Thursday, November 28, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving!

I've mentioned how I love this holiday. It doesn't get much better than a holiday devoted to gratitude, blessings, family, and yummy food. This week of Thanksgiving, my heart has been full to overflowing. I lay in bed at night and think of the lists and lists of ways I've been blessed throughout my life.

I'm grateful for...

-our Savior, Jesus Christ and a loving Heavenly Father. Because literally without Them, none of the rest of this list would be possible. They make our daily happiness possible and a reality. I will spend my entire life doing my best to give back to Them.
-my husband. He completely understands me (no small feat) and is supportive of my every whim, and new idea. We LOVE the time we are able to be together. Love. I've talked about Bob's amazing talents and abilities quite a bit here. Suffice it to say, he is the strongest man in the world, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. And he brings such laughter and joy to our home.
-my four kids and their spouses. I can't say enough about our kids. They are literally the best! And how can we be so lucky to love every one of our sweet sons and daughters-in-law (including the sweetie that will be joining our family in March)? We consider that quite a blessing!
-our grandson, and another babe coming in March. Wow. Talk about one of the most amazing things that we've ever experienced... our hearts opening up wide and loving that little guy more than words can describe.
-work. How grateful I am that my husband has built a business (with his own smarts and determination and an incredible amount of hard work) that continues to support our family.
-my parents and sisters. I had an sweet, idyllic childhood with five of the most incredible sisters. And the best part is, we have continued to be great friends and love to be together. And you've heard me talk about my parents. They simply are the best!
-the world. Every time I go outside and look east, I stop and look at those beautiful mountains and almost gasp. And the beauty doesn't stop there. Everywhere I go, there are beautiful things to look at, whether it is here, locally, or in our amazing country (which I love to see), or in other countries. We are surrounded by lovely things.
-my health. How I hope I never take this for granted. We have known many in our lives who live with life-long health issues and others who have succumbed to illness and disease. Each day, as I get ready to go down and climb on the treadmill, I think about how some of our friends would do anything to be healthy enough to even walk on a treadmill, let alone run. I am truly grateful for my health.
-home. We have lived in a few different homes, some much smaller than others. And in every single one of them, we have been happy and cozy. A home truly is wherever your family lives. I love the feeling of walking in our home and feeling warm and safe and content.
-technology. My family will think I've lost my mind when they read that, because I usually do not express that sentiment about technology. BUT, I have to admit that without it, we wouldn't have access to so much. It is an amazing way to stay connected to each other.
-life. Life itself is the greatest gift. Every single day. There are miracles all around us, and such lovely things to be a part of as families and as individuals. Oh, what a blessing life is.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November Week 4: Potatoes

This week's food storage items are:

November Week 4: Potatoes: buds, pearls, scalloped, etc.

Let's first talk about long-term storage. The potato flakes you see in the can in the photo, are from the Family Home Storage Center, and I dry-packed them myself. They last 30+ years. You add milk, butter and salt, as well as hot water, but since I have all of those items in long-term storage, it should work out just fine. I like these potatoes really well, so we are able to use them in a pinch. But, since they have such a long shelf life, there really isn't much need to rotate through them at this point. You can order these by the 6-can case by clicking here.

The other package is also from the Family Home Storage Center, but these already have the milk and butter incorporated into them. You only have to add hot water to them. Since they have the fats in them, they have a much shorter shelf life. These generally last a year or so. That means that these ones I definitely have to rotate through. Again, they make a good mashed potato, and I generally would much rather whip up a batch of these than go through the rigors of making mashed potatoes from scratch. But that's just me.

Also, if you use any other sort of potato that is boxed, such as scalloped, this would be the time that you would re-stock your shelves. These have a shorter shelf life as well, so take that into consideration.

Now, decide your family's needs for potatoes. If you have a Family Home Storage Center nearby (to locate the Centers, click here), I would encourage you to make a visit. You can buy the instant potatoes there easily, and sometimes they even have some Potato Flakes canned and ready for the taking. Even if you have to can your own, it is a quick and fun process to learn. To see an order form of all that is available at the center when you visit, click here.

If you don't have access to a Center nearby, you can look into Emergency Essentials, or any other on-line provider of food storage items. I haven't ever ordered potatoes from any of them, so you're on your own with that venture.

