Posts Tagged ‘Every Needful Thing’

It’s been months and months since I was able to do a Download Day around here but thanks to our Favorite Things Party, this one is easy to share with you.  Check my previous post for details on how we used this quote for a party favor at each place setting.  A ribbon tied across the bottom of a folded piece of cardstock created an “easel” format for this simple but meaningful gift to share with each person at our party.

This quote is especially perfect for this time of year because finding “a favorite little something” each day is really all about taking the time to be grateful for something – big or little – every day.  A daily dose of gratitude is the key ingredient of a happy life.  So, find a little something to be grateful for today, and tomorrow, and the next day…

…and while you’re wallowing in gratitude, share the Download with a friend!



Please click on image to download quote

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It’s a good thing I didn’t make any firm commitments of posting every week because I clearly have already failed!  It is amazing how just trying to become a Mom again takes up so much time and energy.  I am so grateful that I have gotten at least to this point in my recovery process – Cole and I are doing great together.  I try and do an activity each morning…for me it helps me get out and active, for him it just gives him something to do other than hang around at home.  Jason will often take us on our outings to the store or running other errands.  I do better when I don’t have to be in charge of driving as well as getting out.  But we also like to have friends come over to play.  There are plenty of families with little ones in our neighborhood that we invite over or head to their house for an hour or two.  I love those days because it gets Cole around some action and it gives me a chance to visit with my friends.  It’s good for my healing process.

So, in an effort to do “Mom Things” I have not had the energy to think about my blog (which, based on your comments, you don’t mind me taking it slowly).  However, I wanted to post the photos of bits and pieces from our “Favorite Things Party” that was such a great success last spring.  (Check out my previous post for more info on how to plan your own party).

Here are a few of my favorite things about our event!

Positive Quotes About Each Woman - they got to take their own home

Photo Garland - draped over shutters for a display table

Party Favor - "easel-style" quote at each place setting

As you can see, everything we did, from the decorations to the party favors, focused on celebrating the individual.  Does it take more time to do this?  Yes.  But is it worth it?  Absolutely.  The impact of each woman knowing that they were important, loved, unique, and worth celebrating is priceless.  Would you like me to do a Download Day with our party favor quote?   How about if I do that next time.  Watch for it and enjoy sharing a “favorite little something” with those you care about.

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I know that it’s been forever since you have seen this logo in a blog post.  Let’s just say that when I got sick, all of my responsibilities regarding the “Every Needful Thing” program got put on hold (understandably).  I have since then handed over that job to another wonderful woman because I do not have the ability to do it myself.  However, right before I got sick I had written this post about an activity that was coming up for us.  I decided that I still wanted to share it with you even though it happened almost six months ago.  I didn’t get to go to the activity itself because I was so ill, but I helped plan it and got many of the decorations ready for it and all of that good stuff so I wanted to make sure I posted how we made it happen.  It is one of my favorite ideas for a party and can be adapted for any situation so here goes my original post….

Entry Display for Our Party

You’re My Favorite!

You are my favorite friends, favorite artists, favorite moms, favorite cooks, favorite gardeners, favorite bloggers, favorite people.  And I want to invite you to celebrate your favorite things at our neighborhood “Every Needful Thing” activity – a FAVORITE THINGS PARTY!  Positive self-esteem is a vital ingredient in a happy life so we decided to focus on that concept for this activity.  What could be more “needful” than to feel loved and celebrated by those around you?

What Did We Want to Have Happen?

  • have a sit-down, yummy dinner
  • have fun
  • share with and learn from each other
  • get to know and celebrate one another

How Were We Going to Make That Happen?

