Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

The year 2010 is just around the corner!

This year, I decided to post my resolutions here in the hopes that it will make them more concrete for me to stick to them, and in the hopes that it might inspire you to make some of your own.

#1--Pay tithing and hold family home evening faithfully--no skips, no excuses!

#2--Get back on track with working out at least MWF (cardio), then build back up to the T/Th strength-training sessions. No goal weight here, I just want to get active again to improve my health!

That's it for this year--short, sweet, and simple. I want to improve my physical and spiritual health, and have that trickle on down to my family to help them improve theirs, too. I believe that when we get ourselves more fit in both ways, our outlook will improve and help to improve our situation, too. :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Legend of The Candy Cane

This was given to us with a package of candy canes from our home teachers. I thought it was too cute not to share! :)

Upside down, the candy cane makes the letter "J" which stands for Jesus.
Right side up, it stands for the staff of the shepherd, who was the first witness of Jesus' birth.
Before Jesus was crucified, he was whipped. The red stripes represent the blood of Christ.
The white stripes remind us that we can all become pure and white through the Atonement.

Let's all hang our red & white candy canes on our Christmas trees to help remind us what Christmas is really about!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

See's Fudge

3 cups (1 1/2 12-oz. pkgs.) milk chocolate chips
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1/2 c. (1 stick) margarine
2 c. miniature marshmallows
1 c. canned evaporated milk
4 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Place chocolate chips, butter, margarine, and marshmallows in a large bowl and set aside. Mix milk and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil for 9 minutes. Pour over first ingredients and beat until very smooth. Add vanilla and beat. If desired, add nuts. Place in a glass 9 x 13 dish. Cool at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The True Nature of Santa Claus

Who is Santa Claus? A jolly little old obese elf who flies in a sleigh with magical reindeer once a year, bringing toys to all the good boys and girls in the world? Perhaps the better question would be, what is Santa Claus?

Have you ever stopped to drop your spare change in the little red bucket by the bell ringers? Have you taken notice of all the needy "angels" hanging on the angel tree at the store? Have you seen the rescue mission/soup kitchen on Christmas? Each of these is Santa Claus. Each one is a manifestation of human kindness. No one should be without on Christmas. If only for one day, we should be surrounded by the true love of Christ: warmth, kindness, and care.

Santa is the embodiment of all these things. He sees to it that no one goes without. He wishes all well. He loves all with a perfect Christlike love. So who/what is Santa Claus? The best of human nature wrapped in the sweet spirit of giving.

Monday, December 14, 2009

English Toffee

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 bag (6 oz.) chocolate chips (more or less to taste)
slivered almonds (optional)

Heat butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Boil 7 minutes (to a nice caramel color). Pour into a buttered pan and spread (cake pan or square brownie pan both work nicely). Sprinkle with chocolate chips. When chips are shiny, spread over toffee. Sprinkle with slivered almonds (optional). When cool, break into pieces. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Past, Present, and Future

I've been thinking lately of Christmas traditions that I grew up with, currently have, and hope to have in the future. It's amazing how the past has already shaped the present and continues to shape my future. Here are some of the traditions that have been running through my mind!


We used to open 2 presents every Christmas Eve--and they were always pajamas and slippers. We'd take a bath and then put on our new jammies and pile into the car, and then we'd spend Christmas Eve evening driving around Brigham City looking at all the Christmas lights and displays. I especially remember the Felts' home, where Mr. Felt made painted wood cut-outs of Disney characters and Christmas characters that were life-sized and had them all out and lit up. So pretty!

My mom prided herself on her fudge, and it was a Christmas staple. We always had fudge on the plates we gave away. She said the secret was to make sure all the sugar melted, and to use marshmallow creme. These two tips combined to make a creamy fudge rather than a gritty one.

My grandma Arlie started a tradition when I was 12 of getting a porcelain doll to add to us girls' collection every Christmas. She took me to Gepetto's in the mall, where I picked out my first one.

Every year, we'd pick out a new ornament for the tree. When I got married, I got to take my ornaments with me.

As each child was born, my grandma Florence would make a felt stocking for the new arrival that would match the other stockings in the family. The stocking itself was red felt, with a felt design on the front. Mine was an angel. I still have it.


I continue the tradition of new pajamas for my family on Christmas Eve, although we don't do slippers every year.

I continue the tradition of new porcelain dolls for me and my girls almost every Christmas. Santa brings them now.

I continue the tradition of new ornaments for each family member every year. We have quite the eclectic collection!

Every year I give plates of goodies to neighbors. They always include my fudge and toffee, along with whatever else I chose to make that year. My toffee is only made with butter!!

My husband's family always did a big Christmas Eve get together with food, games, and a talent show. We continue this somewhat by having good food and games on Christmas Eve.

We try to take the kids to Christmas village in Ogden every year so that they can enjoy the displays, maybe have some hot chocolate, and visit Santa.


