Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July Week 4: Canned Goods: Beans, Manual Can Opener

This week's food storage items are:

July Week 4: Canned goods: chili, beans, etc, as well as a manual can opener

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. Also, be sure to buy a manual can opener and keep it very near your cans so that you will always have that close by in case of an emergency. That seems very obvious, but some people don't even have manual can openers any more, and if they do, they aren't always easy to locate.

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.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Our Trip of a Lifetime

If you ever get a chance to go on a trip with your mom to the land of her ancestors, do it! We did, and it was truly the trip of a lifetime. It all started with my sister and her husband receiving a mission call to serve in the Birmingham England Mission. They left last fall, and will be gone 18 months. Before they left, Bob and I started thinking about how fun it would be to take my mom to visit her. And the perfect bunk mate for her (and trip mate for us) would be my oldest sister, so we easily included her in the trip.

They were both game, so we started planning, booked flights, and began the long process of coming up with an itinerary so that we could book the hotels. We finally figured out a pretty good travel plan that involved picking up a rental car in London and driving around England, Wales and Scotland.

We went in June, and were gone for 13 days. And it could not possibly have been any better. Everything went as planned. Bob was an excellent driver (on the left side of the road, no less), the schedule worked out, everyone was healthy, and we saw and did things every day that will forever be a treasure to me.

Now, some of you may remember my mom is close to turning 85. And you may be wondering how a trip like that was for an 85 year old. She didn't miss one beat. Not. One. She scooted right along with all of us, and didn't want to "sit out" on any activity. She also was the most adventurous as far as eating. She would look the menu over, and when it was her turn to order, she would rattle off the most obscure thing on the menu. Many a time we would just look at her with our mouths open when she ordered, but she always loved whatever it was, and loved it all the more for it's "different" taste. She's an adventurous gal, that one. And my oldest sister was such a treat to have along. She is an amazing person, and one that I've always admired and looked up to. She is absolutely delightful to spend time with. We all laughed and carried on and talked into the wee hours. In fact, we mentioned that it was really an amazing thing to all still like each other, in fact love each other more deeply, after being with each other straight for that long. Especially when covering 1800 miles of land together.

We loved visiting with my sister and her husband for a few days, and touring some of the countryside with them. They knew the area like the back of their hand, which was good, since the little villages dot the hillsides and wind in and around each other.

And I never can get enough of traveling with my love. We love having adventures together and sharing those experiences and memories. There is no one I would rather be with, any time, any where.

Oh, the things we saw. And did...

In front of Westminster Abbey

I take pics of Bob like this all the time. Be still my heart.

How cute is this of Bob with a perfect view of the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace... right over my mom's head. (She's in the pink jacket). He loves her and is protective of her, like she really was his mom.

In front of St. Paul's Cathedral.

On a bus tour. We take selfies often. And delight our kids with them all throughout the day.

Stonehenge. A must see for sure.

With my sister and her husband, who are missionaries serving in England. (They're on the right). This was at St. Pierre's Hotel in Chepstow Wales.

The St. Pierre Resort had a little cemetery that we walked through every day to get from the main hotel and restaurant to our townhouse.

Cardiff Castle. Oh, hello there, husband o' mine.

One thing about Bob and me on a road trip. He understands me perfectly and knows just what is important in the sight-seeing department for me. There was more than one time that he pulled over at the sight of sheep and let us have our fill of photos.

This is one of those family history moments. This home was the home of my mom's grandma and great-grandma (who lived side by side through the two doors you see). It's from the 1800's, and the woman who is second from the left is restoring it with her husband. Amazing to find this place and know exactly where our ancestors lived. And as if that wasn't enough, the sweet woman gave us treasures that they had unearthed during the restoration. She had a large tub of small medicine bottles, lots of iron pieces, and other relics. So fun! We won't mention that we lugged those iron pieces and bottles every where we went for the rest of the week. And our suitcases definitely put on some weight for the trip home.

Here's a great example of what kind of an 85 year old my mom is. We stopped at a part of Hadrian's Wall in Scotland. At this particular stop, you could climb up a hill and look out around the countryside. She could have stayed down at the bottom with the cows, but she went right on up, and it really was a good climb.

