Friday, December 27, 2013

How I Paid it Forward (Thanks to All of You)

Our house fire Oct 26th 2013 and my infamous Orange Jeep
When our house burned down on October 26, 2013 there was nothing I could have done to prepare for what followed. The barrage of insurance paperwork, utility company demands, changes of address to every person and company I knew and rebuilding our lives was more than overwhelming. Through faith and community support, we were able to get back on the road of recovery much sooner than had we been nomads in a remote area.

Donations came in from past and present church members and locals organizations such as the local Mason lodge, VFW, Jobs Daughters, WildLife Trekking Co., Hodgepodge, The Mattress Center, Frys Grocery Store, Findlay Toyota and VW, and dozens of other local companies in northern Arizona. 

Just as impressive was the outpouring of support from across the internet thanks to my blog friends, James Wesley Rawles of, Cody from Wranglerstar fame , Patrice Lewis from Rural-Revolution and the list goes on and on. It was with this support that my family began to rebuild our lives and begin to approach normalcy again. And it was because of this support that I was able to "Pay it Forward" to a coworker when I found out his house burned down shortly after mine.

Paying it Forward in the AZDAILY SUN
Joe Canedo is our long time cook here at my hospital and everyone knows him. More impressive is that Joe knows what everyone will ask for before they ask, whether it be breakfast or lunch. After only two months on the job, I could walk into the cafeteria and he would instantly begin making my favorite breakfast: scrambled eggs mixed with potatoes and ham. He also knew I preferred it in a takeout box.

Shortly after Thanksgiving Joe approached me in the cafe during lunch one day. He began by saying "Sorry to hear about your house." This was a common phrase to me lately and as I begin to thank him he told me that his home had just burned down a few days earlier. I could see the remnants of panic and sadness in his eyes and realized immediately that I had to help so many other people had done for me.

I told him we would begin to save all of our extra donations and things we had no need for and he could have them as soon as he has a place to live. The Red Cross has put Joe up in a hotel until they can find him a suitable home for him and his disabled mother. After some reassuring chat, I returned to my office and called Wifey. I told her what had happened to Joe and we agreed to start stockpiling items for him. Couches, silverware, you name is waiting for him.

I reached out to the newspaper journalist who had put our family on the front page of the local paper THREE TIMES (first article, second article, third article includes our Paying it Forward) in one month. That exposure helped us with donations and increased community support. I told her about Joe's plight and asked if she could do a story on him. She agreed and soon he was interviewed. That spread the story to the local University news station and they called me for information. They wanted to do a news story on Joe and I which I quickly arranged to be filmed in our hospital. Our segment is at the very beginning. Take a few minutes to see what YOU have made possible and the joy you have brought to Joe by helping me to pay it forward.

I'll never be able to express my gratitude for all that you have done for my family but I can at least share with you what I have done to attempt to pay it forward.

If you want to donate to Joe's family, you can send a donation to our PayPal account and I'll be sure he gets it. (PayPal address = They also list a donation fund in the news cast via Wells Fargo.

Joe is a wonderful man and so are all of you that helped us in our time of tragedy. Thank you and God Bless.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Homesteading!

Flower meets THE BIG MAN
It is 6:46pm and the Christmas excitement is winding down. Teenagers are in their rooms listening to their newest CDs and reading unfamiliar books. Youngins are enjoying a Barbie movie on the new family Wii game system via NetFlix. Wifey is tidying up the kitchen and I have snuck away to our bedroom to peck out a quick post.

We've been in our new rental house for about a month now and things are settling back to normal. We moved Wifey's mom in with us and she seems to be making herself at home. Her Huntington's disease is getting the better of her but she is hanging tough. Sis helped her up the stairs to the second floor today so she could shower before family arrived for our Christmas family gathering.  All-in-all, it went well.

Lucky loves the snow
Wifey whipped up a terrific meal of honey baked ham, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans and baked beans. There were plenty of desserts to go around as well. Our garage is still a mess with boxes everywhere and we've managed to fill an entire commercial dumpster in the driveway. Hanging some artwork and a mirror on the walls in the living room made it feel a bit more cozy. Lucky came inside to get some quality time today and claimed a favorite spot on the new (well, new to us) couch.

 I finally got the chickens outside and in a new home. They were two days old when our house burned down on October 26th. A gracious neighbor took them in for a month while we bounced from guest house to guest house. Once we were moved in to our current rental, I went and picked them up. They lived in our office (now Mother-in-law's room) for two weeks. The odor was getting a little much so I made room in the garage. They stayed there for about two weeks before I decided it was time to get our nine birds out of their box and into a real coop where they could stretch their wings a bit. I had found a Lucky Dog kennel on clearance at the local CAL Ranch store and figured it would make a perfect coop. There was a pre-made coop on the property already but it would only fit two to three birds at best.

