Thursday, October 2, 2008

Keeping Your Kids Happy in a Natural Disaster

My dear sister has graciously agreed to contribute based on her recent experience during Hurricane Ike. They did not evacuate and I asked her to share her experience with us so that we can be better prepared for the effects of this kind of disaster on our children. Thanks Erin!

Our family just came through Hurricane Ike. We live just outside of Houston and while our home did not have any real damage, we were without power for 13 days. Yes -13 days folks! And while FEMA tells you that you should be prepared for 72 hours that does not mean that ice, water and food will all be READILY available in 72 hours, just that they will start to get things out in that amount of time. It also doesn’t mean that in 72 hours the crisis is over and the rebuilding has started. Thirteen Days without power is a lot to deal with, physically, emotionally and mentally. It’s a lot for children to handle. Particularly when they have to back to school, you have to go back to work and life is resuming around you. Mimi has asked me to write about keeping your children occupied during a time of disaster. I hope I am able to give you some bits and pieces you can use and that will be helpful to your family.

The day before and the morning of the storm the whole city was in upheaval, all of Houston basically shut down. The lines for gas were hours long, Wal-Mart looked like a war zone and people all over were panicking. My first bit of advice for your kids is that you focus on what needs to be done and NOT leave the news on all day so they can hear that doom, gloom and devastation are on their way. My younger daughter who has been potty trained for months had 2 accidents on Friday before the storm. She was very clingy and whiny. It serves no purpose for them to be scared more than necessary. My suggestion would be to have a TV or radio on somewhere away from the children so that you can have up to date info without having them have to worry.

During the storm my older daughter slept the whole time so we didn’t have to comfort her or keep her busy at all. The 3 yr old was agitated and awake a lot of the time. We kept her occupied by letting her hang with Dad and make sure everything was ok, she had her own flashlight and stayed right with him. Giving her a job seemed to really keep her mind off of things, and hanging out with Dad helped her to feel safe.

For the first week we were blessed with Beautiful weather. I didn’t have too worry much because we were outside the majority of the day and then fell into our beds at night.
We slept in the tent most of the nights and that made for a little bit of an adventure. The girls love camping so to them it was big fun. It was VERY dark in our neighborhood and we were able to see more stars than normal. We also played flashlight tag and hide and go seek.

Putting the girls to work was a great way to pass the time. They helped to clean the debris up, take drinks to their Dad and uncles and set up the tent. Being outside was the biggest blessing! The kids got to have unstructured play outside and as a sometimes over cautious Mom I had to let go a little. Knowing and trusting our neighbors made a huge difference because we were able to take turns with the kids to give each other a little bit of a break.

The second week when we had to go back to school and work it was a little--no--a lot more trying. We had to find ways to go about our normal life without power. Getting up in the morning was tough because the girls had no real schedule. They were pretty tired of cereal bars but ate them anyway while I brushed hair and found socks in the dark. In the afternoons we did homework right after school so we didn’t loose daylight and then had easy dinners. We read a lot of books by flashlight and played a few board games. We colored and wrote in our journals and we even reorganized a couple of closets.

But the most influential thing during week two was Mommy. “When Mama ain’t happy- Ain’t nobody happy!” I really think through everything that there was no magic that kept the girls happy and entertained. It was just me- as long as I was happy, calm and in control so was our home and our children. My husband, Mike, was a great leader and took care of us physically, without him we wouldn’t have made it. However, if I had been a little more graceful we would have made it through with more smiles and a lot less tears.

So there it is, that’s my advice. The Mama is the most influential person in your home and if you are ok- they will be ok. It is hard to go through a disaster as a family- but it will make you stronger and it will expose the areas you need to work on. Your children do not need to be entertained every single second. Give them a little room to spread their wings. Don’t assume they are too little to help, give every person a part in making it work. Believe me, you’ll need all the help you can get. Be as prepared as you can and don’t be afraid to take advantage of help when it is offered. Offer help to others if you can and try as hard as you can to smile the whole time. Eventually you’ll really feel like smiling!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Soooo school.

Well, I am once again deeply in the midst of school avalanche. I apologize to any readers out there who might have been looking forward to my actually posting on this blog. However, at the current moment I am thinking I will probably not be doing much blogging over here. Like for a year. I am going to leave it up though because I think I have a great start and hopefully, someday, after graduation, I can add to it. Thanks for supporting me those of you out there who have stopped by.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Banarang Bread

One of my most favorite things in the whole world is the smell of freshly baked bread. It is super healing. Sometimes its intimidating whether your mom made it the best but didn't teach you and so you are worried you can't reproduce her perfect loaf, or you have never had homemade bread and don't even buy yeast. To me, baking bread is one of those hallmark skills that every industrious woman should have, you know, like crossing the plains, making all of your own clothes and churning butter. I have learned over the years that the woman I am does not have to be that particular woman but my love of homemade bread has not waned. I will not offer my perfect recipe here. I will share with you some tutorials from other sites and some tips that were like moments of inspiration. But the real secret to making your own bread is practice, and failure, and practicing again. So, if you really want to make your own bread start with trying a couple of loaves every week for a month. By the end, of the month you will have perfected your family favorite and will be a pro.

This recipe, Susan's White Bread, has good photographs and some explanation of the process of bread baking. It is part of a site called: A Year In Bread and the whole site has wonderful recipes and information.

This little grandma is so cute and a little weird (my favorite combination)! This is a great video on how to work a really simple bread. She talks about the pleasure of kneading the bread and making something new. She's right, its very rewarding.

This is part 2:

Now, to my limited wisdom. One of the biggest mistakes I made the first few times I made bread was that I kept adding flour, buckets and buckets of flour. Your dough will become brickish if you add too much. So, after practicing a bit I realized I just very lightly dust my hands and my work surface so that I can keep kneading. Notice in the videos that the woman just kept working the dough. It takes 10 or 15 minutes by hand or by mixer. Another thing the woman in the video does is a triple rise. I might try this the next time. I only let rise in the bowl once before I shape it but I have read that the longer the rise time the more fluffy and light your bread will be. I think the triple rise would be helpful too those first few times to give the ingredients more time to work their magic. I add powdered milk to my bread and I will usually add gluten or a dough enhancer. These products can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores and they are particularly helpful when you are a beginner. I also like the texture of the bread with enhancers. Once you get a basic understanding of what good dough feels and smells like then you can add a whole host of items to your repertoire. I can make rolls, cinnamon rolls, pizza, crackers, breadsticks, and many other items now that I understand the process. I will these items to the bread basics section as we go.
This whole wheat recipe looks fantastic. I am going to try it this week and will let you all know how it turns out. I prefer whole wheat and rarely make a straight white bread.

