Beanies and Mittens From Old Sweaters

I bought sweaters at a thrift store to make beanies and mittens. I was looking for wool but found some mowhair and alpace sweaters.

Mowhair is from the Angora Goat and Alpaca is from alpacas. Both are said to be warmer than wool while still having similar properties such as water repellancy.  Also, alpaca and mowhair are not as scratchy.

Beanies and mittens from old sweaters, homemade beanie, mittens from old sweater, beanie from old sweater

The sweater I found was a pullover. Due to the ribbing along the bottom and along the neckline I was able to make two beanies out of the bottom and one pair of mittens from the neckline. The sleeves could be used for leg warmers.

These were all hand stitched and have shown no sign of unravelling.

I originally got this idea from this YouTube video



Starting A 72 Hour Kit

In Utah the Great Utah Shake Out is coming up next week.  It gives people the opportunity to think about how prepared they would be for an earthquake whether they were at home, work, or school.   If you aren’t in Utah check for one in your area.

My Preparedness kit started many years ago with free or inexpensive buckets from grocery store bakeries. Sometimes they were still loaded with frosting. One bucket per family member with the two for adults loaded a bit fuller since we could carry more weight.  I used free items that came in the mail or with packages of other things or as samples – a very small box of laundry soap, a bar of soap, shampoo samples, even a candy bar sample.  I also added items from around the house –  roll of toilet paper, a pair of socks, a towel, a can of tuna and a can opener, paper and a pencil, some change, matches, candles, a flashlight, bottled water, travel Boggle that my brother had given me, list of names and phone numbers for family and friends.  Think about what you would need for food, water, warmth, and entertainment.  Eventually I replaced the buckets with backpacks and used the buckets for long term food storage. I replaced some of the heavier canned items with MREs and water bottles were replaced with water blocks.  I keep our backpacks in a tote near a door for easy access in case we needed to evacuate.

I try to remember to check through my kit twice per year. Once I didn’t realize how long it had been until I saw that my 7 year olds pack still had diapers in it. Now I check it twice per year.

No matter what your budget start putting together some things in case of emergency.  Even if you never have to use it you will have some peace of mind knowing it is there just in case.

72 hour kit

Emergency Kit


Switching From Plastic In the Kitchen

I decided to start eliminating plastic storage containers from my pantry and refrigerator. So, what to do instead? I buy peanut butter (Adams, 36 oz) which comes in large glass jars with straight sides and large mouths for easy access. Why not use these for storage? So, removing the label and throughly cleaning the insides I wrote on the jar with a Sharpy to label the contents. Sharpy markers are permanent enough not to rub off on your hand but can be removed if you change the contents of your jar or just want to rewrite it. They come in a variety of colors so you can use all one color like I did (I used black) or use different colors for different types of items. My jars with blue lids are stored in the refrigerator and those with green go in the pantry. That way if someone doesn’t know where it should be stored they can tell by the color (if they remember).

Jars for storage

Jars for storage

Most two pound bags of beans will almost fit in one of these jars. The extra goes into my bean mix jar which I use to make my 9 bean soup.

My pantry includes various types of beans, barley, alphabets for soup, brown sugar, cocoa, carob.

My refrigerator includes ground flax seed, any grain that is not whole such as steel cut oats and bulgar, popcorn, quinoa, and polenta.

For items that I store in smaller amounts I plan to use smaller jars.

Alternative Cooking Methods – Part 2

These alternative cooking methods require some type of fuel to be purchased and stored.  Be sure to be familiar enough with them to know how to use them safely.  Some should never be used indoors.  Try them out before you need to use them.

In case you missed it Alternative Cooking Part 1

Storing and using fuels for cooking and heating.


I have one of these!  After a power outage in January many years ago and no way to cook other than the grill outside I checked into indoor cooking methods.  From what I read butane is safer than most fuels for indoor use.  Always have adequate ventilation!

Butane is available in canisters that look similar to a can of spray paint.  Just pop it in the stove and turn it on.  No matches necessary.  I have not yet used mine for emergency purposes but I have used it many times when camping.

Butane Stove

Denatured Alcohol

This is not actually a stove but a way to use denatured alcohol with other stoves.

Remove the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper.  Place the roll inside a clean empty paint can (available at hardware stores or paint stores).  Fill the can with denatured alcohol (also available in the paint department).  Securely attach the lid.  Store until  use.

Denatured Alcohol


There are many types of kerosene stoves.  Some are heater/stove combinations.  Kerosene is one of the less expensive fuels and can be purchased in 1 gallon, 5 gallon, and possibly larger containers.

