Friday, October 17, 2014

Four Ways to Serve (That Work for Me)

To paraphrase some thoughts spoken at our Sunday Relief Society Meeting (women's meeting), "Service is not always going to be spending the whole morning baking bread and walking it over to someone then spending the whole afternoon watching their kids or helping them around the house; although some days it may be."  Most of the time, service is the little things.

Here are some ideas I have had of ways to serve or things I have done that work for me:

1.  Drop by some of my excess food: apples, pears, zucchini or whatever I want to share and if I can, include a simple favorite recipe, like crockpot apple butter.
Be Honest, this looks gross.  But it tastes and smells so good after cooking down for 24 hours.


2.  Send someone a text that you are thinking about them.  It could be your brother that lives three states away or a good friend that moved that you miss.  Let them know you are thinking about them.  For example, I was taking a walk in the park with the kids and remembered the time we went there with my brother and had to text him to let him know we remembered that day.  I was in that same park a couple of months later and saw some moms talking while their kids played and remembered many days, my friend, Nicky, and I would get together and talk while our kids played so I texted her right then and there.  I find that if I wait to text or call I forget.

3.  Pray for them you never know who is praying for you.  Secret be, there are certain neighbors of ours whom my kids often pray for individually.  Know you are loved more than you can know,  We hope our prayers are helping in some way. 

4. If you get a good deal on something, like diapers or chocolate, think about who could use some or both and drop it by.  

That's it for now.  What ways of serving work for you?  Or in what ways have others served you?


Serving from the Heart - The Beginning

From February 2005 through August of 2006, I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as a missionary for my church.  For 18 months, I wore a name tag with two very important names right next to each other, my name and the name of Jesus Christ.

On my mission, I learned that love is about service.  When you love, you want to serve people and you do.  We helped people move, declutter, clean up their house after a tragic fire, quit smoking, host a baby shower, decorate a Relief Society room, make drapes, and much much more.  Those were the best times.  There is something enlivening about rolling up your sleeves and going to work.


Love is work.  And it is the best kind of work.  As a missionary, I learned that one of the most important people to serve was my companion.  I have a binder from my mission and in it is a list I made entitled Things Sister Villela Wants.

They were small things, some things we could do together like memorizing scriptures, and some things she needed time to do, like take a short nap in the afternoon or work on her mission farewell paper.  I had fun making the list and checking things off as I did them,  Sister Villella was easy to love.  



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Women's Session

Women's conference is something I look forward to every year.  Associated with it are vivid memories of answers to prayers and an overall feeling of peace.  While listening to Elder Uchtdorf's talk this year I think a lot of people focused on these words below but I think other words he spoke delivered more power.

"Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?"

These are some of the words I think speak more clearly to the message he was conveying:

"You will always and forever remain a daughter of God. Your Heavenly Father has high aspirations for you, but your divine origin alone does not guarantee you a divine inheritance. God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine."

"Once you understand the true nature of God and His commandments, you will also better understand yourselves and the divine purpose of your existence. With this, your motivation for following the commandments changes, and it becomes your heart’s desire to live the gospel joyfully."

I know we are Children of God and since we are there is a work for us to do.  Sometimes we look at work as drudgery; I know I do.  But can our attitude about the work we have to do change; especially when it comes to the work and commandments of the Lord?

Conference - Beyond Just Notes #1

So far we have had two sessions of conference, I am so excited to hear the word of God.  Many conferences have passed where I passively listened to conference.  I never let the words spoken there get into my heart and affect my actions.  But lately, I have hungered and thirsted after righteousness.  Service, the service where I know I am doing God's will, has become a joy.  And I have loved reading and pondering on the scriptures more and gaining a knowledge of truth.  Truth is truth and good is good. 

I know that this type of testimony does not guarantee I will always be perfect and charitable. But I can be "perfect at trying".  When Brian and I were dating that was one thing that we fell in love with about our relationship was that we both were trying.  More important than who we love is how we love; this is why it is so important that we love God first.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Menu Plan for 9-27 through 10-02

I did not get to making many of the meals I had planned to last week.  And I am just going to plan meals through payday next week and then see how I feel.  Much of the time what we eat depends on what I feel like eating and that is why it is important to find ways to add flexibility into menu planning.

Saturday - Meatless - Veggie Stir-fry on Rice with Apple Crisp

Sunday - Freezer Cooking - Garlic Honey Chicken and Baked Potatoes

Monday -Pasta Night - Pasta Bake but swap the ratio so there are more veggies than pasta (I got this tip from The Biggest Loser this week)

Tuesday - Mexican -Chicken Tamales (from Winder Farms) with Fancy Refried Beans

Wednesday - Pizza Night - Pizza and Salad

Thursday - Casserole -Yummy Sausage Casserole

Four Ways Our Family is Saving Money on Christmas

Taylor in the Snow
Our budget is $350 dollars this year, which is low for us.  We are going to Disneyland a couple days before Christmas so we are counting that as our biggest fun/expense of the holiday (THIS IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE $350 budget). Even though, we are going to Disneyland I cannot ignore all the expectations surrounding the actual day of Christmas with Santa and all the other gifts for family and friends.

We love each other, our kids, family, and friends and want to bless them.  And naturally want to give them gifts but we just need to be smart about how we do it.  Christmas is the time of year where our savings often gets depleted and we end up sneaking into consumer debt but I am determined to stop that cycle.

DISCLAIMER: Everyone's budget and priorities are different.  Some people will think our budget is a lot especially considering we are going to Disneyland and some people might think our budget is stingy.  I read on Dave Ramsey's website that a family should spend around 1-2% of their annual take-home income on Christmas.  But I imagine most families spend much more than that.

Number #1 - Having a Plan.  Most importantly, HAVING A BUDGET.  In order to stay organized with this I have downloaded the app Santa's Bag on my Iphone.

Our litte Angel

Christmas at My parents 2012, we spent the night and Santa came to their house. So Fun, too bad Brian was sick.
 Sitting down and deciding first what I want to spend and than writing down the names of all the people we have to buy for, ideas of what to get them, and how much we will spend on each gift/person.  Some family members I have an amount of money to spend on and the gifts can be decided later.  I am starting to buy gifts in the middle of September and setting aside $50 a paycheck or $100 per month towards Christmas gifts/expenses.

Number #2 - A Change Jar - Anytime I have extra charge, I now have a jar to put it in.  I also decided that if I have any fives left after my weekly shopping trips that they will go in the jar as well. I might have this be part of the budget if money is tight one of these months or use it as fun money during Christmas break.  We will see.

Number #3 - Find FREE money - They say nothing in life is free and that is mostly true.  However, you can cash in Credit Card Rewards for gift cards to Amazon or Texas Roadhouse.  Earn gift cards on swagbucks, use money earned from rebate apps like Ibotta, Shopmium, and Checkout 51.  Get Movie codes for buying participating products.  Earn money doing surveys, etc.

Number #4 - Focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas and all of the fun, cheap, and free activities.  Driving around to see Christmas lights, building a snowman, going sledding, singing Christmas songs, drinking hot chocolate or wassail, Christmas parties, dressing up and reenacting the Nativity story.  And finding small and meaningful ways to give by letting the kids be Heavenly Father's (Santa's) helpers during the next few months (and all year long).



Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Little Freezer Cooking goes a Long Way!

Freezer Cooking is trending this month. With the chill in the air, I think everyone is itching to turn their ovens again. Produce is in abundance and the holidays are right around the corner.  So before all the crazy schedules get into full swing I love to spend time in my kitchen cooking.

This weekend, I made and froze:
  • 3 small Apple Crisps
  • 16 dinner roll sandwiches with Ham and Swiss (usually people use Hawaiian Sweet Rolls for this, so I used the white dinner rolls I had in the freezer and spread a brown sugar butter inside them)
  • Garlic Honey Chicken
  • Teriyaki Chicken
  • BBQ Chicken and Potatoes
  • 2 bags of Chicken Curry
  • 1 quart of soup base
  • a gallon of zucchini for roasting
I taught a freezer cooking class at the church.  One person showed up and there really was not a lot of teaching going on.  She was a pro; chopping her vegetables like a chef.  She taught me a lot about not wasting.  She doesn't deseed bigger zucchini and uses almost all of the bunch of celery, when chopping her veggies, for her crockpot meals and a soup base.  I let so much go to waste.  So I am going to try to cook like her more and see how we like it.

She had an abundance of apricots awhile back and she made a bunch of Apricot Chicken Freezer Meals.  How genius, the only thing I attempted to make with all the apricots we picked was Apricot Leather in my oven, which turned out to be a total flop.


Ham and Swiss Sandwiches for Lunches
 All this freezer cooking took about 3.5 hours.  The one thing I like about freezer cooking that canning does not afford you is the ability to get creative.  Add more vegetables, try a different meat, use a different cheese, freeze parts of a recipe, etc.
All the Freezing done this weekend

Baby in a box from Costco

Some of the Freezer meals and no I am not pregnant and yes that is my stomach - ha!


Chicken Curry for Haystacks; my favorite.  I hope I like it this way


How BEAUTIFUL is a stocked freezer?