Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ideas for Ladies Groups

Here are some ideas for groups that you could create. You don't have to think along the same old lines that have always been done, think outside the box and be creative, you may spark some interest and get a really active group where the sisters can bond and create lasting friendships.

Here are some suggestions--

#1-Adoption & Infertility Support Group-
We had a group like this in our ward because we had some sisters who were dealing with these issues, and generally these issues go hand in hand and many of the sisters involved in the infertility side may be looking into adoption. We had 2 "specialists" in our ward that ran this group, one was knowledgeable on infertility because she had battles with infertility for 6 long years and tried all sorts of medical intervention...3 failed rounds of clomid, 4 failed rounds of mini-injectibles, 5 failed artificial inseminations, and finally were successful with in vitro fertilization. After many years and many dollars...and many many prayers...they were successful! This sister is me. I felt like I have been on a long journey and wanted to share what I had learned because I felt like I had a PhD in infertility. And, to be honest, being LDS means you live among the land of the fertile and home of the preggos! We had another sister in our ward who has infertility issues as well but they went the adoption direction after trying a few infertility rounds. They were successful in their endeavor as well! So, since we were 2 sisters with similar issues and different paths, we offered up our world of knowledge on the subject and created this group. We only met every other month or every quarter, depending on the needs of those in the group, but I think it was a good way for people to share information in what can seem a daunting journey full of many little decisions that always are predecessors of the really BIG decisions.

#2-Healthy Living Group-
This group would get together on Saturday mornings (or whenever their schedules allowed) and they would do meal prep for the week. They would bring the veggies or fruits or whatever and cut it up and get it ready so that their meal time preparation during the week was much quicker and healthy easy meals would get to the table faster. They would also share healthy meal recipes and a fun sisterhood of chopping vegetables and eating healthy.

A gardening group could be a shared or community garden. If you have someone in your area who has a patch of land that they would not mind you digging up, then you could start a group or community garden, where those who help with the upkeep, reap the reward of the shared crop. You can have a rotating schedule for watering and weeding with assigned days and share in the responsibilities and costs of the garden. What a fun way to learn how to garden for the beginning gardener and a great way for an expert to pass down their wealth of knowledge. Plus, the community spirit of helping each other grow your food can change lives and make lasting friendships.

#4-Recipe Exchange-
A recipe exchange group could meet once a month and exchange recipes, and at the exchange, bring a sample of what your recipe is that you are providing. The months would have different themes, like cookies, potatoes, Asian, casserole, cobbler or crumble, jello, chicken, green veggies, desserts made from veggies, appetizers, holiday fare, etc. Whatever the theme is, everyone brings a sample of their dish and copies of their recipe to share. It could just be an hour every month but a fun chance to share recipes and chat with friends over a yummy family favorite.

#5-Book Exchange-
Instead of a book Club, do a book exchange. This could be once a quarter or however often you like, but have people bring one of their favorite books as a gift for someone to leave the party with. This does not have to be expensive, you can always purchase books at half price books, but I think it would be a fun way to see what other people are reading and share the stories that you love with your friends. You could also have a blog for the book exchange members where they could post reviews and discuss the books.

Did I get your creative juices flowing?

Tip--Scrapbooking Preparation

I think sometimes the thought of scrapbooking things is a little daunting because its not just putting the pictures in the book, its choosing the papers, putting the right pictures together, working on a layout, etc. I have a few things that I do that helps me be prepared when I have a free moment to do some are my tips!

#1-When you are getting your pictures developed, there are many great online developers now that will mail you your prints or you can pick up at the store. I use HEB (a Texas chain of grocery stores) and have always been pleased with the quality, and if I have some pictures that are particularly beautiful or fun, I will blow them up to a bigger size so that they can be the centerpiece of the page. Its good to get some varying size in your photos, it gives variety and you can do different things with different sizes. I also will get a few pictures printed in black and white or sepia brown tones, you just have to check that setting when you are ordering that picture, you don't need a special camera. So, in short, order a variety of sizes of photos and vary up the tones.

#2-When I have a few minutes, whether I am watching tv or sitting at my dining room table, I will go through my photos and figure out which ones I know I want to have on the same page or layout and I will put them in the empty sleeves of my scrapbook, so they are in order there ready to go whenever I am and I don't have to hunt around for the pictures, they are already grouped. So, as I flip through my pages, I can see which pictures are in each sleeve so I can figure out what page I want to work on next.

