About valentinoswife

Wife of Valentino - American blonde adopted by his wonderful Italian family - parents of four adult sons, grandmother to five at this stage! I love being a grandmother but don't feel like the expected old granny rocking away her life on the front porch - who has time to sit and rock? I work fulltime and just finished a BS in Business Administration this year and now working on a Masters! Being a fanatic genealogist at this point, I tend to pester family constantly for stories and memories and names and dates! I am researching primarily in Italy for my husband's paternal line of Di Crocco and maternal line of Pannozzo - if you think you knew any of us or are related (no matter how distantly) we would love to hear from you!

I Don’t Want To Be A Wanderer Forever…

incredients 4       As many of you are aware I started prepping as a natural progression of wanting to be self-sufficient. That change was spurred not only by what I watched unfolding economically and politically but also by my personal spiritual walk. I want to exhort each of you to prepare not only physically but also mentally and spiritually for the challenges we will face. Although all of you are not necessarily of a Judeo-Christian based faith, that should not stop this preparation for you.

If any talk of religion offends you, simply speed read through this post to the main points that apply. No offence taken. However I want to share an important spiritual parallel to the concept of prepping. Sometimes we stagnate, we fail to do anything because we feel so overwhelmed and we begin to give in to the feelings of fear and being unable to sort though our feelings and the roadblocks we face. Hiding our heads in the sand doesn’t just make us sheeple. It also puts us in the desert places like the Jews fleeing from the Egyptians. Think for a moment about the Old Testament Jews who were enslaved to Pharoah and how they prayed for deliverance. God heard their cries and sent Moses.

Moses     As God sent plague after plague, the Jews would cry out to God each time questioning. Once in the desert, they still fought back against everything Moses tried to explain. They literally begged to return to the “safety” of Pharaoh and the old status-quo of being slaves so they did not have to face hardships of freedom. All God was requesting was their faith in Him and they chose to instead seek the golden idols and a return to slavery.

Freedom isn’t free is a common enough expression but this is true not only in a militaristic sense but also spiritually. We pay a price for our liberty. Like Pharaoh’s slaves we can’t ignore that price. Moses wasn’t a dictator telling the Jews what to do – they had a choice. He did express anger at the ones who refused to accept a choice of freedom. It’s easier to complain than to actually help one’s self. He knew the security of being enslaved under Pharaoh wasn’t really a place of safety. Not only would they be subject to his whims but also to his need for them to serve his purposes. Even their food would be through him only. Through Moses leading them to the Promised Land, they had a chance at true freedom but instead turned to those golden idols and the lure of lies of slavery. Talk about an entitlement crowd – they were the original ones! They were in a prison of their own making for all those 42 years. This post isn’t meant to be simply a bible lesson though.

Noah025     So now take this and think about where we are as a nation. Freedom exacts a price – not only one of our lives in a military sense though. We’ve all joked often about Noah building an ark in the desert. Little is mentioned about what it cost his family in terms of livelihood, friendships with his community (no matter how far-fetched the boundaries of this community), and the toll it took about him spiritually. How often did Noah go to his Lord in prayer? “Lord, am I really supposed to be doing this? “ Or how about, “Lord I been at this a year or two now – am I wrong to want something to happen to vindicate me in front of the neighbors? They’re all laughing at me Lord?”  “Lord, my kids think I’m nuts here – what do I tell them now – they’d rather go buy a few more goats or sheep for the herd?” “Lord, I’m not getting any younger here – I have grown kids and they’re not too happy about this right now with me – it’s a lot of work hauling this wood after we cut it down.” Just imagine the ridicule this man and his family faced. I wonder what his wife had to say about spending his time and money on this project too. I’m also pretty certain it wasn’t easy to hide this big old ark in the middle of his land – talk about OPS failure! So instead we all complain how hard it is to find enough money to store those extra bags or rice and beans. We get overwhelmed worrying about where to stash it all. How about that sore back from mucking out the barn or chicken coop? Really? Or as I am prone to complain about – I’m not twenty something either – that garden is pretty rough on my tired old body too! Especially when the weeds grow better than the vegetables lately!