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Introduction to the Basics

I wanted to start this series by explaining what (in the humble opinion of me) the basics are. Sometimes a project or goal seems incredibly overwhelming. Food storage, provident living and emergency preparation are often things that fall into overwhelming territory. One reason to stick to the basics is the power of focus. Dave Ramsey calls it gazelle intense. Steven Covey calls it a flight plan. Who ever you would like to emulate in the world more than likely has incredible focus. So, if you want your food storage program to be successful, FOCUS. There are some guidelines to how to narrow this down. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints lists these items as important for focus:

1.Three-Month Supply
2.Drinking Water
3.Financial Reserve
4.Longer-Term Supply

I agree with this order and would include a 72 hour kit as part of step one. Short term needs should be the primary focus for a first timer. As you increase these short term goals the others will follow naturally. For example, once you have a three month supply and are living on it and rotating it, your grocery budget should be very stable and predictable. This step can lead to an increase in money to add to your financial reserve.

Another important component of provident living is that it It isn't a one time event. It is an everyday part of life. However, that seems like an enormous challenge when beginning. Breaking even the first steps into smaller parts is a way to give the process time to "take." If you want to be prepared in an emergency then you should have regular meetings with your family to practice and prepare. This makes the plan become real. Slow repetition over time creates habits. So, for instance, when you are working on your three month supply it should be slowly. Incorporating storage items into your weekly menu plan is a way to not only rotate your food but make it a part of life. Also, keep it simple. We think we have to eat all complicated, but we don't. Simplifying your meals can be very rewarding, healthy and cost effective.

Here are some more places of inspiration:
Lentils and Rice
3 steps to starting a home storage program
Food Storage Made Easy

Back to Basics

I have been recently inspired by a friend who asked me to teach her to make bread. I don't know if I taught her anything but I enjoyed her company and got a kickin' batch of bread out of it. So I'm going to start this new series with a some tips on making bread and some resources with awesome tutorials. I hope to expand the database of resources so that there will be many basic resources available. Look forward to coming articles.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm back!

Well, I'm hoping I'm back. I am trying very hard to get excited about food storage. My own personal stash is way lower than normal and I am feeling a crunch to get it back up to par. Sometimes the hardest thing about provident living is motivation. So, I'm searching for it. If you guys out there would like to learn more about something specific please ask! I need to do some research or ponder on something. If you have a question or just a topic you would like addressed, let me know. I will address them in subsequent posts. So, to get us all back in the swing of things, here are some sources of inspiration.,11677,1706-1,00.html


I sometimes have a hard time looking at my food storage and seeing snacks. Common visions are of days making bread and eating rice and oats but there are a lot of good healthy choices out there for snacks. Popcorn is one of my all time favorites. It is an excellent, fast, and fun snack. It also doesn't heat up your kitchen the way baked goods do in the summer. I don't have an air popper so I just pop 1/2 cup of corn in 2 tbsp. oil in my biggest saucepan.

Here is a video of how to do it if you are trying for the first time.

There are a ton of variations for things to add. I'm just going to list a few.

Our #1 favorite: plain ole' butter and salt

This one has nutritional yeast (very good for you)

Vanilla Popcorn

A list of recipes for cracker jacks

I like these ideas

At the bottom under the comments someone suggested adding honey. I think I will try that version next time.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Totally Lame

I haven't posted here nearly as much as I had planned. Life happens. And its about to happen again. I just wanted to let my reader (dare I hope there's more than one) out there know that I will be returning in about six weeks. I am hoping to get the rest of the 72 hour kit information posted and that is my whole goal. So, don't leave me forever. Come back when my summer classes have ended. I am brainstorming more ideas than I have time to bring to fruition. So stay tuned.....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Final verdict

Well, pimento cheese is.....not good. It is a very odd food and so therefore not a good item to buy even if it is free. My children refused to eat their sandwiches after one bite. I myself, couldn't get past the shreds mixed up in the goop. I will add this to my lessons learned file and never speak of it again.....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Third Month

1. Water! Water! Water! Can't live without it, at least not very long. The great advantage to stored water is that you can rely on it to be suitable for drinking. The amount recommended for drinking, food preparation, and other limited uses such as brushing teeth, washing hands and dishes, is three gallons per person for the 72 hours. If the warer purity is questionable, take along some means of purifying it. There are lots of choices for purification. Iodine, bleach, boiling are just a few. The EPA has a good explanation of purification. I have used juice bottles and soda bottles for my storage. You have to be pretty careful with reusing bottles. Make sure they are super, super clean. I have opened bottles that smell awful. You can add two drops of bleach when you fill the bottles and be sure they are clean but a warning...too much can kill you. Do not use: milk jugs, jars that have held alkali or acid based products, and containers that held food food, like mustard, ketchup etc. There are great places to pick up water containers. Walton Feed has them, Emergency Essentials does also.

2. Cooking utensils and supplies: Since in month one and two you put your food in your containers, now you need to add any items you might need to prepare it. You can include pots, utility knife, can opener, mixing bowl with a lid, wooden or metal spoons, container for mixing drinks, cleaning supplies like soap, scrubber, towel, and a stove if you need to heat water. Many of these items are easily accesible at thrift stores or garage sales. We have a little thing that fits together with one can of propane. Its enough to heat water for our oats and hot chocolate. I might add to this but for now it is sufficient for us. Look at what you have and gather your supplies.

