Clearing Clutter


Image Credit: The Big Smoke

As I’ve read through the Fulton County Public Library in the Home and Family Management section (640’s) we have discussed the actual physical dwelling where we live.. We’ve discussed how we can make our homes a comfortable place to live by the hard and soft furnishings we’ve chosen to help make our house a home. Now, we’re going to have an open and frank discussion because we are all human. We can get a little too comfortable even in our own home environment. Once we’re settled in to our homes many of us (myself included) can get a bit lax in what we allow in to our environment.  Today we are discussing clutter.

Clutter can sneak up on us if we aren’t vigilant about picking up after ourselves. Clutter often involves just not putting items back where they should be in your home. For example when your clothing isn’t in use it should be “living” in your closet, drawers, or in the laundry. Other examples would be things such as dishes in cabinets, toys in a toybox, tools in the garage and so on. The point is that the items in our homes should have a specific place where they “live” when not in use. Clutter may also happen from not taking care of things such as mail when it arrivers. We may just throw mail and other items on a table along with notes from the school, papers from work, and drawings from the kids. Sometimes clutter is just keeping too much stuff–even if it’s organized.  Clutter may also result from disorganization. Although clutter begins all hoards not all clutter is hoarding. Hoarding is a symptom of a psychological condition often associated with trauma in a person’s life.

Everyone needs a decluttering skill set. There are many highly effective systems or combinations of systems people can learn. On my read through the library, I came across one that I wasn’t all that familiar with and it was highly informative and interesting. Back in the 80’s a man named Don Aslett was known as a very successful cleaning man. Along the way in his cleaning story, Don Aslett discovered something that he’s been writing about ever since: Americans have a hard time determining what should be kept in a household and what is actually clutter. Mr. Aslett would appear on various media shows to promote his cleaning business and his listeners/viewers would all want him to explain to them how to organize their stuff (aka junk). Although he would have preferred to discuss his cleaning system, Mr. Aslett’s followers wanted to talk about clutter in their homes and what to do about it. After this experience continued to repeat itself, Mr. Aslett  more or less took a “if you can’t bet’ ’em, join ’em” approach and began explaining to the American public how to simplify their lives by ridding themselves of unneeded clutter and junk. His methods were specific which in turn made the cleaning process easier and less stressful. Don Aslett’s books tend to be humorous and have interesting illustrations.

This book includes a test near the beginning called the Junkee Entrance Exam. It is designed to help the reader figure out the level of junk problem they have in their homes. The reader will land in one of these categories: The End is Near, You’re on the Brink, There is Hope, and Your are Pure. In my personal life I’ve been working A LOT at decluttering. Much of my need to do go through this process is because of multiple deaths (and therefore multiple inheritences) in my family, people moving in or out, and storing items for other friends and family who are in transitions of various types. I feel like I have a LONG way to go, but I fell into the “There is Hope” categogory.

Clutter's Last Stand

In his book Clutter’s Last Stand Don Aslett first discuses the reasons people hang on to clutter in the first place and discusses the drawback(s) of each excuse. As there are literally 101 excuses for this behavior, I won’t have time to go into detail, but if you choose to read this book, your eyes will be opened. In the remainder of the book, Aslett dicussses all the whys and how to’s of ridding ourselves of the clutter that’s in our way and holding us back. As always his goal is to simplify our homes and enable easier cleaning for better living experiences. In essence to free ourselves of unnecessary junk is to open up new and wonderful possibilities for living our best lives.

Though the above book is a bit dated, it’s information is still quite relative. I would love to share all of the practical tips I’ve gleaned from it but there’s no way I could in one blog post. Since I always like to share something I will share just one checklist from the book. This checklist  helps you to decided if something is junk or not.

It is JUNK if:

It’s broken or obsolete (and fixing it is unrealistic)

You’ve outgrown it, physically or emotionally

You’ve always hated it

It’s the wrong size, wrong color, or wrong style

Using it is more bother than it’s worth

It wouldn’t really affect you if you never saw it again

It generates bad feelings

You have to clean it, store it, and insure it (but you don’t get much use or enjoyment out of it)

It will shock, bore, or burden the coming generation

If you can check one or more of the above truthfully, then it’s probably junk. Do yourself, your house, and posterity a favor – pitch it! It’s robbing you of peace of mind and space.

It’s not JUNK if:

It generates love and good feelings

It helps you make a living

It will do something you need done

It has significant cash value

It give you more than it takes

It will enrich and delight the coming generation

If you can check several of the above comfortably, then it’s probably not junk–enjoy it and feel good about its place in your life.

Other books that I checked out were

Clean in a Minute

Is There Life After Housework

How do you deal with clutter? Have you ever heard of Don Aslett or used his system? Do you have a clutter story you would like to share?


Sewing Woman

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Thought to have begun in the Paleolithic Era, or Old Stone Age, sewing is one of the oldest known textile arts. It is believed that sewing predates spinning yarn and fabric weaving. According to Wikipedia, “Sewing is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with needle and thread.”

Mask Pattern

Image Credit: You Tube

During the Middle Ages, those with means hired seamstresses and tailors to produce clothing. Sewing was considered to be one of the few acceptable professions a woman could have and most women worked out of their homes and didn’t usually make enough money to live on comfortably. For most common people clothing was an expensive investment. The women of the household were tasked with maintaining every family member’s clothes. Sewing was used for mending as well as producing. Nothing was wasted. Old worn clothing was sometimes turned inside out and reinvented. If a garment couldn’t be mended or saved the fabric would be cut up and the better pieces were used to create some new garment or some new thing such as a quilt. Women often did piece work. There are several steps involved in the production of hand made garments and women often developed a “specialty.” If one woman was great at assembling a garment, she might trade her specialty to another woman who could do beautiful decorative embroidery. By bartering in this manner, women could cut their workloads, produce more, and tend to their mending.

