Sunday, September 30, 2012

52 Blessings - Ideas

I imagine you fellow bloggers have similar arguments as this:  One side of the brain says, “Nothing like tooting your own horn,” while the other side says, “It’s selfish of you not to share.  You’ve been out pilfering others’ ideas all week.”   (Never mind that I recognize that my ideas are hardly original but rather whisperings from beyond.)

Back and forth those two sides argue while I debate whether or not to post an idea.  (Except on ideas like crock-pot beans and paper pumpkins, my brain doesn't even bother to discuss topics like that.)  Sometimes “nothing like tooting your own horn” wins and I don’t post an idea, and sometimes “don’t be selfish” does and I post; both win their share.  
Today “don’t be selfish” won.  I do hope it’s helpful to someone, but even if it’s not, it appeases my guilt for using others’ great ideas all week while sitting on my own.

The Parable of the Cake

This learning activity is designed to help students gain greater comprehension of the scriptures that they read. 

It is appropriate for family or classroom teaching. 

For this activity, you will need: a baked chocolate cake, caramel ice cream topping or sweetened condensed milk, whipped topping, and Heath bits or crushed candy bars

Begin the class by asking students to name their favorite kind of cake.

Remind students that a parable is a way to teach divine truths by comparing those truths to material things (see Bible Dictionary) and that today you are going to teach them The Parable of the Cake. Write The Parable of the Cake on the board.

1. State similarities between cake and scriptures: i.e., they’re both sweet, you feel satisfaction after reading/eating them, they are both enjoyable, etc. Have students read several verses or a story from the scriptures. Ask them if they would agree that reading the scriptures is like eating cake. Write Reading the scriptures underneath The Parable of the Cake.

2. Ask students if they would agree that another way that reading the scriptures is like eating cake is that sometimes they are both a little bit dry. (I’ve yet to have someone not agree with that assessment.) If you ask them what they usually eat with cake, most will say frosting. Explain that they can have the cake just like it is, or they can add more layers to it. (At this point, pull out the caramel and show them that you will poke holes in the cake and pour the caramel over the top of it if they want to add another layer.) Compare the cake to the scriptures they have just read: they can be happy with what has been read or they can add another layer by going back and studying to find additional information. Take a vote. (I’ve yet to have a class choose plain cake instead of one without caramel added.) Write Studying the scriptures underneath Reading the scriptures on the chalkboard.

3. Have the students reread the scripture block, but this time they are to use their footnotes or cross-references, ask questions or make comments, and discuss what they read. (As the students are studying the scriptures, add the caramel to the cake.) After everyone has had sufficient time to study the scriptures discuss as a class their findings and increased learning. Ask the students if their learning isn’t sweeter and more interesting by adding studying to reading. Compare the cake to the scriptures they have read, and the caramel to the studying. Explain that they can stop now, as they have built an appetizing cake, or they can continue to add more; like reading the scriptures, they can stop now as they have certainly learned and felt more. Show them the whipped topping. Tell them that if the cake is like reading, and the caramel is like studying, then the whipped topping would be like pondering, writing down your thoughts and new understandings, praying over the things you’ve read and learned. Take a vote. (Once again, I’ve yet to have a class choose caramel and cake without adding the whipped topping.) If they choose to add the whipped topping, give them time to think and write about what they’ve read, felt, and learned. (While they’re writing, spread the whipped topping on the cake.) Write Pondering, Praying, Recording underneath Studying the Scriptures on the chalkboard.

4. After the students have had sufficient time to ponder and write. Show them how they have certainly learned much and it is probably very satisfying and pleasing – much like the cake they have created. Tell them they can stop there, or they can add another layer to their learning. Pull out the Heath bits. Take a vote on whether to add another layer or to stop. (Again, I‘ve yet to have a class vote to stop the add-ons.) Remind them that while reading is like the cake, caramel is like studying, the whipped topping is like pondering and writing, and the candy bits are like teaching and testifying of what they’ve learned. Give each student an opportunity to teach something they have learned, or to ask a question they are seeking for an answer. (You can do this as a class discussion or as a partner/pair share, or a combination [have them share in partners and then ask for two or three students to share their findings with the class]. Because everyone will have had sufficient time to prepare by writing something, they should all succeed in this portion of the lesson.) Write Sharing and Testifying underneath Pondering, Praying, Recording.