#4-At another time when I might have a few minutes, I will flip through those sleeves with just the pictures in it and I will look at the colors and pick out papers or colors that I want to use on that layout. I will put the paper in the sleeves with the pictures, and if there are specific accessories or whatever that I might want to include (sticker, some ribbon scraps, buttons, whatever) I will tuck them in there as well. To me, it makes the time when I actually am scrapbooking more fun because then it is just creativity and adhesive running wild! I don't have to stop and go through pictures or whatever.

#5-Storing stickers is in a binder for me. I have a binder with page protector sleeves in it and I keep my stickers together by category in the sleeves. I have some that are sports related, holiday, vacation, etc in each sleeve so I can quickly turn to that sleeve and go through my stickers.

If you have any scrapbooking tips, please make a comment and share the info! This is a place for you all to share techniques and ideas...we all want to have those moments where you say "Oh, that is a GREAT idea!"

Saturday, August 30, 2008


These coasters were done at a Stampin' Up Retreat that I went to last Winter. These are easy and simple to do but you have to be sure to do them correctly. The coaster part is a ceramic tile like they would put on your back splash in your kitchen, the rough stone looking ones. You can get these at any home supply store like Home Depot or Lowes.

damp rag
Large Stamp, the simpler the easier
Stampin Up Staz On Ink Pad or similar permanent ink
Clear Embossing powder
Embossing gun or heat source
Spray on shellac or sealer
4 Felt circles per tile to put on the underside
#1-Clean off tiles with damp rag so they are not dusty

#2-Take Stamp and ink the stamp well with Staz On Ink, make sure it is completely covered

#3-Stamp on the tile, be very still because you do not want to smudge the design. If it is an intricate design, be extra careful and press firmly so the ink is transferred to the tile.

#4 Immediately after stamping the design pour embossing powder over the design on the tile and shake so it covers the entire design, discard the extra in a container and reuse, then immediately clean off the stamp...remember the ink is permanent so you don't want to ruin your stamps!

It is very important that you do this right away after you stamp because the ink dries quickly, so you really must act fast.

#5 With an embossing gun or other heat source, heat the embossing powder until it crystallizes and forms a protective coating.

#6 Allow to dry for 12-24 hours

#7 Spray sealant or coating on the tile so that it is protected

#8 Let sealant dry

#9 Place adhesive felt circle pads on the corners of the underside of the tile


Friday, August 29, 2008

Recipe-Baked Potatoe Soup

Baked Potato Soup
3 cans of cheese Soup
1 Box of chicken Stock
2 Baked Potatoes
12 slices of bacon cooked until crispy (or bacon bits)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 teaspoons of Mrs Dash
Sour Cream
Shredded Longhorn Sharp Cheddar Cheese to top

Bake 2 potatoes and cut them into chunks (like potato salad size).
Take 3 cans of cheese soup (I spiced it up and used 1 can of Pepper Jack cheese soup) and add a box of chicken stock. Simmer and stir on the stove.
Take the cut up baked potatoes and add them to the soup.
Cook some bacon or use bacon bits, about 6 slices worth, crumble and add to soup.
I also used 6 more slices crumbled up to top the soup when serving.
Add salt and pepper to taste plus about 2 teaspoons of Mrs. Dash.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, and bacon pieces. Yummo!

I think you could probably make a creamy version of this soup by using Potato pearls instead of real potatoes, with that and the bacon bits, just cut the sour cream and it could be a food storage type meal.

I also like this because you could just bake 2 potatoes in the oven while you are cooking something else and then just throw them in the fridge until you want to make soup in the next few days, then you can make it up in no time and just let it simmer a little longer so the potato is warmed through.

With the Fall quickly approaching ( I know that because football season has started in Texas, not because its getting any cooler!), I will post more soup recipes. I am a soup girl, I love 'em and I have some really fab recipes. My mother and sister used to own a tea room so we because souper soup makers!

Recipe-Asian Chicken Salad

I have played with this recipe from the original one I was given (by Marissa Hill, one of my favorite cooks) and it is such a versatile recipe. You can make any number of substitutions and still come out with a great salad. I have tried to cut down the calories by changing it from fried won tons to chow mien noodles (plus its much less effort to just open the bag and pour instead of cut up won tons and fry) and you can substitute splenda for the sugar and there is hardly a difference. You can also make it hotter or give it more of a kick by adding Tabasco or some of that Asian pepper paste. The nuts are interchangeable, if you prefer slivered almonds, use those, I happen to be a Southern girl who loves a good pecan (pronounced Pah-kon). I have also thrown in extra veggies, like chopped up broccoli, green peppers, peas, etc...whatever floats my boat that day or whatever is in the bin in the fridge.

