Monday, January 30, 2012

Make it Worth the Wait

I've said it many times before in many different forums and I'm saying it again.  This is my favorite song!

Sometimes I wonder why it resonates so much for me.  And I think it's because of the old-fashioned idea that love was meant to last forever... that commitment means sticking it out even when things get rough.

The things that, sadly, appear to be missing from so many of today's relationships.

My favorite line is: "When I give my heart, it will be completely.  Or... I'll never give my heart."

That sums up my feelings so well.  It's better to be alone than to lower my standards and expectations.  I only ever want one great love.  And I haven't found him yet.  So Mister Mister if you're out there reading this, know that you'd better be darned well worth the wait to find you!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cliche or Overlooked Gem?

I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father, and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

This is 1 Nephi 1:1.  As the opening verse to The Book of Mormon:  Another Testament of Jesus Christ, these words are often (and probably truthfully) called the most read words of all LDS Scripture.  They are so well known that probably a good half of all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could recite them from memory.  And as such they've become almost a cliche rushed over by well-meaning Sunday School teachers eager to dig into the meatier parts of the text.  That makes me sad because it is such a great introduction to what the Gospel is and how to truly live it.

Let's break this verse of Scripture into 5 key phrases and touch on the richness of the ideas they present to us.

Born of Goodly Parents

This phrase harkens to the great commandment to love thy Father and thy Mother.  It talks of respect within the core family unit and the duty of children to their parents.  With it Nephi is telling us much about the character of the people who led his family.  He speaks to the righteousness and loving concern of his father, Lehi, and the unwavering support of his mother, Sariah.  I think it's significant that he calls them goodly.  Other scriptures show us the importance of making a good name for ourselves.  Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold."  And Ecclesiastes 7:1 begins "A good name is better than precious ointment..."

Taught Somewhat in All the Learning of my Father

To me this underscores the importance of education, of always seeking to learn and apply new things to make our lives better.  It also reminds us that it's a parents' responsibility to teach the children in the home... to lovingly help their kids grow up to be responsible and contributing members of society and to seek out their own testimony of God.   I think Mosiah 1: 2 points this out so very well as King Benjamin taught his sons.  "And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord."  The family is central to all LDS Church teachings and beliefs.  A modern prophet, David O. McKay, taught "No success, however great, will compensate for failure in the home."

Having Seen Many Afflictions/Been Highly Favored of the Lord

So often we see these conditions as being exclusive... that being favored by the Lord means being free from affliction.  Nephi shows us that's simply not true; that affliction and blessing can co-exist in one's life.  Looking ahead in the text to 2 Nephi 4:18-25 gives a synoptic glimpse of what he meant by experiencing many afflictions while being highly favored.  Alma 27 tells of another, later, people who were also greatly afflicted and greatly favored at the same time.  Notice especially the mirroring of these words in verses 29 and 30.

Knowledge of the Goodness and Mysteries of God

How many times in bearing testimony of the Gospel does a person begin by expressing gratitude for the many things God has graciously given them?  This is their knowledge of God's goodness.  As they go on to explain that the Spirit has borne witness to them regarding a particular precept, they are telling what they know of the mysteries of God.  With this phrase, I believe Nephi is telling us that he has a testimony... that he knows God lives, that He is aware of, and interested in, us as individuals and that He is eager to bless us as we conform our wills to match His.  We would do well to follow Nephi's example and seek to know within ourselves the goodness and mysteries of God and then to share that knowledge fearlessly.

A Record of  my Proceedings in my Days

Mankind has an innate need to leave behind a record; something to prove that we were here and we mattered.  I think that springs from the notion that a Book of Life is kept in Heaven and our thoughts and deeds in mortality are recorded there for our ultimate judgement.  2 Nephi 4:15-16 tells us that Nephi knew his purpose in keeping his record.  It says, "And upon these I write things of my soul and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass.  For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.  Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard."  To this day, members of the LDS Church are a record-keeping people.  We seek out documentation on our ancestors; we write in journals; there are detailed notes of our meetings... and because we believe in an open canon, new scriptures are constantly added to our standard works.

I think Nephi, with his kind of rambling opening sentence, provides a great overview to the entire gospel message.  It deserves more credit and attention that it seems to get.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Are the Clothes Clean?

They are nice and clean.  I did both a white-ish load (underwear, towels, gunky old t-shirts) and a dark load this afternoon.  I'm happy with the results on both loads.  All visible dirt is gone.  There is no perfumed after-scent like you have with most commercial detergents.  In fact, after many many sniffs I can't detect a scent at all.  Everything feels soft to the touch.  There was nothing irritating to my skin handling the clothes (though that's not a great litmus test for me since I'm not allergic to much of anything).  There's no noticeable fading of the colors and the whites are white.  What's to be unhappy about here?

I'm very pleased to proclaim this experiment a success!

It All Comes Out in the Wash

For months, maybe even close to a year now, I've been talking about wanting to try making my own laundry soap.  I've read innumerable blogs and watched video tutorials about it.  One thing I noticed is that the recipes are all very similar.  Some use more or less of a specific thing, but they all use the same ingredients.  And so my quest turned to finding one that made a more manageable amount of detergent for me.  I found one that makes 2 gallons, instead of the 5 that was more common, and gave it a try.

Here's what I did:

I cut 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap into thirds and grated 1 piece.  (Yes, it does look just like grated cheese so if you have little ones around be very careful that they don't eat it.)  Then I melted it over low heat with 6 cups of water.  When it was completely melted, I added 1/2 cup each borax and washing soda and let it

continue to cook until it started to get a honey-like consistency.  This took a lot longer than I had anticipated and it foamed up more than I thought it would.  Next time I will use a bigger pot.

In my big blue enameled canning kettle, I put 4 cups of hot tap water.  This happened to be what I had convenient but you can use any container that will hold a little more than 2 gallons and allow for easy stirring.  A plastic bucket commonly used for food storage would be perfect. Add your melted soap-borax-soda mixture and stir together.  You can then add any essential oils you wish to scent your laundry soap.  Use a lot!  I put 16 drops of tea tree oil and I can't even smell it.  If you add nothing for scent, your laundry will just smell clean not perfumed.

Next you add 1 gallon plus 6 cups more hot water (that's 22 cups of water).  Stir it up and let everything sit for 24 hours.

At this stage the recipe I was following said you could have a number of results depending on the temperature of your house... it could have layers of clear and cloudy liquid, be a thin gel, or even have a 'slimy' top coating.  Mine had a top layer that was mostly clear and then a thicker cloudy layer.  I just stirred it all up

good and used a funnel to transfer it to some old water bottles.  You can use any containers that you wish - old laundry soap bottles would be great because they have the measurement on the cap.  Some of the other people posting on line used a 2 gallon water storage/dispenser with a hook attached to the side for a measuring cup.  That was attractive and handy, but for now my old water bottles will do just fine.

For each load of laundry, you'll use 1/2 cup.  Everything I saw in my research indicated it would be fine in the high-efficiency front loaders because it is very low sudsing.

Cost-wise, this laundry soap works out to about 3 cents per load, compared with 15-20 cents per load for commercially available detergents.  The borax and washing soda were each between $2 and $3 (and each contains several cups of product) and the Fels Naptha bar soap was 97 cents so less than $7 total and I should be able to do laundry for more than a year!

The first load is washing now.  I will post a follow up telling you what I think later this evening.

I've linked this post to the Preparedness Challenge #31 at Homestead Revival.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

If there's food in Heaven (and I sure hope there is!!) these muffins will be on the breakfast menu!

They are simple.  The recipe makes a lot.  They freeze wonderfully. And, oh my goodness, they are YUMMY!!!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour
4 tsp baking soda
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
8 large eggs, slightly beaten
4 cups sugar
1 lg can pumpkin puree (4 cups if using your own fresh or frozen puree)
1 cup canola oil
1 bag chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 48 muffin cups with paper baking cups.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir until mixed together evenly.  Add eggs, pumpkin puree and oil.  Mix until flour is completely incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Now remember this makes 4 dozen muffins... that's a lot!!  So it's a good thing that they freeze beautifully and can be thawed (and warmed in the microwave) for later enjoyment.

To freeze, wrap muffins individually in plastic wrap.  Unfortunately I don't have any great tips to keep the plastic wrap from sticking everywhere but where you want it to stick together, but just work patiently with it and you'll get there.  12 muffins  fit perfectly in a gallon size zip lock freezer bag and that's a pretty convenient amount to bring out at one time.

But because they are wrapped individually, you can also just grab one and keep the rest frozen.  I'd guess you could keep them frozen for 3 months... but they've never lasted that long at my house to really test the theory.

At Christmastime I have used the same recipe and baked it in 6 mini loaf pans and given them for neighbor gifts.  Just takes a bit longer to bake and cool.  Very pretty on a $1 store plate or tray with a simple ribbon.

You might also like these Applesauce Muffins.

I've linked this post to The Country Homemaker Hop-Week 5 at My Simple Country Living.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jeanne's Story

In the style of the old Paul Harvey commentaries titled "The Rest of the Story" Jeanne has graciously agreed to let me post all of her comments as a follow up to "What a Smile Hides" where I used just fragments of what she had to say.  Here, in her own words, is Jeanne's Story:
- - - - - - - - -
My name is Jeanne Buzzell Mason and I suffer from clinical depression. I am 68 years old, a daughter and granddaughter of alcoholics. I believe the reason my father and grandfather were alcoholics is they also suffered from clinical depression. However, I have never drunk alcoholic beverages, but since it seems to run in families, I wouldn’t dare try. I have a younger brother who was an alcoholic and suffered clinical depression, his son is also an alcoholic, and I know his daughter suffers from clinical depression.

I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science and Nutrition; and my brother had a degree in psychology. I throw this information in just for information on the background of some of the people I have mentioned.

I have suffered with clinical depression for almost 30 years. I was president of the women’s organization at my church when it began to be manifest. I had to ask to be released from this office. My husband and I both feel it was caused from the stress I felt in this position. My doctor (a general practitioner) referred me to a psychologist for therapy, to which I faithfully went for about 3 months. This therapist wanted me to take Prozac, however, I resisted because I didn’t want to be under the control of chemical substances, as my father had been. Part of my problem with clinical depression was my being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, which in itself causes problems that come with living with an alcoholic parent – hiding my true feelings, being afraid to speak about my feelings, and shutting myself up inside – sort of like sweeping the dust and dirt under a rug – pretty soon the rug can’t hold it anymore and it comes spilling out.

I had been estranged from my father for about 12 years after my parent’s divorce, when he called one day and wanted to be a part of me and my two brother’s lives. This was very emotionally draining on me because I lived the closest (when I was home to work during the summers of college) and I spent more time with him. He would tell me that my mother left him in “his time of need.” I wanted to tell him, but couldn’t, that he left us in “our time of need.” My mother raised three children alone without any financial help from my father. She struggled and we had only the basic necessities: food, clothes, and a home, nothing fancy, but we survived. It wasn’t until I went to college that I learned we were living below the poverty level.

I finally agreed to try Prozac. It was several weeks before I felt any effect, and when I did feel it, it made me feel like I had come out of” dark clouds into the sunshine!” I took Prozac for several years until my g.p. again suggested I try to get off of it, which I did. After that, I felt I was in those dark clouds again.

Several years later, my younger brother took his life and I began to be concerned that I might need something again. My g.p. prescribed Prozac again, but this time it didn’t have the same effect on me as before. It didn’t do much at all. So I tried almost everything that was prescribed for depression, including self medication with herbs.

A few years ago a sister-in-law told me about a new prescription medication, Cymbalta. My doctor agreed to prescribe it and I have been taking it for about 6 years. It is OK, but still not like Prozac was for me, originally. When I take Cymbalta, I don’t have much energy or enthusiasm in my life. I feel like I am just floating along, but at least I can usually cope with life!

I enjoy traveling, and gratefully I have a wonderful husband that plans trips for the two of us. I like going to parties and gatherings of friends, but have a very difficult time planning them and being in charge.

If one suspects they may have any type of depression, see a doctor and/or get some therapy. It does help somewhat, to deal with life.

I want people to know that clinical depression cannot be cured by being more religious, reading the scriptures more, praying more, fasting more, and helping others more. Yes, these things can temporarily help, but are not a cure. I also wish that all people with clinical depression have a spouse like mine that was willing to stand by my side, even against his parents, when I couldn’t deal with their criticism of me. He doesn’t always understand but also doesn’t criticize me. He does the laundry and vacuums and cleans the floors on Saturday. I fix meals (sometimes very simple fare) and do any mending of clothing that needs to be done during the week.

Clinical Depression is not something I would wish on anyone! Having Mental Illness is not as socially acceptable as having a disease like cancer.

What A Smile Hides

Sometimes life gives us fortune cookie wisdom.  Short, well-intentioned, and memorable one-liners like:

"A smile is the most beautiful curve on a woman's body."

"When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life you've got a thousand reasons to smile."

"Your day generally goes the same direction as the corners of your mouth."

