Sunday, January 29, 2012

Something Yummy To Try!

As some of you may know, my husband and I have been called to serve in a Young Single Adult ward.  This is a congregation for College aged young adults in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In such a role, we have opportunities to serve in different ways.  This week, the Young Single Adult women came to our home for an activity.  I offered to provide the 'treats'.  These young folks get cookies, brownies (especially brownies), and cakes often.  So, I wanted to offer something really different....and healthy.   So, here is what I came up with.....Yogurt Parfaits!

Certainly, Yogurt is easily purchased, but please know that you can make it with your own powdered milk. To learn how, please go here.  It is easy and delicious. 

In addition to the Yogurt, you can set out a variety of toppings.  I chose to put out black berries, raspberries, strawberries, and blue berries.  Additionally, I set out granola, and mini chocolate chips.  I even put a can of whip cream out. Each young lady created their own parfait. I think everyone had seconds!  I used lemon and vanilla flavored yogurts for a variety.

Use clear colored cups or bowls so that everyone can see how beautiful their Parfaits are.

It's easy, delicious, and healthy.  Give it a try!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What is a Caucus & How can I Participate?

Courtesy of
If you haven't noticed, we in the United States are in the throws of the upcoming Political season.  Utah has gratefully retained its Caucus system instead of going to a Primary.  Why would I say that? It is because our Caucus system allows the grassroots to vote for it's own representatives, who them listen to candidates and their neighbors, and then vote. 

Much has been said about the 2010 cycle, particularly when it came to Senator Bob Bennett.  Organizations with funds have inferred that the grassroots really cannot or do not understand the issues, or Senator Bennett would have had the nomination again.  In my view, Primary Candidates are funded by deep pockets.  With deep pockets come inferred obligations.  So, Primary Candidates really are not elected by the grassroots, they are elected by those willing to pay for their campaign. 

Having said all that, our Caucus system is under fire.  Just pick up a newspaper or use a search engine.  Look at what happened to Colorado in just a few short election cycles.  Their grassroots system is now gone.

So, if you are a resident of Utah, I encourage you to work hard to preserve the system that has been so sacred for so long......because it works.  How can 'infiltrators' move into each precinct, influence all their neighbors, get elected (by the thousands) and vote to 'undermine' a candidate?  It would really be a logistical nightmare to do as the proponents of a Primary system propose.

Come find out what a Caucus is and learn how to be a delegate if you choose.  This is open to everyone.  Please see the information below. 

What is a Caucus & How can I Participate?

Have you ever wondered how to make your voice heard or your vote count? You’re not alone. Come to our Caucus Awareness Presentation on January 27th at 7:00 PM in the Highland Community Center (old city hall building located at 5378 W 10400 N) to find out what a caucus is, how you can use it to make the changes you want to see in your community, and how to make your voice heard and your vote count.

Learn how the Utah’s unique election process works, how to make it work for you and your neighbors, and how you can become an informed voter. We’ll discuss the roles and responsibilities of delegates and precinct officers and how you can become one. You can make a difference!

The presentation is funded by the Utah Republican Party and sponsored by your precinct. Please note, however, this is a non-partisan political meeting! Current political issues will not be discussed, nor will candidates be endorsed. Participants will learn about Utah’s basic election structure - regardless of party affiliation. This is a safe place for all curious voters who want to learn about the purpose of a caucus.

We welcome adults of voting age, which includes anyone who will be 18 on, or before, November 6, 2012. If you have recently moved here, are a new voter, or simply want to learn more about Utah’s unique system this is for you.
Protect what is preciously  yours......learn more about this amazing gift that the Utah Caucus system has to offer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Who Decides What Your Child should Learn?

The Following commentary is written by Wendy Hart who serves on our local school board. However, this is not just a local issue, and historically it has been. Nearly every state in the United States has voluntarily adopted the "Common Core", most likely with the best of intentions.  However, local control by parents most likely will be a thing of the past if this is adopted.  This is a topic that any parent or grandparent needs to be informed about. Take the Time to READ.

