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.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Lovely letters and brilliant ideas.

When I first started on building up my pantry I knew it is not an overnight thing. It is week by week, long term and a big learning curve. I would never have guessed I would make friends and get so much support! It has become a way of encouraging each other along which is just so nice.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who comments and contributes. Last week alone the comments were fantastic. We were talking about having back up plans and alternatives to things we really need or couldn't handle being without. 

Some wonderful tips that came in comments were:
Cathy and Cass reminded us to keep matches. These days many people have no matches! They are a basic necessity.
Jes added that a large bucket for washing and a clothes line (if you are allowed to have one..) prepare you for washing and drying.
Nanna Chel suggested a solar phone charger.
Lana got a crank up radio so they can hear news and warnings without batteries or electricity.
Cass said that a fondue pot successfully heats all kinds of things. Oh my goodness I never thought of that! How clever is this? She followed it up with the idea that if you lay a garden hose out in the sun and fill it up ie with a closed off nozzle on the end, it will heat up. Now I KNOW that because of all those times I nearly burned my fingers plus plants with that first minute of really hot water that you get! But I never once thought that I could use this if the power was out to wash, do dishes etc! How brilliant.  (Gold stars to you Cass, thank you!)
Denise suggested bug spray is an item not to be without. If we are cooking outdoors etc and in an area that mozzies etc are a problem bug spray can be a life saver. So true!
Joy suggested hand sanitizer and wet wipes for when both water is precious and hygiene is important.

This is a sampling of the good and helpful comments in ONE week. I am learning so much! Thank you all.

Now sometimes comments are not enough and also they don't allow photos. I love to see what you are doing! (FB allows photos otherwise if you have some please email me)

In the last week or so here are some of the emails I got...

Firstly, from Teri. You remember her free food coming in and it just kept coming! Well, here is an update...

I am still canning.  Tomorrow, I will have a big box of tomatoes from Jacob's garden, so I'm planning to make salsa.  I froze some yellow summer squash, unblanched, in hopes that we will like it better.  I also chopped some to add to sauces, stews, and soups.  I'm still picking a few green beans and those are for our dinner meals.  I will miss them!  lol   And we are covering the cucumbers each night in hopes of getting a few more to eat.  Then, I have chard to pick, beets and winter (acorn) squash to bring in and some green tomatoes to put in the basement to ripen.  And I still have a box of apples to can up.  The harvest is winding down and I'm thankful for all that we have gotten this year!  As soon as I have some jars available, I will be canning some of my dried beans.  We buy them in bulk and because they take a lot of water, I plan to start filling some jars.

Teri keeps working and food keeps coming in!

From Rosanne: (You might remember Rosanne from the free apples and her Grand children helping her preserve them a few weeks ago)


To truly have a well stocked pantry one must think 'outside the box". Thinking of what you use regularly and expanding the thought.

I am a coffee addict, I need my morning cup, or two. I stock regular coffee, not instant, but I do have 2 percolators, 1 French press and this plastic cone thing. I have shelf stable milk, shelf stable 1/2 & 1/2 and powdered milk, just incase I cannot get to the store, due to any reason, weather, finances or other.

I live in Upstate New York, my area gets hit by what they call Nor'Easter storms and storms out of the west, they tend to converge over me. makes for an interesting winter.

We did put a whole house generator in and it has been used more times than I can remember, but what most people do not mention is the cost of a unit ($5,000+ US dollars) And the cost of running one. We were out of power for 5 days one week in winter, it ran us an additional $300 in natural gas to power it. Also, stock some ear plugs, the constant (noise) it makes does wear on you, even though you have the blessing of power to heat the house, cook and keep refrigerator going.

I canned quick meals, soups, sauces, even sweet and sour chicken to have over rice, precooked rice is available in packets. I have canned pork roast, ground hamburger meat, cubed chicken, chicken breasts, easy quick meals to make in a pinch. Before we had the generator we had to cook meals on the outdoor grill when we lost power, so to conserve propane, we wanted to cook something that took less fuel. We do always keep 3 additional tanks of propane for the grill. A just in case.

I have bars of soap saved, I doubt we will ever run out. I even take the little slivers that are to small to use and transform them into liquid soap, we haven't bought liquid soap in many years.

