Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some of my homemade gifts this year.....

(The best gift I ever made--Briggy!)

I made quite a few homemade gifts the year. I am posting this hoping that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law amy wont be checking the blog, since we should be arriving there around 4 pm. So if you are looking....Don't scroll down, or you'll ruin your Christmas gift surprises!

Jocelyn showed me how to make tutu's, so I made a green and pink fairy princess tutu for my little niece addy. I wrapped it up before I took a picture...but its very cute! (thanks jocelyn!)

Another Addy gift was a ribbon holder. I am sure she will be wearing lots of pretties in her hair, and this is a cute way to organize them.

For my mother-in-law I wanted to do something with Briggy photos, because we have never got professional photos done, so I havent had any nice ones to give her. I got this idea from my friend liza ( she was kind enough to send me these nesting boxes--I couldn't find any ANYWHERE out here! What I like most about this little project, is that the pictures are on scrapbook paper that are hung on hooks. So every few months, I can send Tina updated picture/scrapbook cut outs, and she can hang the new ones it grows with him!
I painted it a chocolate brown and distressed the HECK out of it! I would have liked to have sewn the pictures on like Liza did, but I don't have the machine or the skills! maybe my next set of pictures for tina will be sewn! Anyway, I think it turned out pretty good...and I think she will really like it.

Then for my mother and Tina I made some quick little brag books (filled with adorable pictures of my little guy--of course!!)

When Briggy was born, my aunt sent the coolest gift. Matching polo shirts for Tom and Briggy. Briggy's said "Chip" and Tom's said "Block"
So I painted a frame Navy blue and had white chipboard letters saying "Chip off the Old Block" its another one I didn't take a picture of yet, but here is the picture that's going in the frame!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cookie # 1

Well, I planned on having a cookie making extravaganza on friday with my lil' sis and my mom. I planned all these yummy snacks, music, briggy's outfit, aprons, and of course a menu of cookies we would make. Then we had our BLIZZARD of snow, which spoiled everything :(

I tried to cheer myself up, and made my first batch of cookies for christmas. Tom loves Oatmeal raisin cookies. I really don't like raisins in my I compromised. We both like toffee and oatmeal, so I found this great recipe (on the back of the hershey's toffee bag)
They are reallllly really good. I added the optional coconut. If you are extra homemakey you could make your own toffee bits and use them.....or buy them on sale at price rite for $1.69...up to you :)

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1-1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) toffee bits
1 cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes(optional)


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Beat butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; beat until blended.

2. Stir in oats, toffee bits and coconut, if desired, with spoon. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto prepared sheet.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove to wire rack. About 4 dozen cookies

Friday, December 19, 2008

Vegetable Dish

I signed us up to bring a "vegetable dish" to our ward's Christmas party tomorrow. I knew RIGHT away exactly what recipe I'd make. My sister-in-law, Amy gave me this great recipe book when Tom and I were engaged that had a lot of family favorites, as well as some of Amy's yummy finds. Ever since I made this recipe, I had been a staple in our home!

Spicy Green Bean Casserole

2 cans of french style green beans
2 cloves of garlic
Bacon (I usually fry about 6-8 slices) chopped up
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 t. paprika
1 t. chili powder
2 cups cracker crumbs

Boil greens (in their liquid), 2 cloves of garlic, 2 T bacon drippings for 10 minutes.
Drain, but retain bean stock. Put beans and bacon mix in casserole dish. Heat soup and dilute with 3/4 cup bean stock (discard the rest)
Melt 3/4 cheddar cheese in soup mixture. Add paprika and chili powder.
Pour mixture over beans and stir well.
Sprinkle with cracker crumbs (or fried onions) and dot with butter.
Bake at 325 for 40-60 minutes

This serves 6-8
I normally put it a smaller casserole dish...I think its a 8x8...but for the party I think I'll have to double it and pile it into a 9x13.

I know its a "vegetable dish" and it contains hopefully any vegetarians in our ward won't be too upset with me....but MAN OH MAN this is GOOOOOOOD.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pretty Paper Bows

I thought this tutorial was pretty neat....especially if you have loads of cute scrapbook paper that would make much prettier bows than the cheap dollar store ones I usually buy....guilty as charged! I don't think I'll get around to making these this year, but its definitely going into my favorite file!

Here's the link:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Enrichment Night

This evening we had a really lovely enrichment night. We read a very sweet and moving childrens book...I believe it was called "The Crippled Lamb" by Max Lucado. We had tons and tons of yummy treats and a white elephant gift swap! I recieved a red-holiday hopefully I'll be able to use that next year when we have a home and a dining room table!! *cross your fingers*
I was asked to share a little holiday story or memory, and after talking with my sister Jessie, I decided on the candy cane story. We both recall learning about the significance behind the tasty treat in CCD many years ago. I remembered how it symbolized the shepards crook, the J for Jesus, and that the red represented Christs blood shed for us...but Jessie came across this sweet poem that I printed out on cardstock and added a candy cane. This would be a nice thoughtful "gift" for a woman you visit teach or a neighbor.....

Jesus, Gentle Shepherd,
this cane of red and white
proclaims the sweet love story
born on Christmas night
This cane, you see, when turned around
begins your name of Love
and now becomes a symbol
of peace proclaimed above

The lively peppermint flavor
is the regal gift of spice
The white is your purity
and the red your sacrifice

And so this cane reminds us
of just how much you care
and like your Christmas Gift to us
it's meant for all to share

Isn't that sweet? It's so nice to think about all Christ has done for us and the true meaning of His birth through beautiful (and tasty) holiday candy that you may have only thought was a "commerical" christmas accessory....I'm glad to know its so much more!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A frugal Christmas

This year, Tom and I decided that we our going to "re-gift" our "vows" we made as a new couple last year (during a FHE we wrote lists of ways we could be better people and better spouses to one another) And work on them extra hard this year....this is in replace of typical Christmas gifts. I have also been buying and sanitizing second-hand Briggy gifts the past few months, so his toys will be shiny and him. There are a few sale items I'll pick up, but most everything is second hand or homemade. I thought I would be really depressed about this, but I'm actually feeling really good about not over-spending this holiday season. I have a tendency to go a little bonkers buying LOTS AND LOTS....a bad habit I am trying to break. But one of my most favorite things to do as a little girl was to make elaborate "what i want for christmas" lists to santa claus. I would cut and paste pictures of the toys I wanted on contstruction paper and send it to the north pole. So this year, I am going to blog all the wildly extravagant gifts I want, just for fun.

The Cricut Expression and a bazillion cartridges:

The Willow Tree Nativity:

Amazing Temple Picture:

Of course we would want the Boston Temple, but Tom's parent's (and Devon and Eric) were sealed in the Oakland Temple....I want to buy this for them someday soon!

A bazillion scentsys:


A Grecian Getaway:



See why I have to contain myself? No, this isn't a sneaky attempt for my husband to check my blog and see what a really want, and break the deal and buy me goodies. No, no, no---if you do, Tom, I'll be really upset! We've got to stick to our plan!!! :)
Just thought I'd make my greedy little wish list!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ahhhh I forgot to post!