8 girls and one lucky rooster
I finally had a Saturday with a little free time so I began to assemble the kennel (video). Once constructed and moved into place, I put the wooden coop inside the kennel. I was told my birds wouldn't have their "winter feathers" until the age of three months so I had to made sure they were sheltered since we have been getting snow for a few months now. With the kennel complete and the coop inside, I repositioned the Havahart electric fence to run about three feet outside of the kennel. My hopes were that it would train Lucky to stay away from the coop but with his furry body, he just slips right through it. Every now and then he catches it with his nose or something and let's out a yelp but it appears to be too random for him to get the hint to stay away from the wires.

The birds are happy now but I have a new problem. While the birds were being babysat, turns out one of the girls is a guy. Yup, we have a rooster. So, do I keep him around? I've been told he will make the girls more productive once they start laying.  I've also heard he could turn out to be VERY vocal. With six daughters...I don't need any more "vocals" around the house. For now, he stays...

Merry Christmas everyone!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lowest Price Ever: Life Straw Personal Water Filter

Every BOB (Bug Out Bag) or preparedness minded person should have several of these. These little straws, if you don't know already, can filter all the uglies out of water and make it drinkable. They are highly portable, are simple to use and cost very little.

Historically, these little life savers run around $20 plus shipping. Right now, there are 25% off with FREE shipping. According to a data tracking website (camelcamelcamel), this is the lowest these have ever been at just $14.99 with free shipping.

Image courtesy of Amazon

Image courtesy of Amazon
 Stock up on some Life Straws. All the information you need about these is located a the link I gave above.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sisters Helping Sisters for Christmas

It's Live!

This gracious family of six sisters is honoring our family with a fundraiser today. For every RECIPE you upload to them, they will donate $1 to us. Do you have time to upload a recipe today?

They were unable to get a PayPal donate button active on the post so I  listed one above. A big THANK YOU to everyone involved in making this Christmas successful for our family!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Featured on Six Sisters Blog Tomorrow

Just a quick note that our family was chosen to be featured on the Six Sisters blog tomorrow. We were nominated by someone in our church and were among the finalist. I could only DREAM of having a blog as successful as theirs.

To see the Six Sisters' 12 Days of Giving Back idea, click here.

We are honored to be chosen and wish to thank everyone involved in our recovery. Our family will be featured on December 7th so check their website tomorrow (or anytime after Dec 7th).

Thank You!

Cheap Food Prep Item: Macaroni and Cheese (Limited Time Offer)

I have several "deal" websites where I have set up email or text alerts to notify me when really good deals come along. One of my categories for alerts is food items. Today I received an alert that I jumped on and figured I'd pass it along to you guys. I do not know the expiration of this "deal" so if you are interested, you should act quickly.

The food item is the old Kraft Macaroni and Cheese standard box we all grew up with. The blue and yellow icon is the first food I learned how to make on my own as a kid. Sure, it's not the most nutritious thing out there. Some folks will scream about the Yellow #40 dye and how bad it is for lab rats but I like it for several reasons: easy to make, tastes yummy and fills the belly.

$8.54 for 15 boxes plus Free Shipping = $0.569333 per box DELIVERED

As a dad to six girls, who doesn't always have time to home cook a healthy meal, these little boxes can be life savers. And for this low price, I will stock up. I have done this in the past with this exact same item but it is much cheaper today. With Subscribe and Save on Amazon, I get the lowest price and have it shipped right to my mailbox.

Subscribe & Save, as mentioned before in my alerts, allows you to buy at a lower price. It will automatically ship out to you again, at the time YOU select unless you cancel the Subscription before the next delivery (which I usually do cancel). Just make sure you cancel the Subscribe and Save subscription AFTER you receive your order. Otherwise, it will cancel your original order.

Want to ensure your food storage will be there when you need it? Try these tips:

  • First - freeze the boxes you have for 48 hours each - this will "kill" any bugs that might be in there. Wifey does this with most pasta/flour/grain purchases.

  • Second, I would also take them out of the cardboard and put them in a plastic bag. This should help eliminate any cardboard taste they might have from sitting around...and it saves room. Do the bag before the freezer if you decide to do it. I HAVE had boxes taste like cardboard in the past after sitting for months in our hot garage in Phoenix. I'm sure that's mostly from the heat and now that we're in northern Arizona, it shouldn't be an issue. Nevertheless, to be safe, use the above tips.

