Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Signing Off

This is hard to do because I've enjoyed it so much, but I'm suspending my blog. I told myself when I started it that if it got in the way of plein air painting, I'd have to stop. And it did. Completely. (I'm writing from time-out.)

Hopefully, I'll add things from time to time, but I can't do it on a regular basis anymore. There are a lot of great VT resources out there already (like inkablinka, mishmashmom, visitingteachingsurprise, etc.), so I know I'm leaving you in very capable hands. 

Wishing you the best in your VT calling--


Monday, May 21, 2012

Indirect Answers

I mentioned earlier this month that if a certain theme keeps intruding itself into my life, it feels like I didn't pay enough attention to it the first time around. And I'd better get with the program. Right away. That happened again this past weekend. I have a degree in art, but for some unknown reason, the David O. McKay School of Education seems to have adopted me--I receive their quarterly magazine. The spring edition recently arrived and I was intrigued with a manufactured conversation by Russell T. Osguthorpe found in Agency and the Pursuit of Learning (which, by the way, reminded me quite a bit of Elder Bednar's book, Increase in Learning, --yet another topic hitting me on the head recently!)

Where you see quotation marks, Osguthorpe has incorporated direct excerpts from The Abundance of the Heart by Arthur Henry King. The last sentence is the crowning jewel of the exchange:

Arthur: “One of the mistakes we make over and over again in life is to go directly for the things we think are important.”
Russ: Are you saying that we should not pursue knowledge we think is important?
Arthur: I said not to go directly for things we think are important.
Russ: You mean like setting our hearts on riches?
Arthur: Yes, but more. “If we aim at self-fulfillment, we shall never be fulfilled.”
Russ: Are you saying happiness is a by-product of something else?
Arthur: Yes, but I don’t like the word by-product. People talk about getting an education, but “if we aim at education, we shall never become educated.”
Russ: Education seems like a fairly important goal to aim for, but you’re saying that we should not go for it directly.
Arthur: Yes. Even “if we aim at salvation, we shall never be saved. These things are indirect, supreme results of doing something else; and the something else is service, it is righteousness, it is trying to do the right thing, the thing that needs to be done at each moment.”

This was strongly on my mind when yesterday, my wonderful VT said something to the effect that feeling the love of Christ helps our testimonies to grow stronger. If we want stronger testimonies, serving others, which develops charity, the pure love of Christ, can do it. (Again, an indirect approach through service...)

Then, today, I came across this quote shared in the March 1995 Ensign article, "Learning to Cherish Visiting Teaching."

"I no longer tried to be the “perfect” visiting teacher—I was too busy being Ann’s friend."

 If you read the whole article, you'll find the same message. It appears that whatever it is that you want to improve in, including visiting teaching, concentrate on serving, on doing the right thing at the moment. The results might not be obvious at first, but almost like the photo at the top that eventually comes into focus as a rose window, miracles can happen.

Thanks for visiting today!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Grad Congrats!

My niece and her husband graduated from college this week! I thought today would be a perfect time to throw them a little graduation party. Unfortunately, online or by mail. They live over a thousand miles away. But if you have a visiting teaching sister who is also graduating this year, (or you suddenly end up with one fresh from college) these ideas might be a perfect way for you to help her celebrate, too.

First off, here's the ever-popular subway art download that you can turn into a graduation card or maybe a framed gift:

 And there are so many cute little gift ideas out there. This tag download is from caramel potatoes--

Check out their site for a couple of cute presentation ideas for this tag--and maybe pick up a couple of cookie recipes while you're at it!

And of course, it couldn't be a real party without cupcakes. I think these are my favorites--from Anna & Blue Paperie:

That hit the spot! I found a few other ideas I couldn't post today, so I created a small pinterest board of graduation/grad party ideas here for you to check out.

Hope you have a great weekend!
Thanks for visiting today,


Monday, May 14, 2012


Created and posted by Jodie at countrygirlchronicles here

In GA Smith, #8--Temple Blessings for Ourselves and Our Ancestors, I was struck by beauty of our symbiotic relationship with our ancestors.We can't leave them behind and expect to receive exaltation. There are also immediate blessings for us when we reach out and care for those around us here and now, as described in the following studies:

•A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reveals that volunteering activates the part of your brain that produces oxytocin, a bonding hormone, strengthening the emotional connection between people.
•Another study showed that a small gesture like sharing a hug or giving a pat on the back is also proven to raise oxytonin.
•A UCLA brain scan study showed that these same acts of kindness also trigger the release of dopamine, relieving our stress and giving us pleasure.

