Thursday, January 18, 2018

THE MOST IMPORTANT DISASTER PREPARATION

After a natural disaster, destruction and devastation can be seen.  The blackened landscape, melted fences, or a lone chimney without a home from our recent fire reminds us of the destructive power of the elements.  Debris after a hurricane or earthquake likewise is a physical reminder of a recent disaster.

There is one disaster we can guard against, working each day to insure it never occurs.  The disaster I am speaking of is a spiritual disaster.

Being spiritually prepared is just as important, if not more important, than being physically prepared.  After a disaster occurs, we often want to run out and buy things we need to be prepared.  But to prepare spiritually against life's winds and ravages, it takes time and effort.

Picture a sign on our church building that reads:
“Spiritual Fuel Available—No Rationing—No Stamps—No Quotas—Come and Prepare.”  We may automatically think of the New Testament parable of the Ten Virgins.  10 were invited to the wedding ceremony; 5 were prepared with extra oil for their lamps, 5 were not.  Referring to those who were not ready, Marvin J. Ashton (a former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) said, "Today thousands of us are in a similar position. Through lack of patience and confidence, preparation has ceased. Others have lulled themselves to sleep to a complacency with the rationalization that midnight will never come. The responsibility for having oil in our personal lamps is an individual requirement and opportunity. The oil of spiritual preparedness cannot be shared. The wise were not unkind or selfish when they refused oil to the foolish in the moment of truth. The kind of oil needed by all of us to light up the darkness and illuminate the way is not shareable. The oil could have been purchased at the market in the parable, but in our lives it is accumulated by righteous living, a drop at a time" (Conference Address April 1974).

President Eyring tells us how to spiritually prepare ourselves to meet "The great test of life [which] is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life."  He continues, "What we will need in our day of testing is a spiritual preparation. It is to have developed faith in Jesus Christ so powerful that we can pass the test of life upon which everything for us in eternity depends."  President Eyring also gives us four specific ways to develop this necessary faith:  "One is the command to feast upon the word of God. A second is to pray always. A third is the commandment to be a full-tithe payer. And the fourth is to escape from sin and its terrible effects. Each takes faith to start and then to persevere. And all can strengthen your capacity to know and obey the Lord’s commands" (Conference Address October 2005)

I encourage you to follow these four steps and practice them over and over to fill our oil lamps. This faith and preparation is essential to our salvation and avoiding spiritual disasters in our lives.  

Sister Beck, former Relief Society General President shares that this personal spiritual preparedness helps lead to the ability to receive personal revelation, shared so eloquently in this Mormon Message.



Make your own Spiritual Preparedness a priority, to see you through winds that may come and to avoid a personal spiritual disaster.  It is worth it.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

3 MONTH MEAL PLAN--MONTH 1

Life is about adjustment...When we moved to Stoddard Valley almost 5 years ago, I found myself at least 20 minutes away from any grocery store (even Daniel's).  Those quick trips to the store for the forgotten or unplanned-for item were simply not an option anymore.  I learned to plan a little better, or adjust to meals we could make with what we had on hand.  Luckily I had a fallback.  Can I tell you how amazing it is to have family living next door?!  I knew that I could borrow a can of tomato sauce, a package of graham crackers, or just about anything else, anytime.  It was like having a grocery store next door!  Awesome.  Then, adjustment came again when my grocery store family next door moved away.  I cannot even begin to tell you what a bummer this has been, but we move forward.

The church is amazing, they have given us a plan to get in place to totally solve my dilemma.  It is called a 3-month supply and all we need to do is follow it.  The short version is that we are supposed to have food in our homes to last our family for 3 months.  Brilliant.  During 2018, I invite you to follow along as I challenge myself to build an amazing 3 month supply.  The blessings will be many-fold!  Some of them include: less last-minute trips to the grocery store, knowing you can always make a meal, food on hand in case of need, and much more!  LET'S DO THIS!

January's Goal:  PLAN

(1) Finances.  Determine an amount you can spend on Food Storage every month and incorporate it into your budget.
(2) Make a list.  Come up with 7 breakfast meals, 7 lunch meals, 7 snacks, and 7 dinners that can be made entirely from non-perishable food (think: cans and pantry items).
(3) Gather Recipes.  Make a recipe file (binder, cards, etc.) of these recipes.  If you need ideas, Pinterest has a plethora of them.  I searched for "LDS 3 month food storage recipes" and got more ideas than I can use!  I shared one dinner recipe for Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup awhile back, so you can for sure use that!  The #1 rule for this step is you can only list and gather recipes you KNOW your family will eat (and love).
(4) Follow up.  Visit my blog and leave a comment at the end of this post with a recipe or an item you have on your list (then check back to get ideas from other people).