Otherwise, you can do a shorter term storage and be sure to rotate through before they expire in a year's time. After you have your list of items to purchase, buy them the next time you are in a grocery store, and get the items on your shelves. Update your Inventory Sheets, and sit back and enjoy Thanksgiving with your family!

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. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the blogpost that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Gratitude Book

This is an easy idea that will be a keepsake throughout time. We started a Thanksgiving Book a couple of years ago. Whoever is home for Thanksgiving that year can write what they're thankful for. Even in just a couple of short years, it is fun to be able to look back and see what was written. I covered a lined thesis book with scrapbook paper and photocopies of my old postcards. It didn't cost me anything, since I used supplies that I already had on hand. You could even use a binder, and then you can leave it plain or decorate it when you have a minute. The point is just to have something for everyone to write the things they are thankful for.

I'm excited for when our grandchildren can write (or draw pictures), and then they can write something in the book, too.

I think this year I'm going to add a photo of our family at the Thanksgiving table (and perhaps a photo or two from throughout the day.

I so love Thanksgiving. I love that it's a holiday based around gratitude, family, and yummy food. Its a beautiful holiday... Can't wait for Thursday!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Activity Days: Gratitude and Thanksgiving

I was in charge of Activity Days a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to tie it in with Thanksgiving and Gratitude. For Activity Days (twice a month activities for girls ages 8-11), I feel like I need to be creative in incorporating one of the requirements, and in letting the girls make or do something. (Hence the term "Activity Days"). I have the younger ages, so they are the 8 and 9 year olds. They love to make things, and are excited about ANYTHING we plan. They are darling!

In my age group, we have three leaders, so we each take turns being in charge. It makes it a breeze, since it means we theoretically only have to be over an activity every six weeks. After serving in Young Women, where we have weekly activities, that is ever so easy. When it is our turn to be in charge, we have a scheduled topic from the book, and then we can choose any of the requirements and base an activity around that. My topic for my activity was "Serving Others".

Soooooo, I went to that section in the book, and scanned the various requirements. 

I decided this one worked great for this time of the year: "Write a letter to a teacher, your parents, or your grandparents telling them what you appreciate and respect about them".

So, we first talked about gratitude and what it means to be thankful.  I shared a couple of stories with them, and discussed them a bit, and then we moved on to making some cards.

We started with this mat stack that I've had in my paper stash. Perfect size.

They each picked a couple of sheets from the stack so that they could make two cards. They folded the papers in half, and then glued this darling "Thankful and Blessed" graphic (go to for the free printable) to the front. Then, they each wrote two different Gratitude Notes to two different people they were grateful for.

Then, of course we had to make a little treat to go with the note. I gathered a few supplies that I had on hand: baker's twine, treat bags, and extrenous treats from Halloween (okay... leftover candies, but it's not like they were the icky ones, or that they were a year old... heck, I would have loved to get that little sack of treats!)

They again chose some pages from the mat stack, and folded it in half the other way to make the bag topper. We stuffed the bags with candy bars and then stapled the topper to the top of the folded bag.

They punched a hole in the top of the bag topper and also the card, and attached the card to the bag, leaving a nice long loop at the top...

... so that they could put the treat on someone's door and leave it for them to find. What a fun surprise! I don't know if the girls believed me when I told them, that even though the treat was fun, the best part of that little package were the cards that they so painstakingly wrote expressing their gratitude. What treasures!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November Week 3: Rolled oats, oatmeal, cornmeal, cream of wheat, boxed cereal

This week's food storage items are:

November Week 3: Rolled oats, oatmeal, cornmeal, cream of wheat, boxed cereal

For this week, try to consider all of the cereal items you use, as well as cornmeal. There will likely be some that you use for breakfast, but also think about the cookies and baking you do. How much of these items would you go through in a year's time? Just make an estimation, and make a list. Do you already have some of these things in storage? If so, take that into consideration, and adjust your list accordingly. Now you have a shopping list of what you will need this week. In the next couple of days, make a point to go to a grocery store where you can pick up the things you need. After you bring them home, update your Inventory Sheets and get the items on your food storage shelves. Woo hoo! You are done for this week, and you are one week closer to having what your family will need for their food storage.

Now, if oats are packaged for long-term storage (like at the dry-pack cannery), then they can stay good for 30+ years! So, that means that you can have some long-term oats on the shelves, as well as some that you can rotate through for the next year. This is a food storage system that is meant for rotation. As I've mentioned before, I hate to throw away food storage that has gone bad. It feels like such a waste, and then it doesn't get me that excited about replacing it, UNLESS I rotate through the food and use what I am storing. If you check your shelves before you go grocery shopping, you can easily rotate through what you already have. That's why I like to have a little more than a year's supply of most items... so that when I get to the end of my year of "rolled oats", say, then I'm not completely out, but have some to get me by til my shelves are replenished.

Be sure to look at dates on your packages. Many cereals don't have a long shelf life, so work that into your plan.

You could also fill your shelves with everything BUT cold cereal, which is what I do. We don't eat enough of it for me to be concerned about putting it on my inventory sheet, but if you feel that's an item you want to keep track of, then add it to your sheet.

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. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the blogpost that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fall Yard Clean-Up

It is that time of year again. I haven't the slightest clue as to how it got here that fast! It's well into November now, and last week was the first chance I had to rake a bit and get my patio and deck ready for winter. Because the snow will come. 

The yard is in a strange transition. Since it has been such a warm fall, there are perennials beginning their new growth, and flowers blooming. Some of my plants look like they should in the spring time. The backyard needs a little T.L.C... okay, so it needs a lot of it. Since we have construction going on in the backyard, and half of the yard is torn up, I haven't been as vigilant back there as I normally would have been at this point in time.

All of the tree leaves in our yard have come down, and they all like to gather in and around the pond.

On Saturday, we found ourselves with a couple of hours of time, so I got the rake out and went to work gathering some of the leaves up.

I have to admit that I really don't mind raking. The weather is usually so nice and crisp and gorgeous, and you notice such a difference after the leaves are all raked. AND, the exercise doesn't hurt, either.

While I was raking, Bob was working over by our firepit, getting it ready for some trenches to be dug on Monday.

The fish have quieted down and are enjoying the cool weather. Koi "hibernate" over the winter, so we stop feeding them, and now that we've turned the pond pump off, we'll place a bubbler in the pond for some aeration. Other than that, they keep to themselves and slow way down.

Since we're getting rid of the pond, the fish are going to have to find another home. We've given a few of the fish away, but there is still a good group of them that need to move on. I hate to see them go, but it will be nice not to have the worry of the pond with my little grandson and other future grandbabies running around the yard.

And after our work day, my patio now looks like this...

It's not quite as inviting as it is during the summer, but at least everything is buttoned down and ready for the winter weather. We even turned the sprinkler water off for the year, emptied the hoses of water and coiled them up, and put the faucet insulators in place. 

I still have some gardening clean-up to do before winter sets in, but we've made a good dent in the fall project list. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November Week 2: Chocolate!

This week's items are:

November Week 2: Chocolate Baking Supplies

Now, you may say to yourself that you can do without chocolate in an emergency situation. I beg to differ. If you find yourself in a long-term emergency situation, don't you think a little chocolate treat might be just the thing to put a smile on your face, along with everyone else's face (who will think you're the cat's pajamas because you have chocolate amid the chaos)? I rest my case.

But, even if you didn't plan for chocolate in an emergency situation, if you use chocolate at all throughout the year in your baking, then you'll want to have it in your year's supply. That way you'll always have it on hand when the chocolate need arises.

Figure out what you normally use in a year's time as far as chocolate chips (milk and semi-sweet), Nutella, cocoa, and baking chocolate squares. Keep in mind that Thanksgiving and Christmas are ahead, so you may go through a little more in the next couple of months then the rest of the year.

After you've come up with the chocolate you'd like on your shelves, then add that list to your grocery list and pick up the items in the next couple of days. Get them on your shelves and update your inventory sheet. It's as easy as that! You are done for the week, and you can feel good knowing you have a few more supplies on your shelves for the days ahead.

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. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the blogpost that featured that week's items. 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, November 11, 2013

From Halloween to Thanksgiving Decorations

I LOVE this time of year. I love the warm colors of fall decorating. Everything feels so cozy and pleasant!

