Sunday, December 7, 2014

Power Outage Preparedness

Power outages can be common during the winter months. It is important to be prepared in case of an outage, as well as to know what to do during an outage to keep your family safe.

Rocky Mountain Power suggests preparing an outage kit. This could include ready to eat foods, a can opener, water, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight or lantern, extra batteries, a first-aid kit and blankets.

The following safety tips can help your family stay safe and comfortable during an outage:

  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting. NEVER use candles during a blackout or power outage due to extreme risk of fire.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment or electronics in use when the power went out. Power may return with momentary "surges” or “spikes” that can damage computers as well as motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage.
  • Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system.  If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to run directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Listen to local radio and to a battery- or generator-powered television for updated information.
  • Leave on one light so that you'll know when your power returns.
  • Use a standard telephone handset, cellular phone, radio or pager if your phone requires electricity to work, as do cordless phones and answering machines. Use the phone for emergencies only. Listen to a portable radio for the latest information.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for information—call only to report a life-threatening emergency. Use the phone for life-threatening emergencies only.
  • Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion.
  • Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not work during a power outage. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Build a 72-Hour Kit a Week at a Time

If the thought of putting together a 72-hour emergency kit is overwhelming, consider using a plan such as this. You can add one item a week and at the end of the year, you will be much closer to having a preparedness kit for your family. Of course, these are only suggestions -- feel free to substitute and customize for your personal needs. Be sure to check and rotate food items every 6 months.


  1. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors
  2. Select a suitable family sized 72 hour container
  3. Add 1 1/2 gallons water
  4. Add 10 $1 bills
  5. Add 1 blanket
  6. Add pocket utility knife
  7. Add a can opener
  8. Add 2 $5 bills
  9. Add 2 cans tuna or other canned meat
  10. Add 1 large roll of paper towels
  11. Add 4 rolls toilet paper
  12. Add 10 $1 bills
  13. Add 1 bar soap
  14. Add toothbrushes and toothpaste
  15. Add 1 container baby wipes
  16. Add 2 $5 bills
  17. Add 1-2 changes of clothing per person
  18. Add 1 48 oz. bottle of juice
  19. Add 1 can fruit and 1 can vegetables
  20. Add 10 $1 bills
  21. Add 1 box of matches
  22. Add 1 package hard candy
  23. Add 1 jar peanut butter
  24. Add 2 $5 bills
  25. Add paper plates
  26. Check smoke detector batteries and practice home escape routes
  27. Add 1 box crackers
  28. Add 10 $1 bills
  29. Add plastic utensils
  30. Add 1 100 hour candle
  31. Add 1 box graham crackers
  32. Add 2 $5 bills
  33. Add flashlight and set of spare batteries (check batteries every 6 months)
  34. Add hand sanitizer
  35. Add paper cups
  36. Add 10 $1 bills
  37. Add basic first aid kit
  38. Add 1 pound dried fruit
  39. Add 4 cups dried milk in zip lock container
  40. Add 2 $5 bills
  41. Add battery/solar powered radio
  42. Add any individual medical needs
  43. Add diapers, feminine hygiene items
  44. Add 1 entertainment element (books, magazines, handheld game)
  45. Add 1 hand shovel
  46. Verify that all family immunizations are current
  47. Add 1 large roll of aluminum foil
  48. Add 1 hand axe
  49. Add zip lock bags (variety of sizes)
  50. Add 1-2 boxes favorite cereal
  51. Add photocopies of personal documents
  52. Send 1 copy of personal documents to family member in separate location
You'll probably want more food, and want to personalize, but this will give you a great start!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fitness Variety

If you work out regularly, it's easy to fall into the habit of doing the same set of exercises all the time. Unfortunately, research has shown that when your body performs the same exercises repeatedly, your muscles adjust over time to make those exercises easier. While this might make your workout feel more comfortable, this comfort comes at cost. Eventually, your workouts won't offer your body as much of a challenge.
Why does this happen? It is reported that your body's muscular systems and other physiological systems adapt to a workout routine in only six to eight weeks. That means that if you don't change up your routine, you'll reach a plateau in your fitness level.
If you're dedicated to maintaining a healthy exercise regimen, it's important to diversify your workouts with new activities. A great way to accomplish this is to make sure that your physical activity covers the five main elements of fitness: aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility, core exercise, and balance training.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise is often what first comes to mind when you think about working out. It includes any type of endurance activity that increases your heart rate, uses large muscle groups, causes you to breathe faster, and maximizes the oxygen level in your blood.

