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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Do you need an ambulance?

One of the worst feelings to have is the feeling of helplessness when a loved one is hurt. Unfortunately, I have seen this over and over again. As many of you know, I'm an EMT on our local volunteer ambulance service. When we respond to a call, there is certain information we try to obtain either from the patient or the family. When the patient is unable to respond, and the family has no clue, that helpless feeling is written on their face.

Sit down with your loved ones and discuss some of the following. It's also an excellent idea to have it all written or typed on a paper that is handy in an emergency. Some people carry it in their wallet, put it on the fridge door or in the medicine cabinet. Gosh, you could even have a copy of your spouses sheet with your own in your wallet.

Family doctor
Medication and dosage
Medical history: diabetes, heart, COPD, surgeries...
DNR: Copy MUST be shown to EMT's

This information is important in the care of patients. Make sure medication list is kept current. If not 100% sure it is, grab a bag to put the medications in to be taken to the hospital with the patient.

Also, when following the ambulance to the hospital, keep in mind you still must follow rules of the road! The ambulance has lights and sirens...we are both seen and heard. The car following behind us with a worried driver at the wheel is nothing more than just another car on the road. No special privileges apply to you. If you follow an ambulance through an intersection, there's a good chance you could be in an accident.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Flash Freeze It

I'm going to take a leap here and assume you enjoy saving both time and money. Flash freezing will help you accomplish both of those with little effort.

The money saving comes from stocking up when fresh items such as onion, potato, celery, carrot, blueberry, grape...etc are on sale. The time saving comes from having items cut and ready to use while cooking.

Let's use celery as an example. When it's on sale, I stock up and take advantage of the deal. I wash it and cut it into pieces I will use in soups and such. What then needs to be done is to line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, lay the celery pieces out in a single layer, pop the cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour and presto! You have just done a flash freeze. Label quart size freezer bags with the contents and date. Put the frozen celery in the bag and toss it back into the freezer for later use. When you need some celery for a dish, pull the desired amount out of the bag. The reason for the flash freeze is to keep you from having one big frozen clump of celery in the bag.

I especially like to do this with onions so I get all the crying out of the way at one time.

Grapes and blueberries are also great for flash freezing. They can then be eaten either frozen or thawed. I do want to caution you though, don't thaw out a large amount at one time. Once thawed, the grapes need to be eaten in a relatively short amount of time or they tend to get a little mush factor going.

Watch those sale fliers for great deals, stock up and save yourself both money and time in the long-run.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stroke detection

During a party, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. (they offered to call ambulance)

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00pm , Ingrid passed away.)
She had suffered a stroke at the party . Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today.

Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this...


Remember the '3' steps, STR . Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.
The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions :

S * Ask the individual to SMILE ..
T * = TALK. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (eg 'It is sunny out today').
R * Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS .

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call the ambulance and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NOTE : Another 'sign' of a stroke is
1. Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue.
2. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu and Alice


If you have been reading Bear Necessities for awhile, you know my struggles with making a weekly menu and staying on a cleaning schedule. Oh, I have the desire to keep up on these things, sadly, I don't have the follow through. {hangs head in shame} I am a weak weak person.


I am happy to share my menu for this week! Yippee Skippee!

Wild hog and scalloped potatoes
green beans

mashed taters and gravy

wait for it......

wait for it......

Venison heart! MmMmMmMmMmMmmmmmm
steamed cabbage



I also picked Alice (my homemakers binder) up off the shelf, dusted her off and spent some quality time with her this weekend. It was a lovely time re-kindling an old friendship. I apologized for my absence and she forgave me. This morning she and I will once again be spending time together. Alice has already warned me there will be tough consequences if she is left on the shelf again (she looked pretty mean too, I don't think I'm going to test it).

Would love to spend a bit more time blogging with you, Alice is giving me 'the eye' and clearing her throat, I do believe it would be in my best interest to get going.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Frugal Laundry


To dry or not to dry, that is the question. Wait, what about hot or cold, name brand or generic, or even does it need to be washed? Gosh, it seems there are several questions when it comes to saving money in the laundry room. Hopefully I'll be able to answer of few of these for you today.

