Writing The Second Draft

Documenting the Journey as I become who I want to be.

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

Midwest Witches Bazaar

So last weekend was super busy and just a ton of fun. Friday one of my best friends (hereby dubbed “The Artist”) came over for the weekend since we were planning to head up to the Midwest Witches Bazaar. When I first heard about this back in August I was really interested in going to the Ball too and since the theme was Steampunk I thought it’d be really awesome to finally get a steampunk getup together.  But then I took a look at things realistically and realized that, although the ticket price wouldn’t have been a problem, steampunk is a somewhat expensive pursuit. Supplies are costly and I just didn’t have the money (or time to be perfectly honest) to put together a kickass getup in time. So we opted to just go to the free/open to the public bazaar portion.

It was so cool.

A few of the folks were already in their steampunk attire but most were in just everyday clothes sitting around tables filled with a wide array of goods.  Some specialized in things like candles, clothes, tarot decks, runes, bone and horn, etc.  Whilst others had tables just filled with all kinds of varying objects, stones, oil diffusers, incense, books, jewelry, all manner of ‘witchy’ things. I won’t point out any favorites (to be frank I spent more than I should have and STILL didn’t get all the cool stuff I wanted!) but there is a list of vendors on the website most of which have websites of their own you can check out (Although I think we all know how witchy websites are so it’s really a much better experience in person).

I spent entirely too much money over the course of the weekend much of which was spent at the bazaar on items I’d been looking for but not yet found anywhere except online with exorbitant shipping costs. I have to say, nothing ticks me off more than when the shipping cost of an item is more than the cost of the item itself.


4 chime candlesBlank Ceramic Chime Candle Holder*
Crystal Quartz Heart*
Spiral wire ‘cage’ *
Tea Ball*
The Steampunk Tarot
Runecaster’s Handbook, the well of wyrd*
Mortar and Pestle*

This list is much shorter than I realized… but still worth every penny haha. I also picked up some stuff for other peoples.  Asterisked items are the ones that I had specifically been needing/searching for so, ID SAY THATS PRETTY GOOD YEAH!? The steampunk tarot was kind of on a whim, but I’ve been wanting to dig into tarot for a while and well, I quite like the steampunk aesthetic (most of the time, The Artist and I were singing  Just Glue Some Gears on It along a necessary ATM run xDD)  There were readers and other services too. The Artist found and got a henna tattoo which the lady doing that was really cool and we all chatted whilst the henna was being drawn. She was really cool and we all seemed to get along pretty well. One regret is that we didn’t get her name or a business card (SO COOL HENNA LADY IF YOU SOMEHOW FIND AND READ THIS, WE’D LIKE TO BEFRIEND YOU =D )

That kinda leads me to the other semi-regret I had, I kind of wanted to strike up some hardcore conversation with folks about the witchy stuff but seeing as we were only there for the vending portion I would’ve felt bad for taking time from customers, especially if they didn’t have something for me to buy (For example the rune guy, I would’ve loved to stay and talk heathenism and runes with him but I didn’t see anything I needed/wanted to buy from his table as I have two sets of runes right now and am also in process of carving my own.) So hopefully next year I’ll be able to attend the ball portion and chill with these cool folks.

But overall it was very fun (10/10 would totes recommend) and I’m most definitely looking forward to attending next year!

Get Home Bag

Many survivalists these days seem to idolize the Bug Out Bag.  That is, survival kit generally housed in a backpack or other easily portable pack that you have in case you ever have to ‘bug out’ that is, escape, evacuate, or otherwise flee your home. Some people have them set up to help them survive 72 hrs  or to help them get to either a bug out location or to just get them far enough from civilization to go live off the land in the woods.

I’m not here to talk about bugging out though. My current situation is that I see only a few potential emergencies that would make me want to bug out and abandon my prepped home for an unknown or unprepared location and their likelihoods are pretty small. What a more realistic situation would be say, ending up stranded on the road or at work due to car trouble or  inclement weather perhaps. Or even in case of another type of emergency, my biggest worry is about getting home. Home is where I’m prepped. Oh sure I know the general bushcraft style survival stuff. If I got stuck in the woods overnight I’d be just fine. But I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to run out of my house and head for the hills. But I’ll have to explain my thoughts on bugging out vs bugging in on another post  haha. I keep veering off topic.

What I’m trying to talk about right now is what I call a “Get Home Bag” and the reason I keep bring up b.o.b’s is because they’re generally similar. They’re both survival kits with a specific purpose: to help you travel safely.

Now, when you build a Get Home Bag, you’re going to want to consider a few things

What is your Origin point?

That is, where is it most likely that you’re going to be traveling FROM to get home?

For me, that’s work. It’s the only place I go to nearly every day, not to mention it’s probably the farthest I travel. Which it’s only about 15 minutes away by car so I guess that tells you quite a bit about how often I get out of the house P: It’s about 6 miles from my home.

What is your fitness level?

