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Archive for February, 2009

I am on the food committee at our church, and often work in the kitchen for various activities.  I struggle every year trying to find food or snack ideas for the kiddos during Vacation Bible School.   We also feed our Wednesday night kids a snack each week during the school year, so this post is dedicated to those dear souls who are looking for something new to feed the starving heathens.

For perspective on numbers, on Wed. nights, we feed around 60 people – kids and workers.  During VBS, we feed the workers beforehand each night (many are just getting off of work – feeding them is the least we can do!), plus we serve more substantial food for the kids too since many of them have not had supper.  We normally average 100 to 120 kids/workers total.

If you have any additional ideas for food, I would dearly love to hear them.  🙂

Snacks:

  • Popcorn – we  use around 12 to 13 bags of microwave popcorn to feed 60 to 70 people.  On Wed. nights, we scoop the popcorn into disposable bowls for the kids.  For VBS, we use paper lunch sacks and roll down the tops (one staple in the middle will secure it).  This makes it super easy to do ahead of time and pass out later.
  • Trail mix – I sorta came up with this combination based on what the kids seemed to eat and enjoy most.  You can use anything you like however.  I use a combination of pretzels, goldfish crackers, and marshmallows mixed together in a large bowl.  When serving, sprinkle a few M&Ms on top of each individual bowl (otherwise the M&Ms sink to the bottom – ask me how I know!).
  • Sausage, cheese, and crackers – We like the Hillshire Farms Smoked Kielbasa best – sliced into fairly thin rounds, sliced American cheese (cut into fourths), and Ritz crackers.  For 60 people or so, use 2 packages of the kielbasa along with a package of sliced cheese and a large box of Ritz.  Be sure to have extra cheese and crackers available – some kids don’t like the sausage (but we have one little girl who says this is the best thing we make – LOL).
  • Ice cream sundaes – large buckets of ice cream (a couple of them for Wed. nights, at least 4 buckets for VBS).  Vanilla and chocolate seem to go over better than the strawberry or mixed flavors.  Be sure to have a variety of toppings such as chocolate syrup, cherries, pineapple, caramel sauce, butterscotch sauce, M&Ms, whipped cream, etc.  The 4 oz serving cups available at restaurant supply companies work great for this and are the perfect size.
  • Teddy Grahams, animal crackers, and whipped topping – I take a couple of boxes of Teddy Grahams along with a large package of animal crackers and mix them together in a large bowl.  You can either spoon the whipped topping onto a plate when you serve it, or use the small 2 oz serving cups (restaurant supply) to put the whipped topping in.  Kids love to dip things!  (It usually takes 2 LARGE tubs of whipped topping for this amount of crackers.)
  • Pretzels and cheese sauce – We have had mixed reviews on this one, and don’t serve it often.  The 2 oz serving cups work very well for the cheese sauce, and either the straight or traditional pretzels.
  • Nachos – One large #10 can of cheese sauce mixed with one can of Rotel (not drained) (use a large crockpot), plus 4 bags or so of tortilla chips.  Sam’s Club carries the plastic nacho trays which makes serving easier.   For VBS, we sometimes have taco meat prepared on the side and available to serve over the nachos to make a more substantial snack.  (Note:  If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to let the crockpot heat the cheese dip, you can microwave the crock if it’s removeable.)  During VBS, we can easily go through two cans of cheese and Rotel per night.
  • S’mores – This is great on a cold winter’s night!  For the Wed. night crowd, we use 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk (NOT Pet milk) mixed with 2 – (12 oz) packages of Hershey’s chocolate chips.   Microwave and stir until smooth.  It will make a thick, almost frosting-like consistency fudge.  You will need 4 boxes of graham crackers and 3 or 4 containers of marshmallow cream also.  Break a sheet of graham cracker in two so that you have two squares the same size, put a tablespoon of the fudge in the middle of one cracker (don’t spread it out) and a tablespoon of marshmallow cream on the other, then gently press them together (and will squish the chocolate and marshmallow out to the sides).  It works best if you have an assembly line of sorts set up to do these.  They can be made several hours ahead of time (which works great so that the chocolate can set up a bit more and will be less messy when eating).  Very good served with hot chocolate!  😀
  • Pickles – dill and sweet.  We normally buy the gallon jars of whole dill pickles and slice them into spears ourselves.  The kids can go through a gallon on Wed. nights with no problem.  During VBS (along with other snack items), a gallon a night still works well.
  • Cookies – large packages of chocolate and vanilla cream filled cookies are big hits.  One to two packages per night, depending on what else is served.
  • Pudding cups – Sam’s Club has #10 cans of vanilla and chocolate pudding that are actually REALLY good!  We use the 4 oz serving cups with enough pudding to fill a little more than half, then top with a dollop of whipped topping.  If you have the lids to the cups, it is very easy to make these ahead of time and refrigerate.  On Wed. nights, 2 – #10 cans (usually one of each flavor) and a couple tubs of topping will suffice.  For VBS, 4 cans total along with 4 tubs of topping.
  • Hot chocolate – We go through 2 gallons of hot cocoa plus some Kool-Aid on Wed. nights.  If you’re using the individual serving packets, it takes around 24 packets to a gallon of water, plus a healthy dose of some non-dairy creamer (it makes the cocoa a bit richer tasting).  Serve with mini-marshmallows.
  • Kool-Aid – Every Wednesday night, we use 2 gallons of Kool-Aid, which equates to four packages, 4 cups of sugar, and enough water to fill a two gallon pitcher.  We also serve plain ol’ water too.