Dryer sheets
I have used the name brand, the off brand and the generic brands. I use them for static control, not to smell spring fresh. I have been equally happy with the cheap stuff as I am with the more expensive. When using a dryer sheet, tear it in half, as half a sheet does the job and gives you twice as much for the money. Used dryer sheets can then be re-purposed for dusting and then thrown in the bucket for fire starters.

Laundry detergent
Less is more! Use less, get more for your money. The detergent companies tell you to use the 'fill line' on each load, but that isn't necessary. Heavy dirty loads will require more detergent then your gently worn clothing. I also use two different detergents. For my jeans, dirty work clothes, towels and cleaning rags I use Xtra. For whites and better clothes I use Tide. Of course, the Tide is only purchased when I can get it on sale and use a coupon. The Xtra is also purchased in bulk when it goes on sale.

Obviously, using hot water costs more than cold water. It also can cut the life of your garments. I wash dirty work clothes, whites, towels and cleaning rags in hot, everything else is done up in cold. Check the care tag in your clothing to see what the manufacturer recommends.

To hang or not
I absolutely love to use my clothesline! If weather permits, my clothesline is full on laundry days. Not running the dryer is definitely a good way to save money. I also have several wooden drying racks I am able to use in the house when I am unable to hang outside. Not drying also helps extend the life of your garment. Maybe I should clarify here that I do use my dryer even when I'm not using it. Clear as mud? I put the items in the dryer for about 4 minutes to take the wrinkles out before I hang them. Make sure to give them a good shake before hanging. Items that will be going on a hanger anyway are dried that way. If you want a bit more softness to your clothes/towels, simply pop them in the dryer for a couple of minutes after they are dried to fluff them up. For the items you do need to dry, remove them promptly when they are finished to reduce ironing (saving you both time and money).

Multi-use towels
Do you dry off with your bath towel and discard it? Tsk tsk tsk if you do. Around here, I do laundry twice a week, bath towels get refreshed twice a week. Papa Bear and I have nice hooks in the bathroom to hang our towels to dry after we shower. I mean really, I get out of the shower nice and clean. Now, our washcloths are definitely a one time use thing....{shudder} that's just gross to me to think of using it again.

Wash it?
Do you even need to wash that garment? The slacks I put on to wear for two hours on Sunday are definitely not dirty. They get hung right back up. The sweater I wear with another shirt under it when I don't do anything to get dirty or sweat is not dirty, it gets put back away to wear again. The jeans I didn't even leave my house in all day are not dirty. They get folded and put back on the shelf. You are able to save gobs of money by not even running the washer and dryer.

Garment care
Always read the care instructions for your clothing. Taking care of your items insures they will have a longer life, meaning you will spend less money needing to replace them.

By implementing even a few of these tips, you will be able to save some of your hard earned money. Now, scoot scoot scoot off to your laundry room and enjoy your savings!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bean and Bacon Soup


After my burnt bacon fiasco of the other day, can you believe I actually used bacon again already? I'm safe there though as I don't have to fry it for this tasty recipe.

I love a good ham and bean soup. Problem is, I have tried to make many recipes only to have them be not quite what I was looking for. I put a request out on a recipe site I'm on with Face Book and was pleased to get a reply. I didn't quite use the recipe exactly, the following is what I ended up with. You will notice I used bacon instead of a ham hock, mainly because I didn't have one.

2 C. dry navy beans (could use Northern beans)
6 C. water
Water for soaking
2 carrots finely chopped
1 C. celery finely chopped (about 2 stalks)
1 onion chopped
2 potatoes diced small
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 package maple flavored bacon cut into small pieces
1 T. Nature's Seasoning salt

Sort and wash beans. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 1 hour. Drain.

