In continuing with the idea of not relying upon others for the “sweet” wants and needs we have, here are a few more ideas that you can provide for yourself (and feel quite good about your independence in doing so!):
- Fresh and Dried Fruits and Vegetables– Want organic, highly nutritious fresh or dried fruits and vegetables year around, economically? Plant fruit trees and bushes and grow a garden as well as consider using a greenhouse for winter produce. Then, can, freeze, dehydrate, and/or freeze dry your excess produce for later seasonal use. We are still enjoying freeze-dried cubed tomatoes from our garden in late February. Our family is spoiled with my salsa, so I freeze-dry it and then can whip up a 4-ounce bowl of it in a matter of seconds that tastes like it is fresh. It is so much better than the canned (cooked) salsa or store-bought! Using the freezer for produce storage is a risk in the event the grid goes down, unless you have a generator and a very large supply of fuel to keep it running long term. Also, the noise of the generator may attract undue attention by those who are without food and looking for resources. I use the freezer as a holding place while food is waiting to go into the freeze-dryer or dehydrator during the peak garden season and when the meat has just been processed. Our Harvest Right Freeze Dryer has been a fantastic investment in that we have ingredients and also pre-cooked meals vacuum sealed in canning jars that only require hot water to prepare. When the hordes start literally sniffing out food due to their hunger-induced heightened sense of smell, we will only need a few minutes to prepare and consume our delicious meals. It will be gone before the smell leaves the kitchen. All of this work in preparation at the end of the day makes me think it is time for a long, hot spa bath.
- Aromatherapy Bath Soak– Do you enjoy an aromatherapy salt bath and miss the big city spa treatment for your achy muscles? Make your own with a bit of epsom salt, baking soda, and essential oil, or even better use a sachet of dried herbs from your own gardens. You can use peppermint and/or rosemary to rejuvenate or chamomile and/or lavender to relax. It is easy to just use a large, disposable tea bag or two from Amazon as a sachet for the herbs in your hot tub water. Put several tablespoons of the herbs inside the paper tea bag, twist the top of the bag, wrap the string around and tuck it under to tie it off. As soon as you begin drawing your hot water into the tub, add two cups of epsom salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda, and stir it around to dissolve it. Then place the tea bag(s) at the back of the tub so that it is not under the water faucet (as it is fragile and might tear under water pressure). Let the tea bag seep for a few minutes before getting in. Leave the tea bag in the tub while you enjoy the invigorating or relaxing aroma during your bath. Who needs to pay for a fancy spa day when you can make your own at home? Light a few candles, turn on some music, and enjoy yourself in your own remote Redoubt nest!
- Whole-grain Breads, Pasta, and Cereals- Want wonderful, freshly baked whole grain breads, pastas, pastries, and even multi-grain hot cereals? Make your own! With our Country Living Grain Mill and motorized attachment, we are able to produce whole wheat and other grain flours that are almost as fine as powdered sugar or that can be ground coarse for cereal. It is amazing! I make a whole wheat angel food cake that is the best angel food cake ever. (I’ll share my original recipe at some point in the near future.) We are able to make wonderful whole wheat sandwich/everyday loaves from freshly cracked wheat berries so that we are getting the live wheat germ and more protein and fiber than what you get from store-bought whole wheat flour, yet we have the fine fluffy texture of fine bread flours, using winter white wheat berries. I could make croissants with this flour! I use it to make whole wheat pasta dough, the best pan pizza ever, and Hugh has a custom, coarse multi-grain hot cereal blend that he makes of oats, flax, millet, (homegrown) corn, and wheat that is so delicious and filling when boiled and then topped with a dot of butter and sugar/sweetener. Who needs a bakery when we can do it ourselves! (I’ll likely have a whole article or series on breads and pastries in the future, so hang on.)
- Sewing/quilting, aromatherapy, herbal medicine/natural healthcare, candle-making, beekeeping, soap-making, woodworking/furniture making, metal tooling/welding, knife-sharpening, leather cutting/tooling/sewing, mechanical/electrical work, bookbinding, plumbing, photography, music, entertainment, and more– these are all things that our immediate family members provide for ourselves.
By providing our own wants and needs, we actually often spoil ourselves with higher quality, much healthier items than what are generally available at the stores, and we often enjoy these things that many consider “luxuries” on a more regular basis than most people, because we provide them for ourselves in abundance using predominantly our own renewable resources. We work hard, but at the end of the day we have the resources we need to make sure we have what we need and what we enjoy! We aren’t dependent upon many others to make our creature comforts come true either. It goes deeper than all that. We can share these pleasures with others, too, and that makes us happy.
For example, we enjoy herbal, flavored teas for free (or nearly free) from our own gardens and fresh roasted coffee every day (though the coffee is purchased green in bulk for less than eight cents per cup and vacuum sealed until we roast it several times a week), and we enjoy a variety of fresh breads, pastries, and/or desserts daily. Whole Wheat Orange-Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls were on the breakfast menu this morning with scrambled eggs, which were provided courtesy of our chickens, which eat our vegetables scraps, weeds, grasses and seeds, and our cast off organic coconut cooking oil in addition to chicken crumbles and scratch. Almost all of the food waste at our homestead gets recycled to one of the animals or into the garden compost. We do not waste; we enjoy!
