Saturday, June 15, 2019

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Preparing for the sudden emergencies


I mentioned last week that there were tornado warnings when my family were all together when visiting.  While the part of town where we were taking shelter in the basement was fine, what I didn't tell you was what we were hearing on the television.

Like most stations, our local meteorologists stay on air during any weather emergency.  I could hear where they were saying funnel clouds had been seen by spotters and then confirming damage in that area.  It was our neighborhood in the country.

As soon as the radar showed the worst of the storm had passed, my husband and I headed home (in spite of tornado sirens going off again but we knew it was not affecting our part of the county).  Everything looked fine until we turned onto the road about two miles from where we live.  Suddenly there were branches in the road, causing us to have to weave in and out but we made it close to where we live.

When we turned onto our County road, they were stopping people and having them turn around due to large trees down on the road.  When we told them where we lived, they said we could make it that far.  We knew something was not right when we turned onto our gravel lane and saw all of our neighbors standing outside.

There was wind damage everywhere, including the large branch from a tree that was partially on our driveway.  The good news was... no houses were hit and no people injured.  Of course, the best news was that Florentine was scared silly but safe!

Power was out everywhere and it was not until the wee hours of the next morning that it was restored.  It took about a week for us... working a little at a time... to clear debris and a week later a tree service came to finish cutting large limbs hanging dangerously from our neighbor's tree.

It was the second fairly long term power outage we had this Spring and another reminder of how we were prepared and how we... were not.  I had enough water for a short term power outage (we have a well but it takes electricity to bring the water into the house).  I had a battery powered radio so I could turn to a local channel and get weather updates.  I had plenty of candles and matches and since I knew there were no gas leaks, using them was fine.

I had enough food that did not have to be cooked but if it was a long term emergency, I could have used more.  I have a very small Weber grill and charcoal, which I would have moved to the deck if necessary the next morning.  (When our gas grill went kaput, we didn't replace it.)

We were careful to open the refrigerator only when absolutely necessary and did not open the deep freeze at all.  Our land line phone did not work but the cell phone worked and I used it to text the family to keep them updated as to what was happening.

I was very happy that I had downloaded a couple episodes of Salt Fat Acid Heat on the Amazon Fire to watch in an emergency, as well as a movie.  You may remember that I realized during a Winter power outage how just having something to watch when everything around us was very dark was wonderfully encouraging.

The tablet had been charged that morning.  I have a habit of charging our (flip top) phone first thing in the morning and about dinnertime each day. I know some people charge their smart phones overnight.  I charge the Kindle Fire tablet and the Paperwhite Kindle when I notice they are getting to be around 75% of power.  My old iPad loses its' charge quickly but I only use it to read emails and sometimes for Instagram.  But it gets charged, too, regularly.

When the power came back on, I plugged the emergency radio in to recharge those rechargeable batteries and everything else I had used during the outage.  I was glad it didn't last longer as some areas where trees had brought numerous power lines down were without power a couple days.

What did I learn from going through this again?  Well, I needed to make a list and keep it where I could see it all the time.  Like on the side of the refrigerator. I think I will remember what I need to purchase (a little at a time) for such emergencies but then I forget. 

I also need to go over my lists of food that does not need to be cooked.  It would be good to have on hand in a longer term power outage.  None of them have to be "survival foods".   Some like peanut butter, crackers, fruit, cheese, trail mix, etc. are items I tend to have on hand, anyway.  Of course, using those food items that require refrigeration up first.

I also need another box of matches.  Sigh...

What if it were a long term emergency?  I'll ponder that and be back next week.

Mentioned in this Blog Post
This link is to the camping lantern I am talking about.  I have found for home use that it is better to buy one or two less expensive models than paying for those sturdy enough to survive an expedition to Mount Everest!

There are models cheaper than this and far more expensive.  I'm kind of like Mama Bear (The Three Bears) here... I go for the middle of the road models.
More info... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Note:  Once again I thank you for your patience regarding typos and grammar mistakes.  I can't tell you how many times I proofread and then go back and read it the next day and find errors.  The challenge in having one eye with less than clear sight.  But we do the best we can!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Summer Reading - Kindle books


These days I am reading a lot more on my Kindle, whether on my Kindle Fire with the Kindle App or my Kindle Paperwhite.  The ability to increase the font is a game changer when the vision in one eye is still... fuzzy.

I have an embarrassing number of Kindle books, most of them purchased through the years on sale for .99 cents or $1.99.  The Kindle is also a way to enjoy books that have been out of print and hardback copies are too expensive, like many D. E. Stevenson and Elizabeth Goudge books.  (Although more and more of these books are becoming available in paperback.)