I TOTALLLLLY FORGOT to post a $10 off coupon code for an order of $50 purchase at DESERET BOOK. It ends tonight at midnight. I just placed an order and remembered I had that code. Anyway, if you happen to catch this today, you can score a few dollars get your goodies now, otherwise shipping might be backed up!

8CCDIR is for $10 off a $50 purchase
and if you make an online purchase you can enter PAULO8 for a free cd.

8CCRET is for $5 off a $25 purchase

I am SOOOO sorry I didn't post these sooner :(

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Land of Nod

Have you all heard of this store, or am I the only one living under a rock? Its really cute, over-priced stuff (think potterybarn) It's Crate and Barrel's kids branch off. I discovered it last week and was trying to scope out some idea's for Briggy and future babies play room. The only thing I don't understand is why places like this have to be so ridiculously cute and so ridiculously overpriced? I mean, they're manufactured in the same factories as KMART furniture. (I don't know if thats really true, but I wouldn't doubt it) Ergh. Well, if anyone's in the mood to splurge on some CUUUUUTTTE stuff, there is free shipping until 12/1 (on your entire order) if you enter in the code: REINDEER Ive also seen the promo code: WINTER

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I am thankful for...ooey gooey goodness!

Don't these cinnamon rolls look HEAVENLY? Jessie introduced me to the recipe, and I'm planning on making them Thanksgiving morning for my wonderful family! (That is, if I can get my hands on some dry active yeast before we leave) Apparently these rolls are so good---the best ever. Jessie had great luck with them, so hopefully I won't mess up the recipe.

Here is the RECIPE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November Visiting Teaching

For this month I focused on gratitude, seeing as Thanksgiving is just around the corner. One of my favorite talks given at conference (which is posted below) was Elder Uctdorf's. I didn't hear his words or see him deliver this talk over the pulpit, but his words just jumped out of the page for he was talking to me! He really is an amazing man, I am truly grateful for his leadership and love. In my little packet, I included a recipe for THE BEST EVER APPLE PIE! and a grateful book. It could be a scrapbook filled with pictures, or a journal to write down anything you are grateful for, that you may need to be reminded of sometimes.

I came across this quotation when I was researching gratefulness, and I liked it. I didn't include it in the packet, but I thought I'd share it here:

If you haven't got all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don't have, that you dont want.

kind of a tongue twister. but its very true, and very applicable to me. I have an amazingly NASTY ability to play the "woe is me" card, thinking about all the things I don't have that others do. It takes a good man like, Tom, or a quotation like this to put me in my place. I am really blessed with very much. Maybe not materially, maybe not financially, but in many ways. My family is healthy and happy and growing. Those are the blessings that mean the most. There are so many people that have a much harder life, and I (unfortuantely) have to remind myself, that I don't have it so bad...and I should be putting more effort into helping those people instead of complaining. Many of you are better about this than I, but I think we all catch our self in that "woe is me" mode every once in awhile. We can all be a little better about this, and hopefully my ladies will enjoy their little grateful journal to help them in this!
I want to make this pie for one of the holidays......
RECIPE AT THIS LINK (from Pioneer Woman Cooks!)

Happiness, Your Heritage
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness.

My dear sisters, I am grateful for this, my first opportunity to speak to the women of the Church gathered together in all parts of the world. We are especially honored today with the presence of President Monson and President Eyring. The choir has touched our hearts. We have been inspired by the messages of Sister Thompson, Sister Allred, and Sister Beck.

Since learning that I would be with you today, I have thought about the many women who have shaped my life: my wonderful wife, Harriet; my mother; my mother-in-law; my sister; my daughter; my daughter-in-law; and many friends. All my life I have been surrounded by women who inspired, taught, and encouraged me. I am who I am today in large part because of these singular women. Each time I meet with the sisters of the Church, I sense that I am in the midst of similar remarkable souls. I am grateful to be here, grateful for your talents, compassion, and service. Most of all, I am grateful for who you are: treasured daughters of our Heavenly Father with infinite worth.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but the differences between men and women can often be quite striking—physically and mentally, as well as emotionally. One of the best ways I can think of to illustrate this is in the way my wife and I cook a meal.

When Harriet prepares a meal, it’s a masterpiece. Her cuisine is as wide-ranging as the world, and she frequently prepares dishes from countries we have visited. The presentation of the food is awe inspiring. In fact, it often looks so beautiful that it seems a crime to eat it. It’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the sense of taste.

But sure enough, no matter how perfect everything is, looks, and tastes, Harriet will apologize for something she thinks is imperfect. “I’m afraid I used a touch too much ginger,” she will say, or, “Next time, I think it would be better if I used a little more curry and one additional bay leaf.”

Let me contrast that with the way I cook. For the purpose of this talk, I asked Harriet to tell me what I cook best.

Her answer: fried eggs.

Sunny-side up.

But that isn’t all. I have a specialty dish called Knusperchen. The name may sound like a delicacy you might find at an exclusive restaurant. Let me share with you how to make it. You cut French bread into small slices and toast them twice.

That is the recipe!

So, between fried eggs, even when they are greasy, and Knusperchen, even when they are burned, when I cook, I feel pretty heroic.

Perhaps this contrast between my wife and me is a slight exaggeration, but it illustrates something that may extend beyond preparing meals.

To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they really are.

Perhaps you recognize this trait in someone you know really well.

The good news is that this also points to an admirable quality: the innate desire to please the Lord to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, it can also lead to frustration, exhaustion, and unhappiness.

To All Who Are Weary

Today I would like to speak to those who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary—in short, I would like to speak to all of us.

I also pray that the Holy Ghost will amplify my words and bestow upon them additional meaning, insight, and inspiration.

We know that sometimes it can be difficult to keep our heads above water. In fact, in our world of change, challenges, and checklists, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to avoid feeling overwhelmed by emotions of suffering and sorrow.

I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. This isn’t a pep talk or an attempt to encourage those sinking in quicksand to imagine instead they are relaxing on a beach. I recognize that in all of our lives there are real concerns. I know there are hearts here today that harbor deep sorrows. Others wrestle with fears that trouble the soul. For some, loneliness is their secret trial.

These things are not insignificant.

However, I would like to speak about two principles that may help you find a path to peace, hope, and joy—even during times of trial and distress. I want to speak about God’s happiness and how each one of us can taste of it in spite of the burdens that beset us.

God’s Happiness
Let me first pose a question: What do you suppose is the greatest kind of happiness possible? For me, the answer to this question is, God’s happiness.

This leads to another question: What is our Heavenly Father’s happiness?

This may be impossible to answer because His ways are not our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts [higher] than [our] thoughts.”1

Though we cannot understand “the meaning of all things,” we do “know that [God] loveth his children”2 because He has said, “Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”3

Heavenly Father is able to accomplish these two great goals—the immortality and eternal life of man—because He is a God of creation and compassion. Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father’s perfect happiness. Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate.

The Work of Creation

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.

You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop.”

If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.

But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy.4 Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.

If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us.5 The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it.

