Tag Archives: LDS

General Conference FHE

Hi friends! I’m hoping to start getting back into posting, at least occasionally. I still have lots of great ideas; I’m just trying to focus right now on living them rather than photographing them. But I think this one in particular will help many of you.

This weekend is General Conference, when the prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak to the entire Church and tell us what the Lord would have us hear about how to keep Christ in our lives and be better people. I’m sure many of you have tricks and traditions to keep your kids occupied and focused so that everyone can hear the messages. We play Conference Bingo, let my preschooler color pictures and do activities in special Conference packets, and have picnic lunches in the living room (the only time food is EVER allowed there).

But the big challenge we were facing was how to remember, retain, and apply what was said during that special weekend! Here is what my husband and I came up with two Conferences ago:

Conference FHE poster

We made 2 posters, with photos of each member of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, and every week for Family Home Evening, we taught a 3-year-old-friendly condensed version of one of their talks. We distilled the talks down into either a direct quote or a summary (often the talks touched on so many topics, we had to just choose the one we felt applied best to our family) and wrote that next to the speaker’s name. Then I did my best to draw a symbol or picture to help my pre-reader remember. I am no artist, but I like to think that my drawings mostly resemble what they’re supposed to represent…

The posters hung in our hallway, where we (and any visitors to our house) could pass by them often and recall some of the lessons. I can’t tell you what a difference this made in our family! My older daughter now knows all of their names by heart, and could tell us what they taught. It was a huge help for my husband and me too; I still remember the topics of that Conference better than any before or since (we moved the day before last Conference, so that whole weekend was a blur).

As an added bonus, our FHE lessons were pre-planned for 15 weeks!

conference poster

To do this in your family, just buy 2 standard-size white posterboards. Divide each into 8 parts. Print approx. 3″x2″ (wallet-size) photos of each member of the First Presidency sand Quorum of the Twelve. Hang the posters in your house. Ahead of every FHE, consult your Conference Ensign or lds.org for your lesson topic. We always reviewed the previous lessons each week as well.

What Conference traditions and tricks do you use to be able to listen and remember what is said?

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Easy Funeral Potatoes.

Before I answer your question, “Funeral potatoes???” please let me draw your attention to the fact that — I actually cooked something!

(Let’s just hope that my cooking skills haven’t atrophied as much as my photography skills apparently have during the last month or so…)

Okay, so, funeral potatoes. They’re basically au gratin-style potatoes so named because of their prevalence at (well, after) Mormon funerals. I don’t really know why honeybaked ham & au gratin potatoes are the unofficial official food of Mormon funerals — & at Easter, now that I think of it… irony? — but they’re tasty, so that’s all that matters, right? Oh, & they’re easy. At least this recipe is. Which my I-haven’t-really-cooked-in-forever-&-I-may-need-to-run-to-the-bathroom-at-any-moment self is a big fan of.

There are a million different variations of this Mormon staple (in fact, there were no fewer than 4 different delicious varieties at a potluck I attended Saturday… which may explain my irrational craving for them all week…), but here’s a basic easy version my friend Chelsey shared with me from Cooks.com.

  • 1 pkg. (2 lbs.) frozen Southern-style (cubed, not shredded) hash browns, thawed
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (we use the reduced-fat kind to make up for the stick of butter)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream (again, reduced-fat, for the same reason)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional topping: 2 cups corn flakes plus 1/4 cup melted butter
  1. Let your kitchen helper help you mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Optional: sprinkle on corn flakes & drizzle with melted butter.
  3. Spread into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

works for me wednesday at we are that family

Cast Party Wednesday

36th Avenue

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Skinny Veggie Ziti.

It looks like I need to adjust my schedule slightly… I usually write my Monday-morning post on Saturday evening, but I just got called to teach the 3-year-olds at church — there are 8 of them & only 1 of me — so guess what I was doing Saturday night? How did it go? Well, let’s just say that I need to prepare more than I did last week. MUCH more.

So here I am, writing my Monday-morning post on Monday night. But it’s worth the wait, I promise!

