Fidget Quilt

This is a “Fidget Quilt” for dementia and alzheimers patients, with velcro, hook & eye, belt and loops, zipper, button, tie and braid activities. Made for mother-in-law who still has busy hands. Worked all day yesterday and finally finished today. Spent weeks collecting components that I didn’t already have on hand. I can see why these sell for $50 and up. That’s about .50/hour. Next time I will have a horizontal zipper to hold small objects that now fall out of a velcro pocket. Has to be one mistake, right?

















































travel kits

How many examples have you heard or read about where people slid off the road in the winter and had so survive (or not) days before being rescued? … or walking out to rescue? How many of these tales before you actually prepare to land on the side of “survived” rather than “perished”?

I finally had enough. Today I began reviewing what I had set up and was using, or not using. Completely inadequate was the early conclusion. I had lots of pieces kinda-sorta geared up, but I wasn’t even using the bits I had. My get home bag was always home, even when I was not. My winter slide-off, survive a below freezing winter night bag also stayed home except for special occasions.

Need does not wait until you are prepared for it.

Today I got serious, set up a big table in my studio and shredded my four semi-coherent kits, reorganizing into a rational setup that will be convenient to use and, therefore be there when I need them.

My wife has it relatively easy. She has one car she drives for everything she does. Her away-from-home preparedness can ride around in her classic Mercedes diesel without having to shift from one vehicle to another.

I, of course, do not do that normal thing. I have “The Beast”, a crude, hugely functional, ugly, old-school 4-wheel-drive Suburban with great tires and a solid drive-train. I have a 2wd runabout, material-fetching full-sized pickup. And I have my “economy car”, a retired race car that scratches my high-performance driving itch while more than doubling the fuel efficiency of the other two.

Thus, tossing A BAG into MY CAR is not an option. Nobody else is going to match my needs exactly. Most of what I am suggesting to you here is to take the time to think out what you would do IF. There are plenty of lists out there. Look at some and give them consideration.

I broke it down into categories. What made sense to go with, stay with each vehicle? What would be ideal clothing, cover, shelter for a slide off the road in snow, ice, blizzards and the winter we live in? Then what would I need if fate required me to walk home from wherever I went?

Here is what I came up with. First in a nicely formatted .pdf, then a text list. You might notice that my review precipitated a shopping spree. I was as much surprised by the gaps as I was at the useless redundancy I had in my old setup.

Obviously Your Mileage May Vary.

travel kits .pdf

Winter Slide-off Kit

(permanent passenger in The Beast)
Israeli Bag: (big canvas duffel bag)
8 wax fire starter squares
8-AA and 7-AAA batteries
BBQ lighter, Bic lighter
Carhart stocking cap
complete set of dry underpants, undershirt
dry jeans, heavy shirt
emergency ration blocks
knitted neck scarf
Leatherman Wave (backup)
lined winter jacket with hood
medium and heavy socks
Mickey Mouse boots
quilted cammo bib overalls
red, green chemlight sticks (on order)
ski gloves
Sterno stove, 4 cans Sterno fuel
Sterno stove, canned heat
thermal top and bottom
tin cup, camp silverware set
wool sweater

The Beast:

3 roadside LED ‘flares’ (on order)
driving gloves
first aid kit (on order)
folding shovel
GMRS two-way radio
Ham 2-meter two-way radio
headlamp (on order)
insulated work gloves
leather work gloves
orange Bivy w/whistle (on order)
white 10′ x 10′ tarp (on order)

Big Red:

3 roadside LED ‘flares’ (on order)
camp knife
driving gloves
first aid kit (Farm Bureau)
folding shovel
insulated rubberized work gloves
leather work gloves
orange Bivy w/whistle (on order)
white tarp (10′ x 10′) (on order)


use Get Home Kit
first aid kit

Get Home Kit

$10 in silver halves
2 cloth hankies
bag within a bag
corded ear plug pair
duct-taped Bic lighter
emergency candle
emergency reflective blanket
hair brush
hand cream
magnifying glass
many-pocket vest
pen, pencil, marker
pre-moistened lense cloths
retention holster
Sawyer water purifying system
sewing kit
spare magazine pouches (2×15)
tooth brush, baking soda

Every Day Kit

Fanny Pack:
keychain light
keychain lighter
lip balm
reading glasses
slide rule
Swiss Army knife
XD(m) compact
belt holsters:
Leatherman Wave
spare magazine in pouch
comms Faraday briefcase
water canteen [coffee thermos]

Summer Slide-off Kit

(permanent passenger in The Beast)
black soft-side bag:
2 pair quality socks
long-sleeve light-weight shirt
medium cammo jacket
short-sleeve undershirt
yellow rain suit

Instant Pot Cooking!!!

Instant Pot Spaghetti Recipe

Super easy and super fast classic spaghetti with meat sauce.

A great way to use your Instant Pot and clean up is a breeze! It may just become a family favorite!


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 5


1 tsp olive oil

1 lb. 92% – 96% lean ground beef

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 oz. dry spaghetti noodles*

3 sprigs fresh basil, plus more for serving

1 (24 oz.) jar four cheese marinara sauce, such as Classico

1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

2 2/3 cups warm water

Shredded or grated parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Set instant pot to “saute”. Once it reads “hot” add 1 tsp olive oil then break beef into large chunks and add to instant pot along with garlic and a few pinches of salt.
  2. Let beef brown, stirring and breaking up beef occasionally, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Press the “cancel” button to turn instant pot off. 
  3. Break spaghetti noodles in half. Add about 1/6 into an even layer over beef, then add another 1/6 going the opposite direction into an even layer. Repeat this pattern with remaining noodles four times (this doesn’t need to be perfect! It’s just to reduce sticking).  
  4. Add in marinara sauce, basil, tomatoes and water and season lightly with salt and pepper (don’t stir). 
  5. Seal the lid of the Instant Pot, making sure the valve is set to “sealing.” Press the “manual mode” button (or high pressure on other pressure cookers) and set to 7 minutes.
  6. Once time is up, use the quick release method according to manufactures instructions (basically just stand back and flick the valve). Once sputtering stops open lid, remove basil and toss spaghetti with a fork.   
  7. Let rest two minutes (this will allow some of that extra liquid to soak in and the noodles to cook through). Sere warm with parmesan and basil leaves or chopped basil ribbons. 

Instant Pot Spaghetti Recipe