Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas

As I am slow this year with Christmas Cards, and they just might not get to you before Christmas, I thought I might post my card here, just in case.

Wright Family Life Lessons of 2010
Can you guess the pupil?

Severe sleep apnea bad, CPAP good
Writing petitions and gathering 450 signatures is exciting
Facebook is Satan*s plan to waste our free time
On occasion, teachers don*t like it when you read a lot
Good things come after a week at camp, like a new kitten, Miso, and a new fridge
When playing tag around a stream bed, the stepping stone is not always where you remember
School is friends, tiring, annoying, *perfect*, busy
Locked keys in car on your first date is cause for a lifetime of teasing
M.L. Foreman, Michael Scott, Connie Willis, and Brandon Mull are great authors
Doing a marathon is easy*on a bike
The Mentalist, Star Trek, White Collar, Adventure Time, Pretender, Avengers, Dr. Who, Castle, Burn Notice, Eureka and No Ordinary Family are fun TV shows
Horton can hear a Who, and sing and dance in Seussical*and gamble in Guys and Dolls
Older, independent Sushi cats do not appreciate new kittens
Many hours installing new perennial garden leads to a Master Gardener Course
Once again, minor disaster in basement brings home improvements
Letting go of the rope too soon when repelling is stupid
Missing a scout campout is a relief
Some Sunday School classes will never be talked about in General Conference
Blogging about bizarre family food storage experiments brings interesting results (and a year*s supply of food lasts at least one month!)
Ramen noodles and Cologne are both emergency necessities
Getting the sportsmanship award in church volleyball is cooler than it sounds
Dad*s Costco Card + impersonation skills = food court hot dogs

Friends, Family and Faith are the center of our lives.

Merry Christmas!

Michael Shannon James John Katie Ben

Friday, October 22, 2010

Final LAWKI Post


Final Thoughts

September 26th

I had hoped that a week or two would give me more perspective on the whole LAWKI experiment. Unfortunately, I think that life is so busy that it already feels like it was about 3 months ago that we did this crazy thing.

A few answers for questions asked of us:

· No one lost any weight. We still had plenty to eat, including the ability to eat lots of unhealthy stuff. While we had the will power not to food shop, I don’t know that that helped the eating will power, at least on my part.

· We did not really save any money. Although we did not spend our normal food budget money during that month, except on Smith’s case lot sale, we sure spent it all last week. $300 at Costco filled our fridges nicely! Most of that was just replacing fresh foods, but there was some stocking up of things that I knew we needed more of in storage.

· We did get our flu shots on Monday, and went to Arctic Circle for dinner and shakes after that. I was not feeling well and everything tasted gross to me, but the kids were in heaven. I did enjoy my Costco hotdog when I went Tuesday.

The final day of LAWKI Month was an interesting one here in West Jordan. We got home from church around 3 pm and I was in the kitchen for the next few hours. As I was cooking, it became abundantly clear that there was a fire burning somewhere close. The smell became overpowering and the sky had a weird yellow/orange tint to it. I could not see the fire from my house, but soon found on the news that the mountain side was burning in Herriman. That is about 8-10 miles from my home. By dark, the smoke was overpowering, even in our house. I felt like I had been sitting next to a campfire for 2 days.

I spent the later part of the night watching the news coverage of the fire. It was a sober reminder of how quickly life could change. We, like most people, thought of what we would do if we got the 10 minute evacuation order that so many thousands of people got. Having just practiced it, we felt pretty good about it. However, we also learned a few things from it. It seemed that everyone who was interviewed said that the message they got from city officials/fire department was to get their important medications and get out. When we thought that through, we realized that we do not have our prescription medications in our 72-hour kits, nor in our travel bags that we had just decided to include in our evacuation plans. Michael has now put a week supply of medication in both of his bags and I will do so when I get my brain working.

It was also interesting to see the pet situation. I read a fantastic book about a year and a half ago called The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley. It was the first time I remember hearing that so many people had stayed behind in Hurricane Katrina because they did not want to leave their pets. I always just planned to leave plenty of food and water out for them and leave them behind. Now it seems that people are told to plan on taking them with us in an evacuation. Emergency shelters are even supposed to have a plan for people’s pets. So, at a garage sale on Saturday, I bought another pet travel carrier thing. This one is even big enough for a small litter box, if it came to that. It would not be so much fun to catch both cats and put them in carriers and then have them in the car with us. I don’t think that we could get out of the house quit so fast if we were dealing with cats.

