Thursday, January 29, 2015

72-Hour Kit Reminder

Quick reminder to work on those 72-hour kits! We'll be working on the next task next week, so click the 72-hour kit tab above, and see what we've done thus far.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January Week 4: Paper Supplies

How is your week-by-week food storage going so far? Again, don't get discouraged if you fall behind a week or two... just pick up with whatever calendar week we're currently on. You can always pick up the missed weeks later on, or next year, when they come back up in the schedule. Its just good to keep on working on whatever you can!

This week we're on January Week 4.  The items to collect and store this week are as follows:

January Week 4: Paper supplies: paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, plastic utensils, 
napkins, Kleenex, toilet paper

Store the items you will need on hand for the upcoming year. Weigh each item as to what your family would use, but keep in mind that long-term emergencies may require some different items than what you would normally use. If you don't really use paper towels, you probably won't need many rolls, but you may want to consider storing some (because they may come in handy for some emergency use). Same with paper plates, cups and utensils. 

If storing a whole year's supply of toilet paper seems overwhelming, just buy a few large packages and start with that. You can add to your stockpile later on, but get at least a few of everything in storage!

Once you're decided on amounts of each item that you'll need for the week, add them to your shopping list, and get to the store in the next day or two. Get the items home, and on the shelves and update your inventory list.

One thing that is nice, is that once you've collected these items, you don't necessarily have to rotate through them, which means next year, you wouldn't need to buy anything additional this particular week. Sometimes I will run out of something and run down to get a box of Kleenex or some napkins, or something. If I don't get around to replacing it, I know that next year, when I go through the inventory, it will show that I'm one package down from what I should have, and I'll know I need to restock on one or two of the items.

So, now we are done with January! To go back and review what January's items are, go to the "Week-by-Week Food Storage Plan" tab.

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, January 23, 2015

Cutting a Window in the Playroom Wall

I know many of you may wince when you think of cutting holes in perfectly good walls. But this was one of those times when it was needed.

We've been working on our playroom, which is specifically for our grand babies (5 here, two more on the way!). It is a slow work in progress, but at least we keep progressing. Our most recent improvement was to make our window in the wall of the little closet. This room used to be our oldest son's room, and he had a regular clothes closet, but then also had a little closet that was framed in under the roof line. We used it for storage of all kinds of odds and ends through the years, and when it was emptied out, it felt like the perfect place for a little playhouse!

The rest of the playroom is mostly done, so we've been turning our sights on the playhouse now. We put in a wood floor, and have plans to make a little kitchen in there, too. It gets a little cavernous in there, so we decided a window would be just the ticket.

We had to decide on the perfect height for our little ones, and then drew the outline of our window on the wall.

There was some electrical going on in that space, and also a probable load-bearing wall, so we took all of that into consideration. And remember, when I say "we", I really mean  Bob, with me on the sidelines cheering. 

After he had both sides of the sheet rock removed, he was left with what was in the photo below.

He carefully cut the boards out, moved the electrical to below the window sill...

... and then framed in a header for support, and re-framed the window all the way around.

After that, it was my turn. I taped and patched the sheet rock to cover the screw holes and the areas that we had to add sheet rock to.

A new coat of paint, and no one's the wiser.

After painting, Bob put in the finishing MDF boards to frame the window.

And there is always patching to be done after that. So, I got our paintable caulk out, and went to work.

This is the same corner, after caulk.

A few coats of paint on the window frame, and then some curtains, and we can check that project off the list! 

I envision puppet shows happening from inside this window, in addition to hours and hours of playing house. Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January Week 3: Medications

This week's food storage item is below, highlighted in pink. We are in the third week of January. To find the original plan and the prior weeks, click the tab above that is marked "Week By Week Food Storage Plan"

January Week 3: Medicines: Excedrin, aspirin, Advil, Pepto Bismol, cough drops, Tums... whatever YOUR family will need as far as medications in the coming year.

January: Week 3

As with other weeks, you can assess what you want to store, and go as basic or complete as you desire. For my family, I have a bottle or package of each of the medications. I keep them in a container up on a shelf in our food storage room and I rotate them into regular use. Today, when I did my inventory of those supplies, I took the medications that were going to expire this year out of the container, and put them on my regular medicine shelf in my kitchen so that we'll use them. I also wrote those same medications on my shopping list for this week, and I'll get them back up on the food storage shelf and "inventoried" as soon as I have a chance to pick them up from the store.