Who Decides What Your Child should Learn?

Education is taking a radical turn from where it has been over the last century. In the name of better standards and increased rigor, the relationship parents have to their child's education will forever be obstructed and second-guessed. This was all done without your knowledge and your consent. It was done, in most cases, by well-intentioned people who believe they have the best interests of your child at heart. You need to know how Common Core changes your ability to influence your child's education, the overall educational establishment, and where you stand. If this change is, in your opinion, the best option at this point in time, then, having made an informed decision, I'd recommend sending thank you letters to those who decided on this course of action for you (the governor, the State Superintendent, the state board of education, Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, the NEA, etc.). If you disagree with what is happening, like me, then you need to take action. But either way, we, the people, need to be informed as to how Common Core came to be, the pros and cons, and what, if anything, should be done about it. We are at a crossroads in American education. Will posterity praise us for our foresight or curse us for our slumber?

Once upon a time, parents were in charge of their own child's education. They were involved in selecting the teacher and the curriculum. Even when public education first came on the scene in the mid-1800's, parents were still highly involved in what would be taught to their child. Thomas Jefferson, who advocated a very basic education (reading and some math) for all, said the schools should be managed by "the parents in each ward [district]", not a government entity. The reason for this management, said Jefferson, was "to have good and safe government...[by] not trust[ing] it all to one." The school board is supposed to be the 'local control', but how much input have you had on Common Core? How much input has your local school board had in deciding to adopt Common Core? The answer is none. It was handed down from the State Office, and we will be implementing it. The School Community Councils (SCC) will be selecting the math curriculum from a set of curricula designated by the district and the state. There is no current process for parents to influence the Language Arts component. You are not managing your child's education. Your community is not. Your teachers are not. Your local school board is not. And, now, having made this decision, the State School Board is not.

As a parent, the responsibility for educating your child, lies with you. How much control should you be willing to give away? And at what price?

Parental control of education is a principle that dates back to the first American colonists. In Utah County, we have a culture that values education but places parental responsibility for that education first and foremost. Common Core changes the fundamental relationship between the parent and their child's education. Under the Common Core standards, should you wish to change an aspect of the core, you must get the parents, not just of your school, your district, or even your state to band together to lobby for a change. You must get a majority of parents in 44+ states to put pressure on unelected individuals in a private organization to change those standards. You must also get the Federal Government to go along with it, since they are funding and legislating based on that core.

"The Common Core train is already on the track," you say. I have been asked if it is possible to change it. There are options from the local implementation all the way up to the state legislature. (Oklahoma adopted Common Core and there is a push in their state legislature to rescind it. Utah could do the same thing.) The most common question people ask is, "Isn't it too late to change it?" Is it ever too late to do the right thing?

I will publish a blog on each of the following items every day this week. However, here are the claims about Common Core and my rebuttal.

It's NOT a Federal Program...technically speaking!

Here is what Common Core (now renamed in our state "Utah State Core" due to "concerns" about the word "common") is and is not, according to proponents.

1. It is not a Federal program. I say, it is a national program. More than forty-four states is national. The tests are funded by the US Department of Education. The Federal Government can 'incentivize' adoption of the standards and assessments.

2. It was developed by the governors of the fifty states; it's really a grassroots, state initiative. The National Governor's Association provides the appearance of a state-led initiative. However, those fifty governors didn't create the standards. Big names and big money in the education establishment have been pushing for some type of national, not federal, standards for nearly twenty years. The governors' signing on just gave legitimacy to their efforts.


3. It does not determine assessment testing. The US Department of Ed is funding the assessments and "encouraging" states to adopt those assessments. One of the advantages promoted by Common Core advocates is the standardized testing that will result. We will be able to compare Utah against nearly every other state in the union.

4. It does not determine curriculum. I say it will. Assessments drive curriculum. Teachers will only be able to choose their curricula and other materials from among those things that have been shown to improve test scores, and hence, are approved for Common Core.

