Saturday, August 20, 2016

What's Up, Doc?

Remember how Valentine's Day snuck up on me?  Easter did the same thing!  Nearing the holiday I stumbled upon these darling carrot cellophane bags at Walmart.  They are SO CUTE!!  I love the green leaves at the top.  You might be able to find them at the craft store when the holiday is approaching...or...I found them online for you (click here for the link).  Just fill them with some Easter treats and tie with a bit of ribbon.  I used curly ribbon and then curled it to add to the leaf effect.  Think my missionary will catch on?  I think not.  Add a bit of coordinating tissue paper and some shredded paper if needed for filler and you're good to go.  Again, I was able to fit two into a small Flat Rate box from the Post Office.  Again, about $5 to send.  Yay!!
Now when someone asks what you sent your missionary for Easter you can say, "Carrots!" 

Love Sacks

Why is it that holidays tend to sneak up on me?  I try to stay on top of things and then all of a sudden I discover that a holiday is coming up in a week or so and I have to step up my pace...or stay up late.  Usually, it's the latter.  Valentine's Day was just one such time so I had to quickly throw what I had together and get it in the mail in the morning.
I stopped by the grocery store and grabbed some Valentine candy and just dumped it all into a big bowl and gave it a good mix.  I happened to have these cute red and white paper sacks from another project.  You can get them at the craft store or online (if you're more prepared than I am, they are less expensive online!) Throw in some candy or other treats (you could go healthy if you want...but it's Valentine's why?) and fold down the top.  I tied it with some red and white bakers twine and added a tag to each bag.  Decorate the tags with a strip of coordinating Washi Tape (came in a Christmas pack) or stickers or stamps (I used a tiny heart) or whatever you have lying around in your stash then write their name and a short message on the back of the tag.  You can purchase the twine, tags and Washi tape from the craft store if you don't have any...I think I purchase all three at different times from Pick Your Plum which lately seems to have a lot of clothing but sometimes has some pretty cool package containers and craft items.
One of the great things about something simple like this is the fact that it didn't cost me a mint to put together or to mail.  I have a lot of missionaries that I send to and need to send one to their companion as well so I need to keep the cost down where I can.  I could fit two Love Sacks into a small Flat Rate box and mail for about $5 a box within the United States.  Just the right amount of sweet without being too much.

Christmas Letters to Ward Missionaries

Our ward came up with a clever idea to send Christmas greetings to the missionaries serving from our ward.  We have a LOT!!  They cut rectangles of Christmas wrapping paper (just leave the width and cut the length only) and used push pins to attach them to the carpeted walls in the cultural hall.  Attach name tags above each paper (see photo) so everyone knows who they're writing to...or you could just write their name at the top of the paper.  Have markers available for ward members to use...pens and pencils will poke holes in the paper.  If your nervous about the markers poking through the paper and writing on the walls, just attach a piece of poster board behind each one.  Encourage the ward to write messages and not just sign their names.  Fold each one up and send it on it's merry way.  The missionaries loved it!
Hint:  If you're using dark wrapping paper, have the members write
on the opposite side so their messages will show up easier.

Important Papers Packet

When you have a child go on a mission, one of the things they request them to do is have some important papers on hand when they arrive at the mission home.  For my other boys I just put these papers into the binder they were to take that had their pedigree chart and family history stories, etc.  For Connor I picked up one of these plastic packets with a snap closure from the office supply store.  It was $1 and worked perfectly.  I used my label maker (absolutely LOVE my label maker!) and put his name on it.  The papers that you send with your missionary are kept at the mission home for the duration of their mission and will be returned to them when they finish their mission.  Because I knew they would be kept safe, I also sent a copy of the cards he keeps in his wallet (front and back), his drivers license (front and back), and the information part of his passport.  Now if his wallet or passport is ever lost or stolen he just needs to get the papers from the mission office to be able to quickly cancel and reorder anything that needs to be replaced.  I also kept a copy at home in Connor's mission binder.
Do NOT send original documents...
 unless requested by the mission home. 
Send only photo copies. 
If the mission home requests an original,
keep a photo copy at home for your own records.
Papers to consider including:
Birth Certificate
Social Security card
Drivers License (front and back)
Driving record
Immunization record
Prescription record
Insurance card
Important contact information (parents, bishop, etc.)
credit/debit/bank cards (front and back)
bank contact information
HIPA release form
(permission for you to receive medical information)
Power of Attorney
(permission for you to handle affairs for your missionary while they are away)