I want to follow grandma Florence's footsteps in making matching stocking sets for my kids as they get married, and adding to their sets each time a grandchild is added to the family.

I want to build on my husband's family's tradition as my kids grow older of having them home for Christmas Eve for good food, games, and enjoying the company of one another. Who knows, maybe we'll have a train of our cars driving around looking at the Christmas displays. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Balls

Time to start thinking about Christmas candy! Here's one of my favorites!!

1 stick margarine
1 cup creamy peanut butter
about 3/4 pound powdered sugar (more or less depending on the
consistency you like)
Chocolate Bark

Melt the margarine and then mix the peanut butter into it. Put in some powdered sugar, mix, and repeat until you get the consistency you want your peanut butter mixture to be (make sure it's firm enough that you can roll it into balls and it won't stick all over your hand, but not so firm that it won't hold when the balls are formed). Roll into lots of little balls. I got about 3 dozen out of it.

Melt the chocolate bark in one of your dipping trays. Put the peanut butter balls in another one. Line a baking stone/sheet with wax or parchment paper. Roll the peanut butter balls in the melted chocolate bark. Scoop them out onto the parchment paper. Refrigerate (still on the baking stone) until firm.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Principles of Frugality

In this awful economy, it is more important than ever to learn and apply frugal lifestyles. But for those of us who were brought up in lifestyles of excess, how do we do that?? Here are some lessons I've learned:

* When times of excess do come our way, save, save, save! Even if we only have an extra dollar or two, stash it away where you won't be tempted to spend it. Who knows when you will need that little cash stash?

* Learn to cook. It is SO pricey to eat out! While eating out is great for a once-in-a-while treat, it is a real budget-buster when overdone. Groceries are so much more affordable, and with cooking skills, you can make restaurant-esque meals for a fraction of the price! And a great bonus here is that you control what goes into your food and your portion sizes, which is helpful in weight management!

* Learn crafts. Even if you learn just one new craft, you can save a bundle when you apply it to what your family uses. Take loom knitting, for instance. I can make the entire family winter hats from just one skein of yarn! Or I can use that skein to make a hat & scarf set for one family member! Or I can use it to make a baby blanket, hat, and burp cloth set for a baby shower gift! The possibilities with crafting skills are endless!

* Take the president up on his challenge to further your education. Just one class can become profitable if it is the right class. It doesn't have to be philosophy, business, or some other high-minded class. A basic auto mechanics class can teach you skills you can use to avoid costly repair and maintenance bills! Or you can try a cooking class, a sewing class, a budgeting class, etc...

* Use coupons. We've all been behind the "coupon lady" at the grocery store who searches through her endless purse of coupons for what seems an eternity. I'm not saying to become her, but when you go shopping, plan a shopping list, and take any applicable coupons you have. It adds up! You can get coupons online, in the mail, and in the newspaper! And don't just use coupons for groceries; they save a bundle when you use retailer-specific coupons for places you take your car, or buy your clothes, or eat, too! And when added to sales, the savings can be significant!

* Bundle trips. With gas prices ridiculously high, it's not worth it to take the car out just to the grocery store. Plan a menu and shopping list to last you a week, and then when you go out, use that trip to also put gas in the car, pick up any needed prescriptions, and run any other errands. That saves a bundle when you think about how many times you go to just one place, back home, then back out again--sometimes several times per day!

* Take care of your car. Along the gas mileage line, it saves gas to keep your tires properly inflated, stay on top of basic maintenance (keeping fluids topped off, regular oil changes and tune-ups), and avoid speeding (the most fuel-efficient speed is 55 mph).

* Trade goods. I got free apples from a friend this year, and in return gave him free spiced apple jelly. It's a win-win! You can also trade baby-sitting, driving the carpool to get the kids to school, etc.

* Do the "green" thing. We use CFL's in every light socket in the house, and our electric bill is so much lower than it used to be! When I remember to take my re-useable bags to the grocery store, they knock 5 cents off my bill per bag! These are fairly inexpensive ways to make a difference for the environment and the budget.

* Tolerate some junk-emails and surveys every now & again. Sites like and take a few minutes each day or so to go through your email or take a survey, but pay you back with gift card rewards!

* Take care of yourself. Not only will you be healthier, which cuts medical bills down, but sites like reward you with gift cards or health-related prizes for doing so!

* De-junk. You'd be surprised what you are hanging onto that you don't use, or really even want anymore! Sell items in good condition at a yard sale or an online source such as or in the classifieds section. An added bonus is that the house becomes cleaner and better organized while you get some extra money!

* And finally, when you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it! Food stamps, Medicaid, WIC, and the HEAT program are great examples of the helps available to those who need a little extra help. When you're in a position of abundance, it's always a great idea to give to programs like the food bank and fast offerings to help pay it forward, too. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cute & Useful Car Kits

You need:
1 large square hot pad with hanging loop in the center of one side (a decorative one that you like!)
Snack size resealable baggies
1 cute button
Thread to match your hot pad
Sharp needle

Lay your hot pad down decorative side down. Decide how many pockets you need your kit to have (ie-one for spare money, one for a little sewing kit, one for bandaids, one for medicine sample packs, one for nail care items, one for tissues, etc...). The number you come up with is how many baggies you will need. Lay the first baggie with the bottom of the baggie in the center of the hot pad and the zippered top parallel with the edge of the hot pad that has the hanging loop. Lay the second baggie pointing the other direction with the bottom slightly overlapping the bottom of the first baggie. Lay the third baggie directly over the first baggie, the fourth baggie directly over the second baggie, and continue in this fashion until all baggies are placed with the bottoms overlapping over the center of the hot pad. Sew the baggies in place in a straight line down the middle where the baggies overlap. Fold the hot pad in half around the baggies and sew the button onto the hot pad where the hanging loop meets the other side (so that the loop slips over the button to fasten the kit closed). Fill the baggies with the supplies you need to have with you in the car, fasten the loop over the button, and place in a convenient location in your car!

These also make great gifts for family members, new drivers, etc.!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
1 bag (12 oz.) cranberries
1-2 Tbsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

Combine o.j. and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Rinse cranberries and add to the juice mixture. Boil until all the skins pop, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cinnamon/spices and stir, mashing berries to desired consistency.

You can either chill and use right away or can it.

Canning directions:
Yields 3 half-pints

Wash and sterilize jars, and simmer lids until ready to use. Fill each jar to within 1/2-inch of top of jar. Wipe rims with damp cloth to remove residue. Place lids on jars and tighten bands. Place in boiling water bath and process for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Make a Baby Blanket on a Round Loom!

^Erika with her homemade blankie in her car seat.

When people see my baby with her little lavender fuzzy knit blanket, they often ask, "Did someone make that for you?" "Yes," I reply, "I did." They are always astonished. I take pride in my work, but really do it so my kids can have a soft comforting blanket from their mom. (Unfortunately I did not possess this skill when I had Christopher, but both of my girls have one, as do one of my nieces and a nephew.) Keep in mind this is a time-consuming craft, but if you enjoy loom knitting and would like to expand your horizons, here's a great project for you!

You need:

Big round knitting loom (I use Provo Craft's yellow one)

1 skein soft & chunky yarn

Purple loom-knitting tool

Wrap the first row of yarn around the loom as you would for a hat. When you have wrapped the last peg, change direction and go all the way around to the first peg again (the last peg will have one loop, all other pegs will have 2). Switch direction again and wrap all the way around to the last peg (the 1st and last pegs will each have 2 loops, all other pegs will have 3). Starting with the first peg, use the purple tool to pull the bottom loop over the other 2 and over the top of the peg. Wrap the yarn again, starting at the last peg and going around to the first. Starting with the last peg, use the purple tool to pull the bottom loop over. Continue in this fashion, switching directions each time you wrap the pegs and pulling the loops over in the direction that was just wrapped. Once the blanket has reached the desired length, pull the bottom loop over the top loop so that each peg is left with only 1 loop. Starting with the peg that you started with the last time you wrapped the yarn, pull the loop off the peg and onto the hook of the purple tool. Being careful not to slip that loop, pull the next loop onto the hook of the tool so that 2 loops are on the hook. Pull the first loop over the second loop and off the hook. Pull the next peg's loop onto the hook so that there are again 2 loops on the hook, and again pull the first loop over the second loop and off the hook. Continue until you have just the very last loop on the hook and the blanket is completely off the loom. If you haven't already, snip the yarn so that you have approximately 6-12" of a yarn tail. Pull the yarn tail through the last loop to secure it so the blanket won't unravel. Tie off both tails of yarn (where you started and where you finished) and weave the tails through the end of the blanket, trimming where desired. Enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Work--an ointment for sorrow

Since we're back in the fire, so to speak (financially, at least), I've been stressed out every day. I've also been turning my heart to God to help me through yet another difficult time. My prayers are being answered, with the feelings of where to turn for help, the stumbling upon great deals and ideas for the upcoming holidays, and instruction of what to do to better the situation. Among that instruction is a canning assignment and an increase in my desire to roll up my sleeves and get to work--literally. Rake leaves, do housework, serve others...that seems to be a key to making things better for me. It makes me think back to Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf's mention of work being an ointment for sorrow. We've had over a year-and-a-half of financial difficulties. Would it be easy at this point to wonder "why me?" Sure! Could I succumb to the stress and sorrows of our position? Very easily! But I won't... I choose instead to roll up my sleeves, do some canning, raking, and cleaning, and to apply the ointment of work to my sorrows. I've already noticed that when I can lose myself in work, I feel so much better!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


"It is not enough to want to make the effort and to say we'll make the effort. ... It's in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals. If we constantly put our goals off, we will never see them fulfilled."
~President Thomas S. Monson

"Work is an antidote for anxiety, an ointment for sorrow, and a doorway to possibility."
~President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

D&C 31:5
"Thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Emergency Matters

Is it an emergency if you are out of kids' toothpaste but still have plenty of the regular stuff? If you have a 3-year-old having a meltdown over it, then YES IT IS!!! That caused me to think about my 72-hr. kit, where I had conveniently stashed a new bottle of kids' toothpaste a while back.