5. After sprinkling the candy bits on the top of the cake, show the students the cake they have created. Restate some of the things they taught that they had learned, compare their first reading of the scriptures to what they now know, what they feel now compared to what they felt in the beginning, etc. Tell them you are glad they have learned so much and created such a wonderful cake because your family will be very glad to eat it for dinner. (Most often their reactions fall as they thought they were making the cake for themselves. Although you never said it was to be eaten, it was implied as you stated again and again that they were making a better cake.) Acknowledge their disappointment by saying something like, “You thought this was for you, didn’t you? Well, if it’s for you then there is one more thing we must do in The Parable of the Cake. If reading is like the cake, and the caramel is like studying, and the whipped topping is like pondering, and the candy bits like teaching and testifying of what you’ve learned, then eating the cake must be like applying what you’ve read into your own lives. The scriptures will never do you any good, no matter how much effort you put into them if you don’t get them down inside of you and let them make a difference in how you live your life.” Have the students make a personal goal of what they have read and learned to their own lives. To the chalkboard add Apply the scriptures to my life. The chalkboard should look like this:

The Parable of the Cake 

1. Read the scriptures. 

2. Study the scriptures. 

3. Ponder, Pray, Write.

4. Teach and Testify. 

5. Apply. 

And then . . . serve the cake.

(Note: I have had great success with this lesson and retention is very high. I have only had one time where this lesson was not as effective as I had hoped. The class was large [75+ people] and due to unforeseen circumstances class time was suddenly shortened from 50 minutes to less than 20. I tried to take the class through the steps [without them feeling rushed and still allowing for limited participation] and there was not sufficient time for sound understanding. In hindsight I would have just taught it as a lecture [not very effective] or just given them the cake without any explanation [what was I going to do with 75 pieces of cake at home?] and saved the lesson for another day. )

I’m grateful for good ideas.  Thank you for posting yours.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Life in Our World - "Get the Work Done Day" Saturday

1.  We had a family temple day this week (some went last Saturday, some went this Saturday).  Calvin and I went to an early morning session.  I really appreciate the opportunity to go to the temple, while it is seldom convenient I always leave in better shape than I entered.  After the session we went to a breakfast buffet (ice cream is just as good for breakfast as it is for dinner) and then made a quick stop at the sports and craft warehouses before coming home.  We got home just before noon.

2.  We harvested the garden and then Calvin rototilled it this afternoon.  This is the first time we've ever tilled it under while it was still producing.  However, with the heavy smoke in the air from the nearby forest fires and the cooling temperatures, it isn't producing much so we picked it clean.  It feels good to already have it ready to go next spring and we've got a big box of chili peppers to take to church to give away tomorrow.

3.  We have a mushroom plant in the yard that looks like the Epcot center.

4.  Recently while visiting my sister's family we went through some old out-buildings on property they purchased.  Among other things, I brought home two old doors and two old tables.  I asked Calvin to hang one of the doors on the wall in the family room over one of the old tables.  He thinks they are bug ugly.  I like them.  I'll hang family pictures printed on canvas on the door, or paint the panels in chalkboard paint and put old doorknobs at the bottom of each panel for a hook.  Either way, I think the door has great potential.

5.  Tonight was the General Relief Society meeting.  I very much enjoyed the words taught and the things felt.

6.  A month or two ago I admitted in my prayers that the scriptures seemed boring -- knowing full well that the problem is with the bored not the boring.  Since then I began reading them on-line where it is much easier to cross-reference (I often get sidetracked flipping pages from one reference to another when reading them in book form), and where I can type comprehensive journal notes in the margins.  It has made all the difference.  Once again the scriptures have come alive and I'm back to knowing they are exciting to read.  Whew.  That was a close one.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Homemaking Tip - Crock-Pot Beans

Calvin's mom loves beans.  Calvin loves beans.  The kids love beans.  I grew to love beans.  (Hey.  You know what I just realized while typing that?  I should have been born loving beans.  My dad's middle name is Bean, my grandmother's maiden name is Bean, which mean her father's name was Bean which means . . . well, someone way back there had an affinity for beans or that wouldn't have been their last name, right?  I mean Baker comes from the baker, Anderson comes from Ander's son, so Bean must have come from bean.  Good thing I married Calvin so as to learn to love the bean.)