My choices for Kindle summer reads are a combination of newer books and a couple that have been waiting for their place in the sun for awhile.  Except for what I am reading as a "quiet time" book, they are chosen for whatever mood I am in at that time.  Something all readers understand.

Current "Quiet Time" Book
In His Image by Jen Wilkin
I had seen Jen Wilkin give a talk a couple of times when women's conferences were televised on the NRB Channel so I knew her books would probably be something I would enjoy.

When In His Image was offered on sale, I bought it right away and have enjoyed going through it slowly.  She writes beautifully and is sound in doctrine.  I found out my daughter is studying this book (in paperback) with a group of ladies this summer.  That would be fun.

More info... here.

Just Finished Reading
The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge
I enjoy reading along with IG's @elizabethgoudgebookclub, although I most often only read the discussion comments since I'm usually behind what the others are reading (especially with a heavy review schedule).  NOTE:  I had misspelled the IG address.  It is now corrected. 

We just finished Elizabeth Goudge's The Scent of Water and it is just as lovely as I remembered reading it a few years ago.  It is a good introduction to Goudge (although I think the best introduction is Pilgrim's Inn!).

More info... here.

Reading on the Paperwhite Kindle
Sweet Mountain Music by Suzie Johnson
I like to have a book already started on the Paperwhite for those times I slip it into my purse when I know there will be a wait at the doctor's office.  Usually I keep a nonfiction book going.  Recently I have been reading a novel called Sweet Mountain Music, a Kindle book that was recommended to me a few years ago by a friend who knows my fascination with Bigfoot.

It is actually a story of faith and how a journalist and a Sasquatch researcher learn to trust each other and... I'm sure there will be a happy ending there.  ;)  This is the kind of novel I love to read in Summer.  I plan to make it my priority now so I can (finally) see what happens.

More info... here.

Planned Kindle Reads through mid-Summer
Amberwell by D. E. Stevenson 
This is the first of the two Ayrton Family books.  I love her books that take place in Scotland around WWII.  There is more specific information on the Kindle page.

More info... here.

Summerhills by D. E. Stevenson
This is the second of the two Ayrton Family books.  It follows the story of the family after WWII.  Again, more specific information is on the Kindle page.

More info... here.

If you didn't know already, there are many D. E. Stevenson novels for the Kindle now at excellent prices.  I used credit to purchase four of them earlier in the year to have ready for Summer reading.  This will be the first two I plan to read.

Planning to at least skim through this Summer
Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer
I have seen Stephen Meyer interviewed numerous times and I have enjoyed listening to him.  Signature in the Cell is his well known book about the beauty of DNA and how he believes it had to be created by an "Intelligent Designer".

I hope to read this book through but this is the kind of book I would have preferred to read in paperback or hardback.  However, we do what we have to do even if it is not perfect and I am thankful for how easy it is to increase the font on the Kindle!!!

I will at least give it a good perusal.

More info is... here.

My favorite Kindle (it was a gift!)
The Kindle Paperwhite... here.  This is the one I have and it has recently come down in price.  There are more expensive Paperwhite devices but I find this works great.  I also have a cover to protect it when I leave home.  The newer covers make it easy for them to stay on all the time.  My old 2nd Generation Kindle had a cover that I had to remove to read easily.

The Kindle App... is free to download for most smart phones and tablets.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  You do not have to purchase the item in the link or on the widget to enter your Amazon shopping.  Thank you for those who come to the blog first and enter Amazon through a link or the widget here.  Every little bit adds up and it is such a blessing to me to receive credit each month.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - May our children find us faithful

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful,
may the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
and our children sift through all we’ve left behind.
May the clues that they discover, and the memories they uncover,
Become the light that leads them, to the road we each must find.
Steve Green, Find us Faithful

It was lovely having all of our family under one roof again.  Even if that particular day, there were tornado warnings and we had to take shelter in the basement of our New England family's vacation rental.

I'm certain that the Memorial Day tornado warnings will now become part of family legend.  For it is the scary moments as well as the very funny events we seem to remember the most. As my son told his sister, "welcome back to the Midwest".  ;)

Isn't that the beauty of family stories, though?  While we enjoy recalling the lovely days together, it is also those events that interrupted our normal lives that we remember.  They may have been unsettling while we were going through them but down the road a bit, remembering them can bring laughter.   Remember when... ?

The above photo was taken on our honeymoon, how young we both were then.  I had just turned twenty and my new husband was twenty-seven.  In the decades since there have been trials, tribulations, poor physical health, ongoing mental health issues, the death of a child born too soon, financial problems, relationship issues, too many moves to count, and the issues we all face living in a fallen world.