  • set up the round tables at the church building in clusters of 3 so that we can be in little groups
  • have different women volunteer to decorate and set a table that reflects their favorite things
  • serve a fresh, tasty dinner family-style to encourage communication and getting to know one another
  • decorate with quotes that the women have said about each other: “My favorite thing about (insert person’s name) is (insert favorite thing)”
  • invite each woman to bring a “gift to swap” that contains their favorite things ($5 limit)
  • give each woman a take-away gift to remind them that they are “our favorite”
  • celebrate each woman as an individual

This was a big event.  It took a lot of hours from a lot of people to make it happen and I am infinitely grateful for those women who caught hold of the vision of what can happen when we have a purpose and work together to achieve it.  Our purpose was simple.  Our purpose was good: Celebrating each other.  Just for the sake of giving hugs and smiles and a round of applause.

Celebrate those in your life that are your favorite!  Here are some ideas of how to make a “Favorite Things Party” happen:

  1. invite your favorite people and tell them that they are your favorite!  They don’t have to know each other, they all just share one thing in common – they are your favorite people for one reason or another.
  2. ask each person to bring their favorite food to share (no rules – you may have all desserts show up and that’s ok!)
  3. ask each person to bring 5 of a favorite thing to share in a gift swap (that means that 5 people get to have that person’s favorite thing and each person walks away with 5 different things, get it?  Setting a $5 limit seems to work well.)
  4. at the party, have each person share why their food is their favorite…then eat!
  5. then put each person’s name into a hat 5 times (for the number of gifts they brought).  Each person then draws out 5 names.  Those are the people that they give their gift to.  But wait!  First they share why their item is their favorite.  Then, when everyone is hoping to get that item, the person sharing reads the names of the people they drew and gives them their gift!  Don’t you just love sharing favorite things??!!!

Can you envision it?  Celebrating each other.  Learning about one another.  It’s the perfect party idea for any occasion.  Actually, no occasion just might be the best occasion for this get-together.  Wouldn’t you love to simply get an invitation to a party for no other reason than to say, “You’re My Favorite!”?  I definitely would.  They just might be my favorite three words that I could hear from someone.

Have a Favorite Things Party – just for the sake of laughing and sharing and loving each other.  For our neighborhood party, I was able to plan it with our committee but I got sick right before it happened.  I actually got home from the hospital that first time on the very day that our party took place back in May.  Needless to say, I was unable to attend.  But I heard reports about it and saw photos from the night and wanted to still share it with you six months later.  I feel like it is one of the most fabulous ways to celebrate those we care about and didn’t want to miss the chance to tell you about it.

For our neighborhood party, we had asked each person to bring just one item to swap, simply to keep it simple for everyone to participate.  We wanted each person to feel special and to take a break for the night so we also fed them dinner instead of having them bring the food.  How about if I post the recipes in my next post and I’ll show you pictures of how it all turned out as well.  Even though I wasn’t there, I heard only great things about the joy and love that was shared that night.

Cheers to Favorite Things Parties!  I can see about a million ways that you can spin this to fit the holiday season or maybe you want to save the idea for later, when the blues of winter settle in.  Whatever the time of year, a “Favorite Things Party” is sure to boost everyone’s spirits and become a favorite memory for all.

What favorite things would you bring to swap?

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This month’s activity for our Every Needful Thing program helped to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?”

It centered around pantry meals but was simply and meaningfully so much more than that.  As the women kept coming, the question immediately crossed my mind, “Why?”  Why did they want to come?  This is the never-ending issue when any of us plan an event.  A party.  A fundraiser.  A bake sale.  A service project.  Will people come?  It begins to governs how we plan, don’t you think?  When we use the Planning With a Purpose model and ask “What do we want to have happen?” we can usually count on “we want people to come” as being one of our goals for the event.

I have a theory.  I think that this activity appealed to two characteristics of most women out there.  Most women need to cook dinner.  Whether it’s for one or eight, we all need to eat.  Women also have that nurturing instinct that is a simply a part of who they are.  This activity hit on both qualities of women and therefore, drew people in.  Let’s find out how.

What Did We Want to Have Happen?

