Random Sampler

By Gail Christensen


Traveling—in the Bag

Last summer as we packed up our camper and six children for a sight-seeing tour of Canada, I decided to purchase a plastic school bag and pack it with several items especially for me. I realized that every traveling moment didn’t have to be spent singing with the family, telling stories, or playing car games. Once in a while the children would need time to themselves to read, take a nap, or play quietly. This would leave me some time for myself. I made an “inspiration bag” for those moments.

In it I placed a copy of the scriptures and a red pencil, a piece of needlework, some stationery and an address book, my daily journal, the local newspaper, the Ensign, and other reading material of interest to me.

This “inspiration bag” proved to be a great little traveling companion—an invaluable aid in making the best use of every moment on our trip. Joan H. Evans, Salt Lake City, Utah

Three Cheers for Vegetables

If it takes several cookbooks, a burst of culinary inspiration, and sometimes downright trickery to get your family to eat green vegetables, here are some suggestions that may win a repeat vote on your menus. (Pam Williams, Richfield, Utah)

Asparague a la Mustarde

Saute chopped onion in butter for a few minutes, mix with prepared mustard, and spoon over hot cooked asparagus. Top with grated cheese. (Buttered bread crumbs and chopped almonds are also welcome garnishes.)

Creamed Cabbage

Saute shredded cabbage in bacon drippings; add minced onion and salt and pepper to taste. Scoop the mixture into a well-greased baking dish and top with one cup sour or sweet cream. Bake 20 minutes at 375° F. Garnish with crumbled bacon bits.

Spinach Patties

2 cups cooked spinach, chopped

2 beaten eggs

1/2 cup cracker or bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated cheese

3 tablespoons minced onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

Chopped ripe olives (optional)

Mix all ingredients well and drop by spoonfuls onto well-oiled hot griddle. Fry over medium heat.

Staying Awake in Church

Seven members of the congregation with heads bent were quite oblivious to the message of the sacrament-meeting speaker. It was a warm summer afternoon, but the heat wasn’t the cause of the drowsiness because the chapel was air conditioned. The man behind the pulpit wasn’t a dynamic speaker, but neither was he boring. Why, then, do some of us tend to doze during meetings?

Sleep overcomes us when we are physically inactive and our oxygen supply is slowed down. The simple solution, then, is to speed up our circulation—by exercise. How can you exercise in church? When heavy eyelids tend to overpower you, try the following:

  1. a.

    Change position. Sit up straight and tall and uncross your legs.

  2. b.

    Take a few deep breaths.

  3. c.

    Do a few unnoticeable exercises: twist your ankles, stretch your arms or legs, hold in your stomach muscles for ten counts. Or think up a few movements of your own. These should not distract anyone, and when your circulation is improved and more oxygen is delivered to your brain, you will stay awake and listen. Verlene Winkel Tanner, Provo, Utah

For Sale: Marketing Your Masterpieces

I felt encouraged to develop my artistic talents after reading President Spencer W. Kimball’s message, “The Gospel Vision of the Arts,” in the July 1977 Ensign. No longer need I feel guilty, I told myself, about an artistic hobby which I thoroughly enjoyed but which had seemed so terribly frivolous—decorating eggs as jewelry boxes: cut, hinged, lined with velvet, and placed on a stand.

After beautifying my own home with some of my work and presenting some as gifts, I was surprised at the encouragement I received to sell my creations. Suddenly I saw a way to supplement the family budget without leaving home, and even involve the children in the process.

But department stores turned me down: “Too fragile”; “Pretty, but not for us.” I was discouraged. Craft shows, though tantalizing, would require me to spend my summer weekends traveling, paying exhibitor’s fees, etc. So I pursued the marketing options closer to home and found more than a dozen craft outlets that had opened within the past two years. When I found that most of these shops were willing to take merchandise from beginning artists on consignment, I was on my way to successful marketing. (The 1979 Craftworkers Market published by Writer’s Digest lists nearly 3,000 such outlets nationwide, many of which receive goods by mail.) Some merchants pay periodically, others on demand; from the latter I collect proceeds of past sales when I drop off more merchandise. I keep a careful record.

