Life as Lou

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Blizzards And Shutdowns And Fourloughs, Oh My!

  • October 18, 2013 3:32 pm

I was given an assignment to do another post on food storage.  I do these frequently for Augason Farms because, like them, I believe strongly in being as prepared as is possible.  No one will be completely, 100% prepared.  I think part of many people’s overwhelmed response to food storage and emergency supplies is that they think they need to have it all perfectly set up and that they just can’t pull that off, so they give up on making an effort.

People, you weren’t prepared to leave home when you grew up.  There were lessons to learn, mistakes to make and experiences to have.  But, those situations in which you were not prepared did not lessen the value of the things you were prepared for.  Whatever skills you could bring to the table helped you make your way until you could figure out the rest of it.  I was very prepared to have children, but not completely.  What I had learned helped me to be a better mother and led the way for the rest of the skills I needed.

If you are in a situation where you are suddenly not getting paid, whatever supplies you have on hand will help.  If you are stuck in a blizzard like I was a week ago, with no power and the heat rapidly dropping and a house full of hungry children, you will be infinitely better off with one flashlight, a few blankets and a few packages of instant soup than you would be with nothing.

I firmly believe that effort is blessed. I live my life by the principle that if I try, God will make up the rest. And He does.

So, stop trying to be perfectly prepped.  Lose the expectation.  Stop being overwhelmed and ask yourself what can I do, rather than focus on what you can’t do.  Life is too uncertain to not at least try.

In the past few weeks we have been in a terrible blizzard that decimated tens of thousands of the cattle where I live and forced many people to survive without power or access to anything except what was on hand for several days.  Being military, they have threatened not to pay us over the shutdown, fixed that, and are now saying again that if the US defaults, we can again expect no paycheck.  My foster children, who depend on programs like WIC for their formula, cannot get it through the program they are supposed to be supported through due to the shutdown. That need now falls on me.  I am not perfectly prepared to handle all of this.  But I am confident that through the many preparations I have made, the skills I have learned and the resources at my disposal – we will be ok, and in many instances, even comfortable.

So- TRY.  Baby steps.  Leap of faith.  Effort is always blessed.  Always.

Without further ado, (and, yes I know that was a lot of ado) here are some super yummy food storage recipes and ideas for you to try.  Because I got to figure out how to eat with nothing but a burner during our power outage, I’m going to point out some fantastic products for you to stock up on, in case you end up in that boat.  We are going for easy-peasy power-outage meals that only require one burner.

First off, I want to show you these awesome soups from Augason Farms.

Crown Canyon is their new soup brand and these were a huge hit with my entire family during this past power outage.  Hot, yummy, and as easy and mixing the packet and some water together.  We have also brought these with us on several camping/backpacking trips.  Lighter than their canned counterparts, and containing several servings, you definitely want to add some of these to your 72 hour kit and pantry.  The Cheesy Potato and Chicken Noodle have been our favorites.  My eleven year old frequently whips one of these up when he is hungry or babysitting.

We have a few of these 12 day emergency pails on hand, as well as the 72 hour ones.  They provide enough food, with a basic plan of what to eat when, for one person for 12 days.  You can buy them for 3 days, 12 days or 30 days.  I like these because they are great on the go, and take the stress of constantly trying to figure out what to eat next away.  These are perfect for short term disasters.

These entree in a can are also really great in a pinch, particularly if you are trying to feed a family, and don’t want to deal with (or lack the resources to deal) a messy prep and clean up.  These one can wonders come in several family favorites: chicken fettucini alfredo, beef teriyaki, chili macaroni, and more. Times calling for food storage tend to be stressful, and simplicity, along with comfort foods are a great way to take the edge off and reserve your energy for other issues.

And finally, how about some minestrone soup?

Minestrone Soup

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans or appx 2 cups cooked beans
1 can navy beans or appx 2 cups cooked
1 can tomato soup or Augason Farm’s Tomato Powder plus 1 1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup Augason Farm’s Spinach leaves
3 Tbs chicken bouillon
3 Tbs dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley
3 tsp dried oregano
4 cloves diced garlic
1/2 cup onions (or more if you love them)
2 cups water
1 cup pasta- I like the traditional shell pasta.