Remember when you are stocking your pantry to always stock what you will eat and quick versions of what you eat. It might not taste exactly the same, but something is better than nothing.

I have been taking my grandchildren out during the summer to forage. They have heard the tall stories of their Father's youth, how his Mother would send him into the mosquito infested woods to pick blackberries and others. As I would sit there and hold back the laughter.
We have a "weed" called Golden Rod, it is a sign that Fall is on its way when it is blooming, It has medicinal uses, but my Grandchildren learned it's historic significance, It was called Liberty Tea, the Bostonians substituted it for tea after the famous, Boston Tea Party.  I also don't worry about them going without food, because they know, it can be found in the most unusual places.
You have met them with their Parking Lot Apples. We canned up 73 lbs, that were free, no one picked them, they just walked by, we picked and helped a lady pick some, giving her a bag to use and found she had never thought of picking them.
We pick Sumac to make lemonade with.
Remember all your food doesn't need to come from a grocery store or your garden. You would be amazed to find what is out there.
I have felt priveleged to have you post about the Grandchildren, they of course were ticked pink. I should add they asked today what we are going to go pick this week.

I stopped in at Aldi's, some of the ladies on A Working Pantry mentioned some good prices. I didn't find anything marked down like they did, but I did come home with a case of mushrooms. They were 8 oz each for 79 cents, my normal grocer has them on sale for $2 for 10 oz. As soon as I got home I was slicing. They were beautiful.

I was able to fit 11 cartons on 9 trays in dehydrator. They were dried in 9 hours. Yes I did put the dehydrator outside, my laundry room where I had first set it up, well it started to smell like an old worn pair of socks. But by 1/2 way through the smell no longer existed, so at 9pm I brought it in to finish them off.

Here are the trays of dehydrated mushrooms. 11 - 8oz cartons filled 2 qts and 1 pint. The one lonely carton left I microwaved for 3 minutes and placed in a freezer carton, it filled a pint container. I am thrilled to have added them to my pantry, whenever I want them in a stew, all I need to do is drop them in, in an omelet, all I need to do is pour some boiling water over them and wait a bit, now my husband has no excuse for not making a mushroom pizza.

Here is a picture of how I vacuum seal them, the foodsaver does have attachment to fit the top of mason jars, I always had a problem with getting them to seal, so all I do is pop any jar that does fit into the canister and seal it that way. So much easier for me to do.

The end result was 2 quarts and 1 pint of dried mushrooms, from 5 1/2 pounds of fresh and 1 pint of frozen from 8 oz of fresh.

Now when it is snowing and cold and we want a yummy stew, no worries about having to go out to pick up ingredients.

Rosanne you are so productive and it is wonderful!

And from  Vicky who has also been building up her pantry and you will remember her beautiful black and white food grade bins and pantry storage...

What I gleaned from my Uncle's garden:
6 small heads of cabbage
15 green peppers
22 banana peppers
a bucket of tomatoes
1/2 bucket of small potatoes
A few people have asked me if I grow a big garden why would I get more produce when I have my own? Well they are obviously not gardeners or canners. Some of the obvious answers are if I am getting produce and it is ripe and ready to be processed mine will be coming on later and later may be a disaster. Too much rain or heat for examples. Or maybe I didn't plant as much as I would have liked too and this will add extra to the larder. Or maybe that big ol' whistlepig decided my garden is great and destroys half my stuff! So just in case I never turn down free produce and if I end up with a bumper crop in my garden I return the favor. It is part of my just in case plan. And having extra is a big help because I never know how many I will be feeding at times or unexpected things come up and I need to send hospitality food. So here is what I have done with the free produce.
Stuffed peppers ready for the sauce and to be frozen for dinner later. I will put half of these in another pan. Plus I had a pan full of diced, but I lost the pic. Part of them went into my tomato juice and the other part in the dehydrator.

The Banana Peppers deseeded and will be stuffed with spicy sausage and go into the freezer then when we have a football party or other party I will put them in the crockpot with onions and tomato sauce. Yum!
And from the 6 small heads of cabbage I got:
A pan of cabbage to fry for cabbage and noodles for dinner later.