Sometimes I wanted to give up.  I wanted to stomp my feet and shake my fist at God and question His idea of an "abundant life".  I felt more like Job's wife than the ever faithful (yet questioning) Job. The thoughts which ran through my mind numerous times in the midst of the hard times... those whispered to us when we are physically and spiritually worn out by the enemy... just curse God and leave Him behind.  Did he really say?  Can't you see it was all a lie?

However, the One who not only loves but who is Love... He would let me go through the fire for awhile... sometimes longer than I would have imagined I could endure and survive... and then the answers to prayer would arrive.  He had brought me through and yes, as pottery grows stronger in the fire of the kiln... my faith and my ability to know His love grew stronger with each trial.

Quite often the answers looked nothing like what I was expecting and it wasn't until years later that I saw them for what they were... answers to prayer.  What I was expecting may have been an instant healing, money in the bank, a change of mind from another person, not to have to move again, slanderous mouths to be stopped, or discomfort to leave right now thank you very much.

Sometimes there were immediate answers to prayer.  They were exactly what I was hoping for and often far better than I expected.  His grace was overflowing and His mercy was great and His provision was quite amazing.

But sometimes his answers came wrapped in disappointment.  Then.  Not later.  I cannot tell you how many times God has had me look back at a situation and asks these questions... did your faith grow in this?... did you gain wisdom in this?... did you become a more patient person through this?... did you learn an important lesson in this... did this eventually lead you to a better place?

It was because of the hard times that, like Job, I once heard of Him but now my eyes have seen Him.  How is that possible?  I can look back and see His work in my family in such a way that only a truly Omnipotent Loving God could have orchestrated the journey.

If ever I needed a reminder of God's faithfulness, it was in seeing my seven grandchildren together.  From the baby to the seventeen year old... those humans who would not have been here at all if we had made different choices.  Each a unique set of God given talents and gifts and interests.

In a perfect world, my daughter would live near enough for regular visits to our favorite coffee shop near campus.  We would see our New England family more than once a year.  Two years had passed since we saw them this time.  Our son's family would still live down the road, on the way into town. I would be healthy enough to travel again.

What I do know is this, we are all where God wants us on this journey.  When each of our children was new to this planet, we dedicated them to the Lord and asked Him that His will be manifested in them.  Even if that takes them away from the town in which we live.

I turn sixty-five next month and I'm reminded of something Anne Graham Lotz said recently.  When asked what surprised her most about life, she said it was its' brevity.  She never imagined how quickly time would pass.  I think I could easily say the same thing.  It doesn't seem all that long ago as I near the last years of the journey that I was the twenty year old bride in the photo.

I see now why each day is to be appreciated.  Why God tells us to talk about Him as we go about our daily tasks.  Why Bible stories are enjoyed at bedtime, and Sunday School songs are sung in the car (out of tune by this mother), and all the beauty in nature is given glory to God to the toddler as well as the teenager.

There are memories of the aroma of cinnamon rolls as they came out of the oven, watching the boats docked on the lake, hiking the trails in the forest and looking for arrowheads, picnics at the park, remembering how Mamaw used to wrap a chicken leg in a napkin and put it in her purse at the restaurant to take home to her dog, thinking of my mother when a certain country song comes on my YouTube Favorites list.

Not everything has to be Bible story wrapped to give praise to God in our family.  Especially when we value the best this life has to offer and we know every good gift comes from God.  We enjoy beautiful art, and books, and there has been more than one discussion on which Star Trek TV series was the best... knowing that Granddad will always vote for Captain Kirk.

Life goes by fast.  Very fast.  We forget it is lived one day at a time.

I find that the lyrics of Steve Green's song, Find Us Faithful, mean more to me with each passing year.  When my children and grandchildren look back upon our lives, they will definitely not see anything close to perfection.  I can't say I always handle the imperfections of this world perfectly and with grace.  Even if that is a goal.

However, I do hope they find us faithful in the journey.  I pray they remember the good times together and that there is such a thing as having the spiritual gift of making cookies.  But most of all I pray they always walk with Jesus as their best friend and that they will be found faithful to the next generation.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Why have a deep pantry?


It is good to be back and I will write more tomorrow about having our family all together again.  Our time together went by far too fast!

Now things are back to normal, well... as close to normal as things ever get around here.  Today what I want to chat about is part of the reason I started blogging in the first place.  To share why I believe in being prepared for the unexpected and emergency situations.