Food to feed a crowd (besides snacks):

  • Sloppy joes
  • Tacos
  • Hot dogs
  • Hamburgers
  • Macho Nachos (with meat, sour cream, etc.)
  • Quesadillas (we do some with cheese only, and others with taco meat and cheese.  Use a pizza cutter and slice into 6 pieces.  Serve with a dipping sauce made from Ranch Dressing (Hidden Valley is best) and salsa – about half and half of each.)
  • Mini- pizzas – made with cheap, canned biscuit dough, spaghetti sauce (Ragu works great), cheese, and pepperoni (optional).  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, flatten a biscuit out with your fingers, top with a spoonful of sauce, top with cheese and pepperoni, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so – just until the biscuits are cooked through and the cheese is melted.
  • Little sandwiches – These go like hotcakes.  The secret is to make them several hours ahead of time – it really does make a huge difference.  For Wed. nights, I use 4 packages of hamburger buns, 2 packages each of Oscar Meyer smoked turkey breast and honey ham, a package of sliced American cheese, and some toothpicks.  For each sandwich, use one slice each of ham, turkey, and cheese.  Put four toothpicks into the top of the sandwich and slice between them cutting the sandwich into fourths (each piece like a slice of pie sort of).  Put the sandwiches on a tray, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours.  Double the amount listed above for a VBS crowd of 100.
  • Sweet tea – The workers (and many of the kids) love a refreshing glass of sweet tea.  My favorite brand (and I’ve done a side by side taste test of leading brands) is Luzianne De-Caf.  I use two of the family size bags per gallon (for the stove top, add the tea bags to some water in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 10 – 15 minutes).  For each gallon of tea, use 1  1/2 cups of sugar.  We could not keep tea made fast enough during our last VBS!
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I have been doing this for years, and started our tweenager on part of this regime too because of pimples/breakouts (raging hormones will do it every time!).  These are effective yet inexpensive ways that might help to treat acne on your own.  Sometimes you do have to see a dermatologist, so keep that in mind.  If you don’t see noticeable results within a week and the acne is severe, I would definitely consult a dermatologist for further treatment.  Just a disclaimer – try this at your own risk.  I’ve used the items listed below for years with no problem, but every person is different.  If you have problems with ANY product, stop using it immediately.

First – it is very important to keep the face clean.  Keep your fingers/hands OFF of your face.  Your fingers have natural oils on them which further clog pores in the face and will make breakouts worse.  Also, keep your hair clean, and for boys, keep the hair short enough that it is not hanging on the forehead – oils from the hair will also make breakouts worse.

