Friday, February 21, 2014

Is it Time to Revisit Your Emergency Preparedness Plans?

Emergency Preparedness isn't just for winter when there are snow & ice storms. Nor is it just for summer when there are hurricanes & tornadoes. Emergency Preparedness is for anytime 'normal' isn't available. 

That could be after you lost your job, or when the furnace breaks down, or any of a million different things that break the 'normal' cycle of life. I do realize the thought of preparing for all of these situations can be overwhelming! 

How do you start? With baby steps! Prepare for the most likely scenario that will happen where you live. It may be a winter or summer storm, or it may be the furnace/air conditioning breaking at the worst possible moment. I can't tell you what that scenario would be because I am not you! Everyone's situation is different. Talk to your family and decide among yourselves what the most likely scenario would be. Then decide what you want to do about it so you are not caught off guard when it happens.

Perhaps you have some emergency preparedness plans. When was the last time you looked at them? The time to think about this isn't when you are in the middle of a disaster.

If you have no idea where to go from here, then I have a suggestion for you. Start by signing up for a free emergency preparedness newsletter. I subscribe to a couple of them but the one I like the best is the emergency preparedness newsletter from Emergency Essentials. (They also have a great emergency preparedness blog. You can see that here.)

This newsletter was published in partnership with Deseret News. The information is valid for all parts of the country (and the world) because disasters happen everywhere! Here is the link to the newsletter: When Disaster Hits Home.

Want another suggestion? Download some of the free emergency preparedness checklists Emergency Essentials publishes. They have a checklist on how to make an emergency plan, a special checklist if you are a caregiver to a sick family member, an essential phone numbers list, and a list on how to make an emergency kit if you ever need to leave your house in a hurry. You can view all of their checklists here.

Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Emergency Essentials in any way. I am a satisfied customer. I have been purchasing items from them for well over seven years. I feature many of their products in my Cooking with Food Storage series of posts.

Want some more ideas? I published a series of posts about what I put in my emergency kits a few years back. They are still relevant today.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are counseled as part of Church doctrine to be prepared for emergencies. I know of no other church that takes such an active role in the welfare of it's members! You really are responsible for your family - not just during the good times, but during the bad times as well! Don't give that responsibility to the Government! (I guarantee you won't be happy with the service you receive ). Instead, make your own plans. 

You will sleep better knowing that whenever a disaster happens, your family will be taken care of! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Apologies for My Infrequent Posting!

Let me apologize for my infrequent posting for the last few weeks. I am having trouble fitting everything I want to do into my day!

So you will understand, I thought I would give you a recap of what I have been doing. This picture sums up part of it.

I went to the range with some of my friends from church and one of them snapped this picture. I didn't know she did it until I heard her laughing behind me! Both she and I want to start competition shooting this year. Well, that won't happen without practice! Starting competitive shooting is one of my personal goals this year, I have really improved my one handed shooting in just a few short months. (The picture above is of me shooting with my weak hand/non dominant eye.)  I believe I will be ready to start by summer!

I also have been taking classes 7 times a week. (Not seven days a week, seven times a week, I don't go on Sunday or Friday. To make up the difference, I go for 2 hours on Wednesday and Saturday.) What am I taking? Fun stuff! Tap dancing, hula dancing and zumba! I really like them all. However, I am finding that it doesn't leave a lot of time for other things, like blogging.

Normally, this time of year is when I get lots of projects to work on. (Many of our clients start new initiatives in January.) This year, I decided not to work for a few months. Instead I wanted to do things for me. (This was another personal goal I had this year.) 

I don't expect to keep my heavy schedule up for very long. When summer weather comes in April, it will be time to turn a lot of my attention to the garden, so something will have to go! I am not sure yet what it will be, but I have plenty of time to decide.

Other than that, the rest of my time is taken up with normal homesteading chores: making yogurt, cheese, sour cream and other dairy products on a weekly basis; the daily need to clean the floors; grinding my own flour; caring for all my plants twice a week; and of course, caring/cooking for the princess every day! (Just to mention a few!) These past few weeks I find myself wondering where the time goes!

Please indulge me for a few more weeks if I don't post on a regular basis!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Post Valentine's Day Love!

I should have posted this on Friday, but I didn't see it until Saturday!

This super cute picture came in on my Facebook page! This is my kind of 'box of chocolates!"

Friday, February 14, 2014

Storm Update

Well we made it! We never lost power either, although lots of other people did. However, I do have some storm damage. 

I lost most of my garden! The only thing still green is the garlic (although not by much)! I am not sure it will live. Parsley, onions, rosemary and carrots all died! Oh well, no seeds this year! Not sure about some of the blueberry bushes either since they aren't rated for the 5 degree temperatures we had a few weeks ago. Time will tell on those. You know, gardening knowledge will only take you so far, the rest is up to Mother Nature.