5. It is voluntary. If I make you an offer you can't refuse, is it voluntary?

6. The standards are more rigorous. It depends on what state you're in. In Utah, the math standards are rated the same (A-minus for both). Also, who or what defines rigorous?

7. It will not take away local control. If the control over the standards, the assessments, the funding, and (if we implement more merit pay) the teachers isn't removing local control, I don't know what is. We need to understand that every expansion of centralized education is done at the expense of local and parental control. How can it be otherwise?

So, you see a discrepancy. You may wonder how can I make the claims I do when the really smart people, with all the letters after their names pushing Common Core, claim the exact opposite. I'm glad you asked.

Stay tuned for a new blog on each of these subjects every day this week. If you read nothing else on my blog for the next three years, please read and understand this information on Common Core. Share it with everyone in your neighborhood, your church, your family, and pretty much anywhere else in the nation. Become informed and then take action, either in support of it, or against it. This is too important an issue for you to passively accept what others have decided on your behalf is in the best interests of YOUR child.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's a Matter of Stormy Weather..........

This week, there has been a great deal of news coverage from the Pacific Northwest.  Lots of snow, school and road closures, and even SEA-TAC closed.  I have folks important to me that live in that area.  It has been very interesting to see how the very same weather has impacted different families.  I am going to share some of their thoughts with you.  There is a lot to be learned here.....

Family #1: 

"Almost an inch of ice on those branches. None of it is snow."

"(Husband)  and I stalked up on food! We're ready to be snowed in! Haha!"

"Wahoo! Looks like (Company Name)  is closed for third time in 20 years! No work today! Yay!"

"Power outage. Stupid ice. Quit freezing stuff up! We were getting to the good part in L.A. Noire too..."

"I HAVE POWER!!! I've never been more grateful! I had no idea we would've gotten power tonight! We were expecting it to be out for 3-4 days!!! Prayers really do work!!!"

Family #2:

"We spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday rotating between sledding, Wii and a sporadic amount of board games. Luckily my kiddos have great snow gear, so when they go out, they can stay out for quite some time. Of course, my front entry way looks like the explosion of snow gear, but at least there is room to dump it and let it dry off."

"Thursday is when the freezing rain started. (Husband's) VP sent out an unprecedented email telling everyone that the roads were too icy, just stay and work from home. It was too miserable to play outside and the ice/snow covered trees are pretty dangerous anyway ( a guy in our town has already been killed by a fallen/broken tree branch)."

"The power went out at about 8 am, but the generator kicked in within 45 seconds and the whole house lit up again. It is 1:30 pm and I can still hear the generator going, so the power must still be out. We are kinda tucked back in the trees, so our power will be the last to come on. I can see reports all over the Puget Sound, 20 minutes aways to 2 hours away, that power is out there too. Puget Sound Energy just reported 200,000 power outages. They are saying it will get worst before it gets better. The airport was shut down this morning."

"But, we are warm, we have TV, wii, computer and plenty of food, so we'll weather the storm well. I guess I should go play some board games with the kiddos and then we'll settle down to a pay per view and I'll work on scrap booking. I did just ask (Husband) when he's going to pretend like we don't have a generator, like the rest of work colleagues, act like his computer battery died and just play with us."

  • Both of them lost power. One family had a Generator installed that essentially runs the entire house. There was no interruption in power for them.  The other family mentioned "Prayers".  I am a big proponent for prayer. I seem to bother the Lord often in regard to the safety and well being of my family.  However, Family #1 had to wait for the power to come back on.  They are a very 'wired' family.  I am sure there was a big change in their day having to keep warm and go about their daily routine. 
  • Both of them had food.  But only Family #1 mentioned that they had to go out and purchase it.  Family #2 had already planned and prepared and did not have to navigate the dangerous roads to ensure that they had enough food for everyone to eat.  Because Family #2 had a generator, their daily routine really wasn't altered.
  • Both of them had to 'entertain' themselves.  I am sure both families have things in their homes.  However, Family #2 had many options (playing outside with the appropriate clothing, Electronics, and board games).  Everyone had things to do.  I know which home I would want to be in when I had to be inside for an extended period of time.
  • Both of these families had employers that closed their doors to protect their employees due to the severe weather.  However, Family #2 had the means to ensure that the Father of the family could still be a provider.  If they would have had to be home-bound for an extended period of time, he still could have financially provided for his family.
  • When Family #2 were able to get out of their neighborhood, they found many businesses were not open.  Just because you can get out of your neighborhood does not mean that all stores will be open for business.
So, look around your home and see how you were fare in the same situation.  Look at your needs, and make a plan to rectify the situation.

