Friday, April 29, 2011

The Legacy of Meal Planning

Over the years, I have realized one eternal truth—motherhood is 24/7.  If you want or need a break, you have to decide to take one.  However, these have to be timed just right or they will not be as beneficial as you need them to be.  If you know that most afternoons are going to be spent from 3pm to 7 - 8pm taking children to a 40 minute orthodontist appointment, and/or 90 minutes of piano lessons, and/or a 2 hours of cheer practice, and/or 2 ½-3 hour cross country meets, not to mention as-long-as-you-can-stand-it fund raisers, and the 15 minute church activity that took you 30 minutes to get to, etc., then you don’t need to add any additional errands to this list.

Errands need to be done while the children are at school and as early as possible.  You need to get your work done quickly and efficiently so that you have time to work on personal projects, (like painting the bathroom…) and still have time to get plenty of rest before you pick up the children.  That requires a healthy lifestyle so that you have the energy it takes to do all this.  Getting a 30 minute walk or workout, taking a vitamin, and eating nutritious meals are vital to having the stamina to be a mom.  But do not forget the necessary down time that we should take each day before we head out at 3pm.  We need to understand our limits and allow ourselves the opportunity to recharge, such as reading a book for fun, taking a hot bath, doing some yoga stretches, reading the scriptures.  It is also good to encourage your husband to do something to recharge each day as well.

Meal planning should be an important part of each day.  When it comes to planning meals, we must ask ourselves, what are the wisest uses of our time and money?  With children at home, three-hour meals just don’t make sense.  “There are so many options, so much to do, so many demands on women.  There is no point in taking one hour to do a ten-minute task, nor should we slap together an hour-worthy project in ten minutes.” (Elaine Cannon)  As a mother, taking time to plan is essential.

Planning can help us actually enjoy the meal we have prepared instead of being too tired to eat.  Planning the week helps us know what days mealtime needs to be simplified due to appointments or having to eat in shifts.  Planning meals allows us to invite company for dinner or go on a picnic.  Meal planning helps us change things up by trying out new recipes (put winners in a file to record in cookbooks).

Planning our meals involves keeping a running grocery list that everyone can contribute to so there is no back and forth to the grocery store because we forgot something.  I like to prepare meals that I call “one-dish meals” because they do not really require sides since the meat and veggies are all together, (like chicken-pot-pie).  I also like to find the “perfect recipe” for recipes such as pancakes, mac-and-cheese, biscuits, etc.

The best way to become a proficient meal planner is to work out a basic schedule of seven to twenty-eight menus that you can become proficient at.  These are the meals we eat most regularly.  Just start a list that includes each meal you make at home until you have come up with twenty-eight.  It is a known fact that most folks generally eat the same things each week and each month.  These recipes can be organized into a notebook, and eventually a master grocery list prepared so that the basic ingredients are collected in your pantry.

Being prepared in this way helps you to have the opportunity to get really good at cooking one thing such as bread, cookies, or even a freezer meal—and then make two to give one away.  When you are prepared, it can be very gratifying to give service in this way.  Also, before going  to bed, I like to figure out what I will need to do for tomorrow’s dinner, such as does something need thawing or marinating, etc.?

Meal preparation helps me buy most of the groceries for the week at one time from the cheapest, nearest store and then forbid myself from going back—even if we have to drink powdered milk to get through the end of the week!  If I run out of something like cereal, then it takes no time at all to make homemade oatmeal.  Meal planning also helps me choose recipes with fewer ingredients, making the dish cheaper and less work.

Be flexible because schedules will change.  Children will begin to eat more, or we may have to switch menus around on the calendar at the last minute because something was accidentally eaten!  Learn to cook from scratch.  Then you will know how to make homemade biscuits when a recipe calls for canned biscuits, or homemade chili or tacos when you don’t have the seasoning packet, or homemade mac-and-cheese from leftovers in the fridge and pantry.  Basically, if you know what’s in a dish, then you can figure out at a glance what you have on hand and what you can make with it.  If you only have eggs and some leftover meat or veggies, you can make amazing omelets or quiche!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kid-FRIENDly Meals

The Friend magazine is a wonderful publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for young children pre-K through primary grades).  I printed off a stack of recipes from the Friend magazine to try with my family.  This was a huge hit and it literally only took me 30 minutes to make.  These recipes are simple enough to make with children.  They are from the "Kitchen Krafts" section of the June 1981 Friend.

Waldorf Salad
2 c. diced unpeeled apples
1 c. diced celery
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. sugar
Combine apples, celery, and nuts in mixing bowl.  Blend together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and sugar.  Stir into salad until thoroughly mixed.  Chill, then serve on crisp salad greens.  Yield:  4 servings.

Cheesy Baked Fish
1 lb. frozen fish fillets (perch, haddock, turbot--we used tilapia), thawed
2/3 c. condensed cream of celery soup
3/4 c. dairy sour cream
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Separate thawed fish fillets and drain on paper towels.  Arrange in buttered 9-inch square baking dish.  Combine undiluted soup and sour cream in 1-quart saucepan.  Add 3/4 c. cheese, then, over low heat, stir constantly until cheese melts.  Spread mixture over fillets and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 min. or until fish flakes.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 c. cheese on top, return to oven, and bake for 5 min. more.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bread for Beginners

I really started getting somewhere with my bread skills after I discovered bread recipes that used an egg in them.  Sometimes they are allowed to rise overnight in the fridge.  This type of dough is so much easier to handle to novice bread makers than dough without the egg.  I am no scientist or expert bread maker so I cannot exactly tell you why this is.  If you know, please comment on this.  But once I began using these types of recipes, I was able to concentrate on using as little flour as possible,thereby making some light and fluffy rolls.  Over the years, I have tested many recipes and settled on this one because it is fast, easy and incorporates wheat.  I have included this recipe on my Preparedness: Wheat Page because recipes with wheat will help rotate wheat in the food storage pantry.  Here is the recipe.  Instructions with photos follow.

Make-Ahead Whole Wheat Crescent Rolls
1 c. warm milk
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 c. shortening
1 pkg. active dry yeast (1 T.)
1/4 c. warm water (105 - 115 degrees or lukewarm)
1 egg
 2 c. whole wheat flour
1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
melted butter (optional)
Scald milk; stir in sugar, salt, and shortening.  Cool mixture to lukewarm.  Sprinkle yeast in warm water; stir until yeast is dissolved.  Add milk mixture, egg, and whole wheat flour, beating until smooth.  Add all-purpose flour to make a soft dough.  Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.  Punch dough down; turn out on a lightly floured board.  Roll half of dough into a circle about 10 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into 12 wedges, and brush with melted butter.  Roll each wedge tightly, beginning at the wide end.  Seal points.  Place on greased baking sheets with point underneath; curve into crescent shape.  Repeat with remaining half of dough.  Cover and let rise until double in size.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Yield:  24 rolls.

Scald Milk, stir in next three ingredients.

Sprinkle yeast in warm water and stir until dissolved.

Milk mixture should be cooled to lukewarm before combining with yeast mixture.  Add wheat flour by spooning one tablespoon at a time into measuring cup.

Scrape off the excess flour with the blunt end of a table knife.

Tip:  Grind a few cans of food storage wheat at a time and double bag in freezer bags.  Keep ground wheat in freezer until needed.  I keep a container in my fridge for daily use.  The freezer bags take up little space in my freezer and keeps the wheat fresh.

Mix egg, milk mixture and wheat until it looks like cake batter.

I change to a dough hook when it is time to add the all-purpose flour.  Be sure to measure all-purpose flour the same as the wheat flour (spooning into measuring cup).  When all-purpose flour has been mixed in, the dough will be easy to scoop up with hands and place in a large GREASED mixing bowl.

I spray the bowl lightly and then the top of my dough.

Preheat oven for a few minutes on the lowest temperature for your oven (mine goes down to 170 degrees).  You just want a warm oven, not hot.  Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and place on the top rack (which is lowered).  I place a small bowl of warm water on the lowest shelf to keep the oven humid.  Close the oven door.  Be sure to set your timer.

After rising, take bowl out of oven, 

Gently punch dough down with fists,

Take the lump of dough and divide it into two balls.

Place one of the lumps on a lightly floured surface.

Flatten this out some with hands.

Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin, according to recipe.

Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 6 slices. 

Cut each of the six slices to make twelve slices total.

Brush the slices with melted butter, if you prefer; roll each slice.

Place the crescent rolls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, points down.

Spray one side of plastic wrap and place over rolls.

Place back in the oven with the bowl of water (no need to reheat oven if the door was left shut).

Let them rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).  Remove plastic wrap and turn oven onto 375 degrees.