Thomas Saint

Image Credit: Fiddlebase

Home made clothing was the norm in most homes until a man named Thomas Saint patented the sewing machine during the Industrial Revolution in 1790. With the invention of the sewing machine it became possible to mass produce clothing. Fifty years or so later, sewing machines were beginning to be available and affordable for most households. The demand for sewing machines began c.1850 which led to the demand of sewing patterns.

Paper Sewing Pattern

Image Credit: You Tube

By the early 20th century a man named Ebenezer Butterick began offering paper sewing patterns that could be traced by home seamstresses. These paper patterns were sold in small packages and were reusable. The demand for these patterns was huge and several companies began producing them. With the advancement of technology modern clothing can be mass produced at an incredible speed and most people can still learn to sew their own clothing as well as perform many other sewing tasks. Sewing is considered both an essential skill as well as a hobby.

Paper Sewing Packets

Image Credit: Sew Obssessed

As you have probably guessed by now, the Dewey Hop blog has moved into a new Dewey Decimal classification category. We are exploring the 646 category, Sewing, clothing, management of personal and family life. Sewing is not restricted to making clothing. Other items that can be made include but are not limited to interior design products such as curtains, bedding, pillows, uphostry, toys, pet items, decorative items, and gifts just to mention a few items. Anyone can sew from beginners to experts and anyone can improve and add new skills to their repertoire.

If you would like to learn to sew there are many books in the library that can walk you through the various stages of sewing. Many libraries, including the Fulton County Public Library, are beginning to offer maker spaces. Maker spaces include sewing machines and areas to work. There are many free online sewing classes for all skill levels. Additionally you might learn to sew from someone you know or by joining a sewing club. The possibilities are truly endless.

Though I wish I could show you all of the books that the Fulton County Public Library has to offer (and trust me that’s a lot of them! It should also be mentioned that many of these books also include paper sewing patterns that circulate with the books.) I will have to settle for just showing you a few of the books I checked out this time.

101 Ways to Use Your First Sewing Machine

Image Credit: Amazon

The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing

Image Credit: Thriftbooks

Handmade Interiors

Image Credit: Walmart


Creative Kindness

Image Credit: Amazon

Is sewing something you are interested in? Do you own a sewing machine? What skill level would you place yourself at?


Household Furnishings

Household Furnishings Adobe Stock

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

No matter where you live, you will need things to furnish your home. Household furnishings cover all the basic things you need to live comfortably in your home: furniture, kitchenware, fabrics and textiles, and accessories. How many of these items you use in your home and the types of items you choose helps to define your personal style and puts your personal stamp on your environment to change your dwelling from a house to a home.

There are all sorts of decorating styles and so many decorating advice books, websites, TV shows, and magazines that they would be much too numerous to mention. Any quick web search will turn up questionnaires and quizzes to help you identify your unique decorating style. I’ve scanned many decorating resources and discovered that though there are numerous design styles, 14 of these styles are the most popular. They are:



Image Credit: Interior Design Ideas



Image Credit: Decor Aid



Image Credit: Livspace



Image Credt: Lazy Loft –

Mid-Century Modern

Midcentury Modern

Image Credit: Modsy Blog



Image Credit: ScandiPOP Interiors



Image Credit: Pinterest



Image Credit: Decor Aid

French Country

French Country

Image Credit: Pinterest



Image Credit: Bohemian



Image Credit: L’Essenziale

Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic

Image Credit: Interior Design Paradise

Hollywood Glam

Hollywood Glam

Image Credit: Modsy Blog


Coastal Hamptons

Coastal Hamptons

Image Credit:

Once you’ve identified your personal style (or styles) it will be easier to design a home that you find comfortable. Not everyone, though, fits neatly into a specific category. If I had to define my own personal style I would say “eclectic.” If I had to define my style as the above categories or some mix of them it would be a mouthful but I would say my style is Industrial Rustic Transitional with a tinge of French County while leaning towards Minimalism. Regardless where you fall along decorating schemes there will be a book or other library resource available to help you in a project of furnishing a comfortable home. You will probably quickly discover that the above schemes, while popular, aren’t the only decorating schemes. Many people have eclectic tastes or choose to go in another direction entirely.

One book I found particularly fascinating was American Junk by mary Randolph Carter.

American Junk

Image Credit:

American Junk is an actual decorating scheme. While it’s definitely not my style (remember that minimalist lean I mentioned?) I found it really fascinating how one organizes junk into household decor. I really enjoyed “reading” the pictures in this book. The American Junk style often repurposes junk itself and turns items into functional hardworking household furnishings. If you need something to do on a rainy day or a cold wintry evening, this would be a good book to peruse.

Other books I checked out this time were:

How to DecorateInstant ImpactDecorative Paint

Image Credits: Thrift Books,, and Publisher’s Overstock

Do you enjoy decorating? Do you have an easily identifiable decorating preference? If you have eclectic taste, how would describe your decorating style?


Young couple buying a new house

Image Credit:

Regardless of who you are, you need a place to live. Some of us live in apartments or rent houses. Some of us own our homes. Some of us are in transition moving from our current home to someplace else. If you are in transition you may need to buy or sell a home. Not all of us have the same idea about the perfect “dream home” and that’s ok. We are unique individuals and need to find the best living situation for us and our families. This week Dewey Hop is still in the 640’s, Home and Family Management. In particular this time we are discussing Housing and Household Equipment.