“...ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you..."  Mosiah 2:24

President Uchtdorf's quote shown at the top adds "answers to prayer" to the list of benefits received when serving the Lord and others. It's such a miraculous paradox how in helping others, we are actually helping ourselves...probably far more than we realize.
Thanks for visiting today! Have a great week.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Well Wishes!

In keeping with the illness theme I unintentionally started earlier this week, I thought I'd share a post by Mandy Douglass who blogs at "It Will Change Your Life". Mandy had several ideas for creating little gifts for someone who is going through a hard time or illness--of course, visiting teaching sisters come immediately to mind. A photo of these projects is below. Her suggestions can be found here.

And I thought I'd give one more shout out to katherinemaries.com , where they created a Sunshine Box for a family going through a very hard time--overall, it's just a slight bit more grandiose in scale, but the contents might even be broken down and given separately instead. Find more Sunshine Box photos here.

It might be a good idea to keep a few of these things on hand to have available as a little pick-me-up when the unthinkable strikes your sister or her family. (Hope you'll never need to use them!) Have a great weekend and happy Mother's Day!

Thanks for visiting today--


Monday, May 7, 2012

More Than Words

When Michelle of Noisy Pancakes was called to be the Visiting Teaching Coordinator of her ward, she created some great printable designs from visiting teaching quotes and posted them here. That's one of my favorites. I really like this next one, too...

 One sister commented that she printed Michelle's quotes out, framed them, and used them for game prizes at their ward's VT conference. I love it when people share their great ideas! (Hint, hint...)

I have a bug today that makes my "normal" health problems seem rather appealing by comparison, so please enjoy exploring Michelle's Noisy Pancakes blog for more visiting teaching inspiration. Hopefully, everything here will be good again by Friday!

Thanks for visiting--have a great week!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Thanks a Bunch!

It's May? That means Memorial Day is just around the corner--the kick-off of the summer season where I live. Before you know it, you'll have bags of bananas turning brown before you even pull into your driveway after a quick trip to the grocery store. Noooo!

There's no cause be alarmed anymore when you find yourself with an overabundance of ripe bananas. Just remember that AshLee at Two Penny Blue Mom blog has a great visiting teaching (or even Home Teaching) gift solution--banana bread--and a cute little tag printable to accompany it.

A year or so ago, I was inundated with so many ripe bananas that I couldn't stomach the thought of making my "Old Faithful" recipe ever again in this lifetime. Even though it was our 4-H club's secret weapon. The one that always won a gold ribbon at the fair. I found Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread here. And the Peanut Butter Banana Bread here looked promising, too. But with the exception of the slimmed down version here (which I re-fatted by subbing a whole egg for the egg whites), I've never quite had the heart (or courage) to fully turn my back on Old Faithful. Yet. I think I'm almost there, though.

If you have a link to a great Banana Bread to suggest, you're welcome to leave it below. I haven't checked Pinterest yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a gooey chocolate chip pudding layer with cookie dough banana bread recipe pinned somewhere...Think I'll go take a look.

Thanks for visiting today. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crafting the May VT Message

This month, Visiting teachers will choose their message from the April 2012 General Conference. We are asked to prayerfully select something that will best meet the needs of our sisters. My Ensign hasn't arrived yet. Now what? One way to search for a relevant talk is by scanning through the index of conference talks. A link to an index of conference talks is located at the top of the left sidebar.

Another way to search for a message idea is to watch the video of Conference Highlights here.

About a week or so before conference, I read something that made me squirm. The "Reader's Digest" version of it follows:

During a conversation, a nonmember said to his neighbor, “You say you have prophets and apostles? And twice a year they reveal the word of God?”


“What did they say the last time?”

The member couldn’t think of the details of a single talk.