Bake according to recipe.  Cool slightly and remove from pans and place on cooling racks.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

So Easy Granola

One of my favorite foods is granola.  There is so much you can do with granola--as a topping for yogurt parfaits, as a cereal, or as a trail mix, to name just a few.  For years, I have been testing dozens of granola recipes.  This one is called Easy Granola but I have renamed it So Easy Granola, because compared to other recipes, it truly is easy.  My 18 yr. old daughter tested this recipe for me and she's never made granola before.  It turned out wonderful!  The recipe made so many servings that I decided to give Easter bags of it to my husbands's home teaching families.  I have neighbors who actually sell their granola during the holidays and if you buy granola on the health food racks at Walmart, you'll see how much people will pay for good granola.  Why not make your own?  Let me know if you try this recipe and how it turned out for you!

So Easy Granola
7-3/4 c. regular oats, uncooked
1-1/4 c. flaked coconut
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. wheat germ
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. unsalted sunflower kernels
1/2 c. sesame seeds
1-1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. water
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 c. raisins
1/2 to 1 c. chopped dates
Combine first 8 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; set aside.  Combine oil, water, and vanilla; stir well, and pour over oat mixture.  Toss gently to coat; place mixture in two 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pans.  Bake at 250 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes; cool.  Stir in raisins and dates.  Store granola in airtight containers.  Serve as a cereal with milk.  Yield:  about 14-1/2 cups.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Love Erma Bombeck!

I just read this quote from Erma Bombeck (she has soooo many!).  I have read at least one of her books and have read her quotes throughout the years, but I have committed myself to read several of her books, beginning with, Motherhood:  The Second Oldest Profession.  Sounds intriguing, right?  If I Had My Life to Live Over is a great writing prompt for a journal entry, or Book of Remembrance keep-sake.  I think I will work on writing something like this for myself.  I hope you enjoy this quote from Erma as much as I have.

If I Had My Life to Live Over, by Erma Bombeck
  • I would have talked less and listened more.
  • I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
  • I would have eaten popcorn in the "good" living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
  • I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather rambling about his youth.
  • I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
  • I would have burned the pink candled sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
  • I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
  • I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life.
  • I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
  • I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
  • Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment, realizing that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
  • When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later.  Now go get washed up for dinner.
  • There would have been more "I love you's" and more "I'm sorry's."
  • ...but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it...and never give it back.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April Traditions: Boo Boo Bunnies

Place a "surprise" in a plastic egg and tuck it into the Boo Bunny for a special Easter gift.

1.  Remove any tags from wash clothes.  Lay the face cloth flat, turning at one corner, roll it to the center.
Place something heavy, like a book, onto the rolled-up facecloth, so it won’t unroll.  Beginning at the opposite side, tightly roll it to the end.  You now have a long sausage with pointy ends.  The pointy ends will be the Bunny’s ears.

3.  Fold the facecloth in half, so that the sausages are together and the smooth side is outside. 

Tie a piece of string around the end of the folded facecloth.  Tie it in a bow, as you will need to remove it later.

4.  Glue the pompom tail to the facecloth, where it is bent.
Allow glue to dry.

5.  Fold the facecloth again, at the string.  The pointy ends should point toward the tail.  Wind a strong rubber band around the facecloth to form Bunny’s neck.

6.  Untie and remove the string.

7.  Tie the ribbon around Bunny’s neck just behind the rubber band, making a bow on top.  Remove the rubber band.  Trim the ends of the ribbon, if you wish.

8.  Make eyes with two dots of T-shirt paint, (or embroider on).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Homemaking Journals

“Homemaking journals were…passed down through family generations in the ‘olden days.’  It is a journal where you record in one place all things related to homemaking: all of the things special to you, traditions you have instilled, secrets, tips and more.”1

When my aunt retired, she and her husband began to serve a mission in Washington D.C.  Soon after their mission began, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Aunt Phala used this remaining time to finish family history, purchase quality photo albums for her many grandchildren, and she compiled her own Homemaking Journal.  She gave her children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, and nieces such as myself, a copy of this wonderful book.

Aunt Phala was one of the most creative and talented people I’ve ever known and a true asset to the LDS church.  She wrote many a road show skit and put on Girls Camps and many other major church events, including weddings and baby showers.  Everything was done with style and hospitality not common today.  My favorite recipes of Phala’s were recorded in her journal, including chicken and stuffing casserole, pearly shell chicken salad, and orange box-cake cookies.  She also included quotes, family stories, treasured and rare photos, original poetry and drawings, and advice/instruction on anything from cleaning to entertaining.