Asian Chicken Salad

4 Chicken breasts cooked and diced (large can of chicken is okay)
1 bags of lettuce or 1 bag of shredded cabbage(coleslaw mix) or broccoli slaw works too
1 cup of pecan halves (slivered almonds can also be used)
1/2 bag of Chinese noodles or 1 bag of Ramen noodles broken and sauteed in butter (butter is optional but yummy!) or won tons fried up in strips

Dressing for Asian Chicken Salad
This dressing is so good you will want to sop it up with some crusty bread!

2 tsp of Mrs Dash Original
4 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup of oil
4 Tbsp vinegar (I usually use cider vinegar)
1 tsp salt

Add chicken to lettuce/cabbage and set aside. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight lid. Shake well before pouring on salad. Next add noodles and pecans. Toss and serve.


Howdy and Welcome to Beautiful Basics!

To the right you will see the information on why I created this blog under "Why Beautiful Basics?" Its my story in a nutshell.

I hope you can find some inspiration here or at least get some juices flowing if you are looking for a project to do or an HFPE idea. I launched this page today so its new and I will add things as I think of them and have time, but I plan to post fairly regularly, so please check back! I am also open to ideas and suggestions, you can email me at

So THANKS and WELCOME to my blog! I am sending you a big Cyber Hug and Howdy!

Craft: Scrapbook Page Ideas

This is one of my all time favorite scrapbook layouts that I have done so I thought I would share. It is so basic and (I think) beautiful. I took pictures with my little boy when he was a baby, the pictures compare his tiny fingers to mine and my husbands...we did it with fingers and toes. All the pictures are in black and white and then I did a simple page in celery green, chocolate chip brown, and cream color. This is also one of those pages where you could take the same pictures over the years and compare the changes and growth in your little babies. they grow up so fast, its fun to try to capture the moment!

The page title is 10 Little Finger and 10 Little Toes:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

HFPE Idea- Saving pennies!

My sister's ward just had an HFPE that covered 2 topics: saving pennies and "your favorites". The first part they had someone offer suggestions on ways to save money and find freebies. Below are some of the suggestions (thanks to Lindsey, Tonya, and Cori!) I think you could also go further if you needed more classes or time to fill by adding a class on budget cooking ideas.

Ideas on saving big with just a little effort

  • Go to freebie web-sites, Tonya suggested checking out the freebie groups on yahoo (Heart of Texas Free-cycle)
  • -If you know a member of My points, be sure to get a referal from them so they get extra points! But you can join either way. *Printable coupons*
  • Craig’s List is a local classified adds, look for the “free section”
  • Go to the specific web-sites of the companies who make your favorite product On-line surveys often reward you with free items or coupons
  • Coke bottle caps can be redeemed to give you spending money at the Coke store
  • Cash in your rebates (Office Max & Office Depot often have these available)
  • Sign-up for Newsletters and Birthday Clubs (Sonic, Dairy Queen, Chuck E. Cheese) is “a freebie Mecca
  • (look for Super at the bottom for coupons)
  • Mr. Ink Jet is good for printer ink savings
  • Wal-Mart free samples (go to main stores now offer free sampler)
  • Hobby gives a weekly coupon & for Michael’s on-line as well

Thanks for these great tips!

Then they also had the sisters bring something or somethings that were their "favorite things", like show and tell. I think this was similar to Oprah's favorite things...except less screaming and not free stuff for all. This was a way for sisters to share things they love with other sisters and you learned something about the sister as well.

Here is a sample of some of the things that were shared by some sisters. (I think this is a really fun thing, I have to think about what I would have brought!)