Consignment sales are an excellent way to build a reputation and clientele, I have found, and ensure a steady income. I began attaching a card to my work, listing my name and address. Customers also welcome information about the craftsman or the piece, and, where applicable, handling or washing instructions.

Among the best sellers in crafts are usable items such as toys, musical instruments, pottery, glass, jewelry, leather goods, pillows, and quilts, as opposed to strictly decorative pieces such as wall hangings or knickknacks. In general, people won’t buy what they think they can make themselves. For example, metal and woodwork sell very well; needlepoint and embroidery don’t.

Yet the handmade masterpiece is more than just useful. Since its beauty appeals primarily to the spirit, it’s a joy to have around. Elizabeth Petty Bentley, Baltimore, Maryland

“Me First”

I was helping a dear friend bind a quilt one day, and as we chatted away, my lifelong habit of “making every minute count” took over. I raced along as if I had a deadline to meet.

She was much older than I, and the mother of one of my classmates, but she was a woman I greatly admired and respected, and age was no barrier. This good woman was a musician who gave freely of her talents to the community and the Church, and had done so for a lifetime. She had accompanied me on numerous occasions. She had a talent for beautiful preludes with augmented chords that held us in quiet reverence.

My friend’s life had not been an easy one, for she was widowed early, and left with a family to raise on a rugged farm. She did the field work, milked the cows, and all of those countless chores that have to be done if a farm produces. Yet the Sabbath would find her at the organ, radiant and ready to serve.

Unconsciously I stitched at the quilt as fast as I could. When we were children, and teased our mother for something to do on rainy days, she would give us a handkerchief to hem. We played a game by seeing who could get to a corner first, turn the corner first, or finish a side. Speed was a habit with me.

We both stitched rapidly on the quilt, but I did not realize how she was struggling to keep up with me until she said, “Oh, I’m no good! It is useless to try to catch up with you. I’ve done hard field work until my hands are stiff and gnarled, and I should not even be working on this nice material.”

I was humiliated at my own thoughtlessness. In this world of competition and “me first,” I had unconsciously set a pace that made her feel inferior unnecessarily. In our relationships with others, how often we need to increase our awareness of their feelings and needs! Ruth W. Heiner, Burley, Idaho

Refreezing Foods

“In general, if a food is safe to eat, it is safe to refreeze.” So states the Consumer and Food Economics Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture. They advise that it is safe to refreeze foods that have thawed if they still contain ice crystals or are still cold (about 40° F.) and have been held no longer than a day or two at refrigerator temperature after thawing.

Of course, thawed ground meat, poultry, or fish that is off-color or has an off-odor should not be refrozen, nor should it be eaten. And thawed ice cream should not be refrozen. (Do not taste food of questionable odor or color; simply throw it out. It may be dangerous.)

Refreezing does make foods less tasty and nutritious, particularly fruits, vegetables, and prepared foods. The loss in taste and nutrition in red meats, however, is less than in other foods. Refrozen food should be used as soon as possible to preserve its eating quality. (“Keeping Food Safe to Eat,” Home and Garden Bulletin no. 162)

Readiness

Let me not
Through human
Hesitation,
Forfeit my right
To heavenly
Inspiration.

All-Family Shopping Trip

For an educational and fun family-night meal, have the family ride to the grocery store together. Give each member one dollar (or another predetermined amount) to purchase whatever he wishes to contribute to the family’s meal that evening; but before starting to shop, everyone should understand that—

1. No one can buy candy. (You might assign one or two members to buy dessert with the understanding that no one else can purchase sweets.)

2. Family members spend only the amount they are allotted.

3. The family has only fifteen minutes in which to choose purchases.

4. Items should be purchased in a quantity large enough to feed the entire family and should take only a reasonable amount of time (say fifteen or twenty minutes) to prepare.

5. Each person must prepare what he buys.

Dollar dinners are fun to prepare, have lots of variety, and give each member of the family an experience in grocery shopping. Dian Thomas, Provo, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch