Sunday, November 22, 2015

It's a Matter of Dehydrating Parsley from your Garden

Well, the frost is definitely on the pumpkin around here.  The summer garden is finished. This was the last survivor until I harvested it.  It is my "Parsley tree".  

No, Parsley really isn't a tree, but this one turned into one.  What is really amazing is that it grew this well in drought conditions!

Dehydrating Your Own Parsley:

This is one portion of the 'tree'.  Just know that 2.5 feet of this plant is in the sink and not shown in this photo.  This plant had 2 stems that were very similar like that.

I rinsed the parsley in the sink. Use a salad spinner to get as much of the moisture off the plant as possible.

 I then started cutting/breaking off stems of the Parsley plant. Next, I stripped each stem and put the smaller pieces of parsley on the mesh inlays on each tray.

I had several trays full.  I dehydrated them overnight outside.  It really smelled delicious!

Remember that full tray of Parsley above?  This is what it looked like after it was dehydrated.

I had 8 trays of dried parsley when I was finished.

Remember the Mesh inlays?  I lifted each one up carefully held the to middle edges together making a type if a cone/funnel.

An carefully tapped the parsley into the container.  I ended up flipping my fingers on the mesh to help it dislodge and fall into the funnel.

I put a piece of paper-towel under the container to catch 'stray pieces' of Parsley. Next, I took the clean handle of one of my rubber spatula and started compressing the parsley. This helps it break into the small pieces that you traditionally see when you purchase dehydrated parsley.

Intermittently I would roll the paper-towel and tap the escaped parsley into the funnel. How much parsley did the 8 trays produce for me?

Enough to refill this bottle I purchased years ago. I just keep filling it from Parsley that I grow in my garden.

Isn't this a thing of beauty?

Take Home Points:

  • I bought one Parsley plant for $1.50.  It produced the equivalent of a container of McCormick Gourmet Collection Parsley Flakes 2oz which sells for $11.80 on Amazon.  This means that I saved 87% on this item.
  • It smells so fresh every time you open the container.
  • You know if you put pesticides on your plant or not if you grow them yourself.  I didn't use any and this plant still flourished. 
  • You know how old your Parsley is. When you purchase herbs from the store, you do not know how long ago they were processed or how long they have been sitting on the shelf.  
  • Parsley is very easy to grow, and you get often get a good yield. This year, I planted my Parsley in  my raised bed instead of my little free-standing herb garden just outside my kitchen door.  I think this is what made the difference. I will be doing this again next year.

Try it!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

It's A Matter Of Using Social Media during an Emergency....

This is a road that I used to drive on to go in to town when I lived in South Carolina.  If you look closely, you will see that the workers are standing near the edge of a big flood.  Just know that there are several lanes of road under the water.  This is a major thoroughfare in Columbia SC.  The flooding took place in early October.  I wrote about this topic somewhat in this post.  

I had the opportunity to go down to the impacted areas of Columbia as I happened to be visiting.  I also know many good people who are helping those who have been displaced.  I have watched in awe as so many service-oriented individuals have jumped in to help in a variety of ways.  How did everyone know what to do and what to donate?  It has been done and continues to be done with Social Media.

Social Media during an Emergency....

Within days, the S.Beltline Community had a Facebook page up and running. After posting pictures of the flooding and damage, they started posting needs. Here is one of the first posts from this community:

Here are some of the early posts from this group of volunteers:  (These posts were put up within a couple of days after the flooding).

"We will be starting our first Community Tent today around 10:00 this morning at the corner of Glenhaven and Whispering Pines Circle. PLEASE PARK at the Pinewood Baptist Temple at 1510 S Beltline Blvd, Columbia, SC 29205. It's a short block down Glenhaven to check-in at the Community Tent."
"FANS, FANS, FANS! We need FANS - box fans or commercial grade- we REALLY need these to air out several homes. And if you have an extension cord, PLEASE bring it too! Pls put your name on anything you bring so it gets back to you! When you sign in at the Community Tent, we will do our best to note any items you bring as a reminder. THANK YOU!"
We desperately need a SUMP PUMP ASAP!! House has 4 ft of standing water in a house on Timberlane!!

Magically, people and needed items began to appear. These are brand new fans that were just dropped off for anyone who may have needed them.

Just one day later, the needs list grew:

After you drop off items, PLEASE park at Palmetto Baptist Temple at the end of Glenhaven!! There will be many more commercial crews on the street that will need access to houses/street parking.
Friday will be a BIG sorting, cleaning & demo day, so we'd love to have ALL HANDS ON DECK! smile emoticon
#1 Need - **PLASTIC BINS - assorted sizeds for packing salvaged items (stand up better with damp items)
*PU trucks for moving salvaged furniture/items
*Wheelbarrows (we promise to give them back when you leave!!)
*HAND SANITIZER (never enough....)
*Push Brooms
*"TO-GO" meal containers so volunteers can take meals directly to the residents
*Packing tape "guns" for tape rolls we have or individual packing tape dispensers w/serated cutting edge
*Heavy duty work gloves
**Latex & non-latex gloves (everything is still pretty wet)
**SIZE 12 / LARGE Ladies clothing (loose fitting/comfortable)
**DIET & REGULAR SOFT DRINKS (for caffiene and variety)
We hope to see you soon! 
Who are these people coordinating and working together?  Which government agency is managing all of these needs?  NONE!  These are volunteers from Columbia and the surrounding communities.

Requests for Hard Hats, Wheel Barrows, N95 masks, Gloves, food, and hand sanitizer were constant.  The need for Volunteers was mounting...

The Sewer Treatment Plant had also flooded.  This meant that sewage was mixing with the Flood were 'critters' such as snakes.  Volunteers had to be very careful to protect themselves.
PLEASE READ THIS ONE AND PASS ALONG: I spoke with (individual)  this morning. Her husband has been very involved in getting medical care for volunteers. She wants me to share that if you've been working in and around these contaminated waters and you have any doubt at all about your last tetanus, you need to head over and get a booster. This is for anyone who needs it. Help me share this with various work site pages.
2 hrs ago- Columbia, SC ·
Wound care and tetanus shot updates continue SATURDAY and SUNDAY from 9 am until 8 pm. If you have any sort of cut or scratch from cleanup work AND it's been 5 years since your last shot, come get one. 4811 Devereaux Road, 29205.
Shout out to great workers from Palmetto Health, Columbia Fire Department, and Richland County EMS!

Local businesses provided food to those who were impacted and the volunteers.

Here is a post from a local Volunteer:
"Spent the afternoon with my daughter handing out water to residents in some severely affected neighborhoods near Midlands Tech. Many of the residents were Spanish speakers, so I called my Son at BYU and asked him to talk to the Hispanic people and ask them what they need. (One man told my Son he was hungry, so I called Marco's Pizza on Rosewood and they delivered a dozen FREE pizzas that my daughter and I handed out with the water. 
Then we went back to get more water and made 2 more trips to Marco's and picked up another 40 or so pizzas and distributed those to citizens in need. 
Super Kudos to Marco's Pizza, who made no attempt to sell pizza, but used all their supplies on hand and made hundreds of pizzas that were given to hungry people!!"
The next day....

"So, after the cool experience yesterday, decided to do more of the same today. Loaded up with water and headed out to the same apartment complex -- armed with 30 Chick-Fil-A sandwiches -- thanks Chris Eckert and Christopher Callaway at the Garners Ferry Road store. Took the Spanish-speaking LDS missionaries with me and we found several groups of Spanish-speaking people in their apartments (multiple families) and gave them food and water. Then we invited others to come to the Church later and we'd have more food. We fed about 30 people at the Church with food prepared and delivered by the Spanish group of the Church at Windsor Lake
I restocked with 10 pizzas from Ci Ci's on Garners Ferry (thanks Juan!) and fed folks at the Church and went back into the apartment complexes. 
Also got donated food from PDQ (thanks Michael .... and Tim Tebow, whom I found out is one of the investors).
People were so gracious and humbled by the help, and I just really enjoyed seeing their smiles." 
Meetings were set up to work with the City, County, and Federal programs. All were advertised in social media:

We have been providing DSNAP information for over a week. If you are in Richland County and want to apply, DSS says here is when/where you need to go:
Week of November 2 – 6:
Word of God Church and Ministries
119 Diamond Lane...See More

South Carolina residents who lost property or income due to this month’s historic flooding are now eligible…
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As you might expect....there were rumors that needed to be addressed:

There are many rumors and myths that are percolating out there. Here are some FACTS about rebuilding, permits, etc. 
1. FEMA has NOT moved the flood plain as a result of this flood. FEMA and Richland County GIS show the 2002 FEMA flood zones. Some floodplain areas were revised in late October 2014 and again in August 2015, so determining whether your property was included or excluded from the 100 year flood zone as a result of these revisions could mean the difference of what type of permit you need and whether you have to bring your property up to code and raise it. 
2. No final decisions have been made about who can and who can't rebuild. The County has not committed to nor started the process for buying out properties. 
3. As for whether your house must be raised/brought up to current Code depends on whether you are in the 100 year floodplain and if so, whether your expense to return the home to its ore-flood condition exceeds 50% of the fair market value of your building/home. You may be required to get an Elevation Certificate, which must be prepared and certified by a Licensed Land Surveyor, Registered Professional Engineer or Registered Architect who is authorized by state or local law to certify elevation information. The certificate is used to confirm whether you are in the 100 year floodplain. Because the value-to-expense calculation will vary per property, each "rebuild/raise" determination will be different. 
4. If the homeowner has decided to relocate instead of rebuild, that changes the direction for FEMA, so residents need to give that info to FEMA if they have already made that decision. Then an SBA team takes your case to pursue their mortgage loan option for the house you choose for relocation. Your current mortgage lender(s), if you have mortgage(s), will need to be involved in the process should you not have enough money to payoff your existing mortgage(s) [short-sale]. 
5. If you are in the 100-year floodplain, you will need an estimate from a licensed residential or general contractor in order to pull a permit and perhaps more depending on whether your property is in the City of Columbia. If you hire a licensed contractor, which officials recommend, they will pull the permit instead of the homeowner.  
6. Regardless of who pulls the permit, all mechanical tradesmen (subs like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, roofing, etc.) will also have to pull a SEPARATE permit if your house is in the floodplain.  
7. Inspections for substantially damaged structures are tentatively set to begin this week for Richland County properties. These are done in conjunction with FEMA using 4-person "teams." All Richland County inspectors will be in Richland County vehicles. Before allowing anyone in your home, county officials recommend that you get a picture of the inspector, their ID badge and business cards. If they will not provide this or if you have any question about the inspectors or the inspection, Richland County officials suggest you call (803) 929-6000 ASAP to verify.  
8. If you are in a condo or town home that shares common walls and/or roof, FEMA considers the entire building as a WHOLE. They do not look at these as individual units even though they have different tax numbers. If one of those units is in a flood plain, then the entire building is considered to be in the flood plain. 
9. There are opportunists and ne'er-do-wells popping up everywhere saying their business has "permits" to begin work. Those with hanging "city" tags are NOT city employees and they do NOT have permits. Those "city tags" are merely business licenses they have to buy in order to solicit their services. The City and County HAVE NOT ISSUED ANY PERMITS TO BEGIN WORK IN OUR AREA. 
10. The green and yellow signs the County stapled on doors do NOT have anything to do with determinations for rebuilding, etc. Those signs were posted after a preliminary inspection to say whether or not it was safe to enter or inhabit the house. 
10. The valuation of your home/damage is determined locally using FEMA's inspection process based on an upcoming inspection of your property. Who handles the valuation and permitting depends on whether your property is located within the City. If it is, then you will apply for permits with the City. If you are not in a municipality (unincorporated), then the County will handle your permitting. 
11. Don't even think about starting work without a permit! This could cause your permitting fee to as much as DOUBLE, delay your rebuild and seriously affect your ability to sell or insure your home in the future.  
12. For more information on permits for unincorporated properties located in Richland County, go to…/BuildingCodesI…/Permits.aspx  
13. For information on permits for floodplain properties within the City of Columbia, go to

Each day, the needs are posted from tearing out, removing debris etc.  (This load of Plywood was donated to help the displaced families comply with the legal  requirement to board up their homes). Just to get a feel for the current needs, here is a list of wanted items/volunteers that was  posted for today (Sunday 11/1/15)

SUNDAY'S NEEDS: LESS RAIN!!!URGENT NEED: VOLUNTEERS!! Come help us hang the plywood and finish debris cleanup!! We will also have donation sorting and boxing.PLEASE DROP OFF all donations @ 100 WHISPERING PINES CIRCLESTILL NEEDED:Gallon-sized zip lock bagsWindow cleanerDishwashing liquidClothes detergent pods(easier to separate than liquid or powder)BroomsHandles for 12 oz. mop headsHand sanitizer (8-10 oz)Children & Adult underwear & socks(All sizes)Baby food -VegetablesMany thanks to all the angels who appear with these items throughout the day.Our volunteer crews have been working day/night + in the rain to help the residents of MORE THAN 50 homes + apartments with their tear outs, debris removal, water and mold abatement! And we will not stop helping them recover. ‪#‎laboroflove‬ ‪#‎southbeltlinestrong‬ ‪#‎floodfamily‬ ‪#‎floodfriends‬

There are so many types of service being offered.  Last night the volunteers hosted a Trunk-or-Treat event for the families that had been displaced.  (This picture makes me weep...)

Take home message.....

  • This community did not wait for the Governmental Authorities to come. They saw a need, organized themselves, and reached out to the community.
  • These folks used Social Media to share needs and requests for help.  The people in the immediate area were asked to share this page to inform others about what the needs were and how they could help.  It had hundreds of 'likes' in a short period of time and now has nearly 2,000 likes. (By clicking 'like' folks can see the posts from this Service Group).
  • I witnessed cars driving past and dropping off needed items.  Volunteers from many Churches, College Students, groups from other cities (Spartanburg, etc) and States (I saw a group from Alabama). Folks were coming from all across the country to help.  
  • Thousands of hours of volunteered service have cleaned out homes, helped remove debris, set up a make-shift store where all items are free (clothing, diapers, furniture, appliances), and this weekend are putting up plywood over doors and windows.
  • These volunteers have committed to stay here and help for the long haul.

St. Matthew 25:40  "...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

I am grateful for the tremendous service and sacrifice these volunteers are offering folks they often don't even know.  I feel blessed to witness this miracle unfolding through the use of social media.  The "Class" being taught by this group of volunteers continues to be in session... May the Lord Bless them all in their continued efforts to serve their fellow man. 

If you are in a position to help financially, please go here:

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's a Matter of a Fun and Healthy Halloween Dinner....

Yes, the day is finally here!  Little ghosts and goblins are excitedly anticipating the candy haul of the year!  Caring parents want to keep a balance between sugar, excitement, and spooky characters!  

So, how about sending our family off right with a Halloween inspired dinner before they go door knocking tonight?  Many of these items came from my Pantry and my refrigerator.  You may be surprised about how many of these items you actually have on hand!

Halloween entrees from your Pantry and Fridge!

I used Garbanzo beans and Tahini from my Pantry to make some delicious hummus!  I had a particularly dark colored Tahini, so it made things look particularly haunting!

Next I put grapes on scewers.  Then I added mini chocolate chips as eyes (using cream cheese as the 'glue').  These became delicious caterpillars!

Using some of the hummus I put dollops on grape tomatoes or small cucumber slices topped with olive slices to make...

A Spooky-eyed Salad!

Instead of traditional breadsticks, cut the ends and shape the bread into bones! They sure tasted great with Pumpkin Soup that I made from my canned Pumpkin chunks!

What is Halloween without some spooky ghosts!  I put Rooster Senior in charge of making these.  He was asked to cut the bananas in half and use mini chips for the eyes and a big chip (pushed in backwards) for the mouth.  Let's just say we got some free form ghosts.  I also put some mini-chocolate chips on the plate for people to dip their ghosts in if they wished.  (See the cute caterpillars above?)

I added peeled Clementines and inserted a piece of celery as the stem. The hummus above has 'witches fingers' (made from celery sticks and an almond fingernail tacked on with a bit of hummus) sticking out from the bowl of Hummus.  Fun, easy, and healthy!

Fill up your Trick-or-Treaters on this delicious, quick and healthy meal before they head out of your Front door!

Have happy and Safe Halloween!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

It's A Matter of the South Carolina Flooding Relief Efforts.

How would you react to your street filling up with water....very quickly.