People's "Favorite Things"
-Pampered Chef mini-whip, Johnson & Johnson’s Soothing Naturals Baby Wash/Lotion
-National Geographic Magazine, Tabernacle CD, “Love is Spoken Here”
-One sister loves information, so she shared some research on heart attacks and second degree smoke
-Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight book series
-SA8 Pre-wash for spots on laundry (only available on-line), Color care Shielding Shine Mist by Biolage, Zero Frizz for hair
-Sketcher shoes ordered from where you can ship it back for free if they don’t fit.
-Facing the Giant (movie), Harry Potter book series
-Stampin’ Up!’s table top cutter (ka-chunk), Special K’s Chocolaty Cereal, 101 Meals to Cook in a Slow cooker, for books, & for mailing stuff from home
-Feminine Screwdriver with changeable head

I have to agree with many of these items listed...the Stampin Up Paper Cutter is also one of my favorites, I just found Special K Chocolaty Cereal and am such a fan....and the Feminine screwdriver is something I have and love. I have a matching tape measure to go with it. It is my personal "tool set" and I keep it where I can always find its way to girlie for my hubbie to want to use it! Here is a picture of mine...

This is the hammer with all the components inside.
And this is the hammer once you unscrew the handle and take out the 3 different screwdrivers with different heads and sizes. This was given to me by my boss for Christmas a few years ago and I LOVE IT! It is a great gift for the girl who has everything!

Let's favorite "things" would be chocolate cake, Estee Lauder Foundation ( I have a really hard time finding foundation that matches my PALE skin color and Estee Lauder is the ONLY one that works for me...believe me, I have tried TONS of products because I was in search of a cheaper brand...but I give up and will only wear Estee from now on...its true to me so I will be true to it! It was a bummer one day when I realized my real skin color was "translucent!")

Another favorite, I love Stampin Up Products for Scrapbooking and Card Making because everything matches...the paper matches the ribbon color, matches the buttons, etc. I really hate it when I buy lovely ribbon and paper and the reds do not match so now I just buy SU products because I can trust them and the quality is superb. You can view their catalog online and Lindsey is a great demonstrator and I am not biased at all!

I also love whole wheat pastry flour. I have been trying to substitute whole wheat for white wheat in a lot of my recipes and I have found that the ww pastry flour makes a good substitute on many things!

So, post a comment on your favorite things! I would love to hear some!

Make every day beautiful!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Books -The Secret Life of Bees

There is nothing more beautiful than a good book...and this is a GREAT one! Its one of my all time favs. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to! We did this for a book club with my church ladies and it was the largest attended book club we had. It is by Sue Monk Kidd and the title is "The Secret Life of Bees". A little warning for you....there are a few curse words...but not many and it builds the character of one of the people in the book...and you really start to loathe him for it. You will learn a lot about bees and a lot about life. And you will grown to love so many of these characters like they are your oldest friends.

Craft-Paper bag Scrapbook

I was lucky enough to get this fabulous scrapbook at a Scrapbooking retreat I go to twice a year with my sisters. They choose names for us and we have a "secret sister" that we do 3 little gifts for throughout the retreat and then you reveal who you had at the end of the retreat...its a TON of fun...and the retreat is the BOMB...we have so much fun...I get giddy just thinking about it because my next one is less than 100 days away. My sisters and our friends go and its for 2 days and we are just in scrapbooking heaven. You gotta try it!

Anyway--I digress...this is the Scrapbook that my friend Mickey made for me. (I have been lucky over the years to have Mickey be my secret sister twice!) I have a little boy so this is a perfect scrapbook for me to put pictures in. In case you cannot tell, it is made out of school lunch paper bags...the little brown ones. The instructions on how to make one of these are here
you can go in and decorate the inside with stickers and paper and little pull out things since the sides of the bags that are open are still open, they become little pockets for little treasures.

I love this because it is so simple and uses simple items that are easy to find. you can decorate with scraps and doodads and make it Oh So Cute!

Here are some inside pages.... This page on the left is a pull up tab, so you pull on that little gadget and then you can see the entire picture. On the right under the "ribbit" there is a pocket in between the green paper and the checkered paper that is also a pocket for a picture.

And another page...
If you try this, I would love to see what you come up with! The possibilities are endless and you can't get more basic than a brown paper lunch bag...beautiful!

Simple Craft and Easy Gifts-Legal Pad

I did this at a Stampin' Up (SU) Club night last week up with Lindsey's SU Group. We had a fun time doing it and did this plus 2 other crafts in about an hour and a half...and this one was the easiest so it only took a few minutes. This is similar to the notebook I posted a few posts ago but this one is done on a legal type pad, so its glued/gummed together at the top instead of a spiral. This is probably going to be a gift for one of my visiting teachees. I think you can buy these pads in a group of maybe 6 for about $3 at WalMart. The size on this is probably 5X8. Its easy to do, you just....