Nearly a century and a half ago, President Brigham Young spoke to the Saints of his day. “There is a great work for the Saints to do,” he said. “Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations. In the mean time continually seek to adorn your minds with all the graces of the Spirit of Christ.”6

The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.

Being Compassionate

Being compassionate is another great work of our Heavenly Father and a fundamental characteristic of who we are as a people. We are commanded to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”7 Disciples of Christ throughout all ages of the world have been distinguished by their compassion. Those who follow the Savior “mourn with those that mourn . . . and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”

When we reach out to bless the lives of others, our lives are blessed as well. Service and sacrifice open the windows of heaven, allowing choice blessings to descend upon us. Surely our beloved Heavenly Father smiles upon those who care for the least of His children.

As we lift others, we rise a little higher ourselves. President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley believed in the healing power of service. After the death of his wife, he provided a great example to the Church in the way he immersed himself in work and in serving others. It is told that President Hinckley remarked to one woman who had recently lost her husband, “Work will cure your grief. Serve others.”

These are profound words. As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.

President Lorenzo Snow expressed a similar thought: “When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated.”10

In today’s world of pop psychology, junk TV, and feel-good self-help manuals, this advice may seem counterintuitive. We are sometimes told that the answer to our ills is to look inward, to indulge ourselves, to spend first and pay later, and to satisfy our own desires even at the expense of those around us. While there are times when it is prudent to look first to our own needs, in the long run it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness.

An Instrument in the Hands of the Lord

I believe that the women of the Church, regardless of age or family status, understand and apply best the words of James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”11 Often I have witnessed quiet acts of kindness and compassion by noble women who extended themselves in unselfish charity. My heart swells when I hear stories of the sisters of the Church and how they rush to the aid of those in need.

There are those in the Church—both men and women—who wonder how they can contribute to the kingdom. Sometimes women who are single, divorced, or widowed wonder if there is a place for them. Every sister in the Church is of critical importance—not only to our Heavenly Father but also to the building of the kingdom of God as well. There is a great work to do.

One year ago in this meeting, President Monson taught that “you are . . . surrounded by opportunities for service. . . . Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another.”12 Look around you. There at sacrament meeting is a young mother with several children—offer to sit with her and help. There in your neighborhood is a young man who seems discouraged—tell him you enjoy being in his presence, that you feel his goodness. True words of encouragement require only a loving and caring heart but may have an eternal impact on the life of those around you.

You wonderful sisters render compassionate service to others for reasons that supersede desires for personal benefits. In this you emulate the Savior, who, though a king, did not seek position, nor was He concerned about whether others noticed Him. He did not bother to compete with others. His thoughts were always tuned to help others. He taught, healed, conversed, and listened to others. He knew that greatness had little to do with outward signs of prosperity or position. He taught and lived by this doctrine: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”13

In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.


My dear sisters, I have a simple faith. I believe that as you are faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, as you draw closer to Him in faith, hope, and charity, things will work together for your good.14 I believe that as you immerse yourselves in the work of our Father—as you create beauty and as you are compassionate to others—God will encircle you in the arms of His love.15 Discouragement, inadequacy, and weariness will give way to a life of meaning, grace, and fulfillment.

As spirit daughters of our Heavenly Father, happiness is your heritage.

You are choice daughters of our Heavenly Father, and through the things you create and by your compassionate service, you are a great power for good. You will make the world a better place. Lift up your chin; walk tall. God loves you. We love and admire you.

Of this I testify, and leave you my blessing as an Apostle of the Lord, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Coupons for Christmas Shopping....

I always search online for coupons, and I even have that "freebie blogger" link to the left, but I found another one with some useful information.
They list stores alphabetically, so you can click on the store you want--and then if there are any available coupons, you are able to see them and print them.
Target has a pretty good one now until 11/ toys. $5-20 off select toys.

Hope it helps! You know me, always in search of a deal!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Home Management Notebook

I don't think I have ever blogged about my Home Management Notebook, but I made before our wedding day, so I would have it as a new wife. It has various sections: Correspondence, Monthly Calendar, Food (Weekly Menus, Grocery Lists, Food Storage Inventory/Info, Take out Menus, Quick Fix Recipes), Finances (Budget, Bills, Coupons), Inspiration (Scriptures, quotes, thoughts)...anyway, I made mine when I was living in-between homes, so I didn't have my scrapbooking supplies or access to a computer/ mine is very basic, and I recently decided to revamp it. Then I realized I have 3 wedding gifts to give in the matter of a month...I thought, why not give each new couple a notebook? I know its not extravagant and costly, but its homemade and useful. Hopefully they'll like it. Anyway, the first one I made was for The Wightmans. I just took a quick pic so you could visualize what I'm talking about.

I had my wisdom teeth pulled out today, and wooooweee, the novacaine started wearing off a couple hours ago and I am in a mess of pain!!!!!!!!! Stupid teeth. Why do we have them anyway?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Calling all Crafters....

Local crafters, that is...that actually look at this blog....
I was hoping to ask a favor.
Do any of you have a scallop puncher thingy? I was hoping to make a little project that I would need it for, but I am a cheapskate right now, and don't want to shell out the $20 bucks (WHY are they so MUCH?) Anyway, just thought I'd ask.
Thanks, everybody.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another coupon....

Well, I just got a message from my mother-in-law that she saved a BUNDLE of money by using that Christmas Tree Shop coupon I posted a week or so ago! I came across this coupon and naturally thought of her (she loves this place) but Im sure most of you love it too...
Bath and Body works! They always have yummy holiday soaps and lotions.

$10 off a $30 in-store purchase. Not bad.

click HERE and you'll be able to print it out!

mmmmm.....they have the sweet cinnamon pumpkin on sale (all halloween stuff is still on sale) and my FAVORITE winter candy apple. (I have contemplated swiping my mother-in-laws bottle in the guest bathroom many times....hehe) now I can get my own :)

I'm not crazy....

that's what I've been telling myself over and over this week--as I've been pureeing my little heart out. Normally I try to do it in two days, but somehow with the election, appointments, getting a cold....its lasted about five days on and off. As I am steaming, mashing and pureeing into the wee hours of the am, I started thinking to myself, am I crazy--is this even worth it? I am by no means a healthy eater, but I am passionate about Brigham eating and liking foods other than french fries. This process has also helped me develop a more open mind for myself as well. So eating organic, crazy healthy foods (flaxseed meal and brewers yeast...)it is worth it for my little boy. He has grown so well, so fast, he's so healthy....he had a runny nose once, but I don't even think that was a cold--I think it was in response to him I am VERY VERY blessed to have my little preemie baby grow to be so healthy and strong! So that aspect, its totally worth it--and I honestly recommend this way of eating for all babies. But is it that cost efficient? YES YES YES! Have you GLANCED at the prices of organic gerber/earth best jarred food? When I need a fast on the run meal, I have purchased the Gerber organic food which is approximately $1.59. I have seen it a few cents more or less at different places, but thats about the average price. If you have a smaller baby, or one with not an enormous appetite, one of the two little plastic containers is enough--but Brigham can down both.....not to mention there isn't much a variety in the organic choices you have. I usually get mine at Big Y (they have like 2 flavors in the smaller containers at Walmart :( )
and the choices are usually: green beans, sweet potato, pears, bananas. thats it. Maybe your local grocery store carries more of a variety, but thats usually the few I see.
So Briggy eats three big meals a day, plus one small/medium "snack" between lunch and dinner. that would be about $5 a day.

