29 December 2012

Paracord Frenzy?

Lately I have been seeing a lot of posts around paracord bracelets, handles and other things you can do with this great 550 paracord. Keep in mind, I am not like some others that you have seen on the internet that have 50 types of bracelets and 35 different knot fashions. I have three!

These three are my "go-to" styles when someone says, "Ooooh! Make me one!" Because of the popular request, I was asked to post the pictures and info on my site. So here they are with a little blurb about each type.

The first is a single twist, single cord bracelet with a knot as a lock. It has approximately 7' of 550 Black paracord and as mentioned in the description, one piece.

The second, going from left to right, is a single cord as well but it is a half cobra knot. It has approximately 8' of 550 ACU paracord and a knot as a lock. Again, it is one solid piece.

The third, which was my first one, is the standard double cobra knot using a 12" piece of O.D. green 550 paracord as the center and approximately 10' of black 550 paracord. This is two pieces and can be created like the many you have seen with two colors and a plastic buckle latch as opposed to the knot as a lock.

That's it. Simple plain and easy. I have done many colors and several with buckles and several without. Both allow for adjustment if the size is wrong. I know you can create your own and there are many articles on just how to do that on the internet, but if you decide you would like to buy rather than build, I can assist.

They are bracelets (photographs above), necklaces, keychains, luggage tags and zipper pulls among other lanyards. Keep in mind, this is not my livelihood and profit is minimal.

Item prices are as follows:
$7 for double cobra
$5 for single cobra
$5 for single twist
plus $3 for shipping and handling

Ask for price breaks on more than five items. Shipping and handling is for up to five items. Six to 20 are $5 for shipping and handling.

If you are interested, either comment with your email address or email me.

24 December 2012

Just an update...

For those that wait patiently for a new post, I have some good news. I am planning out the year for a bi-weekly post (Bi-weekly, is every two weeks by my definition).

I don't do New Year's Resolutions as I usually have a tendency to blow those by the end of February. However, I do have lists that I hope to accomplish. This is a no pressure way for me to attain certain "goals" and usually finish them faster than if I had written them as a resolution. I am sure there is some psychological reasoning behind that but really, I don't care.

What does this mean to you? I will share some of my list in this post so you can see what is planned. Keep in mind with the exception of the top three, it probably will change, before the end of 2012.

  • Bi-weekly Blog Post
  • 5 retweets/day
  • 5 tweets/day
  • 2 special blog posts
  • Complete first novel
  • Start 2nd novel
  • Learn 5 useful prepping skills
  • Hone 5 different prepping skills
  • Bug out bag for each family member
  • Increase food storage to 3 month supply
  • Kids and wife to gun range once/month (thank you dear for that suggestion)

...and the list may grow or shrink from there.

In the midst of me creating this list, I read an interesting post from Mr. Jack Spirko on site. The post was about a site called The site is geared to help you learn and/or hone your prepping skills. Now, I got a little gung ho and decided to click 13 to start with and then thought a bit and have brought it back to ten. Folks, at minimum check out the site, get registered and at least learn or hone two skills for the year. I think you will be happy that you did.

That wraps it up for this post. MERRY CHRISTmas and a Happy New Year.
(Please note, I do not wish you Happy Holidays because our men and women have fought for me to be able to say, Merry Christmas.)

Check us out on Twitter, along with @SurvivorJane, @SelfReliantinfo and @STO_Radio as they have vastly contributed to my knowledge as well as some other great folks on #preppertalk. They have websites that you should visit as well for some great and useful information.

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive

14 November 2012

Book Review: The Ultimate Survival Manual

I was in the bookstore the other day and picked up The Ultimate Survival Manual: 333 Skills That Will Get You Out Alive by Rich Johnson. As I thumbed through the book, I saw great value in its pages. As I further perused some of the pages, I realized why the back of the book stated: “Your go-to guide for surviving anything”.

