  I made a soup from canned chicken broth, canned chicken, beans, and freeze-dried (food storage) veggies.  Once it was simmering, I set it in the Wonder Bag for a couple of hours until it was dinner time.  Three hours later the pot was steaming a little but it was not what I would call piping hot.  Our dinner was lukewarm.

In my opinion, the Wonder Bag is not safe to use for cooking and maintaining foods at a safe temperature. Do not purchase this item!   Also, do not confuse the Wonder Bag with the Wonder Oven described in Slow Cooking with the Amazing Wonder Oven.  Based upon the experience of colleagues I know and trust, I believe the Wonder Oven is safe to use.  Plus, you can make one yourself.

Failure is a part of learning and for once, I thought it would be good to share some of my bloopers.  This will lead into next week’s article on some common prepper mistakes and goofs.  We are all experts in our own right but that does not mean that everything we do is 100% successful.  Prepping is kind of like life in that regard.

That about covers it for me this week.  Now for some announcements.


There were no giveaways this week as I spent the time on the aforementioned Book Festival 7 instead.  In case you missed it, I have some fabulous books coming up as giveaways and many are multi-series sets.  The weekly book festival interviews and giveaways will commence again next week.

By the way, last week’s two winners of Ebola: Understanding and Preparing for an Outbreak have already claimed their book.  The names, for the curious, are displayed in the Rafflecopter on the original giveaway article here.

To be honest, at first, there were two different winners.  No names mentioned, but I suspect they were cheaters.  Although winners are selected at random, they are validated.  If the winning entry is made using the “leave a blog comment” option, I am given a name, email address, and the time of the entry.  It is usually quite easy to find the winning entry.  This time there was no record of a comment being made.  None.  So be forewarned.  Cheaters are caught and disqualified.


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For those that asked, yes, I enjoyed my weekend off.  I enjoy nesting at home as much as the next person and it was nice to do so without worrying about deadlines, social media, and blog posts.  I had a chance to play with Tucker the Dog and win a round of both Tickets to Ride and Rummikub against Shelly.  Life is good.

So what about you – what did you do to prep this week?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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Bargain Bin: Everyone needs a portable pocket survival kit. Here are links to the items in my own Portable Pocket Survival Kit and of course, to two of my favorite games.

Ticket To Ride: This my favorite board game, bar none.  Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people.  I also have the iPad version so I can brush up my skills playing again the computer. This is worth the splurge.

Rummikub: I purchased a travel version for a recent trip and we whiled away an entire rainy afternoon playing.  The truth? I usually lose at this one but last week I won.

pocket survival kit_2

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife:  This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.

Streamlight Nano Light Keychain LED Flashlight: Extremely small and lightweight yet it will throw off a decent amount of super-bright light. At just .36 ounces and 1.47 inches long, the Streamlight Nano Light Keychain Flashlight will take up a minimum of space in your pocket or bag.

Paracord Survival Bracelet:  Why a Paracord Bracelet? So you always have some of this useful cord on your person!

Windstorm Safety Whistle:  This particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds.

Swedish Firesteel:  Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version.

Pepper Spray:  It is always good to have some form of defense that will temporarily halt a bad guy that is in your face.

Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets:  These come in compressed packets small enough to fit in a pocket or wallet.  You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!



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Updated Jul 5, 2019

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25 Responses to “The Survival Buzz #143”

  1. I am on a stack em’ and pack em’ ammo binge. I’ve got enough beans and bandaids, so have been hitting this area hard. I heard it mentioned that you should have at the very least 1000 rounds per weapon stored away. Here’s the thing…ammo goes fast. With a good practice session, you can go through two hundred rounds like nothing. It is a good starting point, but I am going to double it just to be sure. Enjoy the weekend!

  2. Good morning Gaye! Thank you so much for sharing your goofs with us – those are often the most important way to learn as we go along. I too had a major goof in my preps this week.

    Up at our BOL Homestead Cabin, I have been faithfully squirrelling away a closet full of shelf-stable food preps, often only a small bag of beans or rice every week we visit. It was all beautifully organized and labeled and made me happy every time I opened the pantry door to look at my stash. Last weekend we arrived at the Cabin and I again went to check on my pantry, but was dismayed to find shredded tissue paper and tell-tale black pellets on the floor. MICE! I had been invaded! half the bags of rice, half the bags of beans, bags of jerkey, flats of ramen noodles and (bafflingly) ALL the little restaurant packets of mayonnaise I had stored were nibbled and compromised.

    I spent the rest of the day going through the whole pantry, (while wearing a mask and gloves) to toss out the tainted foodstuffs and disinfect the rest. Also munched by the critter? a box of toilet paper. ARGH. All told, we lost about 200 meals worth of food from our stores because it had not been properly packaged in hard plastic or metal containers. I knew I should have done so before, but as I said, I had been working on acquiring the food and thought the plastic buckets could wait. I was wrong.

    As I cleaned up the mess, growling and whining, Hubby ran to the hardware store and returned with plastic storage totes and a bag of mousetraps. By the next morning, we had caught one very fat mouse in one of the traps. Lesson learned for all of us.