Well here is a list of my purchases at Trader Joes:
(we go once a month, because it is a 40 minute if I lived closer, I might by less and do its bi-weekly....for space convinence)

2 Organic cut Butternut Squash: 1.99 each
A bunch of bananas (I usually don't buy organic bananas) 1.33
Organic green beans: 4.29
Organic yellow squash (2 big ones) 2.99
2 bags of Organic broccoli florets: 2.99 each
Organic russet potatoes (5 lbs) 4.29
2 bags of Organic pears: 3.49 each
1 bag of 4 organic kiwi's: 2.29
2 2 lb bags of organic sweet potatoes: 3.79 each
Organic gala apples: 4.69
4 sacks of organic avocados (16 total) 4.99 each

Our grand total, with tax was: $62.25 and we have enough for a little over a month.
I also buy the big 32 oz. tub of Stoneyfield's organic whole milk plain yogurt which is $4.29 at Big Y. If you buy the individual "Yo baby" yogurts, its 4.29 for 24 oz's.

I go through two tubs of the yogurt a month, because I feed it to him every other day. so that's another $8.58. I for see the flax meal lasting me 1 1/2 or 2 months, and that was $2. I also buy the Gerber meat dinners, or the earth best organic meat dinners when they are on sale (20 for $10 etc) so I spend approximately $80 a month of food for Brigham making my homemade organics....

but if I bought the organic jars, and yo baby yogurt I would be spending approximately $175. So, to me, thats definitely worth it. Not to mention, Brigham is getting a wide variety of fruits and veggies that he just wouldn't get in jars.
ANNNNND if you said to yourself, well, I'll just by regular jarred baby food and not organic, that total (along with the yogurt and dinners) would STILL be more than the homemade organic meal-plan, coming in at about $130!!
I understand that its not for everyone, but I am sticking to my guns on this one---the only thing is I wish I had a bigger freezer!!!!!!! I hardly have any room in there for anything other than baby food, but it helps me NOT buy ice cream.... :)

This picture I took the other day, doesn't even have all the purees, its missing the squash and half the potatoes!

In conclusion: Jarred Baby food meal-plan: $130 a month
Jarred Organic Baby food meal plan: $175 a month
Homemade Organic Baby food meal plan: $80 a month!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Slow Cooker Saturday

Sunday is a great day for a slow-cooker meal, especially a coooolllld one. This soup looked gooood to me, so I thought I'd share this yummy recipe.

Hearty Ham and Bean Soup

3 cup parsnips, peeled and diced
2 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup dried Great Northern Beans
5 cups of water
1 1/2 lbs of smoked ham hocks (I always think of Paula Deen when I see ham hocks!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Place parsnips, carrots and onion in a slow cooker; top with beans. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on high setting for 6-7 hours, or until beans are tender. Remove ham hocks; cut meat into bite-size pieces and discard bones. Return meat to slow cooker; heat through.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Christmas Tree Shop

November 1st starts my official countdown to CHRISTMAS! I ALMOST exclusively listen to Christmas music (NSYNC's Christmas album is THE best :)
So to start my countdown, Briggy and I are heading to The Christmas Tree Shop tomorrow morning!! I hope to buy discounted Halloween decorations for next year...but I'll be able to scope out all the Christmas goodies!! I searched online to see if they had any printable coupons I could use....and they do have some, but you cant use them until November 10-16. Click HERE for the page to print them off!
I also found out that they are going to be filming Christmas Tree Shop's commerical tomorrow, so you never know--you might see Brigham and me on TV!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cute Halloween Kitty Cats

My sister-in-law, Amy made the sweetest kitty cat treats for her baby yoga class. What a cute Halloween treat! She has this posted on her blog, but I thought I'd post the recipe here as well. Auntie Amy is the best!

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
24 wooden craft sticks
48 pieces candy corn
24 red-hot candies or mini M&M's

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Roll dough into 1-1/2-in. balls. Place 3 in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets.
Insert a wooden stick into each cookie. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Pinch top of cookie to form ears. For whiskers, press a fork twice into each cookie. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are set. Remove from the oven; immediately press on candy corn for eyes and red-hots for noses. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Canned Butter FAQ

I suppose I should have put a disclaimer before my post. Canning butter is not officially recommended by the National Center for Home Preservation. You do have to be immensely careful when canning, and using a pressure cooker would also alleviate looking more into it online, I found information from both sides of the story--you be the judge. My sister made the comment that the Amish have been doing it forever...and they're still around...although because this blog is mainly for my own learning experience...I would not attempt this alone (without an experienced canner) because I have never done this before.
As for the comment about texture, this is what one man wrote:
I have made butter this way quite a few times. My wife and 2 kids cannot tell the difference, it does still taste like butter. We have also used it for cooking without any problems just like regular butter. We keep jars in the RV as they do not need refrigeration, one less thing to load and unload and keeps the fridge room open.

Canned butter does not "melt" again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.

Yes you can 'can' butter but it is much much better and easier and so much tastier of you order it from Australia. The butter and cheese for that matter will last about 20 years on the shelf.

Here's another view of canning butter:
We canned butter and though after 1 year it was not 'bad' it looked gross. So yes you can but there is a better way. I will have to get the company and it is shipped out of California. It is the best both the cheese and the butter. Commercially canned it safer, esp. with working with butter.

This is from the National Center for Home Preservation:
there are some directions for 'canning' butter in circulation on the Internet. Most of what we have seen are not really canning, as they do not have Boiling Water or Pressure Canning processes applied to the filled jar. Jars are preheated, the butter is melted down and poured into the jars, and the lids are put on the jars. Some directions say to put the jars in the refrigerator as they re-harden, but to keep shaking them at regular intervals to keep the separating butter better mixed as it hardens. This is merely storing butter in canning jars, not ‘canning’. True home canning is when the food is heated enough to destroy or sufficiently acid enough to prevent growth of all spores of Clostridium botulinum (that causes botulism) and other pathogens during room temperature storage on the shelf.

Additionally, when you consider the economics of the process (energy costs involved with heating, cost of jars and lids, etc.), even if the butter is bought on sale, it may not be economically viable to prepare butter to store for years in this manner. Good quality butter is readily available at all times, if butter is needed for fresh use. If the concern is about emergency food supplies, there are dry forms of butter that can be purchased and stored, oils that can be used in an emergency, or commercially canned butter in tins (although we have only seen this for sale from other countries). Melted and re-hardened butter may not function the same as original butter in many types of baking anyway.

