Monday, April 30, 2012

May Day Help!

For Motivational Monday, I have pulled out a very short quote specifically about visiting teaching from a talk given by Julie B. Beck in the October 2009 General Conference. (Actually, the entire paragraph was incredible, and you can find it in the full talk transcribed here.)

"This is one responsibility that is certain to increase our faith and personal righteousness and strengthen our own homes and families as we become partners with the Lord."

I love how we are promised that by doing our visiting teaching we will be strengthened in several different aspects of our lives. It's that important.

Tomorrow is an opportunity to bring a little mood elevation into your sisters' lives with a May Day basket. I will entrust you to Tip Junkie's capable care here if you are in need of some May Day basket ideas (including some crafty substitute ideas if your sister is sensitive to flowers). If you need some tags for the occasion, I can help you out with some that were created with May Day in mind:

Print the pdf here.

Or you can use the tags posted here.

Have a great week! I'll be back with a VT handout idea for May by Friday.


Friday, April 27, 2012

It's Only Natural...

Tag shown folded on dotted line and attached to a package of almonds

Happy Arbor Day!

Today is Arbor Day! SOMEONE (I'll be big and won't mention their name) forgot to put "Arbor Day" on the list of April dates so conveniently located in the right sidebar near the top of this page. Sorry! And in an attempt to set things right with you, I have a little Arbor Day gift below.

 I've always loved trees--their shade, the rustling of their leaves, the pure magic of a small, almost insignificant seed taking root and growing into something magnificent. There's also the Tree of Life (Adam's and Lehi's), the Allegory of the Olive Tree, and The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to meditate upon. I wanted to design something for Arbor Day that conveyed some of the inspiration and importance of trees to help encourage our visiting teaching sisters in their lives.  I didn't think it should be just be an ordinary to/from tag, but something that could be re-purposed. A bookmark, perhaps, when cut along the dashed line.

Give it as-is, or attach it to a tree product, like a piece of fruit or even something recycled. Go nuts. (Sorry...again!)

Print the pdf from here. For personal use only.

Thanks for visiting today! I want to close out this post with a beautiful little snippet from Genesis 2:9--"And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food..." Trees were not created just for our sustenance, but also for us to enjoy their beauty. Happy Arbor Day!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Your Secret Weapon

Even though the following video clip is about a half hour long, bookmark it. Remember it. It's your secret weapon. And on a bad day, when it seems every fiery dart against visiting teaching out there is being aimed straight at you, pull this clip out of your arsenal and watch it. You'll feel renewed, uplifted, inspired, and ready to go out one more time!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is the very last week you'll be able to use the following tag (or any other handout) designed specifically for the April message. For thumbnails of free April VT handouts from various designers across the web, click on the Pinterest link in the left sidebar titled, "2012 Free Visiting Teaching Handouts" or here.

Find this tag here.
What versatility! Don't miss out! ;)

Thanks for visiting today!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Flowery Language Tags

What's up, buttercup? I have something brand-new for you:
Ode to Spring/Earth Day/May Day Tags!
(Or Flowery Language Tags for "short".)

Print the pdf here

You have possibly never come across anything as monumental as these tags before, and your mind is spinning with all the earth-shattering repercussions the preceding sentence holds for you:

  • You imagine attaching the tag to a seed packet! Then you can hand it to someone, send it off in a card or letter, or maybe punch a hole in the top of the tag and attach it to a copy of the month's message.

  •  You visualize yourself taping the tag to a Popsicle stick, and inserting it into a container as a plant marker. Incredible! What an amazing gift for Earth Day (or any other day) you've just thought up!

  • You consider taping the tag to a wooden skewer and including it with a bunch of flowers from your garden...or nursery or florist. Hmmm, isn't it almost May Day? What timing! The blossom one is just perfect for that...

These are what I like to think of as "Tokens of Affection" tags. They're just a little something to let someone know you've been thinking of them. For your VT sisters, and everyone else you'd like to acknowledge with a sweet little gift.


