Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Decorating, Easy Style

Halloween is coming and going in just a flash. Can't believe how quickly this month has flown by! It may have something to do with being gone for 9 days smack dab in the middle of it, but more on that in another post.

I did my usual quick and simple Halloween decorating this year, keeping in mind that we have seven grandchildren, 2 years and under, so whatever I have within reach needs to be touchable and even playable. Notice all of the things in the picture below, that are at child-level. They can play with the ghosts, car, pumpkin and scarecrow to their heart's delight.

We went up to the cabin and cut some gorgeous maple branches to begin with. I don't care a bit that the leaves curl up and shrivel a little. I am so in love with the color that I don't even notice it. I wonder if people who come to my house try to figure out why I have branches of dead leaves strewn all about. Oh well. Maybe it adds to the spooky effect?

After I placed the leaves around, I just took out one box (Yay!) of Halloween decor, and placed items here and there around the house.

I don't love the creepy or gory side of this holiday. I don't even really like dressing up. (My costume usually involves an orange jack-o-lantern t-shirt, or some such thing.) But I do love how much the kiddos love it, and I love to see their costumes and how excited they get. I love fall and the smells and colors of it. So.... that's pretty much how my decorating goes. Oh, and some Fisher Price Halloween toys to go along with it all. After all, I'm a grandma, and the littles need to have lots of fun at our house!

The best thing about fall decorating with branches as the base, is that the day after Halloween, I just take out the Halloween-specific items, and throw in a few Thanksgiving ones, and voila! Another holiday decorated for! Fall decorations seriously can last for more than two months. I sure wish Christmas decorations could be up that long, because they take the most work.

How much do you love this old Alfred Hitchcock book? It's the perfect Halloween decoration!

Another good thing about gathering branches and leaves as your base for decorating? You don't have to store them. You just toss them in the garbage when Thanksgiving is over! Doesn't get any easier than that!

And last night we had a trunk-or-treat in the church parking lot. I'm generally not a fan of the old trunk-or-treating in our neighborhood, simply because the kids that show up to trunk-or-treat are the the exact same kids who show up at our house only a few days later for round #2. Does that sound Humbug-ish? Maybe. But I've always thought trunk-or-treating was great for areas that might be iffy to trick-or-treat in, or if your church group was spread out over a large area, but wanted an opportunity to trunk-or-treat together. That makes so much sense. But going to the same car trunks as the houses they will trick-or-treat to a couple of days later seems a little much. Having said that, we whole-heartedly got into the spirit of things, because I certainly know the kiddies love getting twice as much candy, and I also know that if I was one of those kids, I would have loved the heck out of it.

We decided to decorate the tractor and use that as our "trunk", since Bob is known for his tractoring around these parts. I had a little bug the day I was planning on decorating it, so I literally opened a closet or two, pulled out some things, cut a few vines off of an errant (understatement of the year) trumpet vine, and draped them all over the bucket of the tractor. Done.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October Week 4: Stay Warm and Dry!

Today's food storage/emergency prep items are:

October Week 4: Stay Warm and Dry! - Wool blankets, emergency reflective blankets, rain ponchos, hand warmers

These should be items that you won't have to replenish every year. All of these items can be purchased at an online store such as Emergency Essentials, or you can also find most of the items at stores like WalMart.

I like the wool-blend utility blankets I got from Emergency Essentials. They were somewhere around $15 and measure a good-sized 60X80 inches. I also have some wool Indian blankets that I will keep in the stack in my emergency supply room. This is what Emergency Essentials has to say about their wool blankets:

Stay toasty warm with this fire-retardant, economical wool blend blanket. Comfortable, soft, and breathable, this blanket will keep you warm without trapping condensation or sweat against your body in cold weather. It measures 60 x 80 inches, and is 65% wool and 35% polyester. A great addition to any emergency or car kit.

The rain ponchos are $3.50, so very affordable. I think I will add a few to my supply so that I have enough for each of my family members, regardless of whether they live here at home or not. Just in case...

The PVC Poncho with Hood is a full-size cut and is made out of waterproof PVC Material. Keep one in your car and in your emergency kit, so you won’t be caught unprepared in bad weather. Lightweight and reusable. Each emergency poncho includes an attached hood. One size fits most.

The reflective blankets are very affordable, too. They're under $2.00, and can be critical in keeping body heat in. This is what Emergency Essentials has in their description about them:

This lightweight and compact blanket fits in any emergency kit or bug out bag. The Emergency Blanket’s unique reflective material maintains up to 80% of your radiant body heat to help preserve crucial warmth. The emergency blanket is large enough to cover from head to toe (84" x 52") or to wrap around the upper body front to back. Small enough to fit in a pocket. It's lightweight and waterproof. Thicker material than other reflective blankets of this size and price range. With an Emergency Blanket you’ll have a powerful pocketful of warmth.

I think I'll get a few more of those, too. Can't hurt to have plenty of them on hand.

And of course, hand warmers. If you've ever used these beauties when your fingers feel like they are so cold they'll fall off your hand, then you know they can really come in handy. Here in Utah, we get cold winters, and I can imagine how useful handwarmers might be in some wintery situations:

These hand warmers provide up to 8 hours of continuous warmth—in any place, at any time. Keep several on hand in emergency kits, camping gear, and the trunk of your car. The Hand, Pocket & Glove Warmers heat up in minutes. Ideal for winter sporting events, outdoor activities, camping, fishing, and other outdoor situations. Invaluable as an instant heat source in emergency situations. Environmentally safe and disposable. Inner contents are biodegradable. 

Decide what you and your family might need in an emergency situation. This is aside from your 72 hour kit, remember. Just imagine that your family is without heat, or without shelter for some time. What can you provide, in your emergency supply, to help your family through a catastrophe? If you have extra blankets in your home, you can stack those on the shelves, too. Make sure they're plenty warm and optimally have at least some wool in them.

Once you have decided what you think you'll need, start collecting the items. Purchase what you need either online or at a store. Get the items on your shelves and update your inventory sheets, and feel at peace that you have provided warmth and comfort for your family for an emergency situation.

If your budget doesn't allow you to purchase all of the items at once, begin with one or two of the items, and get them on your shelves. As your finances allow, add to your storage, or next year, when this week comes up again, finish up the list. Just be sure to do something this week, even if its just putting a few blankets on the shelves, or buying a couple of reflective blankets for a couple of dollars each.

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, October 20, 2015

October Week 3: Apples

This week's food storage items are:

October Week 3: Apples -- applesauce, apple butter, dried apples, apple pie filling etc.

Couldn't be easier. If you and your family eat apple sauce, estimate how much you will eat in the coming year, and either buy it or can it. Same goes with the apple slices. I like to can the dried apple slices at the Family Home Storage Cannery. They last for 30+ years, so they seem like a good thing to have around for those long-term emergencies. And since I have started drying my own apple-pears, I have some of those on my shelf also (and I'm told they'll last for at least a year). If you use any other apple product (apple filling, apple butter, etc), think about how much of that item you may need in a year's time, and write it down.

Make your shopping list of what you will need to complete this week's items, and in the next couple of days, get to the store. Once you have the items on your shelves, update the inventory sheet, and voila! You've got another good week under your belt.

Now, you may be saying to yourself that you and your family wouldn't eat apple sauce or apples slices, or any other apple product. If that's the case, then you will have this week to catch up on any weeks you haven't quite finished. But remember... in a long-term emergency, it may be really nice to have some dried fruit that you're able to eat in place of fresh fruit. Just saying.

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, October 15, 2015

Early Fall Ramblings

I still can't quite believe summer is over and we're well into fall. How does time seem to fly by faster and faster with each passing year? I can honestly say I feel like we packed about as much as we possibly could into summer, though, so I don't have any regrets. Just trying to keep up, though, kept us hopping. I think we both lost weight over the summer, because we just didn't have time to eat a regular meal on some of those busy days. I love looking back at the photos, and thinking about the treasured family time we had.

And it seems we're just as busy now that it's fall!

How can you not smile with so many babies around. This photo was taken after our family pics a few weeks ago, so the kiddos were tired out, but still as sweet as can be. We can't get enough of them. Arms full of babies... what can be better?

The surroundings up at the cabin are gorgeous and fall-ish. We did our annual maple leaf cuttings, and brought them home to decorate with. (By "we", I mean Bob, with me pointing out just the perfect colored leaves to cut).

There is always wildlife to be seen at or around the cabin. This porcupine was just a few feet away from us, and didn't seem to mind that we were there at all.

Lots of family dinners. This picture is totally representative of what they're like. Babies everywhere in high chairs and walkers and laps.

What you don't see in the photo above, is to the left of that picture is the kid's table, which Grandpa was at, helping to get food down the older grands.

We had the perfect amount of apple-pears this year. There was a bit of a freeze in the late spring, which thinned out the harvest quite a bit. Towards the end, we just picked all of the remaining apple-pears and boxed them. We delivered them all around, and ate plenty!

A perfect specimen. (That goes for the hand holding the apple-pear as well as the apple-pear itself)

Of course pumpkin harvesting had to happen so that we could set the pumpkins out on the porch to decorate. The grand kids helped harvest the small crop that we had this year.

Such perfect times. I can't imagine not having photos to remind us of the sweet, happy moments in life. They have a way of slipping away from the forefront of our memory if we don't have the photos to look back on. Or is that just me?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October Week 2: Wraps and Bags

This week's food storage/emergency supply item(s) are:

October Week 2: Wraps and Bags - aluminum, saran wrap, wax paper, garbage bags, freezer bags, etc.

This week, you should decide on which items you use or might use in case of a long-term emergency. Aluminum foil has many uses in an emergency, so I keep a couple of rolls of that. I also keep plastic wrap, wax paper, garbage bags (kitchen bags and also a heavy-duty garbage bag), gallon size freezer bags, and baggies. All of these items, I keep on a non-rotating basis. So, I do my best not to delve into my supplies. But, I sometimes find myself without foil or baggies, or some-such thing, and I gratefully remember I've stowed some away for emergencies. 

Each year, on this week, I go down my inventory sheet and check that my supplies of wraps and bags are what they should be. If I have taken from my supplies sometime earlier in the year, this is the time to restock my shelves. I make a note of what I need and in the next couple of days, pick up the items at the grocery store. Then, I get the items on the shelves and update my inventory sheet. Yay! Another week of items on the shelves. It is SUCH a great feeling!

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, October 6, 2015

October Week 1: 72 Hour Kits. Start them or update them.

This week's emergency preparation item is:

October Week 1: 72 hour kits. Start them or update them.

72-hour kits in back packs

72 hour kits
(includes the rolling cart under the backpacks)

So...... if you have a 72 hour kit, this is relatively easy. Just get your kit(s) out and go through them. Throw out the old, expired food, batteries, etc, that may need replacing. Then, write the items on a list and get to the grocery store in the next couple of days to purchase what you need. When you have the items back in your kit, and your kit back where it belongs, then check it off the list, and relax until next week.

I like to keep my 72 hour kits on the main floor, in a closet that is readily accessible. It's the closet on the way out to the garage, so it's pretty convenient. Everyone knows where the kits are, so we should be able to grab the kits and go quickly. If I kept the 72 hour kits in the basement with the rest of my emergency supply, they would take longer to grab (which may not be possible in the case of a house fire or earthquake), or they might get ruined in the case of a flood, etc.

Now, if you don't have a 72 hour kit yet, then you've got your work cut out for you. BUT, this is the time to get started. I have a couple of different lists... one for the kids' 72 hour kits, which are contained in separate backpacks for them. The other list is a comprehensive list that includes everything my husband and I would need, along with some items that the entire family will use. This is the week I check on all of my items, and try to get them completed and updated.

On my lists for my 72 hour kits, there is a place to write when items expire so that I can just look at the list (without even pulling my kits out) and purchase the items that have or will soon expire. Once I have bought them, I can just switch the items in the kit out and update the list.

We worked on 72 hour kits last year on this blog, so we've gone through it step-by-step. To see the different posts on collecting the items, click on the 72 hour kit tab above.

Now that we have all of our kids married off, and on their own, we don't keep an emergency kit here at the house for each of them. In fact, I've passed on to them their 72-hour kits in their backpacks. They can keep them, update them, build off of them, or whatever they want. I will continue to encourage them to build their own kits for their own little families. In my opinion, the 72-hour kits should be for whoever is living in your home at the current time. Any others should keep their own kits at their own homes. Because that can get way out of hand to keep kits for older kids, grandkids, parents, etc.

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.