There are a few issues with the common directions circulating on the Internet at this time:

1. Physical safety and food quality: In the provided directions, the jars are preheated in an oven (dry-heat), which is not recommended for canning jars. Manufacturers of canning jars do not recommend baking or oven canning in the jars. It is very risky with regard to causing jar breakage. There is no guarantee that the jars heated in this dry manner are sufficiently heated to sterilize them, as we do not have data on sterilizing jar surfaces by this dry-heating method.
2. The butter is not really being 'canned'; it is simply being melted and put in canning jars, and covered with lids. Due to some heat present from the hot melted butters and preheated jars, some degree of vacuum is pulled on the lids to develop a seal. It rarely is as strong a vacuum as you obtain in jars sealed through heat processing. The practice in these 'canned' butter directions is referred to as 'open-kettle' canning in our terminology, which is really no canning at all, since the jar (with product in it) is not being heat processed before storage.
3. Although mostly fat, butter is a low-acid food. Meat, vegetables, butter, cream, etc. are low-acid products that will support the outgrowth of C. botulinum and toxin formation in a sealed jar at room temperature. Low-acid products have to be pressure-canned by tested processes to be kept in a sealed jar at room temperature. It is not clear what the botulism risk is from such a high-fat product, but to store a low-acid moist food in a sealed jar at room temperature requires processing to destroy spores. A normal salted butter has about 16-17% water, some salt, protein, vitamins and minerals. Some butter-like spreads have varying amounts of water in them. We have no kind of database in the home canning/food processing arena to know what the microbiological concerns would be in a butter stored at room temperature in a sealed jar. In the absence of that, given that it is low-acid and that fats can protect spores from heat if they are in the product during a canning process, we cannot recommend storing butter produced by these methods under vacuum sealed conditions at room temperature.
4. Some other directions do call for 'canning' the filled jars of butter in a dry oven. This also is not 'canning'. There is not sufficient, research-based documentation to support that 'canning' any food in a dry oven as described on this web page or any page that proposes oven canning is even sufficient heating to destroy bacteria of concern, let alone enough to produce a proper seal with today's home canning lids.
In conclusion, with no testing having been conducted to validate these methods, we would NOT recommend or endorse them as a safe home-canning process, let alone for storing butter at room temperature for an extended period. We do know that the methods given for preheating empty jars, or even filled jars, in a dry oven are not recommended by the jar manufacturers or by us for any food. Aside from the physical safety and quality issues, and the fact that it is not canning at all, if there happened to be spores of certain bacteria in there, these procedures will not destroy those spores for safe room temperature storage.

So there you have it. I think the point that my sister made to her enrichment class, as well as mine in this post, was to showcase a not-so-common canning commodity that would be used in times of emergency. I wouldn't recommend just canning it for everyday use...also, when you go to open the jar...youre going to know if something's wrong with it by look, texture and smell. If it looks questionable, toss it!
I did look into ghee (clarified butter) which is also a pretty interesting process....and I think more "accepted" as far as canning goes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Elder Wirthlin Magnets

Those of you who were able to attend Sister Vasicek's Relief Society lesson today were in for a real treat! Not only was the message extremely moving--(I have been thinking about that talk for the past few weeks) But the magnets I made corresponded with a great quotation from Elder Wirthlin:

"The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony."

I thought this portion of his talk in particular fit in so well with the lesson outline, as well as the musical aspect relating to the Vasicek family! I hope everyone enjoys the magnet!
I sincerely apologize to the sisters that didn't receive one. We estimated about 25...but it looks like we needed closer to 35-40. I will have plenty of next lesson's treat prepared!
Hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Food Storage Friday!

When I first visited Utah, before I was even a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I remember my sister talking about a lesson in canning butter. Canning butter? Can you do that? Yes We Can! And it saves us a BUNDLE...buying canned butter is quite expensive. Here's the instructions:

Purchase 1 lb. of Land o Lakes butter. Place a pint jar in the oven for 20 minutes on 250 (without rings or seals). Melt all the butter in a pan, and bring to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes on low. Carefully remove the jar from the oven, and fill to the top with melted butter. (Be careful not to get any butter on the rim of the jar) Place the cap and ring on top of the jar, and twist tightly.

Allow to cool in the refrigerator, shaking occasionally to avoid separation. When completely cooled, place in pantry for up to 3 years!!!

Here are the ABC's of Household Products/Emergency Products

Air Mattress/Cot/Ground Pad
- If you’re positive that you wouldn’t be able to sleep with a rock in your back on the cold, hard ground, then now is the time to prepare. These items could one day be your bed during an emergency, and would be a real luxury. Patch kits are available to keep air mattresses usable. In the meantime, these items are handy for unexpected guests.

Baby items- If you’re expecting, or are planning in the near future... items such as formula, cloth diapers, baby clothes, baby food, and bottles could be a blessing to have on hand. If you do not need these items after all, they would be excellent for use as barter to families who find themselves in this unexpected situation. For deliveries it’s good to supply items like sterile scissors, strong silk thread, surgical soap, a nasal aspirator, etc.

Batteries- If you’re clever enough to store battery operated radios, lamps, flashlights and so on, you’ll never have too many batteries. Be sure to rotate them now, on an ongoing basis, as you use them. They can be stored in the refrigerator. Keep track of where batteries are in your home (remote control, clock, etc.) so you can use them if you run out during an emergency. Rechargeable batteries should not be your entire store because if there’s no power, then you will soon be out of luck.

Blankets- Native Americans used blankets as barter. Pioneers used blankets as heirlooms and wedding gifts. Hours were spent hand-stitching quilts. As blankets became tattered and worn they were put to good use as doors, rugs, tablecloths, and were made into coats. I don’t think, as you become prepared for whatever lies ahead, that you could ever have too many blankets. Especially if they are sturdy and warm. Just imagine how appreciate you would before each and every blanket on a freezing night, especially if you and your children are sleeping without electricity or even outside. If you did end up with too many blankets, there would be a demand for them I’m sure.

Bleach- This is an inexpensive storage item that is quite valuable. It can help you have a purified water supply, clean clothes, and disinfect almost anything. Don’t buy a more expensive name brand. Bleach is bleach. Also, avoid bleach with a fragrance added.

Bug Spray/Insect Repellent- These may one day be your only line of defense against those pests who often carry diseases. Mosquito netting may be a good investment as well.

Camp Shovel/Hatchet/Hammer/Saw/Ax- If you are living in the great outdoors, or in reduced circumstances, you’ll need the tools to help you survive. Digging latrines or cooking pits, chopping wood, setting up tents and clotheslines may be daily activities some time in the future. Even id you’re living in your home, but are unable to use the toilet because of lack of water, you’ll need to dig a substitute one.

Cast Iron Skillet/Dutch Oven- Skillets work really well over a campfire if they are seasoned. They retain heat and cook evenly.

- Quick and easy to use. Portable. Takes no batteries, kerosene or electricity. Be sure to store candleholders too! Smokeless, dripless tapers are nice, but big, wide candles last longer. Votive candles aren’t as good because they don’t last very long.

Clothes- Sturdy, well-made clothes for all seasons are important to have for each member of the family. If you have growing children be prepared with sizes to accommodate their growth. Remember that fashion will not matter. Quality and fit will mean much more. Thick socks and sturdy shoes are excellent to have. Extra pairs might want to be considered. Work gloves, winter gloves and hats, extra shoelaces, dependable wristwatches, winter coats, warm pajamas, and so on are all very good items to have on hand. Be sure to have each item for each member of the family.