A pan of vegetable casserole to put in the freezer. It has some of the green peppers I diced, onions, celery, shredded cabbage, cooked burger, sliced carrot, banana pepper and rice. I will put the tomato sauce on it when I put the sauce on the stuffed peppers.

6 quarts of kraut ready to put in the closet to ferment.

And 12 quarts of tomato juice. One of the things I love about making tomato juice is you can use up some of the vegetables that maybe are not so great to can that you don't want to waste like peppers that are a little soft, but still good or carrots and celery that are in the fridge that are on the limpy side. I used some of these in this juice plus I had onions in the freezer that I froze last year, but will be getting a bunch of fresh ones soon so I put them in too. I cook it all and then juice it and boil down a little and voila tomato/vegetable juice!

And that is what I did with the free food I got this week.
XOXO Vicky

And to top it off this is Vicky's garden...

Thats the capsicum section! To the left is the cabbage section and to the right tomatoes!
I need a rest just looking at this!

And her capsicums as she harvests them...

And tomatoes made into sauce...

And I nearly forgot! Her husband then had a chance to be paid to cut down some trees and was also allowed to keep the wood. So now they have a fresh supply of wood for their fire...

Can you believe Vicky's vegetables!? This woman doesn't stop!
Everyone is busy as a bee!

These kind of letters are a joy to read! And there are more... like Kaye is getting a shelving system set up for her pantry supplies... I am trying to get her to take photos!

All of this is just wonderful. And inspiring. I thought to share it as if it motivates me and makes me happy then I am sure I would not be the only one.

I always say make hay while the sun shines and to make the most of what you have where you are right now. These ladies all have things in common. They take every opportunity to build up their pantries and homes.
Thank you to everyone who reads, shares their ideas and experiences and sends in photos.

This week I added a LED lantern to the cellar and placed it on the top step. Vicky suggested that my wall that has nothing on it (shelves would be in the way of the steps) would be a good place to hang wall pockets ie the ones made for shoes or storing small things. I got one and it fits, is not in the way and will hold all kinds of things. I will label the pockets also. These over the back of a door such as the pantry door will hold things like soup mixes, small packets, plastic bags and so on. Very handy!
I also added hand warmers that you activate and get ten hours heat from.

How did you build up your pantry this week?
Every bit helps and adds up to a lot! xxx


  1. Dear Annabel, I'm learning so much from these ladies. We are already into storm season here with hail and damaging winds in twice in two days. Fortunately they are late afternoon events, and over quickly, but it's a reminder that you can get caught out in your car in them. So it pays to have preparedness in the car as well. Umbrellas in the car are essential, as is a roll of clear plastic and some masking tape on the off chance you lose a windscreen or side window (it's happened to me!). On that topic, an umbrella is useless if you're trying to make repairs, or assist someone else, so rain ponchos or raincoats with reflective strips for safety, are a good idea too. Those instant warming sachets are a great idea for when you finally return to the car for shelter and need warmth, as is some chamois towels for drying off, a torch, a blanket in case you're stuck for some time, appropriate emergency numbers on your phone and an in car phone charger. These can be bought inexpensively and can be single use. Bottles of water or iced tea and long life juice, and a couple of long life snacks can help too, especially if you get stranded or caught in storm induced traffic jams with young children. This happens several times in a season here, and can mean delays of several hours. I think this can be just as important in terms of being prepared. Of course a first aid kit is an absolute must, as well as some reflective hazard signs if necessary. It sounds a lot, but can all fit easily into a little bag in the trunk of your car. I hope this helps. Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      Sorry I was slow to publish this, it snuck through and was waiting in comments but I didnt have an email note that usually comes. This happens sometimes!
      This is such a good idea. Wherever we live we can get caught in our car in terrible conditions. It sounds like up there when it rains it can really rain!
      As you have experienced it this is a case of learning from experience but could save someone else from being caught out. Thank you so much! With love, (have a good weekend!xxx)

    2. Lol....that's ok. I know that comments sometimes get lost in the emails. There's not rhyme or reason to the order in which they arrive (well, there is, but it makes no sense sometimes), and I've found I have to go back days and days to make sure I haven't missed someone! On this topic, last year, we had a storm and flash flooding and people didn't get home after work from the city until after midnight! Imagine being stuck in traffic, no food, no drink for seven or eight hours, and what if your phone went flat! Eek! Have a lovely weekend. Mimi xxx

  2. Wow Annabel, those ladies in the US never cease to amaze me at how efficiently they preserve their food. We are so much more laid back here in Australia because of our weather conditions which allow us to grow produce year round. They are certainly very impressive and inspiring. The storm season has started here in Queensland so we might have to get used to power outages soon.