Not all emergencies are of the fire/earthquake variety. Sometimes you just need a tube of toothpaste a week before payday! I went through an emergency preparedness "phase" when I was a homeowner where I bought a big storage container with a lid and proceeded to put in bungee cords, medical supplies (bandage, hot/ice packs, bandaids, neosporin, gauze, medical tape, thermometer...), a crowbar, bleach, paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste (both kids' and adults'), deodorants, soaps, dish soap, a videotape (for recording personal belongings in case they were destroyed), cleanser, and more. Have I undergone a natural disaster where I have needed it? Thankfully no. Have I needed it at all? Absolutely!

I used the bungee cords to secure a tarp over our belongings when we moved, the crowbar for a demolition project we had, the thermometer when the kids broke my good one, the toilet paper & paper towels to see us through until payday, the bandaids when Christopher used our last 10 for a tiny scrape so there were none when Haleigh got a cut, and the kids' toothpaste to calm a toddler meltdown!

I view it as my non-food storage. I rotate the products and replace the ones I use when I can. It has been a real life-saver! I absolutely recommend that anyone who doesn't have a 72-hour kit start one right away! After all, you never know when an empty bottle of kids' toothpaste will become a life-or-death matter of emergency!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Great Freebies & Dollar-Stretchers!

These days it's hard to get ends to just meet, let alone to have a little extra! Here are a few of my faves for a little boost every now and then:

* If you don't mind some junk email, this is a little gem. It brings deals straight to your inbox, and when you click the link, you get points. If you make a purchase, you get more points. When you've saved up 1400+ points, you can redeem your points for giftcards! I get a couple of giftcards a year this way.

* This is one of those points-for-surveys sites that actually pays! Get a few points for qualifier surveys, and lots of points for full surveys! I've also received products to test & keep through this one (diapers, shampoo, & shaving cream)! Save up 1000+ points and redeem for cash, gift cards, or prizes! I've already received $70 and 100 free Snapfish prints!

* This site sends you full-size samples, small samples to pass around, and coupons to pass around of new products that the companies want to spread the word about! All they ask is that you try them, share your honest opinions, and let them know what others think about the products! Take the surveys they have so that they can match you with the products that they receive! I've had free candy bars, shower cleaner, toothbrush/sanitizer, otc medicine, hair products, sunblock, bug spray, natural acne products, food, lip balm, makeup, and lots more! I just recently received a box of children's Zyrtec pre-measured spoons!

* This one always has free business cards (which were great when I was doing my home business), but it also has frequent freebies like address labels, photo calendars, cards, and more! Just pay shipping!

* Put in your zip code and print out grocery coupons! That simple!

* Run a search on there for free samples, and there are always a few! I've had samples of things from personal care items to pet items to baby items! Completely free!

Hope these sites help you in your search to live frugally, too!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leftover Halloween Candy??

Here are some ideas if your kids brought home too much or your trick-or-treaters didn't use up your supply!

* Chop & freeze for additions to cookies, toppings for ice cream, or sprinkles for frosting.
* Chop and put in a blender with some vanilla ice cream and milk and blend into a milk shake.
* Place in a cute candy dish for visitors to enjoy.
* Use chocolate varieties chopped up in brownies or melted and spread over brownies.
* Give to food pantries/homeless shelters for those who could use a little treat.
* Give to your local dentist--some give prizes in exchange!
* Send to a soldier or missionary who couldn't be here for Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Melanie's Award-Winning Chili


1 lb. hamburger
1 onion (chopped)
1 lb. turkey dinner sausage, sliced into bite-sized rounds
3 cans beans (I used 1 each black, pinto, and small red beans)
1 big can diced tomatoes
4 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 can corn
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt

Brown and crumble hamburger. Add onion and cook until tender. Add dinner sausage and cook until heated through. Add beans and tomatoes with juice. Mix flour, brown sugar, chili powder, and cinnamon with enough water to make a smooth sauce. Stir into chili. Drain corn and add to chili. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer 15 mins. Serve with rolls. Enjoy!!

Halloween Tips

Sprinkle Cinnamon and nutmeg all over the inside of your pumpkin. When the candle is lit it will smell like pumpkin pie.

When your pumpkin starts to look a little shriveled place the ENTIRE pumpkin into a sink or bucket of warm water. After an hour or so it will expand back and look fresh! This is a great tip so you can enjoy your pumpkin longer.

