Thursday, March 21, 2013

 A little updating... This is the set for our Newlywed game (for Valentine's Day). I had a long session making the big sign (refrigerator box, paint) and another to make the Conversation Hearts (posterboard, chalk).  The rest was cool.  I used the rest of my paint on three big hearts for the podium, put sheets in front of the tables (one twin ripped in half, yard sale, 50 cents) and we used black markers (6 of them) and white card stock for the contestants to write their answers.  A few Christmas lights and microphone and it's ready.  Ahead of time work:  Get a good MC and a bunch of non-"whoopie" Newlywed game questions!!  In our church, anyone can throw an activity for the whole ward (church).  We do it more than most because we feel there is a need to chat and get to know each other, and we have a lot of practice from Cub Scout meetings.  Sure wish there were more activities!!

 This was a diaper cake I made for a friend's baby shower.  I have made them three different ways:  Roll each diaper into a cinnamon roll and ribbon individually,  then ribbon them all together;  Make a huge cinnamon roll starting with one diaper then tucking the ends of the next diaper in and rolling until it's huge; And this one, which was totally cheater, I emptied out a round hatbox and lined with clear celophane.  Then line up the diapers around the outside, then crammed in as many as I could in the middle, ribbon. Repeat three times and make waves and rainbow to go with Noah's Ark theme.  You gotta really love someone to make one of these... that was a megapack of size 2s from Sams.  Then to "decorate" you add on cute little things like socks, rattles, thermometers, diaper-bag sized baby powder, etc. Fun fun! When it's that big it's hard to transport so it's smart to cut out a large circle to put it on at least during transit. 
I meant to include this on the last post. This is just what I canned January and February. In March so far I have just canned the leftover meatballs from Sunday's big dinner.  There were 7 quarts left over, just enough to fill up my pressure canner.  It needed a new seal so I refrigerated them in the jars and Monday morning we got a new seal and by noon they were on the counter. So I have dinner 7 times, already made, just add noodles, shelf stable and not taking up room in my freezer.  I am feeling very environmentally responsible about that. And they will warm up fast since they're room temp already. I'm thinking the noodles will take longer to boil than the meatballs will to heat through but they're pretty big, so it might be close!

Two weeks ago Julia came over and taught us how to make pie crust, so some of my apples got used up. I learned it is DUMB to can them in pints, because you're going to need 3 for a pie, so I will just be doing quarts from now on, pints only if there's left over apples. Julia's crust got a 100 out of 100 and the apples got about a 45.  Nothing compares with a great crust!

I have been working on the pantry meals and finally broke down and ordered the book when I got my tax return money.  Can't wait to get going on some of that. Also made a food storage order and found some spices (after reading My Year Living on Food Storage I felt it more important than ever to get some seasonings) on  Can I just say, WOW!! It was so much fun to "shop" online and get all excited about the spices.  I will get the box Monday and will take some pics then of the cool stuff and then we will be having some major cooking and taste testing going on over here!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pantry Meals

In my search for ways to use food storage, plan easy meals and make this easy to plan ahead, I have found some lovely websites, starting with which is the wonderful lady who lived off her food storage for 6 months. She has a friend who suggested a great system of organization to make sure the variety of food was wide and pleasing to her family without taking her an entire day to cook it all.  Pantry meals was her brainchild and that's putting all the dry ingredients in a bag and labeling it for use during the month.
I decided to start this a little backwards since many of her recipes contained food storage items I don't have available, sour cream powder, butter powder, etc., and featured things my family won't eat. So I went to my ancient, just obtained from a yard sale Make a Mix Cookbooks and came up with one.  I modified a side dish to be a main dish because I'm just lazy that way.  Chicken Continental with Rice turned out great.  Basically, seasoned rice and canned chicken (I used up some leftover chicken for my first experiment).  I measured out the rice, spices, and did this three times so two of them went in a zip-lock bag (marked with directions).  The recipe said stove top cooking was 25 minutes which is still fast for dinner, but I decided to make it even easier with the crock pot. When I get my wonder oven I will try that!  SO I threw in my "mix" and my chicken and 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of butter (I doubled the recipe which said it would feed 2, my girls are hungry) and turned it on low for 4 hours.  The rice was good and both girls said it was a keeper recipe.  SO I put the other two ziplocks in a paper bag with a can of chicken and labeled it with today's date, a yellow star (chicken) and a yellow dot (solar cooking ok) and that was waaay too easy not to do again. 
Do you have any shelf-stable easy recipes? By this I mean assembly (ahead of time) and a few ingredients.  I also made the make-a-mix snack cake for the girls. I followed the directions exactly and they were not crazy about the cake, even though it was chocolate with chips.  Good to know. This will be trial and error for a long time but hopefully I can accumulate a dossier of fantastic easy recipes!!
Projects in the next few months include building a solar oven too. Can't wait to cook with no electricity.  Here in the summer it should be easy!! Between that and my wonder oven I will be practically green! And canning means less freezing so that's green too.  Looking for a food co-op now to augment my canning possibilities.  I found out there is a book, Dinner is in the Jar.  May have to buy it, our library here is like a tiny mini library while there are renovations to the main building.  Boo.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Food Storage 2013

SO I have recently become unemployed outside my home (as always I remain employed in my family!) and want very much to spend my time wisely.  I have been reading a lot about being prepared.  I want to be prepared in every way I possibly can.  Here are a few of my thoughts on that:

Funeral arrangements
Food storage in case of worst-case-scenario (power outage, truckers strike, famine, pestilence, shortages, loss of income, hurricane, zombie apocalypse)
Self sufficient to make my own clothes; though I know this is more expensive than many other ways to get clothes
Self sufficient to make my own household items (Rag rugs being first on the list. We have extra fabric, old sheets, etc. but need rugs)
Emergency binder up to date (with all important information. Sadly, this is mostly classified information --serial numbers, social security numbers, passports) so it will not be easily locatable when complete)
 Mostly better educated on food, recipes, cooking and storage including using solar heat to cook with
Spiritually prepared, studying scriptures more, other spiritually uplifting activities, possibly journal
all of which together will help me become more
Mentally confident

So that is what I am working on now.  I also want to try eating food storage for a month to see what we can learn from that.  I have noticed from other people's blogs that fat storage is key, as is meat and spices.  We just stocked up on some German food (which we missed from Germany, but the mixes are not what we had hoped) so we will be trying some new German recipes, some curried and peanut recipes (since we are blessed not to have peanut allergies in our home) and hopefully find success doing something with beans.

As a beginning I canned some local produce, butter, bacon and meat (chicken and meatloaf).  Photo on my family blog, will try to get it here.  Below is a picture of my in-laws at the Iron Curtain. I'm sure those people didn't know that was going to happen and plunge them into 40 years without communication with their loved ones on the other side.  They didn't ask for war there either.  Can you be prepared for that? Well, be as prepared as you can.

Project for Elizabeth

Thursday, March 3, 2011


SO at church we're discussing heroes, and asking the kids to be Scripture Heroes and find something they have learned from reading their scriptures and share it with the Primary. It's been super and the kids love it! We are also asking them to find a scripture hero. I had to make a list then pick because there are just so many. I finally chose Daniel, who works for me in lots of great ways. Daniel was awesome. And we actually have some things in common, which make me really like him. (DH would probably pick Elisha. He was bald too, and there are some great stories.) Anyway, pick your scripture hero! And read and learn more about them and you will be amazed how much it helps you to know there is someone you can try to emulate or learn from.
SO the hero thing also applies to our missionaries who are serving all over the world, and there is a map up to chart where they are and place to put their letters and stories.
There was also a great lesson about avoiding trouble. Superman can't deal with kryptonite. He has to stay away from it. Just like we should stay away from temptation. Be a hero and stay away from trouble!!

Would love to hear if you choose a hero and what you're learning. :)

What cha been up to??