#1. Get some craft paper and cut it a little longer on top so it will fit over the entire front and then probably 2 inches on the back, so add about 2.5 inches to the length of the pad.

#2. Glue the edge on the top of the back so that it is even with the bottom edge on the front.

#3. Take some ribbon and tie a bow or knot around the entire top.

#4.Decorate at will!

I used stamps, ribbon, punched out paper, and the bottom edge has a scalloped edge...although I chopped it off in the picture (sorry!). These take just a few minutes and you can use up some of your scraps if you are a scrapbooker like me and have paper remnants hanging around.

I do these for teacher gifts for holidays and such. I also gave one to each of my Primary girls (10-12 yr old) for Christmas and had their name personalized in stamps across it. It could also be done for a Young Women's activity where they decorate it themselves. The one pictured below is a simple one but you can really bling it up if you want with rhinestones, brads, stickers, etc.

Monday, August 25, 2008

HFPE-Facebook and MySpace, Resumes, and Interviewing

I think it would be a really good HFPE or Sister's Night to do a class on My Space (MyS) and Facebook (fb). So many parents do not know what is going on with their kids on the computer and I think it would be good to show them the ropes. I am on both, but I prefer Fb over MyS. I haven't tried out Zenga or the others. It's a GREAT way to keep in touch with friends, especially those from high school and college whom you may not have seen for years.

Along with this night, another class option would be on interviewing and resume writing. As someone who does a lot of hiring for student workers and professional staff, I am always amazed by what people put on resumes, applications, and the things people say in interviews. And, its easy to get out of touch with these things if you haven't interviewed in years.

Here are a few tips on interviewing & writing a resume...
-Use correct grammar on your application...capitalize when you are supposed to...when I get apps with no caps I don't even look at them. If you are not important enough to capitalize your name, then you are not worth my time to hire. It shows a lack of confidence, so don't so it!

-On your resume--Don't put an objective or goal or mission statement...You don't know if what you say will be a turnoff to the person reviewing the apps. I get some with totally off statements and I don't pay attention to them because I think "well, if that is what they want, then my job isn't for them!". You cannot foresee what they are specifically looking for, so do not limit yourself in an objective or other statement!

-Always dress for the job you want even if it is not the job you are interviewing for...there is always a chance that you could blow their socks off and offer you a better job than the one you applied for...if you come in wearing jeans, then you might get a job that is a jeans level job and one you really do not want. If you come in professionally dressed, it shows confidence and it impresses people to think you are going places...and you are...or at least you want to be!

-Don't ever wear jeans to an interview---ever....and I mean NEVER!

-If you have a My Space or Facebook account, people may check it when you apply for a job, so watch what you put on there or make it private! ( I know lots of employers who check Fb and MyS, it really does happen and I know of people who have not been hired because of what they had on their Fb or MyS account.

-For interviewing, especially if you have not interviewed recently or ever....PRACTICE! You can look up on the Internet common questions people ask in interviews, have a family member ask you those questions and work on your answers so they sound fluid and make sense. people have told me I am a hard interviewer--I admit that I ask some harder questions but I really want to know how you will respond on your feet and to see how your thought processes go. Be on your toes and be prepared for hard questions...its okay to pause and think of an answer...I would rather have a pause and have someone think about the answer than get an "I don't know" or an answer that does not make sense or answer the question.

-Use a cover letter for explaining how your experience applies to the job, don't make your resume wordy. A cover letter should be relatively shirt. Start with To Whom It May Concern or similar, mention how you found the job and what position you are interested in, tell tham about your experience pertaining to the job and any specific skills that you have, then thank them and tell them to please contact you if they have any questions or would like to talk to you about a job, include your email and phone number(s) where they can reach you. End with "Sincerely", and your name.

-Use your own email address and make sure it is professional! If I get an app for someone and they do not have their own email, like they have their husbands email down as their email, it makes the person look subservant and lacking confidence...get your very own email! And, for job hunting, use your name or something similar like your name and a number or the year or something, don't use something like cutiepiegirl at email dot doesn't portray a professional image.

Recipe:Monterrey Chicken--Many Meals in one!

This is a Lindsey (my sister) classic, she created this dish off something she ate in a restaurant and its a favorite of ours. I think this is a budget conscience meal and I usually make it as a two-for meal. Meaning, I make more than I need for the first meal and then jazz it up some and have a totally different meal the next night but with parts from this dish. I will explain below.

Chicken Breasts (However many you need to feed everyone, I usually make 6 to feed 3-4 people plus have 2 left over for the next meal)
Package of Bacon Sliced or Cheese (We use Swiss, Cheddar, or Provolone...whatever I have)
Jar of Barbeque Sauce

Take Chicken and wrap a bacon slice around it, place in casserole dish or pan. Cover with bbq sauce and put in oven at 375 for about 45-60 minutes until done. With about 10 minutes left, add slices of cheese over each breast. You can also put this in the slow cooker on low and cook it all day and add the cheese at the end, just be sure to add about a cup of water at the beginning. Lindsey has also made tiny bite sized versions for appetizers.

For the next day, I have a few variations of this meal.
#1. My favorite is to take the leftover chicken breasts, sauce, and bacon and cut it up or shred it and add some butter and Frank's Red Hot Sauce and it makes a barbecue buffalo chicken. I put the chicken in a whole wheat tortilla with lettuce, ranch dressing, and any other fixins and make a wrap sandwich.

#2. You can also take that same buffalo bbq chicken and toss it on a salad, add baked tortilla strips or chips and you have a bbq buffalo salad, you could add blue cheese crumbles if you are a blue cheese person and bacon bits are also a nice addition.

#3. Lindsey will take the chicken and make quesadillas the next day with it, just shred it up, add cheese and anything else you want to a tortilla and cook it in a non stick or cast iron pan, flip when it gets toasty.

#4. You can also just cut up the Monterrey Chicken and add it to a salad the next day. I do this because I think it is cost effective since I don't have to buy items for two complete meals, plus it saves on prep time the second day and I don't have to turn on my oven and pay the electricity to have the oven on and my a/c to cool down the hot house from the oven being on. :) I just use the microwave the second day.

Try it! I hope you like it! Let me know what you think!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympics are done!

Well, I am going through withdrawal already....I heart the Olympics....but I will be glad to get back to a normal sleep pattern! I would like to say THANK YOU to China for being gracious hosts and hostesses! ( Being a good host is beautifully basic, of course!)
My blog is still under construction, so bare with me while I tweak it, you may want to ignore it for a while and come back later!

Tomorrow is the first day of school here...which means lots of traffic in town and on campus! And, the students all have money because its the beginning of the semester and mom and dad sent them with money and that haven't bought books don't even think about going out to eat!

Crafts & Cooking

I did some baking again this weekend. I seem to be on the quest for the perfect loaf of bread recipe. I have been testing wheat bread recipes but moved on to white this week and found that even thought I know white is a lot less good for sure is good! It makes the best PBJ sandwiches!

Below is a fun and EASY craft project I did a while ago. In my work I use a system called EMS, Event Management Systems...its an awesome system...and I just got back from their conference. I always take notes and so I take a plain old spiral and make it fancy. The recipe for spiral (I paid $.05 for this one during school supply extravaganza at WalMart), some fun designer paper (the green paper with the swirl is Stampin' Up designer paper in "in colors from last season, I almost exclusively use SU products because I Love them and they are the up most quality), then I stamped with a roller stamp the swirly design, and added the green paper framing the blue paper and stamped "EMS" on it. I then took a dauber and sponged around the edges and glued on the ribbon. It probably took me about 10-15 minutes max...that is probably generous, it probably took less....and VOILA, I have a cute and personal notebook that I look great with as I carry it around to my EMS meetings at work. I have one for every year so I can keep track of changes and meeting notes, etc.

I also made Lady Bird Johnson's biscuits this weekend from the White house Cookbook my awesome friend Darla gave me. Below is a picture of what my family affectionately calls "The Character biscuit." It is the biscuit that is made with all the left over dough once the rest of the biscuits are cut out. Its the one that isn't big enough or is slightly bigger than the others and just never comes out looking right but at least it has character. We got where we would fight over this biscuit because it of course tasted better than the others.

Here is the recipe for these biscuits...they are good!

Lady Bird Johnson's Hot Biscuits

2 cups of flour

1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of salt

3 Tablespoons of butter

3/4 cup of milk

Mix together dry ingredients and sift, add butter in pieces and work into dry ingredients by hand until mixture is lump free, stire in milk quickly, mixing by hand to form soft dough, transfer dough onto lightly floured surface and press down by hand to 3/4 inch thick. cut dough into 2 inch biscuit rounds and arrange on a lightly greaseed baking dish. bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. (They are biscuits, remember so they will not be real brown unless you add more butter on top or something)

I also made a loaf of her white loaf bread and it was really good too...again, I love a good white bread! I will try to post that recipe soon. I have been baking and cooking a lot lately, so I will share the good ones!