This is simple to make, filling and surprisingly meaty for a vegetarian meal.

So get started!  Get that pantry stocked, even if it is one can at a time.  And take advantage of the October sale at Augason Farms!  30% off Cocoas, Morning Moos and Soups!

Quick And Easy Food Storage Recipes To Try Today

  • July 16, 2013 4:59 pm

This has been one of my favorite meals lately.  It is simple and very good for you. It is also amazingly easy to make from your Augason Farms food storage basics!

Cajun Black Beans & Rice

1/3rd cup olive oil

1 cup dehydrated chopped onions

3 chopped bell peppers or dehydrated diced bell pepper

2 cups black beans

2 cups white rice

4 cans vegetable broth or water and chicken bouillon to taste

2 Bay leaves

Salt & pepper to taste



Pour the oil in your pan and add the onions.  Set them at a low simmer.  Add in your peppers (add a cup of water if you are using dehydrated peppers).  Let the mixture cook on low for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  This smells amazing!

Once your veggies are tender, add in your ready to eat black beans or canned black beans.

Bring your rice, broth and bay leaves to a boil, stirring occasionally until the rice is soft and all moisture has been absorbed.  Pick out the bay leaves. They add flavor during the cooking process but are not actually eaten.

Serve the beans and peppers over the rice and enjoy!  It’s fast, easy, vegan and tastes great.  This rice and beans is also a fabulous burrito filling, or wonderful used in fajitas!  I always make a big batch so we can do the meal one night and fajitas the next.



Leah’s Scalloped Potatoes

1 cup dehydrated onions

5 cups dehydrated potato slices or 8 medium peeled and sliced potatoes

1-2 cups chopped ham (this is really just personal preference, I tend to use lots)

1 pint heavy cream (no substitutions!)

1/4th cup butter sliced into pats

salt and pepper

This is a super fast, super easy, super yummy meal.  Get out your casserole dish.  (If you’re using dehydrated taters, put them and the onions in two cups of water and simmer gently until all water is absorbed).  Mix potatoes, ham and onions together, place in casserole pan.  Pour all of the cream over the mixture.  Never, ever substitute half and half or try to make this recipe healthier.  If you do, my grandmother will roll over in her grave, and rightly so.  Just have a smaller portion of the really good stuff.  Salt and pepper to taste. Place butter pats over the top, cover with tin foil and bake for about an hour at 350, or until the potatoes are tender and easy to break with a fork.  Enjoy!


Macaroni Goulash

2 cups macaroni noodles, boiled and drained

1/2 cup dehydrated onions

1lb ground beef or beef flavored vegetarian meat substitute

1 can or one cup prepared red kidney beans

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup cheese blend powder

1 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

Brown your hamburger and onions. Dump everything into a large skillet.  Heat on medium until thoroughly warmed and serve.  This one is a real kid pleaser.


I know food storage can be overwhelming.  You have to buy it, store it and figure out how to use it.  I hope these recipes help you start using these every day essentials in your menu plans.  Once you add in a few great food storage meals, you will find it is much easier to rotate through your pantry.  If your pantry isn’t as stocked as mine, and you are overwhelmed by the seeming impossibility of a solid, long term food storage, remember -one can at a time.  Don’t think you need to rush out and do it all in one day.  If you can budget out a few food storage items each month, you will eventually have a very stocked pantry and be protected in times of personal financial crisis as well as world food scarcity.  Economists have said recently that food is probably the very best thing you can invest in right now because prices and demand are skyrocketing.  A well stocked pantry brings peace of mind and security to your family.  Start now, start small, just START!