And Bob helping her back down this hillside. Pretty amazing!

Northern Scotland, on the way to Loch Ness.

Edinburgh Castle.

On the way down the England Coast from Edinburgh to the Leeds area. We wanted to travel down the coastline to take in the views, and we were not disappointed. Bob stopped whenever we could find a place to take photos. This one shows the farmland that goes right down to the ocean. Imagine living down there and farming that every day! I wouldn't get any work done... I'd be staring at the view all day long.

Our last day, we stopped at the RAF Museum for Bob. He loves anything having to do with planes (he works with plane innards every day). He was like a kid in a candy shop. Really.

And our last stop of the trip was to the London Temple. Because of some serious traffic problems, we missed being able to attend, but we strolled the beautiful grounds and visited with some of the missionaries there.

So go do it. Start making plans and saving pennies for a trip with your mom and/or dad. Go to the places that are important in their heritage. Spend time listening to their stories and memories. If you're married, make sure to bring your husband along. Let him take part in and understand how important these moments are to you. I can't imagine drinking in all that we did every day on our trip, and not curling up with him at the end of each day reliving the amazing things we saw and the funny, sweet adventures, and cementing them as memories. 

And take lots of photos. You will forever be grateful that you did.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July Week 2: Water and Water Supplies

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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The End of An Era: Wisteria Removal

This has been a year of simplifying in our yard. And let me be clear -- simplifying is hard work. Sounds like an oxymoron of some sort, but it's true. We're on our second dumpster for the year, which would make it sound like we have a lot of junk in our yard. And that's not really the case. We're just working on making things a little less maintenance-heavy in our yard. We have a dumpster in our front yard for a week, and we're doing our best to do all of the dumpster-worthy projects while it's here.

On Monday we took down our backyard wisteria. It's that awesome vine growing all along our deck railing. It's been growing for 14 years!

Don't get me wrong. I love wisteria, and I loved that vine. The thing I didn't love was that as the years went on, it took more and more work.

It would get very, very unwieldy with it's branches growing out, and to keep it tidy up on the deck, I had to trim it up every week during the growing season of summer. And if I didn't, it's tentacles would almost reach out and grab people as they walked by. I'm not kidding about that.

I loved the sweet view it gave from the bottom patio. Everything was framed in leaves. To think... that whole railing around the top deck was covered with leaves and branches from the single trunk below.

The real clincher was that every other day, our patio needed sweeping because of all of the leaves it tends to drop. And who has time for that? Especially with 7 grand babies to snuggle and play with. Nope. I don't want to have extra chores that take my precious time.

So... Monday night, when Bob came home from work, we started on one end, and went to town.

I loved being able to see the backyard as we got going. I had missed being able to see that when I was in the kitchen, or anywhere on the main floor, for that matter. In the picture below, we had cut up to the point you see, and if you look carefully, you can see the tentacles of the wisteria that were reaching out and needing to be cut back.

Now, a wisteria that has grown for that many years is liable to get itself wrapped around things pretty tightly.

It took some doing to remove the old big vines from their grasp.

But after about two hours time, we had it all down! If you look closely at the photo below, you can still see the stump in front of the middle brick post. We'll get that taken care of this weekend.

Well, we almost have it all down. There is one "hanger-on-er" that is going to take some work. This guy actually bent the rod iron that it was attached to. I'm tempted to leave it there as a conversation piece.

I'm totally happy with the results. I love being able to see everything in the backyard now, from the house. I am going to love a little less maintenance in our yard. 

Funny thing is, our front yard wisteria has these beautiful blooms right now, which is totally off-season. This generally happens in the early spring. It's almost as if it's saying, "Look how pretty I am. You would never want to cut me down, right?". And it would be right. So far, the front yard wisteria is much more manageable and we keep it contained to a smaller area. I don't really have to do much with it more than once or twice a year. Easy enough. For now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

The Living Uncle Sam
taken at Ft. Lee and
made up of 19,000 officers