How to order and get this deal for $0.57 per box (regular price is over $1.00 these days):

1) Visit my link  Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

2) On the right side of the page chose:

a) Your quantity
b) Click Subscribe and Save
c) Choose your Delivery option (I pick "every six months" to give me time to cancel)
d) click Subscribe Now

That's it. Hope this helps.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pride and The Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit

My Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit from Amazon
I've been in upper management now for three months. I look back with a smile on the decades of wearing comfortable scrubs and tennis shoes. Attire was an afterthought since just about everyone I worked with was in hospital scrubs. Being the overnight employee also added to the blase attitude because I simply didn't see many people on my small town hospital shift.

Enter the world of management. Sport coats, vibrant ties, slacks and shiny shoes are the norm now. The weekend before I started my new job I visited the local Men's Wearhouse hoping to attain a management wardrobe. Having spent all my money moving back and forth between Arizona and Oklahoma, I was pleased to get approved for a store credit line.

As luck would have it, there was a Buy One, Get One sale on the day of my shopping spree. It had been years (high school?) since I attempted to dress in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt or scrubs. Aside from the routine church outfit, I was lucky to have two pair of slacks and a dress shirt. I walked out of the store that day with enough clothes to get me through my first week on the new job.

Nice and shiny
Fast forward six weeks and you'll reach the day my house burned down. Not only did I lose all the work clothes that I had purchased on credit but also the consecutive purchases I had made since that day. Yes sir, I was proud of that new wardrobe and felt that my attire was one less thing I had to worry about as I navigated through this awkward world of management. I choose the word awkward only because after working a graveyard shift for a decade, you tend to lose a bit of your social skills. Now, being thrust into the daytime, palm squeezing, Howdy Bob with a smile corporate world...I had to learn to be sociable again.

Oddly enough meetings interest me. Although my Bachelor degree in Psychology never meant much in terms of earning potential, I thoroughly enjoyed that field of study. People are VERY interesting...or can be.  Meetings provide an opportunity to "people watch" which can easily make the time fly in an otherwise dreadful meeting.

One thing I began to notice the other day were peoples' shoes. Specifically how some were nice and shiny while others were so dull you couldn't see a reflection if you were an inch away. I began to question the sense of pride folks take in themselves and how they appear. Often I noticed that if the shoes were dull then either the tie would be wrinkled, crooked or both. Other signs might be present  as well such as an improper shave, messy hair or (gasp) food stains on their shirt.

Digressing to the house fire, one of the few comforting things I realized after the fire was that over the years I had learned a lot about what I liked and didn't like. Having lost nearly everything I owned released me of the burden of keeping up with lots of things I didn't really care about. Clothes that I had outgrown but couldn't bare to part with or things that I thought would be made of good quality that simply were not high craftsmanship. Starting over meant I could now buy things that were tried and tested...

Enter the Kiwi Shoe Polish Kit. So simple yet so effective. I'd be a hipocrit if I besmurched a coworkers lackluster shoes if mine were of the same. As I looked down in the last meeting, my shoes had become just that...dull. In the month that has passed since the fire, I had neglected to polish my newly acquired shoes. In my defense, shoes take a much worse beating up here in the north country (snow, mud, dust) than they did in the city. But this is about pride.

So I woke at 4am this morning, broke out my newly acquired Kiwi kit and sat at the kitchen counter.  I propped open my laptop and began to peruse my YouTube subscriptions for something to watch while I worked on my dull, black dress shoes. It just so happens that Wranglerstar's latest video was covering a topic I was addressing at this very moment.

In his video, he digs his truck out of the snow where it had been stuck since the prior day. As he is digging it out with a shovel, he mentions that he COULD call a tow truck or a neighbor to help him with his troubles. But he eloquently demonstrates that a man should attempt to take care of himself first not just to spare his neighbors from the trouble but to (more importantly) teach his children to be self sufficient by example.

I spent a little over an hour shining up my work shoes this morning and they look ten times better. My girls didn't get to participate in this early morning endeavor like they did in helping me restore my Doc Martens (again, pride.) Today is a "late start" day as the recent snowfall has slowed up traffic.  They get to sleep in an extra two hours! Not fair! LoL.

I'll make sure to stick my prideful shoes out just a little further in my meetings today to let them basque in all their glory. The old, corny saying "Life is in the details" would probably fit nicely here but I won't use it. No sir, I'm practicing the new, hip office "rearranging deck chairs on the titanic," "let's throw it against the wall and see what sticks," and  "we'll take that offline and circle back later."

Ugh, I just want to get home and work on the important my workshop, chicken coop, greenhouse, rain barrel collection system and someday...Wifey's new craft room. Hey, priorities...right?