A Smashing Idea

The internet is a vast wealth of information. The amount available appears to be virtually unlimited. With the scope and magnitude of change going on in the world these days, one might be crazy not to take advantage of the potential benefits. But with such a volume to sort through, how can anyone filter and retain what they hold most important?

In my quest to not have a depressing depression I have hit upon a way to accumulate many snippets of the information I find personally valuable. This smashing idea provides both the opportunity to be creative and the ability to take some of the apocalyptic urgency out of making big changes to our lifestyle. I am referring to how I record the pertinent new information I find into one or more "Smash Books".

A Smash Book is any notebook or journal you can write in. The idea is to capture your content without worrying if it is organized neatly or symmetrical. Often pieces of paper are glued onto pages, sticking out of the edges and attached with staples, tape or paper clips, thus causing the book to bulge. Over time, the book may need to be smashed shut and sometimes it is held that way with a large elastic band or ribbon. Smash books can hold a great deal of information.

Although the “Smash Book” idea has been picked up by scrapbook supply companies who sell them along with foofy what-nots to fill them up with, I have adapted them to an entirely different use. In fact if anybody else is 'smashing' their homesteading and their preparations for change, it isn’t well marked on the internet because I cannot find them anywhere.

My first Smash Book was to record information about herbs. I recorded anything I was interested in growing or thought I might find a use for given our family’s wants and needs. Sometimes I would email recipes for medicinal concoctions and instructions to myself so I could print out portions and glue them into my Smash Book. Then I discovered essential oils and at that point I grabbed a package of different colored pens so I could tell where notes on one ended and the next began.Herbs and Cooking Smashed

It was only practical to start a second Smash Book for gardening since I intended to grow much of our own food and had a very brown thumb. Thank goodness for the idea to begin this separate 'smashing' volume. I have fashioned pockets onto the pages in order to hold the tags from trees and bushes we have planted. Other pockets hold maps of what was planted when and where so we can rotate crops each year. Lists and instructions for fertilizers, soil amendments, seed varieties and seasonal dates to remember are all recorded in that book. Here I can keep each year's garden log with dates to remember what fertilizers and treatments I used for which plants.  And because it’s a “Smash Book” I can forgive myself the dirt smudges on the covers.

Likewise for excusing the tomato finger prints on my canning and cooking Smash Book. Having never been much of a cook before we moved to the mountain, I was in need of all the wisdom I could collect. Printing my favorite recipes, saving labels and parts numbers from pressure canners, food strainers and grain mill has allowed me to feign some decorum while I fake my way through looking competent as I tackle the learning process.

To engage our teen, we started a Smash Book exclusively for all things Gluten Free. Each time we convert an old favorite recipe to Gluten Free or find a new addition to what she can safely eat, it goes into her GF Smash. Now that she adds to it herself, I know she will use it for her own reference throughout life without having to recreate the wheel.

After moving to the mountain, I started crocheting our scarves, hats and mittens. The child unit picked up the “hooking” bug and began her own projects of leg warmers, head bands and boot cuffs. Low and behold, another Smash Book appeared on the shelf stuffed with patterns and pictures of various projects cut out and pasted within. It also was an ideal place to put DIY instructions for sewing bags to hold clothes pins, patterns for kitchen and garden aprons and even methods to make homemade braided rugs.

Smashing Ideas

The most recent Smash Book started is called the House Manual. Inside its front cover are the explicit instructions that explain the book belongs to the house we are modifying, not to us or our heirs. Within those pages are the instructions to operate the house. On the surface that might sound a bit silly, but after following Cog around with a clipboard and taking notes, I found it is an absolute necessity for anyone who might live here.

We have two solar panel systems feeding power into the house in different places for different purposes. The entire house has been rewired to operate through our backup whole house generator. This has necessitated more than seven electrical sub-panels and switch boxes throughout. Not even an expert or professional could navigate this without a flowchart. With five sources of electricity, two sources of water and four methods of heating, not to mention all the regular and modified maintenance issues of living in a log home, the house required a manual of its own.

House Manual

What has resulted from the Smash Book project in total is a shelf of reference books created by us and tailored to the specific needs and goals of our family. While we have many books, DVDs and printed eBooks, this compilation is my own useful “best of” where I know I can find all those gems I collected.

Another bonus to this Smashing project has been the creation of Smash Books as gifts for family members or friends. Creating a book for each of our adult children containing home remedies, “how-to” instructions and clever DIY projects may be a valued gift not far down the road.

Smash Books

For the youngest two children I have created Herb and Remedy Smash Books, each with a different Harry Potter theme. (They were both rabid fans of the HP books and familiar with Hogwarts courses in Herbology and potions.) What may appear to be a fun scrapbook is actually a hidden agenda to “punk” them into self-sufficiency and being more prepared. Cog roars with laughter at the depths of subterfuge I resort to.

I joke that as I get older I will need a memory Smash Book just to record where I have put everything as my memory fades. I think I will call it Smashing Senior Moments. In the meantime I have created an enjoyable way to record this enormous amount of information that we find most relevant and valuable to us. I highly recommend the activity to anyone finding themselves on the intensive self-sufficiency learning curve.

Herb and Remedy for Harry Potter fans

Like this article? Take a second to support Cognitive Dissonance on Patreon and gain access to exclusive Patreon Only articles!

2 thoughts on “A Smashing Idea”

  1. Good idea. I don’t know how many times I saved a link of something interesting, and spent 10 minutes trying to find out exactly which folder or sub-folder or sub-sub folder I saved it in. I have developed a better organizational strategy, but if there’s no power, I’m doomed.

    1. The amount of information available is truly staggering. Every time I think I have a handle on things, I discover how much more I don’t know. And as to the bit I do find out, it doesn’t seem to all fit in my noggin so cut and paste works for me. :-)

Leave a Reply