Plain ol’ soap is good enough to wash the face, unless you are a soap snob like me and are compelled to make your own.   😀  We use a facial soap I made with French Green Clay in it which is wonderful for drawing out excess oils from the skin and helps to remove impurities.  However, ANY soap is better than nothing.  Wash the face twice a day – preferably morning and evening.  Do not scrub excessively – it will only irritate the skin.  The goal is to gently remove excess oils – not scrub your face off.

Special note for women/girls wearing makeup – good ol’ Vaseline and an old washcloth will take off eye makeup/mascara better than anything I’ve ever found.  I’ve heard people say your eyelashes will fall out from using it.  That’s hooey – I’ve been using Vaseline to remove mascara since I was 13.  Several decades have passed since then, and I still have my eyelashes.  Remove eye makeup before washing the face with soap.  I keep a stack of old washcloths in the linen closet specifically for this purpose.

Now this is the clincher – it is the single most important thing you can do to prevent breakouts in my humble opinion.  Get a bottle of apple cider vinegar at the grocery store (you’ll find it around the regular clear vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is amber colored).   Pour some into a smaller bottle and keep it in your bathroom.  At LEAST in the evenings after you wash your face, take a cotton ball with some of the apple cider vinegar on it, and gently but firmly scrub your face with it.  Until you get used to it, it might take your breath away and your eyes might water (avoid the eye area, btw – it stings horribly).  Be sure to get in the creases around your nose very well.  Breathe through your mouth if you have to if the smell is too strong.  Allow the vinegar to sit for 30 seconds or so, then rinse your face with plain water.  The smell DOES go away after a few minutes and you won’t smell like a salad.

The apple cider vinegar helps to annihilate nasties on your skin that contribute to pimples/breakouts.  It is cheap to use, and it does work for most people.  I can tell within a day or so if tweenager isn’t using it – it makes that much difference.

We are also using a product called Clean & Clear Advantage – Acne Spot Treatment.  It has a purple cap and is in a small silver tube.  The stuff is clear, and it only takes a dab of it.  I think it cost around $7 at Walmart (which I thought was expensive), but it has done a pretty good job also.  We had tried different acne creams and they bleached out several shirts when kiddo would sweat after P.E., so we switched to this instead.

Lastly, if you have any foods that you know make you prone to breakouts, avoid them or at least eat sparingly.  Some people say chocolate is a trigger for them, although many doctors would disagree.  When I was younger, chocolate did seem to make my face worse.  That is one good thing about getting older … pimples are fewer and far between.  😀

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If you are not a cat lover, you might want to stop reading now.  Really.  Go to another page, have a cup of coffee, ponder other things besides the digestive troubles of feline furbabies.  This may be a bit much for some of you.  I have gone back and forth about whether or not to even post about such a subject, but since so many of us have cats, I thought it might be beneficial to somebody.

Our beloved furbaby, Prissy, is a long-haired “something”.  She was abandoned when she was around 5 weeks old, and we’ve had her ever since.  She was so tiny and sick, but her personality was so sweet that she won our hearts almost immediately.  She could barely eat solid food and would fit in the palm of your hand.  She weighed just slightly over 1 pound.

That was 5 years ago.

Now PooBear tops the scales at over 10 pounds on a good day.   She is much loved, spoiled rotten, and an integral part of our family.

(Did I mention she also plays fetch with foam rings and chase like a dog?  There may be some personality disorders at work here too.    😛  )

She has always been prone to digestive troubles of various sorts.  Initially, we struggled to find food that wouldn’t cause diarrhea.  Our vet told us to go with a good quality food because there are fewer fillers and therefore less poo.  We finally settled on Iams dry food and also wet canned food to help with hairballs (plus she has a major turkey fetish).  She does have the occasional hairball, but overall she has done extremely well…until this past December.

She started vomiting several times a day, and no amount of vaseline on her paw would help pass whatever was causing the problem.  We also noticed she hadn’t had a bowel movement in 3 or 4 days.  She was nauseous and wouldn’t eat.  Alarmed, we took her to our vet who suspected she was indeed constipated.  He decided to give her a mineral oil enema and see if that relieved (pardon the pun) the problem.