Where you live is a very personal decision which brings many factors into consideration. Can you afford to buy a new home, have one built, or buy a fixer upper and then finance the renovations? The area you aspire to live in can affect overall cost. If you’re like me, this can be an overwhelming process. Where do you even begin? Fortunately, I found a book you will find helpful if you are in the process of buying a home.

20 Questions

Image Credit: Goodreads

This book will walk you through basic questions which should be considered before buying a home such as are you ready to buy a home? What kind of shape are your finances and credit in? Should you build a home rather than buy an existing one? Is your lifestyle right for home ownership? There are many more questions and explanations presented in this highly recommended book which of course I won’t have time to cover in just one post. I would recommend this book whether this is your first home buyer experience or you’ve bought several homes.

If, like my sister just did, you have bought a new home but must sell an old one there are books to help with this as well. A proven thing to practice to help your old home sell is to stage it. Staging helps potential buyers visualize how space inside the home can be used. Staging is usually done by employing minimalist strategies and using a few strategically positioned objects. A great book to help with this is:

Home Staging

Image Credit:

Of course how well you have maintained your older home will make a big difference to potential buyers. Have you kept up with household maintenance? Have you made improvements to the home? Whether you are buying or selling these are important questions to ask. 

Is the home you are interested in in good shape? Will it require repairs or renovations? Have you budgeted for these types of costs? Will you have all the renovations done before your move in date? Will you move into the house and live in it while the renovations are ongoing? 

If, like me, you have bought a fixer upper, can you do any of the renovating yourself or will you have to hire a contractor? There are many books to address this sort of project. Two recent ones I’ve found are:

Dream Home

Image Credit: Thriftbooks

This Old House

Image Credit:

Many of these types of books are adult picture books. They are great to look at, but I am unable to show you the pictures in all of the books. Again this is a very personal process. You must choose the projects / renovations that are right for you and your family. Fortunately regardless of what projects you need to work on, there are many books and resources to help you through the process.

Have you recently bought a home? Are you in the market for a new home? If you are already a home owner please feel free to share any of your experiences in this process in the comments section.



Paper New Year's

Image Credit: Google

Let’s face it. Most of us are going to be more than happy to say goodbye to 2020.  We may not get to have the usual big celebration to usher out the old year and welcome in the new year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate in style.  The library read through has brought us to a section called Meals and Table Service. The modern word for table service is “tablescape.” This post examines how to build an attractive table for your guests. What great timing for this post with New Year’s Eve right around the corner.

Tablescapes can be really fancy using china and expensive dishes,

New Years Eve Expensive China

Image Credit: Pinterest

fairly informal yet stunning using paper products

New Year's Eve Paper Decorations

Image Credit: Oriental Trading

and plastic pieces (as in the first image and the one above) or anything in between.

new years clock tablescape

The types of books in this section of the library are again they type in which you can “read the pictures.” Unfortunately I can’t reproduce all the pictures for you. I can only show you some of the books I’ve checked out this time and encourage you to check out these or similar types of books. 

The Hassle-free Host

Image Credit: Thrift Books

Do it for Less Parties

Image Credit:

Step by Step Napkin Folds

Image Credit:

If you’re having an extremely formal affair, you may have your meal served to your guests. Many parties use a sort of potluck approach in which the tablescape is made and the food is presented potluck style on another table. There are infinite variations to this approach, but suffice it to say the food itself forms a tablescape on a different table or tables. 

Being a practical sort, my overall advice (along with what I’ve gleaned from countless hours of pouring over pictures of tablescapes) is that you want your party to be attractive without a lot of extra work. You will want to be able to concentrate on your guests when they arrive. Choose simple yet elegant party decorations. I personally would probably use a mix of paper and plastic table service pieces (easy to obtain and set up, easier clean up, and not too hard on the budget). Whatever you use, the decorations should set the tone. Often a simple table runner down the center of the table with a few event appropriate decorations will serve nicely without detracting from the actual serving pieces you use.

New Year's Eve Table Runner

Image Credit: Pinterest

Do you entertain for New Year’s Eve or any other event? What is your favored tablescape style?


Food and Drink


Image Credit: Google

Moving through the library I’ve now read myself into the 641 section. Now I have a problem. You see this is the Food and Drink section and contains literally hundreds of cookbooks. Cookbooks are on on both sides of the aisle and go all the way down to the back wall.

Cookbook Aisle

Image Credit: Feisty Froggy

I LOVE cookbooks. I love cooking and I love eating healthy foods. My problem is I want to read all the cookbooks, and try all of the recipes. I could probably stop my read through right here and be content for the rest of eternity with the cookbooks. Unfortunately I can’t do that because Dewey Hop readers are interested in all kinds of topics and the library Director, Greta Grasshopper (She was promoted since we first met her in the blog post Reference and Information Window.),

Greta Grasshopper

Image Credit: Unknown

would eventually notice I wasn’t doing my job writing the Dewey Hop blog. Greta likes to keep things hopping around here so my retirement to the cookbook section is not an option. Therefore my dilemma is how to choose only a few books?

I wish that I could get all the Dewey Hop readers from all over the world together and assign each one a cookbook and a large budget (well I can dream). Each reader would be required to make one representative dish from their assigned book (more if they chose to) and then we would get together and have a huge potluck. All attendees would be given representative meals in freezable containers to take home and everyone’s freezers would fill up with multiple precooked meals.

Alas, my only course of action will have to be to show some of the current cookbooks I have checked out and just encourage all Dewey Hop readers to check out the cookbook section for themselves. The last two impressive cookbooks I checked out were:

Cookin Up Country Breakfasts

Best Lost Suppers

Image Credits: Thrift Books and Amazon

What you cook and eat is a highly personal choice. I recommend eating a healthy and balanced diet whether you are a carnivore or a herbivore or anything in between. Eat foods as close to the original source as possible and I am confident your health will benefit. If you choose to know more you can read all about it in the Food and Drink Section of the library. Food can treat and reverse a number of human maladies if used properly – but that’s a subject for another day. Until then, bon appetit!

