Thursday, December 6, 2018

PREPARING FOR GIFT GIVING

I'm not sure I will ever get used to these San Diego Decembers.  For most of my life, I have lived in areas where it snows for Christmas.  I love not having to deal with snow, but Christmas always sneaks up on me.  Today we had piano lessons and our piano teacher's home was decked out for Christmas.  Her tree was up with presents underneath, lights on the outside of her home, and nativities everywhere you could see.   This year, I have not even thought about Christmas.  With trying to make decisions about the baby and getting our home on the market, Christmas is about as far from my mind as scraping ice off my windshield!  But, ready or not, Christmas always comes.

Last year, I posted "The Gift of Preparedness."  I still think these are great ideas for anyone on your list.  This year, I will try to give some ideas for gifting long-term food storage ideas. 

I remember one year, my mom gave away bags of her favorite hot cereal.  She put it in a big cellophane bag and tied a beautiful bow on the front, including a tag of how to cook it.  That would work wonderfully for Winco's Granola or Muesli Cereal. 

If you have family in Utah or Idaho, Walton Feed (Rainy Day Foods) has almost everything under the sun.  Shipping to Utah, Idaho, or Wyoming is very reasonable--but gets a little pricey to send it all the way out here. One year, we got Jeff's parents buckets of beans, as they love chili and other bean-soups.

You could easily do buckets for local friends or family.  Stopping by Winco (in either Temecula or San Marcos) gives you a one-stop shop.  Anything they sell in their bulk bins can be bought by the bag or by the box.  They have 2 and 5 gallon buckets, gamma lids, and oxy packs.  Some of their items can be ordered through their website, but all items can be ordered in the store.  Some of my favorites include:  Popcorn, Kidney Beans, Wheat, and Oats.  Though their selection seems endless. even including chocolate and gummy worms. Gift food items you know they will use and love. 

Giving Food Storage may not be the most exciting Christmas present, but I guarantee that you will be often thought of as your gift is used. 

I challenge you to consider food storage or preparedness items for those hand-to-gift people on your Christmas list.  Some families even make their whole Christmas a "food storage Christmas" using funds they would have spent on gifts to bulk up their storage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A SUCESSFUL JOURNEY REQUIRES PREPARATION

Our family has just started a new journey, one we did not plan on, and one where we do not know the outcome or the details.  I am learning as we go and I am grateful for every ounce of preparation we have made.

Last spring both my husband and I felt like it was time to have another baby.  This was not a decision I took lightly...actually I fought it.  I took some convincing, but Heavenly Father helped me realize through many profound experiences that this was His will. 

Fast forward to October 8, and we excitedly went to our routine 19-week ultrasound.  I was very excited, wondering if a boy or a girl would break our tie.  During the ultrasound, I noticed that a little more time than usual was spent looking at our little girl's heart.  My suspicions were confirmed when I visited with my doctor and he stated that the heart did not look like it was functioning quite right.  I was sent to Rady Children's hospital for a follow-up fetal ecocardiogram. 

Our Rady's appointment was set for October 26, and after an hour-and-a-half heart ultrasound, and over 160 pictures later, we met with the cardiologist.  I was not quite prepared for the diagnosis--Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a very rare and extremely serious congenital heart defect.  Basically, the entire left side of the heart is underdeveloped and useless.  Without extreme medical intervention the condition is fatal 100% of the time.   What they are able to do with these babies is truly a miracle.  Over the course of 3 surgeries (one during the first week of life, one at 3-6 months, and one at 18 months to 3 years) the entire heart is rebuilt in a different way that allows the right side of the heart to pump all the blood for the body.  The success rate for these procedures are very high and more and more kids are able to live life...though some of it is a little different kind of "normal."

Our family still has a lot of decisions to make and we are trying to wrap our heads around all of this.  But, peace has come and I know all will be OK, though I am still trying to figure out exactly what "OK" means.

So, how does this all fit with Provident Living and Preparedness.  Well, quite a bit.  As I have looked at the last several years and specifically at things we have done to mindfully be prepared, I can point to almost all areas of Provident Living where we have prepared for this, short of pulling out our 72-hour kits.  My husband is prepared with his education and employment so that if a location and job change is necessary, it is possible.  Our finances are in order and we have good insurance.  We have worked hard so that our home is nice and in a sell-able condition.  We have relied on our food storage--including fruit and vegetables we have harvested and stored from our yard, enabling us to still eat our regular food even though trips to the store are not as frequent.  And, we have spiritually prepared ourselves; including being able to receive personal revelation to know the actions our family should take. 

