Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Young Women in Excellence: Preserve Your Values

A couple years ago I was in charge of planning Young Women in Excellence for our Ward. I realized the other day that I never posted anything about it. Better late than never, so here are some pictures from that night!

The theme I came up with was "Preserve Your Values". Some of the definitions for "preserve" I found from the Merriam-Webster dictionary included, "to keep safe from injury, harm, or destruction: protect", "to keep alive, intact, or free from decay", "maintain", "to keep or save from decomposition". Not only does "preserve" refer to yummy foods, but it also has several definitions that tie in perfectly with what we teach/ are taught in Young Women- we want to PRESERVE our values! 

 I used mason jars and gingham print in a variety of colors to decorate for the night. 

The refreshments were Buttermilk Cupcakes in a Jar. These cute little cupcakes have a cream cheese frosting and are supposed to be served with preserves so they were perfect for the theme. Plus, they taste delicious! You can find the recipe here.

I printed off labels for the mason jars, tied a spoon to each with a ribbon, and added a flower. I think they turned out pretty cute!

Here is a closeup of the "Refreshments" banner and the variety of preserves we had. I chose Smucker's because the packaging matched perfectly with the theme.

Each girl in Young Women was assigned a value or theme and asked to decorate a table with what they had done over the year to learn and grow in that area. We had one Senior who was preparing to graduate in the Spring. Her table was about the Young Women program over all and how it helped her learn, grow, and gain a testimony.

Each table was decorated in a value color and the "Young Women" and "Personal Progress" tables were decorated in a light pink.

Each table had a banner stating the value or theme. I made the banners with my Cricut.

The banners were tied to wooden dowels I wrapped with green floral tape.

The dowels were placed in mason jars with flowers in value colors.

I used glass gems in the bottom of each mason jar to weigh it down and hold the flowers and dowels in place.

I also decorated the mason jar lids with a variety of fruit that I cut with my Cricut and then tied them to the jar with gingham ribbon in the appropriate value color. It was a little difficult to find fruits that matched the color of some of the values, but I did it!

Here is a closeup of the pink mason jar lid.

Each table had a white table cloth and then a square of colored fabric to match the value or theme.

I got the gingham paper used on the banner and lids and the gingham ribbon from Hobby Lobby.

I really like how everything turned out! The Bishop spoke on the theme of "Preserving Your Values", a couple of the Young Women spoke about their value and what they had done over the year to learn and grow in that area of their life, and all the Young Women sang, "I Walk By Faith". I love that song because it goes through all of the Young Women values!

This was such a fun theme to plan and decorate for! I hope you enjoyed the ideas I shared!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween Pumpkin Bowling

For my daughter's class Halloween party I volunteered to bring a game. A quick little search on Pinterest and I got the idea for Pumpkin Bowling! Because my daughter's Kindergarten class loved it and because it was quick and easy to make, I thought I would share the details here!

Supplies Needed:
10 tin cans
Felt in a variety of Halloween colors
Glue gun and glue sticks
Small pumpkin

1. Wash out your empty cans
2. Cut a strip of felt to wrap around each can (I cut mine long enough to overlap the felt a little in the back)
3. Glue the felt in place around the can
4. Cut a circle of felt to fit the bottom of the can
5. Glue the felt to the bottom of the can
4.  Turn the cans over so the felt circle is now on top and decorate each can to look like your favorite Halloween character! Really, with just a few simple shapes anyone - whether you are "crafty" or not - can make a variety of spook-tacular Halloween friends!

Two black ovals and one black circle on a white background make a simple and perfect ghost.

Didn't this Frankenstein turn out adorable? He's my favorite!

Just some circles and triangles plus a couple wings make this cute little bat!

Here's a close-up of the happy Jack-o'-Lantern.

This cat was my daughter's favorite. Triangles, circles, and some simple strips of felt for the whiskers.

You can set the cans up like traditional bowling pins or, for a more simple game, you can stack them on top of each other. Roll a small pumpkin towards them and see how many cans you can knock down!

Happy Bowling!

P.S. If you haven't been saving your tin cans and you need 10 of them fast, you can try out my recipe for 12-can Slow Cooker Taco Soup found here.

12-Can Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Recently I needed several soup cans for a project and what better way to get those cans than to make this tasty soup?! I know there are a million versions of this recipe, but now there are a million and one because I am going to share mine with you! This recipe is really great because it is easy, you can customize it to fit your tastes, and it is delicious. In fact, my husband told me that this is his favorite dinner that I make! My kids love it too! So, there you go- husband and kid approved!

