Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Other February Activities

Helping with the stake youth carnival.

Making sock monkeys for granddaughters.

Celebrating Valentine's Day.

Trying out a new restaurant - Devine Bistro - after attending the tennis tournament.

Going back to a tried-and-true restaurant - Cheesecake Factory - with some friends before a piano concert.

Trying out another new restaurant before another concert. We've really enjoyed our season tickets to the symphony, and we've enjoyed our dinners out beforehand as well. Is it sad that I prefer Original K.C. Masterpiece barbecue sauce over Brother Jimmy's version?

Enjoying the wildlife (sandhill cranes) in our backyard.

Helping with a funeral and luncheon.

Stocking the pantry with movie snacks.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saying Good-bye (or Planning a Funeral)

This month I was asked to help arrange a funeral along with the family luncheon for someone in our ward. It was actually a beautiful way to serve and things turned out well. Just in case the opportunity arises again, I thought I'd record some sites I found that were helpful. (See below.)

The internet is a fantastic resource, but I also pulled out the funeral program for my grandmother's funeral to give me ideas. It's a blessing to be able to assign yourself to be the organist, because the hardest task was figuring out the music, particularly the musical number. This program included "How Great Thou Art" for the opening hymn and "The Lord is My Shepherd" for the closing hymn (chosen by the widow because they were her husband's favorite hymns). Family members read a couple of scriptures, gave the life sketch, and shared a poem. After some friends sang "Each Life that Touches Ours for Good" (an arrangement by our good friend Ross Farnworth), the bishop spoke. The actual service was only 30 - 40 minutes long, one of the shortest I've ever been to, but it was beautiful and met its purpose.

We were planning on 60 family members for the luncheon and 59 came. Sybil did a great job of estimating, don't you think?

Some of the things that worked out great were to use tablecloths instead of paper or nothing. I think that was important to me because I remember un-covered tables at the family luncheon after my grandmother's funeral. They're just not pretty, although they are practical, especially with a lot of little children. However, unlike for my grandmother, for this family only the widow was a member of the church; none of the relatives were. I felt we needed to leave a good impression. Fortunately, I think we succeeded.

We wanted centerpieces as well for the same reason. Simple is good, and there were some plastic vases with fake flowers in the Relief Society closet. With some fabric squares from my stash at home they did the job.

I read somewhere to put rolls and butter on the individual tables, instead of the serving table, and that was a great idea. If someone's really hungry, they don't have to wait for the line to form. In addition to pitchers of water, we also put the eating utensils, napkins and cups at each table so they wouldn't need three hands to carry things. Only the dinner plates were on the serving table. We also followed the suggestion to have the cakes on a different table, with room to place plates of cut pieces nearby.

We had the traditional menu of ham, potato casserole, green salad with dressing, rolls and cake, and the estimates below are pretty good. For 60 people, we used 2 Costco hams (10# each), 4 9x13" pans of potatoes, 14# of lettuce with 2# of grape tomatoes and a bag of croutons, 2 16-oz bottles of salad dressing, 1 pound of butter, 9 dozen rolls and 4 9x13" cakes. It actually turned out to be the perfect amount - we didn't run out of food, but we didn't have leftovers coming out of our ears either.

It was a long day, although not quite as long as a wedding day, and I was grateful that Wayne was happy to come along to help. The checklist should have a reminder to wear comfortable shoes! Don't forget to have someone open the building for the funeral home people (although I guess that isn't normally part of the luncheon committee responsibility). Just for future reference, we arrived at 10:30 to make copies of the program and practice the musical number. The service started at noon. The family arrived back from the cemetery around 1:30 and we were finished with clean-up around 3:30. Lots of hands really do make the work light.

