Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Week-by-Week Food Storage Plan

Since this is essentially the 5th week of April, we get a break from working on food storage for a week. On these occasional weeks that we have "off", I like to organize my food storage room and make sure everything is in it's place.

Also, if you have fallen behind, or skipped a week that you need to go back and do, this is the perfect time to get caught up. Next week will be here before we know it, so enjoy the breather, and we'll start a new item next Tuesday!

If you haven't started yet, this is a good week To start. Get the plan (leave a comment below for copies of the entire plan), and make some space in a closet, then get started. Remember, one of the great things about this plan is that you can start on any given week of the year, and then a year from that date, you'll have your emergency supply. It is truly a simple, do-able plan... even for the busiest moms and dads!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Nesting Again?

I've got a lot swirling around in my head today. The biggest "swirl" is...

Look closely towards the right side of the triangle...

Can you see how many days we have til our boy comes home? 15 days. 15. Can you believe that? He has been on a LDS mission in the California Roseville Mission, and in fourteen days, it will have been a full two years since he left. I can't explain what I'm feeling. I LOVE that he is serving a mission. Our other son served in Singapore five years ago, and my husband served in the Philippines in "the olden days". We have felt so many blessings showered down on our family while he's been gone, and I know its because of the sacrifices he is making to be out there in the mission field. So, we will miss having a missionary in our home. Having said that, I can't wait to have him home again. I need to wrap my arms around him and look him in the eyes and have our heart-to-heart talks with him sitting at the foot of our bed at night. I have been pretty good about not letting myself go down the road of missing him so much it hurts, but now that we're getting close, those feelings are all coming back up to the surface. I know that the little piece of my heart that was left at the Missionary Training Center two years ago (when we dropped him off there) is going to come back as an even bigger piece. This mother thing just  does something to your heart. I feel like our hearts grow and grow with all of the special things we experience with our kids. Sometimes I feel like my heart is going to burst. And don't even get me started on what happens to our hearts as grandmas.

I'm feeling something akin to nesting. Does that surprise you? I was "Grandma Nesting" for the month before our grand baby was born, and now I'm nesting in preparation for my boy to be back "in the nest". I am getting his room all spruced up, and I'm almost done with that. I've just got to paint his dresser, which I'm working on today and tomorrow. Then I should be done, and then I'll put his room all back together. As in the past, I could use a tractor-trailer for all the stuff we're taking to the thrift store. I'm in the "simplify" mode, and trying to get rid of all the junky stuff that is around. Its going to take a lot of time to get to everything, but I've got time. I'm in no rush. I just want to slowly make my way through each room in the house and cleanse.

For now, keep my focus on two weeks from tomorrow. Sweet thought.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recipe: French Dip Crescent Rolls

I have found a great recipe that is quick and yummy! I use the term "recipe" very loosely, as this doesn't really involve mixing any ingredients together... its more of an assembly process, and a quick one at that. We love french dip sandwiches in our home, but they are only really great if the bread is fresh. This recipe solves that problem.

French Dip Crescent Rolls

-One package of regular Pillsbury crescent rolls
-1/2 to 1 lb of sliced roast beef (depends on how "beefy" you want the rolls)
-8 slices of Provolone cheese

Open the crescent rolls and lay them out on a flat surface. Take a slice of roast beef and a slice of Provolone cheese, and roll it up in a small roll. Place the meet and cheese roll on the thick end of a crescent roll triangle. Begin rolling (thickest end first), wrapping the dough around the meat and cheese. Place on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Serve them warm with au jus. My favorite is Knorr's. 

It is hands-down the best I've had, and I have tried several different recipes and brands. 

I like to serve these little french dip rolls with sweet potato fries and a salad. Its one of those simple meals that everyone loves!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Apple-pear blossoms

It is so beautiful outside! I was able to get outside and work in the yard for a few hours yesterday, and I plan on doing a bit more today and tomorrow. The blossoms are in all their glory right now.

I can't get enough of our apple-pear blossoms. I found myself gazing upwards through the trees as I was digging weeds out beneath them. I may have not been quite as productive because of them, but at least I was enjoying myself!

We were out of town for two weeks and got home just last Friday, and I was thinking that we would miss the blossoms. In fact, I told each of our kids to take pictures of the blossoms and text them to me.

What a lovely day. I'm not even going to let the fact that today I saw my first S-N-A-K-E of the season, mar my perfect day.

