Archive for the ‘Organizing’Category

Advice and Beans Updates

So it’s been a week since the event, and I’m as thrilled as I thought I would be!  It’s nice being able to get everyone’s shipments out same day for the most part, taking a full day off of the delivery time for over half our customers.  Orders for Mylar Bags and Oxygen absorbers have been steady, including some bulk shipments, and I’ve started receiving more comments from those finding their way to the blog, which is very exciting.  I hope to post a couple of guest articles here in the near future as more folks share their experiences in preparedness and food storage.

One of the things I’m committed to as a part of working from home is to not turn into the slug I was as a teenager!  It’s tempting to sleep in and work at a slower pace, or sit and watch TV or surf the ‘net, and not really take the opportunity to improve all aspects of my life.  I have slept a little bit late some of the days since I left my previous job.  However, I believe that I’ve been offered a wonderful opportunity, and I won’t squander it.  I started this morning with some Wii DDR (Don’t laugh; for those who don’t know that stands for Dance Dance Revolution).  I have put it on the calendar that every day from 8-9am I will do something physical…some days that will mean DDR, or the Wii Fit, while others I plan on walking with the dogs.  I also plan on getting some hikes in as well, though usually those will happen on Sundays due to the schedule of getting all the orders out.  Part of it is to improve my physical condition, part to prepare for my Appalacian hike later in the year, and part to spend at least an hour a day NOT thinking about everything that needs to be done.  Sometimes a job, career, preparedness, video games, or anything can absorb us so completely we forget that we all need to breathe.  So that first hour of the day will be my chance to do just that. 

I’m also using Microsoft Outlook to schedule tasks I might forget about, such as paying the bills, ordering more product, or doing a particular piece of research.  I’m pretty unorganized by nature, and I need to use all the tools at my disposal to overcome that handicap!

Other updates:  In the near future, I will be commissioning some improvements for the website, to include a clean version of the LDS Food Storage Calculator…this is a project that I’ve been meaning to get to for ages and mentioned last year.  I actually have a backlog of ideas that I mentioned ages ago that need to be implemented.  Every day is going to include a couple of hours for exactly this type of project.  With hope I’ll have something concrete to deliver to folks in the next 45 days.

We also have one huge long-term project on the table that I hope to unveil officially later in the year.  Advice and Beans will be spinning off a software development LLC in the next month (also basically run by me, with a small mostly-volunteer development team); with a small bit of venture capital we have a commitment for, as well as a signficant investment by my wife and I, I hope to offer the preparedness/survival community something very special in the next couple of years.  More details forthcoming soon!

As always, anyone with stories, questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to contact me;  I’ll always give credit for anything I might post on the site, and I love to learn what others are doing or thinking about!


03 2011

Living From the Pantry, Take 3

I saw this post referenced at The Simple Dollar and it brought back fond memories.  The first time our wife and I went without grocery shopping last year, we went a little over 7 weeks without buying anything.  At that time, we were actually using powdered milk for drinking, so didn’t even need anything as far as perishables were concerned.  We did it again late last year and lasted about a month, though there was a little more cheating involved as my wife was diagnosed with a gluten allergy and requires more fresh foods.

Due to some upcoming concerns about our budget, we have decided to give it another shot.  Our pantry is packed full, we have a freezer that has a hundred pounds of meat and chicken in it, and a cooler stocked with water and Gatorade.  The only thing I usually find myself wanting and running out of is chocolate.  However, I think the wife has some cake mix and I stashed a box of Chips Deluxe last week after a buy-one-get-one event at Publix, so I hope I’ll be ok for sweets.  I mentioned that we had so much, we could probably go more than a month, but she’s drawing the line right now, so we’ll see!

For a more thorough example of one families adventure in non-shopping, see this series of posts!  Wish us luck!


02 2011

The Road to Appalachia, Part 1

I have had a blast starting up Advice and Beans, sourcing products, blogging, marketing, shipping thousands of packages and working 80 or 90 hours a week.  I love finally doing something for myself, and I love that I can help so many others at the same time.  However, some days the noise becomes nearly overwhelming.