Keep in mind that some weeks there won't be anything to "re-buy" since not everything expires every year, AND since there are many items on the list that never expire. 

If you get busy and find yourself behind on the lists, just pick up wherever you are and start again. The point is to just keep on working on having things in supply, and ANYTHING is better than NOTHING.

Once you have this system in place, it shouldn't take more than ten minutes a week to maintain it.

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.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

72 Hour Kits: Task 5 - Water Systems, etc

To check out the previous 4 tasks, click on the 72-Hour Kit tab above.

Today's task is the water-related items. We've already stowed water (in Task 4), so we won't talk about water today, but there are a few more items that we need to cover:

1.  water purification tablets. These are easy to store, so it always makes sense to me to have a supply of them somewhere in your emergency supply. You can find these at a variety of stores and online shops. I like the Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets, found here. By the way, these have an expiration date. So, on your 72-hour kit checklist, be sure to note the expiration date. Remember that after the 72-hour kit is complete, you'll just be looking at your list once a year, and removing the items that expire that year, and replacing them with new.

2. collapsible water bag. These come in all shapes and sizes and types. There are even some that have a filter as part of the spigot, which would be so handy. Think emergency. 72-hour kit kind of emergency. If you had to find water from another source other than your home emergency supply, you might need a convenient carrier, and these store in a very small amount of space.

3. water filtration system. Again, there are a bazillion of these on the market, and they just keep on coming out with better (and smaller) systems. Shop around, but be sure to get something that you can filter water through.

4. solar shower. This isn't completely necessary. Or is it? The one I have is compact, fits in my kit, and I believe it would feel like it was heaven-sent after 24 or 48 or 72 hours of not having a shower. And this little beauty is under $15.00. It is perfect for a emergency shower. 

Image from

These items all fit nicely into my rolling cooler. I have mentioned before that I have three different types of bags/buckets/carriers that my 72-hour kit fits into. Each carrier has a different purpose, and can be used in an emergency. You will come up with something that works best for you, which may be completely different than what works for me. Just find your method, and get cracking.

Start working on today's Task 5 as soon as you can. We'll give you til the end of the month, and then we'll start with Task 6. Some may think that this is far too drawn-out for a 72-hour kit plan, but it seems much more do-able in small chunks. And it's much better than doing nothing at all. So, keep moving along. In no time at all, you'll have that 72-hour kit that has been on your To Do list forever. Yay!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cleaning out My Holiday Closet... Finally Done!

I can finally declare myself done with going through my Christmas decor (from 30 years of collecting). I feel so accomplished. It has taken me years and years to really do it. I've needed to go through each and every box, but somehow when it came time to take the decorations down, I only had energy to through it all back in boxes, and stuff it all back into the "Holiday Closet". Then came this year. The epitome of Grandmother Nesting. I've had grand babies before, and gone through Grandmother Nesting. But this time was different. As Christmas drew to a close, we were expecting FIVE grand babies... all within the three months directly following Christmas. So, this was nesting times 5. This would be the year that I could tackle the Holiday Closet. And sure enough. Though it took me several days (in between visiting and holding new babies, and babysitting the other grands), I got 'er done. Woohoo! And I have a huge mound of things that my daughters and daughter-in-laws can rummage through to see if there are any treasures they'd like.

The thing I knew I had to do, to be able to really clean out my Holiday Closet, was to empty it. I had to take out every box, every tree, every trinket, and make a decision whether to donate it or to put it back into the closet. This method works really well for me, because once I have a closet with empty shelves, I am loathe to want to put anything back onto the shelves that isn't something I totally love.

This is a before and after of the part of the closet that goes back and around under the stairs. The picture on the left is scary, and I never even looked back there, because it was too risky. And now, it looks like the pic on the right. I can practically dance my way back there. And don't think I haven't. It makes me so happy to see that floor and empty space, that I do feel like dancing when I'm in that closet.


And these photos below are of the same space, too.


You may have the thought that I still have too much Christmas stuff, and I probably do. But I have about half as much as I did have, and what you see in the photos are keepers, to me. Maybe I'll feel different next time I have Grandmother Nesting, and I'll go through another purge. But for now, I'm completely happy with what I've got going on. Completely.

The green tags you see on the boxes, just meant that I had gone through them. I can take the tags off now that everything has been done. Whew. Now, about those Halloween decorations...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January Week 2: Detergents and Cleansers

This week's food storage items are:

January Week 2: Detergents, bleach, cleansers, laundry detergent, dish detergent, bathroom and window cleaners

Some detergents and cleansers have expiration dates on them and some don't. Either way, I would rotate through them just to keep them fresh.