I often cook beans in the crock-pot now rather than on the stove-top.  I've never soaked beans like the cookbooks suggest, I just sort and rinse them and put them on to boil.

Last week I made two pots of beans.  The first pot was made into mashed (refried, except you can't call them refried if you don't refry them in a pan can you? and I didn't refry them) beans for tostadas and the second a pot of chili.

For tostadas I measured three cups of dry beans into the crock-pot and added chopped onion, chili peppers, and a couple of inches of water (measuring from the top level of the beans).  I put them on high and left for work.  When I came home I added more water (I'm sorry I don't have accurate water measurements, water and beans always vary) and also added salt, pepper, and spices (garlic, cumin, chili powder, what have you) and let them continue to cook.  After they had cooked for six or seven hours total I mashed them with a potato masher.  They were great for tostadas.

A few days later I made a pot of chili in the crock-pot.  (I always use that recipe excepting this time of year I usually add fresh tomatoes and chilies instead of canned.)  I added the leftover refried beans to the chili when it was cooked.  Oooo-lah-lah.  It was thick, rich, good, and chock full of nutrients.

Beans and a crock-pot . . . pretty hard to beat a more economical and easy meal.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Tried It - Washti Tape Lids

Cali and I were talking about Pinterest the other day and she said, "It's so interesting to see what you pin.  'Gift-Giving' isn't one of your primary love languages and yet you pin so many gift ideas."

A jar of caramel for dipping apple slices

She's right.  And one of the easiest gift container ideas is to glue patterned scrapbook paper to the top of a jar lid (due to overexposure, you can't see the orange polka-dotted paper on top), and put Washti tape around the edge of the jar lid.

Here is a link to the  Halloween gift tags and a recipe for the caramel.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Memories - Butcher Hollow

When I was young . . . 

  • it was my job to chase the "chicken with his head cut off" until he had flopped over and lay still then take him back to my mom and older siblings who finished the plucking and butchering.  My neighbor friend and I made a game of it betting which chicken would go the farthest before toppling over.   I didn't like being splattered with blood, but it didn't particularly disgust me either.
  • as for butchering the cows, the mobile butcher drove out in his truck with a hook and a heist and slaughtered them.  I just watched and maybe carried the liver in a bucket back home while he drove the carcass back to his meat-cutting shop.

When I was a newlywed . . .

  • my job was stuffing hams and wrapping meat at the BYU meat lab.  The smell didn't bother me much, at least until I got pregnant with Cali and then the smell definitely became a problem.

When I was a young mother . . . 

  • we raised rabbits, pigs, and steers and Calvin butchered them all.  We also ate plenty of venison.  The best year, however, was the year he shot a moose.

All this to say butchering is not foreign to me and I have enough stomach for it, although I don't love doing it.  (And that is why I shall hope that we always have a small grandchild here when it's butchering time.  Somebody needed to keep Levin out of the way so I took him to gather eggs until the hog was good and dead.)  But what I do love about butchering is doing it as a family and storing up meat for the winter.  

Calvin and Ray baiting one hog out of the pen with an apple.

Cali and Levin watching the pig leave the pen.
At this point Levin and I left for ten or fifteen minutes.

Having hosed the pig off, Ray is attaching him to the tractor so they can lift him into
the scalding tub.  (Aren't you glad I took a discretionary picture?)
Ray has always been a big hunter, so butchering is part of his life.

Ray and Calvin scraping the pig's hide.
The pig is in the cast iron tub of hot water, heated by the little fire beneath it.

Calvin, Ray, and Cali scraping the hide.
Cali is a natural with all things biological.

One of the first traits I loved and admired in Ray is his curiosity.
Look who he passed it on to.

The garage became the meat shop.
Calvin, Ray, and Cali grinding, mixing, and packaging sausage.  We made Italian, summer, and breakfast sausage.

Ray stuffing summer sausage into the casing.

meat chilling in the freezer

Because the chickens are laying so heavy right now and
Ray and Cali's vacuum packaging machine is so good, we bagged eggs too.
I haven't ever frozen beaten eggs before (just whole eggs).
I'll let you know how they turn out and if it's worth it.  

Ray, Cali, and Calvin eating apple skins.  All three of them love the long, stringy things and it looked funny
seeing them all slurping them up so I had them pose.
Cali and Ray remind me of Lady and the Tramp eating spaghetti.

