Sunday, November 5, 2017

Apple Pie Bar Cookies

Cinnamon Oatmeal BarsAutumn is finally here and I always get the need to bake things that are warm and full of spices.  I love the way it makes my house smell and am greatly rewarded by praise from the family.

Image result for MUSSELMAN'S Apple ButterOne simple recipe I am naming  Apple Pie Bar Cookies because they taste just like a slice of apple pie with the yummy struesel topping. 

They are apple-ie, buttery, and crunchy all at the same time.  And most of all they are EASY!  Ridiculously easy!  You must try them because you will be rewarded!  I'm thinking you could change these up with any fruit jam or butter.  Can you imagine how yummy they would be with strawberry, cherry, or peach?  I have to make double batches of this because otherwise they are gone in an instant. I use musselman's apple butter, but use what you like.

Apple Pie Bar Cookies

  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 3/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 c MUSSELMAN'S Apple Butter
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced thin.  Only use granny smiths because they hold their shape and have better texture!

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8 x 8 baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Line with heavy-duty foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides to facilitate removal of bars from pan. Coat foil with cooking spray.

Mix flour, oatmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in butter with a fork until well mixed and clumps form, and then spread half the oatmeal mixture over foiled pan bottom, pressing to form a thin crust. Spread butter over crust  and then put sliced apples in a single layer across that. Then sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture on top.

Bake until crisp and golden brown, 30 to 40 min. Cool to room temperature. Use foil “handles” to remove bars from pan. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 16 servings

Monday, October 30, 2017

Chanterelle Mushroom Hunting With Kids

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoorLast year my family moved to the southern Oregon Coast and what an amazing place it is to live.  I was raised in the desert, where things only grew if you irrigated non stop.  Living here where there is lots of rain is so amazing.  One of the best things is that there is so much food growing in the woods and also in the ocean for those willing to make an effort.  After trying Chanterelle mushroom I must say I am addicted.  They taste amazing and have a wonderful meaty texture.

Image may contain: 1 person, plant, tree, outdoor and nature
Fall mushroom hunting season has just begun and so we have been up every other day to play in the woods just a few minutes from our house.  Its so beautiful that even if we didn't find any I would still be happy. My children come with me and my youngest son loves to hunt, and eat, mushrooms.  I stick to the very easy to identify mushrooms as I'm too nervous to enjoy something I'm not absolutely sure about.

A frog we found looking for a princess
Bringing your children mushroom hunting is an education that cant be replaced.  I teach them about woodcraft, how to identify areas where certain wild foods are most likely to grow, safety from wild predators as we have bear, cougars, and coyotes (though we have yet to see any thank goodness), observations of animals we see, and also the importance of taking care of our wild places.

Image may contain: food and indoorWhere we consistently found the chanterelles was next to paths where the soil was loose and they got a little sunlight.  Also the ground had to be damp.  Also lots of other ground mushrooms growing was a good indicator that you would find chanterelles growing nearby. This pic is of our finds from a few hours yesterday.

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Identified as turkey tail, medicinal use
 I am not an environmentalist or a green advocate. They seem to think humans are evil and the source of all destruction. But I see humanity as a great source of good for our planet in many ways.  My father was a hunter and wild food gatherer and taught me that if we want our children's children to be able to hunt, fish, or just enjoy nature we must preserve it and care for it.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What is the true example of how hate filled our country is at present?

What is the true test of hatred in a country?  How can you tell if a country is truly bigoted or racist.  It is when disaster strikes. Today you can find COUNTLESS pictures and stories of ordinary people putting themselves in great danger, spending days unpaid, and spending their own money to go hundreds of miles to help SAVE ANYONE they find regardless of race or color.  THis is supposadly in one of the most conservative, and therefore, the most bigoted part of our country (when you listen to the media).  Even more telling is that they seek no special recognition and in fact on the whole shy away from it.  They just see others needing help and they GO.

During any disaster what I see is thousands of Americans reaching out to those in need.  For the most part these people are the conservative, redneck, gun toting, hunting demographic who the media and political groups tell us are all bigoted race haters! REALLY???? 

