Monday, August 27, 2012

MRE Monday - Cheese Tortellini In Tomato Sauce with a BONUS REVIEW

I almost didn't have this ready for Monday. School has been taking a lot of time, but here it is. I cracked open a Basic Emergency Backup Meal from Emergency Essentials to get to our main entree.

Inside this package was:  

Cheese Tortellini in Tomato Sauce
Strawberry Jam
Condiment package w/ salt, pepper, spork, handiwipe, and napkin
2 pieces of hard candy ( Butterscotch )

I have provided links for previously reviewed items.

Nutritional Information for Cheese Tortellini: 

Serving Size: 227g
Calories: 280
Calories from fat:  50
Total Fat: 6g or 9% DV
Cholesterol: 40mg or 13% DV
Sodium: 870mg or 36% DV
Total Carbohydrates: 45g or 15% DV
Dietary Fiber: 3g or 12% DV
Sugars: 8g
Protein: 11g
Vitamin A: 15% DV
Vitamin C: 20% DV
Calcium:  10% DV
Iron: 15%

Expectations: Chef Boyardee.


I'll start with my oldest son, Row. He approached the table and said,"What is this stuff in my bowl? Hmmm..." He took a bite and dropped half of it into his lap. That didn't discourage him from saying that he didn't like it though.

Red Ant, our youngest, took a small nibble and said, " I don't want that."

Finally, we get to my favorite food critic, my wife. Here are some of her more memorable quotes," It's alright. Palatable. I'd rather buy Chef Boyardee." She decided that the noodles were good, but the sauce was off a little.

I thought it was pretty good. I'm not a big fan of canned noodles, but this was okay. I liked it.

Final Thoughts:

Our kids have never been exposed to Chef Boyardee, but only had spaghetti with Prego and my sister's homemade sauce. This could account for the initial dislike from the boys. The probably led to the  loss of their stars. Sweetheart would rather buy the canned Chef Boyardee, and save a few cents. Myself? I'd go for it, but agree with the cost factor. Sweetheart did dig into Red Ant's mini-bowl.  I just asked, and she would give it a star. I would too.

Stars: * * ( 2 )

Bonus Review since it is so late...

Strawberry Jam

I almost forgot to get a picture!

Nutritional information:
Serving Size: 1 oz.
Calories: 70
Calories from fat: 0
Total Fat: 0g or 0% DV
Cholesterol: 0mg or 0% DV
Sodium: 0mg or 0% DV
Total Carbohydrates: 18g or 6% DV
Dietary Fiber: 0g or 0% DV
Sugars: 17g
Protein: 0g
Vitamin A: 0% DV
Vitamin C: 8% DV
Calcium:  0% DV
Iron: 0%

Row doesn't like jelly, so we are giving the star to Red Ant.

Red Ant was really excited to see that we had jelly to sample. He cheered Sweetheart by chanting "Open it!", as she struggled with the packaging. I suggest a knife. He said that he " Really like it.", and said that it tasted "kinda like strawberry." Go figure?

Sweetheart also liked it and compared it to Welchs jelly. She looked at the ingredients:
Strawberries ( Strawberries, Strawberry Puree Concentrate),Sugar, Pectin, Citric Acid and was genuinely impressed. It could be Polander's jelly with ingredients like this, but she commented on the cost. I did mention that the cost was offset by the fact that once a jar of jelly was opened, it should be refrigerated. The packages would be ideal for on the move trekking, or if the power was out.

I would stock up if they got down to around 50 cents each. I just checked the latest issue of Emergency Essentails, and the jelly packages are 40 cents each. I'm buying more on the next order.

Stars:  * * * * ( 4 )

Monday, August 20, 2012

MRE Monday - Italian Bread Sticks

We actually tried this with another MRE which was reviewed last week. The current price at Emergency Essentials for each of the packages is $1.25, with four bread sticks being in each package.

Nutritional Information:
Serving Size: 4 bread sticks (2 oz. total)
Calories: 190
Calories from fat: 50
Total Fat: 6g or 9% DV
Cholesterol: 0mg or 0% DV
Sodium: 360mg or 15% DV
Total Carbohydrates: 30g or 10% DV
Dietary Fiber: 2g or 8% DV
Sugars: 3g
Protein: 3g
Vitamin A: 2% DV
Vitamin C: 2% DV
Calcium:  20% DV
Iron: 10%

I was expecting a lightly herb flavored bread stick with a fluffy texture.


I will try to start off with my kids first, since this is the main reason that I am doing these reviews. I want to know what they enjoy, and what they will eat.

Red Ant, the three year old, was excited just to see them, and immediately took a bite. "Yummy!" was how he described it, and he finished off his half of a bread stick. It did have some butter on the top, and in all fairness, he does like butter. I usually try to do just a plain, no frills, or added condiments to these reviews since they might not be available. It just seems wrong to not have butter with bread.