We can have lots of excuses and just as many valid reasons why we find ourselves not wanting to push ourselves out our comfort zones. We not only feel overwhelmed – we walk in fear of leaving our safe spot. We owe Him our faith in Him to break free of that bondage. To fail to do so is to wander in our own desert place. For most of us the price of a “Bug out location” is another house mortgage we can’t afford. Few of us can afford to buy 2 – 3 years worth of food for long term storage for twenty or so of our closest family members. Realistically most of us cannot hope to easily pay off house mortgages, car loans, and or student loans anytime soon either. Believe me, I am one of those so hampered also!  But all of us can take those first tentative steps out of bondage towards that “promised land”. We can focus on freedom from fear stepping away from our personal “Egypt”.

I dread thinking our country is changing so radically into something I am not sure I recognize any longer. I find it hard to believe that all we believed in is slipping away. I also think about other countries where free peoples witnessed their own country slide away from what they loved. Those lands slid into socialism, Nazism, fascism or worse seemingly overnight. Yet life continued for these folks – day after day, step after step. They still went to work, they ate, they laughed, cried, fell in love, married, raised family. Some of them never saw the changes because they were so far removed from where the changes took place, living out in the wilderness. Others ignored what was happening around them because it was easier, safer even, to ignore it. Others believed what they were told, that this would be a better world for them, for their families, because of those changes. They bought into the deception because the desert and the journey they would have to face otherwise was a scarier one than the bondage they knew already. Still others were like Moses trying to make them understand how short that journey through the desert could have been. He knew it shouldn’t have taken 42 years of wandering – that place of refuge, of freedom was so much closer if they only took those steps in strength together. Some of us will be put in that position. Some of us are already there – crying out for deliverance, crying out for others to follow us on the path already being offered. Some will even be called to pay more difficult prices – but we each can take a few steps now towards that place – by preparing now in whatever small ways we can, means a chance for the next generation to make it to that place of freedom and maybe ourselves too.

Let’s Start To Get Serious Now!

confusion  One of the toughest decisions we face as a “prepper” is the decision of what we are prepping for. I personally suspect we will face some major economic calamities that will then bring about a domino effect of other problems and situations. It will pretty much allow any other opportunists to take advantage of the situation meaning possible gangs running rampant, racial tensions to explode, foreign government  interferences, wars, rumors of wars, etc. Throw in climate upheavals and maybe an EMP of natural or not natural causes. The list can go on and on. So I started trying to be ready for hurricanes (I live in Florida ya know.) and then started becoming fearful of economic crashes. I’m already balancing a tightrope walk with finances so it wouldn’t take much to destroy us there. And gosh – I am sooooo lazy! I can’t stand the thought of giving up all my nice gadgets and toys! And hey! I LOVE reading all my Nook and Kindle books – I literally have thousands saved to one device or another. Come to think of it, I’m kinda a game freak on Facebook too. Sighhhhhhhh

Are you getting a drift of what I am suggesting? I’m a real person who enjoys life in the moment but suddenly realized I had almost no idea how to focus on what I prep when. Well — that was who I was only a few years ago. Very shortly after I began worrying about all this I realized I had to stop and think about whom I really am and what I hoped to accomplish. This led me to see that I was making mistakes in my prepping that many and probably all new preppers make: the scatter shot approach to prepping and storage. It meant I had to face up to my shortcomings in this area and become a more focused person in what I hoped to accomplish.

tinfoil hat       I often make friends in the prepper community laugh when I say tin foil hats are not a good fashion statement and I am not looking forward to zombie hordes that I have to fight off with the biggest cannon I can legally purchase online anonymously. (NSA – I am a total waste of your time and energy!)  So I had to decide how to go about this mess. Easiest plan for me was to realize I have four adult sons who are personal fitness buffs, – two Black Belts, 4 fishermen, 3 hunters, etc. My husband also is an experienced hunter and fisherman. He possesses a wealth of knowledge on how to do things having grown up in post WWII Italy on a farm. Therefore I decided to let the men of my family be men. I turned myself to concentrating on the areas I am best suited to take care of.

