Summer Car Kit

Last week-end we got two more days of snow. Yuck! Next week-end I'm camping (with no tents) and the forecast is for highs in the 70s! Yay! As I'm thinking about rotating out my winter car needs and cycling in summer items I've discovered many of these items serve multiple seasons. I've jotted down a few items that stay year round, any other ideas?

  • One Hoodie for everyone: Winter - cold weather survival, Summer - chilly evening activities
  • Plates, Cups, and plastic ware: Makes for a great "instant picnic" (you provide the food) any season.
  • Blankets: Winter - important heat preservation, Summer - picnic blanket, star gazing
  • Ponchos and emergency blankets: Staying dry and warm in any emergency is always critical!
  • Snacks and water bottles: Winter - Extreme cold weather is dehydrating, Summer - Extreme hot weather is dehydrating.  (Don't store snacks that melt in the summer.)
  • Sunscreen: Hot or cold weather, the sun's rays can burn.  Wear sunscreen when you're exposed.
  • Bug repellent: Winter - OK, you won't need this in the north.  Summer - This is critical nationwide for your comfort and safety.
  • Flashlight and batteries: Dark is dark in any season.  You need a flashlight and extra batteries in the car.
  • Pocketknife: Or better yet a super tool!  Winter - Cutting the ropes of the fir tree you brought home, Summer - Whittling a point on a weenie roasting stick.
  • Paper towels and several trash bags: My daughter "got sick" on the way to grandpa's house.  Thank God we had these in the car.  Enough said.
  • Portable Radio and Batteries: Whether your listening for weather reports or great tunes, you need a radio that won't wear down your car's battery, leaving you stranded.
  • First Aid Kit: A scrape or a headache are promptly dealt with if your car contains a well stocked kit.
  • Hats and Gloves: Winter - Stocking cap and knit gloves, Summer - Ball cap or bucket hat and gardening or work gloves fit the bill.
  • A Little Cash: Winter - To pay the guy who pulled you out of the snow drift,  Summer - To pay the guy who gave you enough gas to get to the next station.
Related Posts:
The Emergency Twenty
101 Uses for a Hoodie

Prepare for an Earthquake in One Day

Although everyone is talking about earthquake preparedness right now, I realize that getting ready for a disaster can seem like an enormous project. Start small. Then add, tweak, and cycle new supplies. I've challenged myself to create a quick and easy way to get help you get 'earthquake ready' in one day or less. (Sure, there's always more to add, but this should be a convenient way to get started and a check-up for those that have started a kit.) Ready? Set! Let's go!

Flashlight - at least one good emergency flashlight with two sets of batteries (not stored in the flashlight, it drains the batteries) in your kit is paramount!

Water - a gallon of water per person per day. If you don't have any water stored, go buy one case of bottled water per person. You can add to or modify this later.

Medicine - Put a week's worth of each prescription medication, routine over the counter
medications, other convenient medications (ibuprofen, cough drops, etc.), and a first aid kit in your emergency kit.

Gallon zip-lock type bags

Portable radio and two sets of batteries (stored out of the radio).

Tools - a crescent and pipe wrench to shut off water and gas. Learn how to shut these off, as well as your electricity. A small tool kit and/or super tool might be a good idea, as well.

Food - Canned food, boxed food, snacks/treats, and canned pet food will be critical in the first few days after an earthquake before utilities are restored. Also consider how you'll be able to heat the food. Camp stove and fuel? Outdoor grill? Keep it maintained a d conveniently and safely located. Don't forget a hand crank can opener!

Storage Container - Place these items (except the water) in a bin located in a accessible and convenient place in your home.

Training - Take five minutes and practice earthquake safety and response using 'Drop, Cover, and Hold On.' (Your kids have already done this at school, I bet.)  The moment you feel the ground shake - Drop where you are. Cover yourself by crawling under a sturdy piece of furniture (table, bed, desk, counter, etc.) away from bookshelves or other furniture that might topple. Hold on to the item you are hiding beneath to keep it over you.  After the shaking stops, wait and use caution moving about. Watch for falling debris. Use special caution when entering and exiting a building or room. Most injuries occur within ten feet of building entrances. Make sure you are unharmed, then check on those around you.

There are many additional steps you can take to prepare for an earthquake. Start here with these suggestions and build on that foundation. As I've mentioned before, you don't need a separate kit for each disaster. Integrate the supplies you'll need in a variety of events into one complete collection (shelter in place, power outage, earthquake, flooding, etc.)

