Archive for June, 2011

Travelling Prepared

Since the business has become our full-time gig, I had assumed we would be home-bound for years, or at least until we had an employee we could trust with the keys. In other words, years. However, several months ago my wife suggested we get a trailer, load it up with inventory, and go wherever. We mulled it over for a while, and finally for Memorial Day we went on the first Advice and Beans Road Trip. We didn’t buy a trailer for this adventure, but we did take the SurvivalVan, my wife’s Quest, which held enough inventory for a week and food and water for longer than that.

This time we didn’t go very far, to a lake house that a friend of ours owns about 3 hours away. (Well, we never saw the lake, so we could call it ‘the woods house’). We went over Memorial Day weekend and had a great time.

What I found is that my entire thought process around travel has changed. It used to be in my twenties and thirties I would throw a gym bag in the back of the car with a couple changes of clothes, a toothbrush and some Rush CD’s and I was off to wherever. While I don’t really stress about it today, I do put a lot more thought into traveling than I used to.

I am sure these concepts won’t be new to many people, but I prep for travel just like I prep at home. Even before considering what to take with us in order to conduct business on the road, I made sure to check off the 5 basics on the list:

1- Water
2- Food
3- Shelter
4- Fire
5- Light

While the 72-hour kits that we keep in our cars have all of those, when traveling out of our regular sphere of influence I feel the need to be a little extra prepared.

We actually overstocked our food; we had enough to feed 6 people and the 2 dogs for a week. We only brought about half that, but picked up a bunch more at the local Wal-mart and took a great deal home with us. For water, we brought a case of bottled water as well as our Nalgene’s.  For shelter, we had our REI Quarterdome Tent and several blankets and sleeping bags.  Plus, in a pinch the van is plenty good shelter.  In TN during late May, its likely we wouldn’t need anything but a pair of shorts, so that was likely overkill. I always carry a lighter and a fire-steel with me, but I added a couple more Bic’s just in case.   For light we brought our big Maglite and my wife’s headlamp, but I am mad at myself that I forgot our propane lantern, which would have been great on the porch.  It also goes to show that what you forget is what you’ll need:  the lights from the driveway to the house were all burnt out, so having the lantern would have been perfect.  I didn’t realize but dogs don’t like peeing when they can’t see, so I had to wander around in the dark with our 3-lb and 8-lb girly-dogs.

For extras, we had jumper cables, jack and spare, and a small medical kit, as well as a month’s worth of any medications we regularly take. I sometimes hesitate to mention this, but I think its important: we also carried a pretty good amount of cash. We use our debit card and online payments for pretty much everything nowadays, but in the past I’ve been in some situations where it was the only way to pay for something, such as during a power outage or if the businesses phone lines were down.  I think everyone should always have a couple hundred dollars hidden on when they are traveling, and even when they are not.  We regularly buy items off of Craigslist or at yard sales at big discounts, but 99.9% of the time you must have cash.

So overall the trip was pretty minor as these things go, but it felt good knowing that if we got lost, broke down, or something happened while we were actually there, we had enough to survive a week pretty easily, and more if we rationed.

Prior to leaving, I also checked that we had our licenses, insurance cards (both car and health), and let our family know where we were going and when we were due back.

I think we’ve decided that we will get a pull-behind trailer for the business inventory, so if anyone has any recommendations please let me know. It’s nice to think that we’ll get to leave the house before the next Winter Olympics rolls around.  Our next adventure will be a full-blown road trip to New England to see our families. Probably 10 days gone; I haven’t done the math on how many cubic feet of stuff we’d need to take, but its significant.

I still think there are probably a lot of things I missed, as I tend to be a homebody; drop me an email at admin@adviceandbeans.com with any tips you have for when you travel, or anything that I forgot.

A Video Review of Advice and Beans

I received a call from a great lady yesterday, Sue.  She had placed an order last week, and wanted to do a video review on her Youtube channel of the packaging of the products she received as well as our sites.  Needless to say, I was thrilled, as unsolicited positive reviews are gold to a small business. It also gives us feedback as to how our packaging looks when it gets to a customer, as that is always something we like to improve upon when we can.  So I hope everyone will go give it a viewing and give the video a Thumbs Up as well as subscribe to Katzcradul’s YouTube channel.

