Looking Back, Looking Forward

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“Whether we want them or not, the New Year will bring new challenges;

whether we seize them or not, the New Year will bring new opportunities. ” ~Michael Josephson

It is that time of year when we look back, and we look forward. Those of us who strive to prepare, look at what we have accomplished and perhaps set new goals. Last week, my son and I did an inventory of our prepared pantry. I had bought 50 lbs of rice at a discount store, and we bagged them in Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber, and then sealed them in buckets.  This chore has been on my “to do” list for months, so it felt good to get it done! We organized, moved some things, and put it all into a computer spread sheet and came up with how much food we had and how long it would last. This year we made several wonderful additions:

  • We purchased a grain mill and learned how to grind our own wheat. We bought one that wasn’t electric, and while it would be great with a grid down scenario, it just takes way too long to make this a part of our routine. Next year we hope to buy an electric one.  We made muffins with our grain, and the freshness and the way it filled you up for the entire morning was wonderful. I want this to be a part of my routine, and truth is, I won’t grind the wheat by hand unless I was in a grid down situation. But it does feel really great to know we have it!
  • I started a food storage business, Thrive Life. It was not an easy decision for me, in the past I have kept my food storage to myself, but because I believe preparation must be a way of life and something we all need to consider doing, I decided to be open about it, and sell the products. The surprise for me was how the quality of the food is so much better than what I purchase at the store! We are now incorporating the freeze-dried foods into our everyday pantry and finding it not only cost-effective but convenient.
  • The disaster in the Philippines was a wake-up call for me to realize that we had neglected water preparation. We live close to a river, so while we do have a water source, it would need to be purified. I bought us a water purifier and gave it a try with the water from the river. I must say, it was good! I just purchased a 55 gallon water system  as well. It is on sale this month, for $87.89, it is a great deal!  (The sale continues through Jan. 20, I need to put this order in through the back office for the sale price, so leave me a message if you are interested.) I also learned a lesson on storing water jugs on their side…we had a leak in one and it caused significant damage in our pantry. Now I will store the water in our shed. If it leaks, you’ve got a problem, especially if you have laminate flooring.

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Those are just a few of our highlights. For next year, I have set some goals:

  • Host monthly cooking classes with Thrive Foods. For January, I am going to show how to make soups, develop some great recipes, and share more how we can “use what we store, store what we use.”
  • This year I hope to get my daughter and her family set up with their prepared pantry. Money is very limited for them, but there are some things I believe anyone can do on a limited budget.
  • I want to put together some jar meals, and have just ordered a book Meals in a Jar to help me get started. One I learned from having our kitchen torn apart, there are times when cooking is just too hard. I can see how in a disaster, this would be the case. For these meals, I simply add water and heat them up. I am looking forward to trying these recipes!
  • I also want to share more of these ideas with you here on the blog. I appreciate your feedback and comments, this helps me to know if what I am sharing is a help to you.

IMG_7121-aOn a rainy cold day, just before Christmas, I saw a young woman by the side of the road holding a sign that said, Out of money, Out of gas, please help me. I was surprised, we live in a suburban setting, and while we don’t see this often, we have been seeing it more and more. Truthfully, I rarely give to people on the side of road like this, but there was something about this young woman that I just couldn’t shake. I had a gift card we received from the union to a local grocery store and so I stopped and she ran over, and I gave it to her. In her face I saw three things… relief, shame, and gratefulness. I cried all the way home.  This is why we prepare, this is why we look forward, this is why we look back on what we have accomplished. And everyday, we pause and we give thanks.

Now tell me, what have you been accomplished this past year, and what are you plans for 2014?