The Art of Visiting

One day I was asked to sit with a friend who was recuperating from a long, serious illness. I arrived carrying my work basket jammed with mending, a folder of material on a PTA project, and some patterns to cut out for Relief Society.

I was greeted at the door by the Relief Society president of my friend, Elizabeth, who explained that Elizabeth needed no special bedside care; my responsibility was to visit with her. As I started toward the bedroom, basket in hand, the Relief Society president gently took my arm and said, smiling, “You do know how to visit, don’t you?”

My puzzled expression must have answered her question for she asked, “May I give you some ideas on visiting?” I nodded.

She then said, “First, when you are visiting for a short time, try to leave your busy work at home, unless, of course, it is really urgent. Bringing work with you might tell Elizabeth that you are so busy you really should have stayed home. If, on the other hand, you walk in empty-handed, you are telling her that visiting with her is the most important thing you could possibly do during your stay. It says that you are here to enjoy her company, and you’re doing it by choice.

“Second, your visit is more important than any well-prepared food you might carry. A casserole without companionship does not taste very good; the hunger for friendship is as important as the need for good food. Of course, it’s best to try to satisfy both appetites.

“Third, be careful not to upstage the stories of your friend while you are together. I fear that many of us unconsciously do just that. If Elizabeth tells you she is planning an exciting weekend thirty miles from home, don’t tell her you are going surfing in Hawaii. If her complicated surgery took a team of twelve specialists, don’t tell her about your exotic acupuncture. If she exclaims about her daughter who just had twins, don’t tell her that your cat had a litter of nine. Let her recount, relive, and relish her memories without any competition.

“Fourth, respond to her conversation. Respond, but do not judge or assess her thoughts or ideas. Verbally show her that you care about the conversation. It’s certainly supportive to say to a companion, ‘Oh, yes! Really? Hmmmmmm. For goodness sake, is that right? Uh Huh. Well!’ Even when you simply respond with ‘Oh,’ you are constantly reminding her by the tone of your voice that you are listening to her stories.

“That’s all it takes,” she concluded. “Visiting is really listening. Have a nice visit. There is therapy there for both of you!”

What a great lesson I learned that day!—Evalyn D. Bennett, Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt—More Than Seasoning

1. Add a little salt to water when poaching or hard-boiling eggs. It helps keep the poached egg from sticking to the pan, and it sets the white of a boiling egg if the shell cracks.

2. Egg whites will whip up more rapidly when a little salt is added.

3. When fruit pies boil over in the oven, salt sprinkled on the burned area loosens it.

4. When an enamel saucepan is burned, fill it with cold water, add two or three tablespoons salt, and let it stand over night. In the morning, bring the water slowly to a boil—you’ll have a clean saucepan.

5. To clean tarnished brass and copper-bottomed pans, cover with a paste of salt and vinegar. Let the pan stand for an hour, then rub it with a soft cloth, wash, and polish dry.

6. Soak clothespins in a strong brine and they won’t freeze on the line. One treatment should last through the season.

7. If there are too many suds in the washing machine or dishpan, sprinkle in a little salt.

8. Before freezing or canning fish, soak them in a brine solution of one cup salt to one gallon of water for about an hour to firm the flesh and reduce leakage when thawing.

9. To remove odors of fish or onion from hands, rub hands with salt and then rinse in water.

10. Place apples, pears, and potatoes in cold salt water after peeling them to prevent their turning dark.—Suggested by Georgia C. Lauritzen, Cooperative Extension Service, Utah State University, and Kay Franz, instructor in food science and nutrition, Brigham Young University.

Fabric Photo Frames

Are your favorite photos hidden away for lack of picture frames? Mine were until I learned an inexpensive way to make my own frames, using fabric pieces and cardboard with corrugated center.

Fabric frames hung in the kitchen or family room make attractive family photo arrangements. And when old family photos are accompanied by dried flowers arranged in wicker baskets, or old utensils, you can have a pleasing “heritage wall” in your home. Small flower print fabrics and eyelet ruffling give the frames an old-fashioned look. Materials needed for a five-by-seven inch picture frame:

1. Cardboard with corrugated center: two pieces, 6 1/4″ x 8 1/2″. Cut an oval 4 1/4″ x 6″ from the center of one piece for the front of the frame. For a stand-up frame, also cut a triangular piece 7 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide at the top, and 4 1/2 inches wide at the bottom.

