Make an Emergency Candle Out of a Tub of Crisco

I don’t recall the last time I saw a tub o’ Crisco, but this seems like a good trick MacGyver would suggest!

From Lifehacker:

Candles are always good to have on hand in case the power goes out, but if you get caught without any in your house, you can make a dead simple candle with a tub of shortening and a piece of string.
We’ve featured a number of DIY lamps for those emergency situations, but it’s hard to get any simpler than this. Just pull out a tub of shortening, put a piece of string in the middle, and light it up. Not only will it burn, it’ll last for 45 days—enough to get you through a zombie apocalypse or two. eHow recommends using a candle wick, but you should be able to use regular old string, too—some people even say a rolled up piece of paper makes a good wick. For the full step-by-step, check out eHow’s guide, and for more tips and tricks hit the link below. Photo by Amy Stephenson.

Crisco Candle | Permaculture Forums via Reddit

Sandy Victim Powers Home … With Prius – Bob Sakala uses inverter to power lights, TV, computer

Cool! Two things that are near and dear to me:

  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Prius

This guy combines both to help him make it through hurricane Sandy – details from Newser:

A 2011 Toyota Prius

(NEWSER) – Hey, turns out that the Prius is good for more than just saving on gas: Bob Sakala, a New Jersey resident who lost electricity during Hurricane Sandy, managed to power some of the lights in his home as well as his TV, laptop, and modem using only some heavy-duty extension cords and a 300-watt inverter plugged into his Prius, reports NBC 4 New York. He says he read about using the car as a power source years ago, and decided to give it a whirl; an entire week of power cost him just three-fourths of a tank of gas. “The neighbors kept saying, ‘Does Bob have a generator?’ No, it’s the Prius. It’s a spaceship,” says Sakala. Let’s hope he can still get gas for a while.

DIY Yellow Jacket Bottle Trap

Not a big fan of these stinging critters! If you want an easy way to trap wasps and yellow jackets this late summer – give this a try from Instructables:

DIY Yellow Jacket Bottle Trap

This is my first instructable, so any feedback is greatly appreciated!  After discovering a yellow jacket ground nest near our front door a few days ago, I decided to look up ways to get rid of these mean insects without the pesticides. We have various wildlife and friendly insects in our yard, so I try to avoid pesticides.  A quick Google search resulted in a few solutions to my problem and this is the one I chose.  This method was super simple, pesticide free, eco safe and VERY effective.  Friends and family were pretty amazed at the results as was I!  So let’s get started!

Step 1 What You Need 


Here are the “tools” needed: wine (they prefer red to white), a clean water or soda bottle, a bread knife or scissors, and dishwashing liquid.  First, cut off the top quarter or third of the bottle. Add about ½ “ of wine and about two drops of dishwashing liquid.  Now flip that top over to make a funnel and place it snuggly back into bottle.  You are done!  See how easy that was?

Step 2 First Results – Hive #1 

Here is the tricky (or fun depending on how you view it) part.  Place traps as close to the yellow jackets’ nest as possible. Since they had built their nests (yes, I said nests, plural, but I will explain that later) in the ground, I simply placed the traps close to where I saw them flying.  My first case scenario was near our front door close to a stick pile.  I made a red wine trap.  As you can see, they preferred the red wine.  Next day, yellow jackets were gone and floating inside the traps……or so we thought.  About four days after first testing these with good results, a new family must have moved in and stung my little boy who was simply coming inside after school.  Mama Bear mode kicked in!   I found some old bug spray in the garage and planned an assault despite my NO pesticide clause, but they must have known what I had in mind because they scattered.  Since we didn’t have red wine opened at the time, I used some old white wine that was about to be tossed and I quickly made two more traps.   Again, next day, yellow jackets drowned!

Step 3 Hive #2 


The following day, I was walking from the mailbox and as luck would have it, found ANOTHER ground nest next to our driveway, right in the path of my kids coming home from school!  I quickly grabbed the previous three traps, made a new one with red wine, and off I went carefully placing the traps.  As soon as I walked inside, we looked out to see a SWARM of these evil buggers all around the traps!  I grabbed a camera, zoomed in and took a video from a safe distance (or so I thought). One zoomed past and stung me in the back of the head!  He even rode on top of my hair and made his second appearance in my kitchen where he was quickly eliminated.