At one time, I felt alone in my belief that God was calling me to stock extra food and essential items.  One of the good things to come out of the Y2k movement was how many of us found each other.  Especially Christians who believed they had that same "nudge" from God.  Many of them still feel that nudge to keep a deep pantry today.

So... once again, what is the difference between our usual pantry and "deepening the pantry"?  Well, the first helps us to save money, be more organized, and even be more creative because the basics are always on hand.  The latter, when we stock up more than what is necessary for the week... that can keep us from becoming at the very least uncomfortable and possibly... keep us from becoming a victim of circumstances.

We have all seen photos of people standing in long lines in a winter storm warning or a hurricane warning area.  Even if the shelves of food are still full, standing in line that long on a cold winter's morning or a hot August afternoon will be very uncomfortable.

What happens if we stand in line only to find the food we are used to eating is sold out?  Especially those foods that are basic menu items.  Water is often the first to sell out at a store, as well as items like bread, milk, eggs, etc.

We benefit from a deep pantry in many ways.  What if your manufacturing plant shuts down without warning and you have a difficult time stretching the money already?  God forbid... what if there is a regional or national emergency and trucks cannot get to the grocery stores?  Perhaps for awhile, you cannot leave your house?

All of these have happened before and will happen again someday.  

Many years ago, I read a statement that caused me to laugh and then to shake my head in agreement for I have seen the same behavior in people.  The writer said that in their experience, it was as if people thought if they did not prepare for an emergency, then it would not happen to them.  If they prepared, they were asking for trouble.  That does sound a lot like the lies of the enemy of our soul, doesn't it?

I have written how I changed my mind about emergency preparedness as a result of Y2k.  I came to see that most of my preparedness had to be an extension of my everyday pantry.  My preparedness list should come from my grocery list and not something I have printed out from a website (although those can be helpful).

Although there is one change in my pantry thinking that I have shared with you.  Now that I can get very good tasting food like Mountain House pouches, I have used Amazon credit to purchase some of these items from time to time.  (Yes, instead of a book!)  As I wrote before, I tried some different kinds of meals and then purchased a few pouches each of what I really liked. Such items are a true food insurance for those of us in one or two person households.

Both my pantry and my extended pantry look a little different now than it did when we had the kids at home.  For one thing, it is simpler now since the way I cook most of the time is much simpler.  I would never have bought Birds Eye Steamfresh Frozen Brown Rice until there were just two of us.  I stock less casserole ingredients now, although I do still prepare casseroles once in awhile.

I don't bake as often as I did when there were kids at home but I do still like to give baked goods as gifts.  So while I no longer purchase flour in bulk, I always try to keep a couple bags of both King Arthur All Purpose and Bread flour on hand. I buy yeast in jars instead of in bulk now.  I would purchase more flour if I thought an emergency was looming, as well as extra yeast.

We tend to use less meat than we once did in meals but I do like to purchase various meats for the deep freeze when they are on sale.  Once in awhile, I sort through the deep freeze to see what is on hand and if something needs to be used soon.  I also keep extra frozen veggies, rice, etc. in the deep freeze and I rotate them with more recent purchases.

When I have the means to deepen the pantry, I often start with basic canned goods (and jars) because they keep well and in a crisis situation, most of them have liquid already in the can. These are mostly canned whole tomatoes, canned stewed tomatoes, organic salsa, canned corn (mainly for veggie soup), canned green beans, and some kinds of canned fruit. 

I don't purchase as many varieties of pasta as I once did but it is still a basic food for my regular pantry and I purchase extra boxes when it is on sale.  When stored correctly, pasta has a long shelf life.  I mean, really... a box of spaghetti and a can or jar of good marinara sauce is the quintessential pantry food.

I do keep a few other items just for emergency situations.  For instance, even though I purchase frozen brown rice to cook for dinner when I'm tired, I do keep jasmine rice in one of the jars on the red shelves in the kitchen.  I also keep a large (Sam's size bag) of converted rice for emergencies but it is something we would eat if necessary, too.  (I just have to be careful with white rice.)

How do I decide what are the priorities when I deepen the pantry?  I keep one of those lined narrow tablets with a magnet on the back on the side of my refrigerator and during the month, it is where I keep my running grocery list as I run out of an item or think of something else that I need to purchase at the beginning of the month.

I also keep all my former once-a-month stock up lists (Meijers on the front side/Aldis on the back) in an envelope that I pull out when I'm making my grocery list at the beginning of each month.  I use the running list from that month and I go through the older lists to create a new grocery list.

These lists are essential for showing me what I use the most and what then becomes a priority in the budget for purchasing extra to deepen the pantry.  Even then, just because I purchase something every month does not mean they would become a priority.