Thursday, December 28, 2017

2018 NEW YEAR RESOULUTIONS--PREPAREDNESS

I have a friend who takes New Years Resolutions very seriously.  She and her husband come up with amazing goals.  But what is even better...they keep them.  One year they resolved to lose weight, and they did!  She remarked near the end of the year that they had lost a whole person (about 110 lbs) between them.  Another year, she determined to play the piano better and pick up where she left off about 30 years earlier.  I was her piano teacher and it was amazing to see her work ethic as she practiced and came to lessons week after week.  When the recital came around, she really did not want to play, but decided she would--but thought seriously of wearing a sign that said, "This is what happens when you quit piano as a kid, and your mom says you will always regret it."  I want that sense of purpose as I make my 2018 goals.

Remember as you set your goals to make them S.M.A.R.T.   Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

Provident Living (my calling) includes helping you--and me--become self-reliant, helping us help ourselves so that we do not have to rely on others, and so that we are in a position to help others when they need it.  The categories of provident living provide a wonderful outline for goals to set.  I challenge you this week to make resolutions to help you and your family become more self-reliant in 2018.  Here are a few ideas:

SPIRITUAL SELF RELIANCE  Increased Church and/or Temple attendance, Meaningful Scripture Study, Purposeful Prayer.
PHYSICAL HEALTH Exercise, Good Eating Habits, Good Sleeping Routine.
EDUCATION Learn A New Skill, Obtain Knowledge by Reading Good Books or Attending Classes,  Increase Job Proficiency,  Receive Know-How for a New Job.
HOME STORAGE AND PRODUCTION Plant a Garden, Preserve Food, Store Clean Drinking Water, Obtain a 3-Month Food Supply, Build a Year Food Supply
FINANCES Make and Stick To a Budget, Work Toward Getting Out of Debt,  Gradually Build a Financial Reserve.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS Make 72 Hour Kits, Have Plans for Several Types of Emergencies, Build a Family First Aid Kit for Home or Car.

“All of us are responsible to provide for ourselves and our families in both temporal and spiritual ways. To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies.”
--Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Friday, December 22, 2017

2 Weeks Post Fire

On Tuesday I drove down Lilac Road.  It was sobering, to say the least.  The scorched ground, pink ribbons tied to mailboxes and fences, signs thanking the firefighters and first responders and the smoke smell still in the air was a fresh reminder.  Driving down Redondo Drive was also severe.  Seeing the melted vinyl fencing and the fireplace that was once a home was a vivid reminder that fire is a real threat and it can break out very quickly putting any (or all) of us at risk.

So here we are, 2 weeks post-fire.  I am determined this time to not forget what we learned.  I analyzed the fire last week, but I think it is important for you to do the same with your family.

THIS WEEK, I challenge you to : (1) Make a list of 5 things you did right during the fire.  (2) Make a list of 5 things you wish you would have done during the fire.  (3) Make a list of ten things you would absolutely want to take with you and tape it to the inside of a cabinet.  (4) Make sure your house has 100 feet of defensible space around it--clear brush, debris, trash, trim trees etc. (Firefighters have always made it clear that if there is no defensible space, they cannot even try to save your home).

I know it is Christmas, but it may give you a bit more time together as a family to meet these goals.

Shari Kooyman sent me some great tips for getting the smoke smell out of your home--Thank you Shari!  There is a product called Bad Odor Sponge.  Several years ago I purchased mine from Major market.  I have used it to remove smoke damage to clothing and to papers of grandsons home that burned down.  Major Market is sold out, but in stock has one called the Wizard.  The manager said you could try it and if you did not like it you could return it.  Or you can find Bad Odor Sponge on the internet.  When I was finished using I just screwed the lid back on the container and was able to use it again.  I also used this to remove musty odor from genealogy record that had been stored in totes for years.  Also you can put a couple of briquette in paper bags or bowls and they will absorbs the smoky odors.  I have used this to remove musty odors from old books and papers.
A couple of tablespoons of real vanilla in a bowl will also absorb the smoky odor without adding artificial odors to the air.  Vinegar put in bowls placed in different rooms will also help to remove smoky odor.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fire...what we learned and what to do

The Lilac Fire.  Wow, are y'all still reeling?  I am.  We were lucky to be with good friends in San Marcos.  The kids had a fun day with a giant tree swing, trampoline, and bocce ball.  I hope all of you were able to find good places to go.