Pimento Cheese update

Still haven't opened the containers. The expiration date is like the next millenium. I have to be honest....I'm SCARED! What if I grow a third eye...oh wait that would be COOL. What if my children get green hair...oh wait that's probably the chlorine Ok, I guess, I will try some amazing wonderful pimento cheese sandwiches for lunch. I promise, I'm going to do it. Will let you know the verdict. If you don't hear from me its because the EPA has shut down and quarantined our home due to the highly toxic levels of weird cheese in our systems....

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pimento Cheese

What the heck is this stuff? I have two giant containers of it in my fridge. It was a free after coupon purchase. Now, granted I haven't made many of these types of errors. I try always to use my coupons for things we will eat. I had good intentions with the pimento. It sounded like something cool to try. Does anyone know what to do with it? Please help so I can maintain my solid recommendation to only buy what you will eat!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Second Month

1. Plan your lunch and dinner menus. Foods chosen for your kit should be nonperishable, and not need refridgeration. Try to choose foods that your family is comfortable with, an emergency situation is not the best time to introduce a whole new diet. Also take into consideration weight, bulk and water usage. Make sure the choices that you make for your lunch and dinner food will fit into your allocated space in the containers you chose in step 1. Some ideas for these foods include:

canned meat and fish
tuna helper
vegetables, canned or dry
soups, canned or dry
dehydrated dinners
honey or jam
fruit, canned or dry
peanut butter
boullion or other flavoring
powdered milk
drink mixes
granola bars
fruit leather
macaroni and cheese
candy bars
canned stew, chili or pasta
juices, canned or boxed

Including items for dessert is fun and can add to the "camping" feel in an emergency. It is also a good idea to think of things you would eat while camping. If you have camping equipment, include this in your thought processes as you plan your menus.

2. Obtain lunch and dinner food. After selecting your menu items, go shopping.

3. Attatch a copy of your complete menu to your kit. Having a menu attached to the lid of your kit can help you refer to it easily and in an emergency help you to not be so frazzled.

First Month

1. Find a suitable container for your kit. Many containers are appropriate, inluding a backpack, suitcase, trunk, box, bucket or garbage container. Backpacks for each family member (even young children) are probably the easiest way to transport supplies. You also need to decide if you need more than one container. A bucket can easily be utilized as a toilet or water carrier or other tool for a variety of situations. Consider this as you plan your container.

2. Pack your clothing for each family member. Every family member needs appropriate clothing for three days. Make sure to include socks, underwear, outerwear and shoes. These items can be stored in plastic storage bags to keep them dry in your container. Also make a note on your calender to check your kit every six months to make necessary size adjustements.

3. Plan your breakfast menus. Food chosen for your kit should be nonperishable, canned, powdered, or dried. Look for items that require no cooking (or minimal as in hot chocolate) and no refridgeration. Take into account special diet requirements, infant needs and family preferences. If you choose to include items that need minimal cooking make a list of cooking tools and utensils you will need. Some ideas include the following:

drink mixes
instant hot cocoa
powdered milk
canned juices
granola bars
instant oatmeal
dry cereal
nutritional drinks (like carnation instant breakfast)

These are just some things to get you started. There are many prepackaged items that are healthy and long lasting available.

4. BUY the food. Once you select your items purchase them. Good intentions do not satisfy hungry bellies.

Friday, June 6, 2008

More on 72 hour kits

I recieved a question from a reader (dare I say I have a reader?) She asked about the difference between premade kits and ones you build yourself. I'm not a big fan of MRE's. Most of the ready made kits I've seen contain loads of them. At Emergency Essentials right now, a one person kit runs about $60. This isn't bad I guess. Its convenient and easy. However, I have four kids with varying degrees of taste preference, age, and nutritional needs. My two oldest children need more calories than the babies and Abby doesn't even have any teeth! So, for our family I feel it works for me to build the kit slowly over time using canned food and other items that can be easily stored and are familiar and comforting. One thing I feel really strongly about with regard to preparedness is that during times of stress and worry and fear is not a good time to introduce a whole lot of brand new food. For families who do not have the same kinds of concerns this may not be an issue. But for me, if I have to evacuate my family and my children are terrified of being hurt of losing our home I don't want them to not eat. So far, food wise I have purchased a box of instant oatmeal ($3) and hot chocolate ($2) and I have five cans of tuna and chicken which I have worked into my CVS deals for free. Buying large packages of things and breaking them down works too. I might get a case of beef stew at Costco next time or a large box of gummy bears. In this way, I feel like it eases my budget and I can get things that are fun and tasty. Another thing I add a little at a time is first aid items. Most of the other things that you would need in an emergency like clothing and toiletries you probably have in your home right now, they just need to be gathered. I have started with a prepackaged first aid kit and then added to it, items that I think we might need (like antacid). I will be adding to the lists in the side bar as time goes on for more ideas of things to include in your kit.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Another awesome blog~

Just found this way cool site with lots of recipes and food storage tips. Head on over and check her out.

Monday, May 26, 2008

High nutrition Food Storage

This is one of the best lists I have ever seen for a highly nutritional food storage base. This is a lot to take in so if you are a beginner take what you already use and save the rest in the back of your mind for later. Most people do not eat this way. In fact, Americans are dramatically NOT this way. I have a high desire to shift our family to this way of eating and hope to be on a diet very similar to the things that are listed at this link.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Points to remember for Beginners

1. Food Storage for the sake of food storage is completely worthless.
If you buy some prescribed set of food items that your family doesn't eat, you do not benefit. It is difficult to enjoy a home storage program as well when you resent the gazillion pounds of food taking up space that your family does not eat. This is the number one problem with long term storage options. That is why the church has recently changed its recommendations. The All is Safely Gathered In pamphlet outlines a great priority list for a home storage program. They recommend beginning with a three month supply of things you already eat. This is a wonderful suggestion and can really help a beginner.

2. Do not go into debt to store food.
We are counseled to avoid debt and buying food on credit does nothing more than place your family under additional undue stress. It is much wiser to purchase food a small amount at a time and build your program slowly.

3. Only try a few new recipes at a time.
If you want to try to make bread then focus your efforts on your skill. Make bread once a week and as you practice you will improve. This success is also key. You want to be confident in your abilities to use the food you have stored. By starting small you can improve the quality of your storage along with the quantity.