P. S. Buttercups are really hard to find where I live. (It's just as well. Turns out, they are poisonous?) I came across a packet of Burgess Buttercup squash seeds at Home Depot from Ferry-Morse.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday!


Actually, I do know it's not Friday. I'm a little early. Yesterday was my blog's 2nd month birthday. (Yes, even I was surprised when I found that out!) I thought I'd celebrate today with a little surprise party. So--surprise!

When I checked the stats on my blog the first week, two people from Russia, one from the Ukraine, and I were the only ones who had ever looked at it. It was then that I finally realized that a blog about Visiting Teaching was probably doomed to be a one-hit wonder every month.

On top of that, the new visiting teaching emphasis came out a couple weeks ago--the message wasn't the main priority. I thought life was all over for the blog! But as I re-read the new VT information, I realized that my blog intentions go hand-in-hand with our direction to "Stay in frequent contact through visits, phone calls, letters, e-mail, text messages, and simple acts of kindness." Visiting teaching is not a one-hit wonder every month!

I love to create corny little tokens of affection. And when I am not highlighting the new month's message or holiday ideas for our sisters, I'll share some of those tokens of affection with you. Many will be versatile so you can multi-task with them--family, other friends, and neighbors can also benefit from them, if corny actually can be considered beneficial.

Thanks for visiting! I wasn't expecting to get a hundred hits for many, many months and was astonished to find I've had over 8000. (You are such a quiet group for one that size!) I'm looking forward to the uncharted journey that's ahead.

I have a little party favor for you. I wasn't sure what flavor cupcake you like best, so three cupcake tag flavors await you here, though unfortunately only in pdf form. Have a great week!

Thanks for visiting today!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Field Trip!

I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long! I'm in a light-hearted, let's-get-out-of-the-house, spring mood today, so I thought we'd take a brief, whirlwind tour of the Twiddler House for our Monday motivation/inspiration.

The following free printables that Jen created were inspired by primary songs. If you'll take a look below and to your left, you'll undoubtedly recognize the lyric snippet that came from "Kindness Begins with Me"(!) On the right, the inspiration behind this printable came from "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus". Find the downloads here, along with a couple of other printable choices.

And of course, both of these printables illustrate the very essence that is at the heart of visiting teaching. I love the mood of the feel-good graphics combined with the lyrics.

Continuing on straight ahead, Jen still has one more printable for you, a quote from one of my favorites, Henry B. Eyring--find the printable here. Jen also offers this printable in a couple of color choices.

Another great quote combined with upbeat visuals.

Unfortunately, we've come to the close of our visit to Twiddler House today. I hope you liked Jen's printables as much as I do--and that they helped get your week off to a great start!

(Oh my goodness. She even has an etsy (gift) shop. How perfect--I can't resist. Please exit through the gift shop...)

Enjoy your visit!


Friday, April 13, 2012

The Higher Law

I love seeing different types of graphics and design, so I like looking through the Free April VT Handouts board at Pinterest and adding new printables to it from across the web. See the board here, or click on the "2012 Free Visiting Teaching Handouts" link in the sidebar to the left. It's always intriguing to see what others highlight to accompany the full message printout.

As always, links for the official message in html and pdf form are at the top, to the left.

I was caught slightly off-guard when I came across someone who felt that this month's message was pedestrian--a slight contrast from my opinion that this is an epic message. Quite a few people mentioned that this message felt different from all the others that have preceded it. My own feeling is that we received a "higher law" of visiting teaching this month.

Quote from Julie B. Beck, Oct 2011 General Conference.

Broadcasting the message once a month, then "over and out" until next month is officially a thing of the past. The suggestions given in this month's message about how to love, watch over, strengthen a sister are open-ended--not a checklist that can be marked off in a single day. They are ongoing throughout the month and belong in your daily planner instead of on a to-do list.

We already knew this information all along. But now, it's time for action. We've been charged with the responsibility for living it. In I Am a Child of God, the lyrics: "Teach me all that I must know" were replaced by "Teach me all that I must do". Knowledge has never been enough. "Becoming" also matters.