    1. I know Nanna Chel I am learning a lot! Power outages are not the best but at least you can plan for them and have had plenty of practice! For us a power outage in a heat wave is the worst. Terrible! I hope it doenst happen this summer! Hope you are having a lovely week! xxx

  3. I love all these women for sharing how they do things... What a blessing! It is so inspiring! Thanks for posting this Annabel :)

    1. Thanks Jes! It is a blessing. I read your posts about work. It is true. The satisfaction and happiness of a good days work. A joy! xxx

  4. This was just wonderful to read all about what everyone does. Thanks so much for posting it, Annabel.

    I have not added much to the pantry at all this week as I really need the new shelves in and am waiting for them to come into store. There really is no room for more items in there! It is not a large space, so will be good to maximize it and improve access to all the goodies in there. ;-)

    I'm planning on getting emergency items together to keep us cool if the power goes out. Next week is forecast as summer temps. This is far too early and I wonder just how hot the summer will be since it is not mid spring even yet! It nevers gets super cold here, but heat, well that really is something to consider!

    1. I am excited for you and the shelves Kaye. You will have a great time stacking them and probably feel like you have much more space.
      The heat worries me also. But today was beautiful and I went walking with Harper. The power being out in a heatwave is my big fear! Hope the week is going well! With love, Annabelxxx

  5. Wow some really inspiring friends you have Annabel! I take my hat off to these hard working women.

    My pantry is stocked at the moment and I have had to put some things in my other cupboards as I have been stocking up on specials. Storage is a big problem with a stockpile. Wish I had an outside cellar like we had on the farm when I was a youngster.

    Another great post Annabel :)

    The heat is going to be here this weekend, we haven't taken the air conditioner cover off yet as the nights have been so cold. We haven't lit the fire for over a week so I think we can presume we wont need to anymore. Not looking forward to 38C on the weekend! Hopefully we get the air conditioner clean and going before then lol!


    1. Dear Tania, I loved your farm house rand now I find out it had a cellar! I could live there near the sea I think! Perfect really.
      Well you are one of my very productive friends as your posts of what you did in the week show! I love to read them and all you achieve. It's a good feeling to get stuff done and lovely to see what others are doing I think.
      The heat will be a shock at first I think.... hope not too hot. With love and thanks,

  6. Good morning, Annabel!! I love your blog. Anyway, after skinning tomatoes for freezing (or canning), I took the skins and dehydrated them. Also split in half, and then dehydrated the many cherry tomatoes we couldn't eat. When they were dry, I ground them into powder and put them in jars I had saved. A scoop or so provides nutrition and an addition to many foods. I also froze the leftover juice, to add to a soup in the future. It was too hot to can much here.
    I also grew a lot of herbs this summer, and dehydrated them as well. Also, celery - dehydrated and then ground.
    Who knows what the world will bring, and I feel a lot better knowing I can feed people. Thanks for all your prep ideas!

    1. Thank you so much and thank you for commenting! I think the tomato powder is so full of goodness. Intense flavour and nutrition. Well done on your herbs. A sprinkle of fresh herbs is lovely. I have put in lots and they are growing as the weather warms up here.
      I love hearing what you are doing, thank you! I hope it's been a good week, with love,

  7. I didn't add to my pantry but I did add to my kitchen my stove finally died after 20 years - cost way to much to repair. My new stove came from the big box store, was on sale someone had returned the stove another discount, had dent in the right side ( that set right next to my cabinets, can not see it ) so another discount. The salesman said I got a great deal because it was the top of the line stove. I got a $999.99 stove for $399.99 plus free delivery.