What happened on 9-11, hurricane Katrina, the wildfires, the tornadoes, the terrible winter storms? What do we see? We see Americans helping Americans! And that help crosses all race, gender, and ideological lines! America is still a great nation of people. We still care for our neighbors and even for perfect strangers no matter what their color or religion. 

Would that happen if true racism existed? If hate was truly endemic to our nation?  No of course not.  

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Texas Sheet Cake - A Standby Dessert At My House

Here is a recipe for a favorite dessert at my house.  Every time I make it my family raves, and I have taken it to several get together's and people LOVE it! It is rich, chocolaty, and moist. The reason I love it is it's easy to make, fast, and feeds a crowd.  I like it topped with homemade whipped cream.  This would be perfect to take to a fall picnic or other autumn get together.  Click HERE to get and easy printable version.

Photo Credit from All Recipes

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Making Pickled Grapes

I know, why would you want to pickle grapes after all? And what the heck do they taste like?  But trust me these are worth it. They make a wonderful condiment for chicken or turkey, and are a very special gift for that food gourmet in your life. 

I got the recipe from that pickling Bible 

The Joy Of Pickling 

which I think any serious or even pottering home cook should own.  She has such an abundance of recipes from fermented pickles, Asian pickles and fruit pickles that you can really find a recipe for anything you have too much of at the moment!  And as with most cookbooks that I actually deem worthy of purchasing (I am so pathetically cheap) it is a highly entertaining book with tons of history of the different types of pickles and how they came to be in different cultures.  

Well on to how I first tried pickling grapes.  I actually received a box of beautiful green interlaken grapes from a friend and had way to much to use before they went off, but certainly not enough to make jelly.  Interlaken are small green seedless grapes that are similar I suppose to champagne grapes in looks but not flavor of course.  Well now I was in a conundrum!  I hate to waste any food but had no way to use them up and I remember reading in the above book about pickled grapes.  What the heck I thought!  If we don't like them we can throw them to the chickens!  Rather than cutting the grapes in half I pickled them whole as they were so tiny and the results were just delicious.  They aren't vinegary or salty at all but more like whole cranberry sauce only grape flavored.  My very picky family just loved it and we ate them with roasted chicken and it was at the table for Thanksgiving.  This also is a wonderfully easy recipe which also earns brownie points for me.  So this year with grapes on a great sale I bought a bunch just for making into pickles.  I used her dark grape recipe and these are called midnight beauties and are seedless eating grapes.  But I will say that I liked the results from the smaller whole grapes much better.  You can often find interlaken grapes at farmers markets, or use some other seedless small grape.




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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sorry I've been gone!

I have not posted in the longest time and feel incredibly guilty to leave my readers hanging.  There has been allot going on, but it wouldn't have been a problem if my health hadn't of taken a big hit.  I got a double ear infection and then had a severe allergic reaction, which the doctors took forever to figure out, to the antibiotic I was put on.  I ended up being ambulanced from the urgent care to the ER and being put on morphine (not fun).  Plus I still have the ear infections!  I've never in my life been in so much pain, and I gave birth with no pain killers!

Next week however I turn over a new leaf.  I have lots of things to share and am excited to get a fresh start!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Using Unripe Apples

One year  I made a mistake on when to harvest the apples.  I thought they were green apples and so I harvested them only to find out that, no, they are most likely Galas.  So  I had two huge five gallon buckets filled with green unripe apples!  I couldn't even consider just throwing them out, what a waste!   But searching around my books I did not find one recipe for unripe apples.  Then I started researching it on the internet and found that you can use them for apple jelly.  In fact unripe apples contain much more pectin (which aids in jelling) than ripe apples so this would be a good use for them.  I processed them just as you would regular apples by first making juice from them and then getting on with the jelly process.