I did find a treasure out in the yard today, and my family members are going to be incredulous at this fact: I found three Easter eggs that were tucked in my clematis for our Easter-egg hunt. I still can't believe no one found them. We had a crowd of over 40 people hunting for eggs, and there are some pretty expert egg-hunters in the family. They weren't really even hidden from sight... you can easily spot two of them in this photo. Whaaaat?! We're going to have to start getting a little more serious on those Easter-egg hunts!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Mantel

This year I am craving muted blues and greens. I've been changing my decor slowly but surely away from reds and yellows. I love the tranquil tones of blue and green. It makes me feel like my life is much more peaceful than it is! :)

I definitely did not go all out for spring decorating, other than changing over my color scheme. I've got a sweet little lamb cake mold on the mantel, along with my arch window and a white-painted shutter. I always have a stack of old books around -- in almost every room of the house. I have a thing for old books, you might say.

The oval silver frame is one we used for my daughter's reception decorations, and I've just changed out the ribbons to match the colors of the room. I love the simple, fresh feel of all of it put together.

Ahhhh. Spring.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April Week 4 : Ready Dinners

This week's items for the Week-by-Week Food Storage Plan is:

April Week 4: Ready dinners -- boxed, frozen, MRE's

As with other weeks, decide exactly what your family uses in a year's time. When our kids were younger, and I was running them around in the afternoon hours, we ate "ready dinners" more often than we do these days. If you have a boxed dinner that you like to throw in your meal schedule, then decide how many times you may use that in a year's time, and add that to your shopping list.

I do like to have a frozen stir-fry meal on hand to use once in a while. We probably realistically use them only 4-6 times a year, so I'll put that on my shopping list and stow them away in the freezer for a rainy day.

If you like to store MRE's (stands for Meal: Ready to Eat) in your food supply for long-term storage, this would be the week to be sure you have what you need of those items. There are many great companies out there that have a wide variety of MRE's, and it might be a good time to research and find a company that sells the products that fit your family's needs.

Add any items to your shopping list that you want to store under this week's category. Next time you're at the grocery store, pick up the items and get them on your shelves. Check. Done for the week!

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My Remarkable Mother

With Mother's Day on the horizon, I've been thinking a lot about motherhood. I have many wonderful examples of motherhood in my life. Two of the very best are: my own sweet mother, and my daughter who became a mommy to our first grand baby just a few months ago. I can't explain what complete joy it brings to me to see my daughter being such an adoring, sweet mother to her baby. Brings me to tears just to think about it. I can't wait to watch my other daughter as she and her husband become foster parents. I have no doubts that she will be the most amazing foster mommy ever!

4 generations:
Me, my mom
Whitney and Wyatt

And can I just take a minute and tell you how amazing my mom is?  To begin with, she's 82 years old (or, as she likes to say, "I'm in my 83rd year"). Let me make a list of her awesomeness just to see if you agree:

-She has more energy and excitement for life than anyone I know
-She still works and keeps up her own yard, and it is quite large and full of beautiful flowers and plants. (And when I say she works, I really mean works!) She prunes back grape vines and bushes, plants new pretty things every year, and has a beautiful green thumb!
-She got an IPad last year and uses it all the time. She emails, takes and sends photos, reads blogs, "Googles"things when she wants to look them up, plays Sudoku, reads scriptures, and takes it everywhere with her!
-She loves projects and isn't afraid to tackle just about anything. She just refinished this little scruffed up cabinet she bought at an antique store.


After! So darling!

-She goes to Silver Sneakers workouts at the gym 2-3 times a week
-She tries new delicious recipes all the time and loves to entertain
-She has wonderful health, and it's important to her to keep it that way
-She was recently asked to team-teach the 7-year-old class in her church congregation, AND SHE ACCEPTED!!!! And, I might add, those little 7-year-olds love her!
-Since I brought up serving in our church, I have to add that she has served willingly and faithfully in every calling she has ever been asked to do, which would include being Relief Society president three times. No matter how big or small the assignment, she can always be counted on to do it!
-She is always up for an adventure or a shopping trip
-She loves to visit her "older" friends and family members as they are convalescing in hospitals or homes
-She was just asked to be the Treasurer for her city's women's service club (or Ladies' Guild, as we like to refer to it)
-She reads voraciously and always has one of the classics, a mystery, a biography, and a religious book all going at the same time
-She is an incredible Visiting Teacher and has always taken that opportunity very seriously. She considers it as important as any of the other callings she has had.
-She does all of her own finances, including staying on top of her investments by thumbing through Money Magazine
-She can (and does) fix her own sprinklers. Whaaaaat?!
-She is a strength to all who she comes in contact with -- family, friends, and sometimes even complete strangers. Oh, the stories I could tell of the times she meets someone in line at the store and leaves practically being their best friend. People are drawn to her.
-She is loving and wise and truly a beautiful matriarch of our family.
-Side by side with my father, she has raised 6 daughters, who have given her 33 grand children! She is a wonderful mom and grandma!
-She has been a widow for 10 years, and even though she misses my dad more than she could ever express, she has made a happy, fun, fulfilling life for herself.