I Owe An Explaination To The People Of Petco

  • October 16, 2012 11:02 pm

For anyone shopping in the Rapid City Petco today who may have seen someone who looked like the world’s worst mother with three small children- 1 little girl in pink and two littler boys in striped sweaters- I would just like to clear something up.

one of my best bitches

I’m sure you couldn’t help but notice when the older boy, aged three and a half, ran excitedly up to the aquariums shouting, “Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Mommy! Mommy! Bitch!!!!!!”  And I’m sure that your horror at this massive breech of social decorum turned to all out disbelief when the mother in question, rather than looking properly abashed and chastising her child, began to laugh, hysterically, while the child continued to spout profanities.

Said three year old has a severe speech delay.  And said mother has a mildly irreverent sense of humor and, when it’s all said and done, would rather laugh than cry.

Bitch in Gabriel-ese is actually fish.

We have three aquariums at home.

I hear that word ALL. DAY. LONG.

At least he’s not mispronouncing the word truck.

I’m Alive

  • July 11, 2012 6:10 pm

It has been a busy summer so far- two vacations to see both sets of grandparents and now back home and trying to settle back in to a routine (or non-routine, as it were ha!). I have a few stories to tell, but need to find the quiet and calm long enough to sit down and write for a while.  Just wanted to leave an update for now.

Fishtail Doll Braids

  • June 7, 2012 10:39 pm

double fishtail braids modeled by Peony

Maggie likes to have me do her dolly’s hair, and is forever requesting more and more complex styles, far above the usual pony tails and simple braids.  I don’t mind this because I actually find doing doll hair really relaxing, which might be kind of weird, but what can you do?  I also like to keep her dolls’ hair styled because dolls with crazy, free flowing locks usually turn into dolls with nasty, matted, broken, snarl bombs that take forever to de-tangle and de-crud. I fix Maggie’s bum length blonde hair for the exact same reason.

Doll hair is different from people hair in that is typically doesn’t come straight out of the scalp, but is often sewn in in layers, and that can make it challenging to translate your usual hair-dos, because when you pull hair from one area, it exposes the “scalp”.  It can look particularly weird on dolls with yarn locks, like this pretty Bamboletta. I’ve sat down and figured out a few ways to make some fun styles work, and I figured, what the heck- my blog readers are used to me being totally random-so I’ll just do a post or three on some of these styles I’ve worked up while doing my mothering duty.

I’m going to start with this fishtail braid, because it is quite simple, but looks neat enough to make people wonder how you did it.  I do Maggie’s hair like this from time to time.  The main trick is to take just a very small amount of hair from the back each time.  I would love to see how this looks on a doll with rainbow tresses!

Start by getting a firm grip on your doll.  My chubby thighs work great for this.  Then part your doll’s hair down the center using your fingers, and work with just one section at a time. You can see how the yarn is stitched in there in layers that you don’t really want to have showing.  There is a layer dead center of the forehead, at the “ear” and one right in the middle. On a people-style fishtail braid, you would grab a huge section of hair, divide it all into two and go to town, on this, you need to be a little more strategic, and start off with a bit of a french braid style fishtail.  Take a small amount of hair on each side, and divide the center into two equal parts, as shown above.

At this point, you want to grab a very small amount of hair from one side (2-3 strands of yarn) and cross it over to the other hand.

Then do it again but from the other side.  Don’t worry if this looks odd now, it takes a few repetitions to make this start looking like a braid.

Keep taking just a little hair from one side and crossing it over into your other hand, left hair to right hand, right hair to left hand. Your hands will slowly have more hair in them with each repetition.

It won’t take too long before you see the fishtail pattern, and all the seams are hidden under the pretty braid.  You can decide now if you want to fishtail all the way to the ends, or if you just want to stylishly pull the front back.  I like to just do the front.

Once you get a good start, you will realize that you are holding two very large hunks of hair, and that there isn’t much to cover the seams in the back, on top of which, your braids are getting a little chunky and slightly out of control. Just reach underneath (while keeping the strands separated) and gently pull the bottom half of the hair away from the braid, as shown.  This will make her hair much fuller looking, and cover seam lines.

Doesn’t she look pretty?  Nice and full in the back, but spunky and ready for action in the front!