We all love to see pictures of happy smiling people.  They look happy.  Happy is attractive.  So we all want to be happy, and therefore attractive, too.  But what about days when you don't feel like smiling?  Or times when you wonder if your smile is permanently lost?  Or even days when you paste a smile on your face just to keep people from asking what's wrong?  It's hard to explain to anyone else how you are ill on the inside when you look just fine on the outside...  Sometimes what you truly want, but are afraid to show, is for another person to see through the mask of your smile and reach out with a helping hand because no matter how it looks, or what you say, you're not ok.

I invited some friends who've found the courage to talk openly about their battle with depression to share their stories, thoughts and wishes for the future.  Two of them, Jodi and Jeanne, took me up on it.

Jodi is 47, a wife and mother.  She loves her family and loves taking care of them.  She was officially diagnosed with depression following the birth of her third child and it has persisted since 1991.  Jodi was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism at the same time and that could be a contributory factor.  I know her as kind, thoughtful, open and compassionate... and someone who loves to laugh.  When she revealed her depression, I was very surprised.  She's hidden it well.

Jeanne says this about herself, "I suffer from clinical depression. I am 68 years old, a daughter and granddaughter of alcoholics. I believe the reason my father and grandfather were alcoholics is they also suffered from clinical depression. However, I have never drunk alcoholic beverages, and since it seems to run in families, I wouldn’t dare try. I have a younger brother who was an alcoholic and suffered clinical depression; his son is also an alcoholic and I know his daughter suffers from clinical depression."  Jeanne was diagnosed 30 years ago.  She and I are cousins, though with a 20 year age difference we didn't really know each other well growing up and I had no idea how prevalent depression and alcoholism was in her history.

I've been through short periods of feeling blue and lonely and even hopeless but it's never persisted to the point I've felt the need to seek medical attention, so I asked what true depression feels like.  Jodi says, it "feels like you just lost your best friend and your love for life. It takes away your joy and excitement that you get from daily living."   Sometimes it doesn't take a lot of words to describe something... the grief, the loss of zest, the inability to cope with even the smallest challenges of daily life can feel like you are living in a dark cloud all of the time.  I also asked about their experiences with medication and both have used a variety of prescriptions with varying degrees of success.  Jeanne had an early good result with Prozac.  After resisting for a time, she says "I finally agreed to try Prozac. It was several weeks before I felt any effect, and when I did feel it, it made me feel like I had come out of the "dark clouds into the sunshine!” I took Prozac for several years until my doctor suggested I try to get off of it, which I did. After that, I felt I was in those dark clouds again." Sadly, a later try with this medication didn't yield the same results.

And so I wondered... what does help?  Jodi responded, "It can be a lot of things... doing something fun with family and friends... getting outside myself to think of someones else's needs... putting someone else's need in front of mine... And meds have helped me a lot.  I think you have to try everything your doctor says first.  Blood tests, exercise, socializing with friends, and talking about your feelings."  Jeanne made a similar comment about enjoying travel and social gatherings but noted that she finds it difficult to be the one organizing these activities and is so very thankful her husband, Brad, plans lots of little trips for them.

When asked what they'd most like for others to know about depression, Jeanne summed it up like this:  "I want people to know that clinical depression cannot be cured by being more religious, reading the scriptures more, praying more, fasting more, and helping others more. Yes, these things can temporarily help, but are not a cure."  She went on to observe, "Clinical Depression is not something I would wish on anyone! Having a mental illness is not as socially acceptable as having a disease like cancer."

That last sentence is really a punch in the gut... Having a mental illness is not as socially acceptable as having a disease like cancer.  It should be.  Just because it's hidden by a smile doesn't mean it's not real.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Headband

Oh yes I did!!  I got my craft on!

It's happening a little more regularly these days...

This time I felt inspired to pull out the old crochet hook and whip up a lovely little treat you can make in an afternoon to keep your ears warm when you venture out on a cold winter's day.  And you'll look stylish doing it, too!

I made the colored one last week and jotted down what I was doing, then the white one just yesterday to make sure I could follow my own instructions.  Success!

You can download the pattern, FREE, here.

If you think it needs a bit more decoration, you could add a pretty button to the center of the flower or trim the edges of the petals with another color yarn using a slip stitch instead of leaving them plain like I did.

They really are cute... I should find a model!

I've linked this post to The Country Homemaker Blog Party at White Wolf Summit Farmgirl

and the Cozy Your Home Party #3 at Cozy Home Scenes.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Random Thought Tuesday

Yesterday I made a big pot of 13-bean soup.  Just the recipe printed on the side of the bag.  But I soaked them overnight in the crockpot set on low and then changed the water.  Must be the trick because it's not making me unbearably... gassy.  There's just no polite way to say it - beans make you fart.  Probably why they have their own song.  Come on, sing it with me!

Beans, beans the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So... let's have beans for every meal!!

While I'm sitting here eating lunch, I'm making a set of Recovery Disks for the computer.  It's one of those tasks you should do when you get the computer.  I think it's even in the setup instructions when you very first turn it on.  But, yeah, I skipped that step.  If I had followed the instructions and made them with the laptop, I might have been able to recover it when the hard-drive crashed a couple of months back.  Hmmm... the desktop is the same brand and has the same version of Windows.  Wonder if I could use these disks on the lappy?

Because the Recovery Disks are taking so long, my mind is wandering.  And I keep singing the bean song to myself.  It reminds me of my Aunt Helen.  She is the source of my learning about the bean song.  I remember her dancing around their kitchen singing it after a dinner of chili and crackers and chocolate cake.  Still a perfect meal if you ask me!  Of all my parents' brothers and sisters and their spouses, she was the one who just didn't hold back.  Today we might be more politically correct and say she didn't have a good self-filter.  G-rated in the presence of children or not, if she thought it, Aunt Helen said it!  I'm sure more than once I came home from her house with those uncomfortable "What does this mean?" kind of questions for my mom and dad.

Another thing I remember about being in Aunt Helen's home is the kitschy little decorator plates on the dining room wall.  Some of them were plain white plates with a silhouette of a person's face painted in black for each member of their family.  Mixed with them were little plates with funny pictures or sayings printed on them.  Most of those were the early post-WW II dime store knicknacks from Japan.  My grandmother had some, too.  And I have 3 of hers.  I sorted through the box where they've been stored for years a few days ago and found them.  I hung them in my kitchen in a little grouping in the odd space between the countertop backsplash and the bottom of the cupboards.

They make me smile!

Yes, I do know (very much so) the wall STILL needs to be painted.  When I do that I'll fix the little strings that are attached to the plates so they hang nicer, although the odd strings and angles kind of go with their sarcastic messages.  I think there might be more of them packed away.  I hope so!  Since the photo is a bit on the small side....