Remember to train even if you don't live in an earthquake zone. Most of us travel through these areas for vacation and/or business.

Related posts
Four Rules of Three
Functional Friday: Go-Bag Part I - The Need
Like a Bridge over Troubled Water
Practice an Evening Without Electricity

(By the way, as a test of my own, I composed and edited this entire post from my phone.)

Functional Friday: 10 Things - Where Was Moses When the Lights Went Out?

Everyone knows he was down in the cellar eating sauerkraut. But he could have been enjoying something a bit tastier if he had planned a little.

Did the earthquake and tsunami in Japan make you take a second look at your emergency supplies? Does the thought of storing a full 90 days of food, water and household supplies seem to be too much? Start Small! Here are my top 10 picks of food to keep in your pantry. (And when the "lights go out", you won’t be forced to eat sauerkraut.)

Water. Adequate water is so important. Everyone in your household needs 1 gallon/day. Store, at a minimum, 3 days worth. When you have that, strive for 7 days, then 21, and so on. You can go a long time without food. Not so much on the water. You can buy a gallon of drinking water for about $1. So for a family of four people, for way less than $20, you can store over 3 days of water.

Nutrition Bars. Individual snack pouches of crackers are nice, but many aren’t very nutritious. Have a look at the nutritional information. Nutrition bars are portable, and yummy. My favorites are the all-natural Zone Perfect Bars.

Fortified Breakfast Cereals. These require no preparation and have a significant shelf-life. Many have protein, and are fortified with vitamins and minerals. They’re mostly portable, lightweight if nothing else, most people are accustomed to the taste. My favorite is Kashi Go Lean. Cereals are often found on sale any given week at the grocery store. Sometimes you can get a box of something substantial for less than $2. If you eat cereal regularly, then this is just planning ahead for normal use.

Peanut Butter. Unless you have an allergy in the family, peanut butter is a great shelf-stable item full of protein, fat, and flavor. It goes well with lots of other snacks you might have, or just from a spoon. My favorite is Smuckers Natural in the glass jar.

Crackers. Crackers can serve as a great substitute for bread. If you happen to have cheese and ham, make a tiny sandwich, same for peanut butter or nutella. I’m a fan of good old Ritz, and if you find them on sale, you can store a few boxes of them.

“Canned” soup. It requires minimal preparation, and feels like a homecooked meal. (crumble some crackers on top!) My pick is a carton of Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Bisque or TJ’s Latin Black Bean (spicy!).

Pouched tuna. It’s a great source of protein, the pouches require no can opener, so it’s very portable. Make yourself a little tuna sandwich out of the crackers or add tuna to your soup.

Dried Fruit. An easy, portable snack full of energy, kid friendly, and it stores well. My pick is prunes and apricots.

A treat. Whatever that means to you and your family: a 2 liter bottle of soda, big bag of M&M’s, Little Debbie Snack Cakes, Chocolate bars, Starbuck’s via instant coffee, pudding cups, chips, gummi worms. It’s going to raise your spirits to have a little indulgence when the lights go out.

Multivitamins. This should probably be part of your normal routine anyway. There are numerous studies showing that people who regularly take a multivitamin have a lower incidence of cancer and other diseases. But if you don’t eat an adequate variety of foods, a multivitamin will fill in the gaps.

Is all of this for real?

Even I have asked myself from time to time, "'Is this right? Do these tips work?" My local Red Cross chapter recently asked for real life examples of people whom had lived out of their go-bags... no one replied. Then, my sister forwarded this link to me, and I finally have my proof.

Acte gratuite, a blog, chronicles the life of Emily - a Mormon American woman, her husband, and her four boys living in Japan. (via iprepared) And then, one day, there was an earthquake. I mention that she is Mormon because preparedness is mandated by the church, and she is quite prepared. I mention that she's American because when I read her blog I relate to her perfectly. She is experiencing the trials and horrors of the aftermath like I believe I would... like an American.

Saturday, March 12 - The day after the quake which occurred in the afternoon in Japan. I'll link you to the first post after the earthquake. It was actually posted her family (state-side, I assume) who hacked her account to let her readers all know that she and her family were safe and well.

