Friday, May 23, 2014


Greetings from Hawaii!!  My husbands work sends us on an incentive trip each year and about every other year or so we get to go to Hawaii.  LOVE IT!!!  It's our favorite vacation spot in this whole, big, wide, world and while we would love to eventually take our children there, it probably won't happen...I'm worried that they might ruin our favorite spot with squabbling!  I digress...

We brought back some of our kids favorite treats to share and I wanted to send some to my missionary and his companion who just happens to be from Samoa which I hope means he likes coconut because Matt is cRaZy for the stuff!

With help from an adorable digital scrapbook kit from Sweet Shoppe Designs @ I put together a package topper and some bag toppers.  Print them out onto white card stock.  Fold each bag topper in half and place over your treat filled reclosable sandwich baggie.  Ta da!!  Easy peasy and Matt is going to LOVE it!  I even managed to find some 'healthy' Hawaiian fare...'some' being the appropriate word. (The link to the free printables is at the end of this post.)

Here's what I included:

(chocolate covered caramel & macadamia nuts)

Macadamia Popcorn Crunch
Macadamia nut caramel corn...need I say more?
This and the Caramacs are my kids favorite Hawaiian treats.

I found a great tropical fruit medley at Costco in Hawaii.  Chock full of peanuts, almonds, walnuts, apples, kiwi, mangoes, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, cherries and raisins.  So yummy!!  I'm sure they have something similar at the Costco on the mainland or in your local grocery store...

Oh man...these are amazing:  macadamia nuts covered in sweet shredded coconut and rich milk chocolate.  Just like the chocolate covered pomegranate seeds that I talked about here, I have to divide these up into 100 calorie bags to pace myself.  I have no self-control.  Seriously.  Matt loves these!  I find them all the time at our local Costco but I hauled these across the big ol' ocean just for my missionary...not really...I knew I wasn't going to have one ounce of spare time to make a Costco run when I got home.

They only sell these in Hawaii and a few places online.  Even the Hershey website doesn't sell them.
They are pretty tasty.  Cutest thing?  The little 'flag' that usually says 'Hershey's' says 'Aloha'...
how cute is that?!?

True Bliss
Coconut chunks covered in rich, dark chocolate.  I'm thinking...
Isn't dark chocolate an antioxidant?

Note:  I didn't include the entire bag when compiling this package.  Just put 'some' into recloseable sandwich bags, staple a bag topper over (see below for links) and you're good to go.

Package topper
Make sure to write a personal note or short letter on the back
just in case this is the only mail they receive this week...or month!

Print onto white card stock and fold in half.  Staple over a treat filled reclosable sandwich bag.
Click here to download the free printables.

All graphics purchased and downloaded from Sweet Shoppe Designs@
You can purchase the digital design kit by going here: 

Office Supply Kit

When I served my mission I took along a 4"x6" recipe box with me filled with office supplies.  I like office supplies. I like knowing where to find a paperclip or a pair of scissors or have a mini stapler on hand when I need it.  My mini office came in very handy for me and my companions.  I put one together for each of my boys and my oldest even took his to college when he came home.  I still have mine and though I don't use it as often (I've got the bigger stuff in my desk) I still like having my mini office around just in case I need it.  Sometimes I take it with me to the Genealogy Library...

I purchased a handy plastic container with a snap on lid just like the one that I used for Matt's First Aid kit and filled it with just the essentials:

scissors (small pair)
small stapler w/ extra staples
post it notes
glue stick
White Out
paper clips
push pins or thumb tacs
small magnets
rubber bands
Super Glue (small tube)

Cinco de'Mayo

I sent out two different types of packages for Cinco de'Mayo this year - one for Matt's District (actually I used two medium size Flat Rate boxes from USPS), and one for the other missionaries that I send things to (one medium size Flat Rate box from USPS).

Pringles has a wide variety of tortilla style chips at the moment.  These will transport far better than chips in a bag which will undoubtedly  arrive to your missionary crushed and broken.  You will be able to fit two cans  into the medium size Flat Rate box which still allows plenty of room for other items.

I wanted to send things that they could use toward a Cinco de'Mayo meal and not just snacks.  I found these taco shells at the grocery store that come with not only six hard-shelled taco shells but also with six soft shell tortillas. Should be enough for even the heartiest of appetites.

Make sure to include some taco seasoning and some salsa.  I found salsa that comes in a four pack of individual servings which will work great for them to share with their companion. You could include some cash for your missionary so they can head to the store for the other essentials i.e. hamburger, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.  I also found some bags of microwavable Mexican rice that promises to be ready in 60 seconds.  Tacos along with the rice and a nice salad will round out a healthy meal for your missionary.

For dessert I included a bag of these scrumptious chocolate covered delights.  I love them all but the chocolate covered pomegranate seeds were so tempting that whenever I buy them I have to divide them up into 100 calorie packs just to keep some semblance of control and I don't even like pomegranates!  I don't buy them very often because everyone that knows me knows that I don't have much self-control when it comes to delicious food.  Once I start it's very hard to stop if 'ya know what I mean.  They can be a little on the pricey side. I picked mine up at Walmart but you can find them in any grocery store and they are about $5 a bag.  You can also find the HUGE ginormous bags at Costco.

Whenever our family goes on vacation I always try to throw in educational opportunities whenever I can and my missionary packages are no different.  Might as well learn something, right?!  I made some Cinco de'Mayo trivia cards that you can print out.  Just cut them out and tie them together with some jute.  Cute!

Line your box with some coordinating tissue and top with this page topper (see below).  Don't forget to include a message to your missionary on the back of the topper or include a personal letter just in case your package is the only correspondence that they receive that week (or month!).

Cinco de'Mayo - a District package

I sent two different Cinco de'Mayo packages this year.  Matt was assigned to be a District Leader on a recent transfer and I thought it would be fun to send something for his entire District to the package for him and the package for the other missionaries that I send things to was somewhat different (click here for the other Cinco de'Mayo package).  You can pick what suits you and your missionary the best.

Package topper.
Place on the top of your package.  Don't forget to write a note to your missionary on the back or include some kind of a letter to them.  You never know...this might be the only correspondence that your missionary receives this week (or month!) and while a package is wonderful, 
our missionaries long for actual letters.

Cinco de'Mayo is a holiday commemorating a battle that took place on May 5th between Mexico and France.  France invaded Mexico in order to collect on past due war debts and while the French military was significantly larger and better equipped, the Mexican military least in that particular battle. While Mexico does little at the present time to commemorate Cinco de'Mayo (with the exception of Puebla, Mexico, where the battle took place) preferring to celebrate their Independence Day (in September), the United States, with its many Hispanic communities celebrates with parades, dancing, singing and lots and lots of delicious, scrumptious, amazing food.  Yup.  I'm a foodie at heart.

For the District's package, I loaded up on the many varieties of tortilla chips that Pringles has on the market.  There are plenty to choose from.  While I would personally prefer the good old fashioned kind of tortilla chips that come in a bag, those do not travel well especially when combined with jars of salsa and con queso dip.  Don't get me wrong, they taste great...I'm just old fashioned at heart.  Look for salsa that comes in a plastic jar.  I was unable to find any Con Queso in a plastic container so I enclosed it in a large resealable plastic bag and wrapped it in bubble wrap.  Should make it to Washington in one piece...and if it doesn't?  Well, at least the mess will all be inside the plastic bag. You know how the post office asks you if there is "anything that is liquid or perishable" included in your package?  I said, "Yes."  They said, "What?"  I said, "Salsa and Con Queso." They said, "Ok."  That was it.  An entire world of packages ideas just opened up in my mind!

I wanted to send something for desert and considered making some Dulce de'Leche cookies but I was kind of in a time crunch wanting to get this in the mail before my husband and I took of to Hawaii for a business trip.  (Yup, that's where I'm at right now.  He's in meetings and I'm sitting in the room, overlooking the ocean, listening to the waves and the birds, watching the paddle boarders, keeping my eyes on the lookout for any whales that are still out there...leftovers from this spring's migration, and chatting with all of you.  I'd be outside but I did that all day yesterday and now I resemble something similar to a lobster.  I'll sit in the shade and read in a bit...).  Back to business...I decided on sending these scrumptious delights for their dessert.  They are SOOOOO good!  A tiny bit on the pricey side but man!  They are so good that when my daughter brought them over for me to try I had to divide them into 100 calorie bags just so I could pace myself somewhat.  They are crazy good!  You can find them in your grocery store or in HUGE bags at Costco.

Because this package is for treats after District Meeting, I also included some red paper plates, yellow napkins, orange paper cups and some plastic spoons.  I get a little into color schemes.  I'm sure that my son doesn't even notice and just thinks I'm strange.  Just throw in what you have...

Line your box with coordinating tissue paper and fill with your Cinco de'Mayo treats.  I made some "educational" cards that teach a little bit of trivia surrounding the holiday and tied them together with some jute.  (see below for links to download the trivia cards) Place the package topper on top and then fold your tissue over the entire package.  They are sure to LOVE it.  Especially if they are serving in a place that doesn't have chips and salsa.  I served in Hong Kong and when Sister Hales received a package with chips and salsa...thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Click here to download the trivia cards

All graphics purchased and downloaded from Catch My Party @
Below is the link to purchase your own digital kit:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

First Aid Kit

On the list of items that missionaries are to bring with them is:  First Aid Kit.  There are a LOT of first aid kits out there don'cha know! (said in my very best Minnesotan husband served his mission there)  They all contain LOTS of stuff and LOTS of stuff that missionary's probably would end up bringing back home with them.  Our first missionary took one of those.  For our second missionary, I decided to put one together myself.  All you have to keep in mind is this:  What might my child need at the spur of the moment when he can't just run to the medicine cabinet or drug store.  Probably not a triangular bandage or a mouth guard.  Maybe, but probably not.

I picked up a sturdy plastic box from the office supply store for less than $5.  I liked how it had plastic 'bits' on the bottom part of the box that snapped over the lid keeping everything securely in place.  I was worried that if it was just a snap on lid that it might just snap off during transit.  Not a good thing.  Everything needs to be neat and tidy.  THAT is a good thing.  It was about 6"W x 4"D x 3.5"H...Just make sure that your tallest item will stand up.  It will probably take up less room standing up then laying least I do.

There are a plethora of first aid items that the "List" says to bring with them.  I won't list them here because they are different for each mission.  Refer to your list and use your own discretion when deciding what size to purchase and what brand to bring with you.  For example: Ibuprofen is Ibuprofen even if it is the store brand however all cough syrups are not created equal.  Use what you already know works for your child.  Don't send the industrial size Tylenol from Costco if you don't remember the last time your child even took Tylenol.  Small is better.  You can always send more or they can pick up more in the mission field.  No need to include a box full of band-aids...wrap an elastic around the outside of the band-aids and discard the box, do the same with disinfectant wipes, etc.  Only include the box if there is pertinent medical instructions that are only listed on the outside of the box.

Mini First Aid Kit

While putting together a First Aid kit for Matt to take with him on his mission, I put together a mini one for him to keep in his back pack or shoulder bag.  Odds are that if he's going to get hurt it will probably be while he's out and about.  If he's going to get sick (besides indigestion or a headache, that is) it will probably be while he's at home and sleeping.  That gave me a pretty good idea of what I needed to include in the mini kit.

I used the same style of container that I used for his regular First Aid kit...just smaller.  I found it at the office supply store for less than $1.  It measured about 3.5"W x 2.5"D x 2"H.  I love the clip that comes up the sides to hold the lid in place, should keep things together at the bottom of his bag where they can be found easily if needed.

Make sure to include a few band-aids (the fabric kind will stay on longer), some alcohol or disinfectant wipes, some moleskin already cut to size (for the occasional blister that may arise on their feet), some aspirin or Ibuprofen for pain and something to settle their stomach. I used some small bags that I have around for making jewelry.  They can be found at the craft store where you can buy them by the box or ask for them at the bead counter and purchase them by the piece.  Make sure to label each bag clearly.

Letter Writing Kit

I remember pdays being absolutely CRAMMED with too much to do and too little time to do it in: laundry, writing letters home, internet cafe (or library or family history center wherever free WiFi exists), chores, grocery shopping, etc. and occasionally activities with other missionaries in our District and if you aren't lucky enough to have a car (even if you are lucky you probably wouldn't choose to use your limited amount of miles doing personal things) everything is slowed down by the fact that you have to walk there, bike there or rely on public transit.  On my mission I put together a letter writing kit that was easy to throw into my bag and have everything that I needed at hand, that way I could use the time that I had while traveling on the bus or waiting on laundry to write letters home.  Here's what I put together for Matt before he left for Seattle:

I purchased a clear plastic re-closeable envelope from an office supply store. There were a lot of styles and colors to choose from.  Pick the one that will work the best for your missionary - just make sure that it is somewhat expandable and will easily fit a writing pad.  Not too bulky or they'll never take it with them and not so small that it won't hold letter writing essentials.

Letter Writing Kit Essentials:
a pad of lined writing paper
#10 envelopes
 (that's the business size envelope)
(regular, postcard and international)
pens* or pencils
(w/ sharpener or extra led)
pre-printed return address labels
address book
(click here and here for an easy address book idea)

*Note:  Pens are a preferred writing implement because they are more archival.  Pencil tends to fade over time...this is assuming that you are going to keep their letters for family history.

You don't need to add every envelope that comes in a box.  Just include a few and send the rest with them in their suitcase.  I suggest sending post card stamps (see here for a post regarding missionary post cards).  Sometimes a post card reply is sufficient for your missionary's response to someone's letter and it is certainly quicker to write and cheaper to send; also include regular stamps and a few international stamps if they have friends and family serving or living abroad.  It can be somewhat difficult for a missionary to obtain additional stamps if they don't have a post office in their area so I occasionally include a sheet of stamps in the snail mail that I send or include some in a package.

Print out some return address labels for them.*  Don't include the entire package, just a few printed sheets.  You can send them more when they need them.  Use the mission home address as their return address NOT their apartment address.  This will insure that the address labels won't go to waste when they get transferred AND insure that they actually continue to receive their mail if they do.  The mission home will forward all mail to your missionary either through the postal system (if they are serving stateside) or their Zone Leaders will pick it up weekly (most missions) from the mission home and deliver it to them at their weekly District meetings.

*Note:  Use the code located on the front cover of the packet of labels for a template.
Save this to your hard drive so you can print out when you need 
to replenish your missionary's supply.

Healthy Conference Treats

We have a tradition surrounding General Conference at our house: FOOD!  A lot of our traditions revolve around food.  It started out when our kids were quite young and I wanted them to enjoy Conference and stick around during the talks without having to resort to Satan's plan i.e. making them sit there.  I make a big spread of assorted appetizers and have them in our great room and we just sort of graze all day long.  It takes a bit of prep work but there's usually enough that it lasts the whole day and I don't have to worry about what's for dinner that night.  I wanted to send Matt and his companion some kind of healthy Conference treats and while these probably weren't super healthy...there is after all, a ton of salt in Chex Mix...lets face it, it's a lot healthier than all the sugar I've sent the last few months...and Sister Murphy listed it as her favorite treat on her "My Favorite Things" printable.  Her mom was kind enough to share the recipe and this helpful hint: "Double the sauce-ie bit of the recipe to make it truly addictive."  Thanks, Marcie!

Chex Party Mix
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
1 cup small pretzels
1 cup nuts
1 cup mini bagel chips
(like in Gardetto's - I found them by the deli at the grocery store)
1 cube butter
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
Tobasco sauce, to taste (optional)
1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
(or 3-4 fresh cloves garlic, crushed)
1/2 tsp onion powder 

In a large bowl add the cereals, pretzels, nuts and bagel chips.  Stir to combine.
In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter and add the seasonings.  Stir to combine.
Pour over cereal mixture and stir until everything is coated evenly.
Spread evenly onto a baking sheet and bake uncovered for 1 hour in a 250 F. oven, stirring every 15 minutes.   
This will allow the mix to dry out and become slightly golden.  
Allow to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.