Up next- french braided messy buns- or as we like to call it, “Flower Girl Hair”.



  • March 29, 2012 7:08 pm
Anyone want to recommend a good concealer?  Holy under eye circles, Batman

I stink at resting.  I have the type of brain that doesn’t like to slow down or zone out, and the type of body that will refuse to sleep at night if it sleeps during the day.  Add that to two sick kids home for much of the past few days, and a type A personality that can’t stand watching things pile up and I’m going crazy.

Also, I am in pain, because I am doing too much, even though too much happens to be the bare minimum for parenting a three year old.  Yes, I have had help. I just haven’t had a full me replacement, or gained the ability to clone myself (if I had one super-power, that would be it), so I’m still doing too much.  I’m trying not to.  I really am.  This picture is from the hour and a half I spent laying down yesterday thinking of all the stuff I could be doing if resting weren’t what I was supposed to be doing.

I am so grateful for the people who have come and taken my kids and picked up some slack around the house; without them I wouldn’t just be annoyed and tired and hurting- I would be sobbing, annoyed out of my mind and totally exhausted and hurting even more.  There’s always a worse scenario, right?

I’m also bad at resting because busy is my best coping skill. Tired? Frustrated? Grieving? Depressed? Dust off your boots and get to work!  Serve someone else! Go clean something! Make something, help something, DO ANYTHING!

Most of the time, frenetically charging from one thing to another and filling my life so full of tasks and to do lists that I don’t have time to feel any sort of hurt or pain or deep seated frustration works for me. The counsel to “forget yourself and get to work” is sound advice.  Many times a case of boredom or simple melancholia can be cured by looking around and seeing what needs doing and doing it.  Work is a blessing- serving others serves our own well being. The Savior didn’t just promote loving and serving your fellow man to help others- it was advice given to heal us and make us more complete in the process.  Selfish people are not happy people.

That being acknowledged, there needs to be some Mary/Martha balance as well.  There was nothing wrong with Martha serving and preparing her home for the guests that came to hear the Master teach.  She was accomplishing wonderful things- the little things that make a house a home and make us walk in and feel welcomed and at rest. Someone has to work hard to provide that rest, and Martha’s efforts were a gift to all around her.  I love Martha very much.

But Mary’s ability to embrace stillness and partake of the quiet reflection and counsel offered to her, even if it meant the dinner got cold, and the floors were dirty and her sister was peeved with her is also a talent.  We need to learn to rest and renew, and we need quiet time alone so we can hear what our bodies and our hearts and the Spirit is trying to tell us. We need that time alone with our thoughts, even when being alone with our thoughts seems like entering dangerous territory. We cannot be healed, changed, or made better without it.  Sometimes feeling like you’re falling apart is a good thing, because it means you can give God a chance to put you back together even better than you were before.

Ultimately, (and yes, I am writing this to the convincing of myself, in case you are wondering) it boils down to charity. This quote comes to mind,

“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet.  Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.” -Marvin Ashton

It is much easier for me to extend charity to someone else than it is for me to give it to myself, even though I am in dire need of it. I need to be just as patient with myself as I know a good friend would be with me, accepting my weaknesses and shortcomings, patiently refusing to become offended by my own limitations and generously offering time, experience and rest until I can do better.

Charity being a refusal to take advantage of someone else’s weakness rings especially true, because I have felt spiritually and emotionally picked on over the past few months of ups and downs.  A wise friend of mine pointed out that Satan loves to hit us when we are down. When we are weakened in any way, he stands a slightly better chance of messing with us, so of course things were going to seem just a bit more difficult and negative, and of course my ability to cope wasn’t going to be as shatterproof as it might typically be.  Because he is not a gentleman, and is the fundamental opposite to charity-which, according to the New Testament is the pure love of Christ- he certainly isn’t going to fight fair.

It really is good warfare.  A person can be pretty effectively beat if you simply get her to bow to the weapon of discouragement.

