January 31, 2009

JCPenney: Still a Store that Carries Modest Clothing


I got on the treadmill this morning and at the same time browsed through the new spring/summer JCPenney catalog. In times like these, it's hard to find modest clothes, however I was pleased that JCPenny still chooses to carry many modest women's clothes. From capris, to blouses, and from longer skirts, to knee length dresses. They have board shorts for swim suits too! Sometimes on our travels from California to Utah, I would take my teenage girls on a shopping trip to find modest dresses. Kind of a long distance for clothes shopping, but my girls are worth it. You may find it hard to find modest clothing too. Let me share a few places you can still find modest clothes and help your daughters remain virtuous on the inside and out, as they prepare for the temple.

Dillard's stores (the website does not carry all the modest clothing they sell in the Utah stores)
JCPenney
ModestbyDesign (see their casual and prom dresses)
Land's End (see their swim suits)
Also go to ModestClothes.com for more ideas.

Call manufacturer Jody of California and they will tell you which stores in your state carry their prom/casual dresses. Their website pictures aren't very good, but the dresses look better on. My daughters wear tanks under them and look wonderful. Dillard's and Modest By Design sell some of the Jody dresses in their stores.
You can thank JCPenny by sending them a quick email here.

January 30, 2009

March 2009 Ensign Magazine article on Home Storage

See page 56 of the March Ensign for a home storage article entitled "Family Home Storage: A New Message." There are several other articles on self-reliance: spiritual and physical as well.

There is still confusion, so lets get the word out. Follow the simplified, fourstep approach to building your home storage:

"1. Gradually build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet until it is sufficient for three months.
2. Store drinking water.
3. Establish a financial reserve by setting aside a little money each week, and gradually increase it to a reasonable amount.
4. Once families have achieved the first three objectives, they are counseled to espand their efforts, as circumstances allow, into a supply of long-term basic foods such as grains, legumes, and other staples."

Backing up Family Pictures: Photo Preservation



A darling picture of my mother, age 3

I know I've been saying this for a loooooonnnnng time that I need to back up my pictures onto a flash drive. But, I haven't. It's because my husband said we have a backup on another computer, which we probably do. However, what if I needed to leave home and just wanted to take something small?

I have a friend whose house burned down while she was gone and she lost EVERYTHING. It was so devastaing. I still remember walking on her property where everything but the chimney and refrigerator were gone. So, prepared little-old-me got up this morning to back up my pictures. I had purchased an 8 GB Sandisk flashdrive from WalMart for $19.95 about a week ago. See, I was thinking about it.

So, first I put my memory stick from my camera into my CPU to download the last pictures from my camera, and . . . nothing happened. For some reason it was not being recognized. That wasn't a good feeling. Maybe it's time to replace the memory stick. I found the cable for my camera, turned on the camera, and plugged the other end into the CPU. I transferred the few remaining pictures from Thanksgiving and Christmas onto my computer. Whew!

Since I wasn't sure if they would all fit, I transferred one decade file at a time starting with the oldest. I knew that the 2000's would take the longest. So I transferred one year at a time. Here's what I learned. 8GB is NOT big enough for all of my files! I right-mouse clicked on my Family Pictures file and could see under Properties that I definitely needed something bigger.

My bright teenage son says I need a portable external hard drive. Hello. For $69.88 I can get a Toshiba one that holds 250 GB! That's enough to hold all of our old pictures, and videos for years to come. I'm sure all of you knew that. I'm pretty ancient. So, it's back to the store for me.


Me (in the front) with my sisters
Tips: I organize my pictures in files on my computer like this:

Family Pictures
Family Pictures 2000's
2000, 2001, 2002, etc.
Jan 2000, Feb 2000, March 2000, and so forth.

Another tip. I have so many old cameras that it's easy to mix up the cables and cords. So I use my DYMO label maker, and put a label on each cord designating which camera it belongs to. Great for other cords as well. I think it's time to donate some old cameras.

Also, another idea is to send your pictures to a photo website that can hold all of them. That way they are somewhere else. Probably cheaper than my plan. Have a great day!

January 28, 2009

Understanding Our Economic Turmoil

I just read a great article called "How It All Came Crashing Down" from the BYU Magazine. BYU econ professors "explain how we got into this mess—and what we can learn from it." It was straitforward, and very helpful. And there is even a glossary for terms if you don't understand the economic jargon. Hope you enjoy it!