Step 4 Final Results 

Five hours later with a quick rain storm thrown in there, we noticed there were no flying yellow jackets.  Upon closer inspection, we discovered filled traps!  I noticed a few strays flying out of the nest, so I made a fifth trap.  If my first four traps are any indication, I believe our yellow jacket problem has been solved, at least for today.

A few things to consider: try to use bottles with small openings to prevent escape; when you safely can, clean out the traps and refill when needed.  If you leave too many dead ones in there, they might crawl over their dead and find a way out.  I had much better luck with red wine as opposed to white (see photo of traps that were side-by-side and see which one was fuller!).

I hope you have success with this eco safe, pesticide free yellow jacket trap!

Step 5 Follow Up – Night Recon 

Two days into this, we discovered that most of the traps had been knocked over or dragged away, probably by raccoons in the night.  Since there were a few stray yellow jackets flying around today (yes, one even went for my hair again!), I decided to do a night recon.  A few of the traps were opened and cleaned out, but the ones they weren’t able to open were full.  I left one bottle’s contents on the driveway because ants and spiders were having a feast, but in another bottle I commented to my husband that I had caught a huge wasp.  On closer inspection, we discovered it was the queen!  We both now believe that there is no way that all of these yellow jackets were drowning since the dead were 2+ inches deep in the bottles and there is only ½” of wine/detergent solution, so we are guessing that the solution somehow kills them.  No honey bees were killed in the making or implementation of this Instructable.

Top 10 DIY Miracles You Can Accomplish with a $1 Binder Clip

I love the binder clip! There is always some problem that can solved with it (as well as with some duct tape and/or velcro!). Take a look at the top 10 DIY Miracles you can do with a binder clip from Lifehacker:

Top 10 DIY Miracles You Can Accomplish with a $1 Binder Clip

When it comes to DIY projects and MacGyver tricks, the binder clip is one of the most versatile things around. Here are our top 10 favorite hacks you can pull off with the $1 office supply.

10. Make a Smartphone Stand

You can make a smartphone stand out of just about anything these days, but it doesn’t get much simpler than sticking your phone between the tabs of two binder clips. That way you can watch your movies or take your pictures without having to hold it in your hands the whole time. Of course, if you want something a bit more professional for picture-taking, you can always hack a binder clip onto your tripod for super steady smartphone shots.

9. Display Photos Without a Frame

If you have a few small binder clips lying around, they’re perfect for displaying photos or drawing attention to a note on the counter. Just close the clip, put the photo between the two arms of the binder clip, and stand it up on end. If the surface isn’t stable, a bit of sticky tack or silly putty can help keep the binder clip in place, too.

8. Keep Your Sponges Dry and Grime-Free

Sitting your sponge on the edge of the sink can set the stage for mold and mildew to build up on the wet underside, but a simple binder clip can solve all those problems. Just like the above photo trick, just put your sponge in the clip and stand it up on end. The sponge will dry much quicker and last you longer.

7. Gather Your Notes Into a Hipster PDA

The Hipster PDA, invented by productivity guru Merlin Mann, is essentially a stack of index cards held together with a binder clip. It’s a pretty cool way to keep track of your to do list and other notes, and you can make a lot of improvements on the idea with labeled binder clips or leather tabs. Check out ourintroduction to the Hipster PDA for more info.

6. Make Your Keyboard More Ergonomic

Everyone should take a look at your office and make it a bit more ergonomic, and the first place to start is your keyboard. Lots of keyboards have feet on the ends to elevate them to a more friendly height, but if yours doesn’t—or if the feet are broken—a couple of binder clips will get the job done nicely. Just take two of the metal wings off and stick them into place.

5. Close Up Toothpaste, Potato Chips, and More

Top 10 DIY Miracles You Can Accomplish with a $1 Binder ClipOf course, don’t forget the more obvious household uses for a binder clip: clipping things together. Can’t find a chip clip? Keep your chips closed with a binder clip. Toothpaste tube giving you trouble? Roll it up and stick the flat end in a binder clip. And when you run out of chips and toothpaste, it can hold your grocery list on your cart, too, so you remember to buy more.

4. Neatly Wrap, Shorten, and Store Cables

Fighting tangled cables can seem like a losing battle, but a few well-placed binder clips can do wonders for keeping everything neat and organized. Clip your cables together for storage, hang them on your desk, or even use them as a cable shortener for your headphones. If done right, you can avoid a lot of the tangles and knots that always seem to plague your cable collection.

