The other day I was reading A Prudent Homemaker and she posed a question. If this was the last month to stock up for a while would you be ok? mmm
It's an interesting post about filling the "holes" or gaps in your supplies which can be found here.
To top it off then I read another thought provoking post by Brenda at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me. She wrote a beautiful article about helping others and your pantry. And she also has observed the same thing I have. That so many people seem to feel a strong desire to stock up. Helping others when you have a small income. Lovely.
So all this made me do a review. A serious review!
It was November/December last year when I first felt that I need to start stocking up. It was one of those things where you have a feeling and it keeps popping up. It won't go away. Pretty much anytime I have ever ignored one of these persistent feelings things haven't ended well. So I kind of take notice now.
Then somehow I mentioned it to Wendy that I have a cellar and after almost three years living here I did not use this. It was dark and dusty, down very steep steps and intimidating. Also it was set up for wine. So I had just kind of ignored it. Also it is small. Not like a room or anything more like a toilet sized room.
Wendy replied she would just LOVE having a cellar and found it such an exciting prospect that it made me realize how lucky I am and was another sign I should be filling this cellar!
So that is how it started.
Next I started reading blogs and trying to learn what it is good to store, how much and about preparedness generally. I was really starting from scratch! As I read I consistently saw other people like myself who had recently posted comments saying exactly what I had experienced... the consistent feeling that they should start stocking up. It was a funny feeling. I was reading comments that I could have written myself. Hundreds of them.
I already had quite a few jars and tins full of basics. Pasta, flours, beans, herbs and so on.
A cupboard full of tinned goods, sauces, mixes... cooking basics I use all the time.
Probably you would say a normal pantry for a person who cooks from scratch.
There is a whole shelf of homemade jams and things from summer.
From this decision I began to add to the kitchen supplies and stock the cellar.
I also have added to our first aid and medicine supplies and added first aid, torches and pure wool blankets to my car and Andy's van. I found the spare blankets at op shops and washed them up.
Cleaning out the cupboards was one step. As Wendy posted on The Cheapskates Club removing non food from the pantry is a good idea. You think you have good supplies then you remove all kinds of stuff you have stashed in there and suddenly it doesn't look so full! In my case water bottles, thermos, picnic plates and all sorts came out and I found new homes for them. Then I just started to gradually fill up the spaces created with things we use including canned goods, oil, sauces, long life milk and so on.
I also filled up all my jars. Some were low and filling them all took weeks alone.
Inspired by Patsy I made over a huge trunk I had found and turned it into a blanket and pillow box. This half emptied my linen press. Now there is a shelf there that I can store spare shampoo, conditioner etc.
I added bars of soap to the blanket box, linen press and clothes draws. I chose nice smelling soaps and slipped them into every drawer I could. Mel had posted how her Grandmother had heard that soap and sugar were so sought after in WW1. She was married after the war. So she lined all her draws with soap. And WW2 started. She had stored soap, fabric and sugar in large quantities as her mother in law had told her how all these things were in great shortage in the first war. She listened! And during WW2 she had all these things and was able to barter with them as well. What a smart woman! So soap is in the drawers here. And it smells really good. Stored soap hardens and when you use it up it lasts ages.
In my laundry I cleaned out a cupboard and started to add laundry powders, toilet paper and other practical things.
I put several large jars onto my cooking bench instead of in the cupboard.
Andy built me a shelf and I added a row of large (free) jars of dry goods in the kitchen. So then filling them up was another project. I added a lot of herbs, rice, different pastas thanks to those jars.
All these things greatly increased what I have stored in the kitchen, pantry and around the house.
It has been gradual. You re home something and you have new space. I am amazed how many things I have shifted and again I find more space.
Around the house I have a lot of candles in the decor. They look nice, I have lovely candlesticks (op shops mostly) and if I need them there they are. But this also saves storage space.
Next to our beds we have torches, a lantern and there are lanterns on mantlepieces.
Above the entrance to the cellar we have a torch hung on a hook. If the power is out the cellar is dark! All our stuff would be so hard to find. I would be too scared to even go down there! So we keep a torch near the door.
Now to the cellar. This is how it looked on day one... I called it The Pit of Doom.
This is now. I call it The Shop. (Mimi got me started on this name and it has stuck!)
It is really difficult to photograph. On the left the closest half is all bottled tap water. Andy drinks soda water and when each one is empty I fill it with tap water. The rest is actual bottled water, soda water, and I am using that side also for other bottles such as oil.
The shelves are canned goods. The bottom shelves are things like dish detergent, spare toiletries and so on. However I also have a decent bathroom cabinet so most of those are in there.
On the right you can't see a kind of cubby hole. In that there are candles, torches, batteries, matches, making tape, tarps and garbage bags.
Behind the stairs is a small space. I have spare towels stored in blanket bags.
On the floor I have stacked sealed plastic containers. These are labelled and some have packet goods ie pasta, rice, tea.. I have another that is vitamins, pain killers, asprin and so on. Another is paper goods. Week by week I add to these. It is a work in progress.
Also there is a row of long life milk on the floor.
Around the top there is a gap that makes like a little shelf. I have a row of things like honey, various jars and tins right around the whole space. It holds a lot all up.
Now I have been working on this for about eight months. It has all been little by little and doing something each week. I can't say that anytime I ever did a spectacular amount. Just lots of little bits. Little bits really do add up!
Some of it I have managed by swapping priorities. I would rather add to my pantry than get a coffee out or buy new shoes. Taking every opportunity with two for one specials, gift cards, preserving, drying, swapping and you name it!
No one has a word to say if someone collects 5000 movies on DVD or 200 pairs of shoes. But if you start a decent pantry as a back up plan for your family someone will say something ie you are not trusting in God for provision. The movie collector is not trusting in Gods provision of movies either I guess. These people will be the first at your door if the shops are shut. A decent pantry is a traditional thing, not new, and our Grandparents were not told they were not trusting God or are fearful by keeping a pantry. If they were told that they would have thought the person saying this was nuts!
We all just got away from it as we came to believe in supermarket convenience. But in so many circumstances that all evaporates. A lot of people too have come to think the government will save them in any circumstance. The governments have debts up to their eyeballs. I don't think it can go on. In any instance that is true and the governments ask that we are all prepared to take care of ourselves as in the instance of anything big it can takes weeks for help to arrive.
We are told to be watchful and be like ants. To work in summer so we have plenty to get us through winter. It is just sensible.
In Greece or Venezuela I wonder how many people actually had an inkling that they should stock up and didn't? Imagine the difference between those who did and those who did not.
During this series I have had a continuous stream of lovely letters from people saying how their pantry got them through sickness, storms, isolation, money that never came through, rioting, job loss, flu breakout, banking not working, broken leg! and having to provide for others unexpectedly. Had they not stocked up they just do not know how they would have made it. They have my admiration for being able to provide for their families even through these times! It was because they planned and acted. To me that is prudent.
For the rest of September I am taking up Brandy's mission and looking at the gaps in my pantry. I am not interested in what the Kardahsians are doing, I am interested in what I need to add to my supplies!
If you are thinking about stocking up but haven't, truly, start. It adds up amazingly. I think if you are diligent in it you will be blessed. Like Teri who prayed that she could fill her jars and shelves and so much free food came in. She was so busy working on all that food! And this last week she is still going! She did not know HOW they would add to the pantry but now she has rows and rows of preserved produce. It might be that you find amazing specials, are given produce, find a tree covered in apples like Rosanne. You will see... you will be blessed and you will know it's because you are doing a good and wise thing.
The little birds...
If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.
Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.