January 23, 2009

One Voice, Singing in the Darkness

Thanks to all of you who are reading my blog. I am overwhelmed with your visits and emails!
As Barry Manilow sang in his song One Voice:

Just One Voice,
Singing in the darkness,
All it takes is One Voice,
Singing so they hear what's on your mind,
And when you look around you'll find
There's more than One Voice,
Singing in the darkness,
Joining with your One Voice,
Each and every note another octave,
Hands are joined and fears unlocked,
If only One Voice Would start it on its own,
We need just One Voice facing the unknown,
And then that One Voice would never be alone,
It takes that One Voice.
It takes that One Voice.
Just One Voice Singing in the darkness,
All it takes is One Voice,
Shout it out and let it ring.
Just One Voice, It takes that One Voice, And everyone will sing!


Valerie

January 18, 2009

Disaster Preparedness Handouts

A friend just emailed me some disaster preparedness handouts from CERT - The Community Emergency Response Team. If you want to be better trained to respond in disasters, sign up for a training program in your area.

"The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community."

January 15, 2009

My Handy Dandy Emergency Car Kit


Over the weekend the battery on my car decided to die. Daughter #3 and I were out shopping for daughter #2's birthday presents, so I was not excited to lose precious time. The warning signs were there earlier in the day: my car was hesitating when it would start up. I thought perhaps it would recharge with my around town driving. But alas. That was not the case. My husband was in a meeting, so we sat in the car in a store parking lot and waited for him to come.

I finally decided to ask someone for help. I told my daughter I would only ask a man that had kids with him for safety reasons. It was kind of hilarious as we sat there evaluating each driver that pulled into the parking lot. No . . . no . . . no . . . maybe.

Finally, a man pulled up next to us with a 12-year old son. I asked him for help and told him my husband was coming. He said he was sure he could jump my car. So he looked in the back of his car and those jumper cables that were supposed to be there had vanished. I said, "Well, I happen to have some in the back of my car." So, I pulled them out of my handy dandy car kit. The car engine was soon humming. I thanked him for his good deed, and he said that he needed to do a good deed that day.

This wasn't the first time I needed to use something out of my car kit. It's such a reassurance to have it in my car. The bag I use for my kit is an insulated soda can bag from WalMart. Red to signify emergency. Sometimes when I'm grocery shopping on a hot day and can't get home right away, I dump the emergency items out and put the frozen items in. A great help!


Items for my car kit:
Insulated bag
Water bottles
Food bars, etc.
Flare
Jumper cables
Blanket (regardless of the weather, it will help if someone is in shock)
Flashlight and batteries (Good thing I just checked because my batteries were dead)
Toilet paper roll
Work gloves
Umbrella
Matches
Plastic trash bags
Duct tape
Snow scraper

Other Useful Items I want to add:
Detailed Area Map
Whistle and small mirror
Pocket knife
Small toiletries
Good shoes (can you imagine walking 10 miles in heels?)
Hat
Paper towels
Extra batteries

If you have a story about how your emergency car kit helped you, please email it to me.

January 10, 2009

Bulk Buying: Macey's Emergency Preparedness Sale

Macey's grocery store in Utah will be having an Emergency Preparedness (Food Storage) Sale starting this Wednesday, January 14 through January 27, 2009 - two weeks. I have a copy of the ad. The are selling many foods from Blue Chip Group, Inc. There is a handout from this company that lists food storage shelf life for their products. Very nice to know. They are already putting out pallets of food and said I could purchase at the sale prices.

SPECIAL HOT FEATURES
5 gallon Plastic Storage Bucket w/lid - $2.99 (less than WalMart)
55 gallon blue water container - $39.99
#10 can Blue Chip whole eggs or egg mix - $14.99
45 lb. Blue Chip White Wheat or Red Wheat pail $19.99
16.4 oz. Dannon Spring Water - 2/$5.00 - that's 10 cents per bottle

Too much to list!

January 8, 2009

Health Preparedness: Starting a Walking Program

Me in the St. George Marathon, October 2000

I'm hesitant to write my post today because it’s about exercising and setting a goal this year. Like most women, I've had my ups and downs and I don’t want to fail. However, I want to share my walking goal, to help you get started on a walking program. My goal this month is to walk 4 days a week on my treadmill by following a walking program written by Hal Higdon, marathoner. I'm not planning on doing a marathon, but a 5K. I've been walking about 2 days a week up to this point. I believe this new goal will stretch me, but is doable.