Sending You S'more Love: S'mores in a Jar

Sometimes these packages just make me giggle.  I'm sure my missionaries just roll their eyes...and then chow down of course, because well, they're boys after all.  I sent this with the camping 'photo book' from our family camp out to years ago...and we just returned from this year's camp out...yup, I'm that far behind on posting.  Lame, I know.  Matt loved it though and said they were super yummy.  Don't know what the 'photo book' is?  Click here for that post...  On to s'mores, 'cause who doesn't love a good s'more?!
Materials Needed:
half-pint jars
mini marshmallows
graham crackers
chocolate candy bar or chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
milk chocolate candy bar
(roughly chopped)
or use chocolate chips
Mix melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until well combined.  Add 2 Tbs. of crumb mixture to the bottom of each jar.  Add chocolate pieces to cover crumb mixture.  Add mini marshmallows for the third layer.  Repeat all three layers ending with marshmallows.  Secure lid. (Yield: 5 half-pint jars)
Click here to download the jar topper and recipe card.
Make sure to line your box and wrap each jar in bubble wrap.  I also included some red tissue paper and brown shredded paper - Matt said they got there just fine.  Top it all off with the instruction card. 
Don't forget to write a note on the back of the topper
if you're not including a letter or card...Why?
I didn't used to do this.  I would send letters or I would send packages.  Not usually both at the same time.  I should clarify a bit:  I send letters but to help them get more mail I didn't usually include a letter in with the package.  The letter was always separate.  In Matt's mission (and I think most missions that are stateside) all mail had to go through the mission home.  I don't like it but I understand the reasons why so I'm ok with it.  Letters would receive an address sticker and be forwarded immediately to the missionaries.  Packages would stay in the office until the Zone Leaders came in weekly to pick up supplies or when the senior missionaries or mission president went to the area where they were.  Here's the problem:  When Matt arrived in his first area whoever typed the address into the computer typed it in wrong.  For 30 days...his first 30 days in the field, Matt didn't receive one single stitch of mail.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch...and we had NO IDEA until we started getting letters back 'return to sender'.  Why does it take two days to receive a letter but 3+ weeks to get it back when it's not deliverable!  It's a mystery...but Matt thought we just weren't writing.  Just makes me tear up writing about it.  He did receive one package.  His 'greenie' package and on that one package, I had taken the time to write a note on the back of the package topper.  He needed that.  He needed that boost.  He needed to know, right then, that we hadn't forgotten about him.  From the moment I read that in his letter, I decided that I would always write a note in each package because you just never know when that might be the only mail they receive.

Here's the cover for our campout 'photo book'...
May I just mention that I am loving Photoshop?
Yeah.  We're best friends
Pretty simple, I know...humor me.

"You Can't Stop the Waves" - Quote Card

"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf." 
How appropriate is that for missionaries?  It explains their life in a nutshell...
or at least in a single sentence, right?
Print out onto heavy, white card stock.  Laminate, frame or just include with your letter.
Click here to download the Quote Card.

Orange You Glad it's Summer?

This package was SO fun to put together.  Pretty simple and pretty inexpensive and SO CUTE!!  Orange makes me smile.  It's just so...HAPPY!!  After the long, dreary winter this package is sure to bring a smile to the face of your missionary.  How could it not?  It's CUTE!!
Materials Needed:
orange shredded paper
cellophane bag
coordinating ribbon/tulle
(at least three styles suggested)
orange STUFF!
It's really pretty easy to fill these cute little bags.  Put a bit of shredded paper in the bottom of the sack.  It will protect the items that you put inside and make it look a bit nicer.  Look around the store or your home for things that are orange.  You don't have to include a lot to make the bag look pretty full.  For the Sister missionaries I included an orange flower that has a clip on it...they probably won't use it in their hair (not really the current style) but they could clip it on a sweater or blouse or on their shoulder bag, orange fingernail polish (mission rules vary on this depending on the mission president but they can always paint their cute little toes!), there are also orange EOS lip balms and orange tubes of mascara...go wild!!  You could also include and orange tie for the Elders as well as a small spiral orange notebook, an orange pen (the ink wouldn't be orange, just the outside silly).  Of course you would include a few treats:  Reese's candy bars, orange flavored Tootsie Rolls, Orange Slice candy, Orange gummie rounds, orange suckers, orange Tic Tac's...Cheez-it's also come in an orange package.  Make it fun, easy and inexpensive!  Print off the cute bag tag (see below) and tie a fluffy bow on the top and you're good to go.  Don't know how to tie a 'cute fluffy bow'?  It's a cinch!  Just watch...
#1 - Punch a hole in the top of your bag tag where shown.  Collect coordinating ribbon/tulle in various widths.  I suggest at least three different styles.  Cut one piece of ribbon about eight inches long and set aside (this is used to tie your sack closed in step #4). Stack all of the other ribbons/tulle on top of each other matching the ends as shown in the photo.
#2 - Spreading your fingers slightly apart, wrap the stack of ribbons around your fingers (see photo) at least three times.  The more times you wrap them around your fingers the fuller the bow will be.  Don't go too crazy or it might end up looking like a pom pom...unless that's the look you're going for in which case GO NUTS!!
#3 - Cut the ends.  Don't worry about cutting it even with the ends.  You can trim them up when you're finished.  Set the ribbons aside.  Just set something on top of it to hold in in place for a second...
#4 - Remember that eight inch piece of ribbon/tulle that you cut off at the beginning?  Use it to tie your sack closed.  Tie a knot so that it will stay tight for you...unless you have three hands or a helper...
#5 - Lay your stack of ribbon/tulle across the center of your knot...
#6 - ...and tie another knot to hold everything in place.
#7 - Your bow should now look something like this...
#8 - Slip your scissors through the loops of the ribbon/tulle and cut on both sides of the bow.  Don't worry, you really can't mess this up...Using the ends of the longer ribbon that you used to tie everything together in step #4, thread on your bag tag (see below) and tie securely. Trim the ends of the 'tie' ribbon.

#9 - Now just fluff and twist the pieces of ribbon into shape.  Trim any longer ends remembering that we're not making a pom pom (unless YOU are) and we don't want the whole thing to be too even.  Viola!  Aren't you talented!!  Cute, huh?  And easy!  Told 'ya!!

Just copy onto heavy card stock.  I laminated mine so it didn't tear through the card stock when I tied it onto my package but you could just put a piece of clear tape over the hole on both sides before punching it out.
Click here to download the bag tag

I also included this cute, inspirational 5x7 quote as a package topper. 
It looks adorable framed don't you think?
Or unframed is also good...maybe you could include an orange magnet!
Click here to download the package topper.