September 26, 2009

Kids at the Bottling Party

Today we had another bottling party for our ward. While the ladies worked their magic processing the fruit the kids had a blast too. Frequently you could find the kids trying to help with the fruit preparation like Rachel and Sarah Simmons.

But most we found playing inside and out...mostly out. Here Aleky is following Eleanor Anderson up the ladder.

Donovan has discovered how to swing on his own power and is having a blast.

David loves anything that goes fast. Here he is simply unwinding from a hectic day.

Michael has decided that ladders are for the little kids. He must climb up by some other way.

Tennison Anderson is just happy to be here. What a great kid, hardly noticed he was here because he was so content.

Eleanor Anderson going down the slide on her own.

Bottling Party (part 2)

Today was yet another day for bottling the fruit collected from within the ward boundaries; the second of 3 scheduled bottling parties. By the end of today we estimated that we have bottled nearly 500 pounds of fruit that would otherwise have simply been wasted but is now preserved and ready to be used by happy families through out the coming year.

In preparing for today we were able to use 7 stoves and they would all be in use for the majority of the day.
We had about a dozen different people come to participate in the activity to help prepare, slice, dice and in all other ways get the fruit ready for bottling and processing.

Today's emphasis was on apples. We did apple sauce and apple slices in great abundance.

It was really quite the production. Fortunately we had the use of Dad Petersen's wall tent frame and tarp to provide some shade from the summer sun.

Around lunch time Saundra had prepared sandwiches for everyone who had been participating. I don't know how she made them but they were bagel dogs (hot dogs cooked inside of bagel doe. (I definitely need to get the recipe...for Michelle!)

We are certainly grateful to everyone who helped to process so much fruit and especially for the few who stayed to the bitter end (clean-up). We love to host these parties but sometimes the clean-up can really be a chore.

Fortunately we had enough help that we were done by 5:00 pm. That gave Michelle just enough time to jump in the shower and get ready to go to Women's Conference at 6:00 pm.

September 25, 2009

Recuerdos de mi Pueblo

My first assignment on the High Council was to give a talk in my assigned ward the next week. After that I took over planning and running our stake cultural activity, "Recuerdos de mi Pueblo".

It took was quite the project and I didn't have a lot of time to coordinate all of the various aspects of the activity. I was fortunate to be able to work with some very dedicated activity chairs from the various wards in the stake. With their help we were able to put together an exciting cultural event.

We had each ward contribute a poster about a different country that talked about how the church has progressed in that country. We also were able to get several flags representing most of the countries in North and South America.

During the pre-show time we had an activity for the kids. We had 2 pinantas that we hoisted up on the basketball standard and let the kids hit it. We started off just letting the little kids hit. Then we graduated to big kids with a blind fold. Finally we allowed the big kids to just swing because the pinantas were not breaking. It proved to be very entertaining and we managed to get most of the kids some candy (one way or the other).

The actual performance, "Recuerdo de mi Pueblo" is done by a group of performers from around the area. Brother Cenobio Valderrama put this show together and was "touring" around to various stakes in this Utah South area. We were very fortunate to have this production in our stake. The show consisted of song, dance, magic and cultural explanations.

We estimated that we had nearly 500 people attend this performance. Everyone there seemed to enjoy the production and had a good time. We were excited to note that there were at least a dozen non-member participants in attendance as well.

After the performance was over we cleared the chairs and had a Latin dance for a couple more hours. Even though it was supposed to be a family dance, most of the families went home to put their kids to bed. We still had over 100 people at the dance.

It was a wonderful opportunity to participate in this production. Our hope was to have an experience that would allow people to interact and provide some missionary moments. As far as I can tell we were able to accomplish both objectives. It's too early to say whether we will try this activity again as a stake but it was a great experience for me to coordinate a large activity at the stake level. It'll be interesting to see what I get to experience next.

September 20, 2009

Donovan Survives Car Wreck...Only Minor Injuries!