In the past, I wrote on my calendar when I would exercise like an appointment because everyone said to do that, but when I can’t cross it off I feel like a failure. So this time I want to be flexible, workout in the mornings if I can, but if I don’t I HAVE to exercise in the afternoon. Yes! Sweat in the afternoon. This is not the way most women like to do things, but because we choose to do other things when we should be exercising (like posting to our blogs) or something happens that is out of our control, we need to be flexible. And if I can't get it done, I'll do it next week. Life will be okay. Each month I will list the total number of days I exercised on the sidebar of my blog. I had walking pneumonia during the Christmas break, so I know you will excuse me.

I have one marathon under my belt, which is quite an accomplishment. It was 10% physical, and 90% mental, believe me. I accomplished this by training with 3 great women: Laurie, Shelley, and Linda. That’s not one of my goals right now because of a problem I have with one of my knees.

But if you’re looking for a website to get you starting on a walking or running program, go to HalHigdon.com. He has some great walking and running programs from a 5 K to a marathon. Also, I plan to walk in the Komen Race for the Cure in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 9th. Hope to see you there!

"And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint." D&C 89:20

Hurricane Preparedness


My niece just moved to St. Maarten and asked me to do a post on hurricane preparedness. I honestly have not lived through one, though my brother and his family lived through a hurricane while living in Florida.

I've gathered some GREAT websites that will give you lots of information on hurricane preparedness. They are a great read even if you don't live in a hurricane area as they help you prepare for all disasters.

As I've read other people's experiences, I would advise you to go beyond a 72 hour kit and store non-perishable food items in your home that can feed you for 2 weeks or more. Quite frankly, you may not leave your home or the area for awhile. And you may need to help feed and offer medical assistance to those around you, so plan that way. It's never too early to prepare. St. Maarten is beautiful! Enjoy it Alicia and Roger.

January 5, 2009

Generators: Emergency Backup Power


I don't have any experience with generators, but would like to buy one. The best information on generators is at ConsumerReports.org. However, you have to be a member to get into their site. But once there you can figure out what wattage your appliances require, and they can recommend what would be best for you. Go to ConsumerReports.org

Here are some other articles about generators.


On average, a 250-gallon propane tank fueling a 7 kW standby generator would provide enough electricity to power a home for five days, while a 500-gallon underground tank would provide power for 11 days.

January 3, 2009

Family Paper Clutter Control: Organizing Your Office

Our office was getting out of control! So I decided to figure out why. First of all, I'm a busy mom. I could use that as an excuse. But I really think my problem was not practicing what I preach: putting things away. Well, that's not it exactly. The real problem is not creating places to put things so where do they end up? On top of my desk.

Office Before




Office After

Office After



Organizing your desk and the papers and mail that come across it can be easy if you understand the #1 organizational principle: everything has its place. Having the self-control to put things away is another issue. You can’t put something away if it doesn’t have a place to go. So, you have to create those places.

Every day go through all the paperwork that comes across your desk. Trash, shred, file or act on each item. If you don't have time to get to it today, put it in your TO DO file.

I also rearranged our office so it was less cluttered and had greater harmony. We removed the hutches from the tops of the desks to lighten up the room. And removed 90% of the books and put them in other places in the house that were more appropriate. After drawing a floor plan on graph paper, the furniture was completely rearranged. Some of my ideas came from the Feng Shui books and videos listed at the end of this post.




The Pencil Jar - How many pens and pencil do you really need? I used to cram too many into this glass jar. I threw some away, and put others in the school supply drawer. Now I can see what I need. Purchased at Deseret Industries thrift store for $1.00.




The Lamp - I used to complain about the lack of light on my desk. So, I finally got rid of my old metal spotlight, and exchanged it for this pretty one. I love having this on my desk! Purchased at Big Lots for $10.00.




The Plant - I finally put a happy potted plant (silk) on my desk. It is cheerful and bright. Purchased at a local florist for $12.00. And see that picture of hubby and me? I get to see him everyday.

The Vertical Letter File - What a difference this file has made! I used to have a horizontal desk file. But all I did was stack more and more in it. With my TO DO upright, it's easy to grab and go through. I also keep a notepad, and checks I've written to be mailed later.




Plastic Drawers -Each is labeled with the items inside. I have four of these that hold our school supplies, paper, envelopes, etc.
(No picture)

Calendar - I use Microsoft Outlook on my computer. My husband and I send items back and forth to each other. I transfer important items for the kids onto a dry erase board calendar in the kitchen.