4. Lastly, begin your storage program by prayerfully considering the needs of your individual family. Every family is different. Space, number of people and personal preference are factors to consider and the Lord can help you to design a program that will work for you.

A home storage program is a way of life. It is a process of living simply and modestly that can bless you in so many ways. I feel so strongly about this as a principle. It is not just a temporal commandment. When we consecrate this effort in the act of following the prophet's counsel we are immensely and richly blessed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Super Savings Saturday

I am building up a stash for my sweet daughter's seven year old birthday coming up next month. I was excited to see the Hawaiian Tropics deal because one of the presents for her is a summer bag.
CVS Transaction #1:
2 lip balms $4
Colgate toothpaste $3
Spongebrush toothbrush $3
Sunglasses $7
Total: about $20
Coupons: $3 off $15, $1.00 mfr for colgate, $1.00 CRT for colgate, $1.00 toothbrush
paid $14.00 ECB's
Recieved $14.00 ECB's back

CVS Transaction #2:

Shick razor $9.99
One loaf bread $2.00
Canned chicken (for 72 hour kit) $3
Stickers for Wesley
Total: $19
Coupons: $3 off $15, $4 off razor
Paid $10 ECB's
Recieved $6 ECB's

I had a $10 off $10 purchase coupon so I went to check it out. I found these goggles on sale for $7.20 and the water gun was $5. I figured I would just pay the $3 or so out of pocket. When he rang it up the gun was marked down another couple of dollars so my final total was $.27! I was so excited because these items will go in Ayla's birthday bag.

So far for her birthday then I have:
1 set of summer pjs $10
1 woven bag from thrift store $.50
1 goggles and 1 water gun $.27
1 sunglasses and 1 lip balm $.00

I will probably spend a few more dollars for a hat and maybe her own sunscreen. Since she is having a birthday party this year that means I have a lot more to spend on party stuff! Hopefully I can work some of those things into the CVS budget as well. So her special day will be great and inexpensive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My class

So, I'm teaching a class in a couple of weeks on preparedness (for those of you local 7 pm at the Pray's on May 22). I was hoping you guys would chime in on what you want to know, what are your needs, what do you have questions about. It would help me to organize and prepare my thoughts. I figure people always want to know how to cook with their food storage items but this is a basic class. I usually focus on what to have. Should I combine the information? Anyway, I'd like some input for anyone who would care to comment. Thanks.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Just Random thoughts

Well, I haven't been able to even think about food storage or even being frugal much. I'm hoping to get back on track now that the semester has ended. A few things I have been thinking:
The idea of storing food is one that indicates a lifestyle. I have often tried to quantify and make a hard and fast log of it. The truth is, its fluid, it changes with your families needs. Right now my family is consuming very different things than we did 6 years ago. I only had two children and I didn't know how to cook! I don't know that I've improved my cooking all that much but I have improved my nutritional knowledge. One big change that I hope to make this summer is to move us closer to a whole foods diet. We have been eating a lot of processed food and I for one am feeling it. I love whole foods. Whole grains, whole produce etc. An unfortunate part about eating that way is that fresh fruits and veggies don't last long. The only way to incorporate them is to store seeds (which I used to do also). Anyway, I digress. I will be working hard at beans, fresh produce and whole grains. Grains are a good back bone because they store really well, contain complete nutrients that are really good for us, and when done right are really yummy. I think that I can find a good balance. I have done it before. Well, now that I have inundated this post with completely random thoughts I will cut myself off. I will post Step 2 in the 72 hour kit plan, tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bean Update

Sorry for the lack of posting. Let's just say wicked Shakspearean art project. Ok back to the beans. My family loves them!!!! The coolest thing is soaking them overnight in the crockpot, rinse in the morning and cook all day. Its the easiest (and one of the healthiest) methods of one pot cooking ever. Our favorite accompaniments are cornbread, salad, biscuits, sopapillas, jello, greens, homemade bread. My secret: liquid smoke. This is powerfully good stuff. It makes the beans have a smoky flavor without adding any meat. Brown sugar is great with pintos and white beans for sweetness. The two combined is a tummy filling heaven.

The basic idea is to throw in the pot whatever you have. I found these recipes and adapted them to what I had in my kitchen:

Basic bean cookery notes:

1. Always soak your beans! Some people say you do not have to do this but I disagree. It really makes cooking them easy, it helps you to plan a bean meal and it doesn't require anything but time.

2. Cook them a long time. The crock pot or pressure cooker are your best bets. I'm a little afraid of my pressure cooker so I am still tentatively using it. The crock pot is your bean's best friend. Slow, even cooking, no work in the kitchen and delicious smells, not to mention it doesn't heat up the house in the summer.

3. Cook beans in just broth all day and then jazz them up to go with dinner. They can be frozen in 2 cup amounts to be used whenever they are needed. I did this with a batch of black beans because I wanted to be able to feed them to the baby and didn't want any seasoning. I took out a couple of cups of beans, added them to a skillet with a can of diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, and 1/2 pound of ground beef...there were 0 leftovers.

4. Rice and beans actually go really well together but there are other ways. Look for soups, wraps, casseroles, even breads. We also love chalupas Kirk family style. Fry tortillas in oil so they puff up, spread with mashed pintos (or canned refried if pressed for time)and cheese and bake for about 10 minutes. Then we cover with all the fixin's: lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, bell peppers.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Beans, Glorious Beans

Now I'll be the first to admit that I don't know beans about cooking beans. I have a lot as you can see in the picture but I've had the same stash of beans for a very long time. They are sort of mystical to cook since we can get in them in a can and they are ready to use. For some this isn't rocket science. For me, it is. I haven't often tried to use dried beans. I worry about the time it takes, I worry about seasoning them well. Usually, I abandon the process and get out my trusty can opener. The problem with this is cost. Dried beans are a tiny fraction of the cost of canned. I can purchase 1 lb of beans for around $0.70 dried. That same pound of beans yields about 6 cups of cooked beans. I can buy a can of beans (around 16 oz) for around $1.00 ($0.50 if its a good sale). That is only 2 cups of cooked beans! We are talking a major savings by planning ahead a little bit. Dave Ramsey often tells his callers to live on beans and rice, rice and beans. This is why.
So, in an effort to learn how to function in the kitchen with this little mystery I am undertaking beans. I cleaned out my bean cabinet in order to attempt to get aquainted with them. I have alot more than I thought. Given how often we eat these this amount would probably last another five or six years. I'm hoping to correct that though. First, I realized that we don't ever eat pinto beans but that is what I have stored the most of. I definitly need to increase our black bean stash. They are our favorite. I also have pink beans, what the heck are these and how do you cook them? If you know please tell me.

