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!