An apple corer cuts round eyes or the chimney on top to let the smoke out.

For safer popcorn balls w/ no hard kernels, Place a Cooling Rack over your popcorn bowl, invert & shake--the unpopped kernels drop out.

Chop leftover Halloween candy with a Food Chopper and store in freezer. Great additions to muffins, cakes, and icings for kids of all ages.

Service without Going Broke

I have a big heart, and often wish I could help everyone! That was a big reason I chose Family Studies as my major in college--I wanted everyone to have a strong family. The problem I often run into is that the people who seem to need help the most need money--something I struggle to have enough of for just my family's needs! How, then, can we help? We give small amounts as we can to good causes such as Pennies By The Inch and our Fast Offerings, and then I get creative.

Here are some ideas of ways we can forget ourselves and serve others while on a tight budget:
* Shovel your neighbor's snowy driveway when you do yours. It only takes a few extra minutes!
* Have your child invite a friend over for the kids to have fun and the other mom to have a break!
* Whip up some cookies for the holidays that are upon us and take some to family/friends/neighbors!
* Talk to the compassionate service coordinator in your ward to find out who could use a meal, and make a double recipe of that meal to feed both your family and theirs! The meal doesn't need to be fancy to make a big difference to them!
* When you see someone struggling with something, take a moment to offer up a hand!
* Smile! You don't know how many people's day it will brighten!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Food Storage

3 Nephi 4:4
"[They] reserved for themselves provisions, and horses and cattle, and flocks of every kind, that they might subsist for the space of seven years, in the which time they did hope to destroy the robbers from off the face of the land."

We hear often about gathering together our food storage. I have seen many times in my marriage how important this really is! Even now, my husband's work is slowing down for the winter and money is becoming increasingly tight. I am so glad for my grocery money and for the food storage I have that I can use during tight times!!

Here are the tips I have learned when it comes to food storage:
* Shop the sales. Stock up just a couple of items at a time while they are cheap.
* Use coupons. These help save on the items you use often, especially when combined with a sale!
* Buy bulk on the items you use the most. I got a great deal on a big can of brownie mix (on sale) because we use it all the time. We got one for immediate use and one for our storage, and saved a ton over what we would normally spend on brownie mixes!
* Use the space you have as effectively as possible. I have a small pantry jam-packed full of food, and then have my big cans against the wall under my kitchen table where they are out of the way and out of sight.
* Learn home-canning skills. You can easily grow a garden or get great deals on seasonal produce, and make it last all year through home canning! I haven't bought grape juice, jellies, or apple pie filling in years!
* Use the items you have stored before the items you just bought to avoid spoilage. Check your expiration dates seasonally and use the items that will be expiring that season as soon as possible. Be sure to replace them as you can!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Yummy Bugs

1 tube refrigerated crescent roll dough

1 pkg. cocktail sausages

Chow mein noodles
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle lengthwise, then crosswise to make 4 pieces (32 pieces total). Wrap each piece of dough around 1 cocktail sausage, stretching to fit as needed and pinching seam to seal. If desired, you can put a little bit of shredded cheddar between the sausage and the dough. Place on cookie sheet. Poke chow mein noodles into the dough to make the bugs' legs. (I used 4 per bug, but you can do 6 or 8 to make them more realistic.) Bake at 375 degrees for 11-14 minutes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homemade vs. Store-bought

I am a crafter. I make homemade decorations, accessories, hats & scarves, knitted baby blankets, baked goods, etc. Occasionally I give my crafts as gifts to others. I have noticed that the reactions of the recipients differ, and I often ponder this. Here's what I have come up with.

Homemade gifts are gifts of time, effort, and thought. Store-bought gifts are gifts of money and convenience. For example, it takes me several hours to complete a hat & scarf set, and an average of 2 months for a baby blanket! Although I spend less money on the homemade gifts, I feel better inside giving gifts that are useful and made to my specifications by my own hand. They are quality gifts with meaning behind them.

Those who understand this are always grateful. Those who do not tend to toss them aside with a barely audible, "um, thanks." I have noticed that those who understand it are usually older than I am, and those who dismiss it are my age or younger. I think my generation was spoiled and has spoiled our kids! Let's all learn a new craft and teach it to the kids in our life. It will be helpful for us and will teach them the difference between quality and convenience.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flower Headbands for Little Girls

Haleigh is modeling 3 headbands at once!

Have you noticed all the vendors at the fairs selling these headbands for little girls? I have seen them ranging in price from $1-$4+! You don't need to pay these ridiculous prices for these fashion-must-haves for the little girls in your life! You just need a little creativity!

You need:

Knee-high tights/nylons (the ones they sell for 33 cents/pair at Wal-mart work great!)

