Friday, October 29, 2010

Food Storage Items to Shop for in November

Halloween is upon us, and we are a candy family. Every year I try to hide the Trick-or-Treat candy so we don't eat it all up before Halloween. We did better this year, but I need to really hide it.

Having said that I think it's important to have some comfort foods put aside in food storage. And the first few days after Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, and Easter are good times to do just that. You can also use clearance Halloween candy (without Halloween wrappers) for Christmas stocking stuffers, Gingerbread houses, or other holiday baking. Check out these ideas: Creative Uses for Easter Candy, and Great ideas for leftover Halloween candy
Also, Halloween costumes and wigs make great Christmas gifts for preschool and school-age children who love to dress up.
So, here is my list of suggested items to STOCK UP on in November. Watch for sales and shop for what fits into your budget.

Shelf Stable Foods
Pumpkin, canned
Sweet potatoes/Yams, canned
Evaporated Milk (or next month)
Spices - cinnamon, etc.
Cake mix
Brownie mix
Pie filling
Broth - beef & chicken
Cooking spray
Brown sugar
White sugar (or next month)
Flour (or next month)

Cotton balls
Plastic wrap

Halloween costume clearance (save for Christmas gifts)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Son's Mission Call is to Stockholm Sweden

We found out this afternoon that Stockholm Sweden is the place where my third son will serve his LDS mission for two years. He will need to learn Swedish. We were very excited tonight, but know it will be a challenging experience. My father told me that his grandmother is from that area. So we will be digging out the family history. Wow. My eldest son served in Mongolia and my second son served in Bolivia & Peru. And I know very little Spanish. :) I am grateful for all of my sons and the example they set for each other, and for me. I feel very blessed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Evacuating the Herriman, Utah Fire - True to Life Story

Mt. Timpanogos Temple in foreground

After watching the first news report of the Herriman Fire in Utah on Sunday, September 19, 2010, I suddenly remembered that our friends lived there. I felt some concern and quickly called them. The seriousness in the voice of her husband concerned me. We spoke briefly and hung up. Then I remembered I had an evacuation list on my computer. I felt I was moving in slow motion as I emailed them my list, but I knew they probably were not sitting at their computer and would not get it in time.

I needed to hear my friend's voice and called again. This time she picked up and told me what was happening, and that they were packing up. She told me what she was taking and asked if she was doing okay, or had she forgotten anything. I was a bit stunned that she was asking ME, the preparedness blog writer whose brain was all jumbled.

After sharing a few more ideas and telling her she had done a good job, she told me she loved me and hung up the phone. It was then that I cried. Too close to the home in my heart! Praying for them calmed my nerves, but when something like this happens to people you are close to, it is not easy. Even writing this is bringing back memories and making my heart race again. I immediately revised my Evacuation List for others, and posted it quickly on my blog. I had over 1000 visits over the next few days.

Feeling helpless, I stayed glued to the news reports for the next few days. Our friends were able to evacuate, and their home was saved, but the fire was on the hill directly behind their home. Lots to cleanup afterwards. With her permission, I share part of an email she sent me the day after the fire in hopes that it will motivate some of you to prepare to evacuate from anything.

"Dear Valerie,

I thought you might be interested in a few observations and/or lessons that we learned through our Herriman fire. At the time of evacuation, we were having a birthday dinner for our son. We noticed the smoke on the hill. We drove up the road about a mile to the reservoir. Many neighbors were there. We were in our church clothes but I didn't have my shoes on. We got out of the car to watch. The attitude of everyone was pretty carefree thinking this is so strange so close to home. Then all of a sudden everything changed. The wind picked up and the flames crested the hill. Everyone literally scrambled for home. I felt so unprepared for what was happening. Because I was without shoes, my husband carried me to the car.

"The grandchildren were very scared and cried quite a bit. I felt bad that I couldn't take the time to console. We did gather in family prayer (our granddaughter's suggestion). I was grateful that I had just put the majority of scrapbooks in bins. That helped a lot. It helped that I had so many helpers with me. One of my married daughters grabbed collector's books from the bookcase. And another grabbed heirlooms from the hutch. I dug through my cedar chest.

"It was a mistake to have insurance papers in one place downstairs and other documents upstairs. We literally pulled out all drawers in the file cabinet. I definitely need to organize that better. I told my 12 year-old daughter and 17 year-old son to pack for one or two days and be prepared for school. My 12 year-old had a project due and parts were spread between 3 different cars-not good. I told her to pack for the dog (thanks Val) and we packed our meds (thanks Val) but--- we forgot toiletries and pjs and enough clothes. We were out longer than we were prepared for personally. I wanted a toothbrush!