A couple of neighbors stopped by to see how the butchering was going.
One had a big bin of apple "seconds" on the back of his truck and he offered us some.
We took a cooler full and made applesauce.
The other neighbor brought big heads of broccoli and cabbage and a dozen melons from his garden.
All we were missing was the pilgrims.

Calvin grinding the apples into sauce.

We had a great weekend. We worked hard and it felt good to get so much food stored away.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Tried It - 9 x 13 Chicken Dinner

Unbaked Chicken - Potatoes - Green Bean Bake

I fixed this pinterest recipe for supper tonight.  I didn't have any dry Italian dressing mix, so I improvised.

I arranged 4-6 chicken thighs, diced new potatoes, and fresh green beans in a 9 x 13 pan.  Then I drizzled prepared Italian dressing over the chicken, salted and peppered the beans and potatoes, and poured 1/3 cup of melted butter over all.  It baked for an hour at 350 degrees.

Even Calvin liked it.  Calvin doesn't like very many things that are cooked in a 9 x 13 pan.

*If you've tried something on Pinterest and liked it, do tell, do tell!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Memories - More than Cousins

Ande, Ty, cousin Rachel
Abe and Levi are probably playing in the corrals behind them

For eight or ten years when the kids were little we lived 100 yards from my sister and her family.  The five younger kids -- Abe, Levi, Ty, Rachel, and Ande -- played together all. the. time.  Rachel and Ande always had a fort under the pine trees and Calvin was forever going out there to find his tools that they'd dragged from the shop.  Abe, Ty, and Levi played in the corrals and ditch and dug tunnels and Calvin was forever going to find shovels they'd dragged and left.  Rachel and Levi came and jumped on our trampoline and Ande, Ty, and Abe went and played their Nintendo.  Ande and Rachel often played orphan Annie and in a nasally tone responded to my sister Lynn's requests as, "Yes.  Miss Hannigan" and "We love you Miss Hannigan."  Abe, Ty, and Levi pretended they were Jim Craig taming the brumbies from The Man from Snowy River.  Back and forth between the two houses the kids went.  It was a great time of our lives.

All five of the kids have stayed very good friends through the years.  On Saturday the last one of the five -- Rachel -- got married in Twin Falls, Idaho and . . .

Levi and his daughter Addie, Kory, Rachel, Ande, Ty and Afton

. . . all but Abe were able to make it to the wedding.

Ande drove down with Calvin and me, and Levi and Ty both flew from Maryland.  Because it was too expensive to fly Emily (and son Andy) and Michelle out, they left them home.  But, babies fly free so Levi and Ty brought their little girls with them.  (Calvin is still blown away they had the courage to do it.)

Ty, Afton, Addie, Levi

Michelle had painted Afton's toenails for the wedding and explained to Ty which bracelets and headbands went with which outfits.  And though the Chinese women on the plane flocked around them to give advice, Ty and Levi didn't need it.  They are fathers in every sense.

(Two of the sweetest sights for me were walking in the bedroom while Ty was reading On the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder to Afton as she fell asleep, and seeing him help her kneel and fold her arms and say prayers.)  

Ty and I sent frequent updates and pictures to Michelle. It was a sacrifice for Michelle to send Afton and I know Michelle cried more than once, but I'm so grateful for her generosity because we had such a good time.         

And I suppose it's never too early to start that next generation of friendships.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Twelve on Twelve of September of 'Twelve

Afton - better at finding her ear with the bottle than her mouth.

Ty - Just another day at home for me.

Michelle - most productive thing I did.

Joe - return of fancy pants from the groomer.

Ande - This is no Charlotte.

Abe - A SGT from my team re-enlisting for three more years of service.

Grace - Enjoying my time with Mike, Celeste (my sister), and Carson in San Diego.  Awaiting baby
Savannah's arrival, which will be any day now.

Levin - playing with the wooden tractor our neighbor Dorothy gave him.

Ray and Cali - our redecorated mantle 

Jane - Took supper to our neighbors.  Sometimes it's pretty, sometimes it's not.  Tonight it was.

Calvin - watching the news

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Homemaking Tip - Fiddling with Paper Pumpkins

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.  Or something like that.

That's what I kept thinking today.  Embassies in chaos, people in revolt, men dying, lives in sorrow and distress, and here I sit . . . making paper pumpkins.