cannon

I love the computer. I love reading. I love crafts and homemaking skills. From my childhood these were areas of interest for me. As a teen and young twenty-something year old I wanted to live in a log cabin somewhere and raise animals and a huge garden. I saw myself wandering the woods foraging for healing herbs, healing folks with my knowledge and skills. I would go to farms to pick vegetables and fruit and can them. Next we borrowed a plot of land from a family member to grow our own vegetables. It was an easy jump to making cheese. My late mother in law was only too happy to teach me how to do so many things around the home and yard! She came for a visit from Italy for a few months and spent that time teaching a new goat owner friend how to milk the goats. That won us enough milk for her to teach me to make cheese as the family had done for many many years overseas. Then she went foraging and showed me “weeds” and mushrooms safe to eat. The cooking lessons were using things “from scratch” instead of the fancy boxed convenience foods. My sisters in law still share freely with me when I have basic questions. This background allowed me to realize where my strengths lay in this newest endeavor. I already loved vintage kitchen items – loved the look and feel of the older kitchens in soft greens and clean lines. I loved baking, cooking, canning. It was a source of pride to me to have a full table of wonderful foods for my family. My cookbook collection of recipes from Italy rivals the local bookstore selections. I began to teach myself to use all the vintage appliances and utensils. I learned to do things the “old fashioned way” sans electric!

Studying     I had my starting point to concentrate on what I knew best. From there I made it an issue to learn how to store those foods so that they would last more than the week or two or three we think they last. I began to research on the Internet and that taught me I needed to be more organized, to take stock of what I had on hand and how to add to all of it properly. To this I had to organize my cabinets and pantry area my sons gifted me with! Along with this part of my journey I discovered chickens – a natural because I wanted fresher eggs to bake with. After chickens I realized I needed a fresh source of meat – welcome my rabbits! Yes, I would enjoy raising pigs like my in laws used to overseas or even a fresh cow – and especially goats! I love goats! I love goats cheese! (Alas I live in a city that won’t let me have all that! Ha!) My next step was seeing that my granddaughters wanted to share the experience of canning. They were fascinated that grandma made all this neat stuff they love to eat. How would that continue if I weren’t here to help them? What would I do if the Internet weren’t here to show me how to do certain skills? I began to compile notebooks to have as reference manuals for myself, my sons, my randchildren later on.

What have I learned in all this? That taking time to know myself made this journey an easier one for me. I learned it doesn’t have to a journey of fear and panic that the world as we know it will end next week or even next month. I learned no matter what scenario does play out, I can walk though it in peace in my spirit whether I survive it all the way or not. What I am telling you is that even if you do believe in zombies and are concerned that it will be an all out war or whatever, there can be a peaceful calm approach to being prepared. Yes, I want to help you learn how to prepare to face any of these possible trials but let’s start the journey calmly with a focused plan of attack. Know where your strengths lay. Don’t try to be everything at one time. Plan what you need to do. Think in terms of the unusual. Look at your normal day to day activities. What things would you need to continue life as you enjoy it. Obviously food, water, shelter are the basics followed by security – having everyone safe. Is that safe from storms like here in Florida? Is it safe from zombies? Approach your goals in an organized manner so that you know what next step is needed. Use lists. Checking off a list can be a stress buster by letting you see what you are accomplishing. As you throw that extra bag of rice or beans in the shopping cart,  pay attention to the inventory of your supplies. If you already have 500 bags of rice perhaps you need the spices to flavor it. Or are you in charge of security? Having 500 rounds of ammo and no weapon or not having ever used that weapon does not make you a prepper – it makes you a prepper fail. Hone your skills, do your research, plan, organized your preps. Think about what it is you are the most concerned over and what you need to meet that challenge. As the scenario evolves, make your preps evolve in an organized fashion along with it. Approaching this in a more organized fashion will help you to avoid the stress, to find the calm in the midst of on-coming turmoil. You will know you have done the best you can for your family and friends who are in this with you.  Besides – there is nothing more calming than sitting outside listening to the chickens and watching the garden grow – except if you sit down at one end of a table full of family enjoying all the beautiful food you provided!

Is It a Castle or a Storage Unit?

Move-Boxes-      I have been spending a lot of time lately trying to organize our preps. Florida homes are notorious for lack of space to hide things away neatly. We’re mostly short on attic, garage, and especially basement spaces. That makes it much trickier to tuck things away in an organized fashion instead of just where it will fit. That also doesn’t take into account that most of the stuff just plain doesn’t fit! Quite a few Floridians use outdoor storage sheds in either wood or metal but they usually are not climate controlled. The same problem exists with our attics and garages not being a stable temperature. It’s challenging but not altogether impossible.