My only change was that although the recipe said to just cut them up core and all into the pot to make the juice I cut out the core for a few reasons.  You should know that apple seeds contain natural cyanide that can poison a person if, say, you ate like forty apples including cores in one sitting. So with that in mind I did the following.  First these apples are much smaller than store bought due to being under-ripe so you would have many more core to apple ratio than in a standard recipe upping possible cyanide, also the seeds themselves would be less mature and soft so much more likely to leach the cyanide into the boiling juice, third much of the cores were infested with worms so I just cut them out.  By the way never feed whole apples to rabbits!  They eat the seeds and die from cyanide poisoning!  We had this happen once!

Everything worked fine and now I have 10 pints of apple jelly.  It tastes like it should and I will use it on toast or to glaze ham, chicken, or pork chops.

This would be a very good way to use up green apples that fall to the ground before their time.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fried Apples - Old Fashioned Cooking

After reading the Little House books I was interested in trying out the idea of fried apples.  This was an accompaniment to dinners and breakfasts in the book Farmer Boy.  So I looked it up on the net and then added my own tweaks. Fried apples are really delicious and are perfect for cold evenings.  This is really good with pork or chicken or with a hearty breakfast.  Easy to do too, as long as you have lots of apples.  I buy my apples in bulk from an orchard for 50 cents a lb. and got 125 lbs. so I have lots of apples to play with.  The cooking time varies depending on how many apples you use and what variety. You want to use a cooking or baking apple like galas, granny smith, etc..  I use a mixture of them.  Here's the recipe

Take 10 large apples or less if your feeding less but this reheats well


Then slice into 1/4 in slices

In your skillet melt 1 stick of butter and add apples and then cook over medium high heat adjusting if apples are burning

When apples start to get soft grate over some nutmeg if you like and add one teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Mix up well.  When the apples start to caramelize and get brown they are done.  Serve with breakfast or a dinner of chicken or pork.  Serve warm or hot.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday Favorite Things - Pie Safe Love

Pie safes were a eminently practical item that every country housewife owned at the turn of the century.  Most women had a baking day where they baked all the bread, pies, muffins, and treats for their family in one fell swoop.  They then needed a safe place too keep their baked goods that kept mice and bugs out, but still provided ventilation.  The punched tin not only was decorative, but functional.  I have been wanting a pie safe of my own for years.  Sigh... someday!
Green Pie Safe ...~♥~...I would love to get a hold of one of these beauties:
Homestead Revival: Pie Safe Love! Farmhouse kitchen decor.:
Antique 1860's Primitive Farm Built Punch Tin Pie Safe Jelly Cupboard:
Pie Safe. Gorgeous  AND I don't know why I find them so irresistible :):
Grandma's Window Screen Pie Safe... Very interesting Website for Old Type Farm - Survival homestead:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

How to make your own dryer balls

I found a great post over at Cuckoo For Coupon Deals HERE on how you can make your own dryer balls. Dryer balls are made from wool and are a great natural way to dry your laundry faster and soften your clothes without chemicals.

They actually work and I love mine!

how to make homemade wool dryer balls

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cheap Easy Effective Homemade Laundry Soap

For years I have been buying very expensive all natural laundry soap from the store because my eldest son has allergies to any synthetic cleaners.  I have learned so much about natural versus synthetic products directly because of his horrible eczema .  It turns out his eczema is caused by any soaps, cleaners, and even air fresheners that are not all natural.

Laundry detergent was one of the most difficult things to find back when we started our journey towards all natural.  It also was the most important because of course clothing rests right on the skin and would cause instant rashes to break out.  The worst was fabric softener or dryer sheets so I haven't used those in nine years but instead use Wool Dryer Balls which work just as well and has the bonus of keeping being all natural.  Click HERE to buy them.  They really are a great investment.  I have had mine for SIX years and they are still working to soften my laundry.  To add scent just put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on them.

Back to the laundry detergent.  I read on several blogs on how ladies made their own and how it was not only all natural, but also ridiculously cheap working out to less than 10 cents per load!  For some reason I never tried it, mainly thinking it would be to complicated, would take lots of time, and it would not work as well as store bought.  Well I was wrong on all counts!  It takes me about ten minutes to make it and the stuff works great and leaves a very pleasing scent on the clothes.  This is nice because we haven't been  able to use fragrance on our clothes since eldest son was born.  Oh and of course it has not aggravated a eczema breakout in the least!  Click HERE for a complete package deal.

