Saturday, June 25, 2011

Random Post-Fire Pictures

The third of three major canyon 'blowouts' caused by fire storms shooting out the mouth of the canyon, taken about 4 miles from the area.

Not much left but ashes

When wildfire gets too close for comfort....

The corner of this house caught on fire. Debris was thrown out the window (boarded over in photo) by the Hot Shots trying to put out the fire.


Another few minutes and the entire house would have been lost.
Bare wires show where the insulation melted.

Opportunites to update the landscaping!

Go out and try new restaurants because the best fajitas in town won't be available for a while.

And then there were three....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's never what you prepare for!

It is good to be prepared for a number of potential emergencies. Again, despite my significant preparation, we are in a slow emergency that is unlike anything I imagined. The Monument Fire is slowly creeping toward a population center of about 40,000 people after already affecting about 8,000 people. We've already had a houseguest whose home survived, but they can't go back yet due to the road and canyon closures. They decided to get away from All-Fire-All-the -Time and went to visit friend who live beyond the line of sight of the smoke.

Hotel rooms are already filled for miles around. Some shelters are already filled. By the time we get evacuated we may need to drive an hour to find a room. Until we are formally evacuated, my employer expects us to be at work -- possibly after that as well.

This was not in my wildest dark fantasy of what I needed to prepare for. We live in town for goodness sake! We don't have forest fires! Live and learn!

So, my work car is packed and so is my husband's truck. Last minute stuff that can't take the heat is next to the door. Just got word we are in the recent update to the 'pre-evacuation' zone. Here we go!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Big Savings at Big Lots

If you have a BIG LOTS near you and haven't been inside, you are missing an opportunity to save on dry and canned foods, and some other staple items. Contrary to what many people think, many of the items at Big Lots, including food, are name brand products, including US, Canadian, European and Mexican. Savings on dry goods can be 50% to 60% less than even some of the 'discount' stores like WalMart and Target.

Several categories of name brand products are available for only short durations. These include the discontinued products and the annual rotation of seasonal stock items, like Gatorade powder. If your favorite shampoo is discontinued at Walgreen's, keep checking Big Lots. It may show up there for clearance as much as 6 months later. For seasonal products, say on regular store shelves between March and September, you may find them available at a discount at Big Lots in November until it sells out.

Another category of items are the packaging changes. When crystal light changed from little plastic cups to Mylar pouches, the outgoing cup-packages were at Big Lots for about $1 under the Target price. I have seen this with other products, including when they reduce the volume of a product in essentially the same container.

Overstocks and near-expiration items can also be found there. Consumables like cereal and crackers abound, and tend to be about 50% of the WalMart price, but these are often within 6 months of their 'best by' dates. I list them because if you normally eat these products, you can use what you save to help fund your other preparations.

The last type of product that is really interesting to me are the market trials. When a new product or new variant of an old product completes a market trial, left over stock often heads to Big Lots. You may never see it again if the trial was a bust, but you can enjoy it while it is available.

Brands I have seen there over the years include most of the national coffee brands; Yogi, Good Earth, Twinnings and Bigalow Teas; Swiss Miss cocoa; Del Monte fruits and vegetables, Progresso soups; Gatorade; boutique beverages like Hansens and Jones; most national brands of cereal, crackers and cookies; Reach, Crest, Colgate and Oral B dental products; Hanes undergarments and socks; Northern paper products, most major national brands of cleaning products, etc..

So why list this on a frugal preparedness site? Some of these products are packaged to support longer-term storage. Some of the BL products in my prep stash include salmon and Danish canned hams with expiration dates in 2015, individually packaged coffee or cocoa products, crystal light, toothbrushes (I have both Reach and Oral B from BL in my storage) and a couple of really nice Nalgene bottles. Most of these items cost about half of the price at the 'discount' chains across the highway.