Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Nativity....Joy to the World...

Yes, put away the Turkey and break out the Tree. The LRH loves the Christmas Season, so let's begin with these messages to help bring your thoughts to the Birth of the Savior. There are several in this series, I will bring you two today. Enjoy!

Additional Relief Society meetings......Sister Julie Beck

In the last General Relief Society Meeting, Sister Julie Beck, General Relief Society President, described changes in the Relief Society meetings. The following information comes from

Julie B. Beck on the purpose of Relief Society meetings:

"In counsel with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was determined that rather than give these additional Relief Society meetings a new title, all such meetings and activities will now be referred to simply as Relief Society meetings.

"These meetings are meant to be instrumental in teaching the skills and responsibilities of womanhood and motherhood in the Lord’s plan."

Why do we hold Relief Society meetings on days other than Sunday?
To help women progress toward eternal life; and to learn and accomplish the charitable and practical responsibilities of the Relief Society.
What types of meetings can be planned?

How should we plan Relief Society meetings held during the week?
Plan weekday Relief Society meetings to strengthen sisters.
Decide how often to meet.
Organize details for Relief Society meetings held during the week.
A planning idea.

What are the priorities for weekday Relief Society meetings?
Marriage and family.
Provident living and self-reliance.
Temples and family history.
Sharing the gospel.
Compassionate service.

Monday, November 23, 2009


(Image courtesy of

Well, we had our Thanksgiving dinner.....early. It was this past Sunday. We had family in town for a major family event, and decided to celebrate the holiday at the same time. Because I live locally, my sister asked if I would host Thanksgiving dinner at my home. I said I didn't mind.

Initially, I was thinking maybe 20 people or so....nothing I hadn't done before. But by the time it was all said and done, there were 40 people here....and we needed to seat everyone. Here are some things I learned and other suggestions that may help your big holiday gathering go much better.

1. Cook Early! Cook your Turkey early, and debone it. This was done on Friday and Saturday. The gravy was also prepared on those days as well, and then put into a Crockpot in the morning to warm. During Church on Sunday, the Turkey was warming in my oven. Also, consider making your stuffing in the crockpot about 2-3 hours ahead of time. I even used the national brand of Cornbread stuffing (I had several Southerner's coming) and added my vegetables and sausage to it. I had previously made homemade Cranberry sauce (so easy and so good!) and cut up the fruits and vegetables ahead of time as well.

2. Delegate! If you have so many people coming, assign things for them to bring or things that need to be done. I don't bake well, so I assigned rolls, pies, and cakes. My sisters and my mother can put Betty Crocker to shame! They all did a great job and it was one less thing for me to worry about. Assign individuals to bring chairs, to help clean up, to keep little ones entertained. Let everyone contribute in some way.

3. Organize! I planned out a preliminary menu about 10 days ago and emailed it to everyone. They made suggestions and corrections. In less than 48 hours, we all knew what we were going to be doing. I also planned out the table linens, dishware/silverware, and the serving dishes. See the photos below to see how a lot of this was accomplished. (All the set-up was done the afternoon/evening before the meal)

I decided to use my Dining room as the Serving area. This is the Dining room table turned and placed up against a wall. All the serving dishes are arranged with hot dishes on the left and the cold dishes on the right. Remember that list I emailed? I cut up the printed list that indicated the dish and who was bringing it, and placed the piece of paper either in or on the dish so that I knew exactly where everything was going and made sure we had enough room.

Also, it may be difficult to see, but I am using levels so that the foods in the back are up higher and are easier to reach. This adds visual variety as well. I borrowed my sister's Cake plates which are on pedestals. I then placed the dish or the slip of paper on each so that we all knew where everything would be going.

Opposite the Dining room table is my Buffet. Again, I set out dishes and serving "stuff" to make sure I had a place for Desserts. You can see that I placed a few strands of Autumn leaves to make it festive. Notice that I again used the Cake Plates to elevate some foods for interest and ease in serving. I also used a 3-tier piece to serve the pies. They conveniently fit on each level.

In my Entry hall, I placed the drink dispensers. Look near the bottom of the tablecloth. The black "trays" that you see are Boot trays, which traditionally are used to put wet boots on when you come into the house. The purpose of Boot Trays are to protect your floors. Here they are doing the same thing, but catching liquid that may fall from the Dispensers....even though I have a rock floor in the Entry Hall. Believe it or not, we emptied them at least once!

