Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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.

You may not want to purchase MRE's for your family's needs, and you might not use any other boxed or frozen ready dinners. In that case, you have a "week off", and you can work on organizing your food storage space.

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! And as you look at your Inventory Sheets, look through to make sure you've updated all of the yellow-highlighted items. Since this is the last week of April, you shouldn't have any more of April's items to update.

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, April 25, 2015

72-Hour Kits: Task 9 - Miscellaneous A

We are at Task 9. Almost to the end of our 72-Hour Kits. All of the remaining items fit into the Miscellaneous category, and it's the biggest category of them all. So, we'll split this one into two different Tasks, and then you will be able to call yourself done. Think about that... you will have your 72-hour kits DONE. That is an accomplishment that many desire, but few actually attain. This is getting exciting.

So, for today's Task, we're basically splitting the Miscellaneous List in half. Let's get started:

Medications (Tylenol, Excedrin, Tums, whatever you might need)
Small First Aid Kit (I prefer to just buy a ready-kit, but you can put together a small one, if you like)
Portable Radio (If you can, find one that is solar-powered)
Batteries For Radio, if it isn't solar-powered. Be sure to note the expiration date.
Dust Masks (enough for every family member)
Batteries For Flashlight. Again, be sure to note the expiration date.
Candle (nice, solid and sturdy)
Waterproof Matches
2 - 8 Hour light sticks (find these at Emergency Essentials, or other emergency prep stores)
Duffel Bag (this is the same bag that you actually carry some of your items in)
3 Large Garbage Bags
Fly Swatter

Look at this list and decide which of these items you'll need, and also the quantity. As I go along, from year to year, I sometimes find items that I think might work better (i.e. a better flashlight or radio, or such), and then I buy them, and set them on or near my 72-hour kit so that when I go through it, I can replace the old item with the new item. There are always new and improved emergency items, so you can adjust your kits along the way.

I keep the above items in either the duffel bag or my rolling cooler. On my master list, I indicate which container they're in so that when I go to check them or replace an expired item, I know just where to find it.

Now, if you're also doing the smaller, backpack kits for your kids, the items this week for their packs are:

Backpack (you should already have this to put all of their kit items in)
Batteries For Flashlight

Take a couple of weeks to gather your items, and we'll move on to the last task, Task 10, at that time.
Good luck!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Perfect Project Organizer

It makes such a difference when you have just the right storage situation for your needs. My craft room is a room that houses many ongoing projects. I couldn't quite figure out how to keep it need and tidy, but still have the projects readily accessible. I knew that if I put them away, out of sight, that they would get forgotten and perhaps end up on the back burner forever. I have one wall of my craft room that my bookshelf fit on, and I just kept cramming more and more projects onto it. I didn't like the messiness of it, though.

I knew Ikea would have a solution. They always seem to have so many organizing and storage options. I wandered around until I found the perfect shelf. It's made of metal, so it's strong, and the paint doesn't chip off, either. I also spent some time in the basket and box organizers for shelves, and found the perfect match for my shelves. They weren't really meant to go together, but the basket/boxes fit perfectly on the shelves.

Hard to believe that's a photo of the very same spot, housing much of the same stuff.

I added felt to the bottom of the baskets, to ease in gliding and to protect the surface of the shelves. The drawers in the center of the shelving unit house smaller projects. I have shallow baskets in the drawers to keep them all organized and in their places.

I have a tag on the baskets that hold projects, so I know where everything is without having to pull all the baskets out. Can I tell you how happy this shelf makes me? It's crazy that something that simple can matter so much, but somehow it does. It makes me smile, and it also keeps my head a little more clear. Which is a big plus.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April Week 3: 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 bin 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 other craft stores), 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! I do check them every year as the week comes up... just in case someone has found my scissors or thread and "borrowed" it from my bin.

Remember... this is a plan that can be started any time during the year. You don't have to wait until the first of the year, or even the first of the month. Start this week, and move along from week to week. It is a continuous plan, so there really is no end to it, anyway. You will check on your food supply and replenish (if needed) once a week from here on in. It shouldn't be an overwhelming thing to think about, though, because it literally only takes a few minutes a week and can easily be integrated into your normal grocery shopping.