12-Can Slow Cooker Taco Soup

2 cans pinto beans
2 cans black beans
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans navy beans
2 cans corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 packets taco seasoning
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
*optional* your favorite taco toppings- avocados, sour cream, cheese, green onions, olives, etc.
tortilla chips

Put chicken breasts in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour all canned ingredients over chicken breasts (including liquid from the cans). Sprinkle taco seasoning on top. Give everything a good stir to incorporate the taco seasoning. Cook on high about 4 hours or on low about 6 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Once chicken is cooked, remove and shred and then return to slow cooker. Stir the shredded chicken into the soup. Serve with your favorite taco toppings and tortilla chips.

*note* this recipe should be made in a 6 quart slow cooker or larger. If you are using a smaller slow cooker, cut the recipe in half and adjust cooking time as needed.

And there you have it! It's that easy! And if you don't like one of the ingredients, leave it out or substitute something else! You can substitute ground beef for the chicken or leave it out for a vegetarian option! You can also substitute your favorite salsa for the diced tomatoes. This is such a yummy soup! It's great for busy school nights and perfect on those chilly fall evenings!

Have you made a version of this 12-Can Slow Cooker Taco Soup? What's in your recipe?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

DIY Kid-Friendly Kitchen Chair Makeover

This weekend I completed a project that I have been dreaming about for probably six months. It took quite a bit of time, but I am happy to report that all the planning and dreaming I put in (plus some actual hands-on project time) finally paid off and I LOVE the final result!

So here is a little before and after for you:

We have had these chairs for a little over three years. The cushion fabric was microfiber which is supposedly easy to clean, but add a bunch of kids and a little time and cleaning these isn't an easy task (you can see in the picture how gross they had gotten). There were many times I thought about giving them a good deep clean, but I immediately gave up on the idea when I remembered how messy my kids are and how all my hard work would be gone quickly, probably after one meal. 

One day as I was browsing Pinterest, I found this idea to cover kitchen chairs with a vinyl tablecloth so that they would be easier to clean. I thought this solution would be perfect! I wouldn't have to clean those cushions, I could simply remove them and replace them with something that would be easier to clean. I checked several stores and online, but unfortunately couldn't find any tablecloths that I liked. I started to research other options and came across this idea to use your own fabric and cover it with iron-on vinyl. Perfect! I set out to get my supplies. It took me a little time, but I finally found iron-on vinyl in a matte finish on Amazon (I found glossy everywhere, but matte was much harder to find and that's what I wanted to use). My next task was to find fabric. That took a little longer (like a month or two), but I finally found a cute print at JoAnn's.

Fast forward 3 months or so and I went to pick up my paint supplies. This colorful dining set was my inspiration behind using a different color for each chair. I followed this tutorial to spray paint the metal chairs.

It took most of my weekend to sand, prime, paint, finish, and re-do the cushions, but I think it was all totally worth it in the end! I now have totally kid-friendly kitchen chairs that I think are pretty cute too!

Here's another look at the finished project.

And a closer look at the cushions. I love all the colors in this print!

Have you worked on any fun DIY projects recently? What did you do?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Spa Party

This past weekend we had a Mother-Daughter Spa Party! We had some friends over, ate some yummy food, and did our nails. To put the party together, I gathered some inspiration and ideas from Pinterest and then added some of my own touches. Here are some pictures from the party!

This is a loofah and eye mask wreath I made. I'll share all the details of how to make one yourself in an upcoming post- it's super easy!

I had some little lounge chairs set up under a "Relax" banner I made with my Cricut.

All the girls had the chance to decorate their own flip flops. I had several pairs of girls' flip flops available and an assortment of ribbon, jewel stickers, and foam stickers for the girls to use.

I set up a table for the girls to do a little pampering. The moms had a table as well, just in a bigger size! The table and chairs are covered with plastic tablecloths and I tied a little tulle bow around the chairs. Each girl's station had a mirror (found at Dollar Tree), a little basin with water to wash her hands (also found at Dollar Tree), some hand scrub, a wash cloth tied with ribbon to dry her hands, and some hand cream.

The hand scrub is a sugar scrub I made. You can find the instructions here. We found that the sugar settles to the bottom over time, so you'll want to stir it right before you put it on. The hand cream is some Vanilla Bean Noel lotion from Bath & Body Works. I love that the scrub is pink and the cream is green to go with the color scheme of the party. I didn't even plan that! The little cups were found at Dollar Tree. I made the labels for the scrub and cream on my computer and cut them out with a 1" circle punch then glued them to the cups.

I decorated the refreshment table with some loofah "flowers".