Now, I’m not a fantastic survivalist or anything. I’m overweight and out of shape (though I’ve been exercising just about every day it’s a slow process to get fit) . And While my work is only about 6 miles away, that’s not a distance I’m used to walking, and depending on the emergency I might have to take a route with rougher terrain than I’m used to if I want to avoid main roads and such.

If I am walking at a comfortable pace on flat terrain I go about 1.5 miles in 30 minutes. In an emergency situation I’m sure it’ll be a bit different but let’s use this as a base for now.  At my normal walking pace it’ll take me about 2 hours to get home in ideal conditions. But even on rough terrain and inclement weather I don’t expect it to take me more than half a day to get home.  So as you can guess, the pack I’ve chosen for my ‘get home’ bag is relatively small and it’s most important feature is that it’s a hydration pack.

Your Pack

My pack is a High Sierra pack, (Replenish model iirc) that I picked up several years ago at costco for about $20-$30. My brother ended up using it more than I did until it got packed away and lost in his storage until we cleaned it out last year. He had his own hydration pack by then and so he gave it back to me.  It’s got a 2 liter reservoir, and 550 cubic inch capacity. It’s got quite a few nifty features too. It’s obviously specifically made as a biker’s pack (what with the helmet mesh and the bicycle pump sleeve) but I think it’ll work for my purposes as well.

What will you need?

Or rather, what do you think you will need?

Even though I’ve established that it wont’ take me longer than maybe half a day, I still want to be prepared in case something drastic happens. So the top 5 things of survival are what?  Water, Food, Shelter, Fire, Safety.

Now, with my pack, I’ve got 2 liters of water. Less than the suggested 1gal/day but I do tend to have at least one other water bottle that holds roughly a liter, so at 3 liter’s that’s pretty darn close.

Water, Check.

For food I’ve packed a couple fiber/protein bars a pack of ramen and a pack of beef jerky. The ramen is in case I am stuck either overnight or in rough weather to the point where it’s safer to camp out than to keep going. But I do intend to add some more ready to eat foods that require no prep whatsoever.  None of this is meant to sustain me for an extended period of time or anything, just keep my belly full so I can keep my head clear.

Food, Check.

I’m not expecting to need shelter, but even so if somehow it’s a worst-case-scenario and the weather is inclement enough that it’s safer to stay put for a while I have some plans in place. Right now, in my bag, I only have two of those ’emergency blankets’  which will do in a pinch. I also have several yards of cordage (I have some standard woven nylon and some paracord.). These alone are adequate enough to make a primitive shelter and if nothing else I can use one of the blankets to keep from getting too wet or cold.  However I don’t feel that this is good enough so I plan to add a tarp and military poncho which I already own but are not with me at the moment, they’re packed in some boxes I need to have shipped, but those items will go into my g.h.b as soon as they are back in my possession.

Shelter, Mostly Check.

Once again I’m not expecting to need fire, but just in case I do have a ‘fire kit’, it’s an altoids tin that I have several fire-starting options in. Firestraws, a mini bic lighter, char cloth, and storm matches.  I intend to also add a tube of carmex as I hear that it can extend the burn period of tinders but of course I’ll probably test that out on my own first. Now, outside the fire kit, the main purpose of fire (in my opinion) is warmth, and since I’m not expecting to have to find a place to make a fire, I am expecting to need warmth, so I’m also planning to add some of those hand/foot warming packets or maybe even one of those zippo hand warmers.

Fire, Check

Now, Safety covers kind of a broad range. It can be signaling, navigation, security, etc. Whatever you need it to be to make sure you get home safe. In this section I have my first aid kit, nothing spectacular but just a small one I picked up somewhere.  I have a combination Whistle/Compass/signal mirror contraption. I don’t have any weapon at the moment but I intend to add a handgun when I can afford it.  I don’t really have to worry about navigation as I know my area pretty well, but if I have to take roundabout paths a map would come in handy so I’m planning to add that too.

Safety, semicheck

How will you travel?

Another thing to think about is just how you plan to get home. In case you can’t tell I’m more or less prepped to hike it. But if your main transportation you’re counting on will be a car make sure you account for problems that could arise. It would also be prudent to keep a separate car-emergency kit in your trunk (which I’ll probably discuss when I put mine together) filled with things like road flares/signals, fix-a-flat, etc. Same goes for if you’re on a bike or whatever, keep a patch and repair kit, air pump, whatever you think you’ll need.

<enter a few pictures here>

So just by going through these questions and going over those 5 key areas I can see what I need to do to make my get home bag better. Also, just because we’re prepping for the worst-case scenario doesn’t mean we should neglect the more likely small things. For example I also keep cash in small bills in case I can get home with just a taxi or if I need to get some gas.   Adjust your kit to fit your needs, otherwise you’ll be carrying a bunch of junk you just won’t use. And don’t be afraid to start small. Remember: The best survival gear is the gear you have with you.  Something is better than nothing.

Wallet-Making Take 2

So, I didn’t have enough left of that nice thick dark leather that I was planning to make my billfold wallet out of. But I do have this lighter, thinner leather that I think would make a nice minimalist pocket style wallet.