First, you will need to determine which cleansers you want to keep on your shelves. You can't believe how handy it is to have a good supply to fall back on. Decide what you use, and what you will need in the coming year. You can just keep some of the very basics, like bleach, Comet, and Lysol, or you can really take stock and get a year's supply of all of the cleansers you use in a year. I started by just storing two or three different items, but now I get most of what I'll use in a year. It's nice to pick it up in bulk at Costco, or get the items at a case lot sale (which, by the way, they have going on right now at Harmon's).

After you've determined how much you want in your storage, make a shopping list and in the next day or two, go out and pick up the items. Bring them home, get them on your shelves, and update your inventory sheets. Done. It's as easy as that. It literally only takes minutes to do this every week, and in a year's time, you will have a great stock of items that your family actually uses. This is what I love about this system. It's a rotating one, so you have very little (or no) waste along the way.

As a guideline, I've included a list below from Real Simple that includes some expiration dates for regular household items, including cleansers. I think some of the dates are on the conservative side, as I've used some of the items well after the time shown below, and they've still been fine.

Air freshener, aerosol
2 years

Antifreeze, premixed
1 to 5 years

Antifreeze, concentrate

Batteries, alkaline
7 years

Batteries, lithium
10 years

3 to 6 months

Dish detergent, liquid or powdered
1 year

Fire extinguisher, rechargeable
Service or replace every 6 years

Fire extinguisher, nonrechargeable
12 years

Laundry detergent, liquid or powdered
Unopened: 9 months to 1 year
Opened: 6 months

Metal polish (silver, copper, brass)
At least 3 years

Miracle Gro, liquid
Opened: 3 to 8 years

Miracle Gro, liquid, water-soluble

Motor oil
Unopened: 2 to 5 years
Opened: 3 months

Mr. Clean
2 years

Unopened: Up to 10 years
Opened: 2 to 5 years

Spray paint
2 to 3 years

2 years

Wood polish (Pledge)
2 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. 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.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Grout cleaning, Christmas organizing, and 72-hour kits

First of all, a big reminder that we'll be working on the next task for our 72-hour kits next week. Click the 72-hour kit tab above, and get caught up, and on the 15th, we'll move on.

Second of all, last night I achieved something great. All of the Christmas decor is gone from our main floor, and that same main floor is vacuumed and dusted. Ahhhhhh. I mentioned how it makes me feel like I can breathe deeply, and indeed I now can. That isn't to say that the basement makes me feel like I can breathe deeply. All of the decor that was on the main floor is sitting in piles, waiting to be gone through, and then awaiting it's new place in my cleaned-out spacious holiday closet. Since my holiday closet isn't spaciously cleaned out yet, I can't put everything back in it, so it sits and waits. This has been the weirdest year as far as getting things back into place. I'm VERY motivated to get it done the right way: to purge the old decor that I don't use, and donate it (either to my kids or to the thrift store). My "grandmother nesting" is in full swing, which helps the cause. BUT, more important things seem to keep coming up. Things like holding our new baby granddaugther, playing "McDonalds" with her sweet two-year-old brother, visiting our twin grandbabies in NICU as often as we possible can (because they are changing before our very eyes), catching up with a friend who has been serving with her husband in Florida but is home for her father's funeral (how do you say, "Darn. Don't have time to talk. I've got old Christmas decor to purge.") Christmas decor can wait. As luck would have it, we don't have a function that we need our basement for until Easter. ;)

And thirdly, I have made a miraculous, astounding, spring-in-my-step discovery. It began before Christmas as I was readying guest rooms and bathrooms for our kids to come and stay. In the bathroom that used to be our girls' bathroom as they were growing up, I was going for the vintage look and wanted white tiles with white grout.  Really? What in the world was I thinking? What happened to my rule of always using the grout that was already the color of dirt so that it would never look dingy? I think I thought that in this one little space, I'd be able to maintain control. But sadly that wasn't the case.

Sorry for the yellow-ish photos. That bathroom has no natural light, so photos are rough. But, yellow-ish or not, the ugly groutlines still show up loud and clear.


And recently I have tried every single grout bleaching and brightening technique known to the Pinterest world. And every single time, it ended up looking the very same. How can bleach be so selective as to ruin articles of clothing, but won't make a dent in tiny dirty grout lines. Go figure.