Do you enjoy cooking? Do you have any favorite recipes to share? Do you try new foods and/or recipes?

The American Potluck

Potluck 2

Image Credit: Simple, Good, and Tasty

The Greeks are credited with putting potluck meals into practice. The potluck practice itself is Greek although the word “potluck” is American. The Greeks would slowly cook meals and bring them to a centralized location after planting and harvesting were finished. They would make meals with various combinations of vegetables, grains, meats, potatoes, beans, and rice. Today we enjoy these same types of meals which we call casseroles. The word “casserole” derives from the Greek kyathion, the Latin cottia, and the old French casse. Casseroles are baked and served in the same container or dish and are easily transported. Because of their convenience casseroles are quite popular at potluck meals even today. Potlucks provide a way to share food and provide fun social gatherings.  The Greeks valued social interactions as much as the food and as Americans so do we.


Image Credit: Ideal Me

The first traceable potluck meal in the  (now) US dates back to the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony. As time moved on modern foods such as canned soups produced by the Campbell Soup Company made casserole and potluck history. Campbell’s ads proclaimed the ease of making casseroles by simply adding a can or two of soup to various foods to make dinners easy on busy American homemakers.

Clarence Birdseye II

Image Credit: Daily Telegraph

In 1924 a man named Clarence Birdseye II began producing frozen fish and then frozen vegetables. They were a huge hit. Now  meat and vegetables were handy at  any time of the year even when vegetables were out of season.  When the frozen food was thawed it looked, tasted, and smelled just like the fresh food. The American homemaker could now rely on staples in her pantry and freezer.  Meal planning became much easier and faster. The time to cook a meal was reduced from hours to minutes. Clarence Birdseye II became known as the pioneer of frozen foods while producing his Birds Eye brand of frozen foods. Birds Eye products can still be found in almost every supermarket and is known world wide. Though I don’t have time to go into Birdseye’s complete story, he also made significant contributions to the fields of taxidermy, agriculture,  fishing,  manufacturing, and veterinary science.

Because of the changing nature of food storage in cans and freezers block parties and potlucks became quite popular especially during World War II. This was a simple way to share food not to mention that for the first time many American women began working outside of  their homes. For this reason potlucks could also save time. Women could work during the day and attend potlucks in the evenings without a lot of extra work. It wasn’t long before potluck style meals were used at fancy parties, homey gatherings, family reunions, and holiday celebrations just to name few examples. Potlucks remain quite popular at any event in which a large number of people need to be fed. 

Reading through the library has brought me to the 641 section, Food and Drink. For this post I have relied heavily on:

The Potluck Cookbook

Other books I checked out but don’t have time to comment on are:

The New American Heart Association CookbookHealthy Fats, Low Cholesteral Cookbook$3 MealsSmoking Food

What was the last potluck you went to? Have you ever hosted a potluck? Feel free to leave comments about your potluck experiences.


Emergency Food and Supplies

Emergency food supply

Image Credit: Pinterest

Reading through the library has landed me in the Food and Drink (641) section.  There are so many interesting food related topics that it’s going to be difficult for me to narrow this section down to just a few posts. Given the recent pandemic due to the COVID 19 virus, I felt this topic was worth revisiting. Dewey Hop previously touched on emergency food in an earlier post called Natural Disasters. It’s not just natural disasters though that present the need for emergency food.

Food and supplies were sometimes difficult to obtain for many people and forced some families to go hungry during the pandemic lockdown. Others had emergency stockpiles and had no food or supply worries whatsoever. Many people fell somewhere in the middle of these extremes. The good news is that it’s never too late to start an emergency stockpile for your family or just yourself if you live alone. If nothing else the pandemic should have highlighted the need to plan ahead. It will be an investment but you don’t have to do it all at once. Start now. Anything is better than nothing.

The first step in establishing an emergency food supply is deciding where you will keep it. While it should be out of the way it should also be easily accessible. Some popular storage areas are basements,

Basement Food Supply

Image Credit:

garages (although consider this carefully if there are extreme climate changes in your area),

Garage food supply

Image Credit: Pinterest

and spare rooms.

Spare Room Storage

Image Credit: The Prepper Journal

If you don’t have that kind of space, don’t worry. There are still plenty of things you can do to store your food and supply stash although you may have to spread it out to various locations around your home. Consider using furniture storage pieces. For example, you could use an ottoman or coffee table that has storage space in which food could be easily stored.

coffee table storage

Image Credit: Pinterest

Hide food and supplies under furniture such as beds, couches, and mattresses. This can be accomplished by using a slider as shown below or even small totes that are easily accessible.

Food under bed

Image Credit: Survivalist Prepper

Under Couch Food Storage

Image Credit: Skilled Survivor

Couch Storage

Image Credit: Pinterest

Mattress storage

Image Credit: Addicted to DIY

It is possible to store enough food for one year under a twin bed. Storing food under every bed means having enough food for your entire family for a year.

Look around your home at furniture you already have to see if it can be repurposed for emergency food storage.

Small closets make great storage spaces.

Small Food Prep Closet

Image Credit: Pinterest

Decorative baskets or containers can be used above kitchen or laundry room cabinets and filled with food and supplies. Find creative ways to store food up to ceiling height. For example some people collect cookie jars. Those jars could be displayed over cabinets –or where ever-but contain items like freeze dried meals, dehydrated flavor packets, spice bottles, and any other nonperishable food items that will fit inside them. This works best for cookie jars that conceal their contents.