Kerosene Stove


Propane is available in sturdy tanks of various sizes – 1 lb up to 100 lbs or more.  This small grill (on the right) uses the small 1 lb canisters of propane.  The larger tanks are refillable.

White Gas, Propane, Sterno

White Gas

Never use indoors! The stove to the left (above photo) is one gas stove that uses white gas (also sold as Coleman Fuel).   Many Coleman camping stoves also use white gas but an adaptor can be purchased for using propane tanks instead.


Sterno is a fuel made from denatured alcohol and gel alcohol.  In my experience they do not store very well for long.  This stove (below) is a double burner if you use a sterno under each side.

There are a couple stoves in the photo above (in the middle) which could be fueled with sternos or charcoal.

You can also build sterno stoves of various types.

Double Sterno Stove

Backpacker Oven – Bemco

This backpacker oven is fueled by a gas stove.  It folds up nicely so may be a good option if you were hauling your equipment.

Backpacker Oven – Bemco

More information about fuels for cooking and heating

Alternative Cooking Methods – Emergency Preparedness

I was invited to attend an alternative cooking demonstration to show methods of cooking in case of disaster.  I tried foods cooked using several of these methods.  I don’t know how long each took to cook but they all tasted wonderful and you would not be able to tell they were not cooked or baked in an oven or on a stove.

This first post will cover the methods that do not necessarily require the purchase and storage of fuel.

Be safe when using these methods – never use charcoal indoors!  Keep water nearby in case of flair ups.

Be sure not to miss my next post which covers additional methods of cooking.  Subscribe to this blog. See Follow This Blog By Email (on the right side) —————————->

Solar Cooking – This was a purchased Solar Cooker (don’t know the brand).  Cinnamon buns were cooked in this and tasted great!

Solar Oven

Directions to make a solar oven.

Rocket Stoves – Rocket stoves can be fueled with wood such as collected sticks or with charcoal

Rocket Stove – Purchased

These homemade Rocket Stoves were made with cans.  The larger uses a 4 gallon metal bucket, the smaller uses a #10 can.

Homemade Rocket Stoves

Rocket Stove directions

Another Rocket Stove site

Apple Box Oven

Base is either cement or a layer of brick.
Cover with sheets of aluminum foil.
Place 4 cans (15 oz size) –  one in each corner and top with grate – this one was from a small       gas grill.
Cover apple box lid with aluminum foil.
Use chimney charcoal starter to light charcoal briquettes.  (I love these for starting charcoal – haven’t bought lighter fluid for years)
After briquettes are ready, place briquettes along the long sides on top of the aluminum foil.  I believe 15 briquettes were used.
Place items being cooked in pans on top of grate.
Cover with apple box.

In this case two loaves of bread were baked in glass bread pans.  The bread was delicious!

Apple Box Oven

Cardboard Box ovens are a similar idea:
Cardboard Box Oven
A Simple Box Oven

Thermal Cookers – To use these you do have to heat your food to boiling and then place in the thermal cooker.

Purchased – Saratoga Jacks  rice was cooked in the bottom pot and soup in the top. pot

Thermal Cooker – Saratoga Jacks

Homemade – For this one you use your own covered pot and place between two bean bag like pillows which have indents in them for the pot.  Another type of soup was cooked in this one.

Thermal Cooker

Dutch Oven Cooking – Sorry, I was too busy enjoying the food cooked in the Dutch Ovens to get photos before everything was put away.   In case you want photo of dutch ovens.
Fire building was not covered at this demonstration.  Fire building is a skill that should be developed for another method of emergency cooking and heating.

Dakota Stove

Building a Fire

Disaster Ribbons

I was explaining this to others and thought I would post information here with a photo to help spread the word about this idea and so everyone could see what it looks like.  I did not think of this idea but since hearing about it years ago I thought this was a great idea for neighborhoods to put together.

Every residence should have a set of three ribbons and instruction sheet (see below) placed inside an envelope.  Keep the envelope in a safe place near the front door so it can be easily located.

Think of the time savings and possible saving of lives if this were available and used in disasters including earthquakes, floods, etc.

Disaster Kit Instructions

When disaster occurs, tie one of the three colored ribbons from this kit around the knob of your front door. Or, attach in another way so it is visible from the street and secure.

Select the proper ribbon based on the following criteria:

(Consider the three ribbons as comparable to the colors on a stop light.)

GREEN – Everything is OK – go to the next house

YELLOW – Caution – We do need some help, but are in no immediate danger, help can wait so go onto the next house but come back soon.

RED – Alert – Someone is severely injured or dead. We need immediate help! Do not go any further without stopping and checking with us.

When a general disaster occurs, the initial step is to have a survey of conditions. Someone should actually pass by your home to access your situation based on the ribbon you tie out front.