2. Fabric: about 1/3 of a yard—print, flowered, or checked, either or polyester. Leftover scraps of fabric work well, as long as they are large enough to be cut two inches larger than the cardboard on all sides, extra pieces to cover the triangle for a stand-up frame.

3. Batting: a small amount to pad front of the frame. A bit more for the back cardboard and triangle, if a stand-up frame is desired.

4. Ruffling or cording: one yard, to trim outer edge of frame.

5. Ribbon, 1/4-inch wide: one yard for stand-up frame—to make finishing bows on back of frame and to connect the bottom of the triangle to the frame.

6. Rubber cement and model or craft cement

7. Stapler.


1. Cover the cardboard for the back of the frame first. For a wall frame, stretch the fabric (cut two inches larger than the cardboard) over the sides and glue and/or staple it in place. For a stand-up frame, pad the back with batting before stapling the fabric in place. The staples bury in the corrugation and do not show.

2. To cover the front of the frame, center the cardboard piece (with the oval cut out of it) onto the reverse side of the other fabric piece, and trace the hole onto the fabric. Then divide the oval into eight pie-shaped triangles, and cut them from the center outward, ending about 1/8 inch from the drawn oval edge. Cut batting to fit the frame (cut an oval into it), lay it on the frame, and secure the fabric over it with staples. In the center, pull the triangles of fabric through the oval and staple them to the back of the frame, making sure the material has stretched smoothly.

3. Make a bow from the ribbon and place it where the stand is glued onto the frame. Cut another small piece of ribbon (about 4 inches long) and glue one end to the back of the frame and the other end to the stand, about 1 inch from the bottom edges. This ribbon connects the frame to the triangle, keeping the triangle from spreading out too far. Cover each end of the ribbon with a small bow.

4. For a stand-up frame, cut out two pieces of fabric slightly larger than the size of the triangle cardboard piece. Pad one side of the cardboard with batting and cover it with one of the fabric pieces, stretching it over the sides and stapling it.

5. Turn under the raw edges of the other piece of fabric and glue it in place on the under side of the triangle. Making sure that the bottom edge of the triangle and the frame meet, glue about 1/4 inch of the top horizontal edge of the stand onto the back of the frame (cloth glued to cloth) with model or craft cement (it dries quickly). Hand stitch or glue decorative trim around the edge of the back of the front frame. Hand stitch the back frame to the front frame along the sides and bottom, leaving an opening at the top to insert the picture of your choice.

6. Frames can be made larger and smaller than the size described here. An 8″-x-10″ frame is made from cardboard pieces cut 9 1/2 x 11 1/2.

7. Smaller frames can be made according to pictures size, allowing 1–1 1/2 inches for border around the photograph.

Nancy Reynard Gunn, Hunter, Utah

Making Sundays Special

“I want my boys to love Sunday, to find it a peaceful, pleasant day, when they can rest from common study and play, yet enjoy quiet pleasures, and learn, in simple ways, lessons more important than any taught in school” (Louisa May Alcott, Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys [Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1901], pp. 29–30).

A year ago, when our children were 5, 3 1/2, and 2, I felt the need to begin making Sunday a special day for them. Mother Bhaer’s “Sunday closet,” as she described her “shelves filled with picture books, paint boxes, architectural blocks, little diaries, and materials for letter writing” in Little Men, inspired me to develop our own gospel-related project.

Family home evening gave us an opportunity to discuss the plan, and we began to collect picture books, diaries, writing and drawing paper, and of course the inevitable crayons, pencils, glue, and blunt-end scissors. We included religious flannel-board stories (covering the pictures with clear adhesive plastic for durability) and found that our youngsters were soon telling the stories on Sunday afternoons. Our “Sunday closet”—or box or drawer—is especially for that day, and from its contents our children are learning to enjoy “quiet pleasures” on the Sabbath.—Bonnie Morgan Walker, Ferndale, Washington

Illustrated by Phyllis Luch