Hot glue gun with glue sticks
Fabric/silk flowers

Wrap one of the knee-highs around the head of the girl for whom you are making the headband to measure. Tuck the toe end into the open end to fit and secure with hot glue. Trim the stem of the flower as close to the base as you can without making the flower fall apart. Put a generous amount of hot glue around the base of the flower and secure where you already used the hot glue on the band. Let cool, and let your princess enjoy her new (inexpensive) accessory!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Power of Positive Thinking

Have you heard of self-fulfilling prophesies? What we internalize, we become. We are constantly berated by outside influences, telling us we're not pretty enough, not smart enough, don't have good enough things, aren't skinny enough, etc. etc...

This is why it's crucial to keep our thinking positive. It's so easy to fall into those negative traps! Start by paying attention to your thinking. Stop negative thoughts in their tracks, and replace them with positive thoughts. At the end of the day, take a moment to think about what you accomplished that day. Start your new day by thinking about all the blessings you have received. Tape little reminders where you will see them--on the mirror, the fridge, by the phone, etc. to remind yourself of how wonderful you really are! Once you accentuate your positive, you will feel better about yourself and soon you'll radiate a happiness and confidence that will positively influence others, too!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Frightening Halloween Treat Tips

To make eyeballs, simply top deviled eggs with sliced olives (1 sliced olive placed over the yolk mixture). Yummy and scary!

To make ghosts, put mashed potatoes into a resealable sandwich bag, seal, snip off a corner, and pipe through to make a standing-up ghost. You can add little olive pieces to make eyes and mouth, if desired. Boo-licious!

To make a spooky punch, mix 1 packet of grape kool-aid mix, 1 packet of cherry kool-aid mix, 1 1/2-2 cups sugar, and 4 qts. water. Choose from the following to have floating in your punch:
* Freeze gummy worms in ice cubes and float in punch.
* Mix water with red food coloring (or use cherry kool-aid) and fill a plastic/latex/nitrile glove with the water. Freeze, and peel off glove. Float your "bloody hand" in the punch.

To make grave stones, whip up a batch of rice crispie treats (or use store-bought), cut into rectangles of desired size, melt vanilla almond bark (or white baking chocolate), and dip gravestones in the bark/chocolate. Use decorator's frosting to write messages on your gravestones.

To make a graveyard, bake a chocolate cake. Frost with chocolate frosting. Put some oreo cookies in a resealable sandwich bag and crush into coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over cake. Get two strings of chocolate licorice and snip partway down lengthwise to make trees, plant in the cake. Use butter cookies for gravestones (or use the grave stone idea above). Plant on the cake. Place pumpkin candies around your stones. Mix a little bit of shredded coconut with green food coloring to make grass, and place around the base of the grave stones and trees. Instant spooky effect!

To make a frightening dinner the kids will love, cook up some spaghetti, mix in a marinara sauce, and add some dinner sausage (sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces). Heat to a nice hot serving temperature, and enjoy your bloody worms and toes! Eek!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Save Your Best Chicken

My hubby reminded me of this fantastic lesson from my days at Weber State University. Dr. Randy Chatelain taught us this cute daily reminder.

The LDS pioneers who settled here in Utah came with very little. They had almost no money, but had a sincere desire to pay their tithes and offerings to the Lord. Since money was scarce, they came up with more creative ways to show their thanks for all they had been blessed with. Some gave 1/10th of their crops, others 1/10th of their animals, etc. All the food went to the bishops' storehouse to help those in need. The best 1/10th was always what was given.

The pioneers literally saved their best chicken for the Lord. We need to remember this in our daily lives in that we need to "save the best chicken" for our family. We go about our day, spending 90% or so of ourselves on our jobs, our errands, and all that we do. At the end of the day, do you find yourself with one half-dead chicken to give to your family? Don't they deserve the best? Remember to save the best of yourself, your best chicken, to give to your family at the end of the day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Righteous Women

Being a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes think I am at the bottom of the food chain. What do I contribute? I bring home no money. I don't have a great title, no extra initials at the end of my name. Most people don't know I even exist. My solace is taken in that I am following what the first presidency of the Church has asked me to do. I am raising my children to the best of my ability. I am trying to establish a home of peace, love, and order (although order often comes more in the form of organized chaos around my house!). I have received an education that helps me to strengthen my family and will provide a fallback if the need arises for me to work outside the home. I am a Latter-Day wife & mother.

Gordon B. Hinckley told the sisters in the Church:
"We call upon the women of the Church to stand together in righteousness. They must begin in their own homes. They can teach it in their classes. They can voice it in their communities." (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Standing Strong and Immovable," Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 20.)

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave excellent counsel to us as women in the September issue of the Ensign:
"May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don't reach beyond your capacity. Don't set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. Don't feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don't compare yourselves with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones. The virtue of your own life will be a light to those who sit in darkness, because you are a living witness of the fulness of the gospel (see D&C 45:28)....My dear sisters, as you live your daily life with all its blessings and challenges, let me assure you that the Lord loves you. He knows you. He listens to your prayers, and He answers those prayers, wherever on this world you may be. He wants you to succeed in this life and in eternity." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Influence of Righteous Women," Ensign, September 2009, 5-9.)

