Archive for December, 2011

Tuesday Tips: Kid-Made Wrapping Paper

December 13, 2011

So, if any of you are like my mom, you probably have all your gifts wrapped and hidden away or tucked under your Christmas tree by now, but just in case you have a last-minute present or your local Walgreens has run out of holiday themed gift bags, here’s a tip for you.

Have your kids draw, paint, stamp, scribble or write all over some paper in Christmas colors and wrap your gifts with that.  If you use printer-sized paper you’ll probably have to use a lot of tape, but it gets the job done.

Or, you could do the decorating yourself.  I’m fond of using brown paper bags that have been cut down the seams and stamping on the blank side (as seen below), but don’t let me complicate it.  Homemade wrapping paper is awesome because it’s so simple.

Kelsie Bee

Monday Menu: Super Delicious Veggie Burgers

December 12, 2011

No, seriously.  They’re actually really good.

Don’t believe me?  That’s okay, Wade and Sister Belanger didn’t believe me either until I stuffed them full of these for dinner.

As a college kid, I practically live vegan.  I don’t like eggs, I’m allergic to dairy and I have no money for meat.  I do tend to have all these ingredients on hand, though, even in my little apartment kitchen.  And you know what?  Even if I were missing one or two, it doesn’t matter all that much.  We left out the onion and the sunflower seeds but our burgers were still flavorful and chewy.

And, (if you need more incentive) after you mix all the ingredients up, each patty takes five minutes to pan-fry.  And then you’re done. Filling, quick, inexpensive, allergy-sensitive veggie burgers.  You’re welcome.

Kelsie Belanger

Friday Favorites

December 9, 2011

I asked my husband what I could post for “Friday Favorites.” His response was Redbox movies. He has a very good point. We do love Redbox and having a family movie night for $1.20 (they just upped their prices.) We do love to have a family movie night once a week and Friday or Saturday are usually the nights we do them.

Another favorite is the Redbox games. We only do these over the Christmas break because they are a little more money, so we feel like we need more time to get our money’s worth.

I could think of a lot of things that are just my favorite, but I wanted to share something that everyone in the family can enjoy. Have a great weekend!

Joy Gleason

Thursday Thoughts (on lesson)

December 8, 2011

I hope everyone enjoyed the Relief Society lesson this past week. I was not able to attend and I haven’t been able to attend since being called to primary. Our lesson in primary was suppose to be on Honoring the names of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to church. From the lesson I did prepare, I found some things that were very helpful for our family and I am going to share those with you.

First, it is very common to hear people that do not respect the names of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Do we ever say anything? I know there have been times I really wish I had because I have caught my daughter repeating it. Of course, it makes a great opportunity to discuss this with her and teach her that it isn’t appropriate and to also tell others. After this conversation, I started to think of times that I should have said something because she was there. I have since decided I need to make an effort to show her how to kindly ask others to not use that kind of language around my family. You all may be experts on this, but this is something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Second, I found some fantastic videos on the church’s media site that showed great examples of youth standing up for using correct language. You may all have seen these videos, but I wanted to share them with you anyway. Here is a link to one that I found very inspiring, No Cussing Club. We can learn a lot from our youth. While serving a mission, I had no fears of sharing the gospel, but it sure is difficult now that I’m not a full-time missionary. I know this is stated so much by returned missionaries, but the feeling is so different and that is probably why we say it so much. I had wanted to talk to my primary class and ask them for ideas on how to overcome my fears of standing up to people when they use inappropriate language. I know youth don’t hesitate and I’d hoped to gain some strength from them.

Third, the lesson started out with talking about respecting each others names. Our names are important to us and it hurts if someone misuses our names as I’m sure it hurts Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I really wanted to point out to my class the importance of respecting and using our peers names. I know I have struggled at remembering names and I feel embarrassed asking someone their name over and over again. Isn’t it nice when someone says your name when they are talking to you? Just remember what you find important about your name and strive to apply it to others names when talking to them. Here’s something fun: when checking out at the store, glance at the cashiers name, then when you are leaving tell them by name to have a great day. It is great to see their expressions.


Words of Wisdom Wednesday

December 7, 2011

This past Sunday was the Christmas Devotional. I didn’t get a chance to watch it live, but the church is so great about providing us many opportunities to watch it. Here is a link to the message.

You will notice that they mention the church is putting out videos of the life of Christ. Here is a link to those videos.

Now to the Words of the Prophet. At the beginning of President Monson’s talk he stated, “Christmas is what we make of it.” The last few Christmas’s in our family have been establishing traditions. When I tell people about some of our traditions, they seemed offended because we don’t follow the norm of Christmas. I believe in what the prophet has said. It is “what we make of it.” We can make it busy and financially unstable. We can make it hard on ourselves. Hopefully, we can all make it uplifting and a joyful time of year. I love the stories that President Monson tells during his talk. It really puts into perspective of making Christmas a joyful time of year.

Our family has more traditions to establish a Christmas that is joyful for everyone in our family and a “Christmas of what we make of it.” Thankfully for prayer and the spirit we each can find how to make Christmas what is good for our families. Most important, let’s all strive to have a more Christ focused Christmas.

I hope everyone gets a chance to watch the Christmas devotional and can also watch the movies they are making about Christ. These would make for some great FHE activities or Sunday afternoon.

Joy Gleason

Tip for Tuesday

December 6, 2011

A few years ago, I got a gift that was a spray bottle. I LOVE this spray bottle. Well, I don’t have that exact spray bottle because I threw it out before we moved, but it has been replaced. Here is my simple tip to do with a spray bottle.