In this case, we wanted to create an event that did the following:

  • teach women ideas of how to use pantry meals as an effective way for meal planning
  • teach how to plan a grocery list so that shopping becomes more efficient and happens less often
  • give the women a chance to serve in a way that used pantry meals
  • an opportunity to socialize

How Did We Make That Happen?

Make a Plan: There are many ways to go about an activity like this.  Yes, we did the predictable thing and had a short lesson (thank you, Liz!) about how to plan meals in advance so that you don’t have to make decisions each day about what’s for dinner.  We even had a list of 10 “pantry meal” recipes ready to hand out to each person.  These recipes are all made from things that can be stored in your pantry or freezer or things most people have on hand in their fridge.  Love it!  Click on the image below for a pdf of our recipe handout.

Then Liz facilitated a good discussion about how we make this happen in our own homes. The following websites came up as good resources for easy pantry recipes, coupon information, nutrition info, etc.

Grocery Lists: Next we talked about how to organize your grocery list to make shopping more efficient.  Not only do you save money when you plan your meals and then shop for them, but you save time as well.  No more going to the store five times a week because you’re missing just one ingredient.  You have a plan!  Plus, to take it a step further, Dani talked about a very simple but incredibly logical way to map out your grocery list.  Here’s what you do:

  1. take a sheet of paper and fold it into sections
  2. label each section with a different area of the grocery store (produce, meats, dairy, etc)
  3. when you make your grocery list, place the items you need in the correct section
  4. head to the store with everything organized so that you don’t have to backtrack

I have already tried this and I am here to say that it works!  Because I do the cooking and the cleaning up and the putting away of groceries, Jason does the shopping around here (click here for more info on this subject).  Not only is this list-making tip great for me to stay organized but my resident shopper loves it as well.  We believe!

Here is our example of a grocery list mapped out this way (click on the above picture).  You’ll be glad to know that this list is all of the things you need to shop for the 10 recipes handout.  We’ve done the work for you.  Just take that list and you’ll be able to make all 10 recipes.  Perfect!

Using Pantry Meals to Serve Our Neighbors: This is where we took it a step further.  Armed and ready with lots of tips and ideas and recipes for quick and easy “pantry meals,” we then took it to the next level.

We served.

We asked the women to bring different items to make the Taco Soup recipe on our list.  We chose this one because everything can be stored in a pantry and for this part of the activity, we needed to be able to store it.  The table was piled high with chile and kidney beans, diced tomatoes and taco seasoning.  We then filled regular grocery sacks with the ingredients to make one batch of Taco Soup.

Then each finished bag went to the “Let’s Make it Cute” table where it was tied with a bow.  They also added a copy of the recipe and a tag that said “Just Because” to finish it off.

Almost 30 kits later, we sent a one home with each person.  Why did we do this?  This kit is not for themselves.  It is a way to serve each other.  When someone is having a tough day or a child is sick or things are overwhelming and busy, we can deliver a “pantry meal kit” to a neighbor’s door…just because.  The recipient can cook it whenever they want and it helps them to not have to decide what’s for dinner – who wouldn’t love that?  Plus, it taught us how we can do this same thing with lots of other recipes, add some fresh ingredients if we want, tie it with a bow and voila!  An instant hug wrapped up in a paper bag.

As one woman said, “It’s not so much the meal as it is the thought involved.”  How true that is.

At the End of It All

Last but certainly not least, we had to eat, right?  Bonnie made the Taco Soup to sample along with the Italian Crockpot Chicken so that everyone could try two of the recipes on our list.  Every aspect of this activity was applicable and connected and tied together to mean something more than just talking about pantry meals.

  • I’m grateful that so many women opened their hearts and brought items for our kits.
  • I’m grateful for the ideas and tips and info that was shared by everyone.
  • I’m grateful for the energy and excitement that we all felt as we served together.
  • I’m grateful for the chance to chat and visit and get to know one another.
  • I’m grateful for time and energy that each member of our committee put forth to make this activity happen.
  • I’m grateful for Kathleen and her willingness to open her home, dust her basement, and let us converge upon her space.

