Friday, April 5, 2013

Prepping reference binder

Today was cold, windy, and rainy -- hideous weather for doing anything outside. It was a good day for doing an indoor project, and I had something very specific in mind.

For the last several years, I've been accumulating prepping-related info on my computer. If I see something interesting online, I copy-and-paste it into a Word document, and save it in a file. I've acquired quite a collection of information -- everything from making ash lye for soap to how to build an ice house, and lots of stuff in between. Bottom line, it would be a valuable reference collection in a "bleep" situation.

Except, of course, it's all on my computer.

Whatever is on my computer would be useless in a power-down situation. I wouldn't be able to access it, I wouldn't be able to print it. In short, I may as well not have it at all.

So, I needed to print it all and keep it in a binder. And today, with the girls out of the house, it seemed like as good a day as any to get started.

I brought my printer into the kitchen in hopes of babying it through this project. My old, faithful, saintly printer finally died after 15 years and tens of thousands of pages of trouble-free use. We purchased an identical replacement off eBay last week, but it's been making funny noises so I wasn't sure it would be up for the sudden demand for its services.

First thing I did was create a subfolder on my computer designating which files had been printed. Then, as I printed, I moved the file to the "Printed" section so I could keep track. I also created another subfolder for recipes, since I had so many. These aren't necessarily prepper-related recipes, just interesting-sounding stuff I've copied over the last few years.

And then I started printing. I printed and printed and printed, for hours and hours.

I stapled each file and put it in an ever-growing pile.

As the printed material piled up, I began noticing distinct categories. I finally ended up with nine separate areas.

And then, half-way through a large file on pressing sunflower seed oil, my "new" old printer just up and died. Kaboom. Oh bleep. I had 62 files in my "Printed" folder, and 33 more files to go in my unprinted section.

Well, not much I could do about it, so I gathered up what material I had printed and started separating and hole-punching it.

I found an old binder and some used binder separators and began making labels. ("Farming" fit better than "Homesteading.")

Soon I had everything tucked neatly away in the binder.

I'm nowhere near done -- only two-thirds of the way -- but there's lots of room in the binder. And meanwhile it gives me a more secure feeling to have a physical copy of what could someday become very important information.

The nice part about this system is I can now copy-and-paste interesting information as I find it, but won't have to worry about getting mixed up between what files I've printed and what files I haven't, since all printed files are in their own subfolder.

Like all preppers, we've accumulated an impressive library of reference books over the years, and this is just another addition to that library.

You might consider doing the same thing!


  1. I have been wanting to do this for a long time too. Mine are actually not all on my computer, most were emailed to myself. I have recently become unemployed, so I guess this is as good a time as any!


  2. Paper records are indispensable!

  3. I use my Pinterest boards in the same way because it was easier for me to do it that way than find bookmarks on my computer - and really need to go back and do it the way you have...copying info into Word and printing off - great idea! thanks.

  4. This is awesome. I've had similar thoughts over the years...I'm even buying some midwifery textbooks.

  5. Patrice,

    Great idea to have printed out materials stored in a hard binder for quick reference with or without electric.

  6. years ago, back in the old commodore computer days i learned really fast that if something on my computer is important to me- whether it is e-mail or whatever, print out a hard paper copy of it anyway...just in case. prepping and survival, and self sustaining stuff, sewing/crafts and recipes go into loose leaf binders and the rest goes into the box that the printer paper originally came in- i print out less these days, but still do it..many times i have found websites taken down yet i still have the info and can make copies.

  7. I've been doing that for two years now. I print them off, little by little, so I can swing the printing (I don't have a printer, but the library isn't too expensive). I figured in a power grid loss situation, I wanted to have the material on hand.

  8. A category I notice is missing is clothing. My daughter is taking sewing lessons from an extremely experienced seamstress. In fact she makes Haute Couture quality clothing. We have learned from her that a custom fit, generic pattern for a person is called a sloper. It's made from the same kind of material as a manilla folder, called "oak tag". This of course would be a master, and a pattern would be made from the sloper with appropriate modifications for the style of the finished garment. A sloper for every family member certainly seems like an appropriate addition to your collection of prepper items. Then, what about fabric, or do we make it? Our teacher certainly prefers "older" sewing machines because they have metal parts that will not break as easily as plastic parts. These machines are easily found for cheap pricing, and I suppose would need a generator to run them. (Unless it's a trundle sewing machine?). I guess I am e-thinking out loud here.
    Blessings, DWLee3 Bend, Oregon

    1. This is good stuff, DW. For those who may not be able to swing a sloper, a well-fitting garment can be saved and used for a pattern in a pinch. Good for your daughter! Her Mama clearly raised her right. :)

      I've collected and stored a fair amount of fabrics and notions, and am always on the lookout for duvets and sheets and blankets, especially flannel sheets.

      And a treadle machine is indispensable for a well prepared seamstress looking to carry on in the face of 'the end of the world as we know it.'