Storage above kitchen cabinets

Image Credit: Pinterest

Some people who have small homes invest in a shed where they can store emergency food supplies (again consider carefully if there are extreme climate changes in your area). Others rent climate controlled storage units to store their emergency food supply. These two methods have both pros and cons to them. Unless you actually have a shed on your property you may have difficulty reaching your food source if you are unable to leave your home. Some survivalists recommend having both a food stash at home and offsite which can double your chances of survival depending on the circumstances. Still another option is to store at least a 72 hour food supply in your vehicle in a small tote. Freeze dried meals lend themselves well to this situation.

Knowing where you will store extra food  and being organized makes it easier to start building your stockpile. It’s important to note that you will need different types of foods for different situations such as sheltering in place (as during the pandemic) or bug out situations which may be caused by natural disasters or some other situation forcing you to leave your home. Bug out situations are covered in depth in the Natural Disasters blog post. For now I will just briefly mention that you need to  have 72 hours worth of food (per family member including pets) for your bug out plan. It is suggested that you use Mylar water bags  and freeze dried meals along with protein survival bars (light weight and easier to carry). An additional benefit of freeze dried meals is that you won’t have to remember to check expiration dates every 6 months since they can last up to 20 years.

For sheltering in place scenarios you will need to have at least a 3 month supply of extra food. Many survivalists recommend having a year’s supply of extra food.

The next step in creating an emergency food stock pile is knowing how you will store it in your designated area or areas. For the larger areas use industrial strength shelving which is bolted in place if at all possible. You don’t want flimsy shelving that may come crashing down after you’ve added a lot of weight. Not only  could you ruin your food but it’s a safety issue. Having heavy cans fall on you or a member of your family could have disastrous consequences.

There are all types of can racks.

Can Rack

Image Credit: Amazon

Can Rack 3

Image Credit: Amazon

Can bank

Image Credit: Pinterest

You might try racks like the ones above or some other system. The most important thing is that however you store your food you will want to easily be able to put the freshest food in the back and have food rotate forward if you remove a can.  You could take wire shelving units and hang them at an angle upside down to create the same effect. Be aware of weight limits on this type of system and be sure the shelves are properly reinforced.

Upside Down Wire Shelving

Image Credit: From House to Home

Additionally you will need areas of shelving for all the other types of foods and supplies you will want to store.

Prepper Shelving

Image Credit: Pinterest

Food Shelving

Image Credit: Pinterest

If your long term storage will include totes or 5 gallon buckets you can also create reliable shelving by filling buckets and totes of the same size with heavy staples and laying a board over the top of them to create storage. This is a good option if you have no woodworking skills. Items in these buckets would need to have duplicates elsewhere since by piling things on top of them they won’t be immediately accessible.

Some books that I checked out that will help you with your long term food storage planning are:

Store This Not That

Image Credit: Amazon

Food Storage for Self Sufficiency and Survival

Image Credit: Amazon

The DIY Pantry

Image Credit: Amazon

For this post I have drawn heavily on these three books summarizing much of the information they contain, but I highly recommend reading these books in order to prepare for your long term food storage needs. These books go into so much more detail than I can in one post.

Sheltering at home lends itself well to heat and eat meals, canned and prepackaged meals can include things like soup, chili, stew, ravioli, fruits, cup o’ noodles, canned chicken salad, crackers, soup mixes, complete meals in a box or a jar (which you can make yourself and just add liquid ingredients),

Meals in Jars

Image Credit: Pinterest

oatmeal, cereal, and snacks. For a three month supply you will need 55 gallons of water for each family member including pets.

If you still have running water and electricity you will be able to cook as normal. However if you are unable to cook with your appliances you will need another heat/cooking source. Charcoal grills lend themselves to this task quite nicely. You will need to store charcoal, lighter fluid, lighters, and matches as some of your supplies. Propane gas grills will also work as long as you’ve stored plenty of propane canisters.

For sheltering at home, don’t neglect your freezer as a long term food storage source. This works great as long as there is electricity. It’s a good idea to invest in a generator to protect your frozen investments. Some people keep extra freezers either in their basements or garages to help with the frozen food storage.  Freezers can be bought second hand fairly inexpensively and work great for this sort of preparedness.

The third step in prepping for your emergency food supply is knowing what you actually need. There are commercially prepared emergency food supplies that can be purchased. Some are better than others. Do your research. From what I’ve read many nutritionists recommend against these types of products. Their serving sizes are not always true representatives of how much food you actually need in a meal. Many of them must be combined with other items in order to meet nutritional necessities for you to remain healthy. The need to combine ingredients to get one healthy meal means you cannot rely on their serving size information to plan the number of meals you can create with your supplies. My personal recommendation is for you to use food items as close to the original source as possible. The following are recommendations gleaned from books listed above.

Start with the basics:

Five Gallon Grains

Image Credit: Pinterest

400 lbs combination of grains:  wheat, rice (of various types), corn, barley,  whole grain pasta (all types), cornmeal, and popcorn. Some recommended amounts follow:

60 lbs of dry beans – any kind but it’s best to have a variety

60 lbs each of sugar and honey

12 lbs non-instant powdered milk and egg powder

23 quarts each of oil, shortening, and peanut butter

5 lbs of salt

1 lb  each of baking powder and baking soda

2 lbs of yeast

Then add 6.5 – 7.5 lbs  of:

Vegetables: potatoes, corn, onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, any other type you can find

Fruits: any kind

Meats – Freeze dried and canned (pepperoni, ham, chicken, tuna, bacon, diced ham, and sausage)

Dairy: Eggs, Cheese, etc as needed (this assumes you will have electrity) or you can use egg and cheese powders. If you live on a farm you may be able to get your eggs from your chickens.