Place all ingredients in a 5 qt. crock pot. Cover and cook on high 4-5 hours. Mash about 1 C of beans if soup seems a bit thin.

I ended up putting this in a pot on the stove at about 4 hours as I was hungry! I brought it to a boil and then simmered it for about 1/2 hour. I did need to add extra water.

I will be trying this out again just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, but if all goes well, this will be my new bean soup recipe! I'm also thinking I'll be making a huge pot of this and canning it to put in the pantry.

This is a very inexpensive, frugal meal.

* not eat this if you are going to be in a crowd later on.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Burnt Bacon

Mmmmm...I just love the smell of burnt bacon as it seeps into every single nook and cranny of my home, leaving it's lingering scent in any fabric it come in contact with.

I do hope you noted the sarcasm dripping from that last sentence.

I started bacon and walked away to check on the children, ending up sitting on the floor singing songs with them. As I saw smoke coming from the kitchen, I realized what I had done. I ran in there and took the skillet right outside, it was too late, the smoke was already running rampant. Of course, it's cold out so I can't open windows with the children here. I can't even turn on the vents because the wood burner is going and it will draw in the smoke from that. *sigh*

I guess I could always burn a maple candle and it could smell like breakfast in here. *sigh*


Monday, January 16, 2012

De-clutter Calandar

A wonderful website was brought to may attention and it is way too good not to share with all you.

Each day has one simple chore. It may be to get rid of expired medications, or clean under the bed, or declutter your candles. Yesterday had a chore I found to be great fun: Dance in your living room!

I shared this site with my dear friend Alicia as we are both on the organizational wagon right now. She asked me yesterday how I was doing with it...I laughed and told her I wasn't doing it, I only sent it to her! This resulted in me getting the evil stink eye and a copy of the calendar handed to me with instructions that I would be doing it.

Today's chore is to get rid of hair doo dads you never wear. This should be easy since I went from middle of the back hair to a short bob, leaving me with all sorts of hair doo dads I no longer have the hair for.

Give this site a look and see what you think.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Frugal Friday


Hello my Frugal Friends, how did your spending go this last week? Did you remember to keep track of it all? In case you missed it, last week I gave a bit of homework.

"The first step to getting a handle on your finances, is to know where your finances are going. For one week, keep track of how your money is spent. Do you buy a paper, a coffee, a donut, a pack of gum each day? How often do you eat outside the home? Gas, bills, kids lunch money, toll booths, groceries?"

Were you surprised at the results? This step can be a very eye-opening experience.

This weeks homework will be much easier; pick the area you 'wasted' the most money and cut the spending in half. Continue to keep a spending log of this one area this week.

As promised, for your hard work, I will share a couple of homemade fancy coffee recipes with you.

Toffee Coffee
1 C. instant coffee
1 C. non-dairy creamer
1 C. brown sugar

Mix well (in food processor if possible) and store in air-tight container. Add 2-3 tablespoons to mug of hot water.

Cinnamon & Spice
2/3 C. instant coffee
1 1/2 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice

Mix well and store in air-tight container. Add 2-3 tablespoons to mug of hot water.

Here's another frugal coffee tip:
After making a pot of coffee, turn the machine off (saving electricity) and put the coffee in a thermos to keep it hot. If you aren't going to drink a whole pot, put it in a beverage container in the refrigerator to be consumed the next day. Simply pour it in your mug and microwave 2 minutes. Unused coffee is also good in baking to take the place of water.

Grounds can be used more than once, simply leave in the basket and only add 1/2 the amount of new coffee for the second pot. When done, don't throw those grounds away! They are wonderful to put in your compost pile!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All-American Muslim

Have you been watching this show on TLC? Wow! What an eye opener it has been for me.

The show follows five Muslim families in Dearborn MI. The families go from very conservative to not conservative at all. From women who wear the scarf to women who have tattoos and wear very revealing clothing.