This book is just that. It displayed on the rear jacket how it was broken into three main sections: Wilderness, Disaster and Urban Survival. However, once you start at the beginning you realize that it has a fourth section. Essentials. 

I know many people that will buy this manual for that section alone because it gives you the checklists for everything. Car, BOB/GOOD and EDC bags, house and it goes from there. 

The sections of the book make it easy to read and put into practice the snippet that you just learned without having to worry about losing your place or attempt some complex process that is going to save your life. The 333 skills are broken down into bite sized chunks that are easily digestible and certainly easy for the beginner or the seasoned survivalist to understand.

I have been a fan of Outdoor Life since I was a child because of their stories, tips and great pictures. Now, as someone who reaches out to others to teach basic survival and preparedness skills, I have added this as a required read. And, at the moment, both my 11 and 14 year olds are reading it and enjoying the content and the beautiful pictures. I know the durability of this book will stand up to their little hands as well.

All in all, two words is all you need to know about The Ultimate Survival Manual. Buy it! You will be glad you did.

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive.

26 October 2012

A New Threat?

As if things couldn’t get worse. I have been trying not to listen to the media hype crap but alas, it finds its way to me in one shape or form. 

I know that we are all prepared or getting prepared and although I fit into the getting prepared category, I heard another topic the other day that caused me to think.

This is the time of year to get prepared for winter. Although hurricane season is coming to a close, it is obvious with the upgrade of Tropical Storm Sarah to a full bore hurricane, it is definitely not over for the East Coast.

  • Do you have batteries?
  • Do you have alternate power?
  • Do you have food?
  • Do you have water?

This is a great initial checklist for all preps but it doesn't necessarily focus on my latest topic. Politics! No, I will not be discussing the candidates, platforms or favoritism towards one or the other as this is not the media choice for that discussion.

My “instincts” kicked in when I thought about the outcomes regardless of the winner. What could happen is the question at the top of my list. 

  • Riots
  • Shortages
  • Fuel prices rise
  • Looting
  • In city/out of city

Although I don’t know the answers, this is a short time preparedness goal we need to set as a community. Regardless of which way the vote goes, these are possible.

STOP! No, this is not to scare you. This is not to make you fearful. This is, as always, using your instincts to survive. 

The idea actually came from a person who doesn’t watch politics, doesn’t watch the news, doesn’t focus on doomsday scenarios but still came to me for a solution.

So there it is folks, another thing to be prepared for. I am adding a few extra things just in case but pretty much sticking with my normal preps as a whole. Oh, what are they?

  • Extra water
  • Extra soup
  • Extra rice
  • Extra toilet paper
  • Extra batteries
  • and...Extra Bullets

Again, it is all prefaced with extra because it is just adding to my normal preps.

CALL TO ACTION: Check your preps. See if you need to add a little something extra.

Until then,
Use your instinct to survive

Photo Credit: ©2008 Oregon Mountain River Chapter of the American Red Cross

15 October 2012

DIY Firestarter

Firestarter Blogpost

Taking a page, or rather two from the Survival Quarterly (Volume 1; Issue 1 page 48), I decided to follow the article by Curtis Fidler regarding DIY Firestarter. First, let me just give accolades to Ron and Karen Hood for an incredible magazine. I came across their site a couple of years ago and recently decided to go all in and purchase copies of the magazine including back copies. The writers within Survival Quarterly are people that I trust. Guys like Mykel Hawke, David Williams and Ron Hood. I have even been very happy to see some articles by Karen Hood as well. She has done a fantastic job with the magazine since Ron’s untimely death. 

Back to the stuff:
The motto for the magazine and Ron’s creed has always been “Survival... It’s all in your head”. Because of that, I started actually putting to task some of the things taught in the magazine. The DIY Firestarter is one I really wanted to share because folks pay good money for firestarters and why not save some cash by doing it myself.