The largest one says:

The little square one with the old-fashioned stove:

And the one with the toddlers checking out what's in their pants:

And you wonder why I'm the way I am?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

72-Hour Kits

Today I was overtaken by a wild hare and started cleaning out the hall closet... Ok, so it wasn't so much a wild hare as the thought that I might want to use this space differently so all the stuff that lives there now has to be re-homed somewhere else.  More on that in a future post.

One of the things I pulled out was the old 72-hour kits.  Part of them was a small packet of food items designed to keep you from starving during the scramble in the first 3 days following a disaster.  That's what I want to talk about today - the food you need to pack in a 72-hour kit.

Mine is just a little overdue to be renewed by now so I have been snacking my way through it.  And "snacking" is a term I'm using generously here.  In all honesty, so far I've gagged down 1 can (out of 3) of the gelatinous goo called Spaghettios and wrinkled my nose eating the M&M's that absorbed the flavor from the Juicy Fruit gum.

What's in this 72-hour food kit?
1 pack of gum
2 fruit and cereal bars
3 envelopes of hot chocolate mix
2 granola bars
1 pkg fruit snacks (2.5 oz)
10 pieces of hard candy
2 envelopes hot apple cider mix
3 beef jerky sticks (individually wrapped)
3 envelopes cup of soup
3 cans Spaghettios/Ravioli (7.5 oz)
1 packet peanut butter filled cheese crackers
2 pkgs plain M&Ms
4 single-serve boxes of raisins 
Yeah... not the most healthy sounding food is it?  But it was meant to be eaten in an emergency situation and is intentionally high fat and high sugar to provide maximum energy output.

What I liked about this kit was that it was pre-portioned, mostly ready to eat, convenient (pop top cans), very portable (a 12 x 15-inch mylar packet) and intended to be familiar and comforting foods.   What I don't like is the food choices that were made but that's easy to change as I'm purchasing the items to renew my kit during the next week or so.  I'll definitely be looking at other options for the Spaghettios and raisins!

I will also include a plastic spoon and a small metal cup (non-breakable).  Also thinking about adding some packets of instant oatmeal and single-serve drink mixes.  And since I don't have easy access to the mylar bags and a sealing machine, I will be packaging it differently.

Obviously this does not take care of all your needs during that first 72-hours following a disaster.  You still need to think about clothing, bedding, shelter, medication, sanitation, personal hygiene and, perhaps most importantly... WATER.

Along side the packaged food kit I have accumulated some bottled water, water filtration jugs, a small sewing kit, a first aid kit, space blankets and hand warmers into a convenient tote.  It's not all that I need or want to grab and go should I ever be faced with an evacuation/emergency... but it's a start!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Locks Keep Out the Honest

You know that awkward silence when you're talking to someone and you realize that they're just not there anymore?  It's an uncomfortable thing when it happens on a personal level...  and from time to time it does happen because we are all busy and our minds wander when we're less that completely engaged.  Rude, yes.  But a fact of life nonetheless.

Legislation currently before both the United States Senate and House of Representatives could do that to all of us.  It's called SOPA (Stop On-line Piracy Act) or PIPA (Protect IP Act) and grants the government the ability to shut someone up any time they think a copyright has been infringed upon.  Think about sites like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and even blogs like this one.  Worse even is that the domain owners become responsible for what users of their service post.  So, basically, Facebook could be sued out of existence over what you and I choose to post there.  That doesn't sound right and it smacks of way too much government control and interference.

My grandpa always said that door locks only keep out the honest.  He was right... if a burglar wants in your house bad enough, he will find a way.  Similarly, laws already exist to protect owners of copyrighted material from having it distributed on-line without permission and/or payment.  But they haven't stopped the piracy.  These new laws, which may put the muzzle of censorship on you and me, won't stop it either.  If someone wants to pirate the material bad enough, they will find a way.

Here's a short video that explains it better than I ever could:

Do some research and make up your own mind, then let your Congressmen know what you think.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

So Happy Together

Relationships are complicated.  Sometimes they are deep and beneficial and meant to last forever.  Sometimes they are shallow, short and of little consequence.  Sometimes they are even toxic and we have to leave them to save our own souls and sanity.  So it is with the matter of our hearts...

And with the plants we choose for our gardens, too.

Broccoli, for example, grows larger and tastier when you let it mingle with onions and potatoes.  It's healthier when surrounded by rosemary, sage, dill and chamomile.  And does alright in the company of light feeders like beets, nasturtium and marigolds... but try to make it a companion of tomatoes, pole beans or strawberries (all of which siphon off calcium) and it shows its wimpy side.  Force broccoli to hang out with the likes of lettuce and it gets downright nasty, poisoning the lettuce seedlings from its roots.

A little foreknowledge about who's got a crush on who and which families have long standing and bitter feuds will make you a better matchmaker for the seedlings you lovingly place in the garden with hopes and dreams of a bounteous future harvest.   Companion planting, as this matchmaking is called, uses of the complex interactions among plants to accentuate their best qualities.  The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service defines companion planting as:  the establishment of two or more plant species in close proximity so that some cultural benefit is derived.  Basically, companion plants can be used to:

  • Produce odors to deter or confuse pests.
  • Draw pests away from crop plants.
  • Provide breeding grounds and/or food for beneficial insects.
  • Improve the vigor and flavor of nearby plants.

Companion planting is organic gardening at its most basic and has been used since Roman times, and probably even earlier than that.  An example that's so well known that probably nearly everyone has heard of it is the "Three Sisters" technique of planting corn, beans and squash together.  It originated in North America with the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) native tribal people and has been used throughout the Americas and in the Caribbean.  With this technique, corn provides the support for the climbing beans; the beans supply extra nitrogen to the corn and squash; and the squash limits weed growth around the plants with its large spreading leaves.  Each provides something the others need so they can happily co-inhabit the same space.

For information on more companion plantings, download my handy dandy work-in-progress chart.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Teacher is Quiet During a Test

Some of you know the details and some of you don't... but I'm going through a particularly difficult time right now.  I know that I'll get through it somehow and things will be even better than before.  And while I'm doing it for me I'd do it anyway, just to spite those few people who say I can't!

Saw this a little bit ago... it's a good reminder.

Blueberry Cheese Breakfast Rolls

Inspired by this from Pinterest, I set out today to make some Blueberry Cheese Breakfast Rolls.

The recipe for these Sopapilla Cheesecake Rolls can be found at My Yellow Umbrella.  They sound yummy, but I was in the mood for fruit, not cinnamon, and I still have lots of the blueberries gifted by a generous neighbor last year in the freezer.  So... I improvised.  And since it was a trial run, I only made 1/3 of what the original recipe produces.  There are a few things I'll change next time, but I'm happy enough with the result to definitely say there will be a next time!