From Sunday on, Emily was able to get to power and internet connections to post. I've listed my top 25 favorite preparedness tidbits from her point of view. If you have the time, read the details and the exposition straight from her blog.
  • No power, no heat, no phones, no internet. Yet, some friends stayed with them since the friends had already shipped stuff state-side in preparation to return home.
  • The commissary opened with no lights of a cash only basis. She bought diapers and hot chocolate.
  • They went to church and checked on others in their community.
  • The well-meant "hack" of her blog was not well received.
  • Immediately, items (food, coats, blankets) were being collected for those in desperate need.
  • They had to stop collecting supplies because they weren't prepared to organize and distribute the goods they were receiving.
  • She started recording ideas and issues that she faced - to help us and to remind herself.
  • Get a corded (non-electric) phone.
  • If you leave your house during an emergency, leave a note to say where you've gone.
  • Garage door openers don't work with the power off. Know how to operate yours without power.
  • She wishes she had kept more fuel as they cook with camping equipment and their grill.
  • Emily emphasizes the peace of mind back-up medications provide - prescription and over the counter.
  • They were able to shop at the commissary because they had cash on hand, and a secret back-up stash.
  • She's planning to get a hand-crack wheat grinder and blender to make the best use of food supplies.
  • Lighting was an issue. Cheap flashlights failed, she didn't have enough candles, she wanted a lantern.
  • "Also, my next house will have a wood-burning fire place. This all would have been much easier if we could have been warm."
  • Blankets and coats are needed, but aren't able to be shipped, yet.
  • Even after power is restored, they are required to conserve.
  • A clean, uncluttered home turns out to be an asset during a disaster.
  • Gasoline is rationed.
  • School is out for at least a week.
  • Here's a list of what is immediately wiped out from the commissary: peanut butter, paper products, batteries, bottled water, charcoal, candles, diapers, formula, and bread.
  • Add playing cards, games, and kid activities to 72 hour kit. Also add chocolate.
  • Japan had anti-hoarding laws; they cannot store food. The grocery stores are now empty.
  • Arrangements are being made to host displaced families in homes.
Other highlights :
March 15 - "*Not much new to report today. The base is under strict instructions to limit power as much as possible: Five minute showers, one load of laundry per day, lights out during the day time, only one major appliance on at a time, etc."

Emily was able to "do something" in the midst of the chaos. Read about it here. She had a request and opportunity to check on some young American refugees and get word back to their families. The beauty and impact of this simple act breaks my heart.

She attended a child-friendly, play-group meeting for information about the disaster. A trained and prepared consultant was on hand to answer questions from moms of children.

Won't you take advantage of the resource Emily has given us. What will you take away from this to help you and yours in a time of need? I will be buying more candles this week-end.

Functional Friday: Evacuation and Shelters

Every local government is tasked with providing the necessary support for the residents in the midst of an emergency or disaster.  Most areas have a coordinated emergency plan that includes receiving assistance from other jurisdictions and agencies.  (If you want to know your city, county, or state's disaster plan, you need to ask them.)  One of the services that a local government may need to provide is evacuation and emergency sheltering.  When residents are in immediate or eminent danger, without some critical service or utility, or unable to occupy their own homes, the local government should be able to provide a means of transportation to a reasonable location for these residents to stay temporarily.  I am certainly not giving any legal advice, if you want to know the government's obligation to serve or someone's right to receive services (or not receive), consult an attorney.  I am however hoping to offer some tips that might help you, someone you care about, or your community, if you find that evacuation and sheltering is necessary.

Your go-bag needs to be ready for this scenario.  Have the supplies that you need to grab and go out the door in an emergency.  You'll often return home within 24 hours; pack what you'll need (at a minimum) for three days.  Pack seven days or more of critical medications and medical supplies, special dietary requirements, or other critical items.

Shelters are inconvenient - Have another plan!  Serving as a place to stay that's better than nowhere, shelters are simply not ideal.  There are lines for the bathroom.  The food can be sub-par.  The cots are often uncomfortable.  The noise can be disturbing.  Kids are restless, yours or otherwise.  Make sure you have written into your emergency plan at least one place that you and your family (including pets) can go and stay if you are forced to leave your house.

Shelters generally do not allow pets.  Make solid alternate plans for your pets in an emergency.  Local governments should be able accommodate the transportation and transfer or your pet if it's in a pet carrier and has the proper food and equipment required for it's care.  Emergency resident shelters, however, will generally not allow your pet to stay with you.  Have a plan that keeps you together or be prepared to be separated.