Here is the refreshment table! Again, I made the banner with my Cricut. The little "eye masks" in the background are actually something called "bath time kneeling pads" that I found at Dollar Tree.

We had "Spa Water" to drink. I created the pink labels on my computer and cut them out with a 2" scallop punch then glued them to the green water bottle labels that I cut with my Cricut.

Here are some "Bubble Bath Treats" I made. You can find the recipe here. I altered the original recipe by using just a regular cake mix and the ingredients needed on the package and topping it with marshmallow frosting. Then I added some mini marshmallows and a Teddy Graham and you have a cute little bear in a bubble bath!

For each treat I made a label on my computer, cut it out with a 1 3/4" circle punch, glued it on some card stock cut with a 2" scallop punch, and added some fun make-up embellishments I cut out with my Cricut. The label holders are foam rollers.

Next are the "Nail Polish" treats. These are made with strawberry flavored marshmallows and Tootsie Rolls held together by a toothpick.

These "Nail File" treats are vanilla sugar wafer cookies.

Here are some "Flip Flop Cucumber Sandwiches"!

Here's a closer look. I found the inspiration for these here, but I altered the idea a little and they ended up looking more like these here (this link also includes step-by-step instructions). To make mine look like flip flops I used blueberries and sliced cucumber peel. You can find the recipe for the filling here. I altered the recipe by mixing chopped cucumber into the filling instead of adding a slice of cucumber to each sandwich.

Finally, we had "Pig Tails in a Blanket". It's the classic snack food with a fun little twist on the name.

My girls had a wonderful time at the spa party and it was fun to put it together too! I hope you enjoyed the little "tour" of our party!

Have you planned any themed parties recently? What did you do?

P.S. If you are planning a spa party soon, I found some cute printable invitations here!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Celestial Marriage Cookies

Today I want to share an idea I used when I taught my Young Women the lesson entitled, "Why is temple marriage important?" You can find the lesson outline here. Although the talks I used when I taught the lesson are not on the current Come Follow Me outline, this idea can still be used! I used the following quotes as the basis for my idea:

Celestial marriage is a pivotal part of preparation for eternal life. It requires one to be married to the right person, in the right place, by the right authority, and to obey that sacred covenant faithfully.

- Russell M. Nelson
(you can find his talk, Celestial Marriage, here)


There is no substitute for marrying in the temple. It is the only place under the heavens where marriage can be solemnized for eternity. Don't cheat yourself. Don't cheat your companion. Don't shortchange your lives. Marry the right person in the right place at the right time.

-Gordon B. Hinckley
(you can find his message, Life's Obligations, here)

I decided to take the four "Rights" listed in these two quotes and present them to the girls in a fun way- by making Four Ingredient Celestial Marriage Cookies!

As a visual, I displayed the four "Rights" on a "wedding cake". I took four different sized round boxes I found at Hobby Lobby, wrapped them in wedding wrapping paper, and set them up to look like a wedding cake. I even used my daughter's Little People Prince Eric and Princess Ariel as cake toppers!

As we talked about each "Right", we opened one of the boxes. Inside was an ingredient for our cookies. We then spent some time reading quotes about that "Right"/ingredient.

The first ingredient was the right person. I said this was like the chocolate chips for our recipe. Because they add sweetness, they represented our "sweetheart".

The second ingredient for the recipe was the right time. I used an egg to represent this ingredient because the egg reminded me of an egg TIMEr! 

The third ingredient for the recipe was the right place. This was represented by sugar in the recipe and symbolized the whiteness of the temple.

The final ingredient in the recipe was the right authority. This is the priesthood authority that will seal families together. In the recipe I used peanut butter to represent the right authority because it helps everything stick together.

 After we discussed all the ingredients, I gave the girls the baked cookies with a recipe card attached. This is what it said:

Recipe for: Celestial Marriage

Ingredients: Right Person
Right Time
Right Place
Right Authority

Directions: Mix ALL ingredients together with lots of love, faith, and a commitment to the commandments of God. Work out the lumps with communication and selflessness. This is a recipe that gets better with time. "Your companionship will sweeten through the years, your love will strengthen. Your appreciation for one another will grow." ("True to the Faith" pg. 101)

This recipe serves: 1 Eternal Family

You can find the recipe to make the actual cookies here!

I think it turned out to be a successful and sweet way to teach about the importance of temple marriage!

Are you teaching the Youth this month? What ideas are you using to teach about the importance of temple marriage?

Want a PDF of the Celestial Cookies recipe card? Email me at addapinchofsparkle{at}gmail{dot}com !