Saturday, February 27, 2010

What Does the 8.8 Earthquake in Chile Teach Us?

Santiago Chile Temple, 2000

Watching the Chile earthquake news report this morning has been a bit frazzling. All I could think of was, "What, another one? I am still adjusting to the last one." However, I am getting my thoughts together and thinking about what we can learn from this. We can always learn something from natural disasters.

My parents, President and Sister McCune. March 2000
But first, some personal background. My parents lived in Santiago for a few years while my father served as president of the LDS Missionary Training Center there. This is the place where young men and women from some of the South American countries are trained for their missions. He loved his missionaries even though he worked with each group for only a few weeks. As a leader, he had a great resonsibility for them. His heart is still in Chile and he loves the South American people even after being home for several years.

One of the many groups my parents helped train as missionaries

I am certain many parents are wondering how their missionaries are doing in Chile. A recent report states: "We have confirmed that all of the Church's missionaries in Chile have reported in and are safe, including the two elders on the Juan Fernandez Island." Church Newsroom.
I was also able to read an email from a friend's missionary son living in Villarrica, a city near Concepcion, the epicenter of the earthquake. His mission president has allowed them to send an email home to their worried parents as soon as they could to let them know they were alive and well. He said the swaying of their house was a strange sensation. They thought it was the nearby volcano erupting, but after checking saw that it had not erupted. Their house is a mess, but they are fine. They immediately checked on their neighbors. The whole city of Villarrica is a mess with rubble and broken glass. Most stores are boarded up. Every missionary is safe in their zone. My son serves a mission in Bolivia, but I know that these wonderful missionaries in Chile will soon become the helping hands that are needed to help the people in their cities.
This recent Deseret News article says there is no structural damage to the Santiago Chile Temple or the LDS Missionary Training Center, and gives more information about the situation.

A few facts. There is one LDS Temple in Santiago, Chile. Throughout Chile there are 611 congregations, and over 550,000 members. For those of you who speak Spanish, the official LDS Newsroom website for Chile can be found here.

Here is what I have learned from this earthquake:
  1. Modern buildings can sustain major earthquake damage, but older buildings may not. Thus the aftermath of this earthquake will be different from Haiti.

  2. Aftershocks do occur after earthquakes so it is wise to be prepared for them.

  3. Earthquakes are happening more frequently than in years past. Scientists see on average one magnitude 8 earthquake every year and the change is very alarming to them.

  4. Tsunamis can happen thousands of miles away following coastal earthquakes and can travel at speeds of 500 miles per hour. It is wise to head advice from government officials in preparation.

  5. Human beings turn to God when they are extremely frightened. Our testimonies need to be strong, and the roots of our faith deep to help us during difficult times.

  6. Human beings serve each other during disasters, and they serve well which is a beautiful thing.

  7. Modern technology has made it possible for us to contact our loved ones quickly following disasters. It would be smart to have a communication plan so families can contact each other several ways.

  8. Power can be out for long periods of time after disasters so it is better to have some type of backup power.

  9. Grocery stores can be completely destroyed after an earthquake, so it is definitely wise to have food storage and emergency supplies at home, work and in our cars. We need to heed the counsel of our church leaders.

  10. God loves each of his children and knows of their pain. But he needs us to reach out and help.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Can You Bake with Old Food Storage Flour?

Today I tried to use some outdated white flour stored in #10 cans. In the past I have been able to use outdated grains such as oats with no problem. But this flour had a tinny smell, and even a tinny taste. I thought I would try it in my muffins just to be sure and sifted it to remove some lumps. The muffins were NOT good. They were not light and fluffy and the taste was definitely off. I had personally canned this flour in October 2002 so it is 7 1/2 years old. But it hasn't always been stored below 75 degrees Fahenheit so I did lose some of the shelf life. The shelf life on this #10 can said 5 years (if stored below 75 degrees) which is a shorter-shelf life than whole grains. But it's got to be stored far cooler than that. And I believe it. So, as you store your flour, understand that it may not last as long if you store it above the recommended temperature. If anyone else has experienced this, please share.

I think I will be storing about 20-25 lbs. of white flour in a bucket with a Gamma lid. It's really a short-term product. As long as I have wheat, I really don't need to can white flour in #10 cans.

Here is an article on the shelf life of un-canned flour. Click here

"For every 10°F increase in temperature, the shelf life is reduced by almost 50 percent." (Food Storage for the Clueless, Clark L. and Kathryn H. Kidd, 1999, p. 271).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fresh Market Having Case Lot Sale starting March 3, 2010

Fresh Market in Utah is having a case lot sale starting March 3rd for 1 week.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Macey's Case Lot Sale - April 7 to 27 2010

Macey's Case Lot Sale is April 7 - 27. Mark your calendars! I will try to get there a few days early to update my price comparison list, but here it is for those of you who have not seen it.

