Friday, September 29, 2017

No Power in Puerto Rico - My Brother in a Hurricane

I have a brother who, along with his wife, went to serve as a missionary for a few years in Puerto Rico. Soon after their arriving in the island, I got a text with a picture of my brother and his wife with my neighbors of 20+ years! They had recently moved into a new home and went out as missionaries but I hadn't heard where there were going. It was so fun to see them working together. Both are amazing couples with very large families and are hard workers.  

After the first hurricane hit the islands, we were super happy to hear that all the missionaries in country were well and they had power and water soon after. When Maria hit, the reports have been rough.

This was the first report from them after Maria:

"Update on my parents. They texted a few days ago and said things were looking bad. They were on minimum food rations, sewage was backing up, they were having to boil water because water can't be found anywhere on the island, and the generators broke at the mission home so no more power. The heat and humidity has been tremendous, given that they are still having some rain. A curfew was in effect on the island at 4p because things were a little dangerous and emergency crews were needing to work through the night. Here is their text from very late last night:

"As you probably know by now, we are evacuating our missionaries from this island. We sent off 36 sisters yesterday and hope to send the balance of the sisters tomorrow with the elders shortly thereafter. Mom and I will likely stay behind to help close the sixty apartments and move all furniture, fridges, washing machines, beds, etc, to storage and clean out each unit and secure each of our vehicles. It is really rough right now but we continue as best we can with the work. We had a baptism yesterday evening and the Spirit was so strong. We continue to see miracles on every front. We have had people of every faith ask us for help and also cheer and clap as we take out groups of missionaries to help clean up. We worried about where to park all of our vehicles. At first, the President suggested just driving all of the missionaries to the airport and then just leaving the vehicles at the airport. I felt that we should take them to the nearby stake center but we didn't have a key to the gate. We could not call anyone because the phone systems were all down.

When we arrived, a family drove by and asked if we needed help. He happens to serve on the High Council there and mom asked if he happened to have a key to the gate. He said he did and was able to let us in and we were able to park the cars there. The President asked me to fill the van with gas because we were so low with all the trips to the airport etc. but there are lines nearly a mile long at any gas station open that happens to have gas and due to tempers and violence, nearly all police are kept busy monitoring the lines there. So I had a group of missionaries learn how to take off the hose from the top of our gas tanks to bypass the anti siphon apparatus on the cars and siphoned gas from some of our vehicles that we are storing and was able to fill the van. We had instructed all to fill their tanks before the storm and most were obedient and this helped us in this time of emergency. Mom got up early and waited in line at the first grocery store that was to open and used our personal cash since the credit card machine was down to buy a truckload of food to help feed all 150 missionaries. We were grateful that our daughter was able to bring down the cash to us when she visited. We love you all and feel your prayers!"

A few days ago, we got this update. "Hi all. I want to give you all an update on things. We were having difficulty getting seats on flights for our missionaries and we're only able to get 37 out after three days of trying and so the church chartered a jet from Miami to come and pick up the rest of us. We were told at first that we could choose but then were told to pack up and so we did but didn't feel good about it. Mom and I prayed to receive a confirmation that we should go and did not receive it and then we prayed to know if we should stay and did receive a confirmation. We sent a text to the president letting him know of our desire to stay and the many reasons why but told him we had our bags packed and in the car and would "bow our heads and say yes" if the brethren still wanted us to leave. The president spoke with the powers that be and they agreed to let us stay and now we have been given a mountain load of things to do. One job is to help with the humanitarian relief coordination. We went to two airports to pick up donations being flown in today and one of the planes didn't make it in time and couldn't land because the airport still doesn't have landing lights. We are blessed to now have two battery operated fans today and are excited that we might get more sleep. Our freezer finally lost all of the coolness from all of the frozen water bottles and if we don't get power soon, we may have to throw out the balance of the food. Our plan to freeze additional water bottles at two different locations failed as one generator broke and the other ran out of fuel."
Also they said they have been able to give out two copies of the Book of Mormon, so I am sure a lot of good will come from their efforts!"

Please keep them, and all the missionaries and people suffering losses from these hurricanes and earthquakes around the world, in your prayers!  