Closer to home the laundry needs folding, supper needs fixing, sidewalk needs washing, a stack of odds and ends needs putting away, lessons need preparing, and here I sit . . . making paper pumpkins.

Would you like to make some?

1.  Cut four circles of equal size.

2.  Crumple the circles to give them dimension and then fold them in half.

3.  Layer the half circles as shown.

4.  Glue the half circles into place.

5.  Ink the edges for a richer look.
Cut out two leaves and ink them, too.

6.  Add a brad to the center for stability and detail.

7.  Glue a piece of twine or ribbon for the stem and add leaves.

8.  Glue paper pumpkin to embossed sack, or un-embossed sack, or
scrapbook page, or just make a stack . . .
as, sadly, Rome burns.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Tried It - No Surprise

I get teased, rightly so, by our group when we go scrapbooking because I emboss a lot of cards. While the other women are crafting, punching, stitching, folding, and gluing darling and detailed cards, I'm spitting mine out like a factory.

My fellow scrapbookers will not be surprised that I pinned this idea from Pinterest:

Embossed gift sacks!

And while I don't have a good picture of my first sack, he turned out really cute.  I embossed the top of the sack, glued a piece of cardstock to the bottom, and added a folded pumpkin.  

I have plans to fill the sacks with 

fall candy
homemade caramels and a fresh apple
mini pumpkin or apple muffins
caramel popcorn
penny candy

This first sack had a birthday present (perfume and truffles) in it though.  My friend Melanie's birthday was today so we celebrated at Olive Garden (and with another poor quality picture), but it wasn't near the celebration she's been doing with her kids.  Her birthday idea is a pin as well.   

Embossed sacks is a great pin.  I'm sure they'll be in more blog posts with more designs, remember Calvin says I can run a good idea into the ground like no other.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Memories - Looking Back

Dear Kids, 

We had a great time at the Ellensburg Rodeo on Labor Day. The Ellensburg Rodeo has a huge purse so it attracts big names. There were some great runs.

I think my favorite was seeing Clay O’Brien Cooper. He’s the littlest boy on The Cowboys. Remember when he asks John Wayne if he can go on the cattle drive and John Wayne draws a line on the chalkboard about an inch taller than Clay O'Brien Cooper and says anyone that tall can go?  But, after John Wayne leaves the kids remember the chalkboard is set on books so the big boys lift it off the books and, lo and behold the littlest cowboy is big enough. 

 Here he is on John Wayne's left:

Clay O'Brien Cooper is about my age and he and his heeler took first place.  There were two barrel racers that were both 53 years old. One “got divorced, got a Harley, and started barrel racing” and the other one had a terrible summer two years ago where she lost her 21 year old son in a car accident, and a few weeks later had an accident on a horse and ended up in a wheel chair. The woman with the terrible summer won the barrel racing.

Your dad had made some jerky so Levin gnawed on it,

photo courtesy of Joe

while Joe got the rest of us curly fries.

After the rodeo we ate corn dogs (except Joe, he had a gyro).

photo courtesy of Joe

We walked through the animal barns and while I was busy looking at the animals, sale prices, and the decorations, Cali was observing the sub-culture in the tack rooms. I had forgotten all about that, even though tack-room culture is older than me.  Cali said, “Don’t you remember what it's like in there?  You’re young, on your own --well, at least your parents aren't there sitting with you -- and you’re flirting with the others. It’s just this whole other world”  and then she mimicked acting cool.  The minute she described it I remembered it all.  No exaggeration, fair week was second only to Christmas and always better than birthdays.

As we entered the pig and sheep barns Cali pointed out how the sub-culture of  those tack rooms is completely different from that in the steer barn.  She was so right! It was funny to see and hear her memories and remember my own. 

We also went to the Youth and Home Arts building. I didn't know they had a youth Lego section now full of kids creations, but whoever thought of that thought of a good idea.  There were dozens and dozens of entries.

Cali, Ande, and I all watched this little boy looking at the Lego builds.  At different times each came up to me and whispered, "Ohhhh, isn't he sweet?  Doesn't he remind you of Abe and Ty when they were little?” 

He was and he did.

He just quietly looked and coveted, completely oblivious to the happy memories he reminded us of. 
This was one entry in the pie display at the Home Arts building.

It had seen fresher days.

We had a great time and as for me and my house, we’re going to make the Ellensburg Rodeo a tradition.

I love you.