You have any number of aerobic exercises to choose from, including walking, jogging, biking, skipping, swimming, aerobics, dancing, and more. Remember, it's important to keep changing up the type of exercise. If you always do the same aerobic workout in the same way, you'll reach a fitness plateau in two months or less.
To avoid this issue, try to vary the pace, distance, and intensity of your workouts. For example, instead of doing the same two- kilometer walk every day, try fifteen minutes of jogging on some days. . Then, add in a day of biking, or switch to swimming for a week. You can also mix easy days with hard days to vary the effort you put into your exercise.
Strength Training

When it comes to strength training, you'll find it hard to keep building muscle if you don't add variety. This is because resistance exercises like strength training require the administration of a stimulus (i.e. the weight), followed by your muscles' adaptation to that stimulus. Your muscles will only continue to strengthen if you continue to introduce a new stimulus that is progressively more challenging.

Fortunately, it's easy to add variety to your strength training workouts. Try to incorporate different types of exercise, from resistance machines at the gym to free or handheld weights. You can also incorporate push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, which require you to lift your own body weight.

Stretching and flexibility exercises are a cornerstone of complete fitness. When you lack flexibility, your movements are more limited. In turn, this causes your muscles to weaken. Taking time to improve your flexibility will help your muscles and joints move through a full range of motion.

The best way to maintain your flexibility is to include a stretching routine in your workouts at least three times each week. You have tons of options when it comes to stretching and flexibility exercises. To keep your workouts varied, you might try alternating between different stretching exercises practiced in yoga, which feature strong flexibility components. You can also work independently to stretch each major muscle group, including your arms, legs, back, shoulders, and neck.

Core Exercise

If your workouts focus mainly on aerobic exercise and strength training, then you're not getting a balanced workout. Core exercises - which work the muscles in your stomach, pelvis and lower back - are also crucial to good fitness. The key to core exercises is to use the abdominal muscles and trunk of your body without added support. And, to keep your core muscles strong, it's important to vary your workouts, just as you do with other types of training. Consider crunches (sit-ups), yoga, or weight machines that target core muscles. You might also enjoy abdominal exercises using a fitness ball as a bouncy alternative.

Balance Training

Balance is a component of fitness that tends to be overlooked. But as you age, proper balance becomes increasingly important to a well-rounded fitness program. Without good balance, you're more likely to fall or become injured, which could put all of your other exercise plans on hold.

There are a number of activities you can practice to improve your balance. Yoga is a popular option, and a great way to work out in a group setting. But it's also possible to practice balance on your own. Simple exercises such as standing on one leg for an extended period of time, and then switching to the other leg, can help improve your stability.
Put It in Practice: Keep Things Spicy

The best way to avoid a fitness plateau is to vary your workout routine continuously, being sure to include all five elements of fitness. Examine your most recent workouts and consider if any of the five elements are lacking. Then, diversify your workout by adding new activities that target the elements of fitness you need. For example, if you've only been going to aerobics classes, try adding weight training or make time for a yoga class. By adding variety to your workouts, you will keep yourself engaged and see the benefits in your healthy body.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bug-Out Dinner Buckets

If you're one who thinks stocking up on food storage is a good idea, Congratulations! You've probably got shelves full of food and water ready to go should you need it in an emergency. You may even have a portable stove. These are all great beginnings.
Well, here's an idea that may just help to supplement your food storage supply, so that if you had only 10 minutes to "grab & go" in order to evacuate your home, you could easily grab your "bug-out" dinner buckets, and be on your way. These buckets of food could supply you and your family with 30 to 60 dinners. Wow! Now that's preparedness.
Although you may not be one who eats out of cans frequently, remember, these are emergency meals, offering you sustenance and nutrition in an emergency. You'll be glad you thought ahead and that with very little cooking, you can enjoy a meal.
Let's walk you through the process so that you understand how to put your own "Bug-out" dinner buckets together . . .
Here are some of the recommended tools you'll need to get started:
·        6 to 12 5 or 6 gallon food grade buckets (depending on the size of your family). You'll need one bucket per menu plan
·        Gamma lids for each bucket (optional)
·        Vacuum sealer to seal your spice packets and dehydrated foods (optional)
·        1 Laminated recipe card for each bucket (plastic sleeves also work)

Think ahead and make smart decisions.
·        Consider purchasing freeze dried meats instead of canned. They have a 25
year shelf life, as opposed to 1-2 years.
·        Consider purchasing freeze dried vegetables over canned or dehydrated, as
their shelf life is also longer
·        Investing in a good vacuum sealer can help prolong the shelf life of your
foods, while making them more space friendly inside your buckets
·        6 months before your bug-out dinner buckets will expire, start to use up the
ingredients, and replenish with newer ones, just to make sure you're not
wasting your food supply.

