Prepare Every Needful Thing

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear"


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Spiritual Preparedness–July 2015

Feast Upon the Word of the Lord

scripturesWe live in the Last Days, Satan has been loosed upon the Earth, and we can no longer afford to be casual in our Gospel study. Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life was very clear in its lesson that those who let go of the iron rod (the word of God) would be lost in the mists of darkness. Following is the counsel of the Apostles and other Church leaders concerning personal scripture study:

“Testimony requires the nurturing by the prayer of faith, the hungering for the word of God in the scriptures, and the obedience to the truth we have received. There is danger in neglecting prayer. There is danger to our testimony in only casual study and reading of the scriptures. They are necessary nutrients for our testimony. You remember the warning from Alma: “But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out. Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.” 10 –Henry B Eyring, “A Living Testimony”, April 2011

“Search the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets every day, every day, every day! It’s the key to spiritual survival and avoiding deception. Without it, we are spiritually lost. … If you are struggling, confused, or spiritually lost, I urge you to do the one thing I know will get you back on track. Begin again to prayerfully study the Book of Mormon and live its teachings every day, every day, every day! I testify of the profound power in the Book of Mormon that will change your life and strengthen your resolve to follow Christ.” –Kevin W Pearson, “Stay by the Tree”, April 2015

“Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!” –Richard G Scott, “Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority”, October 2014

 


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Equipment and Supplies–July 2015

Mouse Control Strategies

house mouseThe typical house mouse lives for only a single year, but during that year they can produce 5-10 litters of 5-6 babies, all of which are sexually mature at only 4 weeks. Besides reproducing at an alarming rate, mice can cause immense destruction as they chew, scratch, and contaminate food and water. They can bring fleas into your home (hitchhiking fleas on rodents were likely responsible for the spread of Black Plague in the Middle Ages) and carry and spread intestinal parasites, viruses and bacterial diseases. It is worth while learning how to deal with them and protect your home and belongings

Mouse-”proof” your house:

Mice can squeeze through openings as big as a dime and have incredibly sharp teeth and strong jaws, so true proofing may be impossible, but some things will make you a tougher target.

Outside, clear the area immediately around your home of debris and ensure that crawl spaces have tight covers and that other openings for dryer vents, plumbing, wires, cables, etc cannot be used as access points. Make needed repairs, stuff gaps with steel wool or fill larger openings with expanding foam. Store woodpiles off ground and away from house.

Inside, ensure that plumbing leaks are repaired quickly (these are huge draws for mice and rats), store food in sturdy, sealed containers off of floors and never leave food out at night, including pet dishes. Give the interior entry points of vents, plumbing, wires, cables, etc the same treatment as their exterior counterparts and fill any gap dime-sized or larger. Clean under appliances such as fridges and ovens, as these are common areas for food to escape notice.

Approaches to controlling:

Snap traps. Pros: Effective, cheap, kills quickly, somewhat reusable, (if you can stomach removing rodent corpses…) Cons: One mouse per trap, can trigger without catching a mouse (basketballs bounced indoors, for instance, will set them off), small mice may not trigger (I once had a trap licked clean, empty and unsprung in the morning), risk of pinched fingers. Use: set at night in places where you have found droppings. Mice usually hug a wall as they run, so set the traps parallel to and touching the wall so they don’t miss it. I’ve had the best success with the Victor brand traps with the big, fake cheese, but some people prefer the older ones with the metal pedal. I bait them with a little bit of peanut butter to tempt small, twitchy noses out of hiding.

Glue traps. Pros: Cheap, will catch multiple mice and other pests. Cons: May catch things you do not want caught, it is not a killing trap—you must dispatch the mice after they are caught. Set in the same places as snap traps. See here  for more information.

Bait boxes. Pros: Good for large numbers of rodents, effective, reusable. Cons: Mice will sometimes die inside walls (smelly), there is a risk of poisoning other animals or people. Use: follow the manufacturer instructions, secure the box and keep well away from pets and children.

Cats. Pros: Will pursue prey rather than waiting for prey to come to it, eat a wide variety of rodents—wiped out a huge mole problem for us, more pleasant to live with than other control strategies. Cons: Require some feeding (though it’s pretty minimal for true barn cats) and medical care, indoor cats may cause allergic reactions in some, will toy with injured mice (poison may actually be a more humane death…), will sometimes abandon dead mice, will hunt birds with equal glee.

 


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Home Production and Gardening–July 2015

Hot-weather Meal Preparation

thermometerSummertime… the livin’ might be easy, but managing meal preparation presents special challenges. While it might be tempting to resort to take-out for the next three months, this can put a serious strain on family finances. Below are some approaches to help you eat economically at home while keeping (relatively) cool.