On Monday, we had no place to go. We had found a hotel the previous night that would take our dog. Thanks to our daughter's friend. Hotel rooms went fast and her parents reserved it for us. Anyway, on Monday we went to the Red Cross Center at the High School. I wasn't impressed. Definitely better to have your own 72 hour kit. We didn't because they were too old from Riverside. I had downloaded the list to re-stock them during general conference. Oh well.

I guess what I realized the most is how unsettling this is emotionally. Even for the adults. I am so grateful that all turned out, except for the 4 families. At the time of packing, I didn't realize how much sentimental things and pictures I have collected. I'm going to get them on the computer and start handing out these items to the older kids. It should never be all in one home. By the way, our son-in-law was quickly going around taking pictures of our belongings for the insurance if we needed it. I thought that was smart. I really was blessed not to be alone. Anyway, sorry about the book. Thanks again for all you do in preparing families."
D.S. Herriman, Utah

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Holiday Christmas Planning Calendar - Updated

Tweaking my Holiday Christmas Planning Calendar was a necessity this year, because we are awaiting my 3rd son's mission call, planning my eldest son's wedding, and my 14 year-old's leg surgery. My calendar has evolved over the years, but it is an absolute necessity for me. The idea is to reduce as much stress caused by the holidays as possible while our routine and sometimes not so routine life goes on.

December is a time to be spent with family, attend school concerts, create memories, and ponder the birth of our Savior. So to ease my stress, our artificial tree goes up the week before Thanksgiving. Some people think I'm odd for doing it then, but I think my family likes a stress-free mom on Thanksgiving Day. Because of how busy I will be this year, there won't be any homemade gifts. I'm okay with that. And our Christmas letter will be emailed the week after Christmas. :)

Putting each of these tasks/projects on my Gmail calendar is a lifesaver. I created them as "All Day" events, and made them repeat "Yearly." Love that! Now it's time to cruise along. If you are feeling a little bit frenzied, copy it and adjust for yourself.

1st Week
Fall harvest decorating
2nd Week
Update Christmas card addresses
3rd Week
Calendar Temple Square holiday events
4th Week
Buy Halloween costumes
Holiday travel plans

1st Week
Halloween decorating
D.I. for Halloween decorations
2nd Week
Make Christmas budget
Start Santa wish lists
3rd Week
Shop holiday dresses
Buy pumpkins
Thanksgiving table decor
Buy work gifts
Online Christmas Shopping
4th Week
Online Christmas Shopping
D.I. for Christmas decorations
Inspect Christmas lights
Calendar Holiday parties
Master Christmas Gift list

1st Week
Christmas shopping
Halloween decorations down
Thanksgiving decorations up
Inspect Christmas decor
2nd Week
Christmas shopping
Kids go Christmas shopping
Christmas lights up
Buy stocking suffers
Holiday party menus
3rd Week
Finish Christmas shopping
Wrap/mail relative gifts
Set up Christmas tree
Thanksgiving food
4th Week
Thanksgiving food prep
Thanksgiving decor down
Christmas decor up
Visit Temple Square lights

1st Week
1st Presidency Devotional
Wrap gifts
Attend concerts & parties
2nd Week
Buy Christmas food
Make Christmas goodies
Go caroling
3rd Week
Christmas dinner prep
Read Christmas story
Enjoy Christmas Day with family!
4th Week 
Shop after Christmas sales
New Year's activities

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Car Emergency Kits: Fall Is The Time to Update

Fall is here and so is the cooler weather. Now is a good time to update your car emergency kits. Below are some items I want in our cars. It took me two hours to work on my Honda Pilot today. I moved things around in various places in the car. Everything is not in the red bag. So read on.

Emergency Radio Station:
Set one of the car radio buttons to the emergency weather station in your area. Emergency Radio AM Emergency & Locations Utah
Green Bin :
  • One of the most useful items I keep in my car is a good blanket. Now that it's cooler, I'll add another one. We've used it to sit on, bundle up in, and cover up groceries on a hot day. It can also be used to treat someone in shock or move an injured person.
  • Walking shoes (can you imagine walking 10 miles in heels?)
  • Beanie and mittens
  • The bin could also be used to carry things