Like many of us we live in the typical older Florida home – nothing fancy or showy but comfortable for us! We live in a pleasant town on the Space Coast of Florida. Most folks here would never expect riots or race wars or for the town to fall apart in any way. Yet most of the preppers will sagely nod their heads at this because they know even nice folks will do the unthinkable to feed starving family!

In the past year we have joined a couple different preparedness groups here on the Space Coast. The members seem to run the gamut from one extreme to the other concerning how far they take the issue of preparedness. All of them profess a sense of calm and peace before the anticipated collapse due to taking control of their preparations.

Roof-Of-His-Car      A few of the people are financially secure enough to own what is known as a “Bug- Out Location” or BOL. Many others like us plan to hunker down in place due to a myriad of reasons personal and financial. That just leads us to be more selective in how we prepare.   Simplistic-Castle-Tower-2        The old adage that a man’s home is his castle has been taking on new meaning thanks to a certain television production but I personally have yet to add a moat or drawbridge to the old homestead! Indeed there is no sentry decked out in full armor at the front door. Needless to say we have discussed security and do have things in place to protect ourselves should the situation call for it but we are hoping it never falls that completely apart! We choose to be low key about those choices and not advertise those issues for safety’s sake.  knight

So as we attempt to organize and inventory our preps, we find ourselves a bit lopsided at times and then we begin to lose the sense of organization. Over the course of the next few months I hope to share with all of you how I am dealing with these issues and I hope you will join in on the discussions freely. I’m sure many of you have similar problems and solutions – many of others will have questions we will all try to help answer! I certainly can’t know for 100% certain when and if things will collapse. I pray we all have enough time to prepare adequately as well as the finances and health to do so. I pray I will be able to help you along on this journey as we undertake steps for our own family and friends – and yes, community! It seems many of us feel a sense of urgency as we do this lately but with it also comes a peace and joy in knowing we are taking the steps to protect and prepare our families by each positive step we take. Let’s take the continuing journey together so we go about it without stress or fear!

Little Things That Show Your Progress In the World of Being Self-Sustaining

Every now and then certain projects bring more than just a checkmark on our inventory or accomplishment lists. Yesterday was one of those projects for us. We collect eggs every day and we have rabbit meat put up in the freezer and we often harvest foods from the garden to add to our pantry. Yet it was yesterday’s harvest that made us feel that we are beginning to turn the corner to being successful at what we do. About a year and a half ago Val directed and our sons built a grape arbor in our back yard. We love the arbor and my sons enjoyed promptly hanging a hammock to sleep in! But yesterday was a banner day for us. We harvested the first of our Muscadine grapes off our arbor!     arbor

It was exciting to taste a few – they are incredibly sweet! Gosh – so much better than the almost tasteless ones we often purchase.  But we had a plan for these grapes yesterday – jam! Ultimately we hope to harvest enough to make homemade Moscato wine but that will be another year or two before our vines produce enough for that project!   grape harvest

Making the jam was easier than you would expect. The hardest part was sitting and picking apart the grapes to remove seeds. It isn’t as difficult as it is time consuming but Valentino and I have a great time working together in the kitchen and I find he always manages to surprise me with another story of his childhood – even after all these years! Yesterday was no different as he shared another tale. His sister had decided one year that she wanted to recreate how wine was made in the villages many years ago. He was about 14 at the time so agreed to help her. She found a large half barrel used to stomp the grapes in and her son and Valentino began the task. They found it was extremely cold so she had them use VERY clean rubber boots instead of being barefoot and they stomped away! Once all crushed, the grape juice was put aside to ferment naturally and soon enough they had wine!   picking seeds        seeds

Well, we meanwhile finished picking the seeds and then I rinsed the seeds well and left in a strainer to drip. The seeds will be spread out on a towel and left to dry —after all if our vines should die, we will want to be able to plant more! Seeds will also prove to be a great barter tool some day. Then a large canning pot was set on the stove to bring water to a boil and to heat the jars. Another pot was used to heat the rings and lids for the jars. This softens the seals on the lids so that they seal tightly after.    lids

cooking    no lids

After we finished removing all the seeds we chose to use our grinder attachment on our Kitchenaid mixer and minced all the grapes and skins. This gave us a fairly uniform mix to then cook. We added no water but used all of the pulp, skin, and juice to which we added almost 6 cups of sugar and 4 tblspns of pectin. This was all cooked at a strong boil stirring constantly to prevent burning or sticking for about 20 minutes until we could see it beginning to firm up and cook down. Then the hot jars were filled to within a ¼ inch of the rim. I wiped the rims with a hot water rag and then again with a vinegar rag to be sure the rims were clean. Lids were placed on followed by the rings finger tightened. I then water bathed the jars for 15 minutes after the water returned to a boil. I absolutely love listening for the ping of each jar when removed from the pot signaling a perfect seal! I know these jam jars won’t last long with our family – and they will taste twice as sweet because they came from our own garden!       Jam

How Many Bandages Are Enough?