    1. Dear Sue, What an incredible saving! Isn't it amazing how that much money could be saved on a big item like that. I hope you love it too. An important thing, your stove. It seems to take me a wek or t to get the hang of a new stove. I had one last year and I really like it. I actually read the instruction book which was the best thing as it has all these things I never new about or had before! Lucky I read that! Happy cooking on your new stove! With love,

  8. I love that you shared the posts from everyone. I have learned so much since I have been following your blog along with A Working Pantry and The Prudent Homemaker blogs. I needed a little more storage in my little camper trailer and I purchased one of those hanging shoe bags. The space I need it for in the camper would only take three rows so I cut it off where I needed it then I took the rest and added another band and grommets. I took the hooks that came with the bag and hung the remaining part over my pantry door. I now store all my extra bottles of spices in there. It works great and I too will be adding another one to a wall where shelves won't work. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas.

    1. What a great idea to cut the pockets to fit! I have learned so much from A Working Pantry and The Prudent Homemaker also. I look forward to every new post! Also the friendships through them.
      I have not filled my wall pockets yet but I am getting started.
      Do you live in your camper trailer? I am wondering that and thinking of storage... Thank you so much for commenting, with love

  9. Annabel, I love, love, love reading your posts. Even as long as I've been a pantry keeper ... and that's a long time ..., I still learn things from others. Thank you!

    1. Dear Patsy, I find it really exciting getting an idea I never thought of or learning something I canuse that will help. I think because we are from across the world, different climates etc that we learn new things from each other. Many of the ladies like mentioned above have th best ideas! It never ceases to amaze me! Plus it's fun! Thank you very much, love Annabel.xx

  10. Dear Annabel, I am so grateful for the friendships that have "bloomed" since you started your pantry/preparedness posts! I'm glad I found your blog through Patsy!! Even though I've always had food storage, pantry building and rotating our supplies has become more and more vital in recent years. I have learned so much from you and the other ladies who share!! Thank you!! :)

    Vicky and Rosanne, thank you for sharing more of your preparedness with all of us! I love seeing the pictures and hearing how you glean and forage food! I would like to "store" my beets to use as fresh in the winter. I have researched this and was wondering if you or anyone has just left them with dirt in a cool root cellar type of place? I could refrigerate them but would rather just store them like potatoes. I don't know if this would work.

    Also, all the ideas in the comments from last week and other posts help so much. I'm writing them down so I will be able to reference them and remember!

    Thanks, again, Annabel for sharing your stories, pictures and others stories! Today, I have dried tomatoes, blanched chard and cauliflower, made freezer pickles (thanks Glenda!) and still have yellow squash and green beans for several meals! And thank you for mentioning the hand warmers. I'm going to look into getting some. Love, Teri

    1. Teri,
      yes you can store them like that or put them in a basket with layers of newspaper in between, but for sure leave some of the dirt on them. Just be sure that they don't freeze and your good to go!

    2. Thanks, Vicky! I will try this! Teri

    3. Dear Teri, isn't it funny how things happen... I am so glad you found me and now we are friends. Long distance friends! But you have taught me heaps. Also you inspire me greatly!
      Thank you very much for all your help. With love,

  11. Wonderful roundup Annabel - I have a set of those hand warmers - never used them when we were living in Melbourne, thankfully they are still OK and can go in the emergency box.

    I was just thinking about an old fashioned hot water bottle - we are so use to using the heat packs but if there is no electricity these are just not going to work.

    As for helping to keep cool - Cool Neck Ties made from fabric and water saving crystals would be a good addition to the summer emergency box for us - the one that I had was supposed to be used as a pattern for the Guides to follow but of course the person who was going to do the activity never did it and never returned my neck tie - cost such a small amount to make and you can make them to suit the person, even have a few different ones to go with what ever you are wearing.