His friend responded, “You mean to tell me that God speaks to man in our day and you can’t remember what He said?” (from General Conference—No Ordinary Blessing by Dieter F. Uchtdorf,  Ensign, September 2011)

It was March, and even though I had taken copious notes during the October conference, I was also drawing a blank on what was said. Never again! Someone suggested taking less notes in order to listen better. I gave it a try, but it turned out that I am more fully engaged when I take notes. And now I don't have helpful notes, either! If you are in a similar situation, you might know someone who posted their notes online like those here or you might try the highlights from LDS Living here since written summaries or notes might help lead you to the best talk for your sisters' circumstances.

Another search option--you might see a great quote printable that could point you toward the right talk. These are from Sarah at And Spiritually Thinking, a blog that is sharing free printables created from general conference quotes.

Find these printables here

There are also some great free quote printables at the mormonmommyblogs (seen below). 

Find these and other conference printables here.

I've noticed many conference quote printables are available across the web. I'll keep posting them on my pinterest board as I come across them. The link to this board is always in the left sidebar under the "Pinterest" heading. The board is called "2012 Free Visiting Teaching Handouts."

Have a great May! Thanks for visiting today.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May VT Message Handout

How many times have you read something from the 2006 general Relief Society broadcast--this year? Not exactly a priority on my daily planner list, either. But somehow, I don't remember why or how, this past March I found myself reading a story that President Gordon B. Hinckley shared in September of 2006 about a single mother who felt alone and overwhelmed. I could easily envision her looking across the darkened street toward her home, wishing for a heavenly night's escape from her cares and responsibilities. My heart went out to her. And then came the beautiful conclusion. Unfortunately,  it wasn't long before daily routines and other obligations intruded and hijacked my brain. I forgot all about the story.

A week or so later, during the Saturday afternoon conference session, David S. Baxter began retelling the very same account. My inner alarm went off. It felt like no accident--this story was definitely for me and so I needed to remember it. But once again, I forgot it. That is, I forgot until I started browsing yesterday through conference talks for something to share with you this month. From the moment that I discovered this story (again!), everything came together effortlessly for May's handout. Here is the story as related by David S. Baxter in his conference address, Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents:

"In the general Relief Society meeting of September 2006, President Gordon B. Hinckley related an experience shared by a divorced single mother of seven children then ranging in ages from 7 to 16. She had gone across the street to deliver something to a neighbor. She said:

“As I turned around to walk back home, I could see my house lighted up. I could hear echoes of my children as I had walked out of the door a few minutes earlier. They were saying: ‘Mom, what are we going to have for dinner?’ ‘Can you take me to the library?’ ‘I have to get some poster paper tonight.’ Tired and weary, I looked at that house and saw the light on in each of the rooms. I thought of all of those children who were home waiting for me to come and meet their needs. My burdens felt heavier than I could bear.

“I remember looking through tears toward the sky, and I said, ‘Dear Father, I just can’t do it tonight. I’m too tired. I can’t face it. I can’t go home and take care of all those children alone. Could I just come to You and stay with You for just one night? …’

“I didn’t really hear the words of reply, but I heard them in my mind. The answer was: ‘No, little one, you can’t come to me now. … But I can come to you.’”

This story vividly illustrates that Heavenly Father is mindful of our single sisters, most especially in their struggles of  feeling alone and overwhelmed. I do not know the heartaches of being a single parent--I can't pretend to know exactly how this sister felt that night. But one of the reasons my heart went out to her so strongly was because I've known my own dark days. I've had a chronic illness since I was 14 and have had some seemingly eternal days of weakness, inability, and pain that caused me to yearn for the very same heavenly relief. This beautiful story reminds us Heavenly Father's love and support--His perfect love and support--are always with us here, in every difficulty we face.

You can print the pdf of the main part of the handout here (overall, it's 5.5 by 8.5", so it comes 2 to a page). You can also choose to print out, cut out, and attach the optional star layer that's pictured in the version at the very top of the page. The star layer shows the prayer of this sister. It can be lifted to reveal the response. I put some barely perceptible hearts around the star to symbolize that Heavenly Father's love is constant, even when we don't notice it there. And if you'd like to include something extra with your handout, a Milky Way bar would be a great tie-in.

Print out the star pdf here.

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."    Romans 8: 38, 39

Thanks for visiting today!