3. Stack Beverages in Your Fridge

If you have limited space in your fridge, you can usually use your vertical space to fit more things in at once. One of the best ways to do that? Stick a binder clip on the shelf. You’ll be able to stack bottles and cans sideways without them sliding around, meaning you can fit more beverages into one corner of your fridge.

2. Keep Cables from Slipping Off Your Desk

Laptop users have it rough—every time they unplug their ethernet, speakers, or power cables, the cables fall right off the desk. Sure, you could buy a really expensive docking station for your laptop, or you could just give those cables something to catch on when you unplug them, and that’s where binder clips come in. Just slide the cables through the metal wings and you’re good to go. Of course, you can get a slightly cleaner solution with the addition of a few magnets, too.

1. Mount Your Smartphone or GPS to Your Car’s Dashboard

Top 10 DIY Miracles You Can Accomplish with a $1 Binder ClipWhy buy an expensive car dock for your smartphone when you can make one out of a binder clip? This project is a tad more involved, requiring you to bend the binder clip’s arms and wrap them in yarn, but when you’re done, you’ll have the cheapest, most effective car mount your smartphone’s ever used. Plus, if you clip it to your air conditioner vent, it’ll keep your phone from overheating during long GPS-driven trips. Video here: []

How to Build a Get Home Bag

Some awesome tips and suggestions here. The key words to remember are:

  • it’s not if, but when
  • be prepared
  • you might be at the office when you need an emergency kit

Take a look at how to make your own Get Home Bag from TheArtOfManliness:

How to Build a Get Home Bag

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Creek Stewart, Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft

Just over one year ago I wrote a post about how to build a 72-hour disaster survival kit called a Bug Out Bag.  Much of my time between then and now has been spent writing a book on the same subject–a more detailed and thorough version of that post.  The title of that book is Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit (to win a copy, see the giveaway section below).

If you liked the post about how to build a Bug Out Bag, then you are going to like this post as well.  Your Get Home Bag is just as important as your Bug Out Bag.  Look at it as your Bug Out Bag’s little brother.  They are similar in concept and design, but the end goal is altogether different.

I’d like to open this post with an excerpt from my book–actually the first opening paragraph:

You can hear the sirens in the distance. Your electricity is out, and your home phone has no dial tone. When you try to use your cell phone, you get the same message over and over: “All circuits are busy.”  You know a disaster is quickly approaching. And you know that waiting this one out is not an option. In the breath-taking stillness, you can hear the clock on the wall. Tick-tock, tick-tock. The eleventh hour is here.

Now, imagine this… YOU ARE AT WORK!  As you reach under your desk to grab your Get Home Bag (GHB), thoughts of your wife and children rush through your mind.  Then, you quietly say to yourself, “This isn’t going to be my typical commute home today.”

As a whole, we spend surprisingly little time at home.  Between our time in a vehicle, at work, in school, running errands, visiting friends, attending meetings and making appointments, some of us spend more time AWAY from home than AT home.  Many of you are nodding in agreement.  These countless hours away from home must be considered when developing your disaster preparedness plan.

What Is a Get Home Bag?

The name says it all.  It is a survival kit designed to get you home in the event that a catastrophic disaster occurs while you are away.  I sometimes call this bag my 24-hour bag, and you’ll rarely find me away from home without it.  A Bug Out Bag is a much more substantial supply kit (typically 72 hours) and stays at home.  It’s not practical to tote your BOB back and forth to work every day.  Your Get Home Bag bridges that preparedness gap.  Depending on the situation, just getting home can be a survival journey in and of itself.

A GHB can take a variety of forms depending on your personal preference.

My GHB is a small backpack and that is what I recommend.  However, I have friends who use duffel bags, fanny packs, web-gear, sling packs and even spare briefcases.  Ultimately that is your decision, but I prefer the hands-free utility of a backpack.

Is a Get Home Bag Even Necessary?

There is an infinite list of events that could warrant the use of a Get Home Bag.  Many are regular occurrences.  A GHB doesn’t have to save you from TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) to be a worthy investment.  Even if never put to that grave test, a GHB can provide for you in countless other less catastrophic scenarios.  Below is a short list of events from the news headlines in the past few years that could possibly interfere with your immediate and uninterrupted commute home.  I’m certain several people reading this article can account for some of these from personal experience.

