Saturday, June 27, 2015

Family Vital Records Binder - Week 3

Your assignment for Week 3 is to gather medical information for your family.

NOTE:  Make copies, or use duplicates, of your insurance cards in the binder.  You need the originals for your everyday normal life now.  Likewise with insurance policies.  Keep the original documents in a safe place, like a Safety Deposit Box, and put copies in the binder with a notation with where to find originals.

I used a business card style page protector for the contact information for doctors, dentists and veterinarians (my dogs are my kids - definitely an important part of the family and this section is the first place I'd go looking for their medical information!).

My dentist gave me a little grief about getting a copy of my x-rays.  He said they lose their value as a diagnostic tool after about 6 months.  When I explained what this binder was and that including them was for identification purposes, he finally gave them to me.

Also, I did not try to gather up immunization information or medical records from every single doctor I've ever seen.  If you do try, you will likely be better off scanning and saving it to a CD than dealing with that much paper here.  I just wrote out my history as best I could remember and got a photocopy (stamped PHOTOCOPY so it couldn't be used to actually get a prescription) of my medication prescription.  You might also think about including a list of any vitamins or herbal supplements you take since they can affect many medications effectiveness.  I would just photocopy the labels that show the RDA information or pull it off a used up bottle and slip into a sheet protector in this section.

If you have a Living Will, DNR Order or desire to be an organ donor I would include that information here, too.

Outside a widespread disaster, this whole section could be extremely important and helpful if someone else ever needs to make medical decisions for you.  For example, if you are injured in a traffic accident these are details that would help your family and doctors make the best decisions about your care.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Refrigerator Pickles

Saturday morning I got up and went to the Farmer's Market.  It's a small town and a small market but there's usually some interesting stuff.

I talked to a lady selling sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls.  Hers isn't sour either... more sweet than anything but dang good homemade bread.  It had a flavor that's slightly different than what I make but mine is also really good and I love the simplicity of it too much to go looking for something different right now.  I also picked up a bottle of raw honey, more herbs for the garden and some fun little cucumbers just right for munching.  They are tiny and striped like a very miniature watermelon and the flavor is slightly lemon-like. It was a fun little snack!

And I got cucumbers to make refrigerator pickles.

3 bottles of Bread & Butter slices and 2 of Dill spears.  And, yes... those
are old spaghetti sauce jars.  Since the pickles aren't processed only a tight-
fitting lid is needed so these are perfect.  And cute with their reproduction
Atlas marks!  Maybe for next year I'll spray paint the lids like I did for
my spice jars and hide the "Classico" on them.

Now comes the hard part: waiting for them to be ready to eat.

I really love how simple refrigerator pickles are to make.  Anything to do with food that doesn't heat the house up in summer is a good thing!  I've made the Dill pickles for years.  It's a recipe handed down from a friend of my Mom's that is easy and delicious.  This is the first time I've made Bread & Butter pickles this way and I'm excited to get a taste and decide if the recipe is a keeper.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Pack whole small cucumbers OR spears OR slices cut from larger cukes into 1-quart jars with dill and sliced garlic according to your taste.

Add to each jar:
2 Tbl salt
1 cup vinegar (white or a half-n-half mix with cider vinegar is good)
1 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp alum
pinch of pickling spice

Fill each jar with cold water. Put on tight fitting lids (does not need to seal, just be airtight) and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Ready to eat after 3-4 weeks. Can be stored up to a year. I've also made 2 quarts worth directly in my old Tupperware PickleKeeper and put it in the back of the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles

Thinly slice cucumber and sweet onion and layer them into 1-quart canning jar(s).  Be sure to pack the in the jar tightly as they will shrink when the hot brine is added.

For each jar you need to measure into a saucepan and bring to a steaming simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved:
1 1/2 cups vinegar (I used half white and half cider vinegar)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric

Pour hot liquid over cucumbers and onions in jar,wipe rims and put tight fitting lids on.  Store in refrigerator.  Can be eaten after 48 hours.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cookie Salad

Thursday I made a dessert for a Relief Society activity... and it was so good I made it again Saturday for a potluck dinner!  Though it has the word "salad" in it's name, you'd have to make some creative substitutions to make it Weight Watchers friendly.  It is rich, delicious and just a little bit decadent!

And it's simple to make, doesn't heat up the kitchen and travels well!

That's a winning combination on every front!!

With friends who love to experiment with food as much as I do, we've come up with some yummy combinations of ingredients...

We all start with this basis:

1 small pkg instant vanilla pudding
1/3 cup milk
32 oz of thawed whipped topping (aka CoolWhip)

Whisk the pudding and milk together until smooth, then fold in the whipped topping.  Next you add crumbled up cookies and cut up fruit.