Would you know what to do as the flood waters moved closer to your front door?

Would you be thinking of how you are going to get to work as damns and bridges begin to give way?

What would your thoughts be to see the road you took your children to school on after it had become a river?

These, and a lot of other questions are being addressed in the wake of the flooding in the Columbia South Carolina Area.   Literally dozens of roads have been washed away or closed, many damns have been breached, and the mighty flood gates of the Lake Murray Damn have been opened to attempt to manage the inundated low country.  

In the early part of October, torrential rains fell quickly.  People found that they had to move quickly to either protect their homes, or evacuate.  Many lost homes, some lost their livelihood.  So what did the good people of South Carolina do?  They jumped in and began to work.

Volunteers began to gather needed items for those who had been displaced.

A command center was placed in one of the effected neighborhoods.

Volunteers from several denominations and businesses began to arrive. Initially they were from the local area, but within days people from other states began to arrive to assist in the clean up.

The Media came and went.

But the volunteers kept coming, the supplies keep coming, and the folks keep moving forward. There is no rioting or angry protests.  Instead, there is calm, gracious service.  There is care and concern and willingness to help at a moments notice.

A friend and resident of the area wrote a very beautiful summary of how things currently are.  My thanks to Janie S for her eloquence:

News From the Flood Front
Well, all the national media have taken their super star announcers and their bright lights and cameras and gone home. Moving on to the next story. And here in South Carolina, we carry on, with neighbors helping neighbors. Here’s what’s going on in my part of the world: 
Everywhere you see work trucks and workmen from all over the southeast, fixing our roads and bridges, keeping us from traveling on unsafe travel routes. Me, when stopped yet again by another new roadblock: “If this road is closed, can I go that way?” Answer: “Ma’am, I don’t know. I’m from Tennessee.” 
I drive through previously beautiful , prosperous neighborhoods, and see houses cleaned out to the studs, daylight visible from one side through to the others. And the owners precious belongs (pictures, rocking chairs, books, china cabinets) all piled on the side of the road in a huge, broken mass as giant trucks with huge claws scrape up the debris, crush it and dump it into the waiting maw of the truck. 
I’ve volunteered in a neighborhood disaster relief center, set up on a street corner by a lawyer who felt she needed to do something. It has grown into a vital hub of the relief effort, staffed by volunteers from all walks of life, serviced with meals from all sorts of organizations, and offering food, clothing, cleaning supplies and tools to whoever needs them. 
I spent the afternoon today in a small trailer in Eastover SC, packing up the entire insides of this home. FEMA said the entire floor and duct work had to be ripped out and replaced because the water had lapped the bottom of the trailer and mold was starting to grow. Mold is the enemy here in SC. And other friends will be there tomorrow to do the ripping out. 
Over 400 roads and more than 150 bridges were washed out during the 20+ inches of rain in two days. Interstates were closed, dams failed, homes and businesses were washed away or flooded to the roof, and 19 people lost their lives. Lost lives can never be replaced. About half of the roads and bridges have been repaired, with a target date of after Thanksgiving for the majority remaining. There are detours everywhere, and it takes twice as long to get anywhere. Rush hour traffic is a nightmare. 
School in Richland One is on a one-hour delay for the foreseeable future, as it takes so long for the buses to navigate the winding, circuitous routes they must now take, avoiding closed roads. 
The boil water advisory has finally been lifted. The dam above the canal that supplied water to most of Columbia was breached, and it took almost two weeks to repair it. Some wells in outlying areas are still compromised. 
And so much, much more that I have not mentioned – the churches, the civic groups, the individuals, the companies – all just pitching in and working together, with no thought of recognition or reward. 
Everyone is helping everyone. I really have not heard much complaining. We are just getting through this. No looting to speak of, no anti-government tirades. Just facing forward, looking for that tired, weary, “I don’t know what to do now” face in the crowd and offering a helping hand in whatever way is needed. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 12:40

South Carolina knows how to serve their neighbor.  It is our tremendous opportunity to observe, learn and apply their powerful lesson.  Please take note....class is in session.

(For the next few posts, I will share with you the things that are going 'right' in this Flood Relief effort.  I hope you will share the ride with me.  I am so thankful to these good folks for letting me observe and see their goodness in the face of great trial).

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