  • Do as much prep as possible during the cool hours of the day. Peak heat is typically between 3:00-5:00; if you cook dinner then, you and your kitchen will sweltering by the time you are done. A better strategy is to do the bulk of your prep and cooking after the sun goes down or early in the morning, when you can still catch a cool breeze. Just re-warm or put the finishing touches on it in the evening. This is also a smart strategy if your electricity rates are tied to time-of-use as you will avoid mid-day peak rates.
  • Use your slow cooker. Prep your ingredients (in the cool of the morning), toss them in the cooker, turn it on and anticipate a great dinner at the end of the day. This list will get you all the way through to cooler temps.
  • Use a roaster oven. This is a fantastic tool! Basically a portable oven, you can put food directly into it or place casserole dishes or loaf pans inside it for a more dishwasher-friendly clean-up and you can put it anywhere there is an electric outlet. Put it on your patio, deck or in your garage (make sure it is safe from curious pets and away from water sources) and you can enjoy baked and roasted foods midsummer without heating up your house.
  • Plan no-cook or low-cook foods. Salads, sandwiches, tacos and baked potatoes with the fixings are usually quick and easy and can be even easier and more fun if you add “bar” on to the end and let everyone assemble their own. Look up “best salads”, “best sandwiches”, etc online for more good ideas than you will ever possibly use.
  • Cook outdoors. Fire up the grill, see this month’s article on open-fire cooking or the June 2014 issue  on setting up an inexpensive solar cooker.

 


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Emergency and Disaster Response–July 2015

Home Evacuation Plans—Part One: The 60-Second Plan

fire

(This evacuation series is being re-run from 2013.)

In planning for home evacuation, we will deal with four general timeframes based on the type of emergency leading to the evacuation.  Each will require a different approach and mind-set.  They can be divided up as follows:

  1. 60-second evacuation: house fire or other fast-moving catastrophe—requires you to leave your house with just the first thing(s) you can grab and a pair of shoes.
  2. 1-hour evacuation: approaching wildfire or slower-moving catastrophe—you have a little more time to secure your home and gather belongings.
  3. 12-hour evacuation: Approaching danger, such as a hurricane—more time to secure and gather.
  4. 72-hour evacuation: Slow-moving disaster, think weather systems again—time to make purchases, harden your home against weather or ill-intentioned humans, secure or hide belongings to be left behind, map out evacuation routes , etc.

Over the next couple of months, we will discuss how to plan for each of these.

60-Second Plan

This will fall into the same basic pattern for everyone and it will need to be memorized so that you act automatically.  In the case of a significant house fire, you will have less than two minutes to safely evacuate (click here for video illustration—note the time between the sounding of the smoke alarm and the complete destruction of the room) and this is not enough time to think things through and make decisions.  Have every household member who is able, memorize the steps in bold and then drill regularly.  If you have small children, quarterly drills are recommended as little ones will often panic and hide in a crisis situation.

  1.  Sound the Alarm.  Use any possible means to get everyone’s attention as quickly as possible.  Make sure that you have a smoke alarm in every bedroom and on every floor.
  2. Communicate.  Decide how you will alert the members of your household to danger.  Describe the emergency and give directions in as few words as possible, such as “Fire! Get out!” or “Earthquake! Mail box (see #7)!” and repeat until everyone has heard and followed directions.
  3. Are Children (or physically disabled) in Danger?
    YES – Rescue & Escape
    NO – Continue
  4. Can you safely retrieve your 72-hr (backpack) Kit?
    NO – Escape
    YES – 72-hr Kit Mantra
  5. 72-hr Kit Mantra (acronym B.A.G.S.):
    BAG—this is your 72-hour backpack kit or other emergency pack *
    ASSETS—items of monetary or sentimental value only if easy to grab
    GUN—if you have one, to protect your family and life-sustaining belongings
    SHOES—protect your feet from injury
  6. ESCAPE!  Draw a simple map of your dwelling and determine 2 exits to every room.  Purchase equipment, such as fire escape ladders, and trim (or plant!) surrounding shrubbery to make window escapes as safe as possible.  Make sure that these exits are always accessible and not blocked by furniture or other items.
  7. Meet up. Establish a safe meeting place, out of the way of potential emergency vehicles, but close enough for everyone to reach quickly so you can be sure that everyone got out.

*See the 72-hour Kit segment in this month’s newsletter for instructions on assembling an appropriate kit for a 60-second evacuation.

 

(I have drawn HEAVILY on the ideas and recommendations of a Hurricane Katrina survivor for the sections on evacuation.  Unfortunately, although his website is an absolute wealth of knowledge, his language is very crude and I don’t feel great about linking directly to it.  However, wanting to give credit where credit is due, if you would like to visit his site, run a search on “the place with no name Katrina” and it should be your top result.)


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Financial Preparedness–July 2015

Monitor Your Accounts and Establish Sinking Funds

pen and paper2

 Now that you have set up and are tracking your basic budget, you can begin to go in and make small changes that will give you better control of your finances.

The first thing you will want to do is regularly monitor your accounts.  You can do this several different ways, depending on how thorough and accurate you like your personal bookkeeping to be.