It starts simple as all you need is:
  • Empty toilet paper roll
  • Cotton balls
  • Paraffin wax

Stuff the tube with cotton until it is firm, make sure it doesn’t come out of the other side

Melt the wax and pour it slowly into the tube. The tube will get wet with wax as well (note the color differences compared to the previous picture). This is a slow process as it takes a while for the hot wax to get from the top to the bottom of the tube. Continue this until you can’t put any more wax in the tube.

Let them dry completely. I waited two weeks to ensure their firmness but could have probably used them before. 

Slice them to your liking. I think more than 1/2” is a bit much and mine are between 1/4” and 1/2”.

Light em up! My test was done on fairly breezy day and the 1/4” disk burned for around 20 minutes. I think if there was no breeze, it could have easily burned for 30 minutes. 

As mentioned in the article, this goes beyond just starting fires but can be used as fuel for a compact camp stove, creating a can lantern or candle or whatever else you can think of just by fluffing a little portion of the cotton and lighting it. Another option is starting the tablet on fire and putting it out to make a “char cloth” type of disk that can be relit with your ferrous rod.

This comes as a very low cost way of creating something we pay top dollar for just to be prepared. Use them wisely but definitely be prepared. Also, let me know your thoughts or ideas or other uses. I would like to hear and share them.

Now to see if it will work with my striker as opposed to a match. :)

Until then,
Use your instinct to survive

17 July 2012

Health 101

"Are we having fun yet?" This was the question my wife asked me a  week ago while I was lying in the Emergency Room of the local hospital. I just looked at her and smiled with tears in my eyes and said in a comforting voice, "It's going to be alright."

Both her and my son looked at each other and held each others hands as the technicians whisked me away for yet another test.

Rewind. How did I get there? Why was I there? Why am I at home now?

It started the last week in June, a week full of stress with multiple projects being due, multiple house repairs to be done, finances being what they are and still the notion of preparedness in the back of my mind. The last one was the least of my worries as I trusted in my preps and more so, my Lord and Savior. As the week progressed, the tell-tale sign of me getting tired and stressed is my words. The stuttering and stammering had returned. This, along with the lack of sleep was not a good thing for two reasons: I speak, or rather, present to people for a living and that meant something was seriously wrong.

Sunday, my body had apparently had enough and in the middle of the grains aisle at the grocery store, I got dizzy and grabbed a shelf for stability. My face grew pale and I became disoriented and wasn't sure why I was there. Thankfully I was with my wife and daughter and they started watching my like a hawk through the rest of the store. Yes, I got my bearings and realized what was going on but something still wasn't right. The week progressed, my doctor's visit went poorly and the look of fear on his face was a sure sign of why he sent me to the hospital.

Test after test, hour after hour, minute after grueling minute went by with my family by my side and the conclusion...non-conclusive. So, they blamed it on stress. Thankfully. Why thankfully? Because it was something that could be remedied. No immediate danger was there, but if I didn't and don't tend to it, it could lead to a real stroke as opposed to the stroke like symptoms that brought me to the hospital in the first place.

What does all of this have to do with preparedness? GREAT question. I am back home after one day, not quite 24-hours, in the hospital due to one main thing. My eating habits. I had been moving towards a healthier lifestyle so I could be around to use my preps and take care of my family if I needed to. Yes, that means less of the crap that is easy to obtain or the dash for a donut from the local convenient store and a 64 oz soft drink for breakfast and lunch.

How do I eat healthy and how do I add these things to my preps? Let's break this into the full two questions.

How do I eat healthy? There are many resources available on the web that will tell you about how to eat and what to eat to obtain a healthy diet. I am also not a nutritionist so I won't pretend to play one on TV. I will say this:

  • More sleep
  • Less Salt
  • Lower Fat / Good Fats
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Back to basics

Back to basics? That means that you determine what the food is naturally and eat it as close to that as possible. In other words, a potato doesn't come from the ground in a thin slice and deep fried to be coated with salt and vinegar (yes, a weakness of mine). Eat the potato instead. If you have to have fries then slice up the potato, put a light coating of olive oil, a pinch of salt and even a sprig of rosemary and throw it in the oven for 20 minutes. <- Recipe :)

It is these things that you can do to eat better. That along with exercise will keep you healthy or at least get you going. I am back home because I was already heading down that road and because I had made a choice on what to eat. Review your diet and then add those things to your preps. A root cellar may be just what the doctor ordered. I know, but there are plenty of ways to build a root cellar that doesn't add a hole in your floor because you have no basement.