This is our second evacuation.  After the first one, we talked and made some plans for if it happened again.  But, when the fire broke out Thursday, I couldn't remember any of them.  I've had some time to think it over, and here's some good and bad things that we did was well as lessons learned and ideas for the future.

The Good:  (1) We had a designated place to go.  Actually we had several.  people are so kind.  It saved a lot of time knowing right away where we should evacuate to.  (2) I had signed up my cell phone to receive emergency alerts.  This helped me know when the evacuation order went out and where I could find more information.  (3) My car had gas.  I try to keep my car with 1/4 tank of fuel at all times.   (4) All the house windows were closed.  I had the presence of mind to check all the windows.  Homes often burn from the inside out when embers are sucked in through open windows , open garages, or old roof vents.  (5) I made sure my visiting teacher and ward leadership knew we were fine and told them where we were going. (6) Staying calm.  Even though I was pretty much freaking out inside, I knew that a calm, confident demeanor from me is what my kids needed.  I was in charge of 10 children--they all got their cues from me.  My 3-year-old got scared and started to cry, but because I was acting conifdent and calm, she only needed a small reassurance that we were going away from the fires and that we would be OK.  

The Bad:  (1) I did not have a written plan.  My brain turned off when I saw how close the fire was.  We were one of the first potentially in its path.  All I could think of to do was to get everyone out.  We left the house pretty quickly, but once I got to where I was going, I wished I had grabbed a few irreplaceable items.  (2) No food or clothes...I had meant to put together 72 hour kits for my family after the last fire, but it didn't happen.  Luckily I was able to hit Costco (Everyone got new Christmas PJs early!) and our hosts were more than generous, but I still felt like I should have been more self-reliant. (3) I did not check on those I visit teach right away.   I was so wrapped up in my own evacuation that I didn't even think about it.   I was able to touch base with a few of my sisters after we returned home.  (4) Power outages were not something I had even thought of...we should have planned what to do if we were able to return home with no power.

Things I learned:  (1) Texting is always best in an emergency.  Thank you to all of you who contacted us to make sure we were OK.  However, I found it challenging to try to answer phone calls while I was trying to coordinate things with my husband, find out where all the kids were, and get everyone all packed up and gone.  I was able to respond to those who texted eventually, but the phone calls were tricky to deal with (I did not even check my voicemail until 4 days later).   Also, as a result, I did not answer the reverse 911 evacuation call.  I suppose that's why they send texts and emails also.  (2) Have a wifi call app.  The friends we evacuated to live in a place where my carrier does not have cell service. We did have WiFi, so we connected to the WhatsApp which allows us to call or text over WiFi instead of the cell networks.  (3) Many forms of communication were helpful.  I was able to receive texts from Bishop and an email from Bro. LeBlanc.  

What I am going to do... (1) Make a list of all the things, in order from most important to least, that I would want to take.  These would include, photos, journals, and my 4 year-old's blanket.   Also include what items would be good to have--Bro. LeBlanc made a great list (Assemble documents, birth, SSN, insurance, medical, accounts, Gather cash and credit cards, Jewelry, pictures, heirlooms, Clothes for several days, include a jacket, Sleeping bags, Water, Food, MedicationsPets and pet food. Keep your cell phone charged, bring your chargers with you, Sturdy shoes or boots, Flashlights with spare batteries, Hygiene items)  I will put this on the inside of one of my cabinets so that I can have something to go off of when my brain dies.  (2) Make 72 hour kits!  This would have helped with food (we evacuated before we ate lunch and my kids were starving!) and if I would have had 72 hour kits complete with toiletries and changes of clothes, it would have helped on several levels (watch for an upcoming 72 hour kit assembly activity!).  Luckily I was able to hit Costco and Wal-Mart for some food and clothing, but getting things for 11 people adds up quickly!  (3) Prep my family for several types of disasters and what people's roles were in different scenarios.  After the Hurricanes hit Florida this summer, we talked about emergency preparation for Earthquake and an in -house fire.  We did not discuss a brush wildfire at that time, we also did not discuss protocol if my husband was not in the area (which he was not for this fire).   Prepare better for power outages--have working flashlights and ready-to eat food (72 hour kits again!).