Hurt lady      This past week I have been organizing and taking inventory of personal hygiene and medical preps. One of the big problems here is that in this end of Florida we don’t have attics and basements to store goodies – even the storage sheds are not great places because they are not climate controlled usually in our yards! Needless to say that means being creative and organized or else we will never find what we need if and when we need it!! For us it means several large totes stored under beds in addition to drawers that are set aside for items. Each tote and each drawer holds a different type of item – shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc in one tote, meds in another for example. Totes need to be labeled to help those helping you find the right items. Small first aid kits are good enough for a car but our home supplies are a bit more plentiful obviously. This weekend I learned how much more would be needed if in any bad situation.

Untitled            Did you ever happen to take a count of how many bandaids you go through when someone manages to hurt themselves? Working folks – especially those with messier jobs –  tend to change those bandages more often and many of the cheaper ones really don’t stick all that well anyway. That means more frequent changes and using more. Well if and when there is any sort of disaster or SHTF situation, cleanliness and being sterile is not going to be an easier task than now! That means more disinfectant and more towels or cloths to clean as well as water.My DH uses a blood thinner – so this weekend when he cut a finger, what should have been no big deal turned into a bit more of a complication for him. He was helping me with our animals as in rearranging hutches and animals when a small knife (very small one matter of fact!) decided to not lock in place but wrap itself around his finger! Sigh…. Now for myself or anyone else normally it would have meant pressure packing it and lots of tape after antibiotic ointment but not so easy for him. We had a trip to the ER for stitches and a tetanus booster.

The trip was actually not a bad one in that we had a chance to meet someone else who is “into” being self-sustaining too. We enjoyed our conversations and actually learned a lot. I received an impromptu lesson in suturing too! But then we went home where I suddenly was confronted with how different this seemingly minor incident could be in a SHTF situation. Now I am not really into warfare and preparing to do battlefield surgery after the zombies are defeated – but I am certain that even though I have a lot of stuff put up, it’s not nearly enough!     bandage guy

Cleaning up blood when someone is hurt is a mess in itself! Out comes the rags or paper towels and bleach or other disinfectant cleaners. Then let’s talk bandaids again! Oh my! The need for gloves also is an obvious one – can’t even do dishes with stitches or cuts on the hand! Having those animal chores is also going to be a problem to keep the cut clean! And rubber (or latex) gloves makes the hand sweaty meaning more bandage changes and cleaning to avoid infections! The need for plenty of antibiotic ointment is also evident based on what I have used up this week alone! Good old fashioned soap and water is the best germ and bacteria deterrent out there. Cleanup also means more trash bags too – or burning your waste later if safe to have a fire.

hurt dog      Hydrogen peroxide is one of those wonder products with so many uses, it’s crazy. Just do an internet search for the list – but it will remove blood stains in a fast minute in addition to cleaning a wound. The same day we had our finger cut situation, the dog managed to cut the pad of his foot. He also walked all over the white cement deck out back and dripped a continuous trail of blood in the process. One large bottle of hydrogen peroxide later, the white cement was clean. So was my t-shirt where he jumped on me to complain!

Keep your eyes open for great sales and coupons to shop at chain stores and the “everything for a dollar” type places are a great source for bandaids and gauze pads as well as medical tapes. I personally am not a fan of off label or unknown brand medicines because so many are not made to standards now. Things that get used and tossed like bandages are not as bad. I will warn you that cheaper ones are not as good at sticking as some of the fancier cloth ones but they can be useful! Trash bags are also cheaper there. Read labels to know where your medical supplies were manufactured. You may want to avoid certain countries of origin if at all possible – not all are as strict about sterile conditions and bandages and gauze should be sterile. Stores such as Aldi or Big Lots will often have great deals available on name brand items.