I’m so grateful the Savior is always there, extending His loving assistance, charitable to the end, even when we don’t really deserve it.  I’m so grateful His is the power to win, and that we can enter into His rest in this life and in the next.

Pinewood Derby

  • March 28, 2012 2:56 pm

I hated last year’s cub scout pinewood derby.  It was our first year and we had no idea what we were doing. And Jonas’ car lost every, single race it was in.

This year, we were ready. Jonas and I built this car- and it was a winner!  To top off the cool design, we knew about things like weights and graphite- helpful tools.

Jonas was ready to race!

So were a lot o other people! This was two wards worth of cub scouts racing for the prize!

Everyone was interested, but the little car loving boys like Gabe were the most eager spectators. Notice how Gabe happens to be dressed exactly a like another little towhead?  I had a seriously hard time keeping track of my kid that night- I kept going after the wrong boy!

Jonas placed in fourth place and won a cute trophy that President Schmidtlein made for the boys. He felt like a million bucks, going home triumphant- and he is already excited for next year’s derby!

That Other Thing They Don’t Mention Much About Hysterectomies

  • March 20, 2012 1:47 pm

Did you know that when you have a hysterectomy, even one where you leave the ovaries so you don’t get thrown into instant menopause, you still turn into a big hormonal wreck?

It’s true.

And it sucks.

I have been so off the past few weeks. I can’t sleep. I have hot flashes and cold sweats. I have at least ten new pimples. I laid in bed and sobbed for an hour straight at midnight the other night, because I’m just that tired, and that over this whole one-problem-after-another-life I’ve been leading. Add that to feeling totally alone and a little sucker punched by the Universe, and some of this hysterical, snot producing, ugly cry makes sense. Then I wake up in the morning, shaking my head in exasperation, wondering where that strong, sensible, faithful, hopeful person I used to know went, wondering who this new person with her eyes swollen half shut is, and when she’ll leave.

I have seriously considered doing things that are crazy. Maybe I’ll leave my religion. Maybe I’ll get a divorce. Maybe I just don’t care about my family. Maybe I’ll run away. Maybe I’ll go get totally drunk and just see what happens. Maybe I’ll take all those pills at once. Maybe I’ll just give up. We’re talking dark, wild impulses and suggestions that are so fundamentally opposite of who I am and have always been that it is at once terrifying, and yet, thankfully, insane enough for me to spot the hormones at play. What an odd thing to be grateful for. At least I’m ridiculous enough to realize it, eh?

I spent days wrapped up in my brain, fixated on what ifs and changes, afraid by how empowered these hormones made me feel to do all the wrong things- make all the wrong choices.

So I temporarily rescinded my life-altering decision making privileges.

And I shut my mouth to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.

Apparently, your ovaries can go into shock and just forget to work for awhile or go to work overtime. Add that on top of a pregnancy and a miscarriage all in the space of a few months and well. . .I definitely need to be cut some slack.

The past few weeks have been really hard.  But people don’t mention the emotional side of this recovery. They say you might mourn your womb, your childbearing ability, or somehow feel less feminine. They forget to mention the fact that you may, and likely will, feel like you are losing your mind for awhile.

Well, it is true. And it is normal. And they say it passes.

I am feeling a lot more myself now, but the first two weeks were like a trip through the looking glass, into the bell jar all via an upside down roller coaster.

I’m mostly ok now. Happy again with a lot less dramatic swings.  But I wanted to put this out there in case someone else felt the same way and needed to know she was ok, and normal, and that it does pass.

(If you are new here, and want the whole story click here: my hysterectomy story).

What It Looks Like

  • March 19, 2012 2:45 pm

Got new patio furniture garage sale-ing! I'm going to give it a new coat of lacquer, and I've already started washing the cushions. It is going to look brand new by the time I'm done with it! Then I'm going to add flowers, planters and pots and actually like my back patio. Chris and I got home from church on Sunday and crashed out here- it was almost 80 degrees!

Mom and her Daisy Dog. I love Daisy- she is so well trained and sweet and funny. My mom is the dog whisperer. Caesar Milan should watch and learn.