One day as I was wandering through Home Depot, I thought I'd check once again for some sort of product that I hadn't already tried. And voila. I happened upon the answer.

The Miracle Grout Pen. I figured it couldn't hurt. I bought two pens (so that I for sure wouldn't run out), and took them home and went to town.

Can I tell you how much I love this product? Even if I have to do it once a year, I will love it til the day I die. It transformed an embarrassing countertop into one where the grout is the last thing you notice. I love it, I tell ya.

I used about a pen and a half on a two-sink countertop and back splash. I love the results and I'll let you know if it starts fading with cleaning. So far, so good.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January Week 1: Christmas Wrap, Bags, etc.

Since its January, its time to start the food storage rotation all over again. I'll keep posting each Tuesday of the week all throughout the year. Many of you follow the blog and count on the reminder, so I feel like we should keep up those Tuesday posts. If you're new to this plan, read on to find out more about the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan. I've used this plan for several years now, and through that process, I'm pretty sure I have most of the kinks worked out. The thing I really like about this particular plan is that it breaks it all down to into weekly, bite-sized pieces. I also like that you can jump in wherever you are in the year, and just start from that particular week. Its a good, "non-overwhelming" way to get started (and continue!) on your food storage!

For those who are looking at this plan for the first time, I'll give a quick over-view...

This is the sheet that I use that shows each month with four weeks listed and the items to work on each of those weeks:

The first year I implemented it, I just stocked our shelves with whatever was on the list for the week. The next year, at the beginning of each week, I checked my inventory of each item for the week, rotated if needed, tossed out expired things, and then made sure that my stock was up-to-date and consisted of the correct amounts for what our family needed.

To go along with the above week-by-week sheet, I have a corresponding inventory sheet (notice how the colors match up with the colors on the weekly schedule). It has all of the items in my food/emergency storage. This is one page of seven in my inventory sheet set:

Every year I tweak it a bit according to our needs. Our family has changed through the years from a family of four children, to teens, to now all married, and expecting our 6th and 7th grandchild. So, we've adapted through the years according to our needs. This system is easily adaptable, so that isn't a problem. I also look at other lists that come across my desk and add things that aren't yet in our emergency storage. So, the list is ever-changing, which is good. I also hate to throw food out, so I don't want to store more than I need to be storing. I try to store what we will use in the coming year (along with some long-term food storage).

I'm going to post the food storage "items for the week" on this blog so that it will remind me and maybe spark something in somebody out there in blog-land to make sure you and I both, are ready for any upcoming emergency. One thing you need to know is that items for the week are guidelines. You can decide what in that particular category you would really want to have in your food storage. For instance, in the 2nd week of January, the items are cleansers. This could be just the basics that you might want to have set aside in case of an emergency, or the full-blown array of cleansers you might use in a year's time. I decided I wanted to do a true "year's supply" for my family, so I try to keep the basic items that I will use within the year. I may or may not include stain remover, or floor cleaner. It all depends on what you want to have in your supply. You also may want to start out with the very basics and then add to the list as the years go on. (A bit easier on the pocketbook!)

The first week in January, the items are easy...

January Week 1: Watch for and buy 50% off on Christmas items, cards, paper, ribbons, etc.

Notice I've highlighted these in pink. They will correspond with the items on my inventory sheet set (7 pages) so that I can find them right away on the list, know how many I should have in storage, and then know how many I need to put on my shopping list for that week. On my inventory sheet set, I record the quantity I have, the size of the package, the expiration date, and the amount I should have in storage. There is also a place to mark off if I have enough of the item and the date that item was checked off.

Does that all make sense? Clear as mud, right? It makes perfect sense to me, but I KNOW I don't think the same way as everyone else, so it might just be a bunch of jibberish to all of you. If any of it is helpful, then its all good.

Now, for this week's items, you may or may not have an interest in stock-piling these. There are a couple of reasons I've included Christmas Items on the list. One, they are all on sale right now, and it's an excellent time to stock up for next year. Two, if you're like me, you already stock-pile them, but you have no idea how much you really have. So, next year, when you're at the store and see wrapping paper, you think to yourself, "Well, I better buy a few rolls, since I'm not really sure what I've got left from last year". This way you will KNOW that you have way too many rolls for any one household to have. In the past, In the past, I didn't include this week's items on my inventory sheet, but after actually seeing what I have stacked up in the corner of my storage closet, I decided I better put it on the inventory sheet so that I'll know what I have, and I will remember that I don't need to shop for Christmas wrapping and bags until somewhere around 2028.