Some combinations we've tried and really like:

  • Carmello cookies (or Twix or Snickers) with a tangy apple like Fuji or Granny Smith
  • Pecan shortbread cookies with fresh peaches
  • Vanilla sandwich Cookies (aka White Oreos) with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
  • Fudge stripe cookies with mandarin oranges
  • Chocolate animal crackers and mini marshmallows and tangy apples
  • Ginger snaps with peaches, pineapple and halved grapes

We've all eaten them so quickly that no one has got a picture so here's one I stole off Pinterest of the Snickers/Apple combination.

Photo from

Father's Day

I got to talk in Church today.  Me, of all people, addressing a congregation on Father's Day and speaking about a father's role.  Me, the person who's pretty much all alone in life... both my parents have passed on, I have no siblings, no husband, no really tight ties to extended family (friendly ties, yes... but tight? Not so much.).  I think I'm an odd choice to talk about family relationships.

I had some reference materials suggested, with the disclaimer that I could use any other Church produced material I wanted, and I used the 2 suggested Ensign articles to prepare my talk early in the week.  Thinking "Whew!! That's done." I metaphorically wiped my brow and went about my week.  But something just felt off whenever I thought about the talk.  So I revised.  Then I rewrote.  And then revised some more.  It still didn't feel right.  Finally, late last night I tore up all my notes and jotted down the thoughts that are in my heart and that's the talk I gave...

If we pause and take a good long hard look at the world today, we can clearly see that Satan is working overtime creating havoc with the family and trying to enslave the souls of men.  His main target, more and more often, is the family.   Sadly sometimes it looks like he is winning this battle.  We see grim facts on the news and among many families around us as increased crime, behavior disorders, poverty, drug abuse and a long long list of other societal problems.

In April 2004, Elder L. Tom Perry remarked, “It appears to me that the crosshairs of Satan’s scope are centered on husbands and fathers.”

Why would that be so?  Why would Satan specifically target the men in our lives and our relationships with them?

I personally believe it is because our relationship with our earthly father is a mirror for our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  In a sense, we, as children, learn how to relate to Heavenly Father by how our fathers relate to us.  Think about it for a moment… if you are close to your father and have an open and attentive and loving relationship with him, then it is easy to recognize and feel an open, attentive and loving relationship with Heavenly Father.  If you didn’t have that relationship with your earthly father; if it was distant or tense, for example; you’ve never learned to receive that fatherly attention.  You may want it desperately but not recognize it or know quite how react to it.

My dad... from a wedding picture. October 1962.
I would say that is true in my own situation.  My parents married late and tried right away to start a family.  I ended up their one-shot wonder... an only child. My dad was disappointed that I was a girl… he wanted a boy to teach to hunt and fish and wrestle and play football and whatever other rough and tumble things you do with boys.  And then he got me.  I know that he loved me and I’m in no way saying that he didn’t or that he was a bad man.  Quite the contrary… he was a good man who worked very hard to see that we had the things we needed but he didn’t know how to relate to all the lace and ruffles and baby dolls and teddy-bear tea parties that go with having a little girl and so he held back and left raising me mostly to my mom.  Because he wasn’t a strong presence in my younger life, I feel like I don’t know how to have a close and tender fatherly relationship.  And that sometimes leaves me feeling like Heavenly Father is distant and unconcerned with me.

That’s a lot to overcome.  Satan manipulates circumstances to reinforce that that feeling of estrangement and whispers to dismiss the times when the relationship is good and healthy and working properly as fleeting.  I wish his lies weren't so easy to believe!!

Fortunately, there are other fathers we can look to for examples.  Grandparents, uncles, friends, teachers... There are many of you right here in this room that I observe on a weekly basis caring for and loving your children.  You give me joy when I see you so involved with your little ones.  You give me hope when I see you relating in a positive and loving way with your teens and them mirroring that back to you with respect and adoration.  And in all honesty, you make me more than a little bit jealous when I see you look at your wife with love and honor and respect in your eyes.  So many of you are doing so many things right.  And, sadly, you hear so much criticism and condemnation for your role as a father.  I think it’s time we recognize, encourage and support you!

Not just on Father’s Day but every day.

In this life there are things that matter and things that don’t.  Fathers… YOU matter.

One of the reference articles Brother Embry asked me to use was by A. Theodore Tuttle and was printed in the December 1971 Ensign.  At the beginning of it, he shares the following analogy: “Some years ago, I read an editorial in the Deseret News entitled “The Mechanical Rabbit.” I quote:

“Most of our readers must have smiled the other day when they read of the greyhounds in Britain who don’t know a rabbit when they see one. So long had they chased a mechanical rabbit around the racetrack, that when a real rabbit bounded across the track, the dogs didn’t give it a second look.