Here's what I did for 9 rolls:

I set out my ingredients -  1 generous cup defrosted blueberries, 1/2 brick softened cream cheese and 1 package refrigerated crescent rolls.  That and about 1/2 cup sugar is all I used.

Turn the oven to 350F and  arrange the rolls in a ring on an oiled baking sheet, overlapping the edges slightly.

Using a fork, mix about 1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar into the cream cheese in a small bowl until well blended.  Add the remainder to the blueberries.   Evenly distribute the cream cheese over the rolls to approximately 2/3 of the way out to the points.  Drain off as much liquid from the blueberries as you can. (I saved it in a cup and drank it... would also be delicious over french toast, ice cream or added, with a few more berries, to some oatmeal!)  Add the blueberries on top of the cream cheese.  Then fold the points into the center and press down lightly.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden.  I just brushed the tops of mine lightly with butter... they were plenty sweet without glaze, but the glaze would look very nice.

Yes... I could have drained the blueberries a little more.  Juice leaked out while they were baking.  That might not be as much an issue with fresh fruit, but this is January.  In Utah.  What fresh fruit there is available is rather expensive.  So at my house frozen is the way to go.

You could substitute raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches or even apple pie filling in this recipe.  With the apple pie filling, I think I might use brown sugar in the cream cheese, though, and get just a touch of that caramel flavor.

And now for the best part of this experiment... serving it up and having a taste!

I've linked this post to the Homestead Barn Hop #45.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Sourdough That Wasn't...

For the past couple of weeks I've been wondering what happened to the sourdough starter I ordered...  Now I know.

Pre-printed on the back of the envelope, here is what the Post Office has to say about it:


I want to extend my sincere apologies as your Postmaster for the enclosed document that was inadvertently damaged in handling by your Postal Service.

We are aware how important your mail is to you.  With that in mind, we are forwarding it to you in an expeditious fashion.

The U.S. Postal Service handles over 202 billion pieces of mail each year.  While each employee makes a concerted effort to process, without damage, each piece of mail, an occasional mishap does happen.  We are constantly working to improve our processing methods so that these incidents will be eliminated.  You can help us greatly in our efforts if you will continue to properly prepare and address each letter or parcel that you enter into the mailstream.

We appreciate you cooperation and understanding and sincerely regret any inconvenience that you have experienced.



I think they should at least comp the 4 stamps this mishap cost me.  It took 2 to send the request to Oregon Trail Sourdough and 2 on the SASE that the Post Office destroyed.

Back to the drawing board on this quest...  And after much searching I've decided to give this recipe a try and make my own starter.

  • Step 1. Mix 3 ½ tbs. whole wheat flour with ¼ cup unsweetened pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for 48 hours at room temperature. Stir vigorously 2-3x/day. (“Unsweetened” in this case simply means no extra sugar added).
  • Step 2. Add to the above 2 tbs. whole wheat flour and 2 tbs. pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for a day or two. Stir vigorously 2-3x/day. You should see some activity of fermentation within 48 hours. If you don’t, you may want to toss this and start over (or go buy some!)
  • Step 3. Add to the above 5 ¼ tbs. whole wheat flour and 3 tbs. purified water. Cover and set aside for 24 hours.
  • Step 4. Add ½ cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 to 1/3 cup purified water. You should have a very healthy sourdough starter by now.

It comes from the Breadtopia website.  As does this information about the care and feeding of a sourdough starter.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Conversation with an Atheist - Part 3

Here is the 3rd, and concluding, segment of our discussion.  At this point I've broken away for a bit to read through the website on The Venus Project and have come back asking for a clarification.

Kathy:  It's talking about decision making being turned over to machines... these artificial intelligences that superprocess data. What are people, regular human beings like you and me, supposed to be doing while the machines make all the decisions?
Lemontie:  Educate and research every aspect of our existence and the universe.  The machines only do what they are programmed to do.  They have to be maintained.  Humans take care of the planet... all life forms.  Plants, fish, birds everything.  We become the stewards of the planet rather that its destructors.
Kathy:  So... it's almost a return to the Biblical vision of Adam & Eve... we just take care of the garden?
Lemontie:  Somewhat, yes.  We, as humanity, will either destroy ourselves or become stewards of the universe.  Even in your Bible it says that the end of us is our choice... to take place or never happen.  It's coming.  It's close to the time for humanity to make that choice.
Kathy:  Yes, I believe mankind will bring about either its own destruction or not by the choices we make.
Lemontie:  Go check the website.  They have put out a national warning for zombie hoards and give instructions on how to come close to surviving such an event.  The truth is they're telling you how to survive in an anarchist society.
Kathy:  Zombie hoards?  The Preparedness 101 blog posts?
Lemontie:  Because that is what the republican party bought off by the corporate world is wanting to take place.  It gives them the right to kill off all opposers to their control.  It causes extreme competition... to the point that children will turn on their parents.
Kathy:  The CDC was using the media hype around the zombie craze to promote emergency preparedness.  Things like a 72-hour emergency kit, a plan to get and keep your family together in a disaster situation... that kind of stuff.  I don't think zombies are a real concern...
Lemontie:  There's more too it than that.  They're trying to make light of it like a snake in the grass so that it doesn't promote panic against an anarchist society.  Starving people will behave like zombies.  They will  attack those that have and kill to get what they require for survival.  And they will 'hunt' in hoards.
Kathy:  These preparations are, then, to stave off panic when things fall apart?
Lemontie:  It will stave off panic UNTIL it falls apart.  Then there are those who will be prepared and those who ignored the hint.
Kathy:  Well it's doctrine in my religion to be one of the prepared.
Lemontie:  Well it wont be god coming down to save you I am afraid.  You will have to save your self.  Best do it in numbers than to attempt it by your self.
Kathy:  Have you ever looked at how we Mormons do things?
Lemontie:  I know.  I've studied your religion.  Your people would be a good candidate to have this technology.  And you are big enough to fund it.
Kathy:  Did you ever look at the United Order? It was a model society put into place in the early LDS Church. It's easy to brush the basics off as a socialist experiment but if you dig into the depths, it was really not socialism at all. As I understand it, it's doctrine that will someday be restored.  A key difference between the United Order and what your group proposes is that ours was designed to function inside a monetary-based society.
Lemontie:  Like I said, I've studied Mormonism.  Just don't like the god part of it.  I don't believe in a god.  I would join you if you didn't have this god.
Kathy:  He is central to all we believe and do... so to set that aside and join based on anything other than a testimony of Him would be hypocritcal.  But I'm glad you're objective enough to see good things in the Church.
Lemontie:  The angel that he [Joseph Smith] witnessed was not an angel.  Nor was he a demon.
Kathy:  what do you say he was?
Lemontie:  A time traveler from the same ones that visited back in the Biblical times.  They came to teach us.  But how do you explain things such to idiots that are superstitious?  People that lived in caves.
Kathy:  Call him an angel or a time traveler... Moroni was pretty clear in what he taught about the existence of God.
Lemontie:  He also taught that we could create other worlds.  That we could be gods.  So just how many gods are out there?
Kathy:  Not so sure that was Moroni... but yes.  Man is as God once was.  God is as man may become.
Lemontie:  Then what is a god?    Like I said everything is god.  God is the existence of everything, the energy of all existing things that you can, and cannot, see.
Kathy:  The universe is infinite... or so it seems.  Science tells us that it's expanding and new galaxies are being  created constantly.
Lemontie:  If you research that a bit further you will find that it is slowing down, therefore, meaning that there is an end.
Kathy:  Or a new beginning.