  • Check all receipts against statements and then balance your checkbook and compare final totals. (Most thorough and time-consuming.  Essentially, all debits and credits are double-checked.)
  • Check all receipts against statements. (Debits and credits are single-checked.)
  • Scan bank statement and check on anything that seems out of the ordinary.  (A weekly check like this is the minimum you should do as it gives you a chance to catch fraud early on.)

I use the second option.  Here is my system for checking receipts against statements:

Gather the week’s receipts and the checkbook.  Print up the week’s credits and debits from online. Include all bank accounts and credit cards and make sure there is no gap between last week and this, such as a debit that came through late in the day.  Take the top receipt, match it to the debit on the printout and mark both the receipt and its corresponding entry with an X.  When the stack is gone, a quick scan of your printouts will now reveal any irregularities or missing receipts.  Research questionable charges and highlight items where the receipts are simply missing to ensure that they are recorded in your budget.  An uneventful account check usually takes less than ten minutes.

The second item this month is to establish sinking funds.  This is one of the things that makes budgeting all worth it.  Christmas, birthdays, vacations and even less-fun things like property taxes and car repairs will no longer be sources of financial panic or reasons to go into debt.  Simply take your end goal dollar amount and divide it by the number of months until the event.  For instance, you know that your sister would really like a certain $50 boxed set of dvds for Christmas, you have 5 months to save if you want to buy it Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, so you simply set aside $10 per month in your budget until then.  If you are not sure how much money you will need, just estimate and adjust as you get a better idea of the actual costs.  For things like repairs, you can save until you hit a certain dollar amount, or turn it into a multi-purpose fund.  We once had a car repair fund turn into a new car fund!  You can set up an actual savings account with your bank specifically for these amounts, or simply keep track of them in your personal accounting, whatever works best for you.  I can tell you from experience how nice it is heading into special events with money to spend, or looking at a well-padded repair fund.


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Cooking With Food Storage–July 2015

Open-Fire Cooking Techniques

campfireOpen-fire cooking is the way that most food has been cooked through the history of the world, but today many of us could go through life without doing much more than roasting a marshmallow or a hot dog. As we are unlikely to do well in an emergency eating a diet of s’mores and hot dogs, it would be well to spend a little time becoming familiar with some basic techniques of open-fire cooking.

Never rest a pan on burning wood. As the wood burns it will destabilize your pan and flame heat is notoriously uneven and erratic. Foods with a good deal of liquid to even out cooking temperatures can be boiled over flames if you set up a grate or other support (a tripod or stacks of bricks on either side will work). Solid foods may be cooked on sticks in the flames, but realize that they will likely be seared—browned on the outside, while potentially still raw on the inside—so reserve this technique for foods that cook very quickly or do not need thorough cooking for safety.

For everything else, let the fire burn to a nice bed of coals. These will provide steady, even heat and you can even adjust the temperature somewhat by raking them together to concentrate heat or by spreading them out for slower cooking. Coals are perfect for tin foil dinners, bean-hole beans and dutch oven cooking and can also be used for spit or string roasting (click here for instructions on this old-fashioned technique).

You can estimate temperature without a thermometer. Place your hand in the area where you are planning to place your food for cooking and (without touching anything solid, of course) see how long you can hold your hand there. The formula as 50 degrees Fahrenheit per second, like this: 1 second=over 500F, 2 seconds=500F, 3 seconds=450F, 4 seconds=400F, 5 seconds=350F, 6 seconds=300F, etc.

Many of these techniques will adapt to indoor cooking in your fireplace. While most fireplaces are inefficient heat sources, being able to cook safely indoors during an emergency could be a lifesaver. For more information on fireplace cooking, click here.

 


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Food Storage–July 2015

Month Three

food-in-buckets

Food Storage plans are intended to feed one person for one year:

Here are the year’s totals for all of the plans:

The Bare Minimum      $480 for the year, with monthly purchases averaging $40

Expanded Storage     $1870 for the year, with monthly purchases averaging $155

Gluten-Free Storage       $1017 for the year, with monthly purchases averaging $85

We hope this is helpful!

The Bare Minimum

14 cans wheat—77 lbs (LDS Cannery)

TOTAL $41.30

Expanded Storage

25 lbs white rice   $10 (Costco)

3 5-gallon buckets and lids   $21 (Lowes)

2 jars mayonnaise $4 (Walmart)

1 gallon oil   $6 (Walmart)

6 48-oz tubs shortening $25 (Walmart)

25 lbs sugar $11   (Costco)

25 lbs beans or lentils $12   (Costco)

5 lbs salt $5   (generic, grocery store)

2 gallons bleach $6   (Walmart)

18 cans wheat—99 lbs $53.10   (LDS Cannery)

TOTAL  $155.10

Gluten-Free Storage

25 lbs buckwheat/amaranth/millet $65   (Winco or Walmart)

TOTAL  $65

 

 

Store names provided when I thought they might be helpful in keeping costs down.  If you are having a hard time finding items for the price listed, leave a comment by clicking on the link at the top of the left sidebar and I will give you my pricing info. Pricing is subject to change…as anyone shopping these days can testify!