Have you visited skinnytaste.com? If you haven’t, you definitely need to head over there & browse Gina’s recipes. She’s great at replicating the tastes of favorite meals & decadent desserts, but making them lowfat & better for you! She even includes Weight Watchers points values, for those of you who have the willpower to do that (I applaude you). This is her vegetarian baked ziti recipe. It’s low in fat, delicious (a huge hit with my whole family!), & makes a TON. So as always, I make a small pan (8×8) for now — we still had leftovers! — & freeze the rest for later.

But I’ve been running into a problem lately with my beloved foil pans: as you probably know, tomato sauce reacts with the aluminum, causing the entire dish to taste like you’re eating a can. No good! For tomato-based dishes like my stuffed shells, I had been lining the foil pan in parchment paper & then adding another layer of parchment on top before covering it with foil, but I just discovered something new & SO much easier!

Paper baking pans! I honestly can’t remember who makes them — Hefty, maybe — but I just know when I saw them at the grocery store I NEEDED THEM. They seal up so nicely with their own little lids too, don’t they? The only negative is that they don’t fit into my gallon freezer bags like the smaller foil ones did, so we’ll see how leftovers fare for extended periods in the freezer, but at least there’s no more metallic taste or parchment paper lining! Hooray!

Okay, now for what you really came here for: the recipe.

  • 1 package (usually they’re 14.5 oz.) high-fiber short pasta (we used Piccolini penne because they’re cheap at Costco)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed & drained
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (I used 1 Tbsp. dried)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. fat-free ricotta (I could only find part-skim, so I used that)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 2 cups (8-oz. pkg.) shredded part-skim mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking dishes with cooking spray.
  2. Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain & return to pot.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil on medium heat in a medium saucepan. Saute garlic until fragrant.
  4. Add spinach & tomatoes.
  5. Stir in oregano, basil, & salt & pepper.
  6. Pour sauce into the pot with the pasta & mix well. Add ricotta, Parmesan, & half of the mozzarella (1 cup). Mix well.
  7. Spread in bottom of prepared baking dishes. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Put extra dish in the freezer.
  8. Bake 27 minutes (for an 8×8 pan — 30 min. for a 9×13 if you’re not freezing leftovers) or until bubbly, cheese is melted, & edges are beginning to brown.


Get Your Craft On Tuesdays

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Preparing your child for a move. (Part 2 of 2: Settling in.)

We’ve been here a week now & only have a few (granted, giant) boxes left to unpack! Hooray! It feels a lot better than where we were 3 weeks ago. Or even a week & a half ago:

Yikes!

Now that we really are settling in, I thought now would be a good time to post part 2 of my “preparing your child for a move” series. Part 1, before the move, is right here.

The Munchkin playing in the boxes before the move... Recognize the beer boxes I talked about in the last post?

Here some ideas about how to help your kids adjust to your new home & neighborhood:

  • When you & your stuff first get to your new place, let your child help unpack & decide where something should go in her room. This can give her a sense of control when things are crazy.
  • Set your kids’ rooms up (the furniture, at least) right away. Especially if you’ve been driving a few days, it’ll feel good to be reunited with your stuff. Plus, sleeping in a new, big, empty room is creepy.
  • Try to get pictures back up on the walls again as soon as possible to make it start feeling like home.
  • As you unpack, talk about what’s better about your new place: “There are so many shelves in your new room for all of your toys!” etc. (The Munchkin’s new room is so cavernous we need two nightlights just to see at night! Whereas ours is barely big enough for our bed & dressers. How is that fair?)
  • Even though things are hectic, try to get involved in your new community as quickly as possible to make new friends. Congregations in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as wards, are organized geographically. So as soon as we knew our new address, we were able to find out which ward we would belong to! If you’re not LDS, find a church or temple to attend. Involve your children in lessons, Gymboree, or after-school groups to meet the other parents & help your kids make friends.
  • Speaking of making friends, teach your child how to introduce herself to new people.
  • Just like before you moved, try to take a little while off from unpacking to give your children attention. Take an hour or two to drive around your new town. Find a new neighborhood pizza place to call “yours” (we just found ours!). Locate the library & get a library card. Go play on the playground nearby!
  • Once you get more settled in, if you feel up to it, hold a housewarming party & invite people from your new community!
  • Even with all the craziness, try to stick to naptime & bedtime routines as much as you can. With everything else changing, it’s helpful to have a familiar routine to hold onto.
  • Understand that certain milestones like potty training & sleeping through the night may regress or suffer setbacks for a little while during this transition. Your kids might start acting out a little more than usual (ours sure did) too. It’s normal.
  • Lastly & most importantly, emphasize that no matter where you live, your family will be together, & that’s what matters!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