Blessings Received:  Throughout the fire, I felt that Heavenly Father was watching out for us.  There was no loss of life.  The winds that were supposed to be so gusty on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, were not.  Fire Crews from all over (even Utah!) came to help and did a marvelous job.  I watched church members, friends, and homeschool groups, gather together via text, email, etc to help each other and provide support.  There was a true spirit of concern and love conveyed so sincerely.   I felt so much power of the human spirit, the watchcare of church leaders, and the Lord's love poured out in abundance.  I am glad for the opportunity to serve and help clean up our community and to take this experience and become more prepared for the next time.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

HOMEMADE BREAD

Years ago, Grandma Stoddard was famous in Salmon, Idaho for her bread.  The story goes that when the members were asked to raise money to build the first church building in Salmon, Grandma made bread to sell, and it always went first.  My sister-in-law asked for her recipe before she passed away, and Grandma wrote it all out--I think it was 6 pages long.  Sometimes Jeff will pull out our copy of the handwritten recipe, but luckily another sister-in-law simplified it so I can make bread quickly for our everyday use.  About 10 years ago, I started making bread on a regular basis to help stretch our grocery budget.  Now, except for a bought loaf here or there, it's about all we eat.

GRANDMA'S HOMEMADE BREAD

6 c. water
3 T yeast (4 T if whole wheat) + 1 T sugar
*Put in mixer, stir with spoon and let sit for a few minutes
1 c. oil
10 c. flour (can be whole wheat, or half wheat/white)
1 c. sugar
1 c. potato flakes
1/2 c. dry milk
4 eggs
3 T salt
 *Mix for 4-5 minutes or until smooth like cake batter
*Add wheat flour (about 6-10 cups, depending on humidity) until not sticky
Let rise for 30 minutes, shape into loaves and let rise (covered) in loaf pans for 30-45 minutes (until it is the size you want your loaves to be)
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Makes 5-6 loaves.

Now, I realize that bread-making is sometimes overwhelming.  Here's a few hints I have learned over the years:
Use good yeast.  The best yeast I have found is SAF Instant yeast (found at WinCo, Costco Business Center or online.  Red Star from Costco works almost as well)  Keep your yeast cold, I keep mine in the freezer in an air tight container.
Wheat!  I find that newer freshly-ground flour works best.  If you have older wheat, never fear!  There is a product called Vital Wheat Gluten, available at several sites online, and probably at Sprouts (I haven't looked recently).  Substitute 1/2 c. vital wheat gluten for 1 c. flour.  It works wonders and helps your bread be more light and fluffy!
Practice:  Just like anything else, good bread takes some practice.  The ingredients are cheap and bread-fails can easily be made into french toast.  AND, if the loaves turn out rock-hard and totally inedible, I'm sure the missionaries would appreciate them to chuck at mean dogs if they find themselves in a life-or-death situation.

I challenge you to make bread once between now and the new year.  It is a great thing to know how to do, and if you already know how, I promise it will be a great treat for your family to make it again.

Friday, November 24, 2017

THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS

Thanksgiving is an amazing day.  I love not being expected to be anywhere or to do anything, except cook all morning and visit with friends and family.  Yesterday was a day like this.  Jeff's parents and a nephew were in town and we had our new-member friend Mike over also.  After dinner, I surveyed the food...there was a TON left, it hardly looked like we put a dent in anything!  I then realized that I subconsciously cooked for our former neighbors--that amazing family of 14 that just moved.  We have had Thanksgiving with them for so many years now, that I guess it was just ingrained.

Thanksgiving dinner is great, but after a couple of days it feels like it is time to mix things up a bit.  Here are a few recipes and ideas to use up those Turkey Day leftovers.

Turkey Pot Pie: 
 3 Cups Chopped Turkey
 Leftover Gravy
 Leftover Veggies
 Leftover Stuffing or Potatoes
 Combine Turkey, Gravy and veggies and put in a 9x13 pan, top with stuffing or potatoes.  Bake at 350* until bubbly (about 30-45 minutes).
 
Turkey Noodle Soup:
  In a stockpot, boil the turkey carcas or neck for about an hour.  remove meat and skim fat.  Add 1 chopped onion, 2-3 chopped potatoes, 4-5 chopped carrots and 2-3 cups of cooked turkey.  20 minutes before serving add noodles of your choice.

Smashed Potato Soup
1/2 c. coarsely chopped carrot
1/2 c. coarsely chopped celery
3-4 cups mashed potatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1/2 c. milk
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 c. sour cream
2 T fresh snipped parsley
Optional toppings: sliced green onions, cheese, bacon
1.  Place potatoes in medium saucepan.  Gradually add broth and milk, whisking until mixture is smooth.  Stir in carrot, celery, garlic, salt and black pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
2.  Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and parsley.  Serve, top with desired toppings.
Yield:  4 servings.

Use the Freezer:  Debone your turkey and bag meat into portion-sized freezer bags.  Use as a substitute for chicken in recipes.