Don't plan on a hotel being your shelter.  Many hotels are affected by the disaster, too.  Operational hotels for miles around will often book up immediately after a disaster.  Public, private, government, media and utility workers will flood the area to assist, inspect, appraise, advise, and report.  If you get a room, great!  (Confirm that you can reserve your room for an unlimited amount of time.)  The hotel  should charge the standard rate, but several nights can add up fast and may not be covered by insurance or government assistance.  Better to know a nearby, but out-of-town, contact to stay with.

I strongly discourage you from sheltering the public yourself.  Agencies and organizations spend many hours and dollars preparing to shelter others in an emergency.  Many important details and weighty expenses are invisible to the untrained individual.  There are liabilities involved, as well.  If your company or organization is sincerely interested in sheltering those in need, contact an experienced organization and get some training.  Or invite them to include your facility as a possible shelter location.

In many states, you not required to evacuate.  Inevitably, the media interviews someone on television that's going to "ride it out."  Weather and other disasters are unpredictable and inconsistent.  You would not be asked to evacuate if the situation were not deemed to be highly unstable and potentially disastrous.  If you do stay, be prepared to go without any assistance for days.

If you have functional needs, let the shelter know immediately.  In many areas the police and/or fire and rescue will also keep an advanced registry of residents that have needs that require special accommodations.  Get your name on that list, if they have one.  Many times, necessary requests can be met with adequate notification.  (Dietary needs, medical requirements, prescription refills.)  Also, take a moment right now to consider your neighbors.  Do you know anyone you that might require special assistance during a disaster or evacuation?  An elderly lady, a single mom with latch key kids, a man in a wheel chair, an immigrant family that speaks little English, a family member on oxygen or IV medication, a couple with no car, someone with reduced mental faculties, a neighbor's daughter with diabetes, someone with religious requirements.  Is there something that you could do now or during an emergency to assist them?  (Have you considered asking?)

Support and assist the organizations that provide emergency shelters.  Sheltering can be dirty, tiring, thankless work.  But thanks to many generous organizations, we do not leave victims sleeping and living in the streets.  If helping those in desperate need and emotional upheaval is your "cup of tea", train and volunteer with an organization the feeds and shelters thousands of citizens every year.  Chances are you'll benefit from the opportunity.  The rest of us need to provide the financial support that these agencies require to continue their work.

Nuclear Aftermath for Beginners (or - That could be us!) 
What should you do about nuclear safety in your home? In the US, public awareness and education campaigns have failed.  In Japan, as time hurdles on and as more residents are evacuated due to concerns at the nuclear plants, the need for basic resources becomes desperate.  Many victims have no phone, no power, no heat, and no food, some have no home.  And many residents are now facing a cloud of radioactive exhaust from efforts to stabilize the affected reactors. 

What can we do if we are thrust into a situation where nuclear contamination is a concern?  With so many variables out of our control, here's how to prepare for what we can control.

1) Be prepared to shelter in place.  Make a kit and train your family.  Do it now.
  • Know local risks and listen for the alert or notification.
  • Go to a room on the top floor, with fewest windows and vents.
  • Turn off fans and ventilation systems in whole house.
  • Take shelter in place kit with you. (Add duct tape, large sheets of plastic, and a bucket to your current emergency kit.)
  • Close doors and windows, seal all openings to the room with tape and plastic.
  • Listen to media for further instructions.
2) Keep a stock of food, bottled water, medication, and needed supplies in your home at all times.

3) Chemical emergencies usually only last an hour or more.  Depending on the contamination, nuclear incidents could last more.  If you live within 50 miles of a reactor, check with local authorities for plans and preferred evacuation routes.  Include such information in your family preparedness plan.

4) Stay where you are!  Even if you are in your car (perhaps stranded), staying enclosed is a greater protection than leaving your home, work, or car seeking shelter nearby.  If you are outdoors, seek the closest immediate shelter.

5) Radiation sickness can often be avoided or treated.  Be certain to indoors and follow instructions.  First responders will try to contain and decontaminate the area (and you, if needed).  Do not expose others by moving about before you are permitted.  Decontamination will be simplified if everyone cooperates. 

6) Most related illnesses are caused by high levels or longer terms of exposure to contaminants. Symptoms may be slow and/or subtle to manifest.  Report concerns and symptoms and seek treatment for concern over the next several months.