I hope this little Health 101 talk helps you. I am just sharing my experiences and resting on the road to recovery.

Until then,
Use your instincts to survive

04 July 2012

God Bless America

It is on this day that I don't speak about prepping or preparedness but simply of survival.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - Declaration of Independence
As this is listed as probably the best sentence ever in history, it is that sentence that spawned the survival that I am referring to today.
In 1776, there was a nice piece of parchment paper that was signed by 56 delegates which included the patriots who actually penned the document. Such men as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were among those to state “We the people...”. With John Hancock signing his name big enough “for the King of England to read it without his spectacles”, it is men like that which helped this country survive and become the United States of America.
I know we have issues and problems as a country as do others throughout the world. But today I step back and say, Thank You. I still love this country and wish that everything was running smoothly and that I had other reasons to gripe, but again, I wish not to think about those things today.
So enjoy the fireworks, the hot dogs, and even a cold beer or two (or more) and remember those patriots and saints that started the States and founded this as being the greatest country in the world.
God Bless America and God Bless Us All!

Until then, 
Use Your Instinct To Survive

22 June 2012

Gerber Ultimate Knife Review

I first want to apologize for the absenteeism. We had a reorganization at my daily job which left me holding the bag on several projects and which severely cut into my personal time. This weekend I spent some time reviewing my notes for Blog Posts and realized that I hadn’t submitted the Gerber Ultimate Survival Knife Review after my camping trip. But, that is not what you want to hear. You want to hear what the Bear Grylls knife is all about in a real situation.
So we begin… I wanted to include the information from the actual marketing fluff so you can see what the knife is supposed to do and what it actually is.

From the website
·       MSRP: $62
·       Open length: 10.0"
·       Blade Length: 4.8"
·       Weight: (with sheath): 14.7oz.
·       Weight (no sheath): 11.2oz.
·       Knife Features:
o   ½ Serrated High Carbon Stainless Steel Drop Point Blade - Ideal for edge retention and cutting rope
o   Ergonomic Textured Rubber Grip - Maximizes comfort and reduces slippage
o   Stainless Steel Pommel - At base of handle for hammering
o   Emergency Whistle - Integrated into lanyard cord
·       Sheath Features:
o   Fire Starter - Ferrocerium rod locks into sheath, striker notch incorporated into back of knife blade
o   Nylon Sheath - Lightweight, military-grade, mildew resistant
o   Land to air rescue instructions
o   Diamond Sharpener - Integrated into sheath for on-the-go sharpening
o   Priorities of Survival - Pocket guide contains Bear’s survival essentials

Now for the FACTS:

The Good:
Let me start by saying, I like this knife. I like the comfort of the handle and the shortness of the blade. As you will see later, this is a downfall. The angled, what I would call a pistoled grip, works well and won’t slip out of your hands when wet.

The blade.
Out of the blister pack was sharpened to my liking. I keep most of my blades very sharp and two not as sharp as the others because I use them for things that don’t require them to shave a fly’s backside. I have re-sharpened it after trying to dull it just to use some of the other claimed functions such as how easy it sharpens as well as the actual Diamond Sharpener. Again, it lived up to its promise. Gerber, in my opinion, has always used good steel and been great blade makers. I like the drop point to it as well because it was ergonomically easier to use and easier to sharpen.

