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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Where there's a will there's a way

Sister Jones shared this story with me and I thought you might enjoy it too.

Orderville was a community in south-central Utah where the Saints attempted to live the "United Order," having all things in common. It was active from 1875 to 1885. These efforts sometimes caused some interesting conflicts, as in the case of these mothers determined to provide Christmas treats for their children.

Howard Orson Spencer was chosen to be bishop and leader in the little community of Orderville, in southern Utah. One December evening some of the sisters of Orderville met to plan a Christmas treat for the children. The order had no luxuries and the necessities were strictly rationed. About the only sweets the people had was molasses, so, the sisters decided to make molasses candy and cookies for the youngsters. But on Christmas Eve, they came to Grandmother Spencer with news that the brother in charge of the molasses "won't let us have any. He says our allowance for the month is already used." Grandmother's lips tightened. "The children are going to have something for Christmas. I'll speak to my husband after dinner -- he'll give us permission."

When grandfather came in tired and hungry, grandmother hovered over him and after dinner urged him to rest by the fire. As he sat looking drowsily into the flames, she said in a low voice, "You do think the children should have some candy and cookies for Christmas, don't you Howard?" "Umm-hmm," was the sleepy response and grandmother went away smiling. She reported to the ladies that everything was all right, "My husband has given us permission." "Did he say we could have the molasses?" asked one doubting Thomas. "He didn't say "No" replied grandmother truthfully. "Now we won't wake up the brother in charge of the molasses. We'll just slip out and take what we need."

The man in charge of the molasses barrel was very conscious of his responsibility. On the lid of the barrel he had placed a section of heavy logging chain and a large boulder. Only a thin wooden partition at the head of the bed separated him from the barrel outside, and he was a light sleeper. Shivering from the cold the women crunched through the snow toward the barrel. It was beginning to snow again and the night was very dark. With infinite caution they removed the heavy chain without so much as one betraying clank. It took the combined efforts of all the women to lower the boulder noiselessly to the ground. There was a breathless pause as grandmother raised the lid and dipped into the barrel with a saucepan. She emptied its contents into a bucket and dipped again and again. "We have enough now," whispered one of the women, the women filed back to the warm kitchen to make the Christmas goodies. But, there was a dismayed gasp when they looked into the pail, "Oh dear, we haven't enough molasses. We'll have to get some more." "Oh no, Sister Spencer. it's so cold and dark. It's too risky." "Well just the same, we must unless we want the children to be disappointed."

There could only be one answer to such a statement and the little band of mothers went again to the molasses barrel. They returned safely and set to work. When morning came, every child in Orderville had two molasses cookies and one big slightly sticky lump of candy in his stocking. Santa Claus had not forgotten them. Grandfather insisted all his life that he could not remember ever having given the women permission to get the molasses. (Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, 18:160-161)

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Anyone who has eaten President Griffiin's cooking knows that he has a way with beef! He recently shared his recipe for cooking a chuckroast with me and I thought I'd pass it along.
Start with a good chuckroast and season it well with salt and pepper. Place it in a roasting pan with a can of beef broth and place it in the oven at 275 degrees. For a large roast of about 8 lbs. put it in the oven about 7 am and cook till about 5 pm, or until it falls off the bone, and melts in your mouth! He says he prefers a roast cooked in the oven over cooking it in a crockpot. This sounds pretty easy. His secret must be the low temperature and long cooking time as well as a good cut of meat. It makes me hungry just thinking about it. GO MEAT!

General Relief Society Message

As many of you have noticed the website has gone through an updating and now has a new look to it. On the old site there is a post by the General Relief Society Presidency that I thought I'd pass it along. It may be on the updated site also but I haven't found it yet.

"As you reflect on the birth of our Savior this Christmas Season, join us in remembering him by serving someone on his behalf". Such a simple statement but as I read it I thought of it as a call to action. Just imagine the good that could be and will be done by Relief Society members throughout the world this Christmas Season. The Relief Society presidency lists four things we could do:
1. visit someone in need
2. act on your generous thoughts
3. do temple work
4. register and search for a family name in the New Family Search
These small acts of service given freely and out of love for our Savior join together to build faith in Jesus Christ, support families and provide relief, the values Relief Society are built upon.
What a blessing it is for all of us to belong to the Relief Society.


The Gift
Something for Everyone
Please join us for a memorable
Family Christmas Fireside
presented by
The Billings East Stake
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Refreshments - 5-5:45 pm
Fireside - 6 pm
Billings East Stake Center
Sunday dress

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snowman Soup

If you are looking for quick Christmas gifts, stories, games and more be sure to check out It is filled with wonderful ideas. One of my favorites is Snowman Soup.

1 package of hot chocolate mix
3 Hershey's kisses
15 or so mini marshmallows
1 candy cane
Place in a snack sized Ziploc bag or brand new mug and attach a poem
When the weather outside is frightful, snowman soup can be delightful.
May it warm your spirit and your soul. Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

Christmas Events

Only 23 days till Christmas and everyone's calendar is filling up with activities. Be sure to make time for the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional. It is this Sunday, December 5th at 6pm. It will be available at the Stake Center or go to to find out how to bring it into your home.