Here is the part of the message that I feel is the higher law. We will know if our visiting teaching labors have born fruit if our sisters can say:

1. My visiting teacher helps me grow spiritually.
2. I know my visiting teacher cares deeply about me and my family.
3. If I have problems, I know my visiting teacher will take action without being asked.

The first tag, "Measured by the depth of our charity" is here. It's on a 4 by 6" background, 300 dpi.
The second tag, "Pure Fruit" is here. And since these are such huge concepts, what could I do but make them 4 by 6", 300 dpi, right? Click on the links, then click on the images to enlarge them, then right-click to save to your computer.

You can upload the files to have them professionally printed as photos.

Thanks for visiting today! Have a great weekend.

NOTE: You can cut the background off the tags if you'd like, or save a little time by leaving the photo intact.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Focusing on Others

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program…

Last week was exciting with Easter and the strengthening of Visiting Teaching, but it's time to settle back into the regular routine again.

Actually, I need to confide something to you--Motivational Monday isn't going over so well. I know. The stunned silence I currently hear is to be expected. There will be some changes to come in the next month. But for now, it's back to just Motivational Monday and Freebie Friday for the upcoming week. (I'm teaching RS this Sunday! Still have to get to work on the live orchestral background score, the PowerPoint presentation and Brunch Bar. OK, kidding, but I do have to put in a little more time on the lesson this week!) In the meantime, I came across a very short clip about Visiting Teaching by former general RS president, Julie B. Beck. Take a quick look! It's about 1 1/2 minutes, and just might be some of the best time you spend today...

I wanted to quote something from my upcoming lesson--GA Smith, chapter 7, p. 73 (My emphasis added.) It dovetails so well with this video clip and the VT emphasis on ministering to our sisters:

"The treasures that we will find when we go to the other side will be those that we have laid up there by ministering to our Father's other sons and daughters with whom we have associated here. He has made this possible for all of us, and during our stay here we will be happier serving our fellows than we could possibly be in any other way."

Until Friday...have a great week!

Enjoy your visit!


Friday, April 6, 2012

A Little Easter Goodness

This is an Easter tradition from my childhood. I don't know where my mom came up with the idea, but since we were incredibly obedient children, we would always oblige her by making them without complaint--especially once we finally figured out the best way to dispose of the one or two that "accidentally" didn't turn out too well.

First, a warning. This is a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." After I photographed everything, I realized I'd remembered everything in the wrong order! Cut the bunny first, then draw the face. You have a better chance of getting the bunny's face in the right place that way. But my motto is "Quirky is cute." AKA, "Done is good." Even quirky-looking bunnies have a habit of disappearing right before your very eyes. Just relax and have fun.

Find the best side of the marshmallow. That's where you'll put the face. Starting on the top of the marshmallow opposite from the face , cut a wedge shape in the marshmallow with children's scissors (they're smaller and easier to handle), catching both the top and the side of the marshmallow in the cut. Snip it most of the way across the marshmallow, but do not cut the wedge completely off.

(TIP: The cleaner the scissors, the cleaner the cut. You might want to keep a cup of clean
water nearby and something for wiping the scissors clean and for drying them from time to time.)

Repeat, cutting another wedge on the opposite side of the marshmallow. These are the ears. Mom always tried to coax them to stand up, but no matter what she tried, these pretty-much always seemed to be floppy-eared bunnies.

Side view.

(Oops. There shouldn't be a face. Pretend you don't see that.) To create the front legs, start in the middle of the marshmallow, making a sideways cut through to the outside. Repeat for other leg.

Side view. I put a jelly bean between his legs so they'd stand out better for you to see.

Now it's time to decorate the cut marshmallow. You just need a drop of red liquid food coloring and a pointed toothpick.

Draw the face however you'd like by dipping the toothpick point into the food color and drawing on the marshmallow with it. In this example, the eyes are about 1/2-inch apart, and the "smile" is about 1/8-inch wide.

Draw a line connecting both ends of the "smile". You've formed the nose.

Create whiskers on both sides of the nose. If you'd like, add a marshmallow tail--dip one end of a mini marshmallow into a little bowl of clean water, squeegee the excess water off on the rim of the bowl, then press it where you want it to stick. Done! Mom would always put these on a chocolate cake.

But wait, there's more...

Marshmallow Posy Cupcake Toppers.

Making the posies is easy--if the marshmallows cooperate and stick together. For me, maybe 1 out of 4 or 5 posies does not cooperate. I don't understand why they don't stick together--it's just one of those odd facts of life. Like bright sunlight making you sneeze.

You need mini marshmallows, a small bowl of water with barely any water in it, and two pieces of waxed paper.

Working on one piece of waxed paper, set aside a center marshmallow and 6 petal marshmallows. Dip the side of a petal marshmallow in water, squeegee off the excess water against the bowl rim and press the petal against the side of the center marshmallow. Repeat with remaining petal marshmallows. The posy seems to stick together better if the moistened part of the petal marshmallow is pressed against the center marshmallow and to a petal marshmallow beside it.

Do not try to force the last marshmallow to touch both petals on either side of it. Pressing it against the center marshmallow and against only one petal is fine. In fact, it leaves a nice place for you to later insert a toothpick. (See above.)

The bottom of the posy will probably be damp, so carefully pick it up and turn it upside down to allow it to dry on the 2nd piece of waxed paper.

Cut 3" pieces of green curling ribbon and tie around toothpicks. Once dried, insert a toothpick into the posy to create a cupcake topper.

NOTE: You can dip a toothpick into clean water and moisten the side of a marshmallow with it to glue the marshmallows together instead. This works well if one marshmallow isn't sticking to the others on one side.

I just wanted to show you a transport idea I learned in my local RS--put your cupcakes inside a little solo cup, then wrap it up in a cello bag. It helps protect the frosting from getting messed up AND messing up the inside of the bag. A mini cupcake is shown above (that's why the Jelly Belly beans fit around the front of it), but regular-sized cupcakes fit it, too.

You can find the link for the gift tag in this post.
Wishing you a very happy Easter!

Enjoy your visit!


Free for All

It's Friday! Fridays are already a favorite, but let's take things up a notch with a free little gift for you.

I've seen a lot of great free Easter tags coming through Pinterest. They're scattered throughout my Easter Pinterest board, link on the left side. But there was nothing really VT-related. What? No better opportunity than Easter to think of a sister, right?

I had no choice but to create a little tag with visiting teachers in mind saying, "We're only just a hop, skip, & a jump away!" I wanted this to tag be versatile, though, so, there are two others also on the page: "Hatched something up for you..." and "Easter's on its Way!" Just a sweet little way to show someone you're thinking of them!

The link is here. Click the little printer button that you'll see at the top left side of the page.

UPDATE: I recently found the following free printable, and think it would be a great one for visiting teachers. It's here.

Enjoy your visit! Wishing you a Happy Easter!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Relief and Rescue

Who (besides me and my frosting-obsessed brain) remembers the life preserver cupcakes from yesterday?
Original source might be here?

They inspired me to make this quick tag:

300 dpi, 3.64" by 6 "
Click here, then click on the resulting picture to enlarge it. Right-click the enlarged version to save it to your computer.

If you'd like, you can attach the tag to a copy of this month's Visiting Teaching message
Use some inspiration like this:

from the Princess and the Frog blog

To come up with this:

Life Saver attached to tag with jute.
(And to a package of Snackwell's Fudge Pretzels shaped like life-preservers.)


to some other related ideas I came across on Pinterest:

Life Preserver Cookies from Cookie Twist

Life preserver cupcake from Andrea at It's the Life

Or create life preservers made from mini-donuts like these at Glam Candies.

Or even Life Saver Marshmallow pops here.And unable to resist a nod to Utah's legendary enjoyment of things jello, there's also this:

Instructions here.

I can actually envision this jello panorama inside a clear plastic solo cup, slipped inside a cello bag that is gathered at the top with the tag attached.

It's amazing how inspiring a cupcake can be!

Enjoy your visit!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Little Distractions...