For instance, while canned tomatoes and salsa would be a priority to stock up since they can go with so many other foods to prepare a meal, I would not stock a great deal of my favorite Aldi Indian sauces.  Partly because they are limited in how I use them and mainly because I am the only one in our home at the moment who likes Indian food.  There is no accounting for taste...

For the same reason, I would stock a few packages of soft taco or burrito shells in the freezer because they can be used in a variety of ways for regular meals and for an emergency. I use them for breakfast as well as other meals.  I also do not know how to make them from scratch.

However, instead of filling the deep freeze with more bread than two of us can eat quickly, I know how to make bread so I stock those ingredients separately.  Same for biscuit ingredients and Indian Fry Bread.  (Which, by the way, was a treat I made often during one of our long term periods of unemployment.)

I will write more next week but if you have any good ideas to share (and you usually do!!!), feel free to leave a comment.  :)

Mentioned in this Blog Post
Indian Fry Bread recipe... here.

As shared in a previous post:
Below is listed some of the Mountain House dinners I have tried and liked. 
Beef Stew 4-Pack... here.
Breakfast Skillet 4-Pack... here.
Biscuits and Gravy individual pouches... here.
Chicken and Dumplings individual pouches... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Note:  Please forgive any typos or if I repeated myself from previous posts.  I will more carefully proofread tomorrow but my right eye is bothering me at the moment.  I do not let that stop me but it does slow me down!!!

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Summer Reading - Hold in your hand books


I'm limiting my review list a lot this summer so I can finally read some of the books I've had on my "To Be Read Soon" list.  These three are the non-Kindle books I'm going to read first this Summer.

It still takes me longer than it once did to read since I have to stop when my right eye becomes strained.  But it is still do-able.  I find reading on the Kindle a little easier.  Next week I will share my top Kindle reads I have planned for the summer.

Taste and See: Discovering God Among Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers by Margaret Feinberg.

I have read and enjoyed other books by Margaret Feinberg. This is called a "culinary and spiritual adventure".

All of her books make for delightful summer reading and I'm looking forward to reading this one!  It is written in such a way that one can read just one chapter at a time here and there or read the book through in one short vacation.

More information can be found... here.


The Persian Gamble by Joel Rosenberg

This is the second book of a new series whose main character is Marcus Ryker.  It takes up where the first book left off with Marcus and a Russian (unintended) double agent escaping from Russian Special Forces.

The first book in the series, The Kremlin Conspiracy, was about Russia and the U.S.  This book deals with the possibility of North Korea selling nukes to Iran.

Joel Rosenberg is one of my very favorite novelists.  No one writes better geo-political stories and they are from a Christian perspective.  I bought this book for my husband's birthday in April and since he hasn't read it, yet... it goes on my Summer reading list.

More information on The Persian Gamble... here.
More information on the first book, The Kremlin Conspiracy... here.


Top Gun by Dan Pedersen

I saw an interview with Dan Pedersen on TV and ordered this book that day. The price is less than half what it was originally.

In the interview, Pedersen (the founder of the Top Gun program) talked about how the U. S. was losing one airplane for ever two it shot down in Vietnam.  It became obvious that the young fighter pilots did not have the dog fighting skills of WWII pilots.

Pedersen was given the task of training their best pilots in the art of dog fighting (aerial combat) and this is the story of how Top Gun begun and its' history.  What makes this story even more interesting to me is that he is a man of faith as well as fighter pilot skills.  I'm looking forward to this book, too.

More information can be found... here.


Next week I will share the Kindle books on my Summer reading list.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  Thank you for taking the time to enter Amazon shopping through a link or widget!

Image:  From Instagram.  I had to use a lamp since it is raining today.  Thus... the glare!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Restoration House, a review


The subtitle of this book by Kennesha Buycks is Creating a Home That Gives Life and Connection to All Who Enter.  Which should have been my first clue that this is not just a book about the decorating of homes.

Instead, while the author shares her love of making a home lovely with the readers, she also reminds us that it is our relationship with the Lord that is the basis of everything we do.  We will not be satisfied with our houses if we have not found our peace in Him.

I found as I read through Restoration House, a sense of peace one rarely finds in reading a book about interior design.  For it is about much more than that.  In this book, you will find ways to restore yourself as well as the home in which you live.  It is the kind of book you will leave on the coffee table to enjoy over and over.

Another nice surprise was that the author is African American.  It is good to see more diversity of skin color in interior design books.  We know that we will share Heaven with people of every tribe and color that God created.

Restoration House was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Find more information... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.