    • Severe weather
    • Power grid failure (black-outs)
    • Vehicle Break-Down
    • Terrorist Attack
    • Acts of war
    • Bridge collapse
    • Tornadoes
    • Tsunamis
    • Flooding
    • Winter storms
    • Zombie apocalypse!!!

Certainly, some disasters are more devastating than others.  Millions of people have found themselves in need of a Get Home Bag at some point in their lives.  For some, not having one has cost them their future.

I was watching a documentary the other day which interviewed survivors of the 9-11 terrorist attacks years later.  I was surprised at the severe lung problems people have developed from inhaling the dust, fumes, smoke, and pulverized building material while escaping from in and around Ground Zero.  It was an after effect I had never considered.  An N95 face mask (mentioned later) in a Get Home Bag could have eliminated these ailments.

Assembling a GHB is not a daunting task and can easily be done in one afternoon.  For the investment of time, money, and energy, I know of very few other things in life that can have such a dramatic and lasting effect on your future than a Get Home Bag–should you ever need to use it.

Your Get Home Bag Packing List

Below is my list of recommended GHB supplies.  I fully expect for you to make your own additions and subtractions from this list.  After all, it is YOUR kit.  Different lifestyles, careers, and environments are all factors that will dictate the items in your kit.  These kits are very personal.

1 Liter of Water in a Metal Container.  I suggest a metal container because it gives you the option to boil water and/or cook in if necessary.  I also carry a metal cup that fits snugly on the bottom of my metal Nalgene.

Food + Water

3-6 Energy Bars.  Don’t over pack with elaborate meals.  High calorie bars are simple and sufficient meal substitutes.  They require no heating or preparation–now that’s my kind of meal!

Rain Poncho + Tarp

Rain Poncho.  I personally use a military version with grommets in the corners which can be used as an improvised shelter if necessary.  Being wet is not only miserable, it’s deadly.  Hypothermia is the # 1 outdoor killer, and your vulnerability skyrockets when you are wet–even in temperatures as high as 50 degrees.

Lightweight Tarp.  I pack this to use as a shelter canopy.  It can also be used as a ground cover and many things in between.

Boots + Change of Clothes

Walking Shoes / Hiking Boots. Especially for people who wear dress shoes to work, this is a really important addition.  Pack a comfortable pair of tennis shoes at the very least.  A good pair of wool hiking socks isn’t a bad idea either.

A change of clothes and a pair of leather gloves allows you to change out of your suit and into something that offers more protection and maneuverability.

A Change of Weather Appropriate Clothing.  Trade out your 3-piece suit for a more practical survival outfit.  This should include a durable pair of leather gloves and a hat.

Lighters + Fire Starting Tinder

Fire Starting Tools and Prepared Fire Tinder.  Pick up a couple of bic cigarette lighters.  They are inexpensive and dependable.  Also pack some fire starting tinder.  I prefer the WetFire brand but a quick do-it-yourself substitute is cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly.  If you need to start a fire, these 2 items will get you 98% of the way there.

A quality mulit-tool is an essential.

Quality Multi-Tool.  This tool should have a solid knife blade, a saw blade, pliers, flat head and cross point drivers, and wire cutters.  When you need one of these tools, no substitute will quite do the trick.  Many will add a fixed blade knife as well. (Machete is optional.)

Pack a headlamp along with an extra battery.

Headlamp.  Pack a good quality, hands-free, water-resistant headlamp flashlight.  Toss in an extra battery while you’re at it.

First Aid Kit.  This kit should include basic first aid supplies such as bandages, gauze pads, medical tape, splint, tweezers, lip balm, moleskin, insect repellant, sunscreen, small mirror, and a variety of basic medications–Tylenol, aspirin, antacids, Dramamine, etc.  If you wear contacts, be sure to include a back-up pair of glasses as well.

Hygiene + First Aid Kit

Hygiene Kit.  This kit should include items such as a small towel, toothbrush and paste, bandana (multiple uses), toilet paper, and soap.  A pack of disinfecting wet napkins are perfect for quick “spit-baths.”  Hand sanitizer is always a winner.