Of course, a big fire like that wiping out the neighborhood would really put a damper on our food storage situation. It would either be all thoroughly cooked, or soaked in the prevention of a fire. Here is hoping and praying that that never happens.

The Tuesday after LAWKI Month ended, I had the great opportunity to sit down with a neighbor and talk about preparedness and food storage. She moved to Utah about 10 years ago and was not previously familiar with the Mormon traditions of food storage. It was fun to chat with her and show-and-tell about this. I am not sure how helpful it was to her, but I enjoyed it. Towards the end, she asked a question, which I will now ask all of you, and would love to hear what you have to say about it. She asked why the official position of the Church on food storage has gone from 2 years to 1 year to now 3 months of the food you regularly eat and a year of the grains and beans if possible. I gave her my answer, which I am purposefully not saying here because I want to get your answers untainted by mine. If you have a minute, please help me out here.

October 22, 2010

Yes, a month later…

Finishing this has been on my to-do list and finally surfaced to the top part. School has kicked up a notch, school volunteer responsibilities have increased, I am taking the Master Gardener course and most days I am running all the time. How did I ever find time to make tortillas from scratch and then journal about it?!

It is hard to sum up LAWKI Month. If I were to write what I am feeling now, it would be a sentimental review of modern conveniences, with a nod to our great friends and family...kind of an early Thanksgiving moment. I have no regrets about doing LAWKI month, and am excited for the new things we did and tried. I will end this LAWKI blog with the following experience/thought.

I have had such an abundance of tomatoes that I did salsa one more time, and then gave away the final 50+ tomatoes this week so I would not have to look at them anymore. I guess with the snow and cold coming this weekend that will be the end of it. I also did 3 rounds of applesauce, getting about 24 Quarts of it total. What a process. I am not converted to canning. While I enjoy the novelty of the first batch each year, it sure gets old fast. The apples were free, and so were my jars, so it was a matter of lids, a few cups of sugar, and my time. It’s that time thing that is the biggest expense.

When I was whining about that to Michael, he reminded me of the thing that finally pushed us to do the whole LAWKI Month. We had debated it, wondered about it, schemed about it, talked ourselves into and out of it for a long time. We did not really decide until the first of August to go through with it. My Sun Oven, which I got on my birthday the end of July, came with a cook book: The Morning Hill Solar Cookery Book by Jennifer Stein Barker. It is one of those self-published books, written from a very “granola” point of view. (It is also a vegetarian cookbook, so it does not cover all aspects of solar cooking.) The author and her husband live in the mountains of Oregon in a small cabin, with all electricity coming from solar panels. They live off what they can grow in their three acre organic garden, which is a lot of ingenuity and hard work, considering they live at such a high elevation that their growing season is a matter of days and weeks instead of months. The cookbook has a few stories from their gardening experiences in it. After sharing one story, the author wrote the following, which has stayed with me since I first read it, and is, in the end, what pushed us that last little bit to do LAWKI Month:

“Now when Lance says, “What do you think of this idea? Shall I try it?” I say, “Sure, go ahead!” and I think how little we have to lose, and how much we have to gain. A few plants or a day’s work is a small price to pay when our most important harvest is knowledge.”

So when Michael rides his bike 5 miles to work, stands for 13 hours filling prescriptions, and then rides his bike uphill the long 5 miles home, or I spend countless hours of the spring and summer gardening and then 5 hours canning 12 pints of salsa that would cost $10 to buy at the store, or we go off the deep end and do something like LAWKI Month, we remind ourselves that it is but a small price to pay when our most important harvest is knowledge.

Three cheers for an abundant harvest!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Last Day and Final Survey Results

LAWKI Day 31

September 19, 2010

Breakfast: Ben made waffles

Lunch: snacks, sandwiches after church

Dinner: tacos, tortillas, refried beans, horrible Mexican rice

Well, I knew I could not do LAWKI month if I did not try to cook beans at least once. Even though we ate canned ones many times, I needed to get over the psychological barrier of starting from the dried bean. I soaked them Friday night and then cooked them on Saturday. On Sunday, I made refried beans. A friend talked me through how her mother-in-law made them and I started out relatively confidant. It did not last for long. The recipe said I could add more water if necessary, but I felt like I was adding too much. And no matter how long I mashed them and fried the, the skins were still in big chunky pieces. I think they tasted okay, but I was not a fan of the consistency, and I have tasted much better. I am thinking of asking my favorite Mexican restaurant if they give out recipes. As for the Mexican Rice, let me just say that making it with Oriental style sticky rice ruined it before anything else could.