Conversation with an Atheist - Part 2

This is the continuation of my chat with Lemontie Piaire.  Click here for part 1:

Lemontie:  Here is something for you to research when you have the time.  It's called  I am a member of this group.  I was learning an autocad program when nano technology was discovered at Texas Instruments.  It was an accident.  A person, I think his first name was Mike if I remember correctly, was working on a microchip under an electron microscope.  He noticed what appeared to him at first to be a dust molecule stuck on the probe of his tool.  He tried to remove it, but could not until he turned off the charge to his tool.  Then he realized that he had discovered a way to hold a piece of matter still.  This was the beginning of nano technology.  All matter on earth is carbon-based.  Everything is made up of matter.  If you can hold two separate parts of matter still, you can join them together into one new part.  That theory is proven.  We can now make robots that can build a house from the ground up from just the existing molecules in any given area.  Fast.  And with all the amenities such as a washer, dryer, curtains, dishwasher, etc.  Faster than it can be made by mankind using present methods.  And that will do no harm to the environment by eliminating the need to chemically alter elements.  There is one downfall of this technology.... mankind's willingness to control.  Even with weapons of mass destruction... with this technology, one could turn the entire atmosphere into a gray glob of goo that is un-breathable.
Kathy:  Make sure I understand... you are saying you could put a robot on a blank piece of ground and it could build all that without anything from outside that single little plot of earth?
Lemontie:  Yes.  You could even make trees that have orange leaves with purple pok-a-dots.
Kathy:  orange leaves with purple dots... Genetic manipulation?
Lemontie:  There's nothing genetic about it.  It is using the smallest building blocks to make any thing.  It's all in how you program the robots to put the molecules together.
Kathy:  So... create the whole tree, not modify an existing plant species?
Lemontie:  Correct.
Kathy:  Create a life form that didn't exist before...  in other words, be a god.
Lemontie:  Be god-like in the Biblical sense, yes.
Kathy:  Wow!
Lemontie:  There is a big battle in Congress as we speak.  Has been since the discovery of this technology back in '89.  The government will not fund it due to fear by the corporate world that it would end the need for  money.  It would actually start what was envisioned in StarTrek.
Kathy:   Someone in possession of that kind of technology would have a terrifying level of control over the lives of everyone else on the planet.
Lemontie:  Why control?  Control has always been the problem of society.
Kathy:  Whoever possesses it decides how it is used.
Lemontie:  That is why the possessor must be someone with no adverse motive.  More than one person... an organization of people that have grown mentally past the desire for power.  They're out there.  I am one of them.  I care not about money.
Kathy:  That's the Venus Project?
Lemontie:  Yes.
Kathy:  I don't care about money either... at least not past the point it keeps a roof over my head and food in my tummy.
Lemontie:  I would gladly throw all of it away for the opportunity to have this technology and the life that it can offer humanity.  No more hunger.  No more lack of education due to money.  No more limits to what one mind can achieve due to the cost of pursuing it.
Kathy:  No more homeless.  No more sickness.  Seems like a Utopian society.
Lemontie:  Pretty much.
Kathy:  So what keeps you from launching it?
Lemontie:  Money.
Kathy:  The ultimate irony...

To continue on to part 3:

Conversation with an Atheist - Part 1

Last night a chat that started out about the weather and the possible problems our warm dry winter could bring for next summer turned to matters of religion.  Lemontie Piaire is someone I know only online but our conversation was stimulating, intriguing and surprising.  I think you'll be surprised, too.

Picking it up from that turning point:

Lemontie:  Are you a Mormon?
Kathy:  I am.
Lemontie:  I know a few of them down here.  Used to work with one... loved the debates we had.  I am an Atheist.
Kathy:  Well... when we die one of us is going to be surprised!
Lemontie:  Yep, one of us will.  I believe in the life force of the universe.  When we die we just change to a different form of life.  I believe that the universe is god and all things in it make it up as a whole.
Kathy:  Like reincarnation?  A cruel master comes back as a dog to learn unconditional love and such...
Lemontie:  Not at all like that.  I believe that we alternate between different dimensions in time.  There is anti- and positive matter.
Kathy:  So instead of coming back to this particular earth, or dimension, we move on to a different one?
Lemontie:  What you call our souls do, but it's our life force.  Our body just holds it to this dimension until it dies.  We transfer to the other dimension when the body dies.  Heaven and hell were created by man... as population control.
Kathy:  We agree then.  Our bodies hold our spirits.  Heaven and hell, and our place in one or the other, is of our own creation.  But... explain what you mean by population control.
Lemontie:  To force people to control themselves... subdue animalistic behaviors.
Kathy:  So the idea of heaven and hell is a form of behavior control?
Lemontie:  Yes.
Kathy:  Much of an animal's behavior is about eating and mating.  A lot of religious folks have large families.
Lemontie:  Some non-religious people do as well.  And some religions preach to have big families.
Kathy:  Well... to those who read and believe in the Bible, God has never retracted the commandment to populate the earth.
Lemontie:  ...but that was developed after the plague that was like to wipe people off the planet forever.   And is a perfect example of religion being used to control mankind's behavior in order to achieve their will.
Kathy:  Interesting thought.
Lemontie:  No people, no money.  No people, no one to do their work for them.
Kathy:  I can see your point.
Lemontie:  Even now our government leaders use religion to manipulate votes.  Also to cloud the real issues that need to be resolved for equality of life and avoid the stopping of the haves and have nots.  They're starting to infect the churches and cause confusion and hate in the churches toward the poor.  Predjudice and stereo-typing.  If there really was a god, he wouldn't permit that.
Kathy:  But... if man is nothing more than a controlled animal, as you say, take those controls away and he'd return to those old animalistic behaviors and patterns and we'd have even more exaggerated have and have not social classes.
Lemontie:  Man is what man is.  Education has made him think.  Evolution has made him change.
Kathy:  But you just said man is a controlled animal...
Lemontie:  Sometimes the basic instinct comes out in even the most perfect of us.  We are all animals to a degree.  Humans have just evolved into a high functioning one.  One that can reason with more ability to design and not accept the limits of what can be created.
Kathy:  I disagree that man is purely the sum of evolution.  I believe in God... that He created and ordered the earth, and everything in it... including mankind.  We are His creation.  That's why we have the drive to create. Why we seek order out of chaos.  And He gave man the ultimate gifts of intelligence and the ability to choose how it is used.
Lemontie:  Well, that is your thinking and you have the right to do so... but life has shown me that there is no god.  At least not what you refer to as being a god anyway.  What you call God, I call alien.
Kathy:  And you have the right to choose how you view the world.  We can exchange thoughts about it all day... but I can't change your mind any more than you can change mine.  We have to go with what makes the most sense for us.  And that it's different is ok.
Lemontie:  God is the existence of everything matter and anti-matter.  Study dark matter.  Strings.  It all works together like music.  The only thing that changes, what is created from it, is the note that it plays, so to speak.
Kathy:  I'm somewhat familiar with those theories.  And I've seen some of the Ancient Alien programs.  I concede... it's a logical conclusion in context of what's in the Bible.
Lemontie:  I have thought these things since childhood.  Religion makes no sense other than as a control of mankind's behavior.