I have been fortunate to know many people throughout my life that have been an inspiration to me especially for homemaking and Phala’s journal has certainly inspired me.  Her suffering was long and painful, but she courageously completed goals most of the healthy would never attempt.  My own homemaking journal will be dedicated to Aunt Phala for inspiring me.

It occurred to me, as I have been compiling my homemaker’s journal, that I have become much more organized by doing so.  I am able to find what I need…when I actually need it!  I believe sitting down, (maybe for a few hours each Sunday), and working on this specialized journal can help us to organize ourselves.  Topic ideas for a homemaking journal listed by Dionna Sanchez include but are not limited to:
  • “Recipes (especially beloved family recipes that have been in your family for years)
  • Inspirational poems, quotes, Bible verses or excerpts that inspire you in your love for family, home, and homemaking?
  • Tips, tricks, hints and ideas that aid you on a daily basis in helping your home to run smoothly
  • Home schooling information—if relevant
  • Health and first aid remedies and tricks
  • Ideas and tips for Emergency Preparedness
  • List of birthdates and anniversaries
  • Holiday Traditions
  • Kid stuff (activities, projects and kid recipes like “goop”)
  • Gardening—planting information, seasonal planting favorites that you have used, tips, tricks, and more.
  • Your daily routines—do you keep a to-do list?  Does it help you to stick by a certain schedule?
  • Meal Planning—how do you keep organized in your kitchen?  What helps you keep meals rotating regularly?
  • Budget outline
  • Trusted phone numbers of doctors, dentists, builders, pastors, and more
Not only will you now be breathtakingly organized, you will have a precious gift to give or leave to your loved ones.
1)  Dionna Sanchez has written about Homemaking Journals for Emphasis on Moms, a monthly online newsletter

Grateful Living: M.H. Spa Retreat
Grateful Living: The Homebuilders of the World

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gobble Good Turkey Casserole!

An easy missionary recipe!  This is a good food storage recipe as well.  Also good to wrap up in a bag or basket as a gift.  I first received this from my first-grader daughter.  There was rice in a lunch sack dressed up like a turkey with the recipe attached.  It was cute! The idea came from CopyCat magazine, Nov/Dec 1994:

Monday, April 18, 2011

April Traditions: Easter Games

Easter Egg Games 
The following is from a clipping I saved from Southern Living Magazine, sometime in the 1990's.  Lots of fun!

"Egg Roll:  Create a few racing "lanes" by laying rope or twine on the grass, and mark start and finish lines.  Brighten the finish line with festive helium-filled balloons and an Easter basket of inexpensive prizes.  Give each child a dyed egg and a kitchen spoon, and blow a whistle to start the race.  Declare each child a winner with a prize at the finish line.

"Egg Hunt:  Section off a small spot in your yard, and spread fresh pine straw (or hay) over the area.  Conceal dyed or filled plastic eggs in the straw.  Let children in, a few at a time, for two or three minutes of hunting.  Hide more eggs between groups.

"Egg Race:  Using the same lanes created for the Egg Roll, place a dyed egg on the starting line in each lane.  have children kneel at the starting line, hands clasped behind their backs, and push the egg to the finish with their noses.

"Storytelling:  After children have played games, serve them refreshments and read them a story.  A few suggestions:  the Peter Rabbit series by Beatrix Potter; The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown; Max's Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells."

*Teach the real purpose of Easter by making and sharing Resurrection Eggs.
*See my Boo Boo Bunnies adorable, (and affordable) Easter craft tutorial.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Traditions: Birds' Nests and Jelly Bean Poem

Don't forget to watch the Sound of Music this Easter!
Birds' Nests 
1/3 c. corn syrup
3 c. miniature marshmallows
2T. butter
5 c. crisp rice cereal
jelly beans
Stir together corn syrup, marshmallows, and butter in a Dutch oven over low heat (may want to spray Dutch oven with cooking spray first), stirring often 8 min. or until marshmallows melt.  Add cereal, stirring until well-blended.  Spoon mixture evenly into 16 lightly greased muffin pan cups.  Press with wax paper to compact.  Press an indentation in centers, forming a nest, and let cool completely.  Remove nests, and fill centers with jelly beans (I love chocolate so I use Cadbury mini eggs).  For Peanut Butter Birds' Nests:  Reduce marshmallows to 2 cups, and substitute 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter.  Proceed as directed.  Yield:  16 nests.

