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


Ceiling Medallions

What is a ceiling medallion?  Ceiling medallions are used around ceiling lights and fans to give a decorative look or to cover ceiling damage from things such as when a new type of light is installed.  You can also install a ceiling medallion plug and use the medallion alone or as a a group for wall decoration.   The plug could be left out and the medallion used as a frame.

Here is one type of ceiling medallion purchased in plain white and made from polyurethane.

Ceiling Medallion – Before

Here is the same medallion style after painting

Ceiling Medallion – After

For this look I sprayed the medallion with Rustoleum Universal Oil Rubber Bronze Spray Paint.  After the spray paint dried I painted over the leaves with a metallic copper craft paint.

Ceiling Medallion – Faux Antique Silver


This ceiling medallion look was created by spraying the medallion with Rustoleum Universal  Spray Paint Black Satin.  After the paint dried I painted over the black with Martha Stewart Living Precious Metals Paint in Mirror Glass.  I intentionally left some of the black showing for the antique look.  If you cover the black paint more than you like, after the metallic paint has dried just wipe on some black water based paint over the top and wipe off as desired to leave some of the black paint in the crevices.


I just returned from visiting family in Alaska.   I stayed in Anchorage but was able to visit Seward.  For the first time I was able to experience Resurrection Bay by fishing boat.   Alaska is one of those places I think everyone should visit.

If you would like to see photos I took of Alaska visit me on Flickr.

One photo of the Humpback whale I saw

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.

Organized Bling

I was trying to figure out a way to organize necklaces in an attractive manner to prevent tangling.  My daughter stuck a cork in a Martinelli Sparkling Cider bottle and placed pins in the cork to hang the necklaces.  I decided to take it a bit further.

You will need:

Glass bottle with a narrow neck

Water based paint – your choice of color (I used copper)

One cork: size to fit the neck of the bottle

Polymer clay: Sculpey, Fimo – your choice of color (I used copper)

Three or so plastic head straight pins

White glue

Super glue

Glitter – I used copper

After cleaning out the bottle, removing the label, and allowing to air dry, pour a little water base paint into the bottle and swirl it around – coating the inside.   I used copper paint but any color will do including glitter paint.  Next prop the bottle upside down on a surface that will not be damaged by paint.  Be sure the bottle can not tip.  The inside of the dishwasher should work well as long as you place something under the bottleneck to catch the paint.  And, as long as no one will be using the dishwasher!

When walking by, pick up the bottle and swirl the paint around again.  It may take a day or more for the paint to dry.  Dry time would depend on air temperature and humidity as well as the amount of paint used.  Once dry, if you feel it needs more paint just repeat the process.

Mold hooks out of the clay and bake as directed.  I made seven hooks.  Once the hooks have cooled super glue them around the top section of the bottle.  Alternate placement so necklaces can hang in between the hooks.

Dip the plastic head of each straight pin in white glue and then roll it in glitter until the head is covered.  Stick the pins in the cork to dry.

Put the cork in the bottle.

Hang necklaces and chains from the hooks and from the pins in the cork.

You may want to glue cork or felt to the bottom of the bottle to prevent scratching furniture.

Painted Stepping Stones

These stepping stones were painted several years ago.  When I first painted stepping stones I put them in my garden to see how they would hold up.   They did very well but a couple years later I moved too far away to move them with me.

Unfortunately it is difficult (at least in my area) to find the premade round stepping stones like this.  Of course, square or some other shape could be used but my preference is the round.  When I paint some other shaped stones I will post photos on here.  Sorry for the picture quality.  I sold these stones and have no way to retake the photos.


Painted Stepping Stone – Beehive

First I drew the designs freehand on paper.  Make sure the size of your design is in proportion to your stone.  Keep in mind that the smaller the areas are the more difficult painting will be.

Once I had the look and size I wanted I drew over the outlines with a black Sharpie marker.   Use the method you like best to transfer the design to the stone.  I cut mine out and traced around the outside then filled in the rest freehand.  I used a Sharpie to draw directly onto the stone.  If you are worried about making a mistake use a pencil or something else that would be easier to remove or cover with paint without preventing the paint from adhering.  The paint did cover the marker pretty well and so I redrew it after painting to give a nice outline to the design.

Choose the colors you would like for your design.  For the watering can I only used blue, green, and white.  For the hummingbird I used sparkly paint for the throat area.

Painted Stepping Stones – Watering Can & Hummingbird

The stones were all painted with acrylic craft paint.  If you cannot find a color you like visit a paint store that sells samples and you can get almost any color you choose mixed for you on the spot.  For designs such as the hummingbird I chose to blend the paint on the body into the wing area.  After the paint had dried I redrew the outline with a Sharpie.  Wait a day or so and then spray with a clear exterior acrylic for protection from the environment and foot traffic.  Three coats are recommended.  I chose a satin sheen.

You may want to try just one stone to start with.  Place it in your yard where it will get some foot traffic, see how well it holds up and then paint some more!

This would also be a fun project using some of your children’s designs.  Be sure to write their name and age or the date it was drawn.

Painted Pots – Faux Metal

When looking for orchid pots I couldn’t find any colors I liked.  So, I decided to paint some pots.  This is my first:

Faux Painted Pot – copper/black

For this pot, I painted a plain terra cotta orchid pot black.  Next I dipped my brush in black paint and copper paint at the same time and painted over the black until I got a look that I liked.  Then I brushed on Minwax Polyacrylic Satin – 2 coats. I don’t remember what black paint I used but the copper was acrylic craft paint.  I applied the paints and clear coat with a foam brush.

Here are my next two pots:

Painted Pots – Faux Metallic

These plain terra cotta pots were first painted with Rustoleum Universal spray paint in Satin Black.  Rustoleum Universal has primer in it so it is designed to stick to a variety of surfaces.  I only painted the outside of the pots and just enough inside the rim so any plants would not be contaminated by the paint.  I don’t know if they would anyway but as a precaution that is what I chose to do.

The silvery one was then painted with Martha Stewart Precious Metals in Mirror Glass.  I was planning to use the black paint as a primer only but I got such great comments about it that I did not paint a second coat of the Mirror Glass but instead allowed the black to show through. On the saucer I did paint to coats so the black is covered.   I think it looks great both ways.  Once the paint was dry, (about 24 hours) I protected the pot with Minwax Polyacrylic Satin – 2 coats.

The copper pot was painted in much the same way as my first pot but over the primer I used Behr Ultra Paint in Sweet Molasses instead of black.  Since Behr Ultra can be purchased in sample sizes (8 oz) you can get it tinted in any color you want which is great for craft projects.  It only comes in a flat sheen but that is fine since I usually would be using a clear coat on top anyway.

After the sprayed coat of Rustoleum Universal dried, I brushed the pot with Behr Sweet Molasses.   When that coat was dry, I dipped my brush in Sweet Molasses and copper paint at the same time and without mixing the two colors painted the pot until I achieved the look I wanted.  I waited about 24 hours then coated the pot with the satin clear coat – brushed on.   This is so far my favorite look of the painted projects I have done.  I plan to use it for other things.

Welcome to Sparkle Inspire

Welcome to my new site where I hope to share some creativity with all of you.  Whether it is things to do with paint, herbs, upcycling, recipes, or other creative pursuits I hope you will share your experiences and thoughts also.

Please join me:


Herb Gardening

Edible Landscaping

Garden Coaching

Essential Oils