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. 

Pizza Cutting Simplicity

Pizza Cutting Simplicity

Ever wonder why you can’t cut your pizza evenly?

Normally I’m lazy and will buy my pizza from an amazing local pizzeria, Ecole’s or La Cucina. Both restaurants are owned by amazing Italian families who are fabulous at making pizza. Ironically though, when I get pizza from both pizzerias, I still must cut the crust.

Why? Well, as I’ve been making my own pizza now over the last year – thanks to COVID! I’ve learned a lot about dough. Pizza dough, for instance, is quite elastic, So a quick once over with a pizza cutter won’t actually fully cut the crust. In walks Ellie with her life hack that I never realized would work so neatly.


No, seriously, your kitchen shears can be used to cut almost anything. Some are so sharp they can cut through bone. Why not pizza?

Well, because frankly, I had never thought of it. I have a utensil specifically designed to cut pizza, so why wouldn’t that work. Short answer, because the dough is elastic and unless you press super hard on your pizza cutter and regularly sharpen it, that sucker isn’t cutting all the way through even the thinnest of thin-crust pizzas.

Recommendation: the next time you get your favorite pizza, be it from a pizzeria, grocery store, or you are making it fresh, use your kitchen shears or scissors to cut that pesky crust all the way through. Trust me – you will be thanking Ellie as much as I do with 2 kids who LOVE pizza!

Winter Storm? You’re ready, right?

Winter Storm? You’re ready, right?


A row of snow plows ready for a winter storm

There are predictions for potential snow, ice, cold temps … just … YUCK!

Are you ready?

There are some simple things to be ready. Have some foods that you can eat if the electricity should go out for a few hours or a day or two. What kinds of things?

  • tuna fish
  • peanut butter
  • bread with butter or jam
  • items in the fridge that will go bad
    like yogurt, saladings, sandwich meats, milk
  • apples and other fruits you may have
  • cereals
  • cheese, crackers, pepperoni
  • canned fruits
  • snacks

Keep in mind that if it’s really cold, you can place some perishable items in a tin and put in the snow. Of course, most of the time our electricity is not off that long. The point is that when you know there’s a prediction of a winter storm, you can be prepared. Maybe have a gallon or two of water available for drinking. If you have milk, that will be one of the first things you’ll want to use up. Sodas and other beverages will be fine. Also, keep in mind that you can buy milk in a box that does not require refrigeration until you open it. If you have kids, this is especially useful.

storm preparedness with batteries, flashlights, radio, jugs of water, some canned foods

Is this going to feel like a gourmet meal? Of course, not! But you don’t need to go hungry while you wait for the power to come on.

Sleeping Bags, Blankets, and Games

I would add that if you have sleeping bags, use them to stay warm. And if you have battery-powered radios, flashlights, lamps, etc, be sure you know where they are. Always be cautious using oil lamps and candles. If you happen to have a camp stove that you can use outside, you can also cook a small meal. That’s, of course, if the weather isn’t too windy and bitter.

But you can safely survive a bit of inconvenience and, if you’re creative, you can turn it into an indoor picnic adventure with the kids. Pull out some board games, make a blanket tent, dress in layers of clothes, and enjoy. A difficult time can become a memory that you’ll all share in years to come. Be smart. Think ahead. Be prepared.

Easy – Cheap Food Storage

Easy – Cheap Food Storage


Food storage doesn’t have to be a big deal.

The preppers and homesteaders who may be planning for the next 5 years (or the coming apocalypse) may need to do things differently. But for you and I just trying to use our common sense and learn from the past year, we can be prepared in simple ways.

Recycle, reduce, and reuse is more than just a methodology taught to children back in the 90s. It is really a way of life. This is something that our grandparents’ generation lived by, so why do we see it as a novel concept? This is one way of storing food for the short term, relatively inexpensively, and you can find them at your local bakery. They will probably be happy to let you have their wonderful food grade buckets on the cheap because it gets them out of their way.

Note that the storage can be easily rotated

… so that you can just have a few months ahead. But by planning, you won’t be running to the store the day before the next storm! And if the distribution chain gets delayed, your family will still eat well.

Here’s to your efforts “beyond tp and milk.”