Japan's Quake Should Shake Us Into Action

I just got an email from a friend of a friend.  John P. is stuck at the airport in Narita, Japan.  Apparently the earthquake struck just as his plane landed.  He's fine, but for over five hours he's been standing in the airport shoulder to shoulder next to thousands of others with no provisions.  Hundreds (if not thousands) of victims lost their lives today, and the aftermath of this morning's 8.9 quake and tsunami will last for days, weeks, months, and years into the future. 

Help! As members of a global community, we all have the ability and (I dare say) obligation to lend a hand to our fellow man.  (Red Cross, World Vision)  For some of us prayers are the most precious gift we are able to offer.  Certainly financial gifts will be needed to restore that region.  Some Americans will have an opportunity to travel to Japan and assist in the restoration.  Whatever your situation, I urge you to do something right now.

Learn!  I also want to remind you that most of the United States' population lives in seismically active areas.  The US Geological Survey's website offers a lot of useful information.  Check to see what the risk is in your area.  (Remember that areas you travel to for business and leisure may be affected as well.)

Prepare!  As we watch the recovery in Japan unfold, be reminded of the steps that you might take to reduce the panic, heartbreak, and devastation if this happened in your community.  Take measures to quake-proof your home.  Know (and train your family) on what to do during an earthquake.  Prepare an emergency kit - with flashlights and other supplies you may need immediately after a quake or other disaster.  Keep supplies on hand to ride out inevitable post-disaster shortages.

Plan ahead!  Finally, when you travel, keep a few supplies right with you everywhere you go.  I hope John had a bottle of water, a granola bar and a pen light in his carry on bag.  I also hope he has a designated emergency contact here in the states.  Although he was able to get some information back to the states, he may have had his only opportunity to call.  His friends and family need to know who to contact here to check on him.

Related Posts:
Functional Friday: Preparedness Project - Evacuation Bag
Preparedness at Night
Disaster Cycle
Functional Friday: Go-Bag Part I - The Need

Avoiding the (Practically) Unavoidable - BPA

After reading Jennifer's post about food safety and BPA, I started looking around and paying attention to this issue.  And what I've found is amazing.  BPA is absolutely everywhere.

A trip to Whole Foods yielded the three tomato items pictured, but they are only potentially in BPA free packaging.  (I have found none but pasta sauce elsewhere.)  I was not able to find  confirmation of BPA testing for any of these products.  Despite BPA free packaging and labeling, many food products still contain measurable amounts of BPA, perhaps from being stored, shipped, and processed in containers that may contain BPA. 

I've also learned that the "BPA free" labeling on many products only includes the raw materials.  These items may contain BPA that leached into the product from the manufacturing equipment that did contain BPA.

And if you mother told you once, she told you a thousand times, "Wash your hands before you eat."  Here's one more reason why.  Those quick and convenient thermal receipts are often coated in BPA.  BPA has been proven to absorb through the skin, but handling a receipt and eating would significantly increase exposure.

Good news from SC Johnson!  Ziplock bags and plastic containers do not contain BPA, according to their website.

I've begun avoiding canned goods altogether, which is a huge jump from where I started.  As I originally collected a pantry full of "inventory," a good portion of that was canned goods.  I've begun looking for tetra-pak and pouched foods.  I've also purchased a lot more frozen foods, especially vegetables.  And I'm buying everything I can in glass.  (Although most lids still contain BPA, it's obviously less area and in less contact.)

According to the Environmental Working Group, plastics #1, #2, and #4 are BPA free.  I'm checking the package before I buy products now.

I also just invested in more glass storage-ware.  And I'm looking at purchasing some canning jars for food storage, as well.  (Although those lids also contain BPA.)

Functional Friday: Family Emergency Plan

We're going to write your first Family Emergency Preparedness Plan.  Get a pad of paper and a pen (or pencil or computer, whatever...).  Let's go!  (You can construct a basic plan online here.)