Clothesline/Clothes Pins
- Back to basics. When clothes get wet, or hand washed, you’ll need a way to dry them to prevent mold for forming. Clotheslines can also make temporary shelters with sheets, blankets, tarps, and tablecloths draped over them.

Dish Pans & Dish Drainers
- Most of us have been spoiled by automatic dishwasher and don’t’ have these useful things on hand. These will become important to having clean, sanitary dishes and pots and pans if you are without power. Also, if water is in short supply, the dish-panful of water would have to last. These can be used indoors or out. They don’t cost a lot, so they are a good investment.

Garden Seeds
- Be sure to store non-hybrid seeds to get the maximum amount of harvest after the first year. Store seeds in a dry place. Growing your own fresh produce is a wonderful addition to a stored diet and allows you to survive on a more permanent basis. Make sure to store enough extra water to keep your garden growing through dry times. Never water your garden in the heat and light of mid-day. Include herbs in your garden. They add flavor to all meals and often have medicinal qualities.

Grinder or Hand Mill- This is a necessary item to have to grind wheat or other grains, into flour or meal, if you have them in your food storage. Though expensive, electric grinders are easy and fast. Hand mills are good when there’s no electricity.

Kerosene- Return to the old days. What worked for your grandparents will work for you. Kerosene stored for a long time. Be sure to keep it upright. If you store kerosene, make sure you have lamps to use with it, and visa-versa.

Liquid Dish Soap- Versatile product. Besides washing dishes, it can wash clothes, camping gear, shoes, floors, and hands.

Lysol- (or other disinfecting spray) This is a great way to control germs (& odors) which can cause disease. Great caution must be taken, however, not to get any on food or food preparation areas, or where children or pets could get it into their hands (or paws) or in their mouths.

Matches- Long-handled fireplace matches are great. Also any wood match is good. They should be stored in watertight containers. Flint, fire-starting stones are very handy with limitless uses. You should also try to store at least some waterproof matches. These are good in 72-hour kits.

Means of Mobility- Be creative. Bicycles, wheelbarrows, handcarts, wagons, etc. You need to think ahead of what you might use to transport yourself and your supplies in an emergency situation. You may want to store repair supplies like extra inner tubes, tire patch kit, etc.

Paper Plates/Cups/Bowls & Plastic Utensils- When water becomes scarce, and sanitation is a problem, these will be extremely important to you. The best and least expensive plates to store are the cheap, plain white ones sold in packages of 100 or more, often for less than a dollar. They take up little space and when used with re-usable plate holders they’re stronger than the bulkier, more expensive styrofoam plates.

Paper Towels- These can be used as disposable towels, tissues, napkins, wash cloths, and toilet paper. Well worth the effort to save them.

Pencils/Pens & Paper- These will become more valuable and appreciated as access to them stops. You will want to be able write journals, recipes, notes, and reminders. If you find yourself home-schooling your children, paper and pencils would be invaluable. (Books too.)

Pet Food- If Rover or Fluffy are important members of the family don’t forget to store food for them. Be sure to use and rotate, especially dry food. Canned pet food stores quite a long time. Pets can also live on many regular food items you might have stored (especially if they’re hungry). Even beef or chicken broth. Though they may help the rodent population by supplementing their diet themselves.

Plastic Wrap/ Foil/ Wax Paper/Trash Bags/Ziplock Bags- Important items for food preparation and storage. Only unscented clear or white trash bags should be used to hold unwrapped food. All trash bags make good ground cover, emergency ponchos, equipment cover, and makeshift shelters. Foil is great for cooking in, or over, a campfire. Ziplock bags are versatile for holding food, matches, candles, first-aid supplies, even a dry pair of socks. Wax paper is good for food preparation work space.

Pocket Knife/Hunting Knife- Let your imagination tell you all the reasons why these are critical emergency storage items.

Radio- (Short-wave or transistor) Be sure it runs without electricity and is portable. A simple antenna is an added investment. This could be your link to the outside world in case of emergency.

Rope/Nylon Cord
- This may turn out to be one of your most valuable supplies. Uses include everything from creating shelter, to emergency rescue, to a creative outdoor shower or latrine.

Safety Pins- Whether living in your home, or in the open, safety pins have limitless uses from clothing repair to first aid.

Scrub Brush/Broom/Bucket/Mop- Cleanliness and sanitation may one day be very important to keep you and your family healthy, as well as comfortable. Even living in a tent, a broom will be handy to keep the floor of the tent clean and dry. A simple twig, when stepped on, can cause a rip in the tent fabric. How much easier to sweep it out than to worry about repairing your tent.

Sewing Kit- The size and contents are up to you. For instance, if you have stored fabric you’ll need plenty of thread. But every household will need a sewing kit of some kind to keep clothes, blankets and towels in good repair. A smaller version is ideal for 72-hour kits.

Tarp- This is another versatile item. The more you have on hand, the more you’ll find uses for. A few ideas are: a ground cover, a shower, a tent, as well as means of protecting your firewood and supplies.

Toilet Paper- Do I even need to say how very important you might one day find this item to be? It could be quite valuable, in fact. I know that I would much prefer it over leaves and dirty scraps of paper. It will store forever if you keep it dry.

Towels- When you can’t do a load of laundry every day, and you and your family are trying to stay clean and dry, and when you are trying to keep pots and pans and dishes clean, you will treasure every single towel you posses. Especially if you lose or ruin any and are unable to replace them. Towels also make good throw rugs when living in a tent.

Travel Game/Deck of Cards- If you had no TV, movies, video games or libraries at your disposal, how much would you and your children appreciate a diversionary activity? Put a couple in your 72-hour kits. These items could be invaluable to keep children occupied while you are busy.

Vinyl Tablecloths- These provide more than just a clean eating area. They can be used as blankets, curtains, ground cover, and emergency shelters. They can also be made into raincoats or ponchos. In an emergency, they can be cut down to be placed around feet by tying a cord around the ankles to keep in place. Shower curtains can be used in similar ways to these tablecloths, though with less durability, thickness or warmth. Never throw away old shower curtains or vinyl tablecloths. They could still be quite useful.

Water- This is, without question, the single most important and life-saving item you could store! Besides being necessary to drink, it’s needed to wash clothes and dishes and to bathe in. It will need to be used sparingly because no matter how much you have, you’ll never know how long you will have to depend on your supply. I fear that long before people would start to panic over finding food, they will be desperate for water. Water can be stored in glass or plastic containers (except milk containers because they are biodegradable), and must have an airtight lid. A small piece of plastic wrap placed over the mouth of the container before you put the lid on helps keep the water fresh. You can use tap water plain if you change it once a year, or add a small amount of bleach or other commercial purification product before storing indefinitely. You can also boil water before using to kill germs and improve the taste. Try to store your water in a cool place. Don’t overlook the water in your toilet tank and water heater in an unexpected crisis. Waterbed water can be used for washing, but don’t drink it or use it on eating surfaces because of contamination due to the chemicals used in making the plastic lining.