    Other than that trauma, our preps of the week included winterizing the Cabin’s rain barrels and hoses and cleaning the gutters. Hubby also introduced me to playing the board game Risk – and I confirmed what I suspected all along – when it comes to battle, I am far too aggressive in my attacks, and I should spend more time building a thoughtful strategy. (good life lesson!)

    Our CERT training continues and I added a few more items to our response packs from the Dollar Store: glow sticks, tarps and paracord.

    Finally, we took a different route to and from the BOL Cabin last weekend, making at least eight different ways to get there. That’s good to know in case roads are blocked at some point.

    All in all, a great learning week. Now we know. 🙂
    Take care everyone.

    • It may be travesty to admit this but we leave mouse bait pellets near the openings where the critters can enter our home. We have some in our storage area (Tucker can not get there) and also under our kitchen sink. I have also stashes cotton balls soaked in peppermint essential oil (the cheap stuff, not my healing oils) around and about.

      Fingers crossed, since doing this, the mice have stayed away. BTW, these are the pellets that the mice eat now then go off and die later so we don’t have to worry about dead mice stacking up.

      In the old days, they would get into the strangest things (cocoa and chocolate!) but never touched my TP.

      I am so sorry this happened to you. It was a reminder to me that I still have a bag of dog food and rice to package for LT storage. Time to do it. I keep a large inventory of buckets and gamma seals on hand so I should be good to go.

    • I’m surprised you use the mouse bait pellets inside. I had a friend who used to do that until they couldn’t take it anymore and had to rip open a wall in order to remove one that had crawled into it after eating the bait. It’s a very lingering and overwhelming ode’war.

    • My first dog died from eaten/biting a dead rat at a neighbor’s home, who did NOT use rat poisoning. See, the rat ate rat poisoning from elsewhere and then got into his garage and died there- then my dog smelled it and bit the (dead) rat and then died- so I encourage you to set traps and NOT use rat poisoning!

  3. I so appreciate others sharing their goofs, we can all learn from each other, and I feel less like i’m the only one who blunders from time to time.

  4. Great article..I find that I learn more from my mistakes. TY for sharing. For my preps this week going to ATM machine every Monday to take out 5 $20’s; currently have food, water, gold, silver but no cash!

  5. Gaye; I sort of had the same experience with the ” Wonder Bag”. I still like it. I got a pot roast dinner started on the stove ( vegies and the meat )and let it simmer for a few minutes and then placed it in the bag for about 4hrs.? I think.
    When I opened the bag, the food was almost done, and as you said, lukewarm, so I placed on the stove for another 30min. and it was fine. Maybe if I had let it simmer a little longer…just have to tinker with it, I guess. It will be good for keeping things, at least warm, for trips or to eat later on, for any reason. Hot rolls?? It’s not what I thought however. In a pinch it might be handy also.

    • Hi, I would be interested in knowing how long you boiled the food? Was the lid on? How full was the pan? I don’t have a wonder bag but have made many wonder ovens, hay boxes and have a thermal cooker. They all seem to work great. I always check the temps of the cooked food and it has always been in the safe range. (at least 145 degrees).
      Thanks for posting your results, it would be interesting to know what the difference is in materials used,amount, etc in the wonder bag vs the wonder ovens. It does say the bag needs to be fluffed up before using. I wonder if vacuum sealing the bag is hard on the insulation?

    • The soup was already fully cooked since it was leftover from the night before. I set it on my propane stove and it came to a boil very quickly, perhaps within five minutes. One thing about propane, there is no true “low” flame. Anyway, I was around and about the house and left it boiling on the “simmer” setting for about 10 minutes. As I mentioned to someone on FB, even though I say simmer, the soup was at a full boil. I then put it in the Wonder Bag.

      The Wonder Bag insulation, to the touch, feels like chunks of foam. It took a lot of breaking with my fingers as well as shaking to loosen it. I ran through the entire process twice just to be sure. One thing I should mention is that the Wonder Bag is cinched up using a draw string. The Wonder Oven Megan wrote about fully wrapped around and enclosed the pot plus it was securely held together by safety pins. Even though the Wonder Bag has an insulated pad that went on the top of the pot, I do not feel that it was completely sealed.

      It was late, but had I been thinking, I would have taken the temperature of my soup. Perhaps I will cook up something benign like rice as a follow up. Then again, I would rather work on my lotion bars 🙂

  6. Have been harvesting the harvest, so to speak, this week. The weather has turned colder here in SC and i have taken advantage of the temps to can fall foods, i.e. cranberry sauce, pumpkin, beef broth, turkey soup, etc. I make and freeze the soups and broths until i have a cannerful. Also, sealing individual packets of our favorite hot chocolate recipe to have handy when the mood strikes. Storing the hot chocolate packets in a nice old cookie tin. Plus, hubby and i are working on our fire starting skills. We have had a variety of weather this week, each one requiring a different tactic for fire starting.