To continue on to part 2:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Is this not a thing of utter beauty?

I confess I don't have the first clue (yet!) what to do with sun dried tomatoes but I'm kind of in love with the idea of making some next summer and this blog post showing step-by-step preparation was just the thing to get them on my summer to do list:

Harmony Hollow:  A Garden Journal

Tomatoes, basil, garlic and parsley are already all in the garden plan.  Come on Spring so we can put that plan into action!!  I want to go sit in the sun and run my hands through the grass... I want to caress the garden soil.

Do you like sun dried tomatoes?  How do you use them?  Any favorite recipes you're willing to share?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

For the Love of Pickles

I'm very sad today.  I'm realizing I didn't make nearly enough dill pickles last summer while there were cucumbers in the garden.  The Pickle Keeper is almost empty.  And it's only January.  That means it's 7 more months until there'll be cucumbers ready to pick out there again.

I might just cry.

Or break down and buy a few cucumbers at the grocery store...

Here's a peek inside my 1980's vintage 2-quart Tupperware Pickle Keeper.  If I find any of these at a thrift store or yard sale, I think I'd like to have a couple more.  They are lovely, wonderful, useful things.  Maybe Tupperware still makes them?  But if you know me you know that I am cheap, so I'll look around for awhile before I even consider getting a new one in this year's pretty designer colors.

Since there's no water bath processing involved, I'm not sure this really qualifies as canning but I've done it this way... well, since the '80s and have never had spoilage.  I've even cheated and re-used the brine.  Yikes! The pickle confessions are coming out!!

The recipe came to me from my Mother's good friend, Bea Williams.  The Williams' lived across the street from us in Idaho Falls when I was a little kid and she was always my (honorary) Aunt Bea.  I think I was well into school-age years before I realized we weren't really related.  Bea was a simple woman.  She worked hard all her life and had a very strong sense of right and wrong and exemplified the idea that you just treat people well.  She is one of the kindest and most generous adults I remember being part of my childhood.  Every kid should have an Aunt Bea!

To make Aunt Bea's pickles simply pack whole small cucumbers (or larger ones cut into wedges about that same size as you can see I did in the photo) into 1-quart jars with dill weed and sliced garlic according to your taste.

Add to each jar:
2 Tbl salt
1 cup vinegar
1 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp alum
pinch of pickling spice

Fill each jar with cold water. Put on caps and sealers and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Ready to eat after 3-4 weeks. Can be stored up to a year.

(I make a double batch directly in the Pickle Keeper and just push it to the back of the fridge for a few weeks.)

I linked this post to Homemaking Link-Up #59

And to the Weekend Bloggy Reading Link Up at Serenity Now

Monday, January 9, 2012

Setting goals for 2012

Several years ago and feeling like I was having a not so fun mid-life crisis (yes, I'm an early bloomer!) I set out to fix whatever was causing my discontent.  In the process I happened to read a couple of very different books.  Actually I read so many books on the topic that for a few weeks I was pretty much the designated Queen of Self-Help.  But there were two in particular that had ideas that meshed so I could combine them into a method that works for me... Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss and Be Your Own Life Coach by Diane M. Scholten.

When I first started  working this out I decided on 8 key areas that define, for me, what a happy and balanced life looks like.  Then I wrote out short affirmations for each of them.  These really haven't changed much over the years.
Personal Development.  I am happy with the person I am becoming and where my life is going.
Friends & Family.  I have friends and extended family who I love and who love me.
Career & Money.  My work is satisfying and enables me to meet my current financial obligations, save for the future and obtain the things I really want.
Physical Environment.  My home is a sanctuary.  It is beautiful, comfortable and clean and I am proud to share it with others.
Spiritual Fulfillment.  I am assured my thoughts and actions are in accordance with God's plan for my life.
Romance.  My words, actions and thoughts show those around me that I love and value them.
Health & Fitness.  I am healthy and fit in all areas of my life.
Fun & Recreation.  I am open to expanding my comfort zone to include new people, places and things.
My next step is all about assessing balance.  It's a look at where I am going into a new year.  And yes, I'm a geek... I put it on Excel to make a graph so I could see how I was progressing year-over-year.  The graph is set up by assigning a point value between 1 and 10 to each area indicating my level of contentment.  1 means things are pretty darn crappy and 10 denotes that it just can't get any better.
This helps me visualize balance, or in some years the utter lack of it, and focus on what I most want to accomplish.  Once I have this frame work in front of me I jot down 4-7 things in each area that I think will help bring me happiness and better balance in the coming year.   For example, under Physical Environment for 2012 I have these items listed:

  • Develop a thorough and workable cleaning plan and DO IT!
  • Add some "cuteness" to the decor so my home feels more cozy and welcoming.
  • Major project:  Patio (currently 1/2 done!) and yard/garden.
  • Chimney caps on remaining open flues (because of the puddles on the basement floor).
  • Finish Emergency Binder.
That gives me an outline to decide on the specific tasks that I need to do.  It also provides a checklist because I'm addicted to that feel-good rush from checking things off lists.

That's how I set goals.  I try to make a habit of looking at my list every day to keep me on track.  How do you do it?  What method works best for you?

Cook for 1 or a crowd?