Here are some basic steps to get you on your way:
·        Gather together 6 to 12 of your favorite dinner recipes.
·        Decide how you'll trade out fresh produce for dehydrated, freeze dried, or canned. For example, if your recipe calls for ground beef, consider purchasing freeze dried ground beef. If your recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, consider using canned or dehydrated tomatoes instead.
·        Decide how many dinners you can fit in a bucket, based on the bulk of your food. Typically 4-5 times the recipe fits perfectly into a 6 gallon bucket.
·        Browse your food storage shelves to see which ingredients you may already have that you can use in your bug-out dinner buckets.
·        Make a list of all of the missing ingredients you'll need to purchase at the store, then times those ingredients by the number of dinners you'll need to make. For example: If one of your dinner buckets is for Taco Soup, and each batch of taco soup needs 2 cans of corn, you'll need to have 10 cans of corn on hand in order to make that recipe 5 times. All of those taco soup
ingredients will go into 1 bucket, labeled "Taco Soup."
·        Make large labels for each of your buckets with the name of the dish.
·        Consider a "kid-friendly" bucket with favorite comfort foods-ramen, hard candy, gum, crackers, Nutella, cereal, peanut butter, applesauce, dried fruit, etc.
·        Gather paper goods, such as plates, napkins, bowls, cups, utensils, as well as cooking supplies needed in an emergency. These could all be stored in a bucket with a gamma lid as well, labeled "Paper Goods."
·        Gather extra cooking pots and utensils along with a simple butane stove and fuel. If you have a camp oven, make sure to have plenty of propane on hand for that.
·        Have plenty of water on hand (5 gallon blue containers are ideal for "bugging-out", and you'll need plenty of water to cook with.)
·        Practice making each meal straight from your bucket supply, to see if you're comfortable with the recipe, and make sure your family enjoys it
·        Be sure to mark the date you packaged your bug-out dinner buckets to make sure they get rotated regularly. (Usually every 2 years is adequate.) 

Here is a sample recipe:

Taco Soup

1 lb. freeze dried ground beef
1 Tbsp. dried onion
1 can tomato sauce
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
beef bouillon

Pour boiling water over beef until crumbly. Drain. In a stock pot, combine all ingredients together and add water and beef bouillon if necessary. Cook 25 minutes until cooked through.

For 5 Meals:

1 can freeze dried ground beef
5 Tbsp. dried onion
5 cans tomato sauce
5 cans corn
5 cans diced tomatoes
10 cans kidney beans
5 pkgs. taco seasoning mix
1 cup beef bouillon

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Living Providently

From President Thomas S. Monson . . .

In the vicinity where I once lived and served, the Church operated a poultry project, staffed primarily by volunteers from the local wards. Most of the time it was an efficiently operated project, supplying to the bishops’ storehouse thousands of fresh eggs and hundreds of pounds of dressed poultry. On a few occasions, however, being volunteer city farmers meant not only blisters on the hands but also frustration of heart and mind.
For instance, I shall ever remember the time we gathered the Aaronic Priesthood young men to give the project a spring-cleaning. Our enthusiastic and energetic throng assembled at the project and in a speedy fashion uprooted, gathered, and burned large quantities of weeds and debris. By the light of the glowing bonfires, we ate hot dogs and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.
However, there was just one disastrous problem. The noise and the fires so disturbed the fragile population of 5,000 laying hens that most of them went into a sudden molt and ceased laying. Thereafter we tolerated a few weeds so that we might produce more eggs.
No member of the Church who has helped provide for those in need ever forgets or regrets the experience. Industry, thrift, self-reliance, and sharing with others are not new to us.
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. The Lord’s storehouse includes the time, talents, skills, compassion, consecrated material, and financial means of faithful Church members. These resources are available to the bishop in assisting those in need.
We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a supply of food and clothing and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have a supply of debt and are food-free.
I repeat what the First Presidency declared a few years ago:
“Latter-day Saints have been counseled for many years to prepare for adversity by having a little money set aside. Doing so adds immeasurably to security and well-being. Every family has a responsibility to provide for its own needs to the extent possible.
“We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve.”1
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.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How the Sun Sees You