  7. Confessions of mistakes. Yes, we do make them. In doing my semi-annual check of my stores, we found 2 buckets of pasta and rice. ughhhh it had bugs! I do what I have always done, or thought I had done with these. I don’t use mylar nor oxygen absorbers. I’ve been storing grains for 30 years and never had the problem before. After getting over the ‘bugs’ disgust. I realized those buckets hadn’t been packed by me. They had been packed by someone who had been helping me during a spell when I was sick. They hadn’t included the sockettes of salt and pepper along with the bay leaves. Yes, that’s all I do when storing food because I know the time frame of use. The other mistake done, I hadn’t checked those buckets for over 2 years. BIG Mistake because I might have caught it before the bugs infested and just by adding the s&p and bay leaves, I still would have those stores. So, my solution is to put a note inside for when the last checkup was done.
    My next goal, using some of my chocolate chip mylar bags and putting one per mitten or glove and hat. ( have many stored) I saw a national sporting company that is putting these in their new hats. I know that heat loss is great when heads aren’t covered during the cold, but I have enough hats and if I have the materials, why spend $$ on something I can adapt?! I may run out of mylar bags but at least heads and hands may be a bit more warm with that reflective material reflecting the heat back into where it’s suppose to be. 😉

  8. “pasta and rice.”
    My immediate thought was, pasta and rice get cooked.
    Although I would Never do it right now, in very hard times, would I be incorrect in thinking that’s just added protein and in no way, form, or shape, an actual hazard?

    What’s a “sockette”? Is that like a little sock made of yarn?

    When you write, “Yes, that’s all I do when storing food because I know the time frame of use.” I’m not sure what you mean by that. Are you saying it’s because you know how old the food is and will use it up is such and such a time frame and no longer than that?

    Also, you’re putting chocolate chip mylar bags inside mitten, hats and gloves? Wouldn’t that make a person sweat a lot? That would not be very good for staying warm, would it? I mean, maybe if you were Very still and idle, but with any exertion whatsoever you’d be wet and cold in no time, or so it seems to me.

    • In hard times, yes, I would use them. Actually I did use them but not for food, I turned the rice into heating socks for those cold days when I just need a little more warmth. The pasta just went into my compost bin. Will be interested to see what happens there…will the bugs help break down the compost or will those compost bugs kick them out or….

      As to the sockettes: When my daughter was little I found her socks were just the right size for filling with salt and pepper for my food stores. See I want my grains and seeds to be plantable should that need arrive. I actually use some of the grains for that purpose just to keep my knowledge/experience base. As to the mylar bags, they are just little bags similar to those space blankets we can buy. So…in small spaces, why cut something to create what is already there? They can be put over or under mittens/gloves whichever is needed since they are also waterproof. Not sure about you, but I live where I dress in layers and teach people not to just wear big and heavy, but to dress in layers since air will be between those layers which acts like insulation. Get wet? Just take off the outer layer, you may be comfy or a little cold but you won’t be cold until that outer layer gets dried. It has worked for me for 46 years of camping in the PNW.

    • Thanks for the reply, Dee.

      I’m not too keen on the idea of using the mylar bags while outside working or while on a hunting trip and such, but for sitting inside when the heat goes out, it seems like a grand idea.

    • O I’m so with you Helot. When moving it probably won’t be needed. But when idle, circulation may need the assist. 🙂

  9. YA Know…..the mention of socks reminds me of something. Whenever I have a sock with a hole….usually in the heel, I hate to dispose of it, thinking there has to be some use for it. Usually the hole is too large to darn and still be comfortable, so I’m thinking dusting mitts ( was just a thought ),……but I think you’ve hit on a good idea for storage. I’m not sure how or what yet, but I’m thinking. Thank you for the ” sockette” idea.
    I hope you all have a good week!! 🙂

    • Dusting mitts yes! I even know someone who isn’t able to cleanse herself toiletwise–so she uses old socks on some sort of back brush and recycles those old socks. 😉 Perhaps in a grid down situation, we may need to think outside the box like she does. 🙂

  10. Hey my sweet little Gaye. Last Thursday was my birthday, so that means today, the 17th is your birthday. Happy birthday. I hope Shelly bought you the prepping gismo you wanted.

    • Not so much gizmos but a beautiful red rose and chocolates 🙂

  11. Happy Birthday To You
    Happy Birthday To You
    Happy Birthday Dear Gaye

    ***HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUuuuuu!!***

    • My email inbox has runneth over today with well-wishers. You know, funny thing is that I feel isolated quite a bit as I prep. Today my heart is filled with joy as I realize that I am not alone. Thanks!

    • That’s even better than gadgets and gizmos 😉 Hope you 2 made it a special birthday.

  12. I don’t get it, why is the wonder oven safe but the wonderbag isn’t? What’s the difference?
    I haven’t tried either, but I kind of wanna make my own wonderbag.

  13. I agree for that nice review that share my experience on food and diet.Actually i am a bit fat because i like my foods.until after eat the food that change my life now after 3 month my weight gain from 102kg to 95 kg.

    thank u.


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