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Conference Candy

A tradition that our family has is to have “Conference Candy”. Twice a year, the worldwide leaders of our Church hold a 2-day televised conference called General Conference. It is 8 hours of instruction (four 2-hour segments) for all of the members, and then an extra 2 hours for the men. We have tried to find ways to keep our kids “tuned in” to what is being said – and eight hours is a long time, awesome as the lessons are.

Our biggest success has been using candy, or other treats (pretzels, nuts, popcorn) to help keep their interest level up. This is a good alternative to “Conference Bingo” – our kids are too young to keep interest in that for very long, and tend to just eat the candy. We just had four of the hours today, and my seven- and five-year old were both paying attention for most of the time. My two-year old even got into it for some of the time.

How does it work?

Step 1. Choose your “key words” and label your bags/cups/whatever. Six words seems to be a good number – it is enough that there is at least one of them being said on a fairly frequent basis, but not too many to keep track of and to lose interest.

The kids helped to pick some of these too (like “therefore”). For example, our first six words were: therefore, baptism, prophet, church, family and temple. Our second round words were: faith, prayer, prophet, therefore, gospel and quote (again, “quote” was chosen by my seven-year old).

Step 2: Fill ’em up with candy/nuts/pretzels/etc. Pretty self-explanatory.

Step 3: Listen for the words, and enjoy! We kept the bags on the fireplace, and I would go get the candy whenever someone called a word out that was said. If you were in the room, you got the candy. My older two were engaged for probably 95% of the time, which was huge. And, actually, Elder Quentin L. Cook had a talk FULL of key words, which prompted my oldest to say, “Apostles are AWESOME! They want us to eat candy!” As long as we are getting a positive memory and learning something, works for me.

Words we might try next time: sacrifice, hope, love, testimony, blessings, service, covenants, commandments. I decided intentionally not to do Savior, Jesus or God just because I don’t feel comfortable with my kids screaming their names at the top of their lungs to get candy. That is my personal feeling. Also, the words in the songs count for us, but not the ones in the prayers. Again, I don’t want my kids shouting out words in the middle of a prayer.

Enjoy!! :)

HBE 9

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

With Easter coming up in just over a week, I thought I would share my tip on how to get the perfect hard-boiled eggs. I had tried various ways to get them “perfect” – no grayish rings; easy to peel; etc. But I could not find something that consistently worked. I tried adding salt, adding vinegar, adding whatever – it did not work for me. So in total frustration one day, I just boiled some water, plopped the eggs in it, boiled, ran in cold water – and to my shock and amazement….they turned out perfectly.

This almost feels like cheating because it is easy, but it works. The shells come off in large pieces instead of in tiny bits; there is no graying; they turn out just right.

Step 1: Boil Water

Step 2: Carefully plop eggs into the water. The only time I have had eggs crack on me is when they crash to the bottom when I first put them in. If I carefully lower them in, they have never broken for me. They may just be well-trained over at our house, though. :)

Step 3: Boil for 13 minutes. This time may vary depending on your altitude. For us, this gets the yolks cooked, but not dried out.

Step 4: Dump out the boiling water and run cold water over the eggs. Do this until the eggs are consistently cool to the touch. You can also just keep the eggs sitting in cold water.

Step 5: Peel your eggs. See the large chunks coming off? That has been my result every time. Easy peasy. No screaming at your eggs because you have to pick off little tiny pieces. Nope. Love it.

There you have it. Nice and straight-forward. Easy. Yummy. Awesome.

Fluffy (and Stink-Free) Towels

For any of you who have had towels or washcloths over time that have lost their fluff, or have gotten something of a mildewy smell – try this tip.

This is something that we do every time I do a load of towels. It works so well. I had a friend who had mentioned it, and thought I would give it a try. It is great, and is a cheap fix. Over time as you are using your towels, residue builds up on them causing them to lose fluffiness. Using dryer sheets can also add to the residue problem. And over time having something be wet consistently will cause it to be stinky. I think we’ve all been the unfortunate user of a stinky towel or washcloth, be it ours or someone else’s. This will take care of that problem.

Enter stage left: vinegar. That’s it.

