“Getting-to-Know-You-Better” Night

For one of our family home evenings, we held a “getting-to-know-you-better” night. It was a smashing success. First, each family member listed (anonymously) on a sheet of paper answers to questions about favorite subjects, games and activities, books, vacations, artistic creations, foods, desserts, colors, and other items. Then we shuffled the sheets and had a lively time matching them with family members, a delightful way of learning more about each other.

After home evening, I gathered up the papers to save for books of remembrance. But before I filed them, I used them to make a special “recipe” card for each family member, listing information to use at birthdays, Christmas, or other special days for honoring individual family members. I keep these cards in my file for easy access. Sharla Luker, Salt Lake City, Utah

Lessons from My Garden

I planted a garden that summer for one reason only. President Spencer W. Kimball had said that I should. It wasn’t that I disliked gardening or hadn’t gardened before, it’s just that there were so many complications that year. The park rules for my newly acquired mobile home forbade planting gardens, meaning that I would have to rent a plot down the road. And my agenda for the summer allowed me only one free Saturday to get the seeds in the ground. I obediently rented the plot, used the Saturday for planting, and then abandoned the garden to other commitments, hoping to find a few moments later in the week to keep things under control.

The week went by, and half another, before I stopped at the garden again. It was early spring and the sun was just breaking above the trees as reached my corner of the lot. Golden fingers of sunlight burst along the rows of peas that had mocked my neglect by pushing their heads through the soil.

As I stood watching the light touch first one tender shoot and then another, I witnessed something of a miracle-a glimpse of the intricate chemistry of creation bearing annual testimony to the omnipotence of a divine Father.

As the summer progressed, I was drawn to the garden as much by my new insights as by the need to weed and water. My struggle to keep the plants alive in one rocky corner of the garden brought to my mind in a new and forceful way the wisdom of the analogies used by the Savior. Those seeds that “fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth” did indeed sprout early, only to wither under the midday heat. Others, sown too close to the garden’s borders where morning glory and thistle flourished, struggled against the persistent weeds and, despite my steady efforts to rescue them, eventually succumbed. They were, as the Lord noted, like those of us who walk too close to that fine line between the teachings of God and the grasping, smothering ways of the world. I left the garden after each visit a little more aware of the thistles and morning glories that I was likely to run into during the day.

Perhaps the greatest lesson of that summer was one on responsibility. The garden plot I worked was not my own. Neither were the other essentials for a successful harvest—rain, sun, and rich soil. All had been placed at my disposal with the expectation that I would care for and improve the garden plot. I learned quickly that “magnify” meant constant work and attention: day-to-day weeding, dusting, watering, and picking—occasional spurts of energy were not sufficient. I also learned that I could not always pick the times I chose to perform my labors. A spring frost warning meant that I put aside other things to cover new tomato plants. Severe summer storm alerts meant that I give mature tomatoes and pole beans extra support, not tomorrow, but tonight.

My labor quickly became one of satisfaction and love. Each day brought new growth, each hour healthier plants. I drew the rest of the family into the experience, and we talked, as we worked our way down the rows, of other gospel lessons revealed in the garden. Although we had no wheat, we certainly had tares, and we pulled and cast them aside. We saw that tiny seeds when properly nurtured grow into vibrant, productive plants, and we came to better understand Alma’s teachings on faith. By the end of the growing season we not only had gained a great deal of understanding and an ample harvest, but also had enriched and improved the garden for the owner. We all had, in a sense, become joint heirs through our efforts.

As spring comes now—even when the freezer is full and the shelves stocked with canned produce—there is no question but that the family will plant a garden. It may be behind a friend’s home or in planter boxes on a balcony. We may need to double our weekly intake of last year’s dill pickles and chili sauce to make room for this year’s—or give most of our harvest away to a needy family. But we will plant one anyway. We simply can’t afford to go through a season without reaping its spiritual harvest. Kent A. Farnsworth, Muscatine, Iowa

Breakfast the Beautiful

I will never forget those days. Seminary began weekdays at 7:15 A.M. By 6:30 our whole family had heard dad’s cheery call, “Daylight in the swamps. Time to get up!” Though we knew he meant business, we had no trouble heading downstairs to face another day. Smells of wondrous treats would meet us. No one at our house stayed grouchy for breakfast. It was impossible.

Mmmm … breakfast. No day seemed to hold the same menu. Mom would greet us while stirring hot thick oatmeal mush (no paste for us), or making crisp french toast from thick slices of homemade bread. Some mornings she’d get up early and prepare a creamy golden rice pudding. The smells of its vanilla-nutmeg goodness would waft upstairs and lure us down before dad’s calls. Some days it was a frying pan laden with scrambled eggs accompanied by rows of bacon on the broiler pan. One of us girls was drafted to man the oven broiler pan nearly every day with its load of homemade toast to turn, canned peaches brimming with brown sugar, or bubbling broiled grapefruit. Another sister was put in charge of icing a pitcher of home-canned apricot nectar or grapejuice, or heating tangy lemonade or a big kettle of cocoa flavored with vanilla. By the time the sister not helping with breakfast had set the table, breakfast was ready.

It was a daily production that drew all the family together. And the actual eating—that was true celestial happiness. With dad and my brother, now back in the house from their morning chores, we’d first kneel for morning prayer, then sit up to an unending variety of surprises.

Sometimes it was a scoop of ice cream on hot cereal, or nuts and raisins in cracked wheat, or a big bowl of iced raspberries picked before breakfast. Sometimes it was fat little sausage patties or generous layers of peanut butter and jelly on crisp waffles, accompanied by cold milk. Those were the days. We loved to five there. We loved to go home.

Breakfast in your home can be just as much a family event. There are many ways to save time and still have exciting breakfasts. Juices can be chilled the night before, pancakes and muffin batter mixed ahead then kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and the table even set in advance. The fun of breakfast is in variety, not the amount of work.

Here are some morning ideas and recipes merely to help you create your own. Mix and match them. Be sure you have protein, cereal, and some form of fruit and milk. Plan ahead so that part of the meal is hot and another part is chilled. Visualize color contrasts and complementing textures. Have fun preparing tasty body-building breakfasts.


Scrambled, fried, boiled, or poached eggs

Omelets filled with anything

Bacon, burger patties, sausage (we like an egg fried in the center of a slice of bread, with the center cut out, or eggs scrambled with cubes of bread)


Pancakes, french toast, waffles, muffins, corn bread, hot biscuits

Toast (toasted tuna or cheese sandwiches)

Hash browns


Any hot cereal

Add ice cream, dates, raisins, nuts, pineapple, jam, bananas, fruits, hot dogs, etc.


Peanut butter, molasses, honey, syrup, whipped cream, ice cream, fruit


Egg nog, hot orange drink, cocoa with vanilla, tomato juice, grape juice, pineapple juice, nectar


Cold or hot canned fruits (applesauce or apricots are especially tasty when heated with nutmeg)

Oranges, grapefruit in slices or sectioned

Other eye openers

Custard or rice pudding, leftover jello, pudding

With prayer, a smile, and a beautiful breakfast, your family can’t lose. Susan Arrington Hill, St. Cloud, Minnesota