Fun with Bug-Out Bags

January 9, 2016 1 comment

Earthquake kits

Every member of my family, including the dogs, has an Emergency Kit (aka Bug-Out Bag). We all have them because the aftermath of Katrina scared the living shit out of me. (No Brownie, it wasn’t “a heck of a job”.) We don’t really get hurricanes in the Pacific Northwest. If we did, my family is lucky enough to have the means (and flexibility of working remotely) to drive to a safe place or hop on an airplane. Unfortunately, earthquakes don’t work like that. You don’t get a warning.

In the event of an earthquake, we could probably shelter in place, but there could be power outages or water main breaks. At a bare minimum I think everyone, regardless of where you live in the country,  should at least have a flat of water bottles in case of contamination that boiling won’t fix. We could use our kits to shelter in place if we happen to be low on groceries as well.

Any number of things could cause you to need to evacuate your home after an earthquake: structural damage, gas leaks, fires, downed power lines, and chemical spills. Source:

Following guidelines from and supplementing with things that are important to us, here is everything we have in our kits. (List below pic.)

earthquake kit deconstructed.jpg

For Each of the Humans

1-2 week supply of maintenance medications
Travel size bottle of Ibuprofen
First aid kit
Phone charger
Light weight fleece sleeping bag
Clothing: T-shirt, jeans, 3 pair of undies, 3 pair of socks
Hygiene: travel size versions of deodorant, shampoo, bar soap, hand sanitizer, lotion, facial cleaning wipes, wash cloth
Feminine products
Toilet paper (remove the cardboard roll, smash flat and it will fit in a quart-size zip lock bag
Toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste (got these in a pack at the dollar store)
2 packs of travel tissues
Folding travel brush (also a dollar store find)
Crossword book (me), Sudoku book (Stace), Mad Libs (Liam)
Travel games
Rain poncho
Flashlight (batteries taped together and stored separately in a plastic bag – we had to replace the flashlights because the batteries corroded)
Extra zip lock bags (gallon and quart size)
3 garbage bags
Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, insurance, etc)
2 – 3-way Lego sets (Liam)
A twin of Liam’s favorite stuffed animal (Liam)


2 – 1 liter bottles of water (the square Fiji ones make for easy packing)
1 can Progresso soup with the pop top (pick a variety you wouldn’t mind eating cold)
3 Organic Slammers (fruit and veggie puree)
2 Bumble Bee Tuna Sensations (1 can tuna + crackers)
4 Nugo meal replacement bars
3 packs of single serving cookies
2-3 packs of single serving cheese and peanut butter crackers
2 Snickers bars (calorie dense, plus some protein, and will feel like a luxury item if stress eating is required)
4 plastic forks

We also have a flat of water bottles in the garage next to the kits that we can toss in the car. We would drink those first and save the ones in the pack in case we end up on foot.

Everything is packed in a backpack in case we have to ditch the car. My backpack weighs about 20 pounds. When I’m looking at food for the kits, I lean toward plastic packaging when I can because cans to reduce weight. I also look for things that last a year or longer so only have to update the kits once a year. (If you have very small, fast-growing children, abandon that dream.)

For extra food we keep on hand in the garage for sheltering in place, cans are better because they keep longer. I don’t have much of a formula for the extra food, I just buy flats of things we use a lot from Costco. It’s pretty random.

For the kids: Kids thrive on routine, so try to pack a copy of a favorite book, a twin of a favorite toy or plush. Try to stick to nap time, mealtime, and bedtime routines as much as you can, even if you are not at home. Kids can usually adapt to a change in about 3 days. If you keep as much else the same as possible, it will help them adjust.

Pro tip: If you have to pack diapers, use a vacuum sealer to compress them to save room. This also works well for children’s clothing because it’s small enough to fit in the bags.

I also mentioned we have a kit for the dogs.

earthquake kit for dogs

For Each of the Dogs

1 – 1 liter bottle of water
3 days of food, measured into zip lock bags for each dog per day
An extra lead
A ball and squeak toy
Collapsible bowls for food and water


Rick Steves is in Israel!

May 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Rick Steves is in Israel this week scouting locations for an Israel travel episode! Check it out! Yes, of course I commented on his blog to tell him he must go to Caesarea.

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Comfort Food: Guinness Beef Stew

April 22, 2013 Leave a comment

I feel like this is turning into a cooking blog–which is actually fairly appropriate, because cooking was such a big part of my life in Israel. I’ve mentioned before that Israel made me a much better cook.

I’ve been taking part in the 10 Tools Challenge this year and writing about it on my professional blog, Virtual Learning Space. While evaluating Flipboard for the challenge, I stumbled upon this fantastic recipe for Guinness Beef Stew just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. What I really loved about it was the accompanying video. I often have to guess at what some culinary terms mean. I can honestly say I wasn’t 100% sure what “de-glazing” was until I watched the video. I feel so much smarter now, and I’ve become a huge fan of Chef Jon’s videos on Food Wishes. The stew was amazing. I’ve already made it three times since St. Paddy’s.