Have a Blessed Day and weekend!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Making Juicer Pulp and Juice into a Fast Curry Carrot Soup

I visited the food bank today and while there, they offered me some items they had overages of in the fridge. They had huge bags of carrots that they have had for over a week and have been giving them out as much as people want as they don't want them to be wasted.  

I got a huge bag like this just before Princess One's wedding years back and used it for soups and froze a ton in slices for turkey soup and larger pieces for roasting. Here is a link to that post.

I had a long and busy day but didn't have room in my fridge for the huge amount of carrots so I cut up three or four quart sized bags for soups and the same for roasting. I then thought that I would eat carrot soup like I do for squash and pumpkin so I thought about the best way to go about making it fast and also space saving in the freezer.

I pondered on several methods and the one that seemed to be the fastest and the most space saving was to use the juicer and to only use clean carrots and then I could use the juice and the pulp and freeze them already in a near cream soup form. It would only take minutes to boil or sauté the pulp and juice rather than boiling larger pieces down.

Here is what I came up with. Clean the carrots and cut off anything that isn't usable. Put the carrots through the juicer. Pour the juice and pulp into a container and freeze in usable amounts.

When you are ready to make soup, pull the pulp out of the freezer. I froze them in about 2 pounds of pulp containers. 

Carrot Curry Soup

1 large onion
2 TBS butter
1 TBS curry powder
2 lbs carrot pulp / juice
Vegetable Broth to your favorite consistency
Optional pint of cream

Chop and sauté the onion in the butter until the onions go clear. Pour in the carrot pulp in the pan and sauté that as well until the carrot pulp is soft, about ten minutes. Once the mixture is soft and warm, add the curry powder and vegetable broth. Before heating the broth mixture, pour all of this into a blender and mix until it is smooth. Pour it all back into the pan and heat and serve. If you want to add cream, you can add it into the blender or as you are heating it before serving. 

The carrots being pulped saves on freezer space and cooking time so it is a win / win in my book. 

Make sure you freeze the pulp as soon as possible after putting it through the juicer as it looses vitamins as soon as it is chopped up so I suggest you have a larger amount of carrots ready to juice at one time so you can immediately put them right into the deep freeze so they will freeze as fresh as possible. 

This process can also work for quick baby food. Use both the juice and the pulp and when you need baby food, just heat and serve. I would send the carrots through the juicer twice to make sure there are no larger pieces but it is an easy way to get unprocessed veggies into a usable form for children. I would heat them before serving just to kill anything that may be on the carrots from the ground or processing plant. Other than that, they are quite easy to make.

Have a Blessed Day!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I've Been Dreaming in Japan - Princess Four

Hello! Shimai here in good ole Higashi on this day before transfer calls, just wanting to tell all you beautiful people out there you are beautiful and loved!!! So.. Miracles yeah? 
First off. I testify that the gift of the Holy Ghost , and the gift of dreams are real. We were blessed with an amazing wild goose chase of finding a dropped investigator because of a dream that guided us to where we needed to be at the right time. Through the gift of discernment and the Holy Ghost, we really saw an amazing miracle. We hope the dropped investigator chooses to take the lessons! It was way more awesome than im making it sound, but just know i know that gifts of the spirit are REAL!!! 

Ummm.. Oh yeah.. Two potential investigators came to church!! Not even investigators. What!? One was an Eikaiwa student(Thank you Eikaiwa) and the other was a woman we found pinging. Shimada shimai felt like we should invite her to church, so we stopped by Saturday night before basketball night, and drew her a little map. She is an older woman, but she likes when we stop by! She has read a little bit of the Book of Mormon! I just so happened to have a purple origami crane in my bag, and her house just happens to be purple, so i gave her that's a thank you for her giving me some medicine when she saw my bruises from my bike crash, and it made her laugh! Thank you origami! We told her we were singing in church, and she came maybe 3 or 4 minutes before we sang becasue think her taxi got lost or something, but gods timing is real! 

We taught SOO many Free Familly English Program lessons this week! Ok, only 3, but that is a lot! Trust me! We found one woman on splits, and the other approached US! So rare! I am grateful for English!! 