Sunday the 5th is also the Messiah Festival. It will be held at the Alberta Bair Theater at 3:30. Free tickets are available at the Alberta Bair Theater. It has been my experience that if you show up early the day of the performance there are still seats available. The December Ensign has an article by Elder Spencer J Condie entitled "Handel and the Gift of Messiah" that gives a little bit of background on this music.

Sunday, December 19th is the Stake Family Christmas Fireside "The Gift". We are promised more information but be sure to mark your calendar and plan to come.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey Leftovers--Turkey Soup

If your family is like mine, the turkey leftovers are the best part of the week after Thanksgiving.
I always cook an extra turkey--it's inexpensive and cooked turkey can be used in any recipe that uses cooked chicken. 

Tonight we ate this soup, a perfect end to a cold Montana day. Yum!
Mediterranean Chicken, Bean & Pasta Soup

2 tsp olive oil
1 large green onion (or a couple of smaller ones), minced
2 medium carrots, cut into thin half-circles
2 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, finely chopped, including juices
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (or turkey!)
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup ditalini (small, short pasta tubes)--tonight I used some leftover wild rice in place of pasta
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley--I used 2 Tablespoons dehydrated parsley
8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced-I used a scant teaspoon dried basil
Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add shallot, carrots, and celery. Saute until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes with juices, chicken broth, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Uncover the soup, remove the bay leaves, add cooked chicken, beans, and pasta. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes (I just added my pre-cooked leftover rice at this point). If you are using dried parsley and basil, add for the final 5 minutes.  If you are using fresh, add at the end.

Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

May we never let the things we can't have, or don't have, or shouldn't have, spoil
our enjoyment of the things we do have and can have. 
As we value our happiness let us not forget it,
for one of the greatest lessons in life is learning to be happy without the
things we cannot or should not have.
 --Richard L. Evans

Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.
 D & C 59:7

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.
~H.U. Westermayer

In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.
 D&C 59:21

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
~William Arthur Ward
Live in thanksgiving daily.
Alma 34:38

Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief.
Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without it there is arrogance and evil.
--Gordon B. Hinckley

The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man.
 --Joseph F. Smith

We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us. Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."
                                                                                  --Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Activities for Children From Hilltop Ward

At Hilltop's recent monthly activity,  placemats for the dinner were these cute pages of children's activities.  

Hilltop leaders suggested these coloring pages would be a great way to keep kids happy while meals were being prepared or while children were at the Thanksgiving table. 

Hilltop Ward printed them off of this website:  Check out this great website for activity and coloring pages, crafts for children, fun family games, and recipes for children to make. 
There are ideas for other holidays too!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

Mod Podge

Mod Podge is a product that is versatile and easy enough for children to use.  It is basically a white glue which dries clear.  Mod Podge comes in gloss or satin finish, and clear and tinted colors. It comes in smooth and textured finishes. There is also an outdoor Mod Podge, although I haven't been able to find it locally--you can buy it online. There are more and more kinds and finsihes of Mod Podge on the market all the time.  Mod Podged surfaces are cleanable with a damp cloth, but not dishwasher safe.  Spilled Mod Podge can be cleaned up with water, but wipe up spills before they dry.  You can use Mod Podge on almost anything you can think of to make personalized gifts.  Try Mod Podge on plastic, paper, fabric, cardboard, glass, wooden, painted surfaces--what ever you can imagine.  Mod Podge works both as a glue and a sealer--glue one surface to another, then seal the project with a top layer of Mod Podge.

Project 1: Wooden Box
Time to make (other than drying time) 5 minutes
I bought a $1 wooden box from a craft store and painted it with gold craft paint.

I used 3 coats of paint.

Next I took a piece of craft paper, and using my computer, I printed off some words directly onto the paper and cut it the size of the top of my box.
I Mod Podged it on for a simple, but fun seasonal treasure box. You could glue on jewels or other emblishments for a fancier box.

Project 2: Personalized Canister
Time to make (other than drying time) 10 minutes
I washed out a canister that held nuts and gathered scrapbook paper.

I cut a main piece to fit the canister and put a layer of Mod Podge on the wrong side of my paper.

 Wrap this piece around your canister and smooth with your fingers.

Cut more pieces for embellishment and glue them on top of your already glued down paper.

Cut a piece for the plastic lid and glue on.

Cut a ribbon for the edge of the lid and glue on.

 After everything is glued down, paint a layer of glue on the entire project.

Here's the finished project, personalized, and ready to be filled with crayons, hair ribbons, food, or small toys.

Project 3: Luminary from a Glass Jar
Time to make (other than drying time) less than 10 minutes.
This project uses tissue paper and a glass canning jar.  Tear the tissue paper into pieces-
mine were about 2" x 1".

Glue onto jar, overlapping slightly.

Tie or Mod Podge ribbons and decorative items around top.

Add sand and a candle.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Things to do With Kids

Do you need a project to keep your children busy while you prepare for the holidays?  Or maybe you are looking for a Thanksgiving-themed FHE treat or activity.
Last year we posted an idea for turkeys made out of candy and cookies easy enough for kids to make.  You can read complete instructions here.

Here are some more to try:
The first decoration/treat is for pilgrim hats. It's very easy--easy enough for small children.

You need fudge strip cookies, large marshmallows, dipping chocolate, orange or yellow frosting, and a few kids willing to make a big mess.

Dip the marshmallows in the chocolate.

Place the marshmallow on the fudge side of the cookie.

Let them set up for awhile and then add a orange or yellow buckle, using tube frosting from the grocery store.

You can use these as place cards at the dinner table or eat them for FHE treats.

The next one is a turkey.  It takes a little more patience and coordination than the pilgrim hats and is more suited for older kids, or for a time you can spend plenty of time helping younger children.

You will need Oreos, Reece's peanut butter cups, candy corn, whoppers, and chocolate, white, and orange frosting.  Those decorating tubes of pre-made frosting in the cooking aisle at the grocery store work well for the white and orange. 

I used double stuff Oreos.  Put layer of chocolate frosting around the middle of the Oreo. 

 Stick five candy corns into the frosting.  Or use starbursts, cut into triangles.

 On a second cookie, put a dab of chocolate frosting toward back.

Set the "feathered" cookie into the dab of frosting and let set up.

Cut one side off of a peanut butter cup.

Frost top and cut edge of cup. 

Turn your turkey and place cup on top this way:
(cut side against plain cookie, top of cup against feathered cookie).

Next, put whopper on using chocolate frosting.  Add a beak--a cut candy corn--with frosting.

Using the white frosting, add two eyes.  Let your turkey set up for awhile at this point.

Now you can sit the turkey up and add a dark spot to eyes--either a dot of black frosting, a miniature chocolate chip, or a cake sprinkle.
Add legs and a waddle with orange frosting.  You can also use shoelace licorice for legs and a red hot for the waddle.

To use as a place card holder, attach a name to a toothpick and stick into the feather area.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crock Pot Make Ahead Shredded Chicken and a Taco Recipe

The closer I get to the holidays, the harder it is to find time to cook.  Last March, we posted a recipe for make ahead meat mixture.  Read about it here
This is a make ahead meat my family likes even more.

Shredded Chicken
3 lbs chicken breasts, frozen
1 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
1 Tbsp crushed or minced garlic
1-2 Tbsp lemon pepper, or crushed red pepper, or seasoned salt, or a combination, or your favorite seasonings (we like lemon pepper mixed with seasoned salt)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

Place chicken in the crock pot. Cover with salad dressing, garlic, and lemon pepper. Cook on low for about 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through, and shreds easily.

Shred chicken, and place back in the crock pot. Add lemon juice and bbq sauce. Cook for about 30 minutes more. Freeze in portion sizes handy for your family. A doubled recipe makes 7 2 cup baggies for the freezer.  When ready to use, thaw for quick tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos, sandwiches, or other chicken dishes.
Notes:  I always double this recipe.  It needs to cook for around an hour longer when doubled.  If using thawed chicken, cook for less time.

Here is the way we ate this chicken tonight.  This meal is a family favorite and I love it because everything can be done in advance, including the salsa.  It makes a quick meal for a busy night.

Chicken Tacos with Black Bean Salsa

Using hard taco shells, add make ahead chicken, top with black bean salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
4 radishes, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and black pepper to taste
Combine; store in fridge for up to a week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The New Handbook

By now, you've likely heard the church has a new handbook. 
You can read the ENTIRE handbook  here at

If you are an auxillary leader and missed the leadership broadcast, or if you are just interested in learning more, watch the broadcast here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

Pop Top Can Treats

This is a quick and easy idea for using a recycled tab top can.

You need a can with a tab top.  It can be large or small.

When you open the can, instead of using the tab on top, use a can opener on the bottom.

Peel off the label and wash the can well.

Use either a regular can opener,

or a smooth-edge can opener.  These are great tools.  They leave no sharp edges on your opened can.  These can openers can be purchased for under $20 at kitchen specialty stores or online.  They are well worth the price.

If you use a traditional opener, leave the lid partially attached.

Now fill your can  with candy, pretzels, homemade treats, hot cocoa--what ever you can think of.

Using a hot glue gun, glue the bottom of the can on.

Cover with scrapbook paper or fabric (using your glue gun), or contact paper.  You may have to piece the cover.

Make an "instruction" tag

and decorate the can anyway you wish.  Remember that the tab is the top of the can.

Carefully thread some ribbon through the tab and attach instructions. 
Your can is now ready for gifting

To open, just pop the tab
to find the surprise inside.