Suggestions for Sister's Nights

Here are some suggestions for Sister's Nights, those smaller activities in between all the big 4 HFPE meetings:

-Play Group-meet once a week at a park or the church
-Knitting Group
-Scrapbooking Group
-Photography Class (we did this one for 3 months, meeting once a month with the basics of photography)
-Sewing Group-basics of sewing, we actually made a simple skirt that some sisters wore to church the next Sunday...they were super cute!
-General Craft group-we would set up tables for them and people would bring unfinished crafts to work on and chat.
-Sports Group- this group would meet in the gym and play volleyball or basketball.
-Fit Group-Meet and do yoga or some other form of fitness
-Walking Group-Meet at the mall in the mornings or in one of the neighborhoods at night and go walking twice a week.
-Make ahead meals-We would get together and do all the advance prep for freezer meals, everyone brought their own ingredients from a specific set of recipes and then we all put them together and got the prepped for the freezer so you just had to go home and put them in your freezer.
-Cooking Classes-From specific cuisines to breads to cooking techniques...this one is endless.
-Nativity Group-We had a group that was working on a crafty nativity set, we would meet and do another figure once a month, whether it be a shepherd or a sheep. We bought the supplies in bulk so the cost was minimal.

HFPE:The Ties That Bind

When we do an HFPE, we usually came up with a theme or title and then would use that throughout our "advertising" for the event. As an example, we did one called "The Ties that Bind" and this is what we discussed:

1) Staying close to family even when they are far away--We talked about family newsletters, family blogs, doing family history. We talked about rotating newsletters among family members and keeping in touch. We gave ideas for ways to blog with your family, you can ask questions for people to answer along with just updating people on your day to day activities. For instance, my family has a blog and we keep up with everything going on in all the families lives by blogging. We tell of our day to day dilemmas and victories but we also ask questions of each other. We might ask "describe your home when you were growing up?". It was fun to see how everyone described it and what the differences where. We have also talked about our favorite restaurants, foods, memories of certain places, etc. This is our way of doing some personal family history while keeping in touch with family.

2) Family traditions-We talked about different family traditions people in the ward and our families have. We talked about passing traditions down and starting new ones. I believe we even had the sisters fill out forms with info on their family traditions and we sent that out to people who wanted to start some of their own family traditions. One of my family's traditions is to get together every summer, usually around the 4th of July, and have a remote control car race. This is usually geared more toward the males in the family but anyone is invited to participate. Its big fun and the cars usually leave the final race with wheels missing and various other things broken as they all go for broke and bragging rights. The, we set the date for next year and a few days before they race again, they are all in their garages trying to put back together their cars from the previous year that were destroyed during the race. The family members who are not "driving" the cars are the pit crews and we run around like banshees turning over the upside down cars and un-sticking the ones that are stuck in the mud or trying to run up a tree. Its a fun time for all!

3) Being a good Friend--We talk about ways to be a good friend and watch out for the sisters in the ward. We all need friends, and sometimes it is hard to get to know people in the few short minutes between Sunday School and Relief Society.

For our 4 HFPE nights a year, we generally try to have a dinner and start at 6:30pm and then have the activity after wards. In this case, we asked sisters to present the three topics listed about and everyone stayed in the gym where we ate and listened and then once it was over we chatted and had dessert. The dinner doesn't have to be anything fancy, we joked that we should do Thai food and make it "The Thai's that Bind" but we didn't, although we may have done Chinese food that night, now that I think about it!

Whenever we do a dinner, we try to make it something different, not just the typical lasagna and bread sticks or whatever. We have done 1) Asian Salad, Orange Chicken or Sweet and Sour chicken and fried rice. 2) Pizza and salads 3)Soups and Salads or Soups and breads....just to name a few. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to be good! We have also done things to make ordinary dishes fancy, for instance instead of serving fruit salad, we served fruit kebabs or made a fruit kebab arrangements on the table. It looks lovely and inviting and isn't just a hum drum old salad.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment

HFPE as we fondly call it. It changed its shape a few years ago when we went to the "new program" and now only have 4 HFPEs a year. I was involved with HFPE (big surprise) when the change occured and I will say it was a little bit of a challenge. We found that we would plan 4 big HFPEs and then 8 slightly smaller HFPEs the rest of the months. It took us a while but then we realized that this was not the goal of the new program. The months where there is not an HFPE, there should/could be smaller activities...these can be things that only apply or interest some sisters in the ward, they do not have to have universal appeal. So, in the interest of your own sanity...DO NOT HAVE 12 HFPEs a YEAR! Its a LOT of work and not really what the program is meant to be. This is what we did...