It can be cold out there!!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's a matter of .....a Visual Picture!

You undoubtedly may have had a picture in your minds eye, but here it is 'in the flesh'. Too many times, folks who have a desire to plan and prepare...but often get overwhelmed. 

So, to make this more 'doable', our committee made this visual display to help our Relief Society Sisters visualize what an year's supply for one adult would look like. Granted, this only includes Long Term Food Storage Staples, and not the 3 months supply that many folks begin with.   However, don't let the point be lost on you.  This amount doesn't take up a lot of room, and definitely can be done financially with careful planning. 

So, now that you can see it.....go do it!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's a matter of....The Deseret Industries.

I am fortunate enough to live in an area that is served by a Deseret Industries.  I have been there many times, not only to donate, but also to shop. One year, I bought all the shirts I needed for a Family Photograph at DI and was pleased with myself for saving a 'bunch of money'.

More recently, someone very dear to us chose to transform their life and is now thriving. One essential component of that life-change was the Deseret Industries program.  The DI performed miracles that other programs just hadn't been able to provide.  Needless to say, we are forever grateful to this program for the new direction and the hope they have provided to this loved one.  Words just cannot express it adequately.

I would encourage you to support the Deseret Industries program in your area if you are fortunate enough to have one. There are miracles waiting to happen.....

To view one such miracle, please go to this link and view this video.  You may need a tissue or two....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day suggestion Idea!

I realize Valentine's Day is a few weeks away, but I just wanted to share the 'spread' we had during our Weekday Relief Society Meeting that we held this time last year.  We had a wonderful speaker and were fed spiritually.  Then, the doors were opened to our Chocolate Fountain Bar.

We have several ladies who are really watch what they eat either for dietary or personal reasons, and then there are others who like a treat now and then.  This allows both groups to enjoy and do as they choose.

We had a variety of items that could be enjoyed with or without a trip to the chocolate fountain.  Here is a list:
  • Several different types of Marshmallows.
  • Strawberries
  • Angel food Cake
  • Brownies
  • Sliced Apples
  • Pineapple
  • Rice Crispy Treats
  • Pretzels.


There was also ice water with Raspberries.

Add to that, some wonderful visiting....and you have the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's a matter of a Crocheted easy to do!

Believe it or not, I made this Knotted Crocheted Hairband in about 30 minutes.  It was inspired by a post at "You Seriously Made That?". I wore it to church, and got compliments from the Young Single Adults.  I was pleased and surprised.  Also, I am not too proud to say that the pictures in the "You Seriously Made That?"  blog tutorial are much better than mine.  It is difficult to admit defeat, but in this may want to follow her directions until you get to the section on attaching the ribbon..  I made an adjustment to this hairband, which I will show you later.

I made this entire thing from materials I already had.  I love when you can do that, don't you?  Here is my attempt to show you how to do this:

Single Crochet 2 chains.  (You will need a H or a J Crochet Hook).  One chain will have 160 single chains stitches and the other will have 300.  Fold each chain into thirds.

Now, I am going to introduce some 'abbreviations' to help with this process. "LC" means 'long chain' and "SC" means 'short chain'. The letter "R" means right and "L" means left.  So, when combined, "LCR" would mean 'Long chain right side' etc.

Take the LC and make a look with the LCR over the LCL.