Water Purification Tablets or Containers/Filter Pumps- An absolute must. These can be life-saving. They can help turn most unusable or questionable water sources into safe drinking water. These are especially vital when living "on the trail" or outdoors. Boiling water helps remove the bacteria too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Briggy's Birthday Theme

I know its not until mid-feb, but I started thinking about what we're going to do for Briggy's First Birthday. To be honest, we don't even know where we are going to be living then...maybe here, maybe texas...who knows? Anyway, I first thought jungle with an emphasis on monkeys (since most everything Briggy has is jungle/monkey/woodland critter...and since my theme for Briggy's first christmas is "Woodland Christmas" I knew I should stick to monkeys. Then I came across this and thought it would be a great idea. Easy enough where there wouldn't be too much planning (in case we are in the midst of moving) Martha thinks of everything. Plus, I love the combo of yellow and brown. I pretty much love any color paired with brown. I was already planning on having the all-natural banana cake recipe anyway, so it really works well. I can have banana yogurt smoothies and chocolate dipped bananas for the older kids. Now I'll be on the prowl for all things yellow, brown and banana!

I know I posted this on my other blog, but isn't he SOOOOO flippin adorable? I can't get over it.

Joann Fabric Coupon

This code expires on 10/23

This online code is good for 10/24-10/25: EFD299

If you aren't shopping online CLICK HERE for the direct link to print coupons out!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

October Visiting Teaching

***Visiting teaching is much more than a visit or sharing a thought with a sister. It is how we connect with one another. We share hearts and souls and extend charity, which is "the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love" (Bible Dictionary, "Charity," 632). Visiting teaching brings the love of the Lord to every home and to every sister. It is a sacred trust we have been given.

Why do sisters do visiting teaching? Mosiah describes it this way: "To bear one another's burdens, . . . to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8–9).

Visiting teaching is the heart and soul of Relief Society. The purposes of visiting teaching are to build caring relationships with each sister and to offer support, comfort, and friendship. In visiting teaching, both the giver and the receiver are blessed and strengthened in their Church activity by their caring concern for one another.

This caring concern is described in Moroni 6:4: “And after they had been received unto baptism, . . . they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way.”
Elder Henry B. Eyring

To be named and numbered has special significance for those in need. Elder Henry B. Eyring describes it beautifully:

“You are called to represent the Savior. Your voice to testify becomes the same as His voice, your hands to lift the same as His hands. . . . Your calling is to bless lives. That will be true even in the most ordinary tasks you are assigned. . . . You see, there are no small callings to represent the Lord” (“Rise to Your Call,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 76).****

October's Visiting Teaching Message

Gender Is an Essential Characteristic of Eternal Identity and Purpose
Ensign, October 2008

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose" ("The Family: A Proclamation to the World," Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

Why Is Gender Essential?

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: "[Gender] in large measure defines who we are, why we are here upon the earth, and what we are to do and become. For divine purposes, male and female spirits are different, distinctive, and complementary. . . . The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females were needed to implement the plan of happiness" ("Marriage Is Essential to His Eternal Plan," Liahona, June 2006, 51; Ensign, June 2006, 83).

Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president: "As spirit daughters of God, women 'received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth' (D&C 138:56) on the earth. They were among the 'noble and great ones' (D&C 138:55) who 'shouted for joy' (Job 38:7) at the creation of the earth because they would be given a physical body with the opportunity to be proven in a mortal sphere (see Abraham 3:25). They wished to work side by side with righteous men to accomplish eternal goals that neither can attain independently. Female roles did not begin on earth, and they do not end here. A woman who treasures motherhood on earth will treasure motherhood in the world to come" ("A 'Mother Heart,' " Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 76).

What Can I Do Because of My Role in Heavenly Father's Plan?

Margaret D. Nadauld, former Young Women general president: "Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. . . . We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith" ("The Joy of Womanhood," Liahona, Jan. 2001, 18; Ensign, Nov. 2000, 15).

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: "The premortal and mortal natures of men and women were specified by God Himself. . . . [Sometimes women] ask: 'Is a woman's value dependent exclusively upon her role as a wife and mother?' The answer is simple and obvious: No. . . . Every righteous man and woman has a significant role to play in the onward march of the kingdom of God. . . .

" . . . My dear sisters, we believe in you. We believe in and are counting on your goodness and your strength, . . . And we believe that God's plan is for you to become queens and to receive the highest blessings any woman can receive in time or eternity" ("Women of Righteousness," Liahona, Dec. 2002, 36–37; Ensign, Apr. 2002, 66–69).

The recipe included in the halloween/october visiting teaching kit is for Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. I also made a batch of pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies for the Smiths (yum-o) Here are the recipes for both:

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

1 1/2 T butter, melted (okay, it says margarine...but I prefer the real stuff!)
1/2 t salt
1/8 t garlic salt
2 t worcestershire sauce
2 C raw whole pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Combine butter, salts, worcestershire sauce and seeds. Mix thoroughly and place in shallow baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occassionally.

Pleasantly Plump Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C pumpkin (I used canned pure pumpkin...not the sweetened pie filling)
1 C white sugar (I did half white and half brown...just because I'm partial to brown)
1/2 Vegetable Oil
1 egg
2 C flour
2 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t milk
1 T vanilla
2 C chocolate chips

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar(s), oil and egg. 2. In a second bowl combine flour, powder, cinnamon and salt. 3. In a small bowl mix baking soda and milk so it dissolves; add to flour mixture. 4. Combine both mixtures together. 5. add vanilla and chips to pumpkin cookie batter. 6. Drop spoonfuls on greased sheets. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

I call mine "Pleasantly Plump" because everytime I've made these cookies (3 times this month already!) I double the batch and my individual cookies are HEAPING ICE CREAM SCOOP-FULS. I would definitely recommend doubling this recipe--they are REALLY GOOD! (Not too pumpkiny for finicky eaters)

2 1/2 weeks until election day.....

How cute are these? Serve at an "election party" or send winner cookie/cupcake to your political pals. I love how the cupcakes are chocolate for obama and vanilla for mccain!


you can buy these at:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Food Storage Friday!

Does anyone have a food dehydrator?

I like this idea of dehydrating food---i looked at prices from companies that sell packaged dehydrated food for storage and HOLY MACKREL they are EXPENSIVE! I know dehydrators aren't cheap...but i'm sure they more than make up their value with a few batches. here is some information im learning about them:

Difficulty: Moderate
Things You’ll Need:

* A good food dehydrater, although you can use plastic mesh screening and solar power.
* A kettle to blanch foods in to help fight bacterial growth, although this is not altogether necessary.
* Salt, spice, sweetener, or marinade to flavor before dehydrating
* Airtight storage containers or plastic freezer bag.

Fresh fruits and veggies You should always start with fresh, good quality food. Don’t buy the old produce in the bargain bin because you won’t be happy with the dehydrated results. Inspect the food to ensure it is clean and free from damage. Just like canning, your end product is a direct result of the quality food you start with.
Blanching Beans Although not necessary, pre treatment through blanching can help fight bacteria, preserve color and maintain flavors. After washing and inspecting your fresh vegetables, boil water in a large kettle, then place the vegetables in the water for approximately 3-5 minutes, then remove and pour cold water over to stop the cooking process.