The serrated edge.
Along with quite a few other people, I am not a fan of a serrated edge on my survival blade. The purpose is to minimize the number of tools you carry so it will, supposedly, replace a saw.
I was able to cut a 2” tree limb with a good bit of ease. I was able to use the shavings as part of my tinder bundle. I do not think I would cut anything bigger than 2 ½” as it seemed to be a longer process. If this was the only tool you carried, 3” would be fine but not larger otherwise you would spend all day doing it due to the hilt and the overall blade size. I think it should have been on the back of the knife personally.

The whistle.
I did not use this at length but did test it. My children decided to wonder around for a while and since they are older they are allowed to go “romping” with a walkie-talkie. At 100 and 250 yards, they heard the whistle very clearly during the day. I can see where it could be heard at further distances and at one point they heard it without knowing how far out they were. The walkies were good for a mile and a half so we will base it at some distance between 250 yards to 1 ½ mile.

The pommel.
I have mixed emotions about the pommel. The first is, the “hype” or negativism I have read online about these things busting apart when used. The other is what I actually experienced. It is hard to have faith in your tool when you are unsure if it is going to work when you really need it to. So let’s go with actual facts on my knife.
It worked great! I used the pommel to hammer in tent stakes, split a rock and open hickory nuts and hard-shelled pecans. I used it much like a normal hammer and thanks to the hilt and the rubberized handle, my hand never slipped down up toward the blade which could have caused a definite emergency situation.

The sheath.
I like the locking mechanism for the blade. It keeps the knife secured no matter what I did with it. I carried it both sideways and right side up. I also rigged it so I could carry it upside down and it worked well in that situation during a 5-mile hike.
I did get water down in the sheath during a downpour, as well as when my wife poured water on me, and as it promised, the holes kept the water from collecting. Just as a note, the hilt keeps a lot of the water out as it is.

The sharpener.
I have heard so much whining about the angle and all that stuff around the sharpener. Here is the reality. It works great. I learned a long time ago how to sharpen a knife. There were no angles or plastic wedges to keep the blade at a perfect angle for sharpening. Although this sharpener is not at everyone’s ideal angle, it is keeps me from having to tote an extra stone in my backpack.

The paper.
Okay, so I didn’t use all parts of what was included in the kit. For someone that is new to survival, the “Priorities of Survival” and “Land to Air Rescue Instructions” are a great add on, especially with the little pocket in the back of the sheath. I pray that I will never need to use them, but definitely keep them with the knife in case I loan it out or if I get hit in the head and am unable to perform the duties myself. They are easy to read and a great “survival” add in.

The fire starter.
I just want to give a huge shout out for this one item. The number of sparks that were produced by using this and the designated area on the back of the blade were enough to make a fourth of July fireworks show blush. I used the shavings from my earlier saw experiment and a little hand gel and had a fire within about 30 seconds. It was such a spectacular thing that my family backed up about three steps after showering the sparks. I then focused them on the bundle, focused a small puff of air and “woof”, FIRE!
I like the fact that it locks into place within the sheath. I do recommend a lanyard around the end of it and the end of the sheath in case it does fall out as it is mounted upside down.

The Bad and the Ugly.
I mentioned before the length of the blade had a downfall. In a survival situation, you can baton with this knife on a piece of wood up to 2”. Beyond those 2” is just asking for trouble. I used it on a 3” piece of wood and had to get my trusty refurbished $2 yard sale knife with a 6” blade. Although a 2” works great in a survival situation, I had some wood that needed preparation in order to get my fire blazing for cooking and warmth. I would have liked and could have used a longer blade. With this being the biggest blade in the family, I think it failed in that respect.

The sheath.
It is stiff. When I say that, I mean that when you slide it on your belt in the vertical position, it doesn’t give. So it doesn’t move easily with you as I think a sheath should. I found myself constantly rearranging it or eventually taking it off when I was sitting around the fire in the evening. I have a soft leather sheath for a 6” blade that does not give me the same trouble.

The fire starter.
Yes, I know I am in love with this thing but with the little I used it, I could see it won’t be long before having to replace it. does sell this as a separate item for MSRP: $5. That is not a bad price considering it does lock into the sheath.