I have these two bottles of white beans. I bought the bags at the grocery store and put them in these bottles. They have the PETE symbol which means they are safe for food storage. They also work well for water (I'll get to that later). I like white beans too, once again cannot for the life of me make them taste the way I like them.

This is a picure of my bean cabinet. I like to keep like items together. This allows them to play with their friends and for me to find them easily when I go hunting for them. This is one of those cabinets that is wasted space in my kitchen (I actually have a lot of that). It isn't wasted in my house. Every cranny is filled with #10 cans. This keeps the food in my kitchen where I will use it and it also fills space that would otherwise be infuriating.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

First Step for a 72 hour kit

There is another first step besides this one and that is having a family meeting about what you will do in an emergency. I felt like that was a subject for another blog. I want to focus here on items and organization just to keep the blog from straying to far from the point. There is some good information about having a family meeting at Red Cross and FEMA. Those two websites are absolutely chock full of excellent information including free course material to help people prepare for emergencies. Tornado season is in full swing here in North Texas and this is a good time to think about what we will do.
So, my big contribution today is the tub in the picture. Our kit has evolved over the years as we've added members to our family. At first, we had two backpacks. One for me and one for Dave. Then we added a bucket for the food and tools. Then we added another bucket, one for tools, one for food. Now we have an enormous tub.
Now I didn't get rid of the backpacks . I have four backpacks in my garage, mostly stocked and ready to go.
I meant to clean them out a couple of weeks ago and haven't gotten there yet. They contain items I will cover in the next post. The best first step in getting your kit ready is to pick a container and a place to put it. I don't have a hall closet so the garage must suffice. Sometimes when we go above 100 degrees I bring some stuff in but not often. The tub is an easy way to transport the things we need. Right now all that's in there is breakfast food. Each person has a labeled freezer bag with instant oatmeal and hot chocolate. That's one of the things I will rotate in the next month. The grocery sack contains a bag of dog food (that I got for free using coupons at Kroger). Can't have our little (big) Nora going hungry. So, I will tape a menu to the lid (one of these days) and as I buy more items for nearly free with coupons they will go in there. I'm thinking of adding chili next because its a good deal at Kroger this week.


This deal didn't quite work out as well as I'd hoped. Oh well. I still didn't spend an exorbitant amount of money. One of the benefits to shopping the CVS way is that I plan my trips very carefully. Most of the time it is for things I need and sometimes stocking up. So there isn't a down side. However, some days are better than others.

This picture of for transaction #1 and #2. I had planned to buy all of my products at once but I had a $2 off a CVS brand purchase. So I decided to use that for the wipes and the two bottles of pain reliever. The total was just over $10-$2 off and $8 ECB's. Total for that transaction was like 5 cents. Then I had the guy ring up the diapers and the shampoo. I had a $2 off CVS coupon for the diapers, plus $1 off the shampoo and $0.75 off Huggies mfr. My total for that transaction after ECB's was $1.48. The bummer was I only ended up with $3.49 in ECB's left after that transaction. That's why it didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I wanted to get all the Huggies in one transaction with my coupons so my oop was less. Oh well. Its not like we don't need diapers around here.

For this transaction I only had the $3.49 in ECB's and I had $4.00 in mfr. So my total oop for these items was $25.60. I did get $15 ECB's though. So I still feel like I did ok. I would have liked to have ended up with as many ECB's as I paid out in cash but I was going to buy the diapers, wipes and soap anyway. Now I have ECB's for the next sweet deal. I probably will not be going back next week. The deals are not things I really need. So, I'll take a break until the following week from CVS.

Friday, April 4, 2008


The picture came out bad but this was a good run. Here's the breakdown:
6 4lb bags of sugar
4 frozen breakfast boxes
4 pilsbury pizza crusts
1 mini crescent roll tube
5 yellow mustard
5 assorted mustard

Total after coupons and sale: 13.32

I worked the deal in which you bought ten participating items and got $5.00 off. So I had 10 between the pilsbury and the mustard, then ten between the sugar and the breakfast boxes. The other mustard was 0.59 and I had 0.75 off mfr coupons for each one. So I had some overage for the sugar and frozen items. 25 lbs of sugar alone at Costco is more than what I paid for all of this. I stocked up on some important food storage items and hardly dinged my grocery budget. I have a couple more runs planned for this sale and I'm headed to Tom Thumb as well to get catalina coupons.

Monday, March 31, 2008

72 hour kits

I want to address the issue of 72 hour kits. This is a really important component of a preparedness program. I have friends who have had to use theirs and I know from their first hand accounts what a powerful asset it is to be prepared in the time of an emergency. As we come up to General Conference (our church has one twice a year), it is a good time to take stock of your kits. This is a good time to change your smoke detector batteries and rotate the food in your 72 hour kit. Unless you have MRE's of course, then you should only eat those if you are starving. I'm going to start this series with some links for information on how to get started and what to include. Throughout the next couple of weeks I will be posting about our kit, what it looks like, where it is stored and what we have in it.

These are just a few to get started. I will update the list as I come across more information.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tom Thumb

This was a last minute trip. I forgot a couple of things at the grocery store on Tuesday so I had to stop in again. I hate it when that happens. They had a coupon (a store one) for 4 boxes of cereal for $4. There was a minimum purchase of $10 so I figured I'd work in the things I needed so I could get another deal. I needed the brown sugar, ziplocs and edamame. The muffin mix is for treats for the kids lunches. My total before coupons was 28.50. I had $10 in store specials and $10 in mfr coupons. So my final total was $8.62. It was a good opportunity to pick up things I needed and get some extra things for free.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Principles and Warnings

I was forwarded this short article and thought I would share.