We all know that, as wonderful as it feels, the sun causes lifelong damage to our skin. Check out this YouTube video to inspire you to protect yourself from sun damage.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) dates back three or four thousand years when the Incas first realized that the seed was fit for human consumption. Quinoa was the "gold of the Incas" because they believed it increased the stamina of their warriors. Often confused as a true grain, quinoa is actually a pseudo-grain -- the seed belongs to a family of beets, spinach and Swiss chard. Extremely versatile, it provides numerous cooking and meal options, especially for those with gluten sensitivity.

Quinoa packs in a powerful amount of protein (14-18 percent) for a plant food and includes a balance of nine amino acids. It also provides a quality source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, as well as being very low in cholesterol and sodium. A cup of cooked quinoa has 220 calories, 8 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fat, 39.5 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber.

How to Prepare Quinoa
  • How much cooked quinoa does 1 cup dry quinoa yield? 1 cup dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa.
  • How much liquid do I need to cook quinoa? To cook 1 cup quinoa, you need about 2 cups liquid.
  • How long does it take to cook quinoa? I cup quinoa will cook in about 20 minutes on the stove top. In a pressure cooker about 6 minutes.
  • How do I make quinoa less bitter? Nearly, if not all, of the natural bitterness of quinoa's outer coating can be removed by a vigorous rinsing in a mesh strainer.
  • How do I make better-tasting quinoa? Quinoa is really excellent when cooked in vegetable or chicken broth. Also, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup dried quinoa when cooking. Try adding other spices or aromatics during cooking: a clove of minced garlic, a sprig of fresh rosemary, and/or a dash of black pepper.
  • How can I tell if quinoa is bad or spoiled? Since quinoa has a long shelf life if kept dry, it is hard to tell if it has gone bad. It generally does not become rancid or smell. Cooked quinoa that has gone bad will show a loss of texture as it hardens and then can grow mold.
  • How can I store quinoa to extend its shelf life? The best way to store quinoa is in an airtight container in the pantry or another cook dark place with constant temperature. Do not allow cooked quinoa to sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. For a long-term option, you can freeze your dry quinoa in an oxygen free freezer-safe container. Cooked quinoa also freezes well in an airtight freezer container.
Here are some tempting quinoa recipes from

Quinoa with Toasted Almonds & Cranberries

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • 1 cube broth stock
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Cooking Directions
  1. Over medium heat, sir and toast the slivered almonds until golden brown. Add quinoa and toast a few more minutes until quinoa begins to darken.
  2. Transfer the toasted quinoa and almonds to a 2-quart saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, covered, then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff gently with a fork and serve.

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Vegetables & Feta

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 summer squashes, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, larger leaves torn
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, larger leaves torn
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Cooking Directions
  1. In a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water, season with salt and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the grains are tender and the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let the quinoa cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan or outside grill on medium heat. In a large bowl, gently toss together the onion, zucchini, squashes and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables, turning once, until nicely grill marked and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly, then cut into rough 1/4-inch dice. Add the diced vegetables and the tomatoes to the pot with the quinoa and stir gently to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Add the vinaigrette to the quinoa along with basil, mint and half of the cheese and stir to combine. Top with the remaining cheese and serve.

Gluten-free Moroccan Skillet Quinoa & Chicken

Makes 4 servings
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp. of paprika
  • 2 tsp. of ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. of kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup organic quinoa (pre-rinsed)
  • 2 cups gluten-free chicken stock
  • 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 2-inch pieces
Cooking Directions
  1. Juice one of the lemons and thinly slice the other. Cut the slices into quarters so that you have small pieces of lemon. Set both aside (separately) for later.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the paprika, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat.
  3. In a large skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes. Add the lemon pieces, onion, garlic and apricots. Cook, stirring frequently until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover pan, lower the heat to a medium-low and cook covered for 20 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  4. While the quinoa and chicken sits, toast the almond slices. In a small dry skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds for a few minutes, stirring often until they are browned and fragrant.
  5. To serve, put the quinoa chicken mixture in a serving bowl, fluff gently with a fork and top with toasted almonds and parsley leaves