I would use this knife over and over and have added it to my normal gear because I know the limitations. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. I think it is a great starter knife and medium task knife. I would give it as a gift or use it as a normal knife for camping or again, medium tasks. I would not consider it, yet, to be a heavy-duty knife. This is ONLY because I haven’t had the pleasure to use it as such. I do plan on it during my next several outings to see what will become of my $32 investment. Yes, $32 at the local Wal-Mart.

What will I review next? I am not sure but I think my Mora daily knife might be among the list.

Until then,
Use your instinct to survive.

13 April 2012

Review...even more now

Over the holidays, I took some time to spend it with family and friends as well as sit back, read and review. Yes, I am aware it is now the middle of April but I am a slow thinker. Well, more of what is considered a “processor”. When an emergency happens, my brain fires on all cylinders and things work out great. However, when I have the time, no pressure, no firm deadlines, I sit back and think, ponder, reflect and review over the thing(s) that is the focal point. For this post, it was PREPAREDNESS.
During the spending time with family and friends, I decided to watch one of my favorite series of movies “Resident Evil”. You don’t have to like it or even agree with it, but it stops my hectic lifestyle for a couple of hours to watch someone kick someone else’s butt <keeping it clean>. My wife decided that she would gladly sit and watch them with me if I would get up and turn on the light in the middle of the night when she made her routine bathroom visits. I called it “fair trade”.

After watching a disk the other night, I was sealing up the Netflix envelope to send it back and my wife asked me a question that made me start thinking a little bit harder (dang it). She questioned, “I know there are no zombies. And the CDC has proven that we can’t produce them at this time. But men are men and they do stupid stuff. If someone created a virus of some magnitude, similar to the one in the movie, are we prepared for that?”

My immediate response was “No, I would need more beans and definitely more bullets.” But the question nagged me for the rest of the night and again this morning. Is mankind really that crazy that they might invent something like that on purpose OR on accident? I don’t know the answer to that question except for I hope not. The question did move my butt along into doing some things I hadn’t already done to get prepped.

The other side of my thinking is based off of a previous post of mine, “What Are You Preparing For?” and a book I have been chipping away at. I say chipping away because it is just shy of 500pp. on 8 ½” x 11” with double column pages. 

Atticus Freeman (@selfreliantinfo on Twitter) recommended to me “When Technology Fails” by Matthew Stein. In it, he calls out seven possible scenarios that could happen as an impending event and mentions the possibilities of even more. In reflecting on which of the scenarios I was preparing for, I realized I was preparing for all of them and none of them. 

Let me offer a fairly simple explanation. You see, there are many things that I know I cannot prepare for as a single entity. If it is an Avian Flu Pandemic, then I hope the preps I have will do just fine. If it is a Zombie Apocalypse, then hopefully I have enough bullets. If it is a Global or Social Economic Collapse, I trust that all my training is still holding up and I can guide my family and friends through it.

I am not saying that I am totally prepared for whatever may come my way. I personally think I am not even close. However, my base preps should get me through as a starting point to just about everything in one way, shape or form. In other words, I will use my base preps regardless of the event.

I then have to look at my secondary preps and see that they, along with my base preps, will get me through to a certain point for total of about 80% of what could happen. So that leaves about a 20% gap. Whether I am able to or should ever fill that void is one of the things I am pondering. I know that I will not leave my family hungry while I am prepping for that 20% void as we all, yes even you, prep on a budget. I will ensure that my current stores are sufficient to last us for a period of time and I am completely satisfied with my work. Once that has been done then and only then will I start focusing on the 20%.

You see, what I realized is I could focus on one specific, impending event. Scientist could give me the data to back it up. Friends could encourage me to focus on this one thing. But in reality, it may not happen. I would be ecstatic if it didn’t as the goal is “Be prepared and be happy that you don’t have to use it”. Instead of Solar Flares pushing an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to send us back to the 1800s, a tornado may just come right through my neighborhood. Or vice versa and then what would I do? Thank you to Doomsday Preppers for bringing this tidbit to my attention.