I make the transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving decorating really easily. This year I made a sign that has a Halloween side and a Thanksgiving side.

I started with it on the Halloween side...

And as soon as Halloween was over, I turned it around to the other side...

I still have the same stack of books, old window, and dried fall leaves as a backdrop for the decor.

I've just taken out the Halloween decorations and replaced them with a few Thanksgiving things. Really, on my mantel, the only things that I have up there that are specifically Thanksgiving, are books and the sign.

And because I collect old postcards, I always bring a few out to set in my card holder.

The dining room is pretty simple, too. I had just a few things in it that were truly Halloween, so I put them away, and left the table and sideboard with just fall and Thanksgiving things.

I was roaming through the aisles of the grocery store and saw these rolls of twine for $1.29. I picked two of them up and stuck a couple of candlesticks in them. So easy, inexpensive, and I'll be able to use the twine afterwards for other things. Love it!

And on the back of the chairs, I tied a little sprig of fruit and leaves with a sheer gold ribbon. The sprig was on sale at Joann for 40% off, so they were pretty darn cheap!

I have more Thanksgiving things (pilgrims, turkeys, cornucopias, etc) in my storage room, but I'm liking things just like they are. And besides, I do have one set of pilgrims and Indians out. When you're a grandma, you unabashedly add things like this to your decor.

The grand baby loves it, and I love that there is something within his reach that he can play with to his heart's content!

I think I'll call it "done" for this year. Simplify, Dayna, Simplify. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Radon Testing in our Home

Somehow our neighborhood here in Draper was built in an area where radon gas seems to be an issue. There are several houses on our street that have radon gas mitigators (not sure if that's the official term, but you get the idea...). Sooooo, after worrying and wondering for some time, I finally got a number of a company that can come in and cut through the basement floor, install a flue and a fan, and get rid of the radon gas in homes. I called them, thinking they could just nip the problem in the bud (think Barney Fife: "Nip it in the bud!") Anyway, after talking to them, they said I really should get a test kit and test it before going to the expense of getting their company involved.

I went to Home Depot and picked up two test kits ($10.00 each).

I set them on my work bench and the days went by without me thinking about them too much. Finally, after seeing that on my "to-do" list for longer than I care to mention, I opened up the test kits and placed them in my basement.

To do the test correctly, you would place the two little canisters about a foot apart from each other. Since I had two test kits (four canisters in all), I did the tests in two different parts of my basement, just to be sure.

You take the lids off and let the canisters sit undisturbed for exactly three days. I did just that, and after three days, put them into the little provided postage-paid envelopes, and mailed them off. A week or two later, I received reports on both sets. One set showed an average of 0.8 pCi/L, and the other showed 2.1 pCi/L. Looks like a bunch of gibberish, except for the fact that it says if your levels are below 4.0 pCi/L, you should be okay. Yay! We passed the test! Yay!

I have read that if you live in an area where radon gas is known to be a problem, to test again in a year. I've noticed there is also a long-term radon test where you test for a whole year. They say radon gases spike up and down quite a bit, so that may not be a bad way to go.

For now, I can feel good that the levels are where they should be. And I know how easy the whole process is, so next time I do this, I won't put it off. It's as easy as picking up the test kits, opening the packages, placing the canisters out with their lids off, and waiting three days. Then, you just put the lids back on, fill out the little form, and mail it off. Its a pretty simple way of knowing if there is a deadly gas problem in your home. Small, small price to pay!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Week 1: Vitamins

This week's items are pretty simple...

November Week 1: Vitamins

What vitamins do you and your family take? Keep an extra bottle of each of the vitamins with your food storage items. I keep mine in a bin in my food storage room with medicines and extra first-aid items. Make a list of the vitamins your family takes, and plan on getting at least one bottle extra of each of the vitamins. In a perfect world, you'll want to have a full year's supply of the vitamins, but if you want to start slowly, just buy one extra bottle of each. It helps to buy larger bottles, and be sure to check the expiration date on whatever vitamins you purchase so that you know they'll stay good for at least a year.

In the next day or two, when you have an opportunity to get to the store, pick up the vitamins you'll need, and get them on your food storage shelves. Update your inventory, and pat yourself on the back for doing something to provide for you and your family in the case of an emergency. Yay for you!

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. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the blogpost that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.