Finally, decide how you are going to set the table. Here is what we chose to do:

We took all the furniture out of the living room and set up the tables. We also had a table in the Kitchen as well. I coordinated the linens (can you see how type A I really am) and each table had seasonal decorations and candles. Everything was set, except the silverware when I took these photos. The utensils were added later. I took butter out of the freezer and put the cubes on the serving dishes ahead of time so that they would be soft for dinner. Just before the meal, I placed small dishes of jam and jelly on each table as well as Salt and Pepper shakers.

Set up your chairs, and organize your Kitchen. When everyone comes, knowing where to put your food and where to sit made it very easy to get the crowd organized. Also, suggest a "traffic route" so that all are going through the line in the same direction. Have instrumental music playing in the background to set the mood.

Lesson's learned:

1. Be just as organized about clean-up as you are with the planning. I had so many people that wanted to help that clean and dirty got mixed up more than once. I should have had tubs for the silverware. I did have the dishwasher ready to go for the bigger dishware, but most got washed by hand by loving family members.

2. Have plenty of wash clothes and hand towels available.

3. Have Plastic wrap, bags, etc ready to take care of the left-overs. I sent a lot home with the college students in disposable containers that I didn't care about. Also, I used my Food Saver to package up Turkey in 1-2 Cup amounts to use with meals later on.

4. Laugh! No matter what, enjoy and laugh at the unexpected. We found out that the hand-sprayer on my kitchen sink decided to go leak right after dinner, so we had to pull everything out from under the sink and place a fan under there to dry it out after my wonderful husband repaired everything.

Everyone seemed to have a grand time and didn't mind being in close quarters. I hope your meal goes well and would love to hear what lessons and suggestions you have to share with everyone else!

So, you may be wondering what we are actually going to be doing on Thanksgiving day......well, I have already ordered Chinese go ! I'm sleeping in!


Friday, November 20, 2009

It's a matter of ......Refrigerator Pickles

Oh Wow.....pickles? What is the big deal? Well, let me tell you. These are called "Refrigerator Pickles" and only take a week before they are ready to eat. You may be familiar with this type of pickle in your Grocer's refrigerator section. They are a national brand, and must be ....... refrigerated. I wondered if I could duplicate it or do something simlar as my children devor this national brand very quickly.

Why am I sharing this with you now, well you have just about a week before Thanksgiving. If you wanted to try could this just to see if it works for you. The best part is that they are so very easy to do.....which is my kind of anything!

The recipe I used comes from the book "The Joy of Pickling" by Linda Ziedrich. Here is the process in words and pictures>

I purchased pickles that were relatively uniform in size from the big Club Store near me. The recipe instructions are to wash the cucumbers and remove the blossom ends. Quarter the lengthwise.

Put the cucumber strips into a bowl or Crock. Disolve 3 Tablespoons salt in 1 quart water and pour the brine over the cucumbers. (Be sure you use Pickling salt and not table salt as table salt is iodized and it will cloud your brine).

Top the cucumbers with a heavy plate that just fits inside the crock or bowl. Let the cucumbers stand for 8-12 hours. Drain and rinse the cucmbers, then drain again.

Pack the cumbers, garlic, onion and dill head into a 1-quart jar. Place 2 Grape Leaves in the jar to help retain the color. (I happened to have some leaves left on the vine when I did this....what a miracle!)

In a nonreactive saucepan, bring to a boil the water and 2 teaspoons salt, and the vinegar, sugar, and spices, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers.

Here is how it looks just before you put the cap and ring on.

Cap the jar tightly, and let cool.

Store the jar in the refrigerator for at least 1 week before eating the pickles. They reportedly will keep for months in the refrigerator.

I would include the recipe, but it is copyrighted by Linda Ziedrich. However, this is really a great book. I have struggled with pickles for sometime. Her book is very straight-forward and I actually succeeded with this pickle recipe. My children even said these were the best pickles I had ever attempted to make...and that is a pretty high compliment. Please know that even though these have dill in them, they still are sweeter like a Bread & Butter Pickle.

Also, she does give a recipe for making your own pickling spices, and I was surprised to see that I had them all in my spice cupboard and did not need to go out and purchase anything additionally. I highly recommend you check into Refrigerator Pickles....they are really easy to do!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's a matter of .......Stocking up

I realize everyone is in the throws of getting ready for Thanksgiving next week. However, this is a great time to stock up on may items that are currently on sale for this holiday. Check you local listing (i.e., Savvyshopper at the daily Herald, etc) or look at your local store's online ads.

I purchased turkeys for $.40/lb at a big box store recently and will can the remaining meat. It is so convenient to have canned meat on hand. And, of all canning that anyone can do, I find canning meat really the easiest of all. Put the meat in, add salt if wanted, and can in your pressure canner. That's it. Where else are you going to find meat for $.40 a pound?