Fill 1/4 the spray bottle with liquid dish soap and the rest of the bottle with water. There will be bubbles, but just let them come out and keep filling until the water is close to the top. Put the lid on the bottle and shake it up.

This is my favorite part of the tip. Now when you have one dish to wash or you need just a little bit of dish detergent, just squirt it with your spray bottle. A bottle of dish detergent lasts me about 6 months.

Here’s the second part of the tip. Go get a bunch of spray bottles from Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart, or Target. They have some pretty ones and Christmas ones for $1. Fill them up as explained. Make a Christmas note and give them away as gifts. Everyone that I’ve given one of these to has loved it. I have gone as far as making sure I have a certain color of dish soap so it matches in my kitchen.

Hopefully, this tip will help with the busyness of everyone’s weeks and make things a little bit easier and will help save some money as well.

Joy Gleason

“One of THOSE days” Recipe

December 5, 2011

We all have days that fixing a meal just isn’t our top priority of planning it out. A friend shared this recipe and we both started calling it our “oh crap” recipe. These are items I always have on hand in my food storage. We fix it about every other month due to the ingredients, but it sure is handy to have when I need to fix a meal for a family, missionaries, or it’s just “one of those days.”

Creamy Chicken (in crockpot)

4 to 6 pieces chicken breasts (I do the frozen ones and do enough for one piece per adult. If they are bigger pieces, I do two per adult.)

1 can fat free cream of chicken soup 

1 pkg. fat free cream cheese (Yes, I always have this on hand. I buy it cheap and freeze it. The package says not to freeze it, but I have never had a problem with it.)

1 pkg. italian dressing mix (It’s the dry mix in the packets. I’ve tried italian seasoning in a pinch and it just wasn’t the same.)

Rice (However much you cook for your family/guests.)

Place chicken in bottom of crockpot; combine cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, and italian mix. Pour mixture over chicken. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4. When chicken is done, open crockpot and shred chicken. (Tip: Use a potato masher to shred the chicken. I just mash straight down and twist with the masher and it works wonders. Now you don’t have to pull it out or attempt not to burn yourself while using a fork.) Place lid back on crockpot and cook for 30 more minutes. This is when you can get your rice cooking and complete your meal by adding some veggies to counteract all the cream.

Here are some links to my favorite recipe blogs. I could share TONS on this post, but I’ll spare the space and give you links to search for yourselves.

Our Best Bites (I haven’t found a bad recipe yet on this site.)

Kalyn’s Kitchen (specifically the 7 layer tostada’s)

Everyday Food Storage (She has great recipes for using food storage and my favorite is using powder milk in everyday cooking.)

The Tasty Cheapskate (This lady cooks meals for a month on $200. Warning: some are a little on the dry, bland, or weird side, but she has some great tips for cooking on a budget. You can even see her budget each month.)

Easy Cinnamon Scented Christmas Ornaments

December 2, 2011

I tried this recipe and it is easier to make than real edible cookies!  It took me 10 mins to mix up a batch and then cut out shapes and leave to dry for a few days.  The dough is easy to work with and rolls out nicely with a rolling pin.  Great for making homemade ornaments to give as Christmas gifts!


1 cup Cinnamon (Buy large containers at BJ’s)

1 tablespoon Ground Cloves

1 tablespoon Ground Nutmeg

3/4 cup Applesauce

2 tablespoons Elmer’s Glue – All Purpose

Waxed paper; parchment paper; cookie cutters, cookies sheets, plastic straw or toothpick.

In medium bowl, stir together the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  Mix in the applesauce and glue.  Work the mixture with your hands 2-3 mins. to form a ball.  If mixture is too wet, add more cinnamon.  If mixture is too dry, add more applesauce.

Lay out about 2 ft waxed paper and tape to counter (avoid staining counter).  Lightly dust the waxed paper surface with cinnamon.  Roll out dough 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness with rolling pin.  (I went thicker to prevent the risk of ornaments breaking).  Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and use the plastic straw or toothpick to place a hole in the top of each cookie ornament to allow a ribbon to be threaded through later after the cookie is dry.

Dry in slow oven 200 degrees for several hours, or air dry in a sunny spot for 4 -5 days.  Gently flip them when they are about half-way dry so that they do not curl up on one side.  When dry, decorate and hang on tree.  They smell wonderful!


The Importance of a Name

December 1, 2011

For the first time in my life I have had an opportunity to attend Oct 2011 General Conference in Salt Lake.  One of the talks that I found quite memorable was from M. Russell Ballard, “The Importance of a Name.”  He recalls the message given by past talks in May 2011 conference and past letter’s from the First Presidency addressing members and encouraging them to teach the world that the Church is known by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He emphasizes that the full name of the church is important for all to know and he literally breaks down the words and the meanings and their significance and why.  Although “Mormon” is used by our detractors in the days of persecution and has become an acceptable nickname and may be used by members when it is appropriate for brevity or practical reasons, as members we should give emphasis to the full and correct name of the Church itself and avoid and discourage the term “Mormon Church.”

Elder Ballard has shared his response to the question if he belongs to the Mormon Church.  He responds with, “I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.  Because we believe in the Book of Mormon, which is named after an ancient American prophet-leader and is another testament of Jesus Christ, we are sometimes called Mormons.”  He mentions how it is well received and has opened up dialogue to explain the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel in these latter days.

I have had several people, relatives and friends, ask if our family celebrates Christmas or Easter.  Inside my head I am rolling my eyes, but then I realize their lack of knowledge when I explain that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I need to help them connect the dots with Mormons and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Maybe this will help me utilize missionary skills to teach and to share our doctrine with those who inquire.