Watson all happy in his kennel. I am not a dog whisperer at all, and this guy still needs to learn to mind his manners. He is slowly getting there. I wish my mom would come back for a month!

Horribly Americanized "fish and chips" that I ate on St. Patty's Day Eve at an Irish pub. Tasted fine, but you expect more from a place called Dublin's, ya know?

Angel Jovibarba heuffelii- one of my absolute favorite plants. Beauty, no?

Watson getting loved on by Chris. I am pretty sure we could wrap Watson's tongue all the way around his head.

I don’t usually like cell phone photos, but I got a new window’s phone and it has some decent capabilities, and a fun photo app, so with my attempts to take more photos, it has been utilized a lot more.  This is what it looks like at our house with the kids out of town.  The pic of my mom is from when she was here before, but aside from that, it is just me and Chris, and we are enjoying that.

I think we should talk someone into taking our kids for a week or two every year- this has been a good little marriage retreat at home. It is nice to have the time and energy to actually see someone. Usually, I feel like we are just dancing around each other, each juggling our seventeen plates, trying to keep the kids happy and moving forward.

I feel like there is hope for retirement, and we might be ok with all the kids gone. Ha!


My Companion

  • March 16, 2012 4:29 pm

Watson is my only buddy these days.  The kids have gone off to grandma’s house for a two week fun fest (well, for the kids, I’m sure it will be a cardio endurance marathon for the grandparents). Chris’s squadron is having yet another inspection and he got switched to nights for the week, so it’s just been me and my big puppy.

Watson has only learned a few good discipline things, and so this is a bit challenging since I can’t use anything but gentle persuasion on him, being so physically incapacitated. The good news is that he is minding his manners pretty well for a puppy and slowly getting better at a few of his obedience tasks, and gaining baby steps toward emotional control.  His sit and stay are very good, and his fetching skills are improving. I had him fetching really well awhile ago, but then he figured out how much fun it was to have the kids chase him to get the toy back, and that totally derailed his progress.  I refuse to chase him at all, and he does love having his toy thrown so we are making good progress there this week.  We are also trying to improve his desire to come when called.  He did great with that at the beginning, but has hit that 6 month boundary pushing stage.  I think I just need a pocket full of treats and we will be good.

I actually ran out of training treats, so I may venture out tomorrow if I feel up to it (I’m really drained today) and go to Runnings.  They have the best training treats! And I love Farm and Fleet stores, always have.

Watson has been a lucky boy with the kids gone. Since I have very little else to focus on, he has been out more, and almost every time I leave the house, I come back with a new treat.  Today he got the big blue toy in his mouth.  He loves it!

Watson smelled horrible, and has for a few days now, so this morning I just put him in the shower with me and gave him a scrub down.  It was only minimally challenging for me.  Trying to wash him bending over the tub while convincing him to stay in the tub would way been way to much physical strain for me, but he is very well behaved in a shower and now he smells like strawberries and happiness, so he is getting cuddled more.

I wish I was stronger so we could leash train, but it is just gong to have to wait a few weeks. We are still enjoying the gorgeous 70 degree weather- I put a chair in the backyard and I just sit there and throw stuff for him to fetch. It is so beautiful outside!

Watson is also great company because every time he hears a strange noise the hair on his back goes up and he gets loud and very defensive. He’s a little scary, but at least I know he’s ready to take anyone out who tries to get me. My childhood springer spaniel, Lizzie, was the same way. Best of fun and friendship, but if anyone threatened me- they got an attack dog in their face. We found this out one day when my younger brother and I were play fighting.  He lunged at me and suddenly Lizzie jumped up and bit him in the butt!  Not hard, mind you, but hard enough to serve as a very clear warning. It was so out of character that my parents told Bernie to go for me again, and Lizzie had to be restrained from taking him down. It was clear that I was her person. Mom never worried about me going for a walk after that, “Just take Lizzie!”

Lizzie is the reason why we got Watson. He has some big paws to fill.  I think he can do it. He’s already got the sad eyes down.