Also, there are sales on butter. I buy boxes of it and freeze it. Because space in my freezer is precious, I take the cubes out of the box and put them into a clear tote that fits on my freezer shelf. This way, I don't have boxes falling over, and I can fit more into that space than I could by just stacking me it really works.

Consider purchasing canned pumpkin and other vegetables (canned or frozen) while they are discounted. In the winter the pumpkin can make a wonderful pie, but great bread and soup as well. Frozen vegetables are always welcome and needed for meals and soups.

Spices are also a great buy currently. I just read an ad that offered a "buy one, get one free". If you look at the price of spices per pound, this is a tremendous savings.

Finally, canned goods. There is always a need at home for these, but also at your local Food Pantry. This time of year, in particular, you generous giving can help so many. You dollar can go farther in your efforts to be of service when you purchase these items on sale.

So, as you shop, try to see the bigger picture.....and stock up!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving......

Enjoy this wonderful video from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is entitled...
In the Spirit of Thanksgiving:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's a matter of......Thanksgiving Crafts for kids

(Image courtesy of

Do you have little ones in your home? Will you have little Grandchildren coming to your home for Thanksgiving Dinner? Do you want something fun to do during the week building up to Thanksgiving? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, try any of the following links for lots of great ideas:

If you can't find something here to do.....good luck!

Christmas Countdown.....

(Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.)

Yes, I know Thanksgiving has yet to arrive, but Christmas will not be far behind. I wanted to share a 6-week plan with you that can help you get ready for Christmas. It was developed by Cynthia Ewer, and it works! It is called "Christmas Countdown: Six Weeks to an Organized Christmas"

The 6 weeks encompass the following themes:

Get Organized Week
Reality Check Week
Gifts and Giving Week
Get Cooking Week
Decorate Week
Celebrate Week

She even includes a calendar for 2009 to help you get your "ducks in a row". I have done this before and it works. Here is the link to her program:

It's a matter of ........Winterizing your car

(Image courtesy of /

We had our first......stick to the ground......snow storm yesterday. It made me think of the need to winterize our vehicles and also to have some emergency preparedness items within our cars. If you recall, we had vehicles stranded not far from our area for hours and some of the elementary school children were required to spend the night in the school as the storm became too severe for them to go home.

Those who were stranded on the highway reportedly ran their car batteries and cell-phone batteries down. Also, some were fortunate enough to have some foods and liquids in their cars.

Here is a video on how to winterize your car. This could be a great Family Home Evening to teach your family how and what to look for.

Finally, this link takes you to a great video on what you need to keep in your car for emergencies in the winter. Things like the type of liquids to drink that don't freeze, etc. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's a matter of ...... Napking Folding for that special meal

With Thanksgiving coming, you may want to consider doing something to make you table look special for your family and friends. An inexpensive, but very classic way is to fold you napkins in a creative way.

Below is a video of Martha Stewart showing how to do 3 different styles. I have my own issues with Martha....particularly when she often says "You will want to.....". (I mean really, how does she know that I really would "want" to do what she says?). However, she has built her empire on domestic niceties such as this and I like how she shows you that you not only need a starched or stiff napkin, but also how to fold it and use an iron to make it really, really nice.

Finally, I am including a link that shows you how to make many, many different styles of folded napkins that are really simple! Your children or grandchildren would probably love to help you make these! You can also do them ahead of time if you wish. The photo above is from this site. Here is the link:'

Friday, November 13, 2009 Thanksgiving

(image courtesy of


  • Make a seating chart.
  • Work on your shopping lists.Include ingredients for all of your dishes, plus candles, table linens, flowers, etc. Prepare a grocery list by dividing it into two parts: (1) items that can be purchased immediately, and (2) items that need to be bought the day before Thanksgiving.
  • Begin cooking. Relish will keep in the fridge for a week; gravy freezes well.

    Consider hosting a potluck. As the host, you'll take care of the turkey. Two weeks before the meal, ask guests to bring specific dishes, like sweet potatoes, extra stuffing and gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, dessert, and so on. Request that people bring serving dishes for their contribution and be responsible for its presentation. The best potluck foods are those that can be served at room temperature.


  • Tidy up the house.

  • Decorate your home for the holiday.

  • Put clean towels in the bathroom.

  • Make a final shopping list.Remember ice, cream for the coffee and nuts for nibbling in the living room.

  • Save food containers and paper bags.For packing up leftovers and handing them out to guests on their way out. Bags and newspapers also come in handy for making paper turkeys.