I had to take the fear mindset that grips so many people and change my thinking. It is not fear that causes me to react but comfort. Let me say that again. It is not fear that causes me to react but comfort. If a person is fearful sometimes it leads a person to panic or to inactivity. There are a small percentage of people that respond “correctly”, if there is such a thing, to fear. However, when I am comfortable, I know I can focus on those things that need to be done. I can see where my gaps are because I have taken the time to dry run through scenarios, eaten some of my rotated preps and practiced my tactical maneuvers because I am not in fear for my life or the lives of my family and friends.

After doing that I have the ability to move forward when the event happens and not be stuck in my tracks not knowing what to do. It is then, in that “fear” that muscle memory and rote action takes over. 

Review your plan. Plan to review. Practice and run through your immediate scenarios both strategic and tactical. Lastly and probably the most important, pray. Pray that you don’t live in fear for your life as that is not living; it is, in reality, dying.

Until then, use your instincts to survive.

13 March 2012

Recipe: "Granny's" Iron Skillet Cornbread

I was getting ready for an upcoming camping trip the other day and grabbed my trusty cast iron skillet. One of my kids was looking over my shoulder and turned to the family and hollered at the top of her lungs, "Daddy's got the skillet! He's going to make cornbread."

As that was not my intentional plan, I had to explain that I was moving it to get to a smaller skillet for camping. There was a sense of deflation in the room much like when a child's much desired Christmas toy turns out to be nothing more than clothes from Aunt Betty. I looked at their faces and recalled the last time I made cornbread in which only half of the whole thing was eaten. As I mentioned this event to them, they simply said, "Dad, that wasn't Granny's cornbread. It was one that you 'doctored' up with all the fancy crap". Laughing about the Jalapeno cornbread I had made, I agreed to make "Granny's Iron Skillet Cornbread".

*As for the Jalapeno cornbread, it tasted great. Most of the family just doesn't care for Jalapeno cornbread. Everyone tried it but preferred just normal cornbread with butter with their meal.

I have enjoyed this recipe for many years. As a child, I knew dinner was going to be a feast when mom pulled out the cast iron skillet to make cornbread. It usually meant roast beef, potatoes and some other vegetable, usually greens.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Here is the recipe:

Iron Skillet Cornbread 

1 cup flour (Martha White self rising)
3 cups cornmeal (Martha White buttermilk)
3 tablespoons sugar + generous dash of salt
2 eggs

*1/2 cup chopped Jalapeno peppers (or more for spicy) as an optional ingredient 
Place cast iron skillet into oven while pre-heating at 350 with cooking oil to coat bottom of pan
Mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt into bowl by sifting together.  Add buttermilk to form batter mixture medium thick (pancake batter) mix in two beaten eggs.  Remove hot pan and pour ½ oil into batter and mix.  Pour full batter into oiled pan and bake 1 hour at 350. 

Have a great week!

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive!

10 January 2012


The other day I was working feverishly on a preparedness project. I repeatedly kept moving things from one pile to another and realized I was getting nowhere. After scratching my head for a moment, I understood what the problem was. I didn't know what the end goal was to be. Why was I moving things from one pile to the other? What was the project supposed to look like when it was "complete"?

Now, the only "New Year's Resolution" I have is, not to have a New Year's Resolution. I know that sounds funny but I have found that it sets me up for failure every year. I will go hard and heavy for a week, a month or even three months only to fizzle out because I am not reaching the intended goal because it seems so far away. Instead, I have implemented something a little more productive.

I am not sure what you would call my method except for setting small goals to get to the bigger one but that becomes a mouthful. Not only that but there are people more qualified than I am to teach you about goal setting so I have included an excerpt from a great tutorial located at the Goal Setting Guide website:
I encourage you to pick up a pen and a piece of paper and jot down the goals you want to reach. Look at each goal and evaluate it. Make any changes necessary to ensure it meets the criteria for a SMART goals:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

The post today is not specifically about goal setting. It is, however, more about accomplishing smaller chunks of the overall goal in order to lead to satisfactory completion of the major task at hand."Uh, what did he just say?" Let me explain it this way.