Household Files - I have two large file drawers for all our my files. I purchased a small black file drawer for my husband too. Even after I cleaned it out, I still have lots of files.
- Phone Lists: This file holds all types of phone lists. Teach kids to put the phone list back in the folder.
- Calendars: This file holds all sorts of calendars you don’t want to throw away such as school district calendar, church calendar, sport calendar, gym class calendar, city newsletter/calendar, etc.
- School Folders: I have a different folder for each school my children attend. I file school menus, newsletters, teacher handouts, school schedules, yearbook purchase receipts, etc.
- Travel: This file is for reservations, tickets, travel itinerary, travel reward cards, maps, etc.
- Letters: This file holds letters and printed emails from friends and family that you may need to look at again someday.
- Pictures: This file is for family pictures, school pictures, wedding announcements you want to keep, etc. and plan to put somewhere else later.
- Christmas: This file is for Christmas gift ideas that come to mind throughout the year, mailing labels I didn’t use last year, gift lists, etc.
Important Papers - Label each file folder, then file alphabetically into several hanging files. You can fit a few file folders into each hanging file. As you file papers, put the oldest in the back of the folder, newest in the front. Each January, remove these file folders (not the hanging files), and store them in a box labeled with the year. Then make new file folders for the coming year. Some files are not stored away, but are permanent as you will see below. If you want more ideas go to MyLifeIn a Box.com where you can buy an organizer to help you sort all of your legal, financial, and personal documents. File ideas:

- Auto Repairs/Insurance: File everything related to your autos here. I keep the Auto Insurance Policy in the back of the file, and put it in a new folder each January.
- Bills: File all bill statements here, and separate each account with a sheet of colored paper that has the account name on it.
- Checking/Savings: File all receipts and statements related to checking and savings accounts here. Use a different folder for each account. I hang onto more receipts than most people, but it has saved me time and time again when I need to return something.
- Credit/loans: File credit card companies and various loans here. Separate each company with a sheet of colored paper.
- Homeowner’s or Rental Insurance: File homeowner’s or rental papers here. Keep the most current policy here.
- Investments: File investment statements here.
- Life Insurance: (permanent): File life insurance papers here.
- Medical Insurance: File medical bills and insurance statements here.
- Medical/Personal Records (permanent): File family medical and personal information here. Give each person a colored paper with their name on it, and then file eye prescriptions, copies of birth certificates, immunization cards, copy of social security numbers, etc.
- Pet (permanent): File pet vet records and statements here.
- Pay Stubs: File pay stubs here.
- Taxes: File anything tax related here. A great time saver.

Warranty Files - Keep warranties from various purchases in files such as:

- Audio/Video- Furniture
- Garage
- Household
- Kitchen/Bath
- Sports/Toys

Fireproof Safe/Safety Deposit Box - Things to keep in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box:
1. Current insurance policies
2. Passports
3. Birth certificates and marriage certificate
4. CD with scans of family's doctors, prescription medications, copy of immunization records, etc.
5. CD’s or flash drives of family photos
6. Important keys, safety deposit box keys (in safe)
7. Investments papers, stock certificates, retirement plans, bank accounts, credit account numbers, credit cards not being used, etc.
8. Original social security cards
9. Powers of attorney, living wills, health care proxies, etc.
10. Home deeds, titles, title insurance
11. Inventory of home items
12. Coins, valuable jewelry, savings bonds, etc.

Memory Files - I have a hanging file for each family member. As family memory items come across my desk that I want to keep, I file them here. Each summer, it will be organized in a Memory Binder for each person (perhaps!). Examples are: recital programs, achievement certificates, blessing certificates, pictures, report cards, etc.

Miscellaneous Binders - Use 1” binders for miscellaneous storage of paperwork or projects. Some examples include:

- Scout Binder: each boy has his own binder to hold awards and advancement items
- Mission Binder: each missionary has a binder that I put memories from his mission
- Home Decorating: holds magazine pictures of ideas I collect for decorating, and future home purchases
- Family Goals Book: has a tab with each child’s name we use it for goal setting.
- Food Storage: holds food storage lists and tips.
- Computer Games: holds CD’s for computer games.
- Wedding Planning: holds ideas for wedding planning.

CONCLUSION - As you find a place for everything, clutter will disappear. You are able to find things, whereas before you couldn’t seem to remember where anything was. Removing paper clutter removes stress. Good luck on making changes in your life!

Favorite Book - Feng Shui Your Work Spaces by Sharon Stasney.
Videos - Feng Shui Spring Cleaning Your Office

How to Feng Shui Your Workplace

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