Puppets and a Felt House

When I realized I needed to devote more time in preparation for family home evening, I put together a teaching file of general aids that can be adapted to both family and church lessons—with a few extra helps for the family.

1. Using a basic hand-puppet pattern, I made a family of puppets, then a family of finger puppets and stick puppets (using popsicle sticks for the stick puppets). For flannel board lessons I cut out family figures from paper and covered them with clear adhesive. These are my main visual aids for story-telling. When I use the puppets, each child takes part with one puppet.

2. To make a reminder for assignments, I cut out a house from felt and sewed on pocket-style windows and a door. This is backed with cardboard so that it will stand up. I cut out family figures from felt, glued on moveable eyes and individual names, and backed these figures with cardboard also. On the windows are taped categories such as music, prayer, lesson, treats, etc. The figures can be rotated from window to window each week.

3. When we needed a visual aid to remind us of our goals, from posterboard I cut out another house as a “message center.” It is a large Victorian-type house, colored with marking pens. To personalize it, I cut out the windows and taped a photo of each family member behind a window, so that we appear to be in the house looking out. With stickers I added a bit of lawn, a smiling sun, a hopping frog and some flowers and birds. Then I covered the whole thing with clear adhesive. On this I can write family goals, a special scripture, or a lesson idea with a grease pencil or marking pen, and it will wipe off later. This “message center” is displayed where it will serve as a reminder to all the family throughout the week.

Visual aids greatly enrich our family home evenings; and considering the rewards, the time involved in creating them is minimal. Janet Houston, Philipsburg, Montana

Taking Stock of Food Storage

A good inventory system helps you determine what kinds of food your family eats and how often. With this information you can plan your year’s supply to suit the tastes of your family.

On a three-by-five inch card indicate name of item being stored and shelf life. This varies according to storage conditions and type of food. If stored in a dry, dark, cool place (40° F. to 70° F.), in rigid, rodent-proof containers, most products will store as follows:

Grains, rice



—Indefinitely. Will become hard after a time. Do not add new beans to old. Hard beans may be made usable by putting them in a sack and hitting the sack with a hammer to break the beans open. Soak the broken beans and cook as usual.

Fruits & vegetables, canned

—Two or more years if cans are not dented or bulging. High acid or highly pigmented fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, plums, berries, and black cherries have a shorter shelf life (one or more years).

Canned meats

—Two or more years.

Milk, canned

—One year. Turn cans every thirty days to keep milk from separating.

Milk, nonfat, dried

—At 40°, -two years; at 79°, -one year; at 90°, -three months. Keep cool, tightly sealed, and dry.




—Indefinitely if stored at 45°–75°. Higher temperatures cause color, texture, and flavor changes.

Fats, oils

—One year below 60° F. Stores better in brown and green glass than in clear.

Packaged mixes

—Six months to one year in rigid, insect-proof containers. Placing packaged flour products in the freezer for four days should kill weevil larvae and extend shelf life.

Note: Check expiration date on cans and packages. They store past this date, but shelf life will not be as long. Mark all products with the date of purchase or processing. Rotate by using oldest first.

Average cost. Can be figured over a period of time and will help you see if an advertised special is actually a good buy.

Quantity needed. If you use twelve cans in six weeks, you will need 108 cans for a year’s supply.

Enter the date on which you begin your inventory and fill in the quantity on hand. As product is used, make a mark in the “used” column. Before you shop, count the marks so you’ll know how many to replace. With each new purchase, enter the date, the number added, the cost, and the quantity on hand. Shirley Nielsen and Al Vester, Salt Lake City, Utah

Brown Bag Gourmet

When my husband’s work load was increased and his lunch hour was cut in half, coming home for “family lunches” became just a memory. In order to provide wholesome, inexpensive midday meals, I became a brown-bag takeout chef. Some of the tips I learned may also be adapted for school lunches.

1. Anything you can make or buy in quantity and package yourself is bound to be more economical and wholesome than commercially packaged goodies. Consider cinnamon rolls, cookies, cupcakes (freeze before you wrap), cookies, trail mix, (raisins, nuts, dried fruit), potato chips, or granola bars.

2. A great way to wrap a piece of iced cake is to cut the square of cake through the middle and flip the iced top over to form a cake-and-icing sandwich.

3. Use sprouted grains in sandwiches as a change from lettuce.

4. Wrap lettuce and tomatoes separate from the sandwich to preserve crispness.

5. Save any plastic containers with tight-fitting lids to hold chips, canned fruits, leftovers, etc.

6. Batches of pudding can be put into individual containers, frozen, and then transferred from freezer to lunch bag.

7. Frozen juices and other drinks (in nonglass containers) will thaw just in time for lunch and help keep the rest of the lunch cool.

8. Raw, sliced vegetables actually become a treat when a small container of dip is tucked in with them; and large fruits (such as apples and oranges) are more convenient to eat on a tight schedule if quartered and then wrapped.

9. Want to get out of the bologna-sandwich rut? Post a takeout menu sheet from your local deli on the refrigerator and experiment with their combinations. Start with nonconventional breads such as bagels, pita or pocket bread, leftover biscuits, hot dog and hamburger buns, English muffins. Or try banana nut bread with cream cheese and jam. (Note: A thin layer of butter on any bread helps prevent soggy sandwiches.)

10. How about a surprise once in a while? Try kabobs of ham, cheese, pineapple, and cherry tomatoes on a skewer; or, if a microwave is available, plastic-wrapped burritos, pizza, or lasagna.

11. Styrofoam carryout containers will hold leftover casseroles or potatoes and gravy, and are easy to reheat in a microwave.

12. Whatever can be prepared ahead when you have a block of free time will help simplify the morning rush.

On those mornings when you just have to hurriedly whip up a peanut butter and jam sandwich, don’t forget to tuck in a quick note of love that will turn even this meal into a banquet! Gwen Haglund, Westchester, California

[illustrations] Illustrated by Preston Heiselt