If you want to know what stores to shop at by the case in Utah and Idaho, this list will help you. Sometimes it is better to shop at Walmart, Sam's or Costco or the LDS cannery. During case lot sales, I will point out in the list what are the best deals at grocery stores that sell by the case.

Grocery Store, Case Lot and Food Storage Price Comparison
Read this post to learn how to shop at case lot sales.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shop at a Library Book Sale to Save Money

We went to our first Library Book sale today in Clearfield, Utah. What a great way to shop inexpensively for discontinued and donated books from all over the county. We arrived at about 1:30 which was a bit late since it started at 10:00. I would recommend getting there first thing in the morning. People were walking out with large boxes filled with books. Some had wheeled carts or bags to help carry books. Amazing prices!

Adult hardback books: $1.00
Children hardback books: $.50
Paperbacks: $.25
DVD's $1.00
VHS tapes $.25

Less than what you would pay for at a yard sale, except there were thousands to choose from. I would definitely set a purchase limit because you could go crazy! We only picked up a few books and paid $7.50. Check with your local library to see when their next library book sale is, and get it on your calendar. Love the library!

Friday, February 19, 2010

How to Organize Kids Toys, and Arts & Craft Supplies

Here are some ideas of how I cleaned out and organized the toys and arts & crafts in our house.
Stuffed Animal Clean Out (Time: 2 hours)
I found all the stuffed animals throughout the house and put them on my bed. Then grouped them by size and animals. Then I showed three toys to my daughter and asked which 2 she wanted to keep, and which one she wanted to give to a child who didn't have any toys. She was happy to give some away. We repeated this process over and over until we had a large trash bag full of some to donate. I did a quick repair of her favorite unicorn whose stuffing was coming out. Then, I found a large basket (about 18 x 14 x 9, see picture).

She could only keep the toys that fit in the basket in her bedroom. The rest could be visited in the basement playroom and are now stored in a toy box there. Mission accomplished.

Book Sort (Time: 1 hour)
I sorted the books myself, and put them into three piles: trash, give-away, and keep. I don't buy many books these days. However, if you are trying to build a library inexpensively search garage sales, library sales, and thrift stores. Then I organized the books on her bookshelf by size, and put the chubby books in a basket. (Nice because she can carry the basket anywhere). We put a few favorite princess toys in another basket. I am trying to follow the principle that bedrooms are for reading and sleeping, so toys go elsewhere. But if you don't have another room, then I would organize them in the closet. Library books now stay in the family room so they don't get lost. This week she received her own library card.

My Favorite Activities List (Time: 1 hour)
With the help of my daughter, I typed up a list of her favorite activities. This list is great for those times when she says "What can I do?" or "I'm bored." The list hangs near the refrigerator, and I read it until she hears something she wants to do. Babysitters can see what she likes to do too. Click Link: My Favorite Activities - Age 5

Arts & Craft for Her (Time: 2 hours +)
Ah. This should have been easier, but I wanted to make it user friendly. I put all the art items on my kitchen table. They were all over the house! Then I decided to be frugal and organized items in Ziploc Easy Zipper Expandable Bottom Freezer Quart bags (box of 34 for $3.50 at Walmart).

These worked great! They were easy for her to open. Love that. So, we went through ALL of the markers, crayons, paint, glue sticks, scissors, etc. Trashed those that didn't work and gave away the duplicates.
Then I put the bags in plastic shoe containers. My little one went through the playdough containers herself and gave away many cookie cutters to the Deseret Industries. I moved all of the cleaning supplies out of my former broom closet and moved mops and brooms into the garage. It is close to the family room where she regularly plays.

My son put a bookshelf inside, and I hung some hooks on the wall for her winter coat, umbrella and backpack.

I reused the awesome door organizer and stored more art supplies there for easy access.
Toy Roundup (Time: 2 hours)My teenage daughter helped me this time.

I moved the 5-year old games into the former broom closet on top of the bookcase, and most of the toys into the basement playroom. My Little Ponies and the Littlest PetShop had to stay. The bigger kids games are in the basement. Then we decided what this future Grandma wanted to keep, and moved that into storage. Everything else was organized into play areas: Dress-up, "Play House," Barbies, Little People, etc. Smaller toys were put into plastic shoe containers. We hung purses and necklaces on a wall rack, threw broken items away, put donations in a large bag, and then put other items on shelves.