Place the SC in a semi-circle on top of the LC.

Take the SCL and place it under the LC loop.

Take the SCL and place it over the LC loop.

Now, don't get lost here.Take the SCR, go under the SCL and over the LC loop.

Pull the ends to make a beautiful knot.

I used Grosgrain ribbon, but you could use Satin ribbon if you chose to. Cut two 15" lengths and two 4" lengths of your ribbon.   Here is where I depart from the method proposed by "YouSeriously MadeThat".

Instead of hot gluing the Crochet chains and the ribbon, I chose to sew them.  For me, I was concerned that the hot glue could be stiff.  In addition, if this headband got tossed in the dryer, I would be concerned that the hot glue would melt all over my clothes. Instead, I used the following method.  I sewed the 4" length of ribbon into a loop. I chose to use my Serger, but his could also be done on a traditional sewing machine.

I slipped the loop over the ends of the Crocheted chain. I slide it down nearly to the ends of the chains.

I then slipped the end of the long length of ribbon under the loop.

Lay all rows of the Chain Stitch side-by-side so that they come from the knot to the Ribbon loop in a parallel fashion.  Using a Zig-Zag stitch, I sewed across the top and the bottom of the loop.  I could have made this a Satin stitch to make it more 'beautiful'.  For me, the Zig-Zag stitch was a functional choice.

Finally, I clipped the ends of the chains just below the ribbon loop.

Here is the finished product.  Just tie it together at the base of your neck.

I was pleased with how well this project turned out, and was grateful it didn't take a lot of time.

What is the take-away here?  If you are new to Crocheting, this project is a really easy introduction, and you get satisfaction very quickly. Having completed something like this gives folks who are new to Crochet the confidence to try something else. It also makes a really nice gift!

Try it!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Religious Freedom.....So Precious....So Needing our Protection...

Image courtesyof bevanresort

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints will be publishing a series of articles on Religious Freedom.  I am taking an excerpt from the first article that was published on January 3, 2012 entitled An Introduction to Religious Freedom.  It is thought provoking.  I have long been concerned about the encroaching restrictions on many of our personal liberties by those with viewpoints encouraging social justice. I find the ideals of Social Justice and associated causes dangerously destroying our Self Determination and Personal Freedoms.  That is most likely why I will be reading, with great interest I may add, this series of articles.  I encourage you to take the time to do so.

Here is one excerpt from this article that I found particularly thought-provoking:

Challenges to religious freedom are emerging from many sources. Emerging advocacy for gay rights threatens to abridge religious freedom in a number of ways. Changes in health care threaten the rights of those who hold certain moral convictions about human life. These and other developments are producing conflict and beginning to impose on religious organizations and people of conscience. They are threatening, for instance, to restrict how religious organizations can manage their employment and their property. They are bringing about the coercion of religiously-affiliated universities, schools and social-service entities. They are also resulting in reprimands to individuals who act in line with their principles, from health practitioners and other professionals to parents. In these and in many other circumstances, we see how religious freedom and freedom of conscience are being subtly but steadily eroded. And of equal concern, the legal provisions emerging to safeguard these freedoms are often deceptively shallow — protecting these liberties only in the narrowest sense. In many aspects of public life, religious freedom and freedom of conscience are being drawn into conflicts that may suppress them.

Our Personal and Religious Freedoms Are Ours.....To Lose.  Act Today!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New year....what about new skills?

Image courtesy of
I have been mulling over the direction I would like to take with 2012.  I have lots of random thoughts, but have decided to include new skill sets for sure.   
I do Crochet, but have usually limited myself to 2-3 stitches.  Well, this wonderful blogger, Craftyminx, has an entire tutorial/syllabus on Crocheting.  You even get to graduate!  Here are a list of the classes:

•Lesson 1: Welcome & Intro to Crochet

•Lesson 2: Crochet Hook Basics

•Lesson 3: Yarn Basics

•Lesson 4: Yarn Meets Hook

•Lesson 5: After the Chain

•Lesson 6: The Single Crochet Stitch

•Lesson 7: The Half-Double Crochet Stitch

•Lesson 8: The Double Crochet Stitch

•Lesson 9: The Treble Crochet Stitch

•Lesson 10: The Double-Treble Crochet Stitch

•Lesson 11: The Slip Stitch and Weaving in Ends

•Lesson 12: Review

•Mid Term Exam!