Sure enough – she was constipated.  We picked up a very ticked off cat that afternoon who was appalled at the indignities she had been made to suffer at the hands of strangers.  If you don’t believe a cat can pout, you obviously do not have an indoor cat!

The vet put her on Laxatone (it coats hairballs and helps them to pass – it’s the thickest, nastiest looking stuff you can imagine) and also sent her home with an antibiotic for a few days just because of the stress her system had endured.  She absolutely hated the Laxatone.  You could put it on her paw or even smear it on her nose and it would stay there til it rotted off – she certainly wasn’t going to remove it.

We finally went back to Vaseline on her paw since the $10 tube of Laxatone wasn’t doing any good if it wasn’t inside her stomach.  The vet also recommended a Furminator brush to help remove extra hair.  I’ve been giving Priss a bath at least monthly since she was a baby, and while she doesn’t like it, she tolerates it with only some minor complaining.  I thought we had been doing a fairly good job of brushing her, but the constipation episode convinced us we had to go a step further.

The Furminator brush works wonders – if you use it correctly.  At first, I was lightly combing her hair because I was afraid of hurting her.  I finally watched a video online and realized I needed to really brush her better than what I had been doing.  The first time we used it, you would have thought we could’ve made a whole other cat from the hair we got off!  The trash can was full, and her coat gleamed.  Life was good again.

Until last week.

We have all been sick with the crud going around, and Poo didn’t get brushed as thoroughly.  She also devoured a can of turkey and cheese that she’d never sampled before.  Yep…you guessed it.  We had another round of vomiting and constipation.

Back to the vet we went.  She was slightly dehydrated, so the vet put her on an IV and ran some blood work (this was a different vet than previous).  We explained what had happened in Dec, but he wanted to be sure nothing else was going on.  Blood work came back ok, and we decided to go ahead with x-rays just to make sure there were no blockages.  Guess what?  She was full o’poop again.  Long story short – two days in the animal hospital and another enema later, we picked her up again.

Vet said to force the Laxatone down her and gave us a syringe with no needle in it.

Can a cat wallow Laxatone around in their mouth, spit it out, and manage to coat you and them in it?  Yessiree, Bob, they can.  It’s a wonder to behold at the determination of a feline NOT to do what you want.

After several failed attempts, I have learned to put the Laxatone in the syringe, scruff the cat, aim for the roof of her mouth, and pop in the Laxatone as quickly as I can manage.  Then I hold her mouth shut until she swallows it.  Hubby has watched in amazement that it works.  I told him scrubbing Laxatone off of her and everything we own gets old very quickly.

What have we learned?  An ounce of prevention is DEFINITELY worth a pound of cure.  Daily brushing with the Furminator is a must, as well as the occasional bath as long as her hair is.  I also bought a set of clippers and trimmed all of her chest/belly hair to make grooming easier.  She was offended by this at first, but was so happy to be back home, she got over it.

We’re also going to keep using the Laxatone several times a week.  It does work better than Vaseline in her case.  Also, no more turkey and cheese!

Furminator brushes are much cheaper on Ebay than from the vet or even most pet supply stores.  Your kitty, and your pocketbook, will thank you.

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What would you do if you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow?  What about your life would you change or do differently?

No one knows the day or hour Jesus will return, but the Bible does tell us of the signs of His coming.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.

“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

“But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

Matthew 24:3-14

also consider these Scriptures:

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near;

so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

“Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

“For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”  Matthew 24:32-44

If you are a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ – always be ready.  Live your life as if Jesus were coming any minute.  We don’t know when it will be, but our lives should be a reflection of our faith in Him.  Don’t put off til tomorrow what you should do today.  Reconcile a relationship that needs healing and forgiveness.  Show kindness to others.  Tell people about Jesus.

If you are not a believer, it is my prayer that you will search your heart before it is too late.  The time draws near, time is winding down.  God gives each of us “free will” – He condemns no one, and by accepting or refusing the gift of His Son Jesus, you choose your own fate.

Jesus loves you, and longs for a relationship with you.  Come to Him now.  You might not have a chance tomorrow.

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