I have had people say to me before that they feel that they are financially secure so why store food. If they have an emergency fund, won't they be able to buy food if they have a disability or a loss of income? This is not necessarily the case. Food is not always available. I don't subscribe to alarmism. I don't think that panic is a good reason to be living providently. However, I do think there are enough signs out there that our sources of necessities are limited. We cannot count on others to feed our families. Self reliance is a principle that is taught in our church as a means to secure liberty and blessings to its members. It is unfortunate that we waste valuable energy debating whether or not we should practice this principle. The process by which we learn to live below our means with prudence and self restraint is one that is sanctifying and freeing. What if we could consume less? Live without more? Be more free of material things. This is a true blessing because it frees up valuable brain power to concentrate on other more important things. I classify certain kinds of eating as materialistic as well. Now, I like to eat as much as the next guy. But I have a hard time paying $5 a pound for one steak that will only feed one person. We rarely eat red meat because of that. Even ground beef is highly expensive and in my opinion not very nutritious. There are better sources of protein out there but they are not fashionable and they are not easy to cook. Our society does not know how to eat a grain and legume based diet. Many people would argue about health and taste and comfort. For our family, eating a more vegetarian based diet works. We consume less food, we are more full and we feel better. (Aside from all the chocolate we've been eating because CVS has had some good deals). I wanted to post about this because I think it is a common idea that we "deserve" to eat certain things, or we are accustomed to a certain type of diet that cannot be changed. Change is something we need to be familiar with. It happens everyday all around us. Being flexible is a good start to begin or continue a food storage program. It is important to be open to new foods. One of the points the article makes is that the prices for wheat have gone up quite a bit. Wheat is not the only grain that will store a long time. There are other sources of grain that could be more afforable, such as quinoa. I haven't priced it for a long time but the point is that there are alternatives. Saying "my family just doesn't eat this way" is a way of saying, "I'm not willing to try something new" There is so much variety and so much available whether through the mail or locally, there are no excuses to engage your family in being prepared.

This is my favorite article on preparedness. It thought I would round out the post with something great.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


For anyone who is not familiar with CVS and ECB's go and check out Money Saving Mom. She has an essay on CVS to help guide you in the process of learning how to use ECB's to increase your stockpile.

Non-food items

Non food items are something that not everyone remembers to include in their food storage. It is a wonderful additional to a home storage program because we often don't think enough about them. I know I don't. I HATE to run out of soap or shampoo. I very rarely have less than two extras in my cabinet. I think that is because I don't really allow myself a "household" portion of my grocery budget. I never have. I'm learning that having this stockpile is a good way to have that be a non thinking area. With the craziness of my life I really need things to run in certain ways without me having to think a lot about them. For instance, I don't have to think about deodarant for a while. This frees up a few braincells. Trust me, when you are studying Shakespeare you need all the brain cells you can access.

More CVS

Ok, so I'm a little obsessed. CVS is such a cool place! I have been greatly pleased at my ability to stock my cabinet in my bathroom. This is such good peace of mind. I'm trying to tighten the belt, fit in the things we need to store with the budget for the things we need now. This is a huge blessing. Plus I'm trying a few new things as well. So, for a total of .61 this is how yesterday went.

First run:

Dove lotion $6.99
Degree deodarant $3.49
Dove deodarant $3.49
Dove bar soap $2.50
Total before coupons $16.50

Coupons used: $5/$15, $2.25 manufacturers, $3/$15 beauty, $5 ECB's

Final total: $0.22 and I got $5 ECB's back

The next trip was kind of random. I've been trying to stock up on razor's but they run out of them really fast. I have to try another CVS today and see if they got some in.

2 Glade air fresheners $1.98
5 Speed Stick deodarant $1.99 each
1 kids mouthwash $2.99
2 packs plastic eggs $1.98
2 bags jelly beans $1.98
Total before coupons about $19

Coupons used: $5/$15, $3.50 manufacturers, $10 ECB's
Final: $0.39 plus $13 ECB's

So, I am good to go on Ladies and Men's deodarant for a year. I feel very good about this. I will keep an eye out but I think I'm good for now on that. I also added to my friend's birthday basket and I have the needed items for our easter egg hunt next week. This has been a great week and I'm not done yet.
I did also head over to Tom Thumb for their deal on cereal. I looked for formula everywhere I went yesterday and just wasn't feeling it. The last can of enfamil I bought was only $4.50 so I am a little spoiled. I decided to just wait for the right deal. It came. At Tom Thumb if you spent $10 you could get three boxes of cereal for $3. Plus a dozen eggs for $0.99. So, I bought my formula (generic there was $13.49) and got the cereal and eggs. Plus, it printed me a catalina for $3 off my next purchase. So my total there was $16.16 out of pocket after manufacturers and I got the $3 coupon. So I got the cereal and eggs for free. I have realized that for baby items in particular it may not be that I get an awesome deal on those things (although sometimes I do). What is cool is that I pay for those things that I have to buy and get additional items for little to no extra cost. This has enabled me to stock up on things that I wouldn't be able to otherwise.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

CVS and Kroger

CVS is so great for things like birthday gifts. I have been picking up a few things here and there to make a basket for a dear friend whose birthday is coming up. By using ECB's and coupons you can add items without increasing your budget. For this transaction:
2 Scented oil candles 6.99 each
Tresseme about 6.00
Glide flossers 3.99
Total: $22
Coupons: $5 off $15 purchase, Glade buy one get one free, flossers $1 off
I had $13 in ECBs so I had to add a chapstick to be able to use them all. Total oop: $0.60
I did only generate $10 in ECBs so there was a defecit but I'm realizing that that works out. I will use those ECB's this week to generate more.

I bought a lot more at Kroger than just these two things. I saved $54 on my $120 transaction. I had $25 in manufacturers coupons. I wanted to showcase the toothpaste because this is a good example of how to make coupons work in your food storage. Colgate was on sale for $1 this week. I had $1 off of 1 for the toothpaste and $0.75 off of the toothbrushes bringing the total for these items to $.50. This was a great way to build my stash. I have a lot of toothpaste actually. But it doesn't go bad and is wonderful to have on hand. I also have a lot of toothbrushes. I feel that it is important to keep these things around. I will post a picture of my stash later. As I'm getting to full stash on these items I will begin to look for other things. One of my next goals is to stock up on deodarant and razors. By doing this I can increase my stock pile of things we use all the time as well as cut our budget.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Coolness is Key!