Row, our six year old, was less than impressed with the bread sticks. "I don't like this" were his exact words. I couldn't talk him into another bite either.

My lovely wife, on the other hand, should be a food critic. Her thoughts are usually more involved than my typical guy responses. She said that she would "eat it, but don't really care for it." The herb flavoring of the bread stick reminded her of a herb flavored bouillon. The texture was also more caky than a true bread.

I thought it was too much herb flavoring. Was it too much oregano or basil? I did finish the entire package though, so that should count towards something

Final Thoughts:

My wife made a very good suggestion that the bread sticks would make a very good coating for wild game. The bread sticks would have to be grated, or worked into crumbs, but I can see it being very good with a fish dish. Maybe a pan fried bass/trout?

The price of the bread sticks was a big concern of mine. The two ounces of bread makes for an expensive MRE for the return on investment. This MRE gets three stars for taste, but I would rate it only one star for value. The one star coming from my youngest son.

Stars: * * * ( 3 )


Saturday, August 18, 2012


Please don't let the title of the post scare you off.

Faith is one of those things that I have a hard time grasping and keeping at times. I am a concrete sequential kind of guy. I find it easier to do algebra than geometry. I like my CDs in alphabetical order, and also by release date, if that gives you any clue as to how I roll.

I started college after hearing our pastor deliver a sermon on "Getting out of your comfort zone". I had been at the same job for a little over 23 years. I had gone through several bouts of burnout, and finally resigned to the fact that I had reached my apex at work. I hadn't had a raise in over seven years and had just found out that, "due to the economy", the one week paid vacation was gone.

The meat of the sermon was that if you aren't growing, you are becoming stagnant. He was talking to me. I talked with my wife about going back to college, and I started in the fall of 2010. I took six hours since it had been quite a while since my last period of education. I had stepped out on faith...this is what God wanted me to do. Not an "audible", as my pastor calls it, but that feeling or voice inside your brain.

At church, we had attended a Dave Ramsey class, and applied his principles to our lives. During these prerequisite years at college, we cut a lot of fat out of our budget. We paid off all of our credit cards and managed to save six months living expenses.  I started to find good deals using coupons and a log book, to build our stockpile for when I started school full time.

We gave up a lot of "fun things" to achieve our goals. We cut out a lot of eating out, dropped pay TV, worked extra jobs, and learned to live more frugally. I also received a $2000 grant this summer session, which helped to bulk up our one-income fund.

I quit my job about a month ago to take care of things around the house, and to go on a vacation. Hey, I wasn't going to be paid for anyways. We paid my tuition with a check on Wednesday, and Thursday I got an email from the lottery scholarship. After applying in December of 2010, I had finally made it to the recipient list as a non-traditional student.  It will cover all of the tuition and leave me with a surplus of $104.00/year.

Anyways, this post really isn't about my budget, but rather about listening to God, your inner voice, your gut instinct, or whatever you want to call it. Faith is a "belief that is not based on proof", but the results can offer proof of your faith.

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. ( Proverbs 22:3 )

I also have a gut feeling or faith that things are going to get a lot worse. Please get yourself in a good place, so things aren't as bad for you and your family. Buy a little extra water and food, get rid of debt. Mostly get ahead of the horde. Get yourself in a good situation, and get prepped. Listen to your inner voice. Faith is a "belief that is not based on proof", but the results can offer proof of your faith.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Picture Collection #2

An early picture of Steve Jobs

Too poor to buy gold, but I can buy lots of lead and brass.

Yep, It's dangerous out there.

I love this idea!

Deep Space Nine !

Monday, August 13, 2012

Here's how I spent my last paycheck ... UPDATED.

I made a promise to myself to tough it out an extra week and use that money to buy a handgun, but the rifle was too good a deal to pass up...a penny under a grand. I had to dig into my savings, but I like it.

 Our group tactician chose this rifle as our common "battle rifle". He did a lot of research and asked around his base.
 "The by-products of the gas system are vented out the bottom of the gas block, away from the bolt carrier, keeping the action clean and free from contaminants. The end result is significantly improved performance over gas driven rifles." ( Ruger promo )

Here is a good review of the Ruger SR-556E

 Opening the box.

 A larger picture of the 5.56x45 inside it's case. I hated to see that the case was made in China. Three velcro straps to hold the rifle in place and two magazine pockets.

 The lock was included.

 A 30 round Magpul magazine - notice the protector clip for the magazine to protect the feed, and reduce contaminates. I have 10 more on order.

ITEM#                DESCRIPTION                            QTY    TOTAL     
18060                SR556® and SR556E®  30 Round Mag       10     $149.50   

 Another large view of "exploded view".

I blew off a few things that needed to be done at the house and went shooting. I did buy a cheap optic, and 200 rounds. 