Don't you agree? You couldn't ask for a better example of motherhood to her six daughters and 33 grandchildren. If I can be like her by the time I'm "in my 83rd year", I would feel like I've succeeded in life. Love you, Mom!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Taped Candy Treat Ball

I have had some requests to explain how I made the candy ball that we used for a Young Women activity a while back.

It was really easy to make, and such a fun activity for the girls.

To make the candy/treat ball:

You will need small pieces of wrapped candy and clear plastic packing tape. For the candy, I found that it was better to have candy that was wrapped in plastic packaging as opposed to paper packaging, since the paper sometimes sticks to the tape and tears open during the game. You can use other small toys or favors in addition to candy. You can get creative and stick in all kinds of things that have to do with a theme of a party, for instance. The possibilities are limitless.

Start with one piece of candy and wrap a piece of tape around it, leaving a tail about 4" long. Stick another piece of candy under the tape and wrap the tape over it. This will be the center of what will become the candy ball. Cut another piece of tape about 18" long. Start by wrapping it around the "candy ball" you have started. Add a piece of candy, then tape down, and so on. Continue on using strips abut 18" long and taping down candies sporadically as you wrap the tape around the"ball". As you wind it around, and place candies, the ball will start becoming more round. Make the ball as large as you want. It does start to get a bit heavy as it grows.

The reason you use strips of tape instead of one long piece of tape, is that when the kids start unwrapping the ball, you don't want one person to be able to unwind the whole thing that easily. Having smaller pieces makes it harder to get the strips up and unwound within the allotted time.

To play the game:

Have everyone sit in a circle. You will need a pair of dice. One person starts by rolling the dice, while the person to his or her left attempts to find an end of tape and start unwrapping it to reveal the candy. If the person rolling the dice rolls doubles, the person who is unwrapping the ball has to stop and hand the ball to the next person (who is the dice-roller from the last round). The dice-roller hands the dice off to the person on their left, and the whole round starts again. Whatever candy the person is able to unwrap, they are able to keep. It ends up that everyone seems to get something as they unwrap the ball.

It really is a fun way to get everyone laughing and having fun together. And you can make the tape candy ball very inexpensively, too!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Week 3: Emergency Sewing Kit

For this week, the Week-by-Week Food Storage items are:

April Week 3: Emergency Sewing Kit: thread (upholstery thread), pins, needles, buttons, tape measure, scissors, etc.

The nice thing about this week's items are that once you have them on your shelves, they should stay there and you shouldn't have to replenish every year (in theory, that is!).

I keep my sewing kit and threads in a tub that also has some medicines and first-aid items. Store the items you think you'll need in a sewing kit. I keep both regular thread and upholstery thread. Upholstery thread is quite a bit stronger than regular thread.

You can find a little sewing kit with some of the basics at Joann's, or you can put one together on your own. Gather a few of the necessary items, and put them on your shelves, and voila!... you're done for the week!

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Easy and inexpensive DIY topiaries

Have you noticed the topiaries that have been in catalogues and magazines in recent months? I have always loved topiaries, but to buy them from some of the catalog stores can be extremely expensive. These two little photos show real ivy topiaries from Pottery Barn that are beautiful, but expensive (not to mention the fact that they have to be kept alive to continue looking good!). The prices range from $189 to $229.

On my last trip to Taipan, I came across topiary balls and candlesticks of various sizes, and decided this would be an easy and quick project. Each topiary ended up costing from $13 to $17. Not bad, comparatively. I have to stop right here and say that at Taipan, they had different examples of topiaries using these balls sitting around. They were just perched on the candlesticks, without being glued down. So, I bought several sets and packaged one up as part of a birthday gift for my sister. After I had already given my sister her gift, I got the others out of the shopping bag and started playing around with them, I realized that they weren't going to stay perched on the candlestick without some way of gluing or holding them down. So, if you're reading this, Sheri, I need that present back so I can secure it well. I hate to think of you having that somewhere in your home, and that blasted topiary ball always toppling off when you least expect it!

Now that I have that off my chest, let's get on with the instructions for making a nicely secured topiary. I started with a candlestick or decorative clay pot. This example will show a glazed candlestick.

I took the topiary ball and found one of the two ends and plucked away the leaves from about a three inch diameter area. I used scissors to snip away any little bits of plastic that protruded from the base.

I checked to make sure the spot I had cleared away would fit nicely on top of the candlestick, and then carefully applied hot glue liberally to the top of the candlestick. I quickly set the topiary with the cleared spot right onto the hot glue and held it firmly until it dried. And there you have it... a darling little topiary that fits nicely into just about any room or decor. I am using mine in my living room. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April Week 2: Milk, etc.