Insulated Cooler Bag w/shoulder strap:
  • If I had to walk, I could carry some things in the bag
  • Water bottles (one per seat)
  • First aid kit (refill band aids)
  • Feminine items
  • Jumper cables
  • Small tool set (may need to tighten battery cables)
  • Bungee cords
  • Extra batteries for flashlight
  • Toilet paper roll in plastic baggie
  • Cleaning rag (yellow can be used as signal)
  • Plastic kitchen trash bags (useful for cleanup)
  • Duct tape (tear off larger roll; wrap around self)
  • Matches
  • Emergency flares
  • Work gloves
  • Hand warmers
  • Whistle and small mirror
  • Multi-tool w/pocket knife
  • Bright bandana (left over from Trek; could be broken arm splint)
  • Emergency Cash ($20)
Driver's Door Pocket
  • Flashlight
  • Umbrella
  • Snow/ice scraper (oh where, oh where has it gone!)
  • Snow gloves
  • Plastic rain poncho
Driver's Seat back pocket

  • Activities for kids to pass the time
Glove box

  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Detailed area map
  • Important papers
Console Bin In-Between Two Front Seats
  • Food bars, easy open canned fruit, canned nuts
  • Hand lotion
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dental toothpicks
  • Plastic forks/spoons (keep extras from fast food)
  • Paper towels (folded in baggie)
  • Pad of paper
  • Pen/pencils
  • Small scissors
  • Car cell phone charger
  • Pocket pack Kleenex
  • Chapstick
Other Items:
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Small shovel
  • Jack for tires (mine is built in)
  • Spare tire (have air checked when rotate tires)
  • Chains (I have 4-wheel drive)
  • Car fuses
  • Fix-a-Flat
Printable Car Emergency Kit list
Read my older post My Handy Dandy Emergency Car Kit

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Beef Stew with Vegetables Recipe for Canning

One of my readers sent me this great recipe for canning your own beef stew!

Beef Stew with Vegetables (so much better than purchased canned stew!)

4-5 lbs beef stew meat (whatever is on sale)
8 cups sliced carrots
3 cups chopped celery
3 cups chopped onions
12 cups pared potatoes
10 cups water
4 T. beef soup base (good price at Costco or Sam’s Club)

I make this outside in a vented garage or on the porch so it doesn’t heat up the house. Also, it’s very good if you have a very sharp knife to do all the chopping (the first time I made this I got blisters!). Brown the meat in a Dutch oven on the cache cooker, using a little oil if necessary. Remove meat to a container to keep warm. Wipe extra oil out of Dutch oven with a paper towel and discard. Add onions to the Dutch oven and simmer until the onions are cooked. Stir in water and beef soup base and boil together.

Divide the meat into 7 quart jars. To each jar, add 1 ¾ cup potatoes, 1 cup plus 2 T. carrots, and a scant ½ cup celery. Add ½ tsp. salt and a dash of pepper per quart. Ladle beef broth with onions into each quart leaving 1-inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust caps. Process quarts 1 hour and 15 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.

T. Wilson (Grantsville, UT)

Friday, October 1, 2010

LDS General Conference Coloring and Activity Notebook

(Update 3/18/2012 I just finished a new post on making one for this year. Some of the links in this old post don't work anymore)

For my 5 year-old, I made a General Conference notebook with activities for her to do during the meetings this weekend. Because of her age, I found various coloring and activity pages from a variety of sources below. Create your own unique notebook based on your child's needs and skill level. If you want to copy this idea, here is what I did:

Print all pages in black and white to save on color ink.
Hole-punch and put all pages in the notebook.
Alternate the coloring and activity pages for variety.
Provide markers and pencils.

My Notebook pages:
Print page 1 from Conference Notebook at for the cover.
Print pages 5 & 6 from Junior Primary Packet at
Print pages 9, 10 & 11 from Junior Primary Packet at
Print pages 4 - 11 from Conference Notebook at

Print these activity pages
Conference Squares (just print 1)
Joseph Smith Receives the Gold Plates (click view as pdf)
Time for Family Prayer Maze
Salt Lake Temple Dot-to-Dot
Liahona Dot-to-Dot
Girl Praying Dot-to-Dot
Gold Plates Dot-to-Dot
I Love My Family Search and Find
Service Project Search and Find
Primary Maze
CTR Maze

Print these Coloring Pages
Missionary Conference Coloring Page
I Will Follow the Prophet
Temple Blessings Unite Families
Faith, Prayer, Repentance, and Forgiveness
The Scriptures Teach Me about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
Baptism and Confirmation
The Creation
Adam and Eve Teach Their Children
Joseph Smith In Prayer
Jesus Calms the Storm
Sermon on the Mount has General Conference Packets for various kid's ages. I only printed a few pages of interest for my daughter from the Junior Primary Packet. For more coloring pages go to Friend Magazine

This was a fun project! I hope she likes it.