I plan on purchasing better optics, one-point sling, a bipod/grip, and a B.A.D.LEVER. I have provided a link for you. 

I plan on keeping it fairly simple. I'll spend that money on ammo and practice.

Updates for PP:

12 o'clock rail. Others can be added into pre-drilled holes.

MRE Monday - Toffee Crunch Cookie

This is an MRE that my Sweetheart has looked forward to reviewing ever since she saw the word toffee.

Nutritional Information:
Serving Size: 1 cookie (57g) about 2 ounces
Calories: 260
Calories from fat: 110
Total Fat: 12g or 18% DV
Trans Fat: 8.5g
Cholesterol: 10mg or 3% DV
Sodium: 170mg or 7% DV
Total Carbohydrates: 35g or 12% DV
Dietary Fiber: 1g or 4% DV
Sugars: 17g
Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: 0% DV
Vitamin C: 0% DV
Calcium:  8% DV
Iron: 6%

I have learned to limit my expectations and to keep them open at the same time. A lot of disappointments come from having our expectations too high. I could delve into Eastern religion, but that would be a Zen post. Enough of my ramblings, I expected a cookie similar to the Chocolate Chip Cookie, but with a toffee taste.

The cookie looked whole when the picture was taken, but once opened six big pieces came out. Besides the sight of the cookie, the smell was the most noticeable first impression. It had a very pleasant toffee aroma.

Red Ant didn't play around with this cookie. He took a small bite, then promptly gave his allotment back. This was a big no vote.

Row was also of the same mind. He took his usual itsy-bitsy bite and announced that he didn't like it. Both of these reactions weren't a big shock to either of us.

Sweetheart had a better insight, and was excited about getting to sample this MRE. She has been patiently waiting to unseal this dessert item. On her second bite, she gave a slight nod and commented on the "toffee flavor, but no toffee chunks." I sensed some disappointment here. After another bite, "It reminds me of toffee syrup that goes in coffee." She had finally found the proper description that she was looking for since the first bite. She admitted that she was "generally pleased", but had high expectations, like a heath bar cookie.

I'm not really that big on toffee flavored treats, but thought it had a good smell, and a rich toffee taste. It wouldn't be my first "go to" cookie, but it would find room in my backpack.

Final Thoughts:
The kids gave it no stars. My wife gave it a half star, but since the computer won't print half asterisks, and some mild prodding it got upgraded to a full star. I also gave it a star. I'm not sure if it would get ordered again.

I just asked my wife again, after a few hours, and she said that she would definitely order them again. She actually perked up when I asked her, so I'll be doing a reorder. Mainly as her comfort food.

Stars: * * (2)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Last of Vacation Pictures

 Row playing in the sand
 Lots of birds
 Notice the insane amount of people
 The Gulf was rough, but enjoyable.

And of course, Red Ant chasing the seagulls.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review - The Pulse

   I had a great chance to read The Pulse by Scott B. Williams. He has written several books, but this is his first survival fiction story. The story focuses on five main characters, which are not well developed, but you get a good feel for the characters through the story. It really wasn't a problem, I just wished for a little more background on the characters. The book is written as if you are a passive third party, observing the actions and characters as it happens.

   I was hooked by page 30, and found it an easy read over a course of three days ( 393 pages ). I enjoyed the book, but didn't really find any new information for the prepper part of me. The book emphasized many aspects of bugging out, which wasn't surprising considering the author's forte.  I don't want to give out any spoilers, but I had the ending pegged before the last sixty pages. 

  All in all, an enjoyable book that wasn't too serious, but stresses the main reasons for bugging out. This could be a good gift for someone that you want to prod into emergency preparedness, like a relative. I would recommend picking up a copy, and settling in for a light read.

I have added The Pulse to my Amazon store, currently selling for $10.17. I do get a 4% kickback, if you'd like to support this site.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Can you be Ready to Leave in a Few Minutes

 Their will not be an MRE review this Monday.

We had the fire alarms going off in the hi-rise condos at about 3:00pm today. Our three year old, Red Ant, was sleeping on the floor, and the others were reading, Ipod, and computer.

It took us about 5 minutes to make it to outside, from the ninth floor, through the stairwell. We had to grab the essentials: money, wallet, car keys, door key, gun, backpacks ( adult and one of the kids ), the kids blankets, milk, and a couple of beers. Hey, you never know how long it's going to take. This also included dressing both kids and a quick potty break.

While it was only a kid pulling the fire alarm, and not a real fire, it was a good practice with the kids. We had a good practice fire drill, and we were able to explain to the kids about not using the elevators in case of a fire. Our family needs to have a few practice drills at the house too. It has been over 6 months or more since our last one...heck maybe even a year.

Could you be ready to leave in a few minutes notice? When was your last fire drill with the kids?

Saturday, August 4, 2012