Monday, September 26, 2016

5 Ways to Help Your Kids Feel the Spirit on the Sabbath

Sunday mornings with kids. Kids on Sunday mornings. Mornings with kids.....on Sundays. How many different ways can I say that before you develop a twitch? Sunday mornings with kids is probably rated a zero on a scale of 1 to 10. Why? Because Satan don't want no church goers!

I'm kidding (I'm not, but you know what I mean). Sunday mornings just have a way of getting a little out of hand most weeks. Are you grouchy by the time you all finally get loaded into the car? Maybe a little stressed out or frazzled? Chances are, if that's how you're feeling, your kids are feeling it, too. At the very least, they aren't feeling excited or wanting to go.

So, how can we fix that? Kids typically see church as a to-do. If we're being honest, we all feel that way a lot of the time, too. We show up, sit through it or teach it and get out of there. Our kids, much like school, show up and sit through it so they can get out of there.

Teaching them to find how to enjoy church or feel the spirit can be tricky. However, kids deserve more credit. They are often very sensitive to the spirit and very capable of seeing the importance of a lesson. We just need to provide and encourage those moments for them as often as we can. If we are willing to find just a few things to tweak for our Sundays, we are acknowledging that our children deserve and have the capacity to feel and grow just as we do.

Here are 5 ways that you can help your kids feel the spirit on the sabbath.

1. The Friend
You know the song! Saturday is a special day.....Keeping the space around you tidy does help you feel the spirit, and with kids it's no different! Making sure their room is clean with their church clothes out each Saturday is so helpful! 

In addition, I send my kids to bed with the Friend magazine on Saturday nights. I pick out a couple of stories for them to read or activity to do and I try to base it on what their primary class or sharing time lesson will be about the next day. They are able to start shifting their focus to Christ in their cozy clean rooms with their church clothes in view.

This small change has had a huge effect on how my kids feel the next morning. It helps set their mood before they even wake up Sunday morning. They are able to fall asleep the night before feeling peaceful and "in the zone" ;).

 2. Gospel Centered Music
With how many electronic devices we have these days, there are so many ways to access this kind of music. I set my Ipad out in the living room with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir channel on Pandora. It's the first thing my kids hear when they get out of bed each Sunday morning. Singing along, humming along and simply having the music fill our home gives an immediate and lasting feeling throughout the day.

As we know, music has such power to lift us up and feel the spirit. Doctrine and Covenants shares with us:
"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me and it shall be answered by a blessings upon their heads." (D&C 25:12)

 Wholesome and uplifting music can have a great impact on how we feel on and about our Sundays. Joseph F. Smith gave a wonderful thought as he addressed the choir; 

"When we listen to this choir . . . we listen to music, and music is truth. Good music is gracious praise of God. It is delightsome to the ear, and it is one of our most acceptable methods of worshipping God.. ...My soul is always lifted up and my spirit cheered and comforted when I hear good music. I rejoice in it very much indeed." (Joseph F. Smith CR1899Oct:69)

3. Church Activities Jar
You've probably seen this idea floating around on Pinterest at one time or another. But actually taking the time to put one together takes some effort. Each Saturday night I pull out the activities jar and set it on the kitchen table. It's one of the first things they see on Sunday morning! It's just a good reminder that they won't be doing their regular day activities, but that they have other options that are fun to choose from so they don't get discouraged.

I looked at a few lists of ideas and picked the ones I thought were realistic for our family and threw in a few ideas of my own. Then it's just a matter of printing them off, cutting them out and sticking them in a jar! It doesn't have to be fancy and you can even just scribble them down on slips of paper instead of printing them all out.

Our rules are that whatever they choose, they have to do it for at least 15 minutes (and they can't put it back to re-pick). This keeps them from going for the jar simply because they know "bake a treat" is in there. They have to be willing to pick even knowing that some kind of service or their dreaded "go for a drive" is in there, too :). 

This change has really been a fun one for our family. I've seen my kids end up doing things they should but usually don't do on Sundays (like call Grandma and Grandpa!). 