How cool is this bag! If I'm going to be a hippy chick saving the planet it is very important that I have a really neat bag. This even has fringe. I found this at the thrift store for $1.00. This is one less item out in circulation. It is big enough to hold two other fabric bags (I used one at CVS today), my coupon tin, my circulars, a calculator, a water bottle, pencil, notebook and anything else that strikes my fancy. It holds a bunch. It is also very comfortable to carry. I wish I had a couple more. Hopefully, all my new shopping bags will be this awesome. Who says frugality has to be boring.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quotes from October 2007 Conference

I was listening to the Relief Society session of conference today (for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and I was struck by the comments about preparedness. Every session of conference just about has a quotable about being prepared. I feel like the best peace we can have is in knowing we have looked to the future and planned now. Whether that is a lost job, a lowered income, a disability or a calamity, we all need to be thinking what if. Sometimes it seems that "What iffing" is defeating. If we think about it then we must be assuming it happens. But thinking about it erases anxiety, lifts us up and allows the Lord to bless us with inspiration. As I have begun this blog and been thinking about preparedness I have found so many little things that the Lord has whispered. Comfort about getting an education, peace at having food stored, love for the protection that we have had hitherto. All it takes is an awareness of a principle and the opportunities for growth and learning will present themselves. Now for the quotes:

Sister Julie Beck: "They should be laying up a store of money, food, and skills, which will sustain them and their families in perilous times."

Elder Walter Gonzalez: "We don't know when or how earthquakes will hit us. They likely won't be literal shakings of the earth, as happened in Peru, but rather quakes of temptations, sin, or trials, such as unemployment or serious sickenss. Today is the time to prepare for when that type of quake comes. Today is the time to prepare-not during the crisis."

Elder Cook quoting Paul: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7)

I love this story that Elder Cook told about the people in the Pacific Islands: "Vav'u which is a relatively small island, usually has sufficient rain but periodically there are severe droughts. The island has long inlets or bays, almost like sounds, which curl into the island below steep hills. When drought conditions left the billage without water, there was only one way they could obtain fresh water and stay alive. Over the centuries they had found that fresh water traveled down through rock formations inside the mountains and came up in a few spots in the sea.
The Tongan me would set off in their small boats with a wise elder standing at one end of the boat looking for just the right spot. The strong young men in th eboat stood ready with containers to dive deep into the seawater. When they reached the appropriate spot, the wise man would raise both arms to heaven. That was the signal. The strong young men would dive off the boat as deep as they could and fill the containers with fresh springwater. "

Isn't that just beautiful? In a topsy turvy world we know where to find that fresh water. In terms of provident living it is such a blessing to have guidance and direction, like at Provident Living.

There are many more quotes from Conference. There are also many resources out there that are full of motivation and guidance. Seek them out and they will come.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Clothing Storage

I have gone back and forth over the years on how much clothing to store for my kids. Hand me downs are an important money saver in a big family. I have tried to always keep the best items and pass on the things I didn't like or throw away the things that were beyond salvage. When I clean out drawers as the kids grow I place all like sized items in a box and they go in the attic. I usually have no trouble keeping things straight or together. The last few weeks has brought an influx of hand me downs from neighbors and I am struggling to keep it all together. So part of my snow day yesterday was organizing and putting together correct sizes. I have two entire wardrobes for a four year old. My neighbor gave us so much stuff! I will pass on half to my friend with a two year old and keep the rest. Its all neatly put away in the boys closet for the next season. For Abby I have been boxing up Ayla's clothes as she grows out of them as well. I don't have quite as much stuff for her but a good base is always really good to have. You never know what situation you might find yourself in when they get to those stages. I haven't bought much for Abby at all. My clothing budget for all four kids rarely goes above $20 a month, if that. One of the big reasons is thrift stores. I find so much great stuff. I love to buy second hand. It is good for the environment, it reduces waste and its easy on our budget. I have found incredible deals on name brand clothes at thrift stores. Today, for instance I stopped at one of my favorite places. They had a deal, fill a paper sack with as much as you can for $10. I was able to grab a ton of church clothes for W and for my friend's two year old. I even got W a suit! I also got a couple of things for Abby to wear for summer and a few fun things for Ayla. For ten dollars I outfitted three kids (four if you count what I will give away). So I have some sizes bigger than I need, this is the beauty of preparedness!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Homemade is great!

One of the reasons I love food storage is because there is a great deal of peace of mind when the weather is unpredictable. Yesterday was a good example. When I headed out to get the kids I realized I wasn't going anywhere else for the rest of the day. Now, in this situation I knew that today the sun would come out and the power would probably not have any trouble. However, I've been in ice storms before in which the power did go out for a while and the store shelves were empty. It is such a relief to know that if we got stuck at home we would be fine for a week or more without any additional store trips. I would be a busy bee because everything would be made from scratch but it works.
So yesterday's scratch meal was hot chocolate (from the Cannery, that they do not carry anymore) and homemade donuts. I'm constantly amazed at the variety of food items that you can make with flour, sugar, and fat. With a few added ingredients your possibilities are endless.
This donut recipe is a favorite. It doesn't make a huge batch but just enough for us to have a snack and the kids took one in their lunch today. It makes a crispy outside and a cakelike inside. Covered with cinnamon and sugar and nice and warm.....MMMM!

Best Ever Doughnuts

Makes 1 dozen (I found this high, I only got like 8)

3 cups unbleached flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsps butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
oil for frying

For dipping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a separate bowl until light and smooth. Add butter, milk and vanilla to the egg mixture and whisk well. Add the dry ingredients, mix just until smooth. Turn out the dough and knead a few times, then roll and cut. I don't have a donut cutter so I just used a biscuit one and cut out the center with a child's medicine cup :) The dough is soft but easy to work with. I found that rolling the donuts thicker rather than thinner was better. The recipe says 3/4 of an inch exactly! I had some that were thinner than that and they were fine. The thicker the dough is the more chance there is of them not being done when you fry them.

