Week 4- make a plan to obtain the food storage. Do something to start. What you do depends on where YOU are and what your circumstances are.  This article is a good starting point.  
This post is longer, in order to try to give pointers and resources to everyone in every stage of preparedness.  Use what's useful, ignore the rest until you're ready for it.
If you're trying to figure how on earth to buy that extra food... case lot sales are going on right now, where items are often half the regular price. Some places- like the Bosch Kitchen Centers in Orem, Sandy, and on Highland Drive--  have Conference sales for long-storage items like wheat and honey.  Plus the Home Storage Center has fantastic prices on wheat, beans, and more.  You do not need to be a LDS church member to purchase items there.
Set aside a certain amount of money each month, and use it. For more ideas, see this Conference talk by Elder Featherstone.

Do you need your 3-month supply?  Do you have that in place and are ready to move on to building your long-term ("year") supply?  Do you have long-term storage but just need to get organized or fill in some gaps?  

To build a three-month supply, you and your family decide on 2 weeks of meals that they like.  Figure how much of each food item you need for that two weeks, and multiply by 6.  This gives you three months!  Remember that what you already have counts towards this amount.  I have a series of blog posts on a three-month supply, too.

To build long-term storage, first figure how much you need.  I've compiledinformation about that, here. There's even more, here.  It really is not as overwhelming as it sounds.  You'll likely spend as much money on the three-month supply as you will the entire rest of the year's worth; basics are cheap.  Last time I ran numbers, getting that 9-months-more of storage was under $250 per adult, and less for children. (See the link earlier in this paragraph for children's quantities.)  There is a useful spreadsheet here; feel free to change quantities for the different grains, as long as the total remains 300-400 lbs.

"Food storage is often characterized by worldly critics as eccentric — just steps away from building a nuclear bomb shelter under your house and stocking it with guns, ammo and dehydrated rations.

If you have held back from applying your imagination and effort to storing some necessities for a rainy day, let me ask this: Have you ever saved for your child’s education? Have you ever hurried to buy airline tickets a month in advance of Christmas, because you knew that available seats would disappear if you waited longer?

Do you pay for health, disability, auto, or life insurance, even though you are healthy and able, you don’t plan to be in an auto accident, and you are indeed alive and well? Then you are a candidate for food storage and a provident lifestyle.

Even if you never use your food storage for an emergency if you store what you eat and eat what you store and you will always be eating at last year’s prices. You will never have to pay full price for food in the future. Even food goes on sale. It is really that simple. Who wouldn’t love that?" -Carolyn Nicolaysen

President Monson said, one year ago, "We should remember that the best storehouse system would be for every family in the Church to have a supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, other necessities of life... Are we prepared for the emergencies in our lives? Are our skills perfected? Do we live providently? Do we have our reserve supply on hand? Are we obedient to the commandments of God? Are we responsive to the teachings of prophets? Are we prepared to give of our substance to the poor, the needy? Are we square with the Lord?

"We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past." 
("Are We Prepared?", Sept. 2014 Ensign magazine)

"It requires faith even among the Latter-day Saints to believe the revelations of God, and to prepare themselves for those things which await the world… And what I wish to say to the Elders and to the Latter-day Saints is—Have we faith in God and in his revelations? Have we faith in our own religion? Have we faith in Jesus Christ? Have we faith in the words of the Prophets?...
If we have faith in these things, then we certainly should prepare ourselves for the fulfillment of them.'
-Wilford Woodruff, "The Parable of the Ten Virgins"

Food storage challenge of the week:

Take inventory of what you have.   Include your fridge,  freezer,  pantry,  basement, ... wherever you have food on hand.

Years ago,  Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone suggested three steps to building your food storage:
1- Inventory what you have

2- decide what you will need to bring levels to where they should be.  That gets broken into a couple steps because now the Church recommends having a 3- month supply of your everyday food,  in addition to the long - term storage foods for a year's supply.   More on that later.

3- Work out a time schedule for when you'll have that 3- month and/or year of food.   I'll send more on how to afford that,  next week.

Then,  of course,  begin.   Or, rather,  continue: you already have begun if you have even one can or box of food on hand! 

- Rhonda

"The Lord will make it possible, if we make a firm commitment, for every Latter-day Saint family to have a year’s supply of food reserves…. All we have to do is to decide, commit to do it, and then keep the commitment. Miracles will take place; the way will be opened… We will prove through our actions our willingness to follow our beloved prophet and the Brethren, which will bring security to us and our families.” 
-Vaughn J. Featherstone


Week 2's challenge is to determine how much water YOU should store, and begin working towards that.

Recommended water storage quantity
:  14 gallons per person.  This is enough to meet basic needs for two weeks:  1 gallon per person per day.  Read more about that here.

