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Hey Laura, what’s a good quality but inexpensive kitchen knife?

A friend asked me to find her “a decent santoku knife that will not cost me an arm and a leg?  A knife that will do the job but not a knife that will impress knife lovers.”

A good, sharp chef’s knife is a kitchen essential, but it amazes me how many people don’t invest in their tools! If you are serious about cooking, you will save yourself so much time, energy, and frustration if you invest in a good knife. You don’t need an entire block of high-end knives. Ideally, you should have three: A 8-10” chef’s or santoku knife, a 5-10” serrated bread (or “utility”) knife, and a 3” paring knife. You can get away with just the chef’s or santoku knife, though.

So here are my...

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Emergency Fund: Now is the time!

About five months ago, my husband quit his job. With no other job prospects on the horizon, it was quite a leap of faith. But we knew it was the leap to make.

The only reason we could walk away was because we have always lived below our means and made savings a priority.

This has been true from the time we were first married and were hovering around the poverty line, living in a stranger’s basement in Nebraska and standing in the weekly charity food line at our church. We couldn’t put away much, but we scrupulously stayed within, if not under, our budget; we never went into debt and we often were able to put a bit into our savings account.

As our income grew, we kept our budget much...

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Emergency Preparedness, Part 4: Laura’s Wrap-up

I’ve been working on my wrap-up to the Emergency Preparedness series for way too long. It occurred to me today that this is actually a very good example of why most people aren’t as prepared as they should be: It’s overwhelming!

I got bogged down - like most of us do - because there are so many scenarios to consider, so many items to research and review, so many things to keep track of.

I really wanted to provide my readers with The Official, Exhaustive HLW Emergency Guide, but I’m just not there yet. I’m still building my own kit! So I want to invite you to come along with me as we take baby steps to getting ourselves and our families more prepared. Here’s what I have so far.


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Hey Laura, how do I safely dispose of expired medications?

K writes:

My husband and I have some prescription medications that we no longer need and/or are expired.  What is the best and safest way to get rid of them?

Collection sites around the US join in a biannual National Take Back Initiative: a DEA-backed effort to reduce the illicit use of improperly disposed of prescription medications.

If there isn’t a Take Back collection site near you, contact your local pharmacy. Sometimes they are equipped to dispose of your unwanted pills. Or you can encourage them to join in the effort of the Take Back program.

To dispose of the pills yourself, read these guidelines. The basic rules of thumb:

1. Don’t flush them! (While the FDA still recommends...

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Emergency Preparedness, Part 3.5: Heidi’s Real Life Bug-in Report

(This is an unanticipated “half” installment of our Emergency Preparedness series, which also includes Part 1: Prepare for Disaster, Part 2: Heidi’s Cupboard, Part 3: Jack Stowage’s Fully Loaded Getaway Vehicle, Part 3.5: Heidi’s Real Life Bug-In Report, and Part 4: Laura’s Wrap Up.)

**All Amazon links are affiliate links. If you shop through them, I will receive a small kickback. Thanks for supporting my blog!**).

Northern California saw some severe rain and wind storms in the end of March. Since Heidi had the opportunity to “Bug In” while waiting for power to be restored, I asked her to give us a followup on how her Emergency Cupboard served her family. Here’s what she had to say:

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Emergency Preparedness, Part 3: Jack Stowage’s Fully Loaded Getaway Vehicle

Welcome to Part 3 of our Emergency Preparedness series. You can read Part 1 - The Intro - here and Part 2 - Heidi’s Cupboard - here.

My friend, “Jack Stowage,” is one of those larger-than-life characters with tales so tall you wouldn’t believe them if you read them in a book. Thing is, Jack’s got the credentials and is hardcore enough that I’m pretty sure his stories are true.

Here’s the bio he sent for me to publish:

Jack Stowage is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, where he served as a communicator, close combat instructor, and team leader in a scout/sniper platoon. He has worked as a Weapons and Tactics instructor and a private contractor. He is currently a sworn peace...

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Emergency Preparedness, Part 2: Heidi’s Cupboard

We began our Emergency Preparedness series with a brief introduction and Heidi’s incredible childhood earthquake story - the impetus for her work on her disaster kit.

Now, here’s Heidi again, explaining her rationale behind emergency preparedness and showing off her (in progress) 72-hour disaster kit. She is simultaneously posting this on her blog, and graciously allowing me to appropriate it for my own purposes.

Heidi, part 2

There are many different types of situations that can interfere with our basic survival needs.  Contemplate your potential risks. 

Is your city on or close to tens of fault lines (and furthermore, is your house on bedrock or partial landfill/beach and should...

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