4. Media
This is somewhat of a debate for church goers. Do we watch TV on Sundays? Do we not? What if it's a Disney show? That's not what I'm here to talk about. Every family is different and what is right for you is right for you!

But, if you're looking for a change, or simply something to add in to your Sundays media-wise that can help your kids feel the spirit, youtube is the best!

For us, we decided we didn't really want the TV on Sundays. Not for the regular day to day shows, anyway. So, I created my own playlist on youtube with video's I felt were appropriate and I chromecast it to the TV in our bedroom. It has a mixture of Mormon Messages that I think the kids will like, some gospel songs that have interesting videos with them, or even talks from General Conference that have video's with them I've found to be really awesome! You can check out my own playlist right here or you can make your own!

I've really loved having that on and playing in the bedroom. With the church music out in the living room and kitchen area, the sound from the videos in my room will flow out into the hallway and suck the kids in :). I'll find my kids in there watching for a while and they'll come and go. Even my almost 2 year old sits on my bed and watches intently.  As many great gospel centered videos that there are, I did sneak in Let it Go by Alex Boye  ;).

5. FHE
Family Home Evening can be hard to be consistent with! Coming up with a lesson, rounding up the kids and getting them to sit quietly, all of that can be a bit much to look forward to in the day when you've already reached your limits at 10am :). 

What I've done to keep things simple and also help them feel the spirit each Sunday, is plan my FHE lessons along with the Sharing time lessons. Whatever sharing time lesson is coming up the next Sunday, that's the lesson we will have for FHE. This is a bit easy for me since I teach sharing time once a month and I have access to the lesson outlines. The sharing time outline book is available online to download if you're interested.

This gets them thinking about the particular topic at the beginning of the week in order for them to apply it in their daily lives. It also helps them on Sundays when sharing time begins because they can contribute with thoughts and experiences from their week. Seeing how learning that lesson and spending time thinking about it fits into their lives opens the door for them to feel the spirit as they share those things on Sunday. 

Plus, we all know how kids loooove to know the answers to questions ;). 

So there you have it! There are clearly many many more ways and ideas and I would love for you to share any ideas you have as well! I am definitely not perfect at doing all of these things all the time, but I cannot deny the changes that they have made with the over all impact. 

I encourage you to give one or two of these a try that you haven't done before and let me know how it goes!

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Pineapple Effect

The Pineapple Effect: The memory of a seemingly insignificant moment having a lasting impact on your future thoughts and choices.

I made that up, so I'm sure there's an actual word for that same definition :). But for this, we're going to call it the Pineapple Effect. Pineapples will always remind me of my first time trying fresh pineapple. I had never tried fresh pineapple until I was 22 years old. I had just never bothered and always assumed it was as disgusting as they were to me on pizza. When I tried fresh pineapple I fell in love and never looked back! They always remind me to try new things, never assume you know the full story and never take yourself too seriously.

To be honest, this has been a long time coming. I've debated on this for months and months now, but have officially come to the conclusion that this recipe blog will no long be a recipe blog. At least, not just recipes. It sounds so trivial, but for some reason I had a hard time accepting that idea of including other bits of my writing here.

Mixing things up on a recipe blog seemed strange. More than anything, I've always felt a little awkward putting myself out there as a serious writer with valid things to say or with fun stories I've created. My first passion has always been writing. I remember daydreaming a vision of myself as an 8 year old in the corner of my room at my very own desk with my very own typewriter (go ahead and laugh. I'll wait..) furiously working to meet another book deadline.

I've always tried to keep writing as a form of an outlet for me. Being a stay at home mom has a way of tugging at everything you have to give, So I've felt it was important to have something that reminded me who I was, even if what I was writing was stupid or didn't make any sense. It's just what I needed for myself to stay myself. So here I am, taking a serious whack at it. Even though it's a big reach for me and I'm secretly scared to death that people will read whatever I write and judge me. I've felt very strongly that I need to put myself out there with what I have to say.

I did have a separate blog to give myself an outlet, but it gave me sooo many problems. I hated working with it because I couldn't do exactly what I wanted with it. So I just completely abandoned it. Now here I am, meshing things together and hoping the combination of everything works out. Yikes.

I guess we'll just go with the fact that my LDS centered blog is called Hot Cookin' Mama for life. Which, by the way, I swear I am not a self centered weirdo. The name of my blog originates from way back when. I think I was around 12 years old or so when my friend and I decided to break out her parents video camera and try to make our own cooking show. We called ourselves the Hot Cookin Mama's. So when I started my recipe blog, I made it just for myself not thinking anyone else would ever see it and went with my "original" cooking name ;). So, please excuse that. It's here to stay.

I hope you'll join me in this new, weird mashup of a website. I have a great first non-recipe post coming up for you!
5 Ways to Help Your Kids Feel the Spirit on the Sabbath

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Egg McMuffin

Welcome to Hot Cookin' Mama, My Kids Favorite Breakfast edition ;). But seriously, this is my kids favorite breakfast. They'd prefer this over the ones from McDonalds or other fast food, and that's saying something because they really love those.

These are really very simple to make, so I've got them on the breakfast menu once a week. You could of course change this to your liking. Using sausage instead of the ham, for one thing, would be a yummy change!

I know this isn't the most amazing picture, but we're entering into daylight savings time where everything is darker all the time so it's a bit of a challenge finding good lighting in the place I live. 

What you will need:
  • English muffins (I get "extra crisp")
  • 1 slice Canadian Bacon (usually found in a package of about 6 in the refrigerated section by the bacon.)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 slice of cheese
  • Cook your egg all the way through
  • While that's cooking, throw your english muffin slices in the toaster
  • Heat up your canadian bacon slice. If it's nice and hot and browned it's done
  • Butter your slices of english muffin
  • Build your breakfast sandwich!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Maintaining Lemon Water

If you've been reading about the health benefits of drinking warm lemon water each morning on an empty stomach but not exactly sure how to go about that, this might be a great idea for you!

I had been interested in giving it a try for months and months, but every time I went for it, I wasn't sure how to maintain the whole thing. I didn't love juicing a lemon every single morning when I could barely open my eyes, nor did I have the time while cooking breakfast for the kids, packing lunches and getting them off to school.

So here we have what just so happens to be a great solution and you only need what's lying around your kitchen (unless you don't have any kind of juicer. I just use a good old fashion kind which you can find for cheap!).

Once you've juiced your lemons you can put them in your ice cube tray. Just pop one out into your mug of warm water each morning and voila!

The nitty gritty: It still might sound like a lot of work. I juiced 10 lemons here and it filled 14 slots in my tray. It took me about 10 minutes. So the way I look at it is that I spent 10 minutes juicing and only have to do it every 2 weeks.

Now, as far as the water to lemon juice ratio, everyone has their different ideas. Typically, 1/2 C of warm water with enough juice from half a lemon is standard. I figure that 1 cube for that 1/2 C is pretty good!

About the taste. If you're a tea drinker, this will taste better than any tea I've ever tried ;) (I hate tea). It's not delicious, but it's not gross and it's not daunting to drink. So do with that info what you will!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Kielbasa Corn

It sounds so simple. Turkey Kielbasa and corn. Now I'm trying to figure out how I lived my life before it. I seriously stared at my computer for a few minutes trying to figure out what to call this. So act like it's something that sounds really delicious and measures up to the unbelievable yumyumness this has. Oo! Yumyumcorn. Kielyumcorn. Yumcornkiel. Kielbasayum!

My husband and I have been putting it on our menu almost every week since the day we first tried it and we obsess over the leftovers. He of course likes it more with onions in it.

That's the beauty of this thing, you can add whatever you want and it'll be great! P
robably not "whatever" you want, but nearly. Heck, take these two ingredients camping and wrap it in some tin foil together to cook over the fire!

I actually like my kielbasa browned a lot more than this, like almost burnt coloring. But I wasn't paying attention while I was shopping because my son brought "moo-moo" (his cow) with us and was mooing at me and demanding I stare at him instead of shop.

So, I grabbed some kind of sausage type stuff that wasn't turkey kielbasa and I didn't love the way it browned or tasted but....we can pretend it's the good stuff here.

What you will need:
  • 6-8 ears of corn
  • 2 turkey kielbasa 
  • Garlic Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Onions, peppers, etc. (optional)
  • Shuck and boil your corn for 10-15 minutes depending on the texture you like
  • While that's boiling, slice your kielbasa into coins
  • When it's done boiling, set your corn on the side and drain the water from your pot
  • Dump your kielbasa coins into that same pot and start to brown the sides (if you're planning on adding onions or other vegetables, go ahead and toss those in for a bit before adding the kielbasa in)
  • While the kielbasa is browning, cut the corn off of the cob
  • When the kielbasa is browned, add the corn into the pot with the kielbasa and mix together with seasonings

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Homemade Brownies

I have a special baker being featured on my blog today! She has had many successes in the baking world, and today she outdid herself by completing a recipe from scratch perfectly. This recipe definitely deserves a spot on the blog! So, let's get to it! Here she is.........

My little 9 year old daughter. 

She has been absolutely obsessed with baking ever since watching the Kids Baking Championship on the Food Network. She vowed to be on the show someday and has been hard at work ever since. We do little baking lessons just here at home. We tackle one recipe a month like so:
1st week: Intro to recipe. Give tips, give help and educate.
2nd week: Review. I'm there to help if needed but stay pretty hands off and quiet otherwise.
3rd week: Test. No help from me in any way shape or form and we just hope for the best! Mistakes are how we learn so we don't sweat it too much :).
4th week: Perfect. Make it again to take to some friends or neighbors. This ensures confidence in skill since it most likely won't be able to be tested before sending them off to someone else.

Well, my kids had only had their intro (walk-through) on brownies when I came down with a pretty crazy sickness that lasted 2 weeks. They decided to lock me in my room to rest while they took on the brownies by themselves without any help. Needless to say, they were amazing! So Anna got really into the brownie thing and can't stop making them. She tried out this recipe today from the Recipe Rebel and it's a fam favorite now! 

They are exactly what most people want from a brownie. Rich and gooey (but not so gooey that it feels underdone), yet can be held without falling apart. Oh, so delicious!

What you will need:
  • 1 C butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Line a 9x13 baking dish with tin foil and spray with non-stick spray
  • Combine melted butter, sugar and vanilla and mix well
  • Add the eggs one and time, mixing well after each addition
  • Add in the cocoa powder and mix well
  • Add in the flour and salt and mix well
  • Spread batter evenly into baking dish
  • Bake 26-30 minutes (mine took about 32 and my oven cooks things faster than usual)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops & Potatoes

Comfort food at its finest! Smooth and pillowy mashed potatoes, creamy, flavorful gravy and a deliciously tender pork chop all in one bite. The best part is you really only need 4 ingredients for the pork chops!

I'm a little crazy. I had scrolled past a picture of something like this on pinterest. It had a picture of the pork over the potatoes and a picture of a ranch packet. So I assumed I knew what I was doing without actually opening the link. I went shopping and grabbed the things I figured it asked for, went home and pulled up the link just to make sure and I was a little off! The recipe was way more complex than I'd thought and I just had a few basic things to use.

So I used them anyway. And you know what? It's fanFREAKINtastic! Holy crap. My daughter who hates potatoes (she's learning...) still gobbled this up and kept telling me how yummy and flavorful it was. So I'm kinda like hm, I don't know that I want to try the more complex recipe when I can just make this and have my kids eat it all with fewer ingredients/time put into it.

What you will need:
  • Pork chops (as many as you'd like. I think I used 8 and there was plenty of gravy for them all)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 3 T ranch mix
  • 1-2 T kosher salt (I tasted the gravy before serving and added more salt in and pinch more of the ranch mix but you decide!)
  • Mix together the soups, ranch mix and salt
  • Place pork chops inside a crock pot
  • Pour the gravy mix on top of the pork chops
  • Cook on low for about 5 hours