To help clear my head, check off a box on the bucket list, and to get to know this great country just a touch better, this fall I am going to spend a week or a little more on the Appalachian Trail.  My plan is to hike 70-90 miles.

While some may not call it preparedness per se, I predict the lessons and learning from accomplishing such a task, will provide value to to those following my progress here as well as in my own life.

I’ll admit planning is not my strongest trait, so I will make a series of posts about my progress on various tasks necessary to accomplish the goal; writing about it holds me accountable and provides a venue for others to provide suggestions and insight, and reminds me of things yet to do.

Initially, my focus will be on 5 sub-goals.

1)  Fitness

2)  Gear

3)  Planning

4)  Logistics

5)  Sustenance

Fitness covers my physical ability to accomplish the task.  Today I am quite a bit overweight and I haven’t hiked in almost a year; my blood pressure is running a little high.  I need to address each of those in the next 6 months.

Gear is what I will take with me.  I estimate I have half or more of the gear I will need.  I have a great pack, an excellent sleeping bag, a Jetboil stove, a Katadyn water filter and some other items.  I have 2 pairs of good boots.  For anything else, I will need to make well-researched choices about what other items will need to be on the trial with me.

Planning will cover a couple of topics.  First, what will my route be on the trail?  How far should I get each day?  What are the normal weather conditions for where I will be, and what are the worst case scenarios?  Who do I need to inform, whether forest services or other law enforcement, of my trail route and expedition times?

At the same time, i will need to plan for what happens when I’m gone.  Who will run the business, ship packages, manage inventory and pay bills?  What will they do if they run into a situation out of the ordinary?  How will they handle customer service issues?

Logistics is just another word for more detailed planning.  Who will take me to my start point?  How will my vehicle make it to my end point?  What day will I leave?  What day should I reach my destination?

Finally, sustenance is the food and water I will need to make the trip.  Can I carry that much with my gear?  Should I set up a drop cache along the way?  Will I boil, use a filter, or use another method to purify drinking water?  This one will be particularly tricky, as I know on a hard hike before I’ve used my entire 5-liter allotment that I generally carry (3 liters in a bladder and 2 more in Nalgene’s) in less than 1 day.

There is also a matter of communication, and this might be a combination of gear and planning.  I’ll take my GPS, but what about a satellite phone or emergency beacon?  I don’t know yet, and so I will have at least one post on just communications and emergencies.

While that is a lot to accomplish, I also have a number of resources.  I have a good friend who is an Eagle Scout who has hiked the Appalachian before, as well as a number of multi-day hikes at state and national parks.  I have trained for a half-marathon, and I might look over my notes and training schedule as a guide to how I might plan for a week-long trip.  There are innumerable blogs, magazines and websites devoted to hiking and camping, and we have an REI store nearby that holds regular monthly meetings on various topics.  On several occasions I’ve seen them cover overnight hiking.

Next post on the subject I will cover preliminary planning.  What dates will I go, at least which state I will hike in, and what the expected conditions on the ground should be at that time.  I am greatly looking forward to sharing my journey.


02 2011

Bucket Combo – 1 Gallon Buckets, Mylar, Oxygen Absorbers

I am at the limit for the number of items I can have in our current store. So, pending upgrade (next week I hope), and because I’m interested in testing Paypal buttons anyway for some other products, I officially offer here at Advice and Beans the ‘Awesome Bucket Combo’:

Awesome Bucket

It includes 9 Awesome 1-Gallon buckets, 10 – 1-Gallon Mylar Bags to put in the buckets, and 20 – 300cc Oxygen Absorbers to go in the bags.

When I got a look at the buckets for the first time last week, I was very impressed, and not just because I am selling them. At our house, my wife has already said we will use them for any number of things, including storing tools or knick-knacks as well as for smaller quantities of flour or sugar. They are solid, have read plastic and metal handles, and come with gasket seal lids.

You may purchase the combo for $51.99 by clicking the Paypal Button immediatley below ! Let me know if you have any questions at public@adviceandbeans.com.


02 2011

Storage Ideas