Free water storage options:  use 2- or 3-liter soda bottles, 2-qt juice bottles, or any other food-grade plastic container that says PETE on the bottom and has a tight-fitting lid. Do not use milk jugs; they eventually weaken and leak.
Other options: You can often find 35- and 55-gallon blue water storage barrels for sale on the local online classified ads; in Utah they’re also at Macey’s grocery store, Industrial Container, emergency supply stores, and sometimes at Walmart. Used barrels are usually sold for one of two reasons:  someone is moving or just tired of storing the barrels, or they’re being sold by a business after having syrup or other liquid in them.  They are the containers soda companies have their syrup in when it comes to them.  Clean them out and they’re great.  There are also larger size containers you can find—100 gallons or more--, either new or used. 
When purchasing new containers, typically count on $.75-1.50 per gallon capacity, i.e. 55-gallon barrel may cost about $50-75.  You can find them cheaper if you watch sales and ads, or sometimes if you join a group buy.                


This is my new favorite cookie.  It is for this week, anyway.  My kids and I invented cookies for a bake-off at the state fair, and this is one of the results.  One of the others we made took first place, but this one is my personal favorite.    
Contests are funny things anyway:  you'd think the best-tasting item wins, but that's not necessarily the case.  First of all, "best taste" always depends on who's doing the tasting. Or the judging, in this case.  Secondly, cookies are given a score, and in this contest, only 40% of it is from how the cookie tastes.  30% is how attractive it ('and its surroundings) are, and 30% here was 'creativity', which, like taste, is very subjective.  

This cookie was dreamed up by a daughter who loves key lime pie, and wanted a cookie that tasted like it.  You'll have extra frosting; you can make a half batch, or it can be frozen, or used to frost cupcakes, or spread on graham crackers... or eaten on a spoon!
My friend who dislikes frosting, likes this  frosting.
Creamy Lime Pie Cookies 
Makes 2- 2 ½ dozen

Graham Cracker Sugar Cookie:

¾ c. granulated sugar 
½ c. butter or shortening or coconut oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 sleeve graham cracker, finely crushed (about 1 ½ c.)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 c. flour
¼ c. limeade concentrate, thawed.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar, add egg and vanilla.  Add cracker crumbs, salt, and baking soda; beat well. Mix in flour. Drop by heaping spoonful on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake 7-8 minutes.  Let cookies cool two minutes, then brush with the limeade concentrate.  All of it should be gone once all cookies are brushed.  Cool completely before frosting generously with Creamy Lime Frosting.

Creamy Lime Frosting

1 cube butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1/16 tsp. salt
4 drops green food color, optional
¼ c. limeade concentrate, mostly thawed
8 oz. cream cheese, still cool, cut in 1” cubes

In a medium bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and green food color.  Beat until fluffy.  Add limeade concentrate and whip the mixture.  Add cream cheese, a couple cubes at a time, and beat until mixed thoroughly.  Beat on high until light and fluffy, but don’t overbeat or it will go runny.

September is National Preparedness Month.  Each week this month I'll post a weekly challenge of something simple you can do, with no money at all if that's where you are.

We should be prepared for what?
Emergencies. Job loss.  "Eventualities"... like that earthquake we've been told to expect someday.  Illness.  Unavailability of water because somebody broke a water main.  Power outages, long or short.  You name it.

Here's a quick overview of some good recommendations for Personal or Family Emergency Planning

Items to consider may include:
•Three-month supply of food that is part of your normal daily diet.
•Drinking water.
•Financial reserves.
•Longer-term supply of basic food items.
•Medication and first aid supplies.
•Clothing and bedding.
•Important documents.
•Ways to communicate with family following a disaster

See providentliving.org for more information.

Create a family emergency contact plan and share it with your immediate family so everyone knows what to do, where/who to call or text, who will be your out-of-state contact, what are the emergency plans at your kids' schools, workplace, how to get people back home... 

The link below has a simple form you can use, and the second page of it has cards to fill out with the info you need, for you or your children to carry.


Will you accept the challenge?  I'd love to hear what you did.

Mmm.... bacon, eggs, and toast!   

Or not.

Pound cake, sliced and toasted.  Then buttered.

The white:  I used some quick frosting  (1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tbsp. melted coconut oil, a bit of vanilla, and enough milk-- any kind-- to let it softly hold its shape.)  Other options include nearly-melted commercial vanilla frosting, stirred sour cream, stirred vanilla yogurt, or stirred Greek yogurt.
The center is a dried apricot, plumped in hot water for about 20 minutes, then blotted dry and shaped by hand to look more round.  I stuck a whole almond inside to make the 'yolk' stand up better.
To make the 'yolk' look more wet, I brushed it with a little bit of corn syrup.