    1. Dear Lynette, when I have a migraine heat on my neck is the best thing. Hopefully I could always use a hot water bottle. Thinking if that I should get a new one as they perish and mainly I use heat bags. But if no power I would be looking for it. A lot of aches and pains seem better with what which is why I grabbed these hand warmers when I saw them. Just like you I am using heat bags and also an electric hot pack that I love. It's a wonder I haven't worn it out!
      The neck ties are a good idea. I worry about power loss in a heat wave. That would be awful. It happened once here a few years ago for 48 hours when it was 43, 44. That was long enough!
      I hope you have had a good week and have lovely spring weather. With love and thanks,

  12. What I spring ideas! That is a brilliant idea about the Fondue pot.

    1. Dear Chrissy, Hello lovely to see you! I thought the fondue pot was brilliant too. It would gently heat just about anything. I will come ove rot your blog. I noticed you were quiet for a while. Hope all is well, with love

  13. Annabel,
    I feel for you ladies I do not like extreme heat or when it's really cold, I think that is why I love fall it's usually somewhere in between. I love looking at and reading everything you share and you and the other ladies do a fantastic job with your pantries! It's amazing! Each little bit adds up. I never thought when I was younger that looking at food would be such joy?!

  14. I put six quarts of cucumber chunk pickles in the freezer and added 22 jars of dehydrated food to the pantry.

    I still have to do some rearranging of the pantry next week and cut another batch of herbs to hang to dry.

    Love and hugs,

  15. Annabel I just love reading your posts and learning about what everyone is doing to care for their homes and families. It seems like such a lot of work, but I know that when I look back over my lists I don't think of anything as "work" but more as just being a wife and mum and homemaker - it's what I love to do, and anything I love to do just isn't a chore but a pleasure.

    At the end of each day when I sit down and look around our home it makes me happy to know that everyone has eaten a good meal, usually cooked from scratch with veggies from our garden, that we will all sleep in clean, comfy beds and have nice, clean clothes to wear the next day. When I'm sending a card I've made, attached to a gift I've made or found for just a couple of dollars that I know will be appreciated it makes me happy.

    So many things in this world tempt and taunt us to be discontented, to never be satisfied that what we have is enough, that I feel very blessed to just be happy in our home. Sometimes I think if I never went past the front gate again I'd still be happy and still have plenty to do that would just be pure pleasure :)

  16. Good job everyone!

    Teri, I read on Little House Living a few years ago that freezing yellow squash in water keeps it tasting just like fresh. Slice the squash and put in a freezer bag and cover with water. Thaw and drain well before cooking. I have not tried this but trust the source.

    I added 10 freezer meals to my freezer made from ingredients I had on hand. These are a huge help on busy days. We took out all of the freezer meals already in the freezer and made an inventory and it was surprising how many meals we had on hand.

    1. Lana, thank you for that suggestion. I will try it! Teri

    2. Dear Lana, thanks for helping out with that tip.
      Freezer meals are so helpful. I needed one today! I was pleased to see that when I needed it I had a few choices and gave a meal to someone else. Mind you this means I need to ad some meals or suddenly they are all gone. I hope the week has gone well! With love,

  17. Lots of great ideas again, all these ladies have a wealth of ideas that will help us all out. I might look into a wind up radio as when we had the power out for days that is what I missed (had no batteries and neither did the stores), I have a good supply now but a wind up radio would be great.
    I write down all the ideas as they will come in handy and I dont have to go back through your posts to find them.
    The weather is warming up here over the weekend, they are saying up to 38c so that will be a shock.
    Have a wonderful weekend Annabel xx

    1. Dear Debbie,
      I it is warming up here too! Today is already on the way. But it has been glorious all week so I am not complaining (yet!)
      Writing down the ideas you can use is a good idea. So much depends on climate. The snow and freezing conditions apply to lots of the ladies and the heat ones apply to me here. But I have picked up so many tips that have made me better prepared and saved me money etc. Its really amazing how much difference Ive made this year around our home.
      Have a wonderful weekend to you too! With love,

  18. Just wanted to mention that some garden hoses are not safe to be used to drink out of. Mine said so right on the label. So I am not sure about using them for dish washing use. I see some..mainly ones for the travel trailers say they are safe to use to drinking from. check on this so when you need to use it you know it is safe. It probably has to do with the material that they are made out of. I do so love coming here and learning from all the ladies!! Thank you again!!! Sarah

    1. Thanks Sarah. Yes I agree I dont like drinking from plastics anyhow but there are other issues too. But for showering etc I would be thrilled to have warm water. We are keeping bottled water and rotating for drinking.
      Thank you so much for commenting and I am glad you are enjoying it! With love


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