The good news is next week is supposed to get to 70 degrees! Yay! It comes just in time to start this year's garden. Normally, cool season crops can be planted here after Valentine's Day. It is also perfect time to start the summer seeds too!

Boy, am I glad the bad weather is over! On to spring!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Oh No! Snow AGAIN!!

Well, it isn't quite snow anymore. Yesterday it was snow, today it is freezing rain. This winter storm is supposed to give us 35 straight hours of freezing rain lasting all day today and into tomorrow. 

All the experts are telling us to expect to lose power - for days! Everyone is very nervous about losing power (if you believe the local news.) Well, if you have been reading this blog for a while, you know this won't bother me at all! My response to losing power is "Ho hum, so what!" Our only plan for power loss is to cut off the water so the pipes in the house don't freeze and burst. Also, my tropical orchids will need to be moved so they are closer to the fireplace for the heat.

Here is a picture of the snow from yesterday. The flakes were huge, even for this former New Yorker! I pointed the camera up to the sky and took this picture.

Today, it just looks like rain. However, it is freezing rain. When there is some additional accumulation, I will take a picture. The local news said it may be ice today and then tonight turn back to snow. Or it could be up to 1 inch of ice! Perfect for widespread power outages!

I will document what we do if we lose power and post about it when the power comes back on. In the meantime, I will clean the house today and maybe work on my winter coat! 

I bet I get lots of reading done in the next few days!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Making Garlic and Herb Butter

My husband brought home some garlic and herb butter from the store a few weeks ago. We tend to eat plain things so neither of us had ever tasted it before. Wow! Was it good! Wow! Was it expensive! Best to save things like that for special occasions. Then I thought, " I bet I could make it cheaper!" I had to try!

I happen to have a quart of heavy cream in the refrigerator. I bought it to make whipped cream for a New Year's Day cake. The whipped cream never happened! Anyway, the 'best by' date on the carton was the middle of February and I knew I had to use it soon. I thought it would be a great idea to use it to make my own garlic and herb butter!

The first step is to make the butter. It is super easy. Start by setting the cream on the counter for a few hours. Fresh cream should be room temperature to make butter. (It really doesn't have to be room temperature, but the cream will turn to butter a lot faster if it is room temperature!) Pour the cream into a jar. I used a quart canning jar. Fill the jar halfway. A half gallon jar will work too, I just don't have one. Here is a picture of mine.

To make butter, shake the jar. It is just that simple. However, if you would like a detailed explanation of what will happen to the cream as it goes through the 'stages' to get to butter, you can read all about it here. I wrote this post a while back but the information is relevant today as well. Go ahead and click on the link, I will wait for you!

OK, now that you understand what you are going to get when you shake the jar, we can move to the final result, butter and buttermilk! Please don't throw out the buttermilk, it adds a wonderful flavor to homemade bread! I poured mine into another jar to save it. The butter must now be washed. This step is critical! If you omit it, you won't be able to eat the butter! Trust me on this! Wash the butter in cool water. I washed mine about five times. The number of times isn't as important as the results. You must wash it until the water runs clear. 

There are lots of different ways to wash the butter. I usually 'knead' it against the side of a bowl with a slotted spoon. As the water turns milky, I pour it out and add fresh. 

Once the butter is washed, it is ready to mix with the herbs and garlic. The first thing I did was add some olive oil so the butter would be 'spreadable' when chilled. (I decided that I wasn't going to store this in my butter jar on the counter since the cream was so close to its 'best by' date.)

Mix it well. I mixed mine by hand with a spoon/spatula. However, I must tell you, I almost gave up and went to get the beaters! If you run out of patience when mixing by hand, by all means, grab the beaters! It will be much faster. When the oil is incorporated, it is time to add the garlic and herbs.

Reading the label on the container of butter my husband bought, the herbs used were rosemary, basil and thyme. I had all three in my pantry! After I added the herbs, I added the garlic.

Mix well and put into a container. 

Here is the recipe I used to make this. My quart of heavy cream made about 2 cups butter. (I am guessing here, I didn't measure it.) To that I added:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBS of garlic powder (I grew my own garlic and made my own powder. Ditto for all the herbs.)
1/2 TBS Thyme
1/2 TBS Rosemary
1/2 TBS Basil
1/2 tsp salt

While I liked it a lot, I think I used a touch too much rosemary. Next time I will only add a teaspoon of rosemary to start. Then after tasting it, I will add another teaspoon, if needed.

The best thing about making your own herbed butter is you can make it anyway you want! In this instance, the butter is like a blank canvas. Nothing wrong with using your favorite spices & herbs with store bought unsalted butter either! 

If the herbs in my recipe above don't motivate you, try one of these:

Herb Butter from
Italian Herb Butter from
Herb Butter from

I have been using mine on vegetables, and homemade dinner rolls. Before it is all gone, I am going to try it on seafood! 

What a great idea to add a touch of elegance to your dinner menu!