Today I found some natural fruit rolls that I'd not seen before.  I bought some, and found that rather than being the smooth, flat rollup I expected, it was full of different thicknesses in the stripes the machine put down.  This enabled it to pull off in strips to eat.  And it resembled bacon!  One roll yields about four  1 1/4" wide strips, which I cut using a pizza cutter.   Make them ripple a bit when you put them down.
This is meat-free, dairy-free, and in the photo above, also made using gluten-free pasta.  Its rich and creamy taste would never make you suspect there are so many 'normal' ingredients missing.  You will not taste the avocado, and surprisingly, it doesn't even make the sauce look green.  It adds richness along with those healthy, satisfying fats.  
If you used canned chickpeas, you'll have about one cup extra; you can either stir those in with the pasta, or save them for another use.
If you don't have an avocado, or don't want to use one, omit it and increase the chickpeas to three cups instead.

12-16 oz. pasta, cooked according to directions; save the cooking water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked chickpeas- or use 2 cups from two (14-oz) cans, drained
one 6" sprig fresh rosemary, or 1-2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 medium avocado, peel and pit removed
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley, or 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic; cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.

In a blender, combine 3 cups of the pasta cooking water (may also use the water drained off the cans of chickpeas), chickpeas, rosemary, red pepper, avocado, and lemon juice.  Blend on high until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp. salt), and stir in parsley.  
Pour over pasta and toss to coat.  
If the sauce is too thick, add water 1 Tbsp. at a time until it's the consistency you like.  

To make cookie pops like the photo above, set the unbaked cookie on top of a craft stick before baking the cookies.  Be sure to cover at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches of the craft stick; press down gently on the dough.  

This recipe makes about two dozen, 3" round cookies.

Soft Sugar Cookies
1 stick butter (1/2 c.), softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/3 c. buttermilk, kefir, OR sour milk (add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to fresh milk to make 1/3 c.)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream the butter with sugar; beat in the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Combine baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour; stir in to the other ingredients.  Grease or spray a cookie sheet.  

Put half the dough on a flour-sprinkled counter top.  Sprinkle a little flour on top to prevent your rolling pin from sticking, then roll about 3/8" thick.  Cut out with cookie cutters or canning jar rings.  (I used a ring from a regular-sized canning jar.)

 Bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on size and thickness, until  light golden brown on edges and underside.  Cool completely; frost with your favorite frosting if you like. 

This recipe also makes a great base for a Cookie Pizza.

To make the rose leaves, sprinkle some sugar on a flat surface, roll a gumdrop flat, a little bit at a time, flipping the gumdrop often so it stays coated with sugar as it flattens.  Trim with a knife or scissors.
I've been thinking about some things lately.

It's part of our nature to want more. 
We can focus on getting more stuff, more attention, more money... 
but those are for earth-life only. They stay behind when our mortal frame returns to dust. 

The Lord offers more than that. More than the whole world holds and offers: "all that my Father hath" (D&C 84:38).  More friendship.  More family love.  More light.  More learning.

More than we can fathom. How much more?

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Cor. 2:9)

Brigham Young explained, "To finite capacity there is much which appears mysterious in the plan of salvation, and there is an eternity of mystery to be unfolded to us; and when we have lived millions of years in the presence of God and angels, and have associated with heavenly beings, shall we then cease learning? No, or eternity ceases. There is no end. We go from grace to grace, from light to light, from truth to truth.”

What else?

"We have more friends behind the veil than on this side, and they will hail us more joyfully than you were ever welcomed by your parents and friends in this world; and you will rejoice more when you meet them than you ever rejoiced to see a friend in this life; and then we shall go on from step to step, from rejoicing to rejoicing, and from one intelligence and power to another, our happiness becoming more and more exquisite and sensible as we proceed in the words and powers of life."
–(emphasis mine), Journal of Discourses, volume 6, pgs. 342-349

May we always work for the kind of "more" that  makes us 'more' useful in God's hands and gives us more happiness.  Real happiness.

Do you feel completely inept when it comes to making pie crust? Here's a recipe you'll love! You can even make it in the microwave instead of the oven.

Impossible Pumpkin Pie
(This pie makes its own crust)

2 c. pumpkin puree
3/4 c. sugar
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk 
½ c. Bisquick (or ½ c. flour plus ½ tsp. baking powder)
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened 
2 eggs 
2 tsp. vanilla 
2 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp. cinnamon, and ½ tsp. each ground cloves,
ginger, and nutmeg)

Beat all ingredients 1 minute in a blend on high or 2 minutes with hand beater. Pour into greased pie plate. Bake at 375 about 45-50 minutes or till knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a flat, heatproof surface (not on a wire rack).

Microwave instructions: place on an inverted (microwavable) dinner plate on medium high (70% power), rotating pie plate 1/4 turn every 5 minutes (unless you have an automatic turntable- then use that). Cook until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 22 to 32 minutes.