Baking needs: yeast, sugar and/or molasses, honey, flour, and lots of vanilla

Treat mixes (these can be homemade in a jar or store bought mixes), prepackaged snacks such as chips, cookies, puddings, cakes, etc.

Misc: Sauces (store bought or homemade and properly canned) like spaghetti, alfredo, gravies,  tomato (sauce and paste), broths, etc.

dehydrated mixes for gravy, taco seasoning, meatloaf seasonings, etc.

Spices: A wide variety is good and they should be protected in containers like totes or buckets.

LOTS of water: This can be water straight from your tap as long as you store it in properly sterilized containers. Soda and juice bottles are ok to reuse after proper sterilization (look up on the internet). Milk and juice jugs are not usually recommended as they can develop leaks pretty easily.

More water: Pre-bottled water with added electrolytes will help the body to maintain proper nutrients and help prevent diarrhea. If you like you can store flavored packets for water to help give some taste variety. Gator Aid is also a good bottled beverage to have on hand.

Pet Food: Cats need approximately 3 gallons of water per week  and stocked food. Small dogs will need 6 gallons of water per week and stocked food. Large dogs can use up to 18 gallons of water per week and stocked food.

Be sure to also stock supplies like paper and disposable products of all kinds including paper plates and napkins, plastic silverware, feminine supplies, medicines – prescription and over the counter, vitamins, personal hygiene products, hair products, soaps, laundry supplies, flea and tick medications, flea sprays, dog and cat shampoos, trash bags, baggies, etc. Just think about the products you and your family use on a regular basis and stock as many as you can.

Lastly, you will need to know about proper storage placement. Rule number one is get it up off the floor. Start with a pallet to begin building your bottom layer. Alternately shelving with “legs” that raises the bottom shelf will help you keep your food off the floor. If you absolutely must start at floor level, use waterproof containers such as 5 gallon buckets and totes. You don’t want to risk water damage either from flooding or something like a water heater leaking. Notice in stores how they keep food up off of the floor and copy those methods if possible. An added benefit to putting things in watertight containers is that it will keep insects and rodents out of your food. After determining the arrangement of your bottom layer you will be able to build up.

Dry pet food should be stored in  original bags inside totes or buckets with lids as well as anything else that is bagged. Buckets and totes can also be stacked up safely but try to stack by type of food item so that you have access to what you want and be sure to label everything. You can put multiple items in one container. For instance, you could put all the ingredients together in a tote for a particular meal. Write the contents on the inside of the lid to make sure you have everything you need and label the meal on the outside of the container (example: spaghetti meal). Some preppers like to put meal ingredients like this together so they can tell exactly how many meals they have. Another example is to put all sorts of spice bottles/containers together in a bucket.  Be imaginative and do what will work best for your cooking style.

Once you are ready to start building your stockpile, have fun! Accomplish your goals slowly and steadily with a lot of thoughtfulness. Try building a food supply for 30 days, then increase it to 3 months etc. until you reach up to at least a year’s supply. Take advantage of store sales, coupons, buy one get one deals, etc. and your supply will begin to grow. Buy items in bulk and store the extra things you don’t need right away. If you don’t live on a farm or can’t garden where you live, buy fresh fruits and veggies from your local produce store and learn to can them. You can reuse glass jars from pickles, relish, and other items to store smaller servings of grains, beans, legumes, prepared meals, etc. Just be sure that before reuse the jars are properly cleaned and completely dry before they are repurposed.

Do you need to start an emergency food supply or have you already started one? Do you have other ideas of how to accomplish the goal of long term food storage?

Five and Dimes

Image Credit: Pinterest

As the read through the library continues, I have reached a section that has many topics that I just love. It is so hard to only choose a few books to share. The Family and Home Management section has many books which deal with actual family management such as schedules, getting everyone fed, finding the balance between home life and work life, cleaning,  having a well organized home, saving money on family budgets, and so much more.  These are the books I’ve checked out this time:

While I won’t have the time or space to explore all of these books in depth, I will discuss a few of my favorites from this grouping. My favorite book from this grouping is 99c Solutions, a Reader’s Digest book. This book can be read in several ways. It can be used as a reference book to find solutions (by using products for other than their intended use to solve problems),  it can be read by reading particular components of each chapter and learning history or trivia. It can also be used to research things like the origins of products,  producers,  and in some cases people.

Inside Woolworth's

Creatively modeled on store aisles, the chapters in 99c Solutions are called Aisles 1-8. Each aisle contains the groupings of groceries, health and beauty, gardening and outdoors, cleaning and home supplies, housewares, notions, school and party supplies, and tools. The “store” model for this book is based on the old five and dime stores such as Woolworth’s, McCrory’s, and Ben Franklin. Published in 2010 I thought 99c Solutions might be a bit dated and the solutions more expensive. Happily I was wrong. With the advent of dollar stores, this book is still quite relevant (ok so it might be a penny more expensive). This book can save the reader time, money, and work.

I love everything about 99c Solutions from the solutions to the format.  Each aisle is laid out in a particular order to make items easy to find. Using Aisle 2, Health and Beauty, as an example each aisle introduces the types of name brand products you can find at dollar stores and hints at other uses those products might serve; a cotton ball can be used to start campfires or toothpaste can be used to fight pimples.

Bubble Bath

 Solutions are always listed alphabetically. Several solutions are given per aisle and most items have more than one solution. Bubble bath can be used to wash and shine your vehicle, to replace hand soap, or to wash the leaves of your houseplants and give them a healthy shine. Calamine lotion can be used to soothe heat rash, hives, and blisters as well used for Halloween make up. In Aisle 2 there are 38 products listed with multiple uses per product.

