Are We Learning Anything from the Chaos?

Are We Learning Anything from the Chaos?

from Ellie…

Preparedness = Less Stress

We’ve spent over two years dealing with the Covid Virus. Today we struggle with the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Over the last decade, we’ve seen ever-rising numbers of natural disasters! It’s all frightening. Add the continuous updates from the media and social media, and we’re feeling overwhelmed. Gas prices are rising. Inflation is affecting everything from our budgets to our shopping, which in turn affects businesses and the economy. Too many are feeling helpless.

backpacks, water bottle, preparedness

What can we do? Is there an action we can take? Most certainly we can pray, donate, and maybe even be better neighbors. But are we learning anything? No, I’m not talking about running out to buy toilet paper and milk before the storm, or even worse, just after the storm! That’s been the point for Sam and me to work on this blog. It’s about thinking ahead a wee bit. And no, I’m not talking about doomsday preppers though I appreciate their efforts and philosophy as well.

With the virus, we watched in tears as families were unable to communicate with one another. We saw fear in the eyes of the sick and worry in those who love them. With the war in Ukraine, we’re watching millions of families running to safer locations while bombing and shooting occur around them.

What would you do if you had to run on a moment’s notice? Are you ready?

little one with his/her own backpackWhy do we watch these scenarios play out in real life and do nothing? Do we really believe “it can’t happen here?” If we do, then our worry is for naught. Even when we know that natural disasters such as fires and hurricanes are headed our way, we somehow believe the worst can’t happen to us. Oh, yes, we worry ourselves sick. But then, we wait.

Seriously, if someone knocked on your door and said, “You have 60 seconds to leave,” would you be ready? The majority of us would not be ready and would immediately be panicked and helpless. Why is that? We’ve been forewarned just by seeing what’s happening in our country and around the world. What do we need to think beyond the rush to buy toilet paper and milk? Seriously?

Is there an action we can take? Is there any way to be prepared?

Consider a day of prepping for your own welfare and security. As an older woman, I’ve pondered this a number of times. I don’t have a car so I would either need to head out on foot or hitch a ride. Of course, I have family and friends nearby so I’m sure I’d get a ride. But what’s my responsibility? What can I do to be prepared? What do I have prepared that I can grab in 60 seconds?

Bugout or Go-Bag Suggestions

Everyone – from infants to seniors – should have a bugout bag. Simply put, it’s a backpack or duffle bag that you grab that has the very basic items you’ll need if you have to leave your home and don’t know how soon you’ll be back. And you can prepare it over a weekend. It may just save your life. At the very least, it will make the threat of an emergency that might require a bugout bag less stressful.

  1. Copies of important papers in a waterproof container for all family members (Soc. Sec. card, driver’s license or ID, Passport if you have one, medical information, insurance info, bank info, possibly passwords to accounts, contacts)
  2. Medicines for at least a week, ideally 30 days.
  3. Body wipes to keep clean until you can have a bath/shower.
  4. Cash – you’ll need this to buy things when you get to safety.
  5. Change of clothes or two
  6. Personal needs: toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary items, etc. Travel sizes would work in this scenario.
  7. Phone and Charger
  8. Possibly a few family photos in a waterproof container
  9. If you have children, you might consider a small item for comfort and maybe a game that can easily be put in a backpack and played quietly. A kindle filled with stories for kids and adults may also help. Of course, you’ll want to be sure to take the charger.
  10. Water – in a moment’s notice you can’t carry a lot, but add a few bottles
  11. Munchies – granola bars, etc that will keep everyone going until you find help
  12. Flashlight and batteries
  13. An emergency radio is something we don’t often think about. But if you’re in a situation where you can’t get information, a radio that has the NOAA channel for weather will help keep you aware of what’s happening. Ideally, along with battery backup, it can also be hand-cranked or solar-powered. Quite often the radio has the ability to charge a phone, etc.
  14. Any items specific to a family member’s needs.
  15. Let’s not forget our furry friends. Dog/Cat dish, food, water, leash or carrier, etc.

Most certainly there are many more items that come to mind. But we’re talking survival when you must run! NOW!

You’ll need to look at your own lifestyle and special needs and determine what absolutely MUST be in that backpack or bug-out bag. But do it now. Don’t wait until you have to run! There’s a wonderful post for those with elderly or disabled members of the family. READ IT HERE

3 youth with backpacks

We’ve seen enough in the last decade to know that yes, it can happen to us. Stop watching the screen as if you are removed from such tragedy. Stop worrying about “what if?”

Start preparing. You can even have a bag ready in your car or where you work. Silly? Possibly. But will it be silly the moment you need it? Absolutely not!

Stop passively watching and worrying. Take action today. Make those copies of important papers should you have to leave your home at a moment’s notice. Know where you can immediately grab those medicines to toss in the bag on your way out the door. Have a list on your refrigerator or cupboard to remind you of the last-minute items to throw in each Bugout Bag.

There’s a ton of solid information, just do your research. You’ll find sites that will review items to give you best choices and why. There are sites that will highlight specific needs. There’s no need to be crazy about it. Just go through a day and see what you use. EX: I brush my teeth – need toothpaste and a toothbrush. I take my meds. Pack some or put it on your list to grab when you run. I use a specific cream for my baby. PUt one in his/her go-bag. An afternoon of preparation may be the difference between being totally lost and having enough to get to a safe location with the information and needs that will help you survive.

Preparedness = Less Stress

One last thought. When you leave, think ahead. Don’t drink up all the water and eat on the munchies as if you’ll find the nearest convenience store in the next hour or two! Be smart. Stay alert and realize that the safe zone may take a while to get there. What’s in your Bugout Bag may need to last a bit longer than you planned. Be smart! Be prepared! Be calm.

And go “Beyond TP and Milk” – you’ll feel much calmer in the midst of the chaos! Here’s to your safety!

Changing for Good – a Positive 2022

Changing for Good – a Positive 2022

Sunday Snacks with Ellie and Sam

Good morning and welcome to Sunday Snacks with Ellie and Sam, where we’re definitely awake this morning. We had a good brunch.
Today we’re going to be talking to you about changes in 2022, because we’re ready. Oh, my word. It’s been a mess for two years of crazy!

SAM: I’m Going to go cuckoo.-kachoo like, it’s not going to be okay. I’m already going to a therapist to deal with some of the stuff, you know?

ELLIE: Yup. Yeah. Well, you know, we’re supposed to be getting like what four hugs a day or something to be healthy. Think of all the people who haven’t had hugs in years, I’m going to give you a hug. (Sam gives Ellie a hug). I’m trying to get a little more energy back by taking a little part-time job I have in an antique store. And just, you know, hopefully with spring getting outdoors a little bit more.
But we’ve developed habits over time. I mean, if we can change a habit in 30 days, what have we changed in two years?

SAM: You know, I’m currently moving three cubic – no four cubic yards of mushroom soil around my yard. That’s a lot of work and so I’m physically active. I’m doing all those things now. For me for 2022, it’s all about that mental cut the fat, because that’s just how it has to be because it’s not sustainable for me to just keep living in this heightened state of panic and fear and just God-awful pandemonium.

Ellie: In that grip of, of being hypervigilant about everything, we also, I think, discovered parts of ourselves and they don’t have to be positive parts, but if we can acknowledge those parts, then we know we, we now have clues as to what to use to improve in 2022. The things we learned about ourselves, and even though they may be negative, are still things to bring into a positive 2022, because we can look at those and say, okay, that didn’t work well. I don’t need to keep doing that.

What lessons are you carrying into a more positive 2022? Share with us on our FB page.


Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word.



Why Sustainability? Why Preparedness?

Why Sustainability? Why Preparedness?

Storms? Disasters? Inflation/Deflation?

OUCH - Sam's finger after losing a bit of skin while trying to pound stakes for the garden.

While Sam is nursing a hand that she managed to scrape a few layers of skin off while trying to help pound a few stakes, I thought I’d share a bit of our philosophy behind “Beyond TP and Milk.”

This past weekend, I saw a news report about average folks becoming preppers. Well, not like we think of as survivalists and preppers, but realizing that they should consider how they might be more prepared after surviving Covid lockdowns, political unrest, and various trials of Mother Nature.

Here’s the news video link from CBSN aired on March 12, 2021:

Another one from CBSN aired on December 30, 2020, was the piece about buying chicks to have eggs for their family in the future:

Both of these videos show the average person beginning to re-think preparedness in relation to their families, ordinary people having experienced some pretty extraordinary circumstances during the past year.

When Sam and I talk about sustainability and being prepared,

… we aren’t necessarily talking about guns, a hidden hideout in the woods, or years of food storage. Most of us are unable, or choose not, to do that. But we have experienced empty grocery shelves and the change of lifestyle resulting from the lockdowns of the past year – job upheavals, financial situations in turmoil, homeschooling our children, delayed product deliveries, and more. Many folks had to run from fires, floods, or deal with snowstorms, and loss of utilities.

As a result of these experiences, many more of us are trying to learn new ways to be better prepared. No more rushing to the grocery store in the eleventh hour. No more fear of ‘what will I feed my family?’ No more waiting for the customary stores inventory-on-demand, waiting for ships and planes that are behind schedules, delivery delays by the post office, and other things out of our control.


I often ask folks if they are prepared to grab a “go-bag” in case of impending emergency? What would they include if they didn’t know when, or if, they would return to their home? So the basics begin there. Here are a few items to consider:

  • important documents (laminated if possible or in a waterproof folder)
  • medicines for several days to several months plus possible prescription copies
  • basic first-aid items
  • personal sanitary items that may not be easy to find in a disaster
  • extra clothing – ideally offering you a few layers
  • food items and water
  • batteries, radio, flashlight
  • blankets

Of course, there are a host of other items you may consider, but that’s a good start. There are many online sites that will give you lists as well as your county emergency services, etc.

Home Garden

Sam’s focus has been to have you think about your family’s well-being, especially in food sustainability. A garden that gives you healthy, fresh foods and offers a variety that can be canned or frozen. A bounty that can give you a sense of security no matter what the grocery stores have available. But we both know that along with these items for our own families, a bit of abundance gives us items to barter. Remember, when times are tough, having something to ‘trade’ can make a tough situation a bit more comfortable.

As we hope for a loosening of all the ‘safety’ precautions in coming months (or years), it’s easy to think the rough times are behind us. If that is how you’re thinking, STOP! 2019 was an amazing lesson. It can happen again. It can happen anytime. We can throw our arms up and say, “Oh, I didn’t think it could happen to me.” Or… we can learn some lessons and figure out at least a few basics that will allow our families to feel a bit more secure.


I highly recommend including everyone in the planning. Children can be quite creative and I think it adds to their own sense of security. They can have a backpack of items that will be important to them if they had to get out of the house fast, or if the electricity was out and they had to entertain themselves. It also can give children a sense of control by choosing what matters to them. You can even play a game and have them use their backpack of items for a day or a weekend to test their choices.

Preparedness is not fear. It’s the opposite. It’s being ready. So don’t forget the lessons you learned during the past year. Consider how you might make a similar situation safer and more comfortable by being prepared.

Between us, we have over 100-years of experience and Sam’s only 39! If you enjoy our life hacks and simple common sense approaches to sustainability and everyday life, please spread the word. 



In the wake of the insanity of 2020 and now the first 2 weeks of 2021, how are you holding up?

I felt like I wanted to explode on January 06, 2021 in a fit of rage. The weirdest part is that everything felt surreal. Like I was watching some sort of weird movie. I’m still sorting out my feelings and really not sure where I will land with all of this.

My logical brain has me going in one direction and my heart has me going on a totally different path. But then I realize that in 2011 when I was still teaching high school American Government I felt the same way with the Snyder v Phelps case. So many damn emotions……

In the short term I know that I need to feel confident in my own body and brain to support my family, so I’m going to maintain my daily chores and plug along. I will work through my feelings in my own way and that will probably take longer than I would like, but who cares.

However, there is one thing I’m really struggling with and that is the right of individual companies to censor people.

Granted, I will be upfront, I do not and did not like President Trump – but I also didn’t like Hillary Clinton, nor do I like Joe Biden. I think they are all crooked!

Headlines and CopingBut what the Supreme Court decision of Citizens United has done to allow corporations to have more rights and privileges like regular citizens has now come to a head in my mind. I couldn’t stand the PACs or Super PACs to start, but now we have corporations choosing to censor what people are saying.

One thing about freedom of speech is that we all have it. We are all granted that unalienable right to speak our mind. We do not have to like or agree with the other person, but they have the right to say what they feel is right. I do not like the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church, but I also would not take away their right to freedom of speech.

Let’s put all the cards on the table, if they are saying things publicly that are bad – imagine what they are saying behind closed doors. At least if it is out in the air and visible for us all to make our OWN DECISIONS, we have a way to trace things back to a source. I would rather know that a KKK rally is coming to my town so my family and I can choose what is best for us. Do we stay and protest or do we just leave for the day? It doesn’t mean I have to like what they say or do, but it does inform me of who I can trust in my own community.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that was allocated in the first Amendment because the Founding Father’s felt it so crucial that we all had the opportunity to be seen and heard. 

It doesn’t matter what side you are on; we are all American. Frankly, I don’t believe we should even have a 2-party system in this country. George Washington warned us about the polarizing effects of political parties in his Farewell Address. Our 2-party system has numbed us so much as a country that the 535 members of Congress get away with constantly creating Christmas Tree Bills laded with tons of pork tacked on. And it has allowed for big corporations to take away the power of the “little guy,” anyone who dissents.

What would they have done if they did not agree with Ruth Bader Ginsburg? My hero, and her famous quote,

It’s all a lot to take in. So, if you got this far, in the words of my best friend Ellie “BREATHE!” You’ve got this!

Just Breathe