We were able to teach the Plan of Salvation to a woman who was baptized 30 years ago, but doesn't remember anything really. It was amazing having her learn that there is more to life than just dying and being a spirit. She is a talker, and boy did she talk! It was so fun! She has the cutest laugh! And we are able to go to our mission president's FHE today due to her saying yes to our invitation to come! It should be a lot of fun! I'm excited!! 

We had basketball night, and met a TON of high school girls! It was POURING rain!! But so many people came! We got a few numbers, and made lots of friends! how cool would it be to help a whole basketball team be converted!? Lets do it! 

There is a prophecy about Japan that was told by Elder Eyring. He prophecied about now. There are some big changes happening, and i can already see them! The hearts in Japan are opening! It is amazing to be a missionary and to do this work! I love this gospel, and KNOW this gospel is true! It leads to happiness!   
2 Nephi 32:5 
5 "For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."

Choose to have a good week! 

All you can eat Curry and Nan.... it was heaven...
Sister Cook! She fed us... it was expensive, and very kind of her! Why are people so nice!? She is an angel! It was Ike America except we ate popcorn octopus! It was a good time! 
Basketball friends! 
It was raining so hard!! My poor companion!! 
Sister Friend my BFF. I will probably be transferring so we took a picture! I love her!  

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Making a Decorative Pillow Out of a T-Shirt - Easy and Cheap

As you know if you read my blog, I am making a Broadway T-shirt quilt for Princess Five. 

She asked me to make one for her a few months back so my family and I have been searching for months to find actual t-shirts that are for Broadway musical theater shows. 

I was blessed to be able to travel all over the state for different things and have been able to go to 7 different second hand stores and friends have gone to more and we now have enough to be able to make her a good sized quilt with all of the larger shows and some less common shows and best of all, we found shirts from all of the shows she has been in including "The King and I" which was her first acting "gig" at about age 3 as she was the "favored" child the king picks up at one point in the play. 

I think she was "bitten" by the acting bug at that point as it is her FAVORITE thing to do is to be involved in Musical Theater! Thus, when I asked her about her passion and what type of quilt she would like for herself, (as I have made many for her sisters and she wasn't really thrilled with the one I made her from when she was younger), she pondered on it for a few days. I should have guessed what she would have come up with but she chose a Broadway Show quilt. She looked at some online but wasn't really excited about most she saw. She really liked one that printed off the logos in black and white but I know from experience that those don't hold up well with time so we opted to start collecting actual shirts from licensed vendors and shows. 

With all that work, we ended up with lots of "Wicked" shirts. I think we ended up with at least 8 or 9 shirts or sweatshirts for the show. She didn't want all of the shirts on the quilt and three were the same but in different sizes. This particular shirt was everyone's favorite but it has texture and we didn't know how well it would hold up to years of use so we opted to make a bed pillow out of it and some of the extra shirts that we had for the same shows. 

The best part of making a pillow from a shirt is the two of the seams are already sewn. Basically, you just cut the top and bottom edges off the shirt making it into a square or rectangle depending on the shape and size you want. Using a quilters ruler and mat makes the job super easy. I purchased most of my rotary cutters, rulers and mats at second hand stores over the years. It makes quick work of cutting the squares.

Once it is cut into the shape you want, put right sides together and sew around all the edges leaving about a three inch hole in the center of the bottom of the pillow. Then, turn the pillow right sides out and start stuffing the pillow. If you have a pillow form that is the size needed for the pillow, you can put a zipper in on the bottom of the pillow or you can sew the top of the pillow closed with right sides together and then turn it right side out and stuff the pillow form into the shirt and slip stitch the bottom closed which probably won't look as good as a zipper but is much easier. The easiest by far is the first method using fiber fill to stuff the pillow and then slip stitching the three inch hole on the bottom closed. 

Using the fill allows you to control how full the pillow is. I like some really full for maybe using behind the back and then I like some softer to lay my head on as the thicker ones hurt my neck.

Making this pillow from start to finish would probably have taken me 20 minutes top if I did it all at once. I haven't finished it as I have been cutting all the quilt squares and have some things going on so I can't just sit and work on it. Hopefully however, I will be able to show you the finished product when I reveal the finished quilt.