If you don't want to shop for or keep track of Christmas Supplies, then you get this week off. Work on preparing a good space for your food storage items -- getting some shelves and space ready for the week to come!

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, January 5, 2015

Grands #3, #4, #5 and Christmas DeJunking

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it here again: I love this time of year. I do love the holidays and all that go with them. And I hate to wish them away, but by the time January 1 rolls around, I am more than ready to get all the Christmas decor put away and my house back to a nice fresh, blank slate. It makes me feel like I can take a big deep breath for the first time in a couple of months. Again, don't for a minute think I dislike the holidays. I LOVE Christmas and everything that goes with the celebrating of it. But, I also love January.

Having said that, I made up my mind that this would be the year that I truly would purge old decorations as I was putting things away. My holiday closet was getting far too crowded and hard to maneuver. There are shelves built in it, but way too much to fit on those shelves. And so much of the boxes are full of things that I haven't used in years. I bet I decorate with about a tenth of what is in that closet. Ugh. Something has to go.

And part of the closet goes back under the stairs. We have Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes stowed away in there, and I haven't used or looked at them literally in years. I think it's time I roll up my sleeves and empty that cavern. It's kindof frightening, honestly, but someone has to do it. It seems like it's some sort of a combustible fire hazard.

Every year I say I'll go through everything, and every year I end up just stuffing the same things back into boxes and stacking and positioning everything just so, so that it all fits (somewhat), and then closing the door until the next time. Not this year. No sir. And this quest of mine happens to coincide with some really great "grandma-nesting" time, so I really am slowly accomplishing this Herculean task. As I take boxes out to put things back in to, I look through the contents of the box, and set things aside that I haven't used in years. When I'm done, we'll have a Christmas Decor Giveaway with my kids. They can take whatever suits their fancy from the piles, and then I'll give the rest to Deseret Industries. Sounds like a perfect plan. Trouble is, as I was beginning to go through the painstakingly long process of going through each box (I'm not going to divulge here how many boxes I actually have, but it's wayyyyyy too many), Grandbaby #3 was getting ready to come! So of course I left my boxes and bags in the basement, and readied the house for the older, two-year-old sibling of Grandbaby #3, so that he could have a sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa whilst his baby sister was coming in to the world. And in case you haven't had the experience yet, I will tell you that when you're watching grandbabies, that's pretty much all you want to do. No work gets done, and that's as it should be. In fact, I didn't even think once about the mounds of Christmas decor strewn about my basement as I happily played with Grand #1

And then Grandbaby #3 made her arrival, and it became even more apparent that nothing else in the world mattered. Just our three beautiful grands. It doesn't get much better than that.

New Year's Day came and went with a slight celebration. We were happy and tired, and just curled up on the couch together with one of my other daughters, her husband and her sweet baby (Grand #2). We shuffled around in our sweats and slippers and enjoyed every lazy bit of it, holding and playing with Grand #2.

The next day, after our house guests had gone, my grandma-nesting kicked in again, and I carved out an hour to get down there and do just a bit more. But then Grand #1 and Grand #3 were calling to us, and we went over and made a visit and soaked up their sweetness.

That night I promised myself that I would work on my Christmas decor project the next day, and would accomplish great things with the heap. And I did get a couple of hours in before we zipped off to the temple for some much needed peace, perspective and renewal. When we got out of the temple, we got word from our son that his wife was in labor with their twins who were expected on February 18. We zipped down to the hospital, and a few minutes after we got there, two beautiful, perfect, healthy baby girls were born! Talk about our cup running over! We were (and are) so full of joy that we can hardly contain it. Grand #4 and Grand#5! And we still have two more to come, in February and March. We go through the motions of our days with such a big smile in our hearts and on our faces!

Yesterday, as we made visits to the various families, we thought how lucky we are to be able to see and visit all 5 (what?????) grandbabies in one day. They all live pretty close by, so we can get our baby fixes often.

And now back to reality. The basement. Today will be another day where I can get only a couple of hours in, but I'll plug away at it -- all the while watching my Christmas Decor Giveaway pile growing bigger and taller, and enjoying the luxurious space (one can only hope) of my holiday closet. And I'll have the 5 (+2) best reasons to have a huge smile while doing it. Wish me luck!