- Though I hinted to it above, the last but certainly not the least of ways that I deal with unrealized expectations, is to look for ways to serve others rather than ways that others can serve (or should have served) me, especially within my marriage and home but also in my extended family, group, or community. If I choose to focus on the needs of others rather than on my feelings and expectations that I set myself as well as demands that I engineered unrealistically for someone else, I can more quickly move on and shake off the emotions (whether anger, frustration, or hurt) over someone “failing” these often unexpressed or unrealistic expectations. I realize there are times that, as a woman, I expect my men to read between the lines and somehow know that I wanted something when I didn’t, figuratively of course, “hit them over the head” with the actual words. Somehow, even though I didn’t tell them what I needed or wanted, I still feel disappointment that they didn’t “get it”. My head knows how ridiculous it is that I had these expectations, but my heart is disappointed none the same. This sometimes even happens between women and also in business dealings when terms of agreements are not detailed in writing. Someone makes assumptions that the other does not. We have to learn to negotiate and get beyond the emotions to work through the matter. It’s a fact of life. However, we women are emotional beings, but we must capture our unreasonable emotions and turn those passionate feelings into good actions rather than destructive ones. We have to love rather than grow bitter and angry. It is part of our cherished role in the community of family to be the nurturer and lover, but if we hold on too tightly to our disappointments we will lose sight of this. Don’t do it! Let go! Move on! Put your big girl skirt on and add a smile and give that baggage to the Lord. He can handle what will bring you down. You have too much life to live to let those past disappointments keep you from an adventurous and loving future with people who enjoy your company.
I’ve learned to simply stop and pray and then choose to look for opportunities to meet the needs of others around me. How? Usually, a simple prayer asking the Lord to show me someone’s need or desire and how I can fill it produces results quite quickly. In giving joy to others and meeting a need, I receive a great blessing and can fix my eyes on godly things and others, whom I am put here to serve. It sometimes can be difficult to get into that mindset. Sometimes, we don’t feel like giving because we feel like everyone is taking from us without giving to us. When I get that kind of “stinkin’ thinkin’” going on, it is because I’m getting a selfish streak. I have to remember that the world does not revolve around me, and that I am looking at things through my own skewed mental balance sheet or invisible scale that is probably far from accurate. If my basic needs are met, then focusing on helping others with theirs will give me a great satisfaction and fulfillment, and it will help me learn to be grateful for what I have when I see others with less, because there are always lots of people with less than any of us. We are all truly put here to give God glory and to serve Him and one another rather than to focus all our energies on being served ourselves.
Just the fact that most of us live in the U.S. means we live well, even wealthy by most standards when compared to the rest of the world. Think about so many in Greece who are losing their homes and in Venezuela who don’t even have toilet paper! There are many in the Middle East who have lost everything, and children in Israel who go to school every morning after hearing bombs go off in the nights, looking to see which students or teachers aren’t at school that day and were killed or injured the night before. Many are losing jobs or are getting pay cuts, and it is getting rough right here in the U.S., but remember that we still are blessed with much more than many. If you have resources, whether it is stuff, money, energy, and/or time, give a little to those who God puts in your path or heart. They may be in your home or they may not. There are elderly people forgotten in your community nursing homes and orphans feeling a bit neglected in children’s homes or crowded foster care. There are shut-ins and people fighting in hospitals with little or no family to help them through their battles with disease. There are children needing an interested adult to cheer for them and teach them some practical skills.
As a prepper, you have a lot of practical knowledge that you can pass on to others in need. A family who has lost their income could benefit from some shared garden seeds. Your family could til a garden spot for them this spring, share some of your collected seeds, and help them put in a garden so that they can grow their own food. You’ll be providing food for them and teaching them how to provide for themselves going forward. In your marriage, pay attention to the small things that make your spouse happy and do those “for no reason at all, except that you love and appreciate having him in your life.” You will find that this will be a great encouragement to your husband. When times are hard, as they are becoming, the little things we do to bring pleasure to our loved ones, like preparing a favorite breakfast or dessert or sending a love note in their briefcase or lunchbox, or cleaning something they particularly like to have clean and orderly, goes a long way. You can also gift a little gift by packaging some of those treats mentioned above (teas, candy bars, bath salts, and so forth).
Seeing their burden’s weight lifted a litttle bit through your efforts will make your heart soar a bit, too. Just be cautious about who you contact outside of your home or trusted friend group. If you are going to see someone outside of your “safe” and local community and if you going into the city to a city hospital to visit someone, be sure you take your get home bag and preparations and also take a friend or family member with you. Be sure your husband is aware of where you are going, that you are always alert, able to defend yourself, and have a plan of how to get to safety quickly. Also, pray thoroughly before venturing into new territory to reach a hand out to any “stranger” or enter into a danger zone. It is my strong advice that women need to reach out to women and men to men, and it is still a good idea to meet someone you don’t know well in a public place, have someone with you, and be prepared to defend yourself with force, if the need arises. Always be prepared to defend yourself and extend yourself, as God leads. He is our reason for living, and He cares for His own!
Don’t just survive, but thrive and live well!