  • Put items at eye level or just above. Get on your knees and look at what your child sees. You don't want kids climbing shelves to get toys down.
  • Don't keep items because Mom or Dad want them. Consider your child's feelings, wants and needs. Most children need us to play with them. Not more toys. If you can't get rid of something, store it elsewhere
  • Stop buying kid's meals. You will eliminate tons of toys.
  • Buy fewer birthday toys. My daughter got a bike from us this year, and that was it. She did have a party with friends, but kids this age don't need a lot to keep them busy.
  • Organize some things without your kids around or they won't let you get rid of anything.
  • Keep a "My Favorite Things" tote under the bed for those special rocks, birthday cards, etc. that they can't get rid of.
  • Think like a kindergarten teacher. Visit a classroom and look around. There are lots of great ideas there.
  • Set a rule that they take out one item at a time, and return it. It's the Kindergarten way. I am bad at keeping it so I need some training too. :-)
  • Have a clean up time once or twice a day. And monitor it. You'll pull your hair out less if you join in. Play "Put away 10 things," or "Put away just the Barbie's."

  • Read this great article: Organization - Toys, Toys and More Toys

Lillian Vernon Online

Monday, February 15, 2010

How the LDS Church, and other groups, are Able to Respond to Disasters

photo Scot Facer Proctor
As we've read about the earthquake in Haiti, the storms in the east, and the other tragedies around the world, this past decade has been a wake-up call. I know some of you are concerned, but I also know that even though bad things happen to good people, these are signs of the times. Challenges and turmoil have been foretold in the scriptures in the last days. Our faith must be strong; our spiritual roots deep to face what will come.

I know many of my readers are not members of my church. I know you have great faith because you come here to learn about food storage from a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Someone who is not an expert, but someone who likes to share.

Members of the Mormon church do not stock-pile, but prepare for a rainy day. The purpose of food storage for us is NOT to prepare for the end of the world. But to help us through difficult times during THIS life such as job loss, illness, natural disasters, and other calamities that will come our way. And to share with others in need. Preparation is thinking ahead, but not stressing over it every second. We have to get up each day and live in this beautiful world.

On a larger scale, the LDS Church Humanitarian Services (our organization for helping those in need) puts aside food, clothing, medical and other emergency supplies so they can respond to disasters around the world. And do it quickly. Within hours of the earthquake in Haiti, emergency response teams were being put together.
"Advance planning, extensive storage of essential items, and an extensive worldwide network of volunteers, allow a swift response when disaster strikes. These volunteers, working cooperatively with other relief agencies, help ensure that 100 percent of all donations are distributed directly to those in need."

Another non-profit organization, Healing Hands for Haiti, was launched in 1998 by LDS physician and returned missionary from Haiti, Jeff Randle. They were able to quickly send doctors, nurses, and other volunteers to Haiti. Some were also former missionaries. Seventy of them were French/Creole speakers. Can you imagine how that would have helped?

Here are some stories about LDS church volunteers and how they have served in Haiti. Please go to Meridian Magazine. You will be amazed at how the call for action was answered. The stories of volunteer doctors and nurses from groups like Healing Hands are truly a testimony to me that God loves his children. And that we are the tools needed to help our brothers and sisters when the call comes. There are plenty of pictures, and I promise you will cry.
Read how the LDS Church is helping launch an aggressive program to help build as many as 600 urgently needed temporary houses for Haitians with kits that include lumber and roofs, before the rainy season in April. “The principle of welfare should take place, where we help the people help themselves,” said Berthony Theodore, a senior Haitian Church leader.

I hope by reading you will be motivated to continue to give, to share, to love, to pray. Even when our newspapers stop printing the stories, the needs will go on. For years to come.

Thank you to volunteers who serve our brothers and sisters everywhere.

Ways to help:
For information about donating emergency items call:
Humanitarian Center 800-453-3860 ext. 26060

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tips For Budgeting NOW For Next Christmas

You may find it funny for me to talk about preparing for Christmas in February, but advance preparation is the key to not go into debt this coming December. Here are a few ideas:
  • Create a Christmas budget NOW! This is the most important thing to do to stay out of debt. Make a list of those you would most likely shop for. Be frugal with how much you might budget on each person. By sticking to my budget last year, I paid cash for everything. That was sooooo nice! Here is a Christmas budget worksheet: Worksheet
  • Set up an automatic weekly transfer from your checking account to a Christmas savings account. Even if you transfer $10 per week, you should have a nice sum by the end of the year.
  • If you pay 10% of your monthly income to tithing, pay a little bit more each month than you normally would. You may end up being a full-tithe payer by October or November. Then use the money you budgeted for tithing for your Christmas funds.
  • Shop now for a few gifts. Some of the best clearance sales are going on now. You could spend $8 on a sweater now or $20 in November. There is nothing wrong with thinking about loved ones now. Just remember where you hide the gifts.
  • If you like to make homemade gifts, pick up some yarn, or fabric you may find on sale now!
  • Planning ahead will prevent a lot of stress and financial challenges later.