This week's Week-by-Week Food Storage items are:

April Week 2: Dry milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate milk, hot cocoa mix

Again, think of these items in two ways: long-term storage and also shorter term. For long-term storage, I store powdered milk, hot cocoa mix, and Morning Moo's milk chocolate drink. I don't ever open those in the course of a normal year, so those will sit on the shelves for quite a while.

For shorter-term storage, I stock up on evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. I figure out what I will go through in a normal year, add a few to that number, and get them all on the shelves. I also am careful to use these items so that they are rotated through and don't have a chance of expiring.

One of the great things about this system is that I almost always have everything I need on my shelves for any given recipe (except of course fresh items). I never completely run out of anything, so I'm never in a panic to run to the store to get some item I'm in desperate need of. Its an easy system to start and an even easier one to maintain throughout the coming years.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

General Conference Printables

I LOVE General Conference weekend! It is just the thing to fill my cup to overflowing every six months. I'm excited to hear what messages are meant for me! There are always several things I go away with that I know I need to work on. 

I love Pinterest and blogs that are so quick to come out with free printables and signs almost as soon as conference ends. Last October, yourhomebasedmom.com came out with some great ones. I can't wait to see what she and others do after this conference is over. It would be fun to have a frame that you could slip these printables in and out of to give your family inspiration throughout the weeks. Hmmm. I think I'll look around for an empty frame.

 printable by yourhomebasedmom.com

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Activity Days: Friendship Necklaces

We made a fun friendship necklace for Activity Days last time we met. We were working on the category "Serving Others", and the third item under that category. It says, "Make a list of the qualities you like in a person. choose one quality to develop in yourself. discuss how showing respect and kindness strengthens you, your family, and others."

We discussed qualities that they liked in other people (friends and family), and had them write them down on a piece of paper. Then, we talked about how it would be wonderful to have those same qualities in ourselves so that we might be that kind of friend or family member that others are drawn to. We had them circle one of the things on their paper that they could work on the coming week.

We also talked about how important it is to be a good friend to everyone, and specifically geared it to our own Activity Days group. Some of the girls go to different schools, and they're in different grades, so they may not be each other's "best friend". We talked about how you can be good friends with other people besides your "best friend".

Then, we handed out these  bags with little wooden charms that had their names written on them. They each took the bag with their charms in them, and decorated the little wooden charms using markers.

They turned out darling, and I wish I had taken a photo of their decorated charms. They were quite artistic and had some cute original ideas with flowers, dots, stripes, etc. So cute!

After they were done, they handed each of the other girls one of their charms so that each of the girls ended up with a charm from every girl in the group. We strung them on a ball chain necklace.

The charms in the above photo are obviously not decorated yet, but you get the idea...

Afterwards, we gave them each a bag of chocolate hearts to symbolize the love that they should ideally have for each other. It was a fun, easy activity, and the girls LOVED their necklaces!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Week 1: Pasta - all types, including mac and cheese

We have finished up March and are moving on to April. I can't really believe that, but I guess I have to go with it.

This week's food storage items are:

April Week 1: Pasta - all types, including mac and cheese and packaged pasta dinners

This week's list will be short or long, depending on the pasta that your family consumes in a year. For my family, we are finding that we like the whole wheat pasta quite a bit, so we are trying to replace the regular pasta with that whenever we can.

Think about the recipes that you make that call for pasta: casseroles, spaghetti, lasagna, salads, etc. Write down the types of pasta that are used in the recipes and decide how many times in a year you'll be likely to make those dishes. You'll end up with a good list of the pastas you will need in your storage. Remember that this system is specifically designed to help you rotate through and use your food storage, so whenever you make any food using pasta in the coming year, take from your food storage. If you acquire a nice supply of foods, but don't rotate through them, you'll end up throwing a lot of old food away, and that is a huge waste of time and money.

My husband and I don't eat much mac and cheese (okay, we don't eat ANY mac and cheese, but I do have a cute college student son who comes home and scarfs a box of mac and cheese once in a while). I'll store just a bit of mac and cheese. Maybe when my grandson starts eating solid food, I'll keep a few more boxes on the shelf.

Are there any other pre-packaged pasta dinners that your family eats? If so, be sure to include them on the master list.

I told you last week about the Family Home Storage Center.  (To read last week's post detailing the Family Home Storage Center, click here) Believe it or not, they also have pasta, and I have canned both macaroni and spaghetti. They are good for 30 years, so those are definitely long-term items that I don't open up unless I truly need to.

You should have a good list of items to add to your grocery list. Next time you get to the grocery store, pick up these items and get them on your shelves at home. You can now rest for the week, knowing you have something your family actually will eat, on your food storage shelves. Yay!

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.