Emergency Blanket

Emergency Blanket.  Emergency mylar blankets are cheap, lightweight, and compact.  Not only can they save your life in a cold weather environment, but they can also double as a quickie shelter, waterproof gear cover, and rain poncho.  I prefer the Heatsheet brand from Adventure Medical Kits.

Face Mask

N95 Face Mask.  Whether from debris, dust, or sickness, protect your lungs with a N95 face mask.  Your t-shirt is not sufficient.

Pepper Spray + Pistol

Self-Defense Items.  Disasters are a breeding ground for frustration, desperation, and confrontation.  Violent crimes skyrocket in the wake and aftermath of any large scale disaster.  Ideally, your self-defense items should keep some distance between you and an attacker.  Avoid hand-to-hand combat at all costs.  I pack some pepper spray (attached with Velcro to the shoulder strap of my pack) and a compact Kel-Tec P-32 Pistol with 4 extra clips (28 rounds) in my Get Home Bag.

Paper Map and Compass.  Having a paper map of your surrounding area can be invaluable–especially in large cities.  If you are trying to get home–so is everyone else.  Expect and plan for detours.  Ideally, you will have marked several alternative routes home from your place of work.  Do not rely on your cell phone or GPS system.  Your brain is more impressive anyway.

Map, compass, cash, pencil, and paper

Cash Money.  Cash doesn’t need to communicate with the power grid and it speaks everyone’s language.  Pack small denominations in a variety of places.  Never reveal all of your duckets at once.

Paper & Pencil.  Perfect for recording information or leaving notes.  I use the Rite-in-the-Rain brand.

Paracord and Emergency Radio

100 Feet of Paracord.  1000’s of uses, only a few ounces.  Trust me on this one–just pack it.

USB cell phone charger for radio

Emergency Radio.  Pick up a small Dynamo hand-crank emergency radio.  Make sure it receives NOAA All Hazard Weather Alerts. I picked mine up at Radio Shack for $40.  This could be your only source of disaster-related information in an emergency.  Get a model that has an integrated USB cell phone charger–very cool feature and highly recommended.

Rescue Signal Items. Small signal mirror (mentioned in First Aid) and a whistle.

The weight of my GHB is only 14 lbs.  The items could easily be packed into a smaller bag, but I like the flexibility of more space–especially in cold months when I toss in a heavy fleece, gloves, hat, and shell.


I’d like to close with another excerpt from my book which discusses the importance of preparation:

Clearly, there is more to consider than just a [Bug Out Bag]. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, terrorists, wild fires, plagues and foreign invaders will show you no mercy. None of these disasters will pause while you argue about where to go or whether or not to take Freckles the Ferret with you. Survival is not about guarantees—there is always a gamble and the disaster typically has the house advantage. The only way to increase your odds of living is to plan and prepare in advance.

HOME not only represents safety and security but many of us also have families who depend on our safe and timely return.   When getting home becomes your first priority, reach for your Get Home Bag.  What’s in your GHB?

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit Giveaway

Creek’s new book, Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-hour Disaster Survival Kit, is out now and available on This awesome 200 page book includes 350 photos and goes much more in-depth about building and using your Bug Out Bag. The book covers:

    • A complete Bug Out Bag checklist that tells you exactly what to pack based on your survival skill level
    • Photos and explanations of every item you need in your bag
    • Resource lists to help you find and purchase gear
    • Practice exercises that teach you how to use almost everything in your bag
    • Demonstrations for multi-use items that save pack space and weight
    • Specific gear recommendations for common disasters

The book also includes sections on special considerations for bugging out with children, the elderly, the physically disabled, and even pets.

The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife Deal


I have carried a Swiss Army Knife for as long as I can remember. My Dad always did as well. I even recall my son when he was very young asking me to tell him the story of when I was in the Swiss Army! 🙂

Well, now I have found a Swiss Army Knife on steroids! Take a look at his (and it is on sale!) – details from Best The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife Deal | LogicBUY:

Best The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife Deal

Hammacher Schlemmer is offering The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife for $999.95 plus Free Shipping with coupon code: HSFREE. You save $400.05 off the retail price. This is the best deal found on this gadget that has everything you need in way of tools. 

Includes seven blades, three types of pliers, three golf tools, 25 flat and Phillips head screwdrivers and bits, saws, wrenches, cigar scissors, whistle, toothpick, laser pointer, tire-tread gauge and more.