Things overheard in my house in the last 24 hours:

“We have real milk?”

“My trusty egg pan, I have missed you.”

“Yes! It’s real milk!”

“Grapes! Oh yum, oh yum.”

“Hey mom, did you forget what a grocery store looks like?”

Yes, we are done with LAWKI Month. There was much rejoicing.

Final LAWKI Family Survey:

What 3 words would you use to describe your final thoughts on LAWKI month:

Positive, thought-provoking, Done!; Annoying, mean, cruel; Over Over Over; Good, French Fries!!!, Skim Milk!; I hate quizzes; Wasteful, neutral, stupid

What food did you miss the most:

Milk; meat; Eggs! Chocolate Milk!; Beef, Fast Food; Cookies; Fresh chicken, salad, the potential foods from fresh ground beef

What non-food thing did you miss the most?

Freedom, quick dinners; Shopping; Eating out; The Fast Food Drive Thru; Nothing; Driving to church.

What lessons do you think we learned from LAWKI Month?

None; Be grateful; We have a lot of food; That we can adapt, how much eating out is a part of socializing; How to make powdered eggs; Learned to try new recipes and that sometimes they don’t work on the first try, how glad I am to live at this point in time with modern conveniences such as electricity, dishwashers, microwaves, stove/oven, abundant clean water, farmers who grow my food so gardening can be a hobby instead of a way of life.

Did you eat all of your Crazy Shopping Day Food? When did you eat it?

No-ate my Fritos early, potato chips last few days, and did not open the pretzels; No-ate my puddings, but did not use all of the Ramen; No-still had tortillas and Nutella and string cheese (this brand was gross!) left over; No; Nope, but I did not buy any; Yes, finished my Fuze drinks yesterday.

Would you buy the same things again? What would you get instead?

Same drinks but Ramen instead of rice cakes; Yeah, but better stuff (cologne); No, I wouldn’t buy Ramen, I would buy my own eggs!; I would not get tortillas (Shannon can make them J), but I would buy French fries or other baked snacky items; I would get more pudding cups; I was happy about the chips and sour cream, but I would have bought beef and chicken.

What did you hate eating and would never eat again, even if you were starving?

Canned meats all mixed up in things; Tuna casserole, Fried zucchini; Nothing; Rice, canned chicken, nothing I would not eat if I was starving; Beans; Tuna casserole.

What did you like eating and would not mind having, even if it was not LAWKI Month?

Powdered chocolate milk; tortillas; Potatoes fried with bacon; everything; tortillas, homemade pita and tortillas, spam is a tolerable substitute.

What surprised you the most about LAWKI Month?

The traditions of food, the psychology of food; The amount of food we have; How good powdered milk can be; We had regular meals all month; Nothing; How good powdered chocolate milk tastes.

On a scale of 1-10, how crazy are your parents/we for doing this?


On a scale of 1-10, how angry are you to participate in this?

2 (yes! The 10 was finally a 1!)

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you think this affected life?


On a scale of 1-10, how much did LAWKI Month worry you? What worried you?


Worries: worried about being “stumped” about what to cook, worried about giving up or running out of an essential thing that would make us quit; I was a 9 at the start; I was worried we would have to eat rice everyday.

On a scale of 1-10, how much would you want to try this again?

5.5 (2-10s, 2-1s, a 5 and a 6)

On a scale of 1-10, how prepared do you think our family is for an emergency? Do you think LAWKI affected your answer?

8.8 (yes, yes, kind of, yes-but I can see more clearly the holes so it is hard to judge)

I am going to post this much now. It is only 4 days late already. I do have more thoughts I want to write, but that may be another day or two until I get to that. Thanks for the comments and ideas you have shared. They have been one of the highlights of this month.

This was in yesterday's paper (Sept 22). It made me think of when I went downstairs mid-LAWKI Month and discovered that the kids had gone through all of the sodas in the mini fridge and most of the microwave popcorn.

Pearls Before Swine

Pearls Before Swine

And, because I figured out how to do this, I wanted to put this strip in from September 20th. It is commonly stated at our house, and mentioned in a post last week, that all foods can be improved by adding either cream, butter or cheese.

Pearls Before Swine

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Picture of the main part of the fridge: some salsa (no more chips), sour cream, yeast, left over spaghetti sauce, enchiladas, a few peaches, some grated cheese, and some apples from neighbors. The outside fridge has 3 things of cream cheese left.

LAWKI Day 29

September 25, 2010

Breakfast: The last 5 eggs, scrambled (I did not have any because I ate the stuff yesterday)

Lunch: K-school, M-his crazy shopping tortillas with peanut butter and Nuttela, S-leftover rice casserole, crackers & tuna

Dinner: John & Ben on camp out, Ramen and Spaghettios, Angel Hair pasta and leftover sauce or butter

We went shopping for James’ birthday present at Smith’s Marketplace. I had done a bit of preview shopping the day before. Both times it was right before lunch that I left. As I was walking out the door yesterday, I had the thought that I would probably get hungry while I was out, and that I would want to stop and buy something to eat. My first counter thought was that I would not go to a fast food restaurant, but I could just grab something at the store. Then I realized I couldn’t do that either. So, I turned around and went back in and ate lunch.

I have heard plenty of times that you should never shop hungry because you will buy more, and I agreed with this before LAWKI month. However, being both very contented hunger wise, and being hyper-sensitive about shopping, it was remarkable how dispassionate I was when I went through the case-lot sale things again. There was no emotion tied to it, it was more of a likable chore than anything else. I did look fondly toward the produce section of the store, but it was easy to tell myself that it is only next week and I can go shop there.

True confessions here: I am a fan of Survivor. I have watched, off and on, for the last 20 seasons, and now have 2 kids watching with me. Ben is totally into it, hoping it will still be around when he is 18. I remember back in the first season or two, they spent a lot more air time talking about food, what they missed, craved and how hungry they were. The food reward challenges seemed even more important then. (I think now they spend more time back stabbing each other and showing how spoiled and arrogant the contestants are.) I have thought about that some during LAWKI. Do I spend all of my time obsessing about this? Do I talk about it too much with people? Are my friend and neighbors happy that we are in the final days?

Cream cheese bars and cookie bars, made with powdered eggs

We made 3 kinds of treats today: Michael and Katie made caramel covered puffy treats and I made chocolate chip cookie bars and cream cheese bars for the funeral dinner. Both of my desserts were made with powdered eggs. There was no discernible difference in them. I still had butter from the freezer. I am sure I could make both with shortening instead of the butter, but boy did the butter taste good in them. Once again, I think that dairy products such as butter, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, whipping cream, etc, are the group of food that I would miss most. I dare you to name a food that cannot be improved by one of those things. I could live vegetarian if I had no other choice, but living vegan would not be worth it. (The author who came up with LAWKI Month, eats vegan most of the time. She wrote in her experiences about LAWKI that by the end, she was craving enough of the food they had run out of that she no longer cared if she was eating vegan, and that she was certain that eventually she would reach a point where Fluffy would look good.)

LAWKI Day 30

September 18, 2010

Breakfast: Boys-scout camp, others-?

Lunch: Fresh baked bread, everyone just ate what they wanted and could find before and after the funeral

Dinner: Hawaiian Haystacks with friends

Michael came up with the idea of Hawaiian Haystacks. It really is a good food storage meal, rice with chicken sauce and then cans of pineapple, mandarin oranges, olives, etc., with fresh tomatoes. Our friends brought the Chinese noodles, celery, almonds, coconut and some ice cream, bananas and toppings to go with the left over dessert bars. I kept the canned chicken separate until the last possible minute and then mixed them together gently. It stayed as chunks instead of mushing up in the sauce and that really helped it taste a bit better. I could eat that again for dinner today. It was nice to have an easier meal that was yummy, and nice to have a new meal to put on the food storage meal rotation.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Craziness and Sadness

LAWKI Day 26

September 14, 2010

Breakfast: Oatmeal (pretty much panned by the kids)

Lunch: Kids-school, M&S-?

Dinner: Spaghetti and Meatballs, homemade breadsticks

This was one crazy busy day, with 2 evening school meetings and 1 church one where the Relief Society was coming to see the puzzle on the wall and the new cabinets in the basement. As I am writing this 2 days later, I just don’t remember much.

LAWKI Day 27

September 15, 2010

Today was a sad day. Barry Diamond, the 1st Counselor in my ward’s Bishopric, died after a 8 month battle with cancer. He was just 51. I found that I wanted to cook and eat all day, which is what I pretty much did. It seems callous to keep writing about something so dumb as LAWKI Month when a real tragedy has touched so many in my circle. It also takes me back to Michael’s cancer and makes so much of our daily business and “struggles” so unimportant.