Another activity in the books.  Thanks for sharing it with us.  I’ll have the “Just Because” tag and the recipe card available for our next Download Day so watch for that.  In the meantime, try some of the easy pantry meal recipes that Angie and Liz compiled for us.  Pretty simple and darn tasty!

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Did I not tell you that we had a lot of info to give out having to do with our Organization Fair?  It’s taken five days to pass it all along to you!  Well, last but not least, I’ve saved the monthly quote for Download Day.  It is a quote by Lin Yutang and added to by Dieter Uchtdorf.  It certainly sums up the overall idea that we were trying to teach both with our “Planning With a Purpose” time management lesson as well as the organization ideas in the displays.

Whether it’s what we’re doing or what we’re thinking or what we have or what we want….it’s all about eliminating the non-essentials.


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OK, Dani.  I know you are not going to like this photo of yourself – but I do.  You are my right-hand man in our Relief Society activity planning, my half-marathon partner and our cleaning expert.  When it comes to cleaning things, you know how to do it yourself and you know how to teach your children to do it.  You are a hard worker and have high expectations that have taught me a lot about taking care of the things around me.  You are also really fun to be around and I love you to death!

So, I decided to put the picture in anyway because you are the one who created our “Cleaning Tips” handout and, come on, this photo is the epitome of you + cleaning.  Happily sweeping away.

What I loved about these handouts was that you used tips and ideas from the women in our neighborhood (who turned back in their questionnaires…hint, hint…Amber…).  What better way to learn about something than from each other?  There were some fabulous ideas from these women and I was so grateful to learn from them.

But you also did something else.  You added information about what kinds of cleaning tasks are good for children at different ages.  I love that!  It is so helpful to have an idea of what kinds of things our children can and should be doing.  Sometimes we don’t give our kids enough credit and we think that they aren’t old enough to participate.  Other times we give them tasks that are too advanced for them (like when your mother told you that a 4-year-old can’t clean a toilet up to standard….dang!  Good try, though).  Dani’s done some research since then regarding appropriate chores for different aged children and found a lot of info on the internet regarding that idea – try this one for starters, everyone.

More often than not I hear mothers complaining about having to do all of these things for their children instead of teaching their children how to do it.  They often say, “It’s just easier if I do it.”  They’re right.  It takes more work to teach a child how to do something than to just do it ourselves.  It takes more time.  It takes more effort.  It takes more patience.  But that is what parenting is all about.  Teaching our children to be independent.  Teaching them how to work.  Teaching them how to take pride in accomplishing something.  Teaching them that there are consequences when they don’t follow through.

My mom was good at this.  She raised us to be independent and to work hard and to enjoy life at the same time.  Dani, I think you are good at this as well.  Keep it up, cleaning lady!  I love working with you and love even more that you are willing to get in there and get your hands dirty to make something happen.

Cleaning Tips – Neighbors

Enjoy the download, courtesy of our cleaning expert, Dani.  Again, it can be cut in half and inserted into your notebooks if you choose.  It is the final handout at our “Organization Fair” event (wow!  We did a lot that night!)  Feel free to share your thoughts, insights and ideas here.  Everyone has their own style and way of making it happen so I love to hear what you have to say.

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I know, I know….you parents out there have probably done enough Science Fair projects to cure you from ever thinking that they could be fun.  But our Organization Fair (that looked suspiciously like a Science Fair for grown-ups) was exactly that – FUN!  Click here for a run-down on this “Every Needful Thing” activity.

10 displays and 13 of our neighborhood women’s help later, it was decided that the second half to our activity was a hit!  For the first 45 minutes we did our Time Management lesson where we learned how to incorporate “Planning With a Purpose” as a tool for managing our lives.  It was a tremendous experience that we had together (just look at the last two posts for that lesson).  The second 45 minutes was spent milling around, looking at the fabulous organization displays that had been created, intently reading the advice and ideas shared, chatting with one another and asking our “experts” how to make it all happen in our own lives.