Sometimes it is so hard to not overreach and to not compare ourselves to others! I fall into this trap often. I am trying to remember the Lord in all I do, and when I follow this great advice, I know I see those promised blessings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dracula's Transylvanian Ghoul-ash

This is taken from Rachael Ray's book rachael ray yum-o! the family cookbook pp. 140-142

This is garlicky enough to keep the persistent of vampires off your doorstep. One bite and you'll want to nuzzle up to this ghoul-ash any night of the week. Serve with some wilted spinach on the side.

1 pound sirloin steak
1 pound extra-large egg noodles
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, about 20 chives
2 tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (eyeball it), for dusting the steak
1/2 small onion, peeled
4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimientos, thoroughly drained
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup sour cream

Place the steak in the freezer for about 10 minutes, remove, and slice the meat against the grain as thin as you can manage (the slices should be the size of the egg noodles).

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, add salt and the egg noodles and cook al dente. Drain the noodles, return to the hot pot, and toss with 2 tablespoons of the butter and half of the dill and chives; stir to combine.

When the water is close to a boil, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the EVOO. While the skillet is heating up, season the steak slices with salt and pepper, then toss with the flour to coat evenly. Add the coated sliced steak to the skillet, spread out in an even layer. Brown the meat for 2 to 3 minutes alone, then grate the onion and garlic over the meat, sprinkle with the paprika, give the skillet a stir, and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the drained pimientos and the beef stock and stir to combine. Bring up to a bubble and simmer until lightly thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the sour cream and give the meat a taste to see if it needs any more salt and pepper.

Divide the buttered herbed noodles among 4 plates, and top with ghoul-ash. Sprinkle with the remaining dill and chives.

Serves 4

(rachael ray yum-o! the family cookbook, by Rachael Ray, 2008, 140-142.)

Family Home Evening

I've been thinking about Family Home Evening ever since listening to Elder Bednar's talk in General Conference. When he was mentioning his boys' outbursts, it rang so familiar to what I hear in my own household. I've even allowed it to stop me from doing what I know I should do.

If you missed his talk, here is the part to which I refer:

"Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected." (Elder David A. Bednar, "More Diligent and Concerned at Home," General Conference, October 2009).

I want more peace in my home, and more harmony. I want my kids to quit trying to find creative ways to bug each other and to just play nicely together for a while. I want them to listen to me and my husband, and to do as they're asked. I want the spirit to be able to abide in my home. I know that one way I can open the door for the spirit to bring these good feelings to my family is through Family Home Evening.

My Family Home Evenings have consisted of taking the whole family out to Christopher's T-Ball games, trying to get everyone to sit in the same room to have dinner and *maybe* a little conversation, or in popping some popcorn and having a game night. I know these are fun or convenient, and we're all together as a family, but my goal is to now implement more spirit into these nights. Nothing is wrong with popcorn and a game, but we can certainly start with a prayer and scripture to set the evening apart from other weekday evenings.

I have a strong testimony of the eternal nature of the family, and I know that we were given Family Home Evening as a strong tool to use to keep our family on the right path. We just need to use the tool rather than let it sit on the shelf because our kids refuse to breathe the same air some nights.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Safe-to-eat Cookie Dough

Don't try to bake this dough! It's just for eating as is!

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar*
3/4 cup brown sugar*
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour
1 11.5-oz. bag chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add vanilla and water and beat well. Add salt and flour. Mix well. Add chocolate chips. Mix well. To make a firmer dough, refrigerate.

* To make a sugar-free version, substitute Splenda white & brown sugar substitutes in the amounts called for in the recipe. You can also use sugar-free chocolate chips in place of the regular ones.

Turning to the Past for Help with Mothering

Being the mother of 3 is always busy, often amusing, and sometimes frustrating. I'm always open to new parenting ideas, and I always do my very best in raising my children in love. Reading through the stories and journals of my ancestors is one of my best ways of finding good parenting advice. My great-great-grandmother Persis Josephine Laird Kimber (Josie) was a great woman who used her abundant humor in her child-raising efforts.

Josie married a widower with nine children. Instant big family. She then went on to have 12 more children of her own. Anyone who can raise 21 children is a parent to be listened to!

One night, 2 of Josie's sons, Jim and Oren, were out very late. As punishment, Josie sliced raw potatoes into their bed. Of course they thought it was their sister Elsie. It was a great way to generate some fun and laughter while still driving the point home.

Another night her daughters Elsie and Fern were up late giggling upstairs, and keeping Josie awake. Suddenly they heard a chord on the organ. Just one chord. They stopped giggling and laid very still to listen. No other chord was played. Josie had got out of bed and played just that one chord and then went back to bed. It quieted the girls and Josie finally got some sleep.