 

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Award-winning (!!!) peach-strawberry cobbler.

Yesterday was Pioneer Day, a holiday that commemorates the day in 1847 when the Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley. It’s a state holiday in Utah; everywhere else, Mormon wards put on picnics/barbecues/etc. to celebrate. Our new ward had a barbecue & “Dutch oven” baking contest on Saturday. (“Dutch oven” is in quotes because entrants were instructed to bake it in their ovens at home, then bring it in a Dutch oven. I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven. It still counts.)

Meet: the winner! Ta-da!

This recipe originated from The Princess & the Frog: Tiana’s Cookbook: Recipes for Kids, was modified by Tina at Mom’s Crazy Cooking, & then re-modified by me & my unfortunately still wonky (that Indiana-ism is the only word I can think of that can accurately describe it) oven.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups diced fresh peaches (I wound up having to freeze half of mine because produce gets to the store a little riper down here than in the Tri-State Area; they still worked fine)
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (ditto)
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup cold milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (or prepare your campfire, if you’re ambitious enough to be all “authentic”). Use a pat of the butter to grease the inside of your Dutch oven.
  2. Melt remaining butter in the microwave. Set aside.
  3. Combine fruit in a small-ish bowl & sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. of the sugar. Stir gently & then set aside to macerate.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt. Add remaining sugar, milk, & vanilla; stir until well blended. The batter will be (perhaps alarmingly) thin.
  5. Pour the melted butter into the batter & whisk quickly until just combined. The batter should be a little thicker now. Pour immediately into the bottom of your Dutch oven.
  6. Gently spoon the fruit mixture into the batter & lightly press it partway into the batter.
  7. Bake (uncovered if you’re using the oven; covered if you’re using a campfire) about 1 hour, or until top is golden brown. Serve warm. Win a baking contest!

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Preparing your child for a move. (Part 1 of 2: Before you leave.)

We’re moving. In a week & a half. Yikes!

Since that’s what’s on my mind right now, & since lots of people move during the summer, I thought I’d offer a few tips for helping your kids adjust to moving to a new place. Today I’m posting on how to prepare for the move itself; later I’ll post on how to settle in.

  • Show your kids photos of your new home & new town. Help them find reasons to be excited about the new place. The Munchkin is especially excited to be near the beach.
  • If you are packing yourself, START EARLY. Last year, with a husband taking law school finals, I started packing two months in advance while The Munchkin napped. There’s only so much you can pack that far ahead of time (you’re using everything else too frequently), but it really helps as you get down to the wire. It also helps your 10-month-old skip crawling in favor of cruising, because there are handholds everywhere!
  • Also if you are packing yourself, don’t pay for boxes! I had hoarded diapers.com boxes for months. Any time you get a package, collapse the box right away & stash it in a closet. Another great resource for free packing boxes is liquor stores; just go in & ask for some of their beer boxes. They’re the perfect size & durability for books & other heavy things. The people helping you move in might look at you a little funny though…
  • If your firm is paying for movers, PRAISE HEAVEN. The end.
  • Try to keep pictures up on the walls as long as possible. Even if there are boxes everywhere, having these familiar touches will help keep home feeling like home right up until you move.
  • Moving is a time-consuming process. Even if you’re not having to pack everything yourself, there are still things like getting a place to live, arranging for utilities on both ends, forwarding mail, etc. Kids can feel neglected; take a few minutes every day to just listen to them & give them your undivided attention. Even better, let them choose something special to do to take some time away from moving. This brings me to…
  • Have a “bucket list” of one thing each family member wants to do in your old town before you leave. This will help everyone feel valued (see above) & let all of you “say goodbye.” The Munchkin really wanted to go on the “mewwy-woun.” We’re also planning final visits to Magnolia & Shake Shack.
  • If you have time, throw a goodbye party with friends! Or let a friend throw one for you! That way everyone can say goodbye at once.
  • Speaking of friends, explain to your kids that they won’t get to see their friends all the time anymore. Let them know it’s okay to be sad & miss them, but encourage them by saying that they’ll be able to make new friends in your new town.
  • Explain the moving process to young kids: “A man will pack up your toys & clothes & put them in a big truck (bonus points for showing them the truck if they love trucks) & drive it to our new house! We’re going to drive separately in the car, & our things will meet us there!” {We just had a Family Home Evening about moving, where we talked about Nephi’s family in the Book of Mormon & how they moved to a new place too, & they packed up all of their things as well (see 1 Nephi 18:5-6). After we explained the process, we did the activity below.}
  • Parents magazine just had an article about helping kids adjust to moving, & one thing I thought was a great idea was to let your child decorate her own “treasure box” with stickers to put her favorite things inside. Then take it with you in the car so she isn’t separated from it. Here’s The Munchkin’s treasure box; the first thing she did was put in the 3-inch plastic Woody & Jessie dolls that go with her everywhere lately.
  • MAKE SURE THE LOVEY DOESN’T GET PACKED. IT GOES IN THE CAR. THE END.
  • Lastly, take a minute to say goodbye to your old house. (This was another Parents idea.) During your last meal there, likely on paper plates in your empty house, let each family member say his or her favorite memory of living there. Get your kids excited about making new memories!

Any other tips for moving with kids?

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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Chewy, Chunky Oatmeal Breakfast Bars.

First, I want to take a moment to give a Web shout-out to all of my dear friends (& readers!) in the Midwest & South. A possible tornado hit Bloomington, Indiana, where we spent three amazing years, & where The Munchkin was born. Reading my friends’ Facebook updates last night about tornado sirens, thunder, & hunkering down in the bathroom into the wee hours turned my stomach in knots. I’m just so grateful to know now that all of my friends are unharmed! I know that right now there are so many who aren’t so fortunate.

One of my fond memories of our time in Bloomington was an unlikely visiting teacher named Sue. (The LDS Church gives members the opportunity & responsibility to care for & serve one another by assigning them certain people to visit once a month & generally look out for.) I had never had a visiting teacher so different from me: I was a new mom; she was older & had no children. At first I had misgivings — how could we have anything in common to talk about? — but she served me so well at such a stressful time of my life that I knew it was meant to be.

One of those ways she served me was by bringing me these breakfast bars so I’d have a nutritious snack that was easy to munch on. They’re low in fat, high in protein & fiber, & seriously addictive!

(By the way, yes, I do recognize the fact that this makes 4 oatmeal recipes in a row here on Make Myself at Home. I seem to be on a bit of a kick lately. & I’m not the least bit sorry. Neither is My Husband The Volunteer Taste-Tester. Or The Munchkin, apparently…)

Sue’s Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 6 oz. fat-free vanilla yogurt (I used Yoplait Light Very Vanilla)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp. skim milk
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil or applesauce (I used oil this time, only because I didn’t want to open a whole new applesauce container)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. vanilla (I just used 1/2 since I used Very Vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (or use just 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins &/or Craisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (or use 1 cup of all raisins/Craisins… but where’s the fun in that?)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan.
  2. In a large bowl combine sugars & wet ingredients.
  3. In another bowl combine flours, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon.
  4. Add flour mixture to wet mixture; stir well.
  5. Stir in oats, fruit, chips, & nuts.
  6. Spread dough into bottom of prepared pan.
  7. Bake 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool before cutting & enjoying.

Do you have any dishes that bring back fond memories of old friends or places you lived?

Tidy Mom


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