As one advances through the aisle there are items creatively on display with photographs or illustrations. In Aisle 2 we find displays of antacid, Johnson’s Baby Powder, bath oil, cotton swabs, emery boards, conditioner with lanolin, and hydrogen peroxide. Each display item touts a use distinct from it’s original purpose. For example the bath oil display says it can be used to keep patent leather shoes looking sharp. Just moisten a clean soft cloth with a few drops of the oil and gently rub a little onto your patent leather shoes. The illustrations throughout the aisles remind the shopper how much money can be saved by buying cheap multiple use products.

Johnson's Baby Pure Cornstarch Powder

Image Credit: Google

Throughout the aisle are informational blocks  called “Who Knew?” which seem remarkably up to date. The informational blocks give some interesting trivia and history about various products which may or may not be on display nearby.  For example Johnson’s Baby Power was originally invented to coat self adhesive bandages, prevent skin irritations, and keep covered skin comfortable. Later there was curiosity about whether talc could be used for other purposes. In 1893 Johnson’s Baby Powder, which was made with talc, was marketed in metal tins. After the invention of plastic bottles Johnson’s Baby Powder has been in a plastic bottle as we know it today. The informational block goes on to say that many pediatricians recommend against the use of talc now. Johnson’s now makes a cornstarch based formula.

Additionally in every aisle there are histories of particular brand names. Each history is two pages long and both pages are visible at once. In Aisle 2 the histories of Bayer Aspirin, hydrogen peroxide, and mouthwash are given. The histories all contain the product in an original form, people using the product, or early ads for a product.

Pond's Cold Cream

Aisle 2 also contains two sections called “The Story Behind…” and gives a brief story behind a particular product and includes an early ad along with a photo of the original product. In the case of Pond’s Cold Cream a pharmacist from Utica, New York observed Native Americans treating small cuts and various ailments with witch hazel tea. The pharmacist, Theron T. Pond, founded the T. T. Pond Company and extracted witch hazel from a plant to produce a healing cream called Golden Treasure which was later renamed Pond’s Extract. This was the first commercial use of witch hazel. Pond’s Cold Cream, specifically made for the face with witch hazel was introduced in 1905. Although cold cream has been around since ancient times, Pond’s marketing soon made his cold cream the brand to have.

Every aisle also has two brief sections called “Way Back When…” In Aisle 2 these sections are titled “The Ballpoint Pen Inspired Ban Roll On” and “Lipstick.” These sections are one paragraph long and very interesting. There are also two two page sections called “A Different Solution” which lists multiple other uses for select products. In Aisle 2 there are 10 more uses for hair spray and 7 more uses for toothpaste.

Woolworth's Lunch Counter

Image Credit: Pinterest

With 99c Solutions being modeled on the five and dime stores of yesteryear, it would not be complete without mentioning the lunch counters found in stores such as Woolworth’s. After Aisle 8 there is a  “Daily Special” section called “Lunch Counter Legends” complete with several pages of recipes for the types of food and treats served at the lunch counter. The recipes include soups, “blue plate specials,” sandwiches, sides, and of course desserts which include pies, pudding, cake, and cookies. To rinse down all of these delicious foods the customer could order coffee, milkshakes, and soda fountain drinks which included such concoctions as chocolate egg cream, lime rickey, and root beer and other types of  floats.  A section called “The Float Family” gives basic recipes for Root Beer Floats, Brown Cow, Coke Floats, Purple Cow, and Sherbet Floats.

As in the Aisles there are “The Story Behind…” sections. At the lunch counter there are stories behind Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, Chocolate Egg Cream, and Jell-O Pudding Mixes. There are “Who Knew?” blocks that discuss Gorton’s Fish Cakes and applesauce. Also included is a “Way Back When..” section that gives a brief history about Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. 

Frank Winfield Woolworth

Frank Winfield Woolworth

Image Credit: Alchetron

A larger two page section called “A Snapshot in Time…” gives historical facts about the famous Woolworth’s lunch counters. At one time America’s shopping districts were often dominated by one large general store which oftentimes was a Woolworth’s. When a dry goods worker named Frank Winfield Woolworth opened shop in Utica, New York in 1870, the Woolworth’s store was born. The first Woolworth’s to open struggled but that didn’t stop Frank from opening a second Woolworth’s in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This second store thrived.

Before the opening of Woolworth’s when Americans shopped at a general store they had to go to a store clerk and ask for what they wanted since all goods were kept behind a counter. Frank revolutionized the American shopping experience by allowing his customers to handle the merchandise and allowing them to collect the things they wanted to buy. Woolworth’s became the first store ever to allow this type of shopping. Customers loved the idea as evidenced by the way the store was thriving.

Woolworth's Ad. QNS

About this time Frank had another idea. He believed everything in his stores should be affordable. Everything at Woolworth’s was originally priced at 5 or 10 cents. Because of these two major changes made by Woolworth’s the stores became known as “five-and-dime stores.”  (Later prices rose with inflation but  still remained affordable to the average person. However the terms “five and dime” or “dime store” were still used to describe any store similar to Woolworth’s.) Revolutionary new ways of doing business made Woolworth’s stores destination shopping places. Customers could spend large blocks of time browsing in the stores. Woolworth’s stores spread across the country.