Thanks again Sue!


06 2011

Advice and Beans Updates Summer Edition

So my wife has quit her job to help with the business as well; what an exciting (and a little scary) time!  She definitely provides some needed focus for me, and that is greatly appreciated.  Sometimes the business can get so hectic that keeping my head on straight becomes a challenge.  She has taken over much of the back-end day-to-day operation, and I’ll move more into building the business, marketing, outreach and R&D.  She will still be growing her own business as well (Dog Training and supplies), but until that takes off she’ll be the good right arm of Advice and Beans.=)

Toward that end, I have been approached for a distributorship role with the company who makes many of our Mylar bags.  My focus will still be the consumer sales side, but this will allow me to also sell almost any kind of flexible packaging to small business and commercial customers.  One benefit is I can offer wholesale prices to anyone who needs Mylar bags at prices competitive with or below our competition.  For example, we will be able to sell our 20″x30″ Mylar Bag at the pallet level (5000 bags) for up to 40% off our retail pricing, delivered anywhere in the continental US.  So if you need any type of Mil-Spec, Food, or barrier packaging, let me know and we’ll work up a quote!

As we speak, I have a coder doing a visual refresh on the new website at Discount Mylar Bags.  I’m crossing my fingers, because I have no artisitic ability to speak of, so I’m relying on them to develop a theme and then we’ll collaborate on any finishing touches.  They will also be doing a temporary logo until I can get a graphic designer to do a professional design.  Anyone in the audience who might want to take a shot at it, let me know!  Also speaking of the new site, the 5.5mil Ultra Mylar Bags have been a big success.  In just a few days we’ve sold almost 40% of our inventory.  So if you want some, get them quick!  I’ll have a new order in to the manufacturer ASAP, but with production times I’ll likely run temporarily out of stock for at least a little while.  The new 5 mil 2-gallon bags are also finally in the pipeline and should be available the first week of July.

Finally, my next big task to focus on will be the Advice and Beans Food Storage Calculator (again), a tool that will be able to recommend (based on the original LDS Calculator) how much food you should store, based on the number of days of food you want on hand.  Stay tuned!


06 2011

Article Contest Entry – Sound Advice

Thanks to Teresa for today’s entry into our Food Storage Article Contest!  I definitely relate to what she recommends; I did my ‘Buy-one-get-one’ day at Publix yesterday and got a cartful.  I don’t have any broth to speak of, but I’ll keep watch around turkey day this year!=)  Time is getting short so get your entries in; we’ll do the giveaway the weekend of July 15! 

     One piece of advice I have about food storage is to store even amounts of food in each 5 gallon bucket. For example, instead of storing one bucket of rice, one bucket of beans, one bucket with baking ingredients- put one or a few of each in every bucket. Of course you would probably want each item in a separate Mylar bag. This way each bucket contains a variety of items and you don’t have to open multiple buckets to get things you need during an emergency situation. I also developed a labeling system so that I know exactly what is in each bucket and the date it was packed. Obviously the date is very important so you can rotate your buckets accordingly.

Advice & Beans gives very good advice about buying an extra can item or bag of beans each time you go to the store. This helps those of us who cannot afford to buy everything at once. I always watch the store advertisements and when something I always use goes on sale, I buy quite a few of them. For example, canned chicken broth always gets down to .29 cents around Thanksgiving. I tend to try and store lots of it, partly because it works great in rice instead of water. That can come in handy if you’re trying to conserve as much water as possible during a crisis situation- plus it adds flavor.

 When thinking about long-term food storage, water is something many of us forget about yet it is the most important necessity for our survival. If you ever get in a situation where there is no running water, and you run out of stored water- remember there is usually 20-50 gallons in your hot water heater tank. It also would not be a bad idea if you kept some water purifier tablets on hand in case you had to get water from another source such as a lake or river. Good luck and happy storing!


06 2011

The Right Stuff – Be Prepared!

A good bunch of information, provided via NASA’s new emergency preparedness push.  Now if only every federal, state and local municipality made it a similar priority, we’d be getting somewhere!  Though, of course, it always comes down to each of us, as individuals and family members, doing what we know is right in order to be able to protect our own and attempting to not be a burden on the system should a disaster occur.


06 2011