Load your washer up with towels, and then instead of detergent pour in 1 cup of vinegar (or 2 cups, if your towels need some more help) and run it through a normal wash cycle. The vinegar will kill the yuckies and get your towels clean. When you stick them in the dryer, do not use a dryer sheet (or fabric softener in the wash) – this will start your film problem all over again. By nature of it being a towel, you don’t really have to worry much about static anyway since whatever is using it will be wet. Just sayin’.

When they are dry, you will have fluffy, fresh-smelling towels again. Hooray! Happy fluffing! :)

SSC 6

Awesome Sweet & Sour Chicken

I found this recipe on pinterest, and decided to try it – it claimed to be “baked” and “impossible to stop eating”. Well, who could resist that?

First, a point of clarification – yes, it is baked, but you FRY it first. In oil. Enough oil to add 56 grams of fat if all of that ends up in your final dish. And some – if not all – of it will. Therefore it is not technically “baked” like a baked homemade french fry that is not covered in oil and therefore is healthier than a true french fry. This recipe is still fried, even with the baking afterward.

HOWEVER, it was AMAZING. Seriously. We even messed up the recipe a bit, and it still was hands down some of the best sweet and sour chicken we have ever tried.

 

Ingredients:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt & pepper

1 c. cornstarch

2 eggs (beaten)

1/4 c. canola oil

3/4 c. sugar

4 T. ketchup

1/2 c. vinegar

1 T. soy sauce

1 tsp. garlic salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Heat your oil in a large skillet. Rinse your chicken breasts in water, then cut into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Dip the chicken first into the cornstarch to coat, then into the eggs. Cook your chicken until browned, but not cooked through (this is where we messed it up).

While you are browning your chicken, mix the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic salt in a small bowl – this is your rockin’ sauce.

When chicken is browned, dump the chicken into a GREASED 9×13 baking dish and dump your sauce over the top. Bake for an hour, turning the chicken every 15 minutes. When you are done, you will get this deliciousness:

Here is where we messed up, which may not have been a bad thing. Both my husband and I worked on this one together. Here goes: one of us had put the oil on a mediumish heat initially, and the other one suggested that we turn it down to low. So down to low it went. So the breaded chicken never really “fried” properly, the chicken was definitely cooked through before we put it in the oven, and a good amount of the breading was in the sauce. Because the chicken was cooked through, we only kept it in the oven for 30 minutes or so, turning it halfway through. Still, it was fantabulous. Next time, though, we will keep the oil temperature up.

Initially the sauce tasted kind of like the Polynesian sauce from Chick-Fil-A (which I love), but it settled down to more of a sweet and sour flavor within a couple of minutes. The next time we make this, I will probably toss some drained pineapple and chunkily chopped green peppers and I think it would then be absolutely perfect.

This one is a keeper!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I found this dishwasher detergent, and decided it would be worth a try.

Ingredients:

1 c. Washing Soda (NOT baking soda – this can be found in the laundry aisle)

1 c. Borax (again, found in the laundry aisle)

1/2 c. Kosher Salt (the original site had used iodized, but recommended Kosher)

4 packets lemon Kool-Aid

Directions:

Dump all ingredients into a bowl and mix. Make sure to crush all of the lumps out. I found it was very easy to do with a fork.

Admire your handiwork. Pretty.

Find a suitable air-tight container to store it in. It only takes up 2 1/2 cups worth of space, so the container does not have to be large. I also had an extra 1/2 T. measuring spoon, so I stuck that in there as well.

You’re done! Congratulations – you just made your own dishwasher detergent. Put 1 T. (or 2 T. for heavily soiled loads) into your dishwasher and wash away.

I found this to work well – it seemed to clean everything well, and did not leave a residue. AND EVERYTHING WAS SHINY!! Woo hoo! I was kind of secretly hoping that it would magically take the hard water stains off of my glasses that have been accumulating for a couple of years, but alas. I’ll have to hunt down that tip another day. They looked shiny though….even with the water stains.

Also, if you are considering making this, but don’t currently have washing soda or Borax – there seem to be a TON of things you can do with them. Like make your own dishwashing detergent. :) It seems to be a good investment.

***Since this post, I have tried this detergent a few times. The first time it worked fantastically well. The second time, not so much. The third time I used half of this detergent, and half Lemi-shine, and that seemed to work well. This is a work in progress.

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