  • Collect chairs, benches and large pillows.To ensure ample seating for everyone in the dining- and living-room areas. Folding chairs are fine if you outfit them with a seat cushion or slipcover. Small tables are good for guests to place glasses and dishes on. Cover folding tables with a tablecloth.

  • Confirm the number of guests who will be attending the holiday dinner.

  • Take a look at an online Thawing Video.So you are prepared! Begin thawing frozen turkey by placing it in a shallow tray in the refrigerator. Allow one day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey.


  • Defrost your turkey (if it's frozen).Remember that you have to allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds if you're going to defrost a turkey in the refrigerator. That means a 15-pound turkey will take three full days, so get started on Monday. If you choose to prepare a fresh turkey, purchase it one to three days before Thanksgiving and store it in the fridge until time to cook.

  • SUGGESTION:If you miss that deadline, you can defrost the bird faster in a sinkful of cold water, allowing about half an hour for each pound of turkey and changing the water occasionally. (It will still take 7 1/2 hours for that 15-pounder, so do it after work on Wednesday, then refrigerate it.)


  • Do your final food shopping.

  • Make a cooking schedule for Thanksgiving Day.If guests are invited for 5 P.M. , count backward from a 6 P.M. dinner, writing down the time everything goes into the oven or the microwave. Don't forget the dishes that will have to be reheated.

  • Prepare and freeze appropriate side dishes and desserts.


  • Set the table.

  • Clear out the coat closet for guest coats.

  • Clean the guest bathroom.If possible, make it off-limits to the family.

  • Take the gravy out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator so it can defrost.

  • Decide on a table centerpiece.Flowers or collections of candles work well. Line votive candles down the center so the entire table is aglow. Since it's fall, you could also try an arrangement of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Place pumpkins, gourds and wheat around the house for decorative touches.

  • Prepare yourself, too.Today's a good day to decide what to wear and to mentally take yourself through Thanksgiving Day. Don't worry about potential mishaps. Remember that the important thing is that family and friends are together.

  • Prepare and refrigerate moist ingredients for the stuffing.Store dry ingredients in a separate container. Thaw pie dough and bake the pie. Set your beautiful table with elegant folded napkins.


  • Don't forget breakfast.Your family will be happier sitting down to an afternoon feast if their stomachs aren't completely empty.

  • Make the stuffing in the morning. Consider making your stuffing in the crockpot.

  • Enlist helpers to set the table before guests arrive.Those who are not setting the table can arrange the vegetable plate or other pre-dinner platters. Encourage reluctant children (and adults) to pitch in by announcing that the worst sourpuss will have to scrub the turkey pan at the end of the night.

  • Remove prepared side dishes from the freezer.Just before roasting the turkey, combine stuffing ingredients or place in an oven safe dish or foil.

  • Roast the turkey.

  • Within two hours after roasting carve meat off bones.Then, chill in refrigerator before wrapping for storage.

  • Once guests start to arrive, give each child an assignment.Such as greeting the guests at the door, taking people's coats, making a new member of the family feel at home, or getting the younger kids prepared for dinner.

  • The table's set, the guests have arrived, and it's still a while before dinnertime?Suggest that everyone write thank-you notes to family members and friends who couldn't be with you on this night, telling them why you're grateful that they're a part of your life and that you're thinking of them. Have extra stationery, pens and stamps so guests can join in.

  • Have a great Thanksgiving!Be sure to send your guests home with leftovers.

The Day After
Freeze leftovers if you plan to store them for a long time. Wrap in heavy foil, freezer.

(Source (with some minor changes) is

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Say it's "Sew".....

Last evening, many of our ward sisters were very busy......making pajamas. Some were seasoned seamstresses, others were newbies. All were enjoying each other's company. We had more than 30 sisters in the Relief Society Room at one time last night!

My thanks to the many sisters that helped make the evening possible. The committee was full of experienced sewers who were happy to assist everyone. My thanks also to the many folks who loaned or brought their own sewing machines. I was surprised to know that we have that many in our neighborhood.

Finally, it is comforting to know that so many of us (or our family members) are going to be warm this winter in our new PJ's. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How to lay out your pattern pieces when cutting out Fabric.

(Image courtesy of

On November 10th (7:00 p.m. at in the RS room), our Relief Society will be holding a class on how to make Pajama bottoms. I am taking this opportunity to provide information to you about how much fabric and elastic you will need. Additionally, information regarding laying out the pattern and cutting it out before you come to class.