Yes Virginia there is a blogger still alive over here. I just have a life too! And a full time job and I spend a lot of time at the law office too. And I just got called to be the Primary Chorister, 3rd hardest job a woman can have in our church. I know because I have had all the easier ones and one harder one. If you do it right it's seriously time consuming and labor intensive and takes vast amounts of spiritual and temporal preparation.
Isn't everything though? If you do it right....
Like my favorite holiday reminds me, some things take time. And how we spend our time can really help us understand what's really important. Okay it's Ground Hog Day in case you didn't know, and of course we make Ground Hog Stew and watch the movie. It's wonderful and I love the lesson of spending time...
So I am about to have a little chat with one of my children about spending time wisely. Because parents have to do that if they want productive children and their children are not naturally overachievers. (Waiting for one of those.)
I wonder if we really kept track and pie charted our time what it would look like?? I found one online and it showed average Americans spend 54% of leisure time watching TV. So I am ahead already. What have I been doing with all that extra time?? I sure haven't been scrubbing my bathtub.
SO I am going to keep track for a week and average it for a pie chart. I had better get busy doing good things huh?!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year

So I pulled on my sweats and drove the kids to piano this morning. I have *NO* idea why the piano teacher wouldn't reschedule, she has three kids and one on the way, and stayed up with a housefull of people last night at her house playing games, but she was bright and shiny when I dropped the girls off. Me, not so much. I stayed in the car. I hadn't looked at myself in the mirror yet nor touched a comb. Anyway, she's younger than me, I guess she has stores of energy I lack, possibly in the form of chocolate. But as usual I digress. What I noticed this morning on my drive was that there were almost no cars and lots and lots of people jogging or walking or somehow out and about.
It's the First day of the New Year! Gotta start those resolutions!
Even though the house is still full of great food, we've got to slow down the intake and speed up the exercise and make the metabolism work for US!
Fortunately, here we have two opportunities for giving up stuff, New Years' and Mardi Gras. I like them both, because Mardi Gras helps you recharge as you're losing (or have completely lost) momentum by then. It's awesome to take time to recharge that resolution, that determination, that focus and work a little harder.

So besides doing one extra thing a day for your body, and one extra thing a day for your soul (you know you're eating better and reading a scripture a day) what else do you want to accomplish this year?
Ah, there it goes. My inner "Monster" telling me I'll never accomplish anything.
So I use Reason to overcome. Reason is awesome, wears a blue cape.
If I break it down into tiny bites, like the girl in the Shel Silverstein poem, I can eat that whale.
So if I make reasonable, weekly goals I'm more likely to do it.

I read in a book that was full of totally useless information this one nugget that surprised me.
Paraphrasing loosely, it said it was good to make the bites even tinier than you might think is reasonable. In other words, if you really hate dusting, for your first step, find the Pledge. THat's right, find the can and put it on the counter top. You're done for the day. Tomorrow, next step. Next step, get a dustrag and put it by the Pledge. Wow. So then you can rest for the rest of the day after that achievement. It sounds so simple, so slow, so ridiculous. But sometimes we DO need to break down tasks to achieve them, especially if they're something we're not comfortable with.
I keep thinking I can do anything until I am actually doing it. I got on Flylady and really liked her simple steps. I am still trying to shine my sink every day. I don't feel any pressure to get to the next step until I have mastered this habit.
Habits are a lot easier the younger you are. When I was young, I got married and extremely busy. We were always doing something with church, Boy Scouts, his work, my work, friends and travelling. My husband's schedule alone made any kind of dependability impossible. Three days days, Three days nights, when is he off, when is he home.... I remember a friend who had a child who did not take change well. They had to keep a tight schedule for her to be comfortable. This made them very regular church attenders and when things had to change, they gave her a lot of notice. I am so glad I didn't get a child like that, because our kids have had to be flexible with us.
But a lack of consistency has made me two things: Very flexible, your girl on the fly, if there is a last minute thing I can deal with it. It also did not give me good, steady habits.
Even though my life is more predictable now, I feel the need to make time for the important things I want to do, achievements I want to make, and knowledge I need to gain.
SO yes, I am setting aside some time every day for making myself check my list, re-evaluate my goals, and ... sigh... put the Pledge on the counter top.
Good luck with your resolutions!! :)