•Lesson 13: Increasing

•Lesson 14: Decreasing

•Lesson 15: Creating Texture

•Lesson 16: Working in the Round

•Lesson 17: Granny Square 101

•Lesson 18: Working With Color

•Lesson 19: Preparing for a Pattern and All About Gauge

•Lesson 20: Reading Patterns

•Lesson 21: Reading Crochet Charts

•Lesson 22: Blocking and Seaming

•Lesson 23: Common Mistakes/Fixes and Graduation!

I think I feel a new project coming on. 
Go visit this wonderful blog today...and Create!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Its a matter of a Nursing Cover.....for a new baby!

We have a new little grandson who has graced our family.  He came a couple of weeks early, and his parents have been playing a bit of 'catch-up' since he surprised them by his early arrival.  Just a few days after this beloved little one was born, his mother contacted me and asked me if I could make her a Nursing Cover.  This was needed as he actually was born the day before his mother was to have a Baby Shower with her friends.  Since he had arrived, the shower did not happen and she found herself needed a few items, which included a Nursing cover.

I was happy to do this for her.  But, as it was December, with all of it's magical events, I had to make sure I got it done quickly, and still kept my other obligations.  No worries, it was fun to do and did not take a great deal of time or skill. I found instructions from Pinkatilly and modified them just a little.

I choose colors I knew this new mother liked.  I decided to make this Nursing Cover reversible and added a little 'surprise' which I will show you later made from the solid color fabric noted above.

To make this cover, you will need to using "Boning".  I found this package that carried the product in a roll.

Cut the fabric for your cover to a 37" by 25" piece.  As I was making this reversible, I cut both contrasting fabrics to this size.  As you can see from the above picture, I am using a Rotary Cutter, my Self-healing mat, and a straight edge.  This helps me get a precise cut and size.

Here, I am altering the pattern. I cut 5" squares of flannel. After they are cut, fold them into triangles and press into that shape.

Cut the strips (one 37" by 2.75" and the other 10" by 2.75"). Fold in half and sew with a 5/8's inch seam. Sew along 3 sides leaving the last side (small side) open.  Clip the corners, turn the tie inside out and press. Take the smallest strip, fold in half, place through both "D" rings.  Pin the short strip on the right side of the fabric (in half threaded through "D" rings) 6 and 1/2 inches from the center on one side and pin the long strip 6 1/2 inches from the center on the opposite side. Sandwich the strips between the contrasting pieces of fabric. Sew at 3/4" across the top.  Place the boning between the strips in the 3/4" seam. Using a Zig-zag foot, sew along the top edge of the boning encasing it in the seam.

Open the fabric and place wrong sides together.  Top stitch along the bottom edge of the boning (as above) between the two fabric strips.  Turn the fabric again and place right sides together. Pin all edges except the bottom edge and bottom two corners together.  Pin the fabric triangles in the bottom two corners. Pin contrasting fabrics with corner triangle.  Stick each side from the top, turn the corner, and stopping about 8 inches from the bottom corner. Repeat on the other side. Clip the corners. Using the opening created, turn the unit inside out.

As you can see the flannel triangles are in the lower corners. The flannel is mean to use as a bit of a 'burp cloth' to wipe little mouths during or after nursing.

Pin the opening long the bottom closed.  I choose to Top stitch all around the unit to keep both large pieces of fabric together.

To wear, feed the long fabric strip through the "D" rings and adjust the cover to your liking. 

So, how much time did this take?  Well, I got up early and made this before work one morning.  I dropped it off to the new mother during my lunch hour.  It was fast, and turned out really cute.

Give it a try!

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