We discovered a fabulous, super-easy recipe from an old Friend magazine that we used as Bird's Nests this year.  They worked great!  They were even easier than the one above, albeit probably more fattening!
Peanut Butter Clusters (follow nest directions above to turn them into Birds' Nests)
1 c. butterscotch chips
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 c. cornflakes or puffed rice
Slowly melt butterscotch chips in medium-size saucepan over low heat.  Stir in peanut butter a spoonful at a time.  Remove from heat and stir in cereal.  Place by spoonfuls onto waxed paper, and cool in refrigerator until firm.

If you want a much healthier version of Birds' Nests (this is why Utah is one of the skinniest places to live-she uses fiber one), go to one of my favorite blogs:

Jelly Bean Poem Handout (with a little bag of jellybeans!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Traditions: Resurrection Eggs

Resurrection Eggs
This might have come from Christy’s Clip Art, or Sugar Doodle, or the Idea Door—but I got it when two of my children were still in Primary, so that was a while back! 

This is a great Family Home Evening Activity. We also did this as a Primary Party Activity (we have a small Primary). Each year we do this with our children, even though they are nearly grown. Dad hides the eggs indoors (since this is Family Home Evening and Dad gets home late); we have an egg hunt and then open the eggs in numerical order. Each egg has candy for the child who found it. We read the scriptural reference and discuss the object. By the time we are through, we have completely discussed Christ’s resurrection. As I was typing this up, I was reminded of how special this activity has been for our family and how much the Savior means to me.

Egg 1: Plastic egg with #1 written on it and three dimes and Matthew 26:14 written on a piece of paper inside the egg.
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

Egg 2: Write #2 on egg and place a sacrament cup and Matt. 26:39 written on a slip of paper inside.
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Egg 3: Twine with knots in it (I used the thick garden twine). Slip of paper with Matt. 27:1.
1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

Egg 4: A piece of soap and slip of paper with Matt. 27:24 on it.
24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Egg 5: Square of red fabric and slip of paper with Matt. 27:28 on it.
28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

Egg 6: A cross (made with toothpicks) and slip of paper with Matt. 27:31 on it.
31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.

Egg 7: Two dice and slip of paper with Matt. 27:35 on it.
35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
35 And sitting down they watched him there

Egg 8: A tiny bag of crushed rock (the kind extra shirt buttons come in), and a slip of paper with Matt. 27:50, 51 & 54.
50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earth quake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

Egg 9: Strip of white cloth and slip of paper with Matt. 27:58 on it.
58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.

Egg 10: A stone and slip of paper with Matt. 27:65 on it.
65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
66 So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Egg 11: Bayleaf spice and a small piece of paper with Mark 16:1-4 on it.
1 And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?
4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

Egg 12: An empty egg and a slip of paper with Mark 16:5-6 on it.
5 And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Monday, April 4, 2011

8 Ideas for Living Small

Ideas for living in a small space: 
  1. Put children's artwork on the fridge. Place child in front holding how many fingers he is. Snap a photo. Throw out less-creative work.
  2. I use only kitchen tools that are multi-purpose. I gave away the "extra." None of my furniture is decorative. I don't have enough cabinet space so I use a china cabinet to hold the dishes we use each day. I only have one set of dishes (that serves 8). For years I used Corell because it was indestructible. I'm creative about what I serve food in--like my beloved Pyrex collection rather than fancy stuff. 
  3. I decorated my bathroom with a "Spa" feel because it lends itself to being minimalist. Family members use the bathroom in shifts in the morning according to priority. Also, think 1988 BYU Deseret Towers--1 bathroom for half-a-floor of girls. Personal items leave the bathroom with you to be stored in your bedroom. Every bedroom has a large mirror. 
  4. It literally took five years to whittle away the excess. Every year, study and find ways to do without is my advice. Bookshelves are essential to us because we read our collection of books over and over, and I have quite a few albums. Digital albums can be a time and space saver--just be sure to make a "hard copy" (meaning you publish the book) because technology is always changing. 
  5. Christmas begins about a week before Christmas (not the whole month). Focus on Christ--not space defying decorations. I just divided up our mostly homemade tree decorations for my nearly grown children since two girls will be leaving this fall. Decorations take one box now. 
  6. My office consists of a tiny desk with a used laptop and a multi-purpose scanner. A cardboard file box fits underneath and is thinned out each January.
  7. My style is eclectic. I don't like that Rooms-to-Go feel that many houses have. Most of my furniture is hand-me-downs that are repurposed. The narrow hall is the "family history" gallery. All my cross-stitch has been framed and displayed on various walls. 
  8. One week's worth of classic clothing is all we need. No dry cleaning (except for men's suits). I pay for good clothes and good shoes. Two church dresses. No fluctuating in size allowed. When my husband lost 30 lbs., I gave away all his clothes. When he gained it back--he decided to lose it for good because his clothes were TIGHT, and he has. (I look like Aunt Bee--but I don't fluctuate).
Aunt Bee

Sunday, April 3, 2011

They Shall Call You Blessed

Nothing on earth can make up for the loss of one who has loved you. ~Selma Lagerlog

My grandma was a great lady!  No matter what others did, Grandma always held fast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to her church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was very lucky to grow up in Grandma’s neighborhood.  Grandma always made sure we grandkids had a ride to church.  I loved rides in her big car, and she always took the most scenic route to church.  Regularly, Grandma would take us to McDonald’s for an ice cream cone.

After Aunt Wynette died, we often went home a different route from church, stopping off at the cemetery for Grandma to tend Wynette’s grave.  When my sister and I started taking piano lessons, we took them with Grandma’s piano teacher.  Grandma was retired, but she made sure that she never stopped learning and doing.  She always had a garden of some sort, and she was quite proud of her azaleas. 
Grandma always had cookies in a jar on the kitchen table, and ice cream in the icebox whenever we came to visit.  There was always candy in a jar on her coffee table.  When I think of Grandma, I will always think of the eggshell blue walls of her living and dining room.  I will never forget the hours my sister and I would dress up in Grandma’s prized costume jewelry she kept organized in egg crates in a dressing table drawer.
Grandma never forgot our birthdays and when Grandpa died, she made sure his tradition of a silver dollar each birthday, and later when the silver dollars were gone, a paper dollar was sent by her.  Through the years, during Sacrament meetings, though I might have been far from Grandma, I would feel her near as the congregation would sing songs that I could still hear her sing.  I knew exactly how she would sound if she were sitting next to me, and I would start to cry and I would miss her.
Grandma gave me some of her old Relief Society manuals that I cherish and read often because she must have served as a Relief Society teacher and she had planned out her lessons in the book.  Grandmother loved church.  Her home was filled with many things she learned from church such as family history.  She served as a faithful visiting teacher and fed the missionaries regularly.  She helped with mission funds of family members.  She was obedient to the prophet and many a Saturday when I came by, she would have her scriptures out on her large dining room table and be studying for the next day’s Sunday School lesson. 
Grandma is always the example I use when I have friends at church whose husband or children are not active.  I always say that Grandma did everything possible so that when she was finally able, she received her endowments and attended the temple as often as she could, though she was quite elderly by then.  She never let others’ behavior keep her from living the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Grandma never sold her large house--she wanted everyone to have a place to go for the holidays.  She truly cared for her family.  She always had her camera ready to take a picture and capture that moment.  I have plenty of these photographic mementos in my albums.  Her hall was littered with a time capsule of photographs and genealogy.
A year before she died, I spent the night with Grandma.  She had not been eating.  I made her a breakfast of things that she could swallow easily.  I got ready to wash up the dishes while she ate but she didn’t start to eat.  I asked her what was wrong.  She said she wanted me to sit down and eat with her, so I prepared a plate and sat with her.  She bowed her head and blessed the food.  Then she ate everything on her plate as we talked quietly.  I was humbled.  How often do we treat the elderly as children and not give them the dignity and respect that they deserve as our elders.  She did not want to be waited on, she wanted to visit.  Grandma taught me how to help the elderly as I visit teach or assist them, or check on them, or help them through the funerals of their spouses.
It has been a privilege to know my Grandma; perhaps that’s why I chose in the preexistence to be born into her family.  I don’t know what went on before my 42 years on this earth, but as long as I have known Grandma, though flawed she may have been, she lived her life beyond reproach.  I often try to emulate her and I know she has been accepted into God’s presence.  When I knew she was gone, I took out a book she wrote of her personal history. I wanted to look at pictures of her.  Of all the pictures in there, the one that looks most like I remember her was of her on her 81st birthday in her beautiful home.  She is wearing a lovely all-white dress.  Yes, I thought, with tears streaming down my face, Grandma is with her God, she is with my God. God bless you Grandma.
A house needs a grandma in it. ~Louisa May Alcott


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