Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July Week 5: Catch-Up Week!

Since this is our fifth week in July, and we only do four emergency prep weeks per month, this week is your "catch-up" week. I usually take this week to straighten out my food storage room, or to get caught up on buying, if need be. It's nice to have a breather once in a while. I mean, we deserve it, right? Working every week to get our families prepared and ready for "come what may"... sometimes we just need to sit back and rest for a day or two.

And next week, we'll be right back at it for August...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Procrastination and Cutting Back the Wisteria

Do you ever have one of those chores that you put off... and put off... and put off? And then when you finally get to it, you could kick yourself for having waited so long. Trimming the wisteria is one of those "chores". I see it reaching it's long, wiry limbs out, and I think that I'll get to that on the weekend. Then the weekend comes and is filled with a hundred other things, and it gets pushed off. 

It was starting to get a little scary. I mean, if you walked past it, you literally would get caught in it's vines. It was like something out of an old jungle movie. 

Last week I finally bit the bullet, and went to work on it. It took a way longer than usual, because I had let it go for too long. It really isn't a hard or terrible job... just one that is easy to put off.

The scary "before"

The tame "after"

I did learn from this experience, and yesterday, when I saw maybe twenty vines getting a little crazy, I quickly cut them back and went about my day. Sooooo much easier.

The moral of the story is, don't procrastinate. Take care of whatever it is now, before it gets all burly and out of hand. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Happy Pioneer Day! Do you have pioneer ancestors?

It is Pioneer Day here in Utah! For those who don't know about Pioneer Day...

We love our Pioneer Day holiday. One more summer holiday, and this one has special, deep meaning. Bob and I have even done a few pioneer treks which re-create some of the experiences the pioneers had on the trail.

So, imagine my joy when I received an email the other day from FamilySearch. It begins: "We've found pioneers in your family tree".  And goes on with "Learn what company they traveled with, read stories from the trail and uncover your family heritage on a new pioneer memorial page created just for you." And then there was a place to sign in with my regular FamilySearch information. Whaaaaatttttt? This is a really, really cool new feature.

The page below is what popped up when I got to my Pioneer Ancestor page. The page has too much information to fit nicely here, but further to the right, there is also a place to click for their Trail Experiences and Stories. All you need to do is go to FamilySearch.org, and check it out for yourself. If you don't already have an account, it is easy and free. I loved seeing a list of my pioneer ancestors pop up, and then to have additional information and stories to boot. Love it, love it! They are making it so very easy on us to have the information at our fingertips!

Mormon Pioneers - Companies

(This is FamilySearch's attempt at comparing the list of pioneer companies to those listed in your Family Tree. We recognize that it may not be comprehensive or completely accurate historically. We hope you enjoy this information.)
Ancestor (Family Tree)Company

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July Week 4: Canned goods: chili, beans, etc.

This week's food storage items are:

July Week 4: Canned goods: chili, beans, etc.

This week sortof captures all of the canned goods that aren't already included on another week in the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan. For my family's needs, it boils down to basically canned beans, like black beans, kidney beans, chili, refried beans, white beans and baked beans. 

I keep all of my food storage canned goods in my basement food storage room on Shelf Reliance shelves. 

Once a month or so, I go down to my basement and I "shop" for more canned goods and bring some up to my pantry in my kitchen. That leaves some empty spaces in my can racks, which I'll refill once every quarter or so... just to keep up on my canned goods. 

My ingenious, sweetie-pie husband came up with a shopping list for each of the canned good items in our Shelf Reliance shelves. 

It has them listed in the order that they are on the shelves, so I can quickly go down the shelves and mark how many cans I need of each item. Then I tuck that list into my purse, and when I'm at the grocery, I pull that out and pick up the needed items. For canned goods, I love shopping the case lot sales. I'll pick up a case of each of the canned goods that we really use. Then I keep the case down at the end of my Shelf Reliance shelves, and I can refill from my own cases of canned goods. 

If you don't quite have a "system" yet, just do a simple version of the above. Decide which canned goods you eat regularly and would benefit from keeping a good supply of them on hand. Figure out how many of each of the items you might need in a year's time, and subtract whatever you already have on hand. Then, use that number, and write it down on a grocery list of the items. If you have loads of canned goods you want to have in storage, break it down to acquiring one different type each week for several weeks. That way you won't "break the bank" by getting them all at once.

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 most up-to-date post 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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Activity Days: Water Spongy Toys

This past week we had a combined Activity Days with the older girls. It was the perfect kind of hot weather for our Water Games activity.

We had them make their own spongy water toy after they all arrived. We started with basic sponges. The sponges need to be the basic rectangle ones, in different colors. Lots of sponges nowadays come in various shapes and with scrubbies on one or both sides. Neither of those features work here. They have to be simple cheap sponges.

Lindsay cut all of the sponges into strips -- five strips per sponge. They don't need to be perfect, so you don't need to measure them out or anything. Just five strips approximately the same size.

At that point we had a bucket of sponge strips the girls could choose from. They each chose 10 strips of any color from the bucket.

And then we tied (very tightly) the bundle of strips right around the middle and cut the ends of the string off.

How cute are those?

The girls wrote their names on one of the little sponge strips so they could tell them all apart, and we proceeded with the water games! We played a game where the girls had to throw the spongies in target buckets for points (candies). There was also a fun relay, where they got nice and soaked. After the games, we had popsicles and the girls played in our splash pad. It was a fun, easy activity, and we filled the hour's time just right!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July Week 3: Vinegar

This week's food storage item is:

July Week 3: Vinegar - white distilled, apple cider, rice, etc.

This is a pretty simple, straight-forward week. Decide how much vinegar you might use in the coming year. If you use rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar or any other vinegar in your cooking, then be sure to take those into account. Also, remember the uses for vinegar as a cleanser. The Reader's Digest has 150+ Household Uses for Vinegar. I've included just the first part of the list here....

150+ Household Uses for Vinegar
With so many different uses around the house, this super item deserves a reserved space in your cabinet.

-Clear dirt off PCs and peripherals
-Clean your computer mouse
-Clean your window blinds
-Unclog and deodorize drains
-Get rid of smoke odor
-Wipe away mildew
-Clean chrome and stainless steel
-Shine your silver
-Polish brass and copper items
-Unglue stickers, decals, and price tags
-Burnish your scissors
-Clean your piano keys
-Deodorize lunch boxes, footlockers, and car trunks
-Freshen a musty closet
-Brighten up brickwork
-Revitalize wood paneling
-Restore your rugs
-Remove carpet stains
-Remove candle wax
-Give grease stains the slip
-Conceal scratches in wood furniture
-Get rid of water rings on furniture
-Wipe off wax or polish buildup
-Revitalize leather furniture
Read how to do each item on the list, and also get the rest of the list by clicking on: The Reader's Digest

Vinegar is very inexpensive, so it doesn't hurt to have an extra jug or two on the shelves. If there was a long-term emergency, this would be the perfect thing to have around as a cleanser and a "do-all". (Sortof like the Windex in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding") After you have decided how much you need, add the items to your shopping list, and in the next day or two, purchase them. Then, get them on your shelves, update your Inventory Sheets, and sit back and enjoy the rest of your week!

One important thing to do as we go through the weeks is to check week's item in your inventory you already have for expiration dates. There is nothing worse than needing to use your apple cider vinegar for a recipe, and realizing it expired months ago. Check your pantry (as well as your food storage room) for the vinegar items you use daily, and be sure they don't need replacing.

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 most up-to-date post 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.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

House Finch Rescue... Again!

Every single year, the house finches build nests all around our yard. They usually fill up the birdhouses fairly quickly, and then move on to other possibilities... like the lanterns attached to the house. I love the happy songs of the house finches. They are always welcome in our yard. However, the nests that they build in the lanterns can be quite troublesome for their new little families. On more than one occasion, we've had to rescue baby birds that have fallen out. Last year, I cleaned all of the nests out of the lanterns in hopes that the birds would find a safer place to build their nests. But no. They seem to keep coming back and building in the same place. Must be in their blood.

Bob had to rescue one of the birds last week, and it was a successful rescue. The little guy stayed put until the other day. When I walked outside the deck, I noticed the mama finch was all in a tizzy. I wondered if a starling got to her babies, or if a baby had fallen out of their nest again. As you can see in the photo below, there is a hole for the mama and daddy finch to come in and out to feed their babies. This hole is also an all-too-easy way for other birds to come in, or for the babies to slip right on out.

As I was glancing up at the nest, I heard a little guy chirping down by my feet. As I stepped closer to it, it scuttled along the deck, trying (but failing) to fly. 

Now, you may wonder what happened to my deck and why it looks cobweb-y and dirty. There are a few places that need sweeping off. I'm not too proud to admit that. At any rate, that little collection of cobwebs likely saved that little guy. He got trapped in them, so he couldn't move down the deck. Otherwise, he may have moved right on off of the second story deck he was on. And that wouldn't have been a good thing.

He was scared and I didn't know if he would try to get away again, so I got a box and placed it in his way, and sure enough... he untangled himself from the cobwebs, and scooted right into the box. I tipped it right side up and had the little guy safely where I needed him while I got things ready.

I got up on my ladder, took off the top of the lantern, and put my leather garden gloves on. I didn't want mama smelling human hands on or around her baby.

I tipped the box and nudged the baby back into the lantern, and she moved right in next to her sib. Hard to see in the next photo, but they are down to the right of the light bulb.

Easy peasy. She was back where she was supposed to be, and the lid was back on their home. Now I just needed to see if mama would be accept her back with open arms (or wings).

And thankfully she did. She's been hustling back and forth feeding the babes all day long. They are so ready to leave. Any day now. But til then, all is well with the little finch family.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Clematis in all it's glory

The clematis is just finishing up it's show for the year. How can you not love a gorgeous climbing vine that flowers in such an abundant, rich way?

This gal just gets better and better every year. I've had to let her expand on to the next climbing support over. I mean, if you're going to grow like this, I'll let you go just about wherever you want to go in my garden.

This other beauty grows on a fence that has different clematis vines all along it. This is actually the backside of the vine, as it spills over into the play yard (which is only in it's infant stages... the play yard, not the clematis) You can see another clematis vine just beyond it, in a different color.

And this is the front side of that "different colored" clematis vine, climbing over an arbor that is the entry to the future play yard.

We won't see much more out of the clematis this year. It's given it's all, and is quieting down 'til next year. Time to let another plant shine.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July Week 2: Water, solar shower, filter

This week's food storage item is:

July Week 2: Water: fill jugs or buy bottled water, water filter, solar shower

Water is oh, so important to have in your storage!

We keep large water barrels that we'll be using for hygiene (bathing, cleaning, washing clothes and dishes).

Notice the pump that I keep right with the barrels. If we need to use the water from the barrels, we just screw that pump into the hole, and then we can pump the water out, as needed. If we didn't have that, we would have to figure out how to siphon it out with some sort of food-safe hose.

In smaller containers, we keep the drinking water.

At one point I thought it would be such a smart idea to just buy a gallon or two of water each week when I did my grocery shopping. I began to get a great supply of water on my shelves. Then, one by one, the jugs that the water was in (basically like a milk jug), started leaking on my shelves. At first I thought it was just a random jug that must have had a flaw. So, I cleaned up the water that had leaked out, and forgot about it for a couple of weeks. Soon I had leaks in several of them. Apparently those jugs aren't made to hold liquids for long periods of time.  I ended up emptying the jugs into my flower beds, and then replaced them with good, solid, larger water containers. These will last longer than I'll be around, so I should be good!

We also have a solar shower, which would come in handy in an emergency. We would just use water from our big blue barrels, then put it in the container of the solar shower, and could have a little shower if needed (and I'm sure it would be needed!)

We also have a little filter. The water that I have stored for drinking water shouldn't need a filter, but if we need additional water, and have to use a source that may not be entirely clean, we would use our filter for that.

As far as amounts to store, the rule of thumb is to store one gallon per person per day, for at least three days. Even better is to have enough for 10 days, and the best scenario is to have enough for 30 days. So, for the two members of my family who are living in our home at this time, I would need a total of 60 gallons for a 30 day supply.

There is some good, pertinent information on lds.org about storing water. To read more on that, click here. It goes over containers, water pre-treatment, storage, and purification. Good information to have as you think about your water storage.

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 most up-to-date post 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, July 6, 2014

Perennials or Annuals?

Our outdoor improvement efforts have been concentrated in our backyard this year. It generally is the opposite, since more people see the front yard, and that seems to be the most important place to keep in order. But, with our backyard projects, we definitely needed to try to get some planting and nurturing done back there. 

In our front yard, I didn't plant anything this year. Not. One. Thing. Everything you see in these first photos of the front gardens, are either perennials, or re-seeded on their own. 

There is something really lovely about things that grow all on their own.

All they need is some sunshine, water, and perhaps a little weeding.

I haven't even given them any Miracle Gro this year. They've had very little to help them along, and yet... they've done pretty well.

Now, the backyard is another story. It is full of new plants, and lots of annuals, for color and fill.

Many of these plants will come back next year, but there are lots and lots of annuals. They're doing what they do best -- giving pops of color during these hot summer days.

You can see quite a difference between the front and back yard. The front yard, though mature and cottage garden-ish, has far less color going on, while the backyard is vibrant and fresh, and still cottage-y.

The jury is in. I definitely like a mix of perennials and annuals. I love the "backbone" of perennials and shrubs, with the freshness of annuals mixed in all the nooks and crannies. Something to take in consideration when I'm planning for next year's garden.

And the great thing about gardens is that next year, the perennials will be more mature, and the annuals will likely be something different. Always changing, always good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Week 1: Jams and Jellies

This week's items are:

July Week 1: Jams and Jellies, or Supplies for Making Your Own

This week should be a no-brainer. Either you make your own jams and jellies, or you don't. If you don't, then buy the jams and/or jellies that you will use in a year's time. Be sure to think about any that you use in recipes.

If you like to make your own (whether bottled or freezer jam), then buy the supplies you will need, and get ready to make your own whenever the fruit you like is in season. Or at least buy everything but the fruit, and when the fruit is in, then all you'll have to do is buy the fruit.

If you and your family don't ever eat jam, then you have a week off! I use these "off weeks" to straighten and organize my food storage room. There is always some organizing to be done in there!

If you are checking out this plan for the first time, there are a few things to remember:

1) You start this plan wherever you happen to be in the calendar year. You do not need to go back and make up time, since there really is no specific week in which the plan begins, and there is no real end to it, either. Just start this week, with this week's items, and you are on your way!

2) It is meant to be a rotating plan. In this way, it is hoped that we will have less items from our food storage shelves that we are tossing into the garbage when they have expired. You will use many of the items you are acquiring in this plan, and that is how it is meant to be.

3) Store what your family will use. Each family is different, and will have different needs and wants. So, you will personalize this plan to your own family's needs.

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 most up-to-date post 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.