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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It Is Well With My Soul

This is what we woke up to this morning.

A beautiful, cold spring storm. We need the moisture, so we can't really complain much.

And somehow there is something so lovely, peaceful and quiet about this storm. Especially after yesterday's wind that brought the storm in.

It means that the outside chores will have to wait for today. And that I can get a few things done in my house, all while enjoying the quietly falling snow through every window I pass.

The only downside to the day is that my babysitting gig for the afternoon had to be cancelled because of the weather. For those of you who are keeping count, the last of our grands was born on March 19, and now all seven are here safe and sound. The last five all came within 2-1/2 months of each other, so we've got a lot of new wee babes around here. We're lucky enough to live fairly close to all of them, so we get to see them often. And whenever I can, I get to tend them here and there throughout my week. This afternoon was my time to spend with the twins, but with the weather being so bad, and the roads to their house slippery and icy, we had to postpone. 

That photo makes my heart happy. It reminds me of when I was little, and would line up my dolls along my bed. Oh, how I love those sweet seven! And we find our lives rotating around them. Thinking about them. Talking about them. Hoping and planning for them. Wanting to spend time with them so that they will always know how much we love them. We are slightly obsessed with them. Okay.... more than slightly. But can you blame us?  It is well, it is well with my soul.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Week 2: Milk

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 an 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. 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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

72-Hour Kits: Task 8 - Food Prep, Etc.

You should have a really great start on your 72-Hour Kits by now. We just have a few more tasks to complete them. Task 8 will be to gather the remaining items for food preparation.

The list is as follows:

Main Kit:
propane stove
mess kit
paper plates
scouring pads
dish soap and/or powdered dish soap
rubber gloves
3 ea. baggies (lg and small)

Kids' Backpacks (if applicable):
set of eating utensils

As with all of the other lists, decide what you will want and need in your own 72-hour kits. The propane stove I have in our kit is just a small one-burner stove that I would be able to use to heat up a can of chili or soup. And it's really important to have a small canister of propane in your kits. The mess kit has a pan included in it that I can heat food up in. 

All of the other things on the list are pretty self-explanatory. I keep most of the items on the above list (for the main kit) in my rolling cooler. The disinfectant is kept upright so that it doesn't leak everywhere.

Start gathering what you'll need of the above items, and get them stored in your 72-hour kit. We'll get going on the next task in a couple of weeks.

To see the other Tasks that we've covered so far, or to get a copy of my complete 72-Hour Kit List click on the 72-Hour Kit tab above.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April Week 1: Pasta

We are in a new month! Accordingly, our color for this month is yellow, and you will find all of this month's items highlighted in yellow on the inventory sheets. Just trying to make this whole process as easy as can be!

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, and since my macaroni-loving son is now married, we won't need to store any for him). I'll store just a few boxes of mac and cheese since I've got grandbabies that are just now entering the mac and cheese world.

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. 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, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

I love this video. I love the reminder of what we each have and are Because He Lives. What a miraculous time of the year, to see the new growth coming up all around -- so green and lovely. And we have that same opportunity to begin anew. To try every single day to be just a little bit better than the day before. To love more than we loved the day before. To be a better disciple. To be more charitable. All because of Jesus' life and His Great Sacrifice. I love Him with all my heart.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Tulips! They are so pretty this year. Despite the fact that the deer came around and chewed the leaves down, they are showing off more than ever. As if to show the deer that they can't be quelched. 

It's been so dry around here all winter long, that the ground is hard and doesn't seem like anything would be growing out of it, let alone pretty blooms.

It's nice to have the dashes of color here and there, amongst the other plants that are just barely beginning to bud their leaves.

Most of these tulips are some that I got from Costco a year or two ago. They are coming along nicely/

And I love the pretty pastels. Thank you, tulips, for your doing such a lovely job this year. Makes my heart smile to see you out there.