David and Donovan were playing so well together in the backyard today. David was pulling the car and Donovan was along for the ride. However, David got a little carried away and went faster than the car could handle causing it to roll. Donovan sustained only minor injuries and was able to walk away from the accident.

Nice bruise next to left eye

Boys Create Fire

The kids were running around in the back yard while Michelle and I visited with our friends Amelia and Richard Anderson. I happened to notice the garage door open and thought that was a little strange. My real concern is that the boys might damage some fruit, break a bottle or escape out the garage door. As it turned out, none of my fears were realized. David had the brilliant idea of gathering all of the pine needles that had fallen on the patio into one big pile and he needed a broom or rake or something else useful.

Once they had a big pile somehow the idea slipped out that the boys should put the pine needles into the fire pit and we should just burn them. Well the boys thought that was the most brilliant idea, especially since they would get to start the fire (which means that they get to play with the matches). It went off like clockwork except that Donovan was so excited that he and Michael collided as they raced off with their matches. Donovan went down and got a pretty good bruise on his knee. That postponed the lighting ceremony just a few minutes while we repaired his knee. Otherwise, the boys had all sorts of fun with the fire.

Donovans knee starting to show the bruising

The boys light the fire

The great pine needle bon fire

September 17, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Whenever God sends rain into your life make sure you look for the rainbows!

We certainly had a rainbow in our lives today and just wanted to share.

September 6, 2009

Relief Society Bottling Party

One day, not so long ago, my dear wife was talking with Samantha Anderson. Now that isn't so shocking but on this particular day they happened upon an idea! This idea was to gather the fruit in the ward (that would normally just fall to the ground and be wasted) and bottle it and actually utilize it productively. This fruit could be gathered freely.

But this wasn't just about gathering the free fruit. This was an opportunity to teach those sister who were interested how to bottle that fruit so they could do it on their own the next time. And so the idea began to develop. Each person who heard the idea was inspired and excited to further the effort. Eventually Michelle, Samantha and Lydia (Taylor) began the organization of this bottling party. Word was put out to gather canning and bottling equipment, camp stoves, tables, bottles, lids, fruit, etc.

Every day this week something new has arrived, either fruit, bottles or other canning equipment. We were forced to (partially) clean out our garage to make room for everything. Then, the night before the canning party Michelle took me aside and gave me some very specific instructions about what I was supposed to be doing before, during and after this bottling party. As an afterthought she asked me if I'd be willing to help out!!!

Fortunately I was mostly in charge of the kids. I like that part. Especially when they decided that they wanted to play with each other. However, I was called upon frequently to move large boiling pots of water, steaming hot applesauce, etc. as needed.

The kids getting in some playtime...

It wasn't hard to find fruit testers...

And more playing...

The bottling party is just getting started. Note, only two stoves to begin with. We ended up with 10 burners going simultaneously!
The first step was taking care of the apples. At this point we had lots of big helpers.
The nectarines were started simultaneously as more sisters arrived.
Getting the bottles ready for fruit.

Then it was time for peaches.
Once the apples were ready it was time to squoosh them into applesauce.
Still more nectarines...
And apples...
There is an art to putting the fruit into the bottles to maximize the space.
More bottles to prep
But look at all that applesauce
Instructions and teaching moments were frequent

And here is the whole set-up. The canopy for preparing the fruit, the cooking on the patio (10 burners fired up and we could have used more!). The grass was the washing/cleaning area.
Making some jam

Finally processing for the finished fruit bottles And finally time to clean up

This was quite the process but it yielded some great results. These ladies bottled about 120 quarts of fruit...
Applesauce: 19 quarts and 18 pints
Pears: 22 quarts
Nectarines: 54 quarts and 2 pints
Peach jam: 17 pints and 16 half pints
Plum jam: 4 pints

We're lucky enough to be planning "round 2" in about 3 weeks. It was really quite the production but everyone seemed to have an enjoyable time, learned about bottling and came away with 120 quarts of free fruit! But the best part of the whole day was having 2 investigators come and participate in the bottling project! What a great introduction to the church and one of the ways the gospel blesses our lives.