Household Information
  • Write down the address, phone, photo of residence, landlord's name and number
  • Write down the names of household members at your residence, list each birthdate, identifying characteristics, medical needs, social security number, and contact information (cell number, email, work location and info, etc.)
  • Now write the names, location/addresses, and above information of other family members or important people included in your plan.
Meeting Places
  • Initially you should plan to meet up at home, if possible.  That is where your resources and safety will lie.  From there you can make decisions and plans.
  • Establish three meeting places at your home.  1) The first is where to meet inside the house during a storm, a tornado, or other unsafe situation outside our home (Riots?).  Our "hide-out" is the red sofa in our basement rec room. 2) Next is a shelter-in-place room.  We'll talk about this room later, in detail.  But for now pick a room on the highest level of your house, few windows, and space for everyone to hang out for a few hours.   3) The last is one next to your home to meet if your own residence is not accessible, such as in a fire.  Ours is my neighbor's front porch. Make sure everyone understands to stay there until everyone is safely accounted for.
  • Finally, decide another location near your home where your family could meet if your home were not accessible.  Maybe a friend's house a few blocks away, a business, a park, a landmark.
Emergency Contact
  • Determine an out-of-region/out-of-state telephone contact for the whole family.  In an emergency, phone systems may allow calls out of the region when lines within the region are jammed.
  • Make certain that everyone in the family knows the name, address, phone number, and possibly email for that out of town contact.  Determine if that contact's residence will also be a meeting place, as well.  (Out-of-town meeting place should be, perhaps, 50-120 miles away.  Close enough to drive easily and quickly, far enough to escape regional disaster.)  Everyone should practice calling the contact person, especially if your household contains younger children.  
  • If the out-of-town contact cannot be your long distance meeting place, designate another and include it in your emergency and communication plans as well.
Other Contacts
  • Make a list (name, address, phone and email) of friends, family, agencies and professionals you might need to contact in an emergency situation.
  • Family, friends and neighbors
  • Doctors and pediatrician, hospital and ambulance, police and fire, 
  • Car dealership and/or garage, veterinarian, attorney, accountant, bank, day care and/or babysitter
  • Clergy, therapist, 
  • Local assistance organizations website, phone number, and address (Red Cross, Salvation Army, churches)
Records and Data (Originals or Copies)
  • Driver's License, Identification cards, Social Security cards, 
  • Car and house keys
  • Marriage License, Divorce Decree, Adoption Certificate, other relevant court documents
  • Car titles, land deeds, tax records, financial records, wills and trusts
  • Prescriptions, medical information and requirements,
  • Photos of family members, homes, other property, jewelry and valuables
  • Copies of insurance cards, policies, and credit cards
  • Pets medical and vaccination records
  • Flash drive or other digital storage of photos, documents, and other data
  • City and regional maps
 Emergency Resources
  • Cash (Cash is critical in a disaster where power is out.  Banks, stores, and ATM will be closed.)  An actual credit card may be of use as well.
  • Home disaster kit, Shelter-in-place kit, Go-bag or evacuation kit, Car kits, Work/School kit, Purse or personal kit
  • Long term stock of food storage, medications, supplies
  • Commodities - What will a neighborhood or community run out of and be unable to restock in an emergency?  What will people want or need but not have?  These useful (or luxury) items can be given to others in Good Samaritan fashion, as a thank you for assistance, as a bargaining tool for items you might need, or simply as additional stores for later use.
  • Emergency utilities (generator, fuel powered heating and cooking, water purification, battery powered radio or tv)
 Written Plan
  • Write a few paragraphs describing what your family will do in each of several disasters.  Where will you go.  Will you stay together?  Who will pick up the kids? Where will you meet?
  • Power outage, family separated, kids at home but unreachable, kids at school but unreachable, kids or parent "gone out", parent/spouse out of town, phone communication down, evacuation requested/ordered, house/neighborhood inaccessible, house is damaged while occupied, house fire, flash flooding, local eminent disasters, earthquake, etc.
  • Don't get too bogged down in the details, at first.  Concentrate on the basics: will we stay or go?, where?, what resources and training do we have?

    Do It Yourself - Granola

    I didn't want to be left out of the fun.  After making my own yogurt (with a couple of humorous errors), I wanted to tell you about my granola creation experience, which perfectly complemented our recent begun quest to create homemade fruit and yogurt parfaits.

    The only person in our house that loves granola more than me is my ten year old daughter.  She loves anything that seems special and out of the ordinary.  (She is quite a princess and deserves only the finest things, don't you know.)  I have also discovered  This website mines other cooking sites to bring together recipes that fit your criteria.  You can search by the recipe name or by the ingredients in a dish, and you can specify which ingredients to leave out, as well.  I typed in granola and Whammo! there are 25+ recipes for me to peruse.  I picked this one, and left out the raisins.  (There are no raisins in a Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait.)

    The results were delicious and it was so easy.  I want to try a few other granola recipes.  I'd like to get the pieces to clump together and crunch a bit more.  I'm not sure how to do that, yet.  I also want to try this recipe for citrus granola.  Mmmm...