Woolworth's Menu

Image credit: Pinterest

The longer customers stayed in the stores the more likely they were to get hungry. Woolworth’s began opening lunch counters during a time when most people still ate at home. Shopping with children became easier since they loved going to the pet department and then having lunch at the counter. This is when Americans began to “eat on the go.” Almost everything on the lunch counter menu was less than 50 cents which made the lunches affordable. A customer could order a sandwich, a milkshake, and a piece of pie for around 85 cents. Working people soon realized that they too could eat lunch at Woolworth’s without breaking their budget. Teenagers began taking dates to Woolworth’s where they usually shared fries and  and Cokes made with syrup and seltzer. Grandparents could afford to take their grandchildren to Woolworth’s for treats. Sundaes and Banana Splits were served with traditional balloons. Some balloons were called “Lucky Balloons.”  To discover if their balloon was lucky, children popped the balloons. Lucky balloons had pieces of paper in them that discounted menu items to 1 cent. In effect they were fun coupons. People loved going to Woolworth’s just for the lunch counter. The lunch counters were so popular that some of them were quite large. A lunch counter in Los Angeles was 100 yards long and boasted of being “the longest lunch counter in the world” in 1937.

Employees of lunch counters and diners began to develop their own language. For example if you went to a lunch counter and told the waitress you wanted to order beef stew and crackers she would call back to the cook that she needed “Bossy in a bowl with dog biscuits.” There is a fun page included entitled “Lunch Counter Lingo” along with the “translations.” This is an interesting piece of Americana, indeed.

Since this post has gotten rather lengthy, I will  just briefly mention my 2nd and third picks from this grouping of books. My second pick is Simple Home Solutions (with Martha Stewart). I absolutely love adult picture books that show how to organize just about anything. This is the type of book that you can just “read the pictures” if you wanted to. Usually I “read pictures” with this type of book and then read the words describing anything that really gets my attention. I am living in an old fixer upper house while also renovating it so I am constantly having to juggle things around and find new and unique ways to organize things. Books like these can also serve as an inspiration for new ideas or helping to adapt concepts in practical ways to suit personal needs for storage and organization.

My third pick is Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides. Also published in 2010 this book is still applicable to today’s shopping. I always joke that I’m really good at “free and cheap.” This book just confirmed that for me! There are great strategies in this book to help anyone save money when grocery and supply shopping. There are several books of this type in existence but what I really liked about this book is that you can take a short quiz to determine your level of ability to shop cheaply. Once you determine your score from the quiz you can find out if you have everything to learn or if you fall into one of three categories: Timid Mouse, Wise Owl, or an Amazing Ant. In my opinion the beginners and Timid Mouse people should read every word of this book. It really will help you save money! Wise Owls and Amazing Ants can probably skim read the book pausing to read carefully any section they feel may help them. At the end of every chapter there are tips for any category to learn from and everyone should read the tips designated for their skill level. Everyone can learn something.


Post Script: A Word of Explanation:

Unfortunately I was going through a time of personal turmoil with multiple deaths in my family and then got locked out of my WordPress account until very recently.  Then the Pandemic hit and things were just weird for awhile with everyone being off work. However the read through the library was still happening. When I first became locked out of the account Dewey Hop was exploring the 390’s, Customs, Etiquette, & Folklore with the last post being  Death Customs. Currently the read through has reached the 640’s. Home and Family Management. For the 250 Numbers in between I will be trying to “fill them in” with shorter posts just to give Dewey Hop readers a taste of what they missed. Be sure to scroll through the old posts occasionally to see if you can discover something you missed or something I’ve slipped in!

400 Language

Sign Language

Image Credit:

Moving along in the library read through we come to the 400’s, Language. I’ve been thinking about how to approach this post for some time. I do not have time to go into all of the etymologies of multiple languages and cultures nor is it very interesting to the majority of Dewey Hop readers to just show a bunch of language dictionaries.  So after much thought I’ve decided to just discuss the 400 section itself and language resources available at the Fulton County Public Library  

400 Language

Image Credit: Feisty Froggy

As with the other Dewey Decimal system numbers, patrons find a description on the stacks about what types of books to expect from the books who call the 400 section their home. Like most small community libraries the language section at the Fulton County Public Library isn’t a huge section. Books are constantly being rotated in a library to make room for other books. As it happened on the day these pictures were taken, the 400 section jumped across an aisle. 


400 Language 2

Image Credits: Feisty Froggy

With the exception of academic libraries, I suspect even larger libraries also have a smaller language section in comparison to the rest of their collections. The number of books in any given language section depends on a variety of factors – patron demand, geographical area which may or may not deal with multiple languages, availability of resource books, etc. I suspect the most common reason that public libraries’ language sections are smaller is due to other resources being available. This is certainly true here at the Fulton County Public Library. As shown in the photos above, our library certainly does have language books. Here are a few that I checked out: 

American Sign LanguageEssential Baby Sign LanguageThe Pocket Dictionary of Signing

Image Credits: Thrift Books, Google, and Maxi Aid

Through the Literacy Department  our library assists patrons who are learning and using English as a second language. This is done through multiple avenues such as one on one instruction, online instruction and language resources available through the library’s digital resources.  To access our language digital resources a patron would go to the Fulton County Public Library homepage, click Digital Resources, then click Mango Languages. This service can be used by anyone anywhere logged in as a guest. The most popular languages to learn are Spanish, French, English, Japanese, German, and Korean. In all there are over 70 languages patrons can choose to learn. 

In addition to hard copy books, one on one instruction, and digital resources, the library often schedules live interactive programing for language related topics. Not all languages are spoken or written; some are signed and by far the most popular language program to date has been sign language courses. Most years one or two live sessions (each about 6 weeks long) have been scheduled that patrons can sign up for free of charge to learn sign language. These programs are popular with all ages of patrons. Unfortunately due to the pandemic this year most live programming has had to be cancelled and our Meeting Rooms are currently being put to important use as quarantine areas for all materials coming in to the library.

Are you fluent in a second language? If so how did you learn to speak that language? Are you interested in or do you use sign language?