So once the dough's rolled out and the oil is good and hot you just drop them in. I was actually pretty surprised at how fast this went. I always think that frying things is this huge ordeal but it wasn't bad. This is definitly a healthier alternative to store bought donuts and it was a comforting and warm snack after fun in the snow.

The kids also thought it was so cool that we could make our own donuts. I concur!

New site

I just found a great site about food storage. Its called Frugal Abundance. She lists here, her 6 month plan. I think I will use this for our family and tweak it a bit to suit our needs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nearly free is good.

Tom Thumb is definitly becoming my favorite stockpile store. Every week it seems there are awesome bargains to be found. Today was no exception. The items on the table totaled about $51 before coupons. I saved $37 and paid $14 out of pocket after coupons. This was a sweet deal because the cereal was all kinds that we like, are low in sugar and will last a while. My mom asked how we could eat that much cereal before it went stale. Believe me in this house of six, we eat a lot of cereal. Its expensive and when I can't get it for a reasonable price we eat other things like oatmeal and pancakes. However, I'm leaving early in the mornings to go to school and Dad just doesn't do hot breakfast. Anyway, I feel like I'm well on my way to having a month supply of the things we normally eat. I feel like right now I have let my stores drop way below what I normally have. School has been a huge distraction for that (Go figure). In any case, I want to start building up what we have.

Update: a few days ago I mentioned I had a goal of going to all fabric shopping bags. Well, this shopper has realized you have to actually own some first. For some reason, all of my bags I have used before have been recycled to someone else's home. So, new plan: look for shopping bags at thrift stores to build up a good stash.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

CVS trip

I did pretty well last night and today at CVS working the deals, despite some glitches. For anyone not familiar with CVSing go to Money Saving Mom and read up. Last night I braved the snow to go out and grocery shop. We were hitting critical points with toilet paper and dishwasher soap so I decided I should stick to my Monday night run. I haven't been buying as much at Costco as I normally do because I'm trying to make the grocery stores closer to my house work better. I still have to go to Costco for a couple of things but I'm not spending as much. So, back to last night. First, I went to CVS. I bought a night creme and some face wipes and some eggs. Total before coupons: 23.50. I used a $15 ECB, a $5 off coupon and a $3 manufacturer. Total out of pocket: 0.33 Then I headed over to Kroger for their sales. Here's the rundown:

3 boxes lean pockets
2 calzones
2 peter pan peanut butter (these are a food storage item)
3 lb pears
3 lb broccoli
1 Naked smoothie (I'm feeling quite sick)
1 box gogurt
Total before coupons: $35
Total after: $20.20
Plus I have a $2 off coupon for my next purchase there.
This run was for lunches and snacks.

Next I headed to Albertsons. This shopping trip was a little disappointing. I paid almost $10 for a gallon of milk (this was the correct price because it was organic)! I didn't realize it until later and I'm really bummed. Take that out of the equation under stupid tax and I did ok. My total before coupons was about $65 and I paid $38.85 out of pocket. If you subtract the stupid tax I did ok. This is my household budget for the week. The total is only about $60. This is an improvement over my previous weeks. However, I did not buy formula, diapers or wipes. This really bumps up our bill. I have been able to work in diapers to my CVS deals for the most part but formula is a killer.

Ok, now to explain the picture above. I went to CVS this morning to pick up the razor that's on sale and some easter candy. The razor was $10 and I had a $4 coupon, then you get 6 ECBs. This was really cool. So I got the men's razor (still have to go back another time for the women's), and the candy and my total that time was $.051. Then I went to another CVS for the toothpaste and got some more candy. My total that time was $0. I was frustrated because the candy was marked $2.99 and I needed $10 worth of candy to print a $5 ECB, when I went to pay I realized the candy was only $1.50 so I didn't have enough candy to get my ECB. I'm only $2 from getting that $5 and I have more Hershey's coupons so I should be able to swing that for free. Hopefully, I can work in a few more free or almost free deals for stocking up. One of the reasons I feel like this is worth my time is because from a storage perspective I am picking up items that we use regularly (or in the case of Easter, expensively) for very little money. One of the basic principles of food storage is to buy things you don't need so you have them when you do need them. Because these items are consumable they get used up and need to be picked up regularly. Making CVSing a habit has become a way to increase my storage capability without dramatically increasing our budget. I'm going to shave my legs, why not do that for free!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My First Challenge

As part of my goal, this year to reduce our waste (money and otherwise) I want to start using cloth bags at the grocery store. I started using them a couple of years ago and the sackers looked at me like I was insane. Sometimes you have to swim upstream I guess. Well, I stopped using the bags. I really would like to start that again. I have decided to put together a shopping survival kit. This includes one big canvas bag as the primary. Then inside go my other fabric bags (picked up at resale shops etc), my coupon tin (a tin of money in my opinion), my seat cover for the baby, grocery list, pen, paper, store ads, and a bottle of water. Being ready to go the store like this will help me to reduce waste by being prepared and also to help me to use less plastic bags. I'll check back in after my first trip and let you know how it goes.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Welcome Post

The inspiration to begin this blog arose from a desire to serve those in my immediate area who have been asking me questions about provident living. I realized that there is a lot of information out there but it is often difficult and time consuming to sift through it and determine what is best. I decided that I wanted to create a place where there could be a (somewhat) open dialog and a centralized place of information and support for those wanting to be more frugal, more responsible and more prepared. I have a strong testimony of being prepared. It is a principle with a promise. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read, "if ye art prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). It is so important to learn the skills of provident living. The world is ever changing. We find ourselves increasingly struggling to simpify, nourish and enrich our families. Part of that effort is in storing the things that we need in case of emergency, but it also includes using less waste, being cautious in how we spend our money and being willing and able to share with others. Food storage is about so much more than trying to find places for thousands of cans of wheat. It is a principle, a way of life that is good for the earth, and good for us. I hope that this site can bring options, hope and motivation to anyone who stops by.