Meat may be blanched in the same way to control bacteria.However, one may use the marinating method and bypass blanching meat.
Marinade You may choose to marinate, salt, spice or sweeten any foods before you dehydrate them. For example, with meat jerky, you rub the meat with spices or place in a marinade before dehydrating.Marinate overnight, in the refrigerator.
Layering Food on Racks Place the food on the dehydrator screens (or other mesh screens, if solar drying) - using ONE layer only. Try to remember to keep everything in the dehydrator uniformly sliced so that it all dries at the same time. If using a solar dryer, cover food lightly with a thin layer of cheesecloth to help keep insects away.
Meat Sliced for Jerky Most produce takes between 8-12 hours to dry.
Meat, sliced thinly, takes about 12-18 hours, depending on thickeness.
Airtight Container Cool all dehydrated food before storing. Choose airtight containers or plastic freezer bags to keep moisture out. Properly dried and stored foods will last 1-2 years if kept in a cool, dark place.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chicken Dinner Casserole

Scott, Brianne and Owen Sheaffer have a new little girl in their lives! Brianne delivered a healthy and BEAUTIFUL baby girl on Monday morning. Our ward has been BLESSED with SO many precious babies this year! Now all the boys can fight over Holly (Doesn't it seem like 95% of all LDS babies this year have been BOYS?) Anyway, another baby means another dinner delivery basket. I made my go-to dinner for the Sheaffers. Its very VERY simple and fast to make, and I seem to always get a good response from it. (Tom and I could easily wolf down the entire casserole) I know you've probably made or had a similar recipe, but I thought I'd post mine with the few personal *twists* I've put on it over the times i've made it.

Chicken Dinner Casserole
(I originally made this with left-over turkey meat....adding leftover cranberry would be yummy too--a great meal to whip up with thanksgiving leftovers)

6 oz of prepared stuffing
1 container of sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of celery (I used cream of chicken this time)
1 10z packet of dry onion soup mix
2 14.5 oz cans of french style green beans
2 cups of cooked, chopped chicken (turkey)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prepare stuffing; mix sour cream, soups and dry soup mix. Spread green beans in 9x13 casserole dish. Top with chicken. Pour soup mixture over chicken. Top with stuffing.

Bake for 30 minutes


Monday, October 13, 2008

An autumn delight....

My sister and Liza whipped up a delicious dip to serve at Liza's recent at-home craft boutique. She'll have more pictures of the event posted as well as the recipe for the famous dip! I think I'll make this for a Thanksgiving day appetizer! They offered ginger snaps (yummmmm), mini baguettes and apple slices...which all sound great...but I think pretzels might be good with the dip too...anyway, here is her famous recipe!

check out Liza's blog!

Twigs and Twine Pumpkin Butter Dip
(from Taste of Home Magazine with adjustments)

Warning, Highly Addictive!

3/4 cup Dickinson's Pumpkin Butter

(we used 1 cup and plan in the future to use 1 cup pumpkin pie filling and sugar and spices to taste)

1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup marshmallow creme (we used a full 7 oz. jar)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Process all ingredients in Kitchenaid or beat with a handmixer until smooth.

Chill and serve with sliced apples and gingersnaps. We also served it with a sliced mini baguette which was surprisingly delicious.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Food Storage Friday!

Car Kits and Car Diaper Bag

I was browsing through one of my new favorite food storage sites (the blog posted from last week) and I came across her car kit.
I had been meaning to put on together and I am going to do that the next couple weeks--and I decided having an extra diaper bag stocked with lots of diapers, food, clothes...etc would be a very smart thing. Sorry this entry is limited in material, but today is my last day with Alisa so I'm a little pressed for time. Hopefully I can show my car kit and diaper bag next week..until then, here's the pic from safely gathered in

Friday, October 3, 2008

Food Storage Friday!

I found this on a great food storage blog, ( her blog entry had more extensive pictures of the process, but I think you can get the gist from this entry:

Did you know that you can make a cardboard box into an oven that works just as well as your oven at home? You can! And with this type of oven, you never have to worry about what to eat when the electricity goes out.

You need:
1 cardboard box (for this method, it needs to have a slide-on top, like a box that holds reams of paper. See pictures)
matches (or a lighter)
aluminum foil
1 round aluminum pie plate (or anything to place your charcoals in)
3 wire hangers
scissors or a knife
whatever food you want to bake

Line the inside of your box and lid with aluminum foil. If you'd like, use a sponge and dab some Elmer's glue around the inside and cover to hold the foil in place (this is especially useful if you plan to keep your box oven, and not just make a new one in an emergency)

Once that's done, use some scissors or a knife to poke three holes in a straight line on each end of the box, about halfway down from the top. You'll see what these are for in just a minute.

Meanwhile, straighten out your three hangers.
Put the three straightened hangers through the holes. These will act as a shelf to place your food on.
Next, bend your wires so that they will remain taut inside the oven. We don't want heavy food bending the wires and sitting directly on the charcoals.

This step might be kind of difficult, so you may want an extra pair of hands and some pliers.
It doesn't have to look pretty, it just has to work! Next, poke some other holes in your box so that oxygen can get in and gases can get out. Now, we actually did NOT poke extra holes in this particular oven, because by the time we finished making our wires taut, our three holes we poked in each side had become fairly large, so we figured they were enough. If your holes on the side remain small, use your knife or scissors and poke a few holes on the top of the box, and maybe one or two on each side.
Place some charcoals in your round aluminum plate. Each charcoal briquette supplies 40 degrees of heat, so 9 briquettes will give us a 360 degree oven.
Light your briquettes with the matches or a lighter (it will probably take a few matches. Be sure that each briquette burns)
Let the briquettes burn for a while...Until they look like this! Then you're ready to go.

With your tongs, pick up the hot plate of charcoal and slide it carefully between your wire shelf onto the bottom of your box.
Place your food on the wire racks and cover with your oven top.
Now just set the timer like normal, or watch the clock. Note: If your recipe calls for a longer baking time (more than 45 minutes to an hour), you will probably have to switch out your charcoals around the 45-minute mark)
**Do not use your oven on a wooden deck or on grass, or anything flammable. We are cooking in a concrete deck. Never use this oven indoors.**

Wise counsel that the whole country should obey....

Avoid debt. … Today everything is seemingly geared toward debt. “Get your cards, and buy everything on time”: you’re encouraged to do it. But the truth is that we don’t need to do it to live. We wonder what our people will do who have been spending their all and more. If employment and income should reduce, what then? Are you living beyond your means? Do you owe what you cannot pay if times became perilous? Are your shock absorbers in condition to take a shock? Plan and work in a way that will permit you to be happy even as you do without certain things that in times of affluence may have been available to you. Live within your means and not beyond them. … Purchase your essentials wisely and carefully. Strive to save a portion of that which you earn. Do not mistake many wants for basic needs.

“Chapter 11: Provident Living: Applying Principles of Self-Reliance and Preparedness,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, (2006),114–23