I grew up as a Mormon girl.  And with that came the expectation that I'd need to know how to feed a family.  Cheaply... but still conscious of nutrition and taste.  And while that expectation has never come to fruition, I still find it more comfortable to cook for a crowd than just for me.  Cooking for 1 kind of intimidates me somehow.  Every now and again I try it, though.  This was my latest venture into single portion cooking.

Chocolate Cake-in-a-Cup

4 tablespoons self raising flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
Chocolate chips
A small splash of vanilla extract
2 big coffee mugs to cook the cake in

Mix dry ingredients together. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips and vanilla extract, and mix again. Divide mixture between the two mugs. Micro-wave on high (1000 watts) for 60 seconds (for one cup, a bit more for two). Allow to cool a little and serve.

Ok.  It actually makes two rather large portions.  It was surprisingly easy and so good!  I'm thinking up variations with different flavors of chips and extracts and toppings now.  Definitely adding this to my dessert repertoire.

But... I'm digressing from the point I wanted to make about how it's easier to cook in family proportions.  Cooking from scratch can be a lot of work.  Hence the popularity of mixes that offer the opportunity to have part of the recipe pre-made.  So many of the convenience mixes from the grocery store (for example... Hamburger Helper, Bisquick, brownie mix) have ingredients that compromise on nutrition and rely on fat and salt for flavor.  Over many years, I've acquired a nice collection of recipes to make my own mixes.  And I want to share them with you.  I also want to grow this blog into something that generates some income from sponsorships, limited advertisement placements, workshops and speaking invitations... that kind of stuff.  Before that can happen I need lots more people to join.

So I'm asking for your help.


And I'm willing to make it worth something for you.

I've compiled these recipes into a nice booklet called Cooking with Homemade Mixes.  It's 16 pages  of simple to prepare mixes and ideas about how to use them.  Most are completely shelf-stable so they work well to meet your food storage goals. Plus the recipes for Casseroles, Desserts and Soups are designed to be packaged in 1-quart canning jars and are suitable for gift giving.  I've even included simple gift tags with the preparation instructions you can print and attach with a complimenting ribbon.

To get going, you need to join (or be one of the awesome and supportive people who've already joined) then post a message with a link back to my blog on your facebook, twitter, myspace or other social media account OR send emails to at least five of your friends with the link.  Ask your friends to join and post a comment with your name in it.  When I go in to approve comments, I'll just choose not to publish them... but it's a good way for me to keep track.  When 5 people have commented with your name (and anything else they want to say) I'll email you the booklet.  It's really that simple!  Then you can try the recipes out and see if you like them as much as I do.  See if they also taste better and save you money and time in the kitchen.

(Photo credit and recipe props to the blog crumbs: recipes to feed your family)

I've added this post to the Homestead Barn Hop #44

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Live Like You Believe

An observer once wrote about George Albert Smith: "His religion is not doctrine in cold storage. It is not theory.  It means more to him than a beautiful plan to be admired.  It is more than a philosophy of life.  To one of his practical turn of mind, religion is the spirit in which a man lives, in which he does things, if it be only to say a kind word or give a cup of cold water.  His religion must find expression in deeds. It must carry over into the details of daily life."

Many times I've said our actions are the natural outpouring of our faith.  If we believe in a God who does good things for us, we will do good for each other.  This was the subject of today's Relief Society lesson... basically reminding each of us to live like we believe.  It made me think of this 10-minute video.

And after I came home and searched out the video again, it made me wonder what my excuse is... Surely, if he could, then I can.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Some Thoughts on Consecration

It's my turn to speak again in Church tomorrow morning and I was given the topic of Consecration.  I started my preparations by looking up the word... Wikipedia gave me these two definitions:

  • setting apart for the service of God of both persons and objects, and
  • solemn dedication to a special purpose or service.

And it told me that consecration literally means "to associate with the sacred."

In his October 2010 Conference address D. Todd Christofferson quoted Richard L. Evans from the film 'Man's Search for Happiness.'
"Life offers you two precious gifts -- one is time, the other is freedom of choice, the freedom to buy with your time what you will.  You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills.  You may trade it for base desires.  You may invest in greed...
Yours is the freedom to choose.  But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.
Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for.  And it is in this life that you walk by faith and prove yourself able to choose good over evil, right over wrong, enduring happiness over mere amusement.  And your eternal reward will be according to your choosing.
A prophet of God has said: 'Men are that they might have joy' -- a joy that includes a fullness of life, a life dedicated to service, to love and harmony in the home, and the fruits of honest toil..."
He went on to point out that God designed this mortal existence to require nearly constant exertion.  By work we sustain and enrich life.  It enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of our mortal experience.  Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self worth.  Work builds and refines our character, creates beauty and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God.  A consecrated life is filled with work... sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated, but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires.

For evidence that a consecrated life is a life of labor we need only to look to our Savior, who we each try to emulate.  Luke 2:48-49 tells us that "He was about His Father's business" beginning early in His life.  Even God, Himself, is glorified by His work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children.  As His children, we have a natural desire to participate with Him in this work.  Thomas Carlyle said, "All true work is sacred; in all true work there is something of divineness.  Labor, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven."

In Romans 12:1, Paul said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God."  But... how do we do that?  Jesus demonstrated that a consecrated life is a life of service.  We see it in the accounts we have of His day to day life, going about doing good and serving the needs of those He met.  Hours before the agony of His Atonement began, the Lord humbly washed His disciples' feet.  John 13:14-16 tells us the words he said to them:
"If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him."
Those who quietly and thoughtfully go about their life doing good offer a model of consecration.  So very often it is our simple acts of kindness that confirm Divine love and awareness to another person as we go about doing good; as we go about seeking for ways to serve and meet the needs of those we come into contact with. Doing this work is how we can best emulate the kind of life the Savior led.

A consecrated life is a beautiful thing.  Its strength and serenity are as the "very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit" in D&C 97:9.  The consecration of many who have gone before us and others who live among us has helped lay the foundation for our happiness just as future generations will take courage from our efforts and see their debt for the possession of all that truly matters.  In making the conscious decision and required effort to consecrate ourselves as sons and daughters of God we have claim on this promise from Moroni 7:48:  "that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is..." We will recognize Him because we've remade ourselves and become like Him by consecrating our hearts, minds and efforts to His service.

I hope this is making you wiggle in your seats just a little bit.  It surely made me wiggle as I was reading and composing thoughts these past few days because it made me see my lack.  It helped me see where I can do better work.  This unknown internet quote came across my computer a couple of days ago, "The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers."  I invite each of you to join me in a challenge to seek to incorporate the concept of consecration more fully into your lives; to make the effort of His work a part of who you are deep inside so that your actions become a natural expression of your faith and hope.  This work is the path to real happiness.