We picked 4 months that we knew we wanted large HFPEs. We chose March for the RS Birthday, September for the beginning of school (We have a huge influx of new people at the beginning of every school year because we are a college town), and then 2 other months. We have a few months that are traditionally lower attended so we did not choose those months..for instance, December is a busy time and we have lots of students taking exams, so we do a low key fun night in December. January is also a lower attendance month because usually school has not started back up for the college students and they are not back in town from the holidays.

#1. So, pick your four months for the BIG HFPEs.
#2. Look at the other months and see what is out there. Our stake has a Stake HFPE on a Saturday during the Spring. we are given the option of not having an enrichment night during that month and encouraging our sisters to go to the stake HFPE instead. If this is an it! With HFPE, its a NEVER ENDING calling and as soon as you finish one activity, you have to start take a break for a month when you can...and besides, the stake may ask you to help with their activity anyway!
#3. For the non-large HFPE months, remember these can be low key. We decided to come up with a different name for those months instead of calling them HFPE, because in fact, they are not HFPE. We call them "Sisters Nights". For our "Sisters Nights", we took a survey of the sisters and what they were interested in. There were people interested in all the normal things...sewing, scrapbooking, card making, sports/fitness, book club, etc. So, small groups were formed and we asked people to be leaders of these groups...its really not a calling, its just an "assistant" in your HFPE. These groups had the option of meeting at some one's house or at the church on whatever would be your normal HFPE night if it were that month. They could meet every month, every other month, or however often the group wanted. Our wards play group is also considered one of our groups. Some of these groups only met a few times, like we had a photography group that only met for 3 months and was a teaching class done by a lady in our ward. We also did a crochet class that met 2 times, the first one was to teach you how to crochet and the second was to help you learn new things or to help you fix any problems or just crochet and chat with friends. Really, these groups can be anything you want and you do not need a ton of them. If one month you only have one group that is meeting, that is fine as long as it is still open to the whole ward if they wanted to come. Sometimes our groups would also meet at the same time at the church...we would have a sewing group in one room, basketball being played in the gym, and the crochet group in another room. Its your program so decide what will be best for your ladies in your ward...pray for guidance because you will need it and try not to get discouraged if a group doesn't work...people are busy, it could be a great idea but the timing may be bad. There have been many times when we have planned an activity for some specific people at their request and then they don't show up! Oh well! So, to recap...Sisters Nights are smaller, don't have to appeal to everyone, and if a group of 5 people is meeting and having a good time and sharing talents and friendship...that is a success!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whole Wheat

Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I am trying to use more whole wheat in my cooking and am on a search for a really good whole wheat bread. I have made two very good recipes so far but am still looking for perfection. Any good recipes, please send my way! Here is one that is a Whole Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread that was nice and light. Since you let it rise 3 times, it is very light compared to many other whole wheat recipes I have tried. The recipe can be found here and another really good recipe for 100% whole wheat bread can be found here I liked them both, but I think I want something texture wise that is right in the middle of these two, a little heavier than the sandwich bread and a little lighter than the regular.

I made some yummy chocolate chip cookies last night with my friend Mel's recipe. They are so good! I knew it was an A+ recipe so I played with the flour a little and did half whole wheat pastry flour and half regular flour and they still turned out great! Thanks Mel! Mel also makes the best peanut butter bars in the world...among other things. There is nothing more beautiful than a good chocolate chip cookie recipe!

I need to pull out my sewing mahine sometime soon. My son needs a new nap mat cover for the new school year. Last year was frog themed, this year I might do a zoo theme or cowboy/wester theme. I need to get to a bigger town with a bigger fabric selection and find something sute! I will post it when I am done!

Beautiful Basics

Life is about a journey, and you are the only one who can make yours... So, embrace life: the good, the bad, and the is the only one you've got.

Here's to being Beautiful, inside and out!