“Stupid, eh? But sad too, this perverting of the natural instincts...

“We chase mechanical rabbits, too.

“We chase paychecks, and don’t give a second look to the glint of the rising sun on a snow-topped peak.

“We chase our way through the appointments of a crowded desk calendar, and fail to take time to chat with the next-door neighbor or to drop in on a sick friend.

“We chase social pleasures on a glittering noisy treadmill—and ignore the privilege of a quiet hour telling bedtime stories to an innocent-eyed child.

“We chase prestige and wealth, and don’t recognize the real opportunities for joy that cross our paths...

Wordsworth said words appropriate to this condition: “The world is too much with us: late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”

“Race on, you poor, blind over-civilized hounds. You’ll never catch your rabbit until you learn to recognize a genuine one.

“But, you’ll have company in your race; the company of unnumbered men who’ll never catch the joy they chase until they, too, learn to recognize a genuine one.”

This points up our challenge: See “that the things that matter most … are not at the mercy of things that matter least.” (Ashley Montague.)

Fathers… YOU matter.  Your influence in the lives of your children, and even other children – like me, matters.  As does your loving presence.  A close relationship between father and child is high on the list of things that matter most!  Your example helps me to repair my relationship with Heavenly Father and that’s at the top of my list of things that matter most!

If you ever start to doubt that you matter, consider this quote from The First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles that's been used in articles, videos and pamphlets for at least 5 decades now:
“The title father is sacred and eternal. It is significant that of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, he has asked us to address him as Father.”
You, fathers, have big shoes to fill.  And I give you my respect, honor, admiration and support in building these most important eternal relationships and wish you a most happy and blessed Father’s Day!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Family Vital Records Binder - Week 2

Your assignment for Week 2 is all about getting important addresses together.

You'll need all of the addresses of people who are important to you both personally and professionally.  I started with a list of names and then started going through my address books on my phone, email, hard copy... and I included phone numbers and email addresses where I could and it was appropriate.  What I didn't have and thought I might want, I sent messages to friends, family and other associates asking for their information.

When you've got all the details, type up your lists and print them out.  Insert into sheet protectors and put in your binder.

HINT:  Format your 'Christmas List' as address labels and use a fun font so it takes the work out of sending cards in those hurried days after Thanksgiving.  Print (or photocopy) onto label stock and you're ready to go! 

This section could be a great resource even in 'normal' times!

Or if something happened to me and someone else had to step in and try to piece my life together to get me the help I needed...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Family Vital Records Binder - Week 1

This is a project I started several years ago and kind of lost steam and then... well, life happened.  I've been meaning to get back to it for awhile because it's something I firmly believe is really important, but darn it!!  Life keeps happening.

The place I found this is a blog called Prepared Not Scared.  It doesn't look to be very active any longer but if you go there and dig around you will find yummy recipes, cute graphic items like calenders and games and some really great preparedness ideas!  Tricia Smith, the woman who writes (wrote?) the blog was the Family Preparedness Coordinator for her Ward in Bountiful, UT at the time I first started my Vital Records Binder.  All credit for the ideas, organization, order, thought process... EVERYTHING... is hers.  I am just copying what I think is a really great idea and inviting you to follow along as I post how I'm going about accomplishing it.

The plan, as I remember it, is that it should take a year to complete everything in the Binder.  And it is a comprehensive set of documentation that, should something terrible ever happen, is a grab and go item to help you restart your life after the disaster.

Your assignment for Week 1 is to gather your materials.  You will need a large (3-inch plus thick) 3-ring binder along with full page sheet, business card, and CD protectors (all available at office supply stores) that are punched to fit in the binder.  You'll also need to download and print the tabs to divide all the sections of the binder from each other.  Once printed, go ahead and slip each tab into a sheet protector and put it in your binder.

Click HERE to view, download and print the tabs.  I'm having trouble creating a shareable file for the labels that go on the sides of the tabs but I'll keep working on it and post them as soon as I can.  Once they are available, or if you want to create your own, they are just attached with clear packing tape.

When you're done, it should look something like this!

Take a few minutes and thumb through the tabs reading what goes into each one and you'll see just how comprehensive this project is!!

A few people who've seen my beginnings of a binder have complained that it's bulky and heavy and hard to tote around and they can save everything on a flash drive that's easy to just slip into their purse or bug-out bag.  If you are comfortable that the days following any kind of major disaster will include readily available electricity, computers, and printing services then that is a good option for you.  I'm not so sure my faith in technology is that strong.  I think it could take weeks to have those services up and running so I'm choosing to make the binder.