I have gotten larger tasks completed by breaking them into smaller and more manageable tasks. For example, the first task in my mind was to ensure my family was prepared for a year of no electricity. My impending event was our yearly winter ice storms and the slowness of the power company getting power restored to my house. I was going to stock enough food and water for a year for myself and my family. This was a crazy idea! I didn't have that kind of time nor that much money. I did have the time and money to take the larger goal and break it into smaller goals in order to complete it. Make sense?

How did I do that? My first goal was ensuring that we had enough food, water and security for 72 hours. Three days. Josh Robbs from stated in a recent podcast, "You can live without food for 72 hours". He also mentioned that food may not be in your 72-hour plan because of this fact. Water may, and should, be included though. Another example is if it is winter, blankets and/or other heat sources might also be included in your plan. This is an example of how you can adjust the short term goals as needed while never losing site of the overall long term goal. I broke the year down into a manageable 72 hours.

I was grocery shopping with my lovely and wonderful wife the other day and I casually mentioned the 72-hour plan to her. She stopped me, grabbed my hand, smiled and said, "we have enough food for three weeks, so what are you going to work on next?". This hit me as I didn't realize just how much food we had because I hadn't broken it out into daily food versus our food storage items. It is with that statement that I have since stopped, reviewed my goals and adjusted based on what the end result is to be. 
By adjusting after reviewing, I was able to correct the course that the ship is already moving on by adjusting the amount of water as well as a few other items that need to be added to the plan. It is because of this that I am excited about finishing up the last little bit of my first goal of the 72-hour plan and being able to start working on a three week plan.

Before I leave this week's post as just a download of information, start thinking about your adjustments and how to get the short goals accomplished. By using the SMART method from above, you can have things done sooner than you think and feel great about your accomplishments. 

I hope this makes things a little easier. I know it did for me. As always, feel free to comment on this post below.

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive!

Special Thanks to Josh Robbs at

Photo: Cochrane

03 January 2012


I thought we were going to have a cold Christmas based on the weather patterns, but when I turned on the weather report, I found it was going to be 70 degrees for several weeks. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to another high 60's day and by lunch time the temperature was in the low 50's. This has been the trend since early December. Now personally, I enjoy the cold weather. The briskness of it along with the rapid movement of wildlife as they forage to ensure they are prepared for a cold couple of days.

I was watching the finches and wrens this afternoon while I was cooking my lunch, and they were scurrying all over the ground gathering seeds and small bugs. As I watched them, I started to run through a mental list in my mind of how much food we had in the pantry and in storage. This, along with my physical list, put me at ease and I continued watching them get ready. The rain started to drizzle and it was as if some where saying, “five more minutes! I'm not ready!”

How many of us are saying the same thing? I know there are times when I sit back and feel accomplished about completing my preparation tasks for the week. On other days, I begin to freak out because I don't think I have done enough to provide for my family to provide for their well being, protection, and well-stocked food stores. So today, I just want you to review.

Review. Review for whatever disaster(s) you have been preparing for. Are your lists up to date? Do you have enough if the power is out for an evening, a day or a week? Or if you aren't preparing for a disaster, should you be? Take time to review what you have done thus far. There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to sit back to see what you have accomplished. It is also recommended practice to review periodically to determine if there are corrections or additions that need to be made in your preparations over the next three, six, nine and twelve months.

I want to keep this short this week and will probably also write a short post for next week. Take this time of year and review your inventory, what you are doing, or even what you feel you "should" be doing. It is during this time you may want to also broach the subject of preparedness with your family and friends.

Regardless of what you are doing during this time, have a great week!

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive!

Photo: Ratcliff

Special thanks to SelfReliantinfo