Something like the Journeyman offered by Tanner Goods [Here] would be ideal.

Seriously go take a look at that fancy shit, it’s beautiful. Now obviously I’m not expecting mine to come out so nicely. After all this is my first time doing any sort of leatherwork really. You can’t expect to paint a masterpiece the first time you pick up a brush :U  In any case I decided to base my design off of this since it looks easy enough, and being mechanically minded as I am I figured how it’s put together pretty easily.

For my wallet, just cut up two pieces and matched them up as best I could but uh… Now I know why the pros use a hydraulic press with a cutting mold, whereas I used a metal straightedge and a box cutter. So the mirror image isn’t exactly there, close enough though.  Next I cut up two more sheets to act as the outside ‘pockets’.  One I accidentally cut horribly short  and while I realized that I could totally flip it and make a sort of sideways pocket, I opted for the lazy/minimalist option and decided that one outside ‘pocket’ was good enough for me P:

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Next came the all important part of puncturing the leather for the needle and thread to get through!

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I pulled out my awl and mowed through the bottom edge of my first big piece, using only the awl and a whack with the palm of my hand. Now I know why the pros also have either strong ass sewing machines or a the very least rawhide mallets. Ow. So then I realized that I had to make sure somehow that these would line up right with the other pieces.

For the first line I just lined up the pieces as well as I could, inside out, and stuck my sewing needle through the holes in my first piece, to lightly puncture the second piece. I would use these little holes as a reference were to place the awl and punch through.

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You can see pretty good the difference in size of the awl holes and the needle marks. The next step was to pin the corners together using some thumbtacks pops had lying around and poke the rest of the holes to match the second piece, and then follow suit with the sides of the pockets that would get stitching.

2013-10-05 15.08.39

The thread I’m using is a durable heavyduty thread in a sort of steely silver that I’ve used in the past to stitch simple book bindings early last year (the books didn’t warrant such a thread but my mother was pretty adamant). And I think it’ll contrast nicely with the color of leather that I have. So after punching through the leather scraps, it was time to sew them together!

I did this by hand as I don’t have any kind of sewing machine at the moment, not to mention i don’t even know you can do this kind of thing with a sewing machine. The stitching may not be perfect but it’s more than strong enough to hold this thing together hopefully for a long time! Or at least long enough for me to purchase more leather and try again =D

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Now, unfortunately when I got to the ends I had no idea how to knot them up properly. So I just tried to wing it. But uh… That proved itself a bad idea pretty quick as one of the knots started coming undone immediately. So I resorted to supergluing the knots into place.  Next time I’ll put more research into that part =w=;;;.

It should hold for a good while though and I can re-stitch it if need be. The only thing I need to figure out now is sealing the outside edges together so they don’t pull up. I noticed when I put them in my pocket one of the layers on the corner likes to catch and pull up so I’ll have to figure out how that’s done.

But, a project  completed and I’m super pleased with the result!


Survival How-to: Fire Straws

The other day I was planning to have a little bonfire in the back yard but… nope. The weather was raining off and on all day so, bonfire for entertainment purposes not so good an idea. I was tempted to try anyways but I would be the only one out there and the firepit’s already been set up for family enjoyment. (one of my bros already set up logs and stuff. ) So instead, I did a little crafting inside, I made fire straws!

I first read about these a couple years ago, and it’s a really simple premise!  You take a plastic straw cut to whatever length you want,  melt one end shut, fill it with something, and melt the other end shut!

I’ve seen these used for things like a single dose of neosporin or toothpaste or other things too. But the use that interested me most was the ‘fire straw’ where it’s filled with some type of tinder. So here’s what I did, step-by-step so you can make some too!

You will need:

Plastic Straws
Needlenose Pliers

Lighter (or other open-flame)

1.  Take your straw and cut it to your desired length mine were roughly an inch.
2.  Pinch one end with your pliers and hold it shut with a little bit overhanging the end of the pliers

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3.  Run your flame under  the overhanging bit to melt it together. While it’s still malleable you can pinch down the seal with your pliers to make it flat.

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4.  Take your cotton ball and pull it apart into more manageable strips of fluff.

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5.  Take the fluff and a toothpick and stuff your straw with the fluff!  Be careful not to use too much pressure or your toothpick could puncture a side, defeating the purpose of keeping your tinder waterproof!

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6.  Fill it up until you have just enough space to pinch down the end with your pliers with a bit of overhang once again.

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7.  Repeat step 3 on this other end and ta-da! You’ve got a fire straw!

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The purpose of firestraws is to keep a bit of tinder dry in your kit (I keep mine in my fire kit which I try to have waterproofed anyways, but they’re so small they can fit just about anywhere you want to stash ’em)  I made a total of 6 of these and have those in my kit right now.  One thing I have read is that some people will dip their cotton in petroleum jelly to make it burn longer and that kind of thing, but I haven’t tried that yet.


So why don’t you try and make your own firestraws and tell me how it goes! Or if you’ve made your own before or have other ideas of what to store in these mini-containers leave a comment!

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