Here is a link to the original post with the full recipe.

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Support the Sandy Hook Community

December 18, 2012 Leave a comment

weeping santa

Our hearts break for the Sandy Hook community. If you wish you could do something, then please take a look at all the ways you can help. Pick something below that speaks to you.

Personally, I donated to Newtown Youth & Family Services. My gift will help provide counselling for families, staff, and first responders. It was super easy. They use PayPal.

From the Connecticut PTSA:

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook
Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get Creative!!  No two snowflakes are alike. Make and send snowflakes to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT  06514, by January 12, 2013.

From the RIP Sandy Hook Elementary Victims facebook page:

The U.S. Postal Service has established a unique post office box to allow the public to send condolences to those affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., last week. Those who wish to send expressions of comfort should address them to Messages of Condolence for Newtown, P.O. Box 3700, Newtown, CT 06470.

* Newtown Youth & Family Services
Contact # 203-270-4335
Address: 15 Berkshire Road
Sandy Hook, CT 06482

 **Donations can now be directly made to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. Please visit:

*Newtown Parent Connection
Contact # 203-270-1600
Address: 45 Main Street PO Box 187
Newtown, CT 06470


*Newtown Savings Bank
Contact # 800-461-0672
(Check Donations Only) Please call the number provided for other means of payment.

 Check donations may be mailed to:

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

****Questions have also been asked if The Fire Department & EMS personnel are Accepting Donations to their Local Fire Department, and the answer is YES. I spoke to them directly by phone and they are accepting them through Postal Mail at the Address below. Also there contact Number if you would like to call them. Very Nice Wonderful people.

Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue (SHVFD)
P.O Box 783
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
Contact # (Non-Emergency) 203-270-4392

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Reports From Israel

November 19, 2012 1 comment
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Rockets Hit Tel Aviv

November 16, 2012 3 comments

I keep up with Israeli news mainly via the BBC. Wednesday afternoon I’d heard about escalating rocket fire coming from Gaza. I didn’t think much about it until I saw a Facebook post from a friend indicating the air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv. That was completely unheard of while I was living in Israel. Ashkelon yes, but not Tel Aviv.

I literally have chills as I write this. The BBC reported sirens in neighborhoods where my friends live. Sirens that had only been used for test drills or on national Memorial days for the last 20 years. I hope they can find a way to end this soon. I won’t address the politics of it because I just don’t feel qualified to do that. There’s just nothing like knowing people you care about are in real danger.

When I think of Tel Aviv I want to think of paddling with my dragon boat team on the Yarkon, going out to dinner with friends, being invited for Shabbot, my kite nearly missing a paraglider… Right now I cringe at the images that are coming from my one-time temporary home. These are the images (and the people) I keep in my heart:

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Comfort Food: Sweet Potato Turkey Pot Pie

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

US Thanksgiving is only a week away. Do you know what you are doing with your leftover turkey? Fall is my favorite time of year and Thanksgiving Dinner is the ultimate comfort food, but it does get old after a few days.

My favorite way to use leftover turkey is in a pot pie. I’d made a couple of turkey breasts for bunco a few weeks ago and froze the leftovers for future pot pie yumminess. Today’s last minute discovery was that I’d used all of the potatoes on Roasted Veggie Night, so sweet potatoes saved the dish.

I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. While living in Israel last year we had sweet potatoes all the time in restaurants and at home. One of our favorite restaurants added them to Massaman Curry. It was wonderful.

So here is my recipe for Sweet Potato Turkey Pot Pie. If you aren’t crazy about sweet potatoes, just sub white ones. Disclaimer: I rarely measure things when I cook unless I’m baking. I’m guessing at amounts here, mostly, I just add until it looks right. I encourage you to do the same if it doesn’t look right.

Sweet Potato Turkey Pot Pie
(Feeds 3-4)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sliced baby carrots
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 package Trader Joe’s Condensed Cream of Portabella soup (or sub any Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup)
1.5 cups cooked, cubed turkey
Garlic sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Cooking spray
1 tube crescent rolls

Heat oil to med high. Add sweet potatoes and carrots. Saute, stirring occasionally until tender. Add white wine, peas, corn, soup and turkey. Add garlic sea salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then lower to a simmer for five minutes.

Set oven to 350F (177C) and spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer yummy, bubbly mixture to the baking dish, arrange crescent roll dough flat over the surface. Bake for ~15-20 minutes, until crust is cooked through and golden brown on top. When I use my toaster oven I cover the dish with foil for about five minutes to prevent over-browning.