This is not an action packed, drama among the cast type of show. It's normal every day life. It's been interesting learning different Muslim customs. For those who are more conservative, a person is not supposed to shake the hand of the opposite sex unless they are relatives. Instead, the person simply puts their hand over their heart. It is custom for the children to remain living at home until they are married, regardless of their age. When getting together with friends, the men and women usually split up.

This show could easily pluck out the five Muslim families and insert five Christian families ranging from very conservative to not conservative at all. Or five Jewish families, or five {insert your own religion} families.

The season finale was Sunday and I'm thinking it is not going to have a second season due to lack of interest. It's a shame too. There are so many misconceptions about Muslim people and this show gave us all an opportunity to learn about a people (and culture) that we might not otherwise know about.

If you have ON DEMAND with Comcast, you can still catch some of the episodes. If you haven't yet seen it, I highly recommend you check it out.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Frugal Friday Series


With the beginning of a new year, often people decide to make a fresh start on their finances; cutting back, paying off, saving. As with any type of clutter, our finances didn't get where they are overnight, don't put unreasonable expectations on yourself of them changing overnight either.

I'm thinking about having a Frugal Friday series of posts. Each Friday I will post about ways to cut down expenses, pay off debt and save for the proverbial rainy day. I want you to know I am not an expert in any way, shape or form, and the tips I give are just that, tips. Most will be tried and true tips I have used myself, since I am a self-proclaimed Frugalista. I like to be able to spend my money in the ways I want, not to always be a slave to bills and such.

The first step to getting a handle on your finances, is to know where your finances are going. For one week, keep track of how your money is spent. Do you buy a paper, a coffee, a donut, a pack of gum each day? How often do you eat outside the home? Gas, bills, kids lunch money, toll booths, groceries? Trust me, this step and the budget step are the most difficult things I will be talking about. Once these two steps are out of the way, the fun begins...honest!

So friends, grab a notebook and track your daily moves for a week. Come on, don't give me that look, it's only a week. After that, I will reward you with a frugal way to make fancy coffee to treat yourself with.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Three Aways


Put away, throw away, give away.

Any successful purging of 'things' begins with the three aways. It's best to set up boxes, bags, totes, baskets...etc that you can put items into easily. When purging an area, set your holders close by so as you pick up an item, it can either be put directly away or put into one of your holders. Once your area is purged, it is then time to deal with your holders.

Obviously the throw away is the easiest, so go ahead and get it out of the way.

The give away then needs to be determined if it is to be given away to a specific person or is it being donated to a thrift store, church, needed organization. Organize into where it is going, and then make arrangements to get it there. Set a limit on how long your stuff will sit before it is delivered. It doesn't do much good to purge an area only to have piles of 'things' sitting around.

The put away is where you need to be very careful. It's easy to put this stuff somewhere just to be done with it, only to have to purge the same items more than once. Take the extra time and put things in their proper places.

Once all your aways have been taken care of, stand back and admire your work. Even if the whole rest of the house seems to be falling down around your ears, take pride in what you have accomplished!

Remember, your areas needing purging didn't get the way they are overnight. Don't put the unrealistic expectation on yourself of getting it all done at once. Take your time, enjoy the purge. That's right, take satisfaction in the job you are doing, know when it is done, you will be a less cluttered self.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

No resolution

I am queen of procrastinators. Look up the word in the dictionary and you will see my picture.

Last year I made my New Years Resolution to not procrastinate...but I never really got around to getting around to it! After a few weeks, I just got so frustrated with myself, I basically gave up on it. Then of course, I felt bad for being a quitter.

This year, there will be no New Years Resolution.

Instead, I'm going to work on something I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, challenging myself. Setting goals and challenging myself a minimum of a week at a time on each goal. Bad habits don't just come out of nowhere, they start and are continued. I'm thinking good habits can be started and continued also.

Some of my goals are:

To start cooking homemade meals more often.

Finish listening to the Bible on tape.

Finish Biblical Counseling class.

One year from today I will look back at this blog post and see how my goals have come along.

So, dear reader, what are your goals for the new year?