There was way too much info offered that night for me to give it all to you here in this blog post, but if you click here, you will find the websites that were used to get started.  They are a huge help on their own and I would highly recommend you printing them off and adding the information to your notebooks.  I will also give you some of the tips that each teacher shared in their displays.

I was humbled and amazed by the effort that went into these displays.  Each contributor had their own style and their own approach to the assignment.  We were filled with so much information and friendship during this activity that we could not have asked for more when we planned it.

Kym’s display was elegant – just like everything she does (how did I not end up with her beautiful handout about how to organize the bedroom????).

Susan and Kelli’s display was creative – including the one-of-a-kind toilet paper tablecloth that they wove just for the occasion.

3-minute Bathroom Clean-up Ideas (see if you can do one a day while the tub is filling or when you finish getting ready for bed)

  • toss towels in the laundry
  • clean toilet
  • wipe over counter tops
  • straighten linen closet
  • organize space under the vanity
  • throw away old or expired make-up
  • wipe over floors with a rag

LeeAnne’s and Diane’s was funny – although their children thought they were weird for having to take “role-playing” photos of their moms cleaning out the fridge.

Kitchen Organization Tips:

  • store items where you use them
  • discard mismatched containers
  • square containers take up less space than round
  • keep an ongoing grocery list – add to it right when you realize you need something or use the last of something
  • keep cookbooks to a minimum
  • store mix packets, Jell-O boxes and other small items in containers or baskets
  • pick a day of the week to clean out your fridge – maybe grocery shopping day when you can make room for new groceries or garbage day so anything smelly goes straight to the garbage truck
  • run your dishwasher at night when less hot water is being used and empty it in the morning

Carilee’s formula was simple and easy to follow.

Organizing Children’s Homework Papers

If you save everything your child brings home, by the time they are in college you will have a two-car garage full and overflowing with just their paperwork! – Carilee

  • each child needs a folder and a spot for their folder
  • have your child unpack the folder every day so you can look in it
  • process the papers that need to be taken care of – tossing, saving, sending back to school

Monica’s, Becky’s, Tera’s, Nancy’s and Melissa’s were a wealth of information and inspiration.

Meal Planning and Cooking Ideas

  • try one new dish a week and vote to keep it or not
  • try crock potting once a week
  • teach your children how to cool and assign them one day a week to choose and prepare the meal
  • cook double-portions and freeze one for later
  • make a menu and grocery list at the same time
  • plan meals a week at a time as a family
  • everyone who eats helps prepare or clean up
  • come up with about 20 summer and 20 winter “go-to” recipes

Pantry Organization Tips

  • pull everything out and wipe down shelves
  • label shelves and containers
  • arrange food like grocery store shelves (similar things together)
  • have a shelf kids can reach with healthy snacks
  • don’t forget the back of the door – there are shelves made just for those not-so-big pantrys
  • if containers are not in your budget, try glass quart canning jars for storage

We could have spent hours together – learning from each other this way.  But what I loved best, besides the fact that so many people were involved and sharing themselves and becoming “experts” in their individual assignments, I loved how they all learned something in the process.

As I mentioned previously (click here), LeeAnne organized all of her recipes for this event.  Pam, who was partnered with Kristy to teach us about pantry and freezer organization, decided that she needed some hands-on experience and tackled her pantry in the process.  It took her 4 hours.  I heard many comments from people who said they had just found a certain website or that they had just thought of how a certain idea applied to their lives – all because they were in charge of “teaching” us through these displays.  I loved that being involved in the event created a chance for individual application – for us and for the teachers.

I loved it all.  Thank you to all of these amazing women for taking the time to teach us.  Thank you for creating beautiful, fun, informative and meaningful displays.  And thank you for the best Science Fair…I mean Organization Fair…ever!

I {heart} all of you!

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