Feel free to ask me any questions. Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Cat Came Back - It Just Wouldn't Stay Away

I have had an issue with neighborhood cats for a long time now. I have posted several times about how many of my neighbors "have cats" but they don't allow them inside, they don't worm them, they don't have little boxes but basically just feed the stray cats that hang around and call them "their cats."  

Every so often one neighbors cat would sit and watch me in the windows of the basement so if I looked up at night while working in the basement, I would get a start by seeing eyes looking at my in the dark. 

That cat would get stuck up my tree, kill a bird, or sit on the back fence but for the most part, it would just use my yard as a toilet. 

About a year ago, a new family moved in and brought with them two cats. One is a very dominant cat and I have heard my share of cat fights for turf which basically, is my entire yard. My house sits in the sun. The front porch is a favorite, the front garden beds are a toilet and favorite hiding spot so when I come out the front door, it scares me by bolting from the corner near my door in the sun or jumps out at me from the front garden beds when I am leaving the garage. 

My backyard, trampoline, back porch and entire garden are its throne room! Literally pooping all the time in the garden area and play area. I was VERY upset last year when the cat decided to inhabit my garage any time I left the door open to work in the yard, it would sit in the mower bag which is in the sun when the door is open. Other times it would climb in and around stored stuff and when I would come out to go to the car, it would bolt scaring me. 

In the 22 years I have lived in the house, I have only ever seen two mice. One was right after we moved in and got in through the swamp cooler area until I secured it better and the other was awhile back and I blogged about it. I have NEVER seen a mouse in my garage or seen any evidence of a mouse in my garage until that cat decided to move in. I kept finding dead mice all around my yard and believe that the cat dragged in a half living mouse to the garage because all the "pantry" stuff that has been on the shelf out there for 22 years had mouse nibbles in it. I had to throw out about $40 or more of food. 

At that time, I went to the neighbors and talked to them about their cat that kept scaring me as I came out of the house and how my yard was a litter box asking if they had a litter box. They brought over an orange scented sprinkle stuff that is supposed to repel the cat but you are supposed to clean up all the poop first! They offered but I truly didn't think they could find it all and didn't have much faith in the stuff as it said you had to reapply after rain. They bought some sand for their back yard saying they were trying to get it to use their yard. 

They have kids and said the kids would be really upset if the cats were to be gone but I have never seen the cats interact with anyone including their kids. They interact with their dog and built a fence to keep it in the yard which I appreciated. Both cats are in my yard but one is dominant and the other neighbors cats tend to shy away when it is over which is when the sun is shining. 

This past week, I was needing a ride to pick up a car so I pulled my packed bags on the porch and locked up the house waiting for the ride to show up. I sat down on the stair and leaned back on my hands and looked to my right and within a foot of my hand was this dead juicy mouse shown in the lower pictures.

Walking to get into the car, there were three dead mice in the gutter. The past two weeks, I have picked up nine mice from my front porch, gutters in front of my house, and my front yard. Something new was cat poop on my back porch. I think it was raining and it was hiding under the eves and by the back door where heat escapes. I didn't think cats would do their "business" on hard surfaces but I was proven wrong this week. 

I truly don't know what to do about the cats situation as I am sick of having my yard be a large litter box. I won't garden anymore. I think the parasite issue I have is from the cats spreading them from yard to yard, garden to garden. I don't think if you feed a cat that lives outside, it is "your cat" unless you are willing to get it spayed, wormed and make sure it uses a litter box. 

One neighbor told me to trap her cat in a live trap and leave it for a day or two as that worked keeping her cat out of another neighbors yard. I don't think that is humane and am worried I would trap a skunk. lol My friend bought a pellet gun and shoots near them from the house to scare them off the property which has worked for them but that means you have to be watching out all your windows and doors all the time which I don't have time to do.

I don't think our small town has an animal officer and know they would have to pay a fine to get it out of the pound but at this point, I am worried when people come to the door, they will be greeted with several dead mice. Just today, Princess Five was headed home after a visit and last night there was no mouse, today when she left mid-day, there was a dead mouse on the stairs as you can see in the top two photos. I am wondering if their house has a mouse problem and the cat is bringing them to my sunny house to enjoy.

I don't want mice in my garage so I try to keep that closed now and I think the cat got trapped once as it hasn't been running in at first open like it used to so perhaps getting trapped cured it of running in there but I really need to keep them off my porches and from using the yard as a litter box. I have a sensitive nose and sometimes can smell the "litter box" smell in the yard. 

If you have any suggestions, please send me a note as the song, "The Cat Came Back" shares, "It just wouldn't stay away!" 

Have a BLESSED Day!

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Bike Accident and a Baptism

WOWOWOW!! HELLOO!!! KONNICHIWA!!! HOLA! And all that good stuff :) I hope everyone knows how beautiful they are on this beautiful day! 

So biggest miracle of the week.... I SET A BAPTISMAL DATE WITH UENO SAN!!! She is only 23 with two kids, and a husband, and she is just an angel! She was glowing when we retaught her what baptism was.

She had a baptismal date last year, but due to life, that fell through. She really wants to know if this church is true, and she said she wanted to be clean, and have light, so that was a really special day! Man, the church is sooooo true!! Is 100% true actually! 

I learned about the power of the BOM this week. Read it and ponder it, and all questions you could ever have will be answered. I promise!
Choose to have a good week! Look for the blessings! 

Sister shimai and I holding the Sapporo temple! 
I bought a hat thing.
And sunflowers
And Cantaloupe icecream
And splits with some of my favorite people! 


Also I became a mother to a plant. Say hello to the first flower of our plant named Planty.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Fruits of My Labors - Bad Year for Fruit

Thanks to those of you concerned about my health. I appreciated the calls and texts to see how I was doing. I was in bed for 30+ hours with the migraine yesterday and was only up to take pills, throwing up and to eat and drink small amounts to take the pills. I woke up at 4 p.m. today feeling SO much better.

I have a lingering headache wondering if a storm will follow the storm that is coming and looking at the forecast, there is rain scheduled for three days so I think it was just the mother of all migraines as I have never been down like that for so long without some relief before. 

With that, here is todays post.....

I believe God gives us a bumper crop just before a famine year. This year is no exception. In the 20+ years in this home, I have never had such a horrible crop.

I believe in God, and last year, I had more fruit in one year than I have had in several years put together. I shared with Princess Five as we were drying fruit for months that I felt like perhaps God was letting us know that the next year would be a famine year.

Fast forward to this year. There was a late freeze and with that, all the blossoms died off. I got no plums on four of my five trees and only a handful on the one tree that did have a few on it. Last year, branches broke on two of my trees as they had so many plums on them. It was the first year of my life that I didn't freeze, can, dehydrate or give away all the fruit on the tree as I hate to see waste. I called several families and asked them to come pick as much as they wanted and I still had fruit drop to the ground wasted as I couldn't do more than I did.

I got about four cherries on our tree. The birds went after them before I could even find them and so Princess Five and I each got a few but that was it.

Usually, even if none of the other fruit does well, the apple trees usually have tons of fruit, this year, I got three golden delicious apples off of our two trees. I got two red apples off my "five variety" apple tree. That is less than last year as well.

The only tree that produced is my multiple variety pear tree. None of the red Asian pears survived the frost but the heartier pears on the main branches produced a large amount as in the past we have only had a handful of any type of pear so to get this larger amount was a blessing.

Two days ago, there were about 20 on the tree with one on the ground. We had wind storms for two days and as you know if you read yesterdays post, I was in bed with a migraine and when I got up today, half of the pears had been blown out of the tree due to the high winds.

I was grateful I was feeling better enough to go out and harvest the only crops I had this year. Five apples and 20 pears and some chives that were super over grown and I cut off the good parts to use in cooking and that was the extent of my crops other than some potatoes that started growing from some sprouted ones I threw in the garden area. I don't know yet if any of those are edible but didn't have time today to find out.

Truly, I am grateful for last years bumper crop as I hope to have enough to share until next year. Hopefully, the trees will produce next year as there weren't many people around that got any type of harvest that way. My neighbor that usually shares his garden produce with me is no longer able to garden so we didn't enjoy much fresh produce this year.

Here is a post from last years boom harvest. Funny, but looking for that post, I realized that the year before, I had only a handful of apples on my tree and my post is nearly the exact same as this post. Here is a link to that post as in 2014  when I had a HUGE crop. Funny how God works giving us high yields before a no yield year! Have a Blessed Day!