I would recommend this to anyone wanting to use all natural laundry detergent that is cheaper than the cheapest regular laundry soap!

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar fels naptha laundry soap

Grate fels naptha and mix with the dry ingredients. I use just a regular cheese grater. Make sure to mix well!  Use 2 to 3 tablespoons for large loads.  It will not suds up like other laundry detergents do so it is safe in your front loader.  I also add a scoop of oxy clean because we have small children who get their clothes really dirty!

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Oven German Pancakes/Dutch Babies - Super Delicious, Inexpensive, and Easy!

German Pancakes II Recipe
Photo Credit AllRecipes
Right now I am trying to shift from store bought easy breakfasts like cereals for my family.  Not only are they expensive, but they are highly processed with doubtful ingredients, preservatives, and GMO's!  It has been a challenge because I am NOT a morning person.  It takes me a good hour plus coffee to get up to par. Our mornings start horrifically early as our children have to be out the door by 6:45 to get to school.  Fortunately, I wake up at 5 am every morning without fail or alarm clock.  Years of breastfeeding babies have trained my internal clock to wake up like that so I usually have an hour to get primed for the morning rush.  My children do not like things that would go into a crockpot like oatmeal or cornmeal mush.  But I think I have finally found a winning recipe that not only is easy, but healthy, delicious, and filling.

The recipe, of course, is German Pancakes, also called Dutch Babies.  Could we love it because I am part Dutch :)?  This is simply a puffed oven pancake that serves a family of 6 easily.  I like it because while my coffee is brewing I simply throw the four ingredients into my mixer, melt the butter in my cast iron skillet and preheat the oven.  Then throw it in and 1/2 hour to 45 min later I have a hot filling breakfast for my children.  I love it topped with powdered sugar and berries.  It can also be topped with maple syrup, honey, molasses, stewed fruits, or plain powdered sugar. 

Because it has 6 eggs in it the protein helps my family feel full longer and helps with energy in the morning.  If I were to make just eggs and toast for breakfast we would need about 18 to feed our family.  The other reason this is a time saver for me is because while it is baking I can get on with other morning chores such as making lunches, starting laundry, and assisting the kids get ready for school.

I found the recipe on all recipes, but also have found another recipe that calls for fewer eggs if you need to stretch them and has a much more detailed instruction.  I am going to try it tomorrow.

My children absolutely LOVE these and literally have pleaded with me to make them.  Talk about a hit!  So if you're looking for an easy and healthy recipe for your family breakfasts try this one.  Click HERE to go to the Allrecipes post.  Or go HERE to see the alternative recipe for fewer eggs at a great site called Recipes From a German Grandma.  Love the name :)


Original recipe makes 6 servings        

1/4 cup butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1/8 teaspoon salt



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Melt butter in a medium baking dish (best if you use cast iron).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, milk, eggs and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake on center rack in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve while still warm.

Monday, May 22, 2017

How to get a broody hen to take mail order chicks

Our old flock of chickens is nearing five years old and many of the old girls have stopped laying on a daily basis.  This last spring I went and bought a mixed bag of pullets (female only chicks) from our local feed store to start on replacing them.  Now I will say I have generally been disappointed in feed store chicks.  Our first chick ordering experience was with one of the best hatcheries in the country, Murray McMurray Hatchery, which if you get their catalog or look online you will see why instantly.

The Chicken Really Bad Hair Day
Not only have I found their chicks to be of superior quality, but as they grow up they have been beautiful, vigorous, and excellent egg layers, often laying every day for years.  Our chickens from McMurry took Best In Show at the fair for our Black Australorps .  I love the Australorp breed.  They are a gorgeous all black chickens with feathers that flash iridescent green in the sun, and black instead of the orange eyes most chickens have.  They are gentle and very good egg layers.

That experience pretty much set a high standard for us.  You may wonder why I went with feed store chicks as apposed to ordering from a hatchery I love.  The reason was simple.  We lived in town at the time and McMurry only does orders of 15 at the lowest and I only needed 10 max for our small yard.

mama hen being broody
Our feed store chicks are laying now and doing well, but now that we live out on 15 acres and next to a country highway I would love to sell eggs as a way to make enough money to pay for feed and supplies.

Two of our very old hens chose to go broody this fall just as I was contemplating their trip to the freezer.  I let them set eggs from other hens and thought about ordering day old chicks from McMurray and seeing if one of the hens would take them if the delivery was at hatching time. In the end I ordered their egg laying assortment because that was the only chicks available close to hatching time.  These are an assortment of the best of the best of their egg layers.

So here is how people recommend you get a broody hen to take other chicks.

The chicks must be just hatched or very close to only a few days old.  Not only does this make the hen more likely to take them, but the chicks if too old won't bond as easily with the hen and stay close to her protective body.

If you are ordering chicks for this purpose it is best to get a delivery date as close to your hen's eggs hatching date as possible.  This is entirely doable with McMurray as they have the ability to ship chicks all the time from spring through fall.

our tophat setting her eggs
Slip the chicks one at a time under the hen at night when she is unlikely to get up and leave.  If she starts getting too upset stop for awhile and leave her be.  Then try putting the rest under.

Check on the mom and chicks as frequently as possible without upsetting the hen too much for the first few days.  You need to watch for rejected chicks.  They will be often hiding in a corner so the hen won't peck them.  If she rejects some or all of the chicks you will have to take them out and rear them yourself.

mama with a mail order chick
When I did this it was in the morning (not recommended) and the hen did fine.  She took the chicks and has been a wonderful mother to them.  Our other hen hatched out her chicks before I could get an order shipped.  She only hatched out two eggs, the rest turned out to be infertile.  I do notice a pronounced difference in the chicks.  The day old chicks do not stay as close to mamma (a possible lack of bonding?) and wander away much more than the mamma with her own hatched out chicks which she sat on for 21 days.  So far we have only lost two chicks. They are free range in the garden and only shut up at night so predation is a possibility.  

Pure white mail order chick
It has been SO much easier letting a hen raise these chicks than raising the chicks myself with a heat lamp, plus the chicks will be much more likely to go broody and make good mothers themselves since they were raised by a mom and not a heat lamp.  This can be a plus or minus depending on your needs.  I WANT more chickens for meat.  Any roosters or surplus hens will go to the freezer.  But if you only want eggs a broody hen is an annoyance since she will not lay eggs.  To us good broody hens are gold, and these old ladies got a reprieve from the pot because of their mothering instinct.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Why Women Need The Second Amendment

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My precious reasons for owning a gun
There is allot of debate on whether America needs to take away the second amendment.  The logic is that if there are no guns there will be no gun violence.  Of course, this is a completely illogical line of thinking because if you look at cities that ban guns they have some of the highest rates of gun violence i.e. Chicago.  The problem is the only people you are disarming are law-abiding citizens that don't commit gun violence anyways.  Criminals don't care if they get their guns illegally because they're going out to commit crimes.  So the only people who suffer are those of us that use guns legally.

As a woman, I am very glad I have several guns in my home.  My father had four children, three of them girls.  He taught all of us how to shoot effectively and safely.  The reason was that women are in most cases unable to fight off an attacker.  He called guns the great equalizer.  Meaning a guy may be stronger and faster than me but he is NOT faster than my gun!

As our economy gets worse and drugs become more prevalent we will, and are, seeing more crime.  I have personally been on the receiving end of this trend three different times now.  All three involve men on drugs coming on to our property.  The most recent is as follows

Just recently we were woken up at 3:00 am by our 17-year-old daughter running up the stairs in a panic because a man was at our back door trying to kick it in.  Our dogs were going nuts and my husband and I sprang into action.  Police will tell you to never confront or allow someone to get ahold of you.  If they are on drugs they often are impervious to pain, abnormally strong, and especially with the new street drugs, extremely violent and dangerous.

My three younger children ages 6, 10, and 11 woke up and were terrified asking if the person was going to hurt them.

My husband and I worked quickly as a team.  I got on the phone and called 911 while I hustled my four children into a defendable and secure room.  I stood in the doorway waiting with a view of the stairs.  My husband got our shot gun loaded and headed down stairs.  While on the phone I also armed myself with a hand gun in case whoever was down there got through my husband.

You see we didn't know if this man was armed or not, or was coming in to kill us.  I could hear my husband yelling that he was armed and if the man came through our door he would defend himself and his family.  This did not deter the man in the least as he kept running and kicking our door.

I prayed and prayed that the door would hold.  We could feel it upstairs every time he kicked the door and our windows were shaking.

Meanwhile, I was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher explaining the situation and that my husband was armed.

The police showed up (thankfully) within 2 minutes and were able to get the man.  He was completely strung out on several drugs we found out.  He was making no sense and fought the police when they tried to get him in the patrol vehicle and later fought the jailers.

The only thing that stood between my children and that man was a regular back door with a dead bolt.  If I had been unarmed and without my husband my only option would have been to pray.  That is NOT an option for me.  Instead of being helpless in the face of attack I am empowered to protect myself and my children.  And you can bet NO ONE is going to hurt them without first having to come through me.

So when people protest about needing to ban guns I think of the countless women and children in countries where gun ownership is not allowed that are raped and murdered.  How many of those crimes would be averted if those women were armed and taught how to use them?  There are thousands of cases every year in America of women defending themselves with firearms against men that never make it to the mainstream media because it doesn't fit with their agenda.

We know that disarming a population does not decrease violence, it just shifts or even increases because criminals know they have defenseless victims.

Guns are not the problem, it is criminals that are the problem.  As my father told us, guns are just a tool.  A dangerous tool just like a skill saw, but still a tool.  You must respect them and use them safely.

My husband and I have been teaching our children gun safety and marksmanship as they reach ages that are appropriate.  My eldest daughter is nervous of guns but an excellent shot and knows how to load and fire.  After the above incident, she told me how glad she was now that we have firearms.

And as I say to my children now.  The only time you need a gun is when you REALLY need a gun.

So how can you prepare for home invasion or violent crime?

1. Be Prepared

Think out different possible scenarios and your reactions in your head.  If you have a spouse talk about them and work out what both of you will do to deal with the situation.  The more you do this the less likely you will be to panic.  Knowing what your going to do is a huge confidence booster.

2. Get A Gun and Learn How To Use It

This is what stands between you and a criminal.  Learn to use this tool and use it safely. Learn how to clean it, load it, and reload it.   This also means educating your children about it and keeping it somewhere secure but accessible to you in an emergency.  You wouldn't leave knives down in a toddlers reach so don't do the same with your guns.

3.  Make your home less attractive to criminals

Have motion lights, lock your doors and gates, and teach your children not to open the door to strangers. Also hardening your home is a good idea.  Have a gravel path all around your house so that if someone is walking around looking in windows it is noisy alerting you or your dog.  Plant thorny hedges in front of windows.  Make sure all doors are well lit.

4.  If you don't have a dog consider getting one

Dogs hear and smell better than us.  Our dogs let us know whenever someone is around.  You don't need a big dog to do this, in fact our terrier chihuahua mix is the best alert dog as terriers were bred to have excellent hearing to hunt rats.

5. Learn self-defense

Most crimes against women start with a man surprising her and grabbing her before she knows what's going on.  That is the last situation you want to be in as a woman because a man is generally much stronger than a woman, but learning personal defense moves can save your life and get you away.

6.  Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Looking purposeful and aware deters criminals.  They want soft easy targets.  When you are walking to your car look around, pay attention, note people around you.

At some time or another most people will experience a violent crime.  It's really not a question of if but when.  So don't be a victim be a victor!