I have always thought that being prepared and self-reliant is they key for us to do whatever we need to do all by ourselves, never asking for a single thing from anyone else.  I can tell you from what I have learned these last weeks that this thinking is dead wrong.  No matter what we are going through, we cannot do it all ourselves.  Relying on our Savior is an essential part of any journey...including this journey called life.  I also was reminded of the power of our ward family.  As meals have trickled in and as I have received hugs and whispers of, "We are praying for you," I feel the strength and love from all of you that has helped buoy us up during this hard time.  I have been humbled as I realize that we can't do everything by ourselves, and it was never intended that we do so. 

With this humility, I ask a special request of my dear sisters.  If you could include our baby girl in your fast this week, I so would appreciate it.  We are praying for healing, that her heart will miraculously be made whole...but if this is not the Lord's will, we are asking for help to know the best place for us to be to give our little one the best chances for her to accomplish her mission here on earth.

Meanwhile, I challenge you to look at the areas of Provident Living:  Education, Emergency Preparedness, Spirituality & Testimony, Employment, Finances, Food Storage, and Gardening & Home Production.  Realize that none of us really know what challenges are in our future, but preparedness in all of these areas will help us weather whatever storm may come.  Pray for insight and help to know where your next preparation focus should be, then act. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Gift of Gratitude

One quote has been swirling in my mind the last few days, "I do not know of any, excepting the unpardonable sin, that is greater than the sin of ingratitude."  -Brigham Young

Now, that is pretty straightforward, but it was never in President Young's nature to mince words.  I have thought long and hard about this quote and what it means for me.  If the sin of ingratitude is so great, then the virtue of gratitude is also great--in the opposite direction!

Having a feeling of gratitude in your Spiritual Preparedness Toolbox is a must!  I think that counting our blessings when things gets hard helps us to keep things into perspective and helps us realize that our Heavenly Father loves us and gives us tender mercies to be grateful for, if we only look for them.  

Today I am grateful for a beautiful sunset, a happy stack of quilts I picked up from the quilter, kids who love and take care of each other, the opportunity to see a friend participate in his first temple endowment, great advances in medical care, dear ward sisters who love and take care of me, feelings of peace from my Heavenly Father, and much, much more.  

I know that this time of the year is the time to be extra-grateful, but I encourage you to use this time to truly develop that "attitude of gratitude" that will be sustaining year-round.  No matter how hard life seems, there is always something to be grateful for.  

I challenge you to find even little things you are grateful for.  Make a habit of thinking of your blessings each and every day and thanking the Lord for the small and simple tender mercies that make our lives even just a bit brighter.  Include this gratitude in your prayers and remember to always say "thank you."  I promise, it will make things better.   

Thursday, November 15, 2018

USING DRIED MILK

When I was 9 years old, my family made the move back to Utah from Colorado.  As my mom reorganized after the move, going through the food storage must have been on the list.  I remember when she gave me a big bag of powdered milk and told me I could use it to feed the cats.  For a really long time, I meticulously stirred that milk up for our cats, a little bit every day, and they drank it.  Looking back on that now, I think it is kind of funny that Mom had me do that.  I assume it was from the "don't waste" mentality I grew up with.  Apparently she did not want to use the milk, but she figured it could be used up by feeding it to our kitties.  

I personally have never had a problem using and rotating my dried milk (without feeding it to the pets).  It does have a shorter shelf life than other long-term-storage items, but with mindfulness, it can be done.  Most of my dried milk use comes with cooking.  

When a recipe calls for a cup of milk, I add 1 c of water and 1/4 c dried milk for a 2% milk ratio, or 1/3 c dried milk for a whole milk ratio.  

If a recipe calls for evaporated milk, use 1 1/4 c. water and 1 c dried milk to equal a 20 oz can.  

Make your own sweetened condensed milk using this recipe:
     1 c dry milk
     2 c sugar
     1/2 c boiling water
     1/4 c butter-melted
          Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 1 full minute.  Place in clean jar, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Give it a good stir just before use.  This is equal to the size of a store-bought can. 

A fun Powdered Milk recipe is:

Hot Cocoa Mix
     4 c powdered milk (I recommend instant)
     21.8 oz box Nestle Nesquik
     16 oz instant coffee creamer
     1 c powdered sugar
          Add all the ingredients to a big bowl and MIX WELL.  Pour into a storage jar or canister.  To make your Hot Cocoa, add 3-4 heaping tablespoons to 8 oz hot fresh milk or water.  Stir and enjoy!

Even a quick google search of how to use powdered milk comes up with so many options.  You can make your own Bisquick mix, cream of_____ soup, smoothies, the list is endless.

I challenge you to get some dried milk and learn to use it!  It is an essential part of your food storage and you will need to rotate it.  

Thursday, November 8, 2018

FOOD STORAGE--LITTLE BY LITTLE

Soon after we were married, Jeff and I signed up to work at the church cannery and were able to purchase our first food storage.  I think we bought 4-5 boxes worth of various dry-pack cans.  That next summer, I learned how to make jam...and I made jam.  Peach Jam, Strawberry Jam, and Blackberry Jam.  The few storage shelves we had our little 4-plex apartment soon filled up with food storage.  And, as our family grew, so did our food storage.  Our budget has always had a line-item for food storage, often we save up for a few months and then use it to buy what we need.  This method has worked very well for our family, allowing us to consistently build our storage without feeling like our budget has been stretched.

Section 12 of One for the Money encourages us to appropriately involve ourselves in a food storage and emergency preparedness program.  We are counciled not to go into debt to buy these items, but to prepare and gain our stores for a time of need. 

I firmly believe in this principle and hope that you can little by little gain your food and emergency stores.  If you need help, you can refer to a few of the steps I have outlined to help you.

3 Month Meal Plan:  Month1, Month 2, Month 3, Month 4
Long-Term Storage Plan:  Salt, Cooking Oil, ContainersGrainsBeans, Sugar and Honey, Milk 
Emergency Preparedness:  Fire, Earthquake, 3-minutes

I hope that any post I have written over the last year and a half will help you be just a little more prepared in some way.  You can find all my posts on my blog.  But remember, just reading will not help you be more prepared, you will have to do something too. 

I Challenge You:  Read section 12 of One for the Money.  Make a plan for your family to involve yourselves in food storage and emergency preparedness.  I promise you will not regret it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

LONG TERM STORAGE: MILK

Several years ago, my parents built a house to accommodate my aging grandparents.  It included sort of a granny flat where they could have their own separate spots.  When they moved in, there was a convergence of so much "stuff" from two households that it filled up the basement and 4-car garage quickly.  My mom and my grandma set out to go through it all--my mom hoping to purge as much as possible.  As they were organizing, my mom came across a can of powdered milk that had expired 30 years previous.  As she went to toss it, my grandma stopped her.  "Wait!" that's food storage, you can't throw it away!"  My mom tried to explain that it was not any good and just needed to be tossed.  "But," continued my grandma, "It might still be good, we could give it to DI."  My mom explained that DI could not possibly want it, and they do not take food anyway.  "Well, " my grandma thought, "How about the food pantry?"  Grandma was not about to let that can of powdered milk go to waste.  I think my mom had to end up pretty much sneaking it into the garbage. 

I often use this story to help people understand the mentality fallacy of "Once I have my food storage, I've got it forever and I can't use it let go of it." This thinking is not healthy--literally.  Food storage needs to be rotated--used and replaced regularly.

But today, we are talking about Milk for your long term storage.  The minimum recommendation is 16 lbs per person.  For my family, that is 152 lbs. 

Dried (or powdered) Milk comes in two forms:  Instant and Regular.  The main difference is that the Instant dissolves in water, well, instantly.  The regular milk needs stirring and chilling before fully reconstituted. 

Dried milk can be found online on a number of websites.  It can also be purchased in bulk from Winco.  You can buy it in a box at the grocery store, but that is usually the most costly way.  Watch out for "milk alternatives" that do taste a bit better (as they add whey, high fructose corn syrup, and other ingredients) but does not have the protein and calcium as your basic dried milk has.

I personally do not drink dried milk.  If you want to try it straight, I do suggest adding a bit of vanilla and sugar just to help it taste better.   My go-to use for dried milk is cooking.  If your recipe calls for a cup of milk, use 1/4 c. dried milk and 1 c. water.  It is especially good for breads.  Dried milk typically costs a bit less than using store-bought milk and can easily store in an air tight container for 3-5 years (Though I try to use and replace mine within 2 years).  30+ years for a can of powdered milk is probably stretching it a bit too far.

I challenge you  to add powdered milk to your food storage and discover how to use it on a regular basis.

If you would like to add other items to your food storage:

Wraps & Bags:  Aluminum foil, saran wrap, ziploc bags, garbage bags, wax paper
Apples:  Pie filling, Applesauce, 
Vinegar, powdered eggs, powdered cheese

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

THE DEFINITION OF PROVIDENT

One of the things I learned as a Political Science major many years ago was to  carefully choose words. Especially knowing the exact meaning of words was crucial to convey meaning. 

Often I think about my calling as "Provident Living Supervisor" and pick it apart to understand what it really means. 

Provident is defined as (1) making provision for the future: prudent.  (2) Frugal, Saving.

So, I see it as living in a way to continually prepare for the future while being frugal and saving resources for a rainy day.  And then, not only living this way myself, but helping all of you to live the same way.  Living frugally is not always easy.  It takes effort, vigilance, and constant watchfulness. 

The Church has a Provident Living website that is fantastic.  It has resources on so many topics ranging from education to food storage. 

This week, take a look at this site, find a topic that interests you or maybe just something you would like to learn more about.  Take just 15 minutes or so and read a Conference Talk or look through a pamphlet.  I often feel like Church leaders can say things so much better than I can.  Prayerfully consider one thing you can do to live more providently to prepare for the future.