As I sat at my desk pondering things, I distracted myself with trying to clean up my computer files a bi. I found a file in my recipes that was titled “main dishes I want to try.” One was a ham (spam), rice, and broccoli casserole. I had a bit of rice in the fridge, and I knew I still had a bit of frozen broccoli left so I decided to try that. It called for the broccoli to be frozen still as it was put into the oven. I mixed it all in a glass pan, thinking I would just put it in the fridge until the kids got home from school and then bake it.

Just before I put the plastic wrap on, I looked over into the family room and saw the Sun Oven there. I switched it to a round Corel dish with a lid and put it in the Sun Oven instead. I have my back “porch,” all 9 sq of it, and that is where I put my Sun Oven. It was about 11:30 when I stuck it out there, and due to the angle of the sun and height of my house, it was still in the shade. I pointed it toward where I thought it would get the most in the next few hours and left it. It was probably about 2 before I checked it again, only to find that the sky had a very wispy thin cloud cover and the oven was barely at 200 degrees. I forgot about it again until about 3pm, and when I checked it this time, I could tell the broccoli was turning an unappetizing brown color. It was a bit sunnier, but still only about 230 degrees.

I decided to pull it out and see how it looked and felt. When I opened the lid, it was very hot and completely warmed through. The cheese had melted and the flavors blended. The Spam was really quite good in this. While the broccoli on the top of the casserole was brown and not pretty to see, it was perfectly cooked through, as was the all of the casserole. This really turned out well, and I ate bites from the bowl for the next 3 hours. All of the kids tried bites of it, but none of them really liked it much. Michael did not try it, but will take it in his lunch for tomorrow. Funny how in the end, this was 4-1 against it taste wise, but because I am the 1 for it, I think it was a success. I am such a control freak.

James had to make cinnamon rolls for his scouts tonight. We did the sour cream cinnamon rolls that are to die for. It was worth using the last bits of sour cream (minus the one I have) for these. He actually did most of the making on these, until he had to go early and I finished rolling the last batches out. I wonder how I could “sour” milk to make these without sour cream and how easy it would be to make with oil instead of butter. I am just grateful for the fact that cream cheese lasts for 4-6 months in the fridge and butter indefinitely in the freezer. That is my kind of food storage.

Breakfast: kids-cereal, toast M-? S-fried egg and bacon sandwich (after everyone was gone, shame on me for not sharing)

Lunch: kids-school, M-at work, lunch from home, S-BLT (did I mention I ate all day? We had 8 half pieces of bacon left over from something, and it was turning brown so it had to be eaten, right?), broccoli

Dinner: K-toast, sandwiches, forced bites of casserole, cinnamon rolls, M-work, S-casserole and anything else I could find, including too many cinnamon rolls.

Oh, and one fortunate timing benefit of LAWKI month…an empty fridge when the Young Women from church needed to store the 600 sandwiches they made for the homeless shelter for tomorrow’s dinner. I fit about 40 bread bags filled with sandwiches in the outside fridge and another 10 in the inside one. Yeah!

The casserole as it was first in the Sun Oven, and me taking the picture.

A bigger View of the oven and our porch still in shade.

This is actually the casserole before it was cooked. I still cannot seem to put the pictures in the right order!
This is the casserole after cooking.

LAWKI Day 28

September 16, 2010

Breakfast: Cinnamon rolls

Lunch: Kids-school, M- lunch casserole (he liked it), S-tuna with crackers-we are out of bread

Dinner: Bean Enchiladas with different sauce, homemade tortillas

The tortillas were not as good this time, but I had a lot of things going on at the same time, including needing to do carpool in the middle of rolling them out. The enchiladas were really boring and unimpressive. I think now that the TVP in the first batch I made 2 weeks ago made more of a difference than I thought. It was hard to spend so much time making them and have them be less than stellar.

My neighbor brought me a huge box of apples, a small fraction of what her farmer dad brought to her. I spent some time looking online for applesauce recipes. In doing so, I stumbled across a fun web site: It was interesting to see some of the things that I have talked about in this LAWKI blog on that web site. This week the ladies who run it are doing their own daily challenges: no water today, no electricity tomorrow, etc. I guess September is National Emergency Prep Month. And I thought it was just an advertising scheme that Macey’s bulk sale and Emergency Essentials had made up. Seems we picked the right month to do this in after all. Does this mean that October is National Emergency Month?

I debated what I would do if the phone call came asking if I could help with food for the funeral, and they asked me to make a salad or potatoes. Would I feel bad shopping for food for this purpose? I decided that as I would not be eating the food, it really did not matter. And really, it does not matter either way. I would not keep playing a stupid game when something important happened. As it was, I lucked out and they asked me if I would make a dessert. That I can do.