Josie was also quite a crafter. She made homemade quilts from strips of cloth pieced together. She made homemade rugs by either crocheting sewed strips of cloth together or weaving the strips of cloth on a wooden frame. Every year she canned fruits and vegetables. She cooked big (not fancy) meals and always had cookies waiting for visitors, of whom there were plenty. She made her work into a pleasure.

Josie was also a very protective parent. She had beautiful red hair, which she passed on to her daughter Mary. When Mary was a baby, the Indians around Grouse Creek came and saw her hair. In sign language, they told Josie, "We want her." After they left, Josie put flat irons in all the windows as her own sign that they would get a flat iron over the head if they tried to break in and take little Mary.

Josie and her husband Charles were very charitable people, too. Each year they would fill up a room with bags of flour to share with many, many people. Their children could recall waking in the early morning hours to Charlie coming up the stairs to get a sack of flour or sugar to give to someone in need. Their family knew that they couldn't let anyone they knew go without, if they could help it. Josie once told Charles of a sister who only had one pair of garments. Charles told her, "Oh you had better see to it that she gets some garments. You send for them tomorrow." Another neighbor gave birth to a baby but had no layette. Josie went to the town people and soon the baby had all it needed.

My blog is entitled Daily Endurance. Josie is a great example to me of enduring to the end.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Clean Permanent Marker off the Walls

How to rid your walls (or other surfaces) of that pesky permanent ink your child applied to them? Try these tips!

* Rubbing alcohol!

Works great on painted surfaces and carpet/upholstery. Will Strip off some paint, so test a spot first.

* Mr. Clean Magic Eraser!

Works great on painted surfaces and appliances!

* Baking Soda & Water Paste!

Might lighten the surface, so test a spot first. Rinse thoroughly to prevent a chalky residue.

* Dish Soap and Water!

Great on the little ones who used themselves as a canvas! Avoid the eyes.

Marital Fidelity

I find myself watching the world today with increasing concern. Nothing is thought of a man "just looking" at a pretty woman, or of two co-workers of opposite gender spending time together outside of work. Same-gender couples are clamoring for "equal rights." The family is crumbling, and people are wondering why. The answers lie in the revelations that have been given.

"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity." The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

This means: 1. Marriage is designed to be for hetero-sexual couples only. 2. Children are not to be born out of wedlock. 3. Complete fidelity is essential to the happy family that the children are entitled to.

"There are those married people who permit their eyes to wander and their hearts to become vagrant, who think it is not improper to flirt a little, to share their hearts and have desire for someone other than the wife or husband. The Lord says in no uncertain terms: 'Thou shalt love thy wife with all they heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else' (D&C 42:22). And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: 'Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shalt cleave unto him and none else.' The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse." Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), 142-43.

This means: 1. No wandering eyes. It is NOT ok to "just look". 2. No wandering hearts. The spouse needs to come before anything and anyone else. Period.

I really believe that when we put our marriage and family first, all else will fall into place in our lives. Society can only be strengthened one family at a time, so it is time that we all do our family's part and watch what happens. Society may continue to deteriorate, but at least we'll then have a safe shelter from the storm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween Ghosts Craft

This is a fun craft I do with my kids every year. It's really cheap, which is a bonus in hard economic times!

You need:
a big white garbage bag
black yarn
black sharpee marker
scotch tape
8 napkins/tissues/paper towels

Cut down the side and bottom of the garbage bag to make a big plastic sheet. Cut the sheet lengthwise in half. Then cut each half lengthwise in half again, and repeat with each quarter to make 8 squares. Loosely crumple the napkins and place one napkin in the center of one plastic square. Gather the plastic around the napkin and tie with a piece of yarn to make the head. Color dots for eyes and mouth with marker. Tie another piece of yarn into a loop and tape to the top of the head for hanging. Repeat with other 7 squares and napkins. Hang from tree, bush, porch rail, or whatever you want to have haunted.

Porcupines Live Alone

One of the lessons I learned while attending Weber State University came in one of my Family Studies classes taught by Dr. Randy Chatelain. It's no wonder I switched my major from Psychology to Family Studies after taking this class.

Did you know that porcupines live alone? They are very solitary animals. We can learn a valuable lesson from them. Imagine the porcupine as a person. What kind of person would it be? I imagine it would be a prickly, stand-offish person. Maybe a grump, maybe someone who easily offends others. It is the kind of person others don't enjoy being around.

Are we porcupines? Do we get grumpy and offensive too easily? Or are we soft and warm toward our families? It makes all the difference. After all, porcupines live alone.

Welcome to my blog!

I have decided to start this blog as a way to have a little lift in each day for myself and for any who visit the page! Here I'll have craft ideas, recipes, thoughts, and spiritual advice. Please visit often, and enjoy!