If you are wondering where you would get a pattern, I will have patterns that you can check out, you can use your own, or purchase one from a fabric store.. If you plan to check out a pattern, they will be in a basket on my front porch and the sign up sheet will be on my front door. Please indicate your name, phone number, the size of pattern you are taking, and date. Please only keep it for 1 day at a time as we have many sisters who have signed up for our class as of this writing.

Plan on bringing your own scissors (with your name on them), your cut-out pieces and your elastic on 11/10/09. (If you have a sewing machine that you would be kind enough to let us use, please contact the LRH asap please).
  • Fabric: Some Flannel fabrics will be provided. (If you wish to talk with someone about fabric, please call Dawn S. ) However, you have the opportunity to obtain a Flannel fabric of your choosing. I would encourage you to avoid plaids etc that would need extra yardage to match the pattern. Consider getting a fun print or solid for this class.

    As was mentioned today in Relief Society, you can print off a 40% off coupon at Joann's Fabrics (, purchase "flat folds" at the fabric store in AF, or consider the big box store nearby to purchase flannel from $1.00 to $2.75 a yard. Also, we will be inserting Elastic for the waist.

  • Non-Roll Elastic: Measure the waist of the person you are making these for. Do not stretch the measuring tape. Take the measurement and add 1 inch. This will let you know how much Non-roll Elastic you will need to bring for yourself.

    Here are the yardages by size. All yardages are based on fabric that is 45" in width:
  • Toddlers Size 1-4: 3/4 to one yard
  • Children's sizes: 5 & 6 (boys or girls): 1 yard of fabric
  • Boys size 7: 1 yard of fabric
  • Boys sizes 8, 10, 12: 2.5 yards of fabric
  • Girls sizes 7, 8-10: 2 yards
  • Girls/Boys size 12, 14: 2.5 yards
  • Youth-Adult sizes Small, Medium, Large: 2 and 5/8th yards
  • Youth-Adult size Extra Large: 2 and 3/4 yards

Please plan to cut out your pattern/fabric before the class if you can. This is such a simple pattern, that it really won't be that difficult. To help you know what to do, please see the following videos on how to lay out a pattern, and how to cut out fabric with a pattern pinned to it.

If you are uncomfortable trying to cut the fabric at your home, contact Gayle L or Dawn S for help. (You need to contact the LRH if you cannot cut your fabrics out ahead of time. Please do not count on having time for everyone to cut out and sew that evening, but we will make every attempt to do so).

If you come with your pattern cut out, please know that our goal is to send you home with a completed pair of Pajama bottoms. Hopefully this will inspire you to make more pajamas, try a new project, or use the skills you learn to mend clothing at your home.

Isn't this going to be fun?

A Book with a Promise......

Elder Craig C Christensen has a fabulous message about the Book of Mormon. Enjoy his powerful testimony.

It's a matter of ......"Thanksgiving Dinner"

What, we just had Halloween.....and you are talking about Thanksgiving? now you should know how my twisted mind works!

We had a Thanksgiving Dinner last week, as a family member was leaving to serve our country in an overseas location. We wanted this brave individual to have a vivid and recent memory of his family when he will most likely be eating an MRE's on Thanksgiving Day.

Each family has favorite dishes that are unique and special for their Thanksgiving meal. I decided to address a classic dish....which is Stuffing. I recall my mother and grandmother placing the stuffing into the turkey before baking......and I remember thinking....what a mess! More recently, we all have most likely heard that this practice of placing the stuffing inside the turkey can be risky from a safety standpoint. So what can you do that make this less "messy" and easy. (By now, you should know that "easy" is a key word for me). Why not make your stuffing in a crock pot. This method frees up a burner, and essentially a dish when you are in the throws of making this autumnal meal. Here is how to do it.

Cut your bread into cubes. My recipe called for 8 cups. Set the cubes aside. Cook your celery and Onions in butter in a pan until they are translucent. Prepare the rest of your liquids, and add meat if you wish. Since I have 5 southern babies (who are now really big!), we often have Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage. However, in these pictures, you are just seeing a traditional stuffing with white bread cubes.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Prepare your Crock pot by spraying it with a non-stick spray.

Place your stuffing mix in the Crock pot, turn it on low for 6-8 hours. Please remember to check on it every once in a while to make sure you have enough liquid. The best part of this method, is that I don't have to go digging into a cavity of the Turkey for the stuffing.....which is really a bonus to me!
It's easy to do. If you are wanting a recipe that will hold your hand while you do this, just use a search engine for "Crock Pot Stuffing". Or, you could always make this one step easier by using the commercial brand that is made to cook on your stove. Just do it in the crock pot instead.
Try it!
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