  9. You lost me at "subfolder."

    I gotta go back and read this post again. This sounds cool. I usually just bookmark.

    Just Me

  10. Thanks for the reminder, I've needed to do this for a while. I like the idea of tracking what has been printed. Guess I'd better get to find that dental info.....

  11. The thrift stores around here all have piles of used printers. I've found printer/copier/scanner combo's for $5. Just make sure that they don't need toner. That stuff gets very expensive very quickly.

  12. I have done the same but with all my homeschooling curriculum. I download many free worksheets, lessons, etc. and one day I thought what good is all this going to do me if the power goes down one day. So now I call myself the binder junkie because they are all over the place with materials we might use one day.

  13. I've done something similar - I've sent the documents to my Kindle. The Kindle will hold an amazing number of documents!

  14. Love it! I have to get this done! I don't have much saved to my computer, though. I think i'll start with your categories, see what books I have on those topics already, then fill in the gaps in the binder.... hmmmmmm..... or maybe.... :)

  15. I would love to see the "list." Great ideas for what we need to get ready for.

  16. OOOh, I like it. I love binders and labels and organization. :) I have something similar, but with far less info than you. We have a lot of books, though. I couldn't agree more about the computer not being the best place to store important stuff! Those darn things die so often (at least in my experience) & eat everything I'd saved on them.

    Now I'm all inspired....

  17. So far I have 3 of these binders. My daughters made up the first 2 for me when they got sick of how much stuff I had stashed on the 'puter. That doesn't count the recipes- those get their own binders. One for recipes tried and approved, one for recipes yet untried. On top of that I try to have some real books on the subjects; where there is no Dentist, Physicians Desk reference (that one was pricy!) Different people learn in different ways so having more than one source for important things could be handy.

  18. Binders are awesome, I have a 'prepping' binder and I also included medical information in mine not just for humans, but also our critters...goats, chickens, rabbits, cows, horses...I also have a recipes section, homemade cleaner section, a how to sterilize water section and much more...I also added sub categorys to mine...anyway,I think these are a must have for any one that likes to be prepared and have info at their fingertips quickly!

  19. I had so many things to keep - I got separate binders and used the following categories - 1) health and medical 2) communications (for group networking and radio type information-we're HAMS) 3)garden 4) food preservation 5)self-defense 6)recipes

  20. I actually enjoy bad weather and a big snowstorm is the best. It gives me a chance to stand up against mother nature and gives me confidence I can. It is an opportunity to test my bad weather clothing and to see what can be accomplished. It is also interesting that in the first 15 minutes or so you might be cold or uncomfortable but you quickly acclimatize to it and become enured to the storm.

  21. Partice: Do yourself a big favor and buy a new printer that does two sided printing. My wife is a third grade teacher and used to buy three cases of paper a year. The school limits teahers to 1000 copies or prints per year, and with 31 kids that is about three weeks worth. When her home printer (identical to yours) finally "bit the weenie" as we used to say in Missouri. I decided to do some research. I found a Brother wireless laser printer that does two sided printing. I waited for sales and found one for $199. The high capacity cartridges print 4000 to 5000 sheets (one side) and cost $124 each. They never seem to go on sale. We have bought recycled cartridges over the net for $65, and they work fine. Her paper usage has been cut more than in half, obviously. The paper savings pay for the extra expense, and you get the "space dividend" -- half the binders, and therefore half the space consumed on your shelf. I went for the $29 three year warranty because I knew this printer would see near constant use. Overall I would say it was a bargain. The wireless feature allows you to print from anywhere which is a nice deal, since you can set up and spread out in the kitchen and collect your work where the printer is. The wireless feature konked out on hers after two years, and they just handed us a new printer right then and there. I of course swapped the cartridge out with a dead one before returning. -- R.B in L.A

  22. No worries, nearly every single sheet of paper in this binder is printed on both sides. I **never** waste paper. Any spare scrap I have gets put in a file for printing drafts on the clean side. However I appreciate the tip for a printer since I guess I'm now in the market for one.

    - Patrice

  23. I used to do something similar - I had binders and binders of recipe/crafting/travel, etc ideas. Then, I started using Evernote (for grabbing articles and lists) and Pinterest (when I just want to categorize visual inspiration, such as decor or recipes). That helped me reduce the space it took to store the binders. (And space is in short supply... I live in an under 500 sq ft home!)

    I'm much happier being able to access all of my notes while on the go with my phone or locally on my computer. I never have to worry about losing them, as anything in Evernote is safely and securely stored in The Cloud. :)

    It makes it very easy to share my notes too. I can attach them to an email or share them via a link.

  24. It warms my heart, Patrice, to see someone else besides me who is still using a 20-year-old Hewlett-Packard HP 5L LaserJet printer!

  25. This inspired me to do the same with my lists of thing saved on my computer! I am all about organization so my house is full of these kinds of binders. If I ever find the time I'll be able to get all those crafts done I've been wanting to do!
    Shelly Slader |