Writing yesterday's post was really hard. Since this month's Visiting Teaching changes are a watershed event, I wanted to say something about them. But I'm just me--not a VT authority. Easily solved; quote someone with authority instead.

Life is joyful. I wanted the post to be kind of light-hearted, but definitely not light-minded. It's sometimes hard to find the correct balance. So I decided to try a little thematic approach instead of humor--water; rescue; help. Solved.

Unfortunately, with Sister Beck's theme of rescue so strongly in my mind, the following cupcake image from pinterest kept popping into my head. I could hardly keep my thoughts off it:

This was possibly due more to the frosting factor than from the inspiration factor, but just in case, here they are today...

I think they might have originated here. Unfortunately, there are no detailed instructions, nor frosting recipe!

I had so many concerns, I never imagined that cupcakes, of all things, would end up being the factor that almost derailed my...Hmm. Maybe they'd make a cute VT gift. Since I can't get them off my mind, I might as well think about working on a tag for them...

Enjoy your visit!


Monday, April 2, 2012

The Day the World Changed

(Quote from "Added Focus on Ministering Strengthens Visiting Teaching", Ensign, April 2012, p. 76.) Click on this link, then click on it again to enlarge it, then right-click to save it. 4 by 6", 300 dpi. You can upload the image file to a photo processor to have it printed as a photo if you'd like.

Did you feel that?
(The standard question always asked in SoCal after a small tremor.)

Not only did we get a brand-new RS general presidency on Saturday, but there was also a perceptible shift in the direction of Visiting Teaching on Sunday, April 1. Better yet, a sea change. And we will probably never be the same again. I teach G. A. Smith in RS so I am not officially trained to assist in this. I admit to feeling a little lost at sea. But remain calm--do not be alarmed. Help is on its way. Actually, help is already here! Look up to the left under the heading "VT Training Resources" for a few official links.

To me, it seems there are basically 2 main changes for us as Visiting Teachers. I'll call the first, A., the emphasis on ministering as more important than just getting the message out; the other, B., what we report:

Essentially the Same, but Different
--(A. and B. and emphasis added)

A. "...There have been times when sisters have focused more on completing visits, teaching lessons, and leaving notices when they have stopped by their sisters' homes...Sisters of Relief Society have at times imposed many written and unwritten rules in their desire to understand how to strengthen one another."

"With so much need for relief and rescue in the lives of sisters and their families today, our Heavenly Father needs us to follow a higher path and demonstrate our discipleship by sincerely caring for His children..."

B. "Leaders are now taught to ask for reports about the spiritual and temporal well-being of sisters and their families and about service rendered. "
Julie B. Beck, Ensign, Nov. 2011, as quoted in Ensign, March 2012, p. 29.

How Has Visiting Teaching Been Strengthened?, Ensign March 2012, p. 32. (A. and B. and emphasis added):

A. "Visiting teaching is not just a monthly visit; it is ministering. To watch over and strengthen sisters in their individual needs, visiting teachers have ongoing contact with them through visits, phone calls, e-mails, letters, or other means..."

B. "Visiting teachers are asked to report special needs and service given--in other words, their ministering. Count the caring instead of just counting visits."

Wonder what "ministering" means?
(To save, click on tag, then click on it again to enlarge it, then right-click to save it. 300 dpi.)

So, visiting teaching is kind of the same, but different! It's stronger. And starting this month, we are being trained in some of the ways we can better minister to our sisters.

For instance, in April, the visiting teaching message shares the ways "we can follow that higher path and demonstrate our discipleship." You'll remember seeing the following image in chapter 7 of Daughters in My Kingdom, p. 123. It's the exact same information as found in this month's message. You've already been prepped for this --so, no surprises. It feels very natural.

The reporting part is where I'm a little lost, but I'm sure our ward VT leadership will clarify things for us as it becomes necessary. I came across a report chart by talented Kristin at inkablinka that might help you keep track of your monthly acts of ministry if you'd like one. It's here.

I am inspired by your dedication! Thanks for visiting today.

P.S. Sorry for all the updates! Reflective thinking at work. Sort of.