Here are a couple of the resources I used, Mormon Share and LDS Women, and here's the checklist for the family luncheon (or repast as our Sybil called it):

Planning Checklist

  1. Call the family to find out the time and place of the funeral, estimated time of the luncheon, and rough estimate of how many family members will be eating.
  2. Get a phone number from the family of a family member who would not mind getting a cell phone call in case the servers need to locate or contact the family on the day of the funeral and luncheon.
  3. Reserve the building. Be sure to reserve enough time for set up, a leisurely meal, and clean up. Funeral preparations take precedence over other uses of the building.
  4. Make sure there are enough paper products in the paper closet.
  5. Assign someone to set up #_____of tables and #_____of chairs to each table by__________(time). (8 People can comfortably sit at the round or rectangular tables.)
  6. Consult the Compassionate Service Leader(s) to plan the following:
    • Decide menu and amount needed of each item. (See the Sample menu.)
    • Call people to make assignments (or if there is time you can pass around an assignment sheet in Relief Society, Primary, Nursery, Library and Young Womens) – Tell them the time and place to deliver their food. You’ll need:
      • help with set up (tablecloths/paper, serving tables, food placement, beverage preparation),
      • help to receive the food (use a tape and marker to write a name on each tray),
      • help to serve the food,
      • help with clean up, and
      • help to return empty dishes after the funeral.
    • Call people that can help on the day of the luncheon:
      • Remind them of time to be there (at least 30 minutes before family arrives to avoid any distracting rushing about).
      • Remind them to label their utensils or dishes
      • Remind them of any other assignments (knives, etc).
    • Take a list of people bringing food so you know who to expect.

Items Needed

  • From the Library:
    • Scissors (a myriad of uses, possibly to cut paper for tables)
    • Tape and marker to label any unmarked dishes, pans, or serving utensils
  • From the paper supply closet:
    • paper to cover the tables - or tablecloths
    • large and small plates
    • napkins
    • plastic utensils
    • plastic cups
  • Bring from home:
    • Keys (main door, library, paper closet, Relief Society closets, and kitchen)
    • Cookie sheets (use to carry leftover food to cars)
    • Aprons
    • Dish towels, wash cloths, and dish soap
    • Unit phone directory (in case you need more help or someone forgets to show)
    • Aluminum foil, Saran Wrap, Ziplock bags (quart and gallon), disposable foil containers (to distribute any extra food)
    • Small Serving Spatulas (to scoop and serve desserts)
    • Sharp kitchen knives (since many units do not allow knives to be stored at church)

Sample Family Meal Menu

  • Meat: Ham 1 feeds 10 to 12 people/Roast/Turkey
  • Funeral Potatoes: 9×13 feeds 12 to 15 people
  • Salads:
    • Bagged Green Salad (add tomatoes and cucumbers; 2 lbs will probably feed 12-15) and Dressing (Thousand Island, Ranch, Catalina and Italian are popular)
    • Jello: 9×13 salad feeds 12-15 people
    • Pasta
  • Fruits (cut watermelon, seedless grapes, honeydew melon, strawberries, and cantaloupe in season)
  • Veggie trays and dips
  • Potato chips
  • Rolls and butter
  • Beverages:
    • Ice Water (buy bagged crushed ice)
    • Kool-aid (bring sugar and measuring cup)
  • Desserts
    • Cakes (Cut into 24 slices per 9×13 pan)
    • Cookies


  1. Turn on the heat or air conditioning if needed.
  2. As each food item is delivered – make sure to put tape and the sister’s name on each tray.
  3. Cover tables with paper.
  4. Set salt and pepper shakers at the end of each table.
  5. Place empty cups at each place setting.
  6. Cut butter sticks in half and place on small paper plates. 
  7. Use plants and flowers from the funeral for center pieces if they are available.
  8. Set up two long tables for serving food and cover them with paper.
  9. Place the large paper plates at the beginning of the serving line.
  10. Set out 3 lined baskets for the utensils at the end of the serving line.
  11. Set out the napkins at the end of the serving line.
  12. Set out 1 to 2 big garbage cans with liners (near the exit to the dining area but as far from the serving area as possible).
  13. Set up one long table for desserts. Cover it with paper.
  14. Be sure you have contact numbers for the family and stake/ward/branch leaders in case of emergency.

Just Before the Family Arrives:

  1. Place ice in each pitcher, fill with water and place on tables.
  2. Cut the desserts into small servings, place on small paper plates, and place onto the Dessert Table.
  3. Place food (with serving utensils) onto the table.

During the Luncheon:

  1. Check to make sure the water pitchers are full.
  2. Refill (if have more in the kitchen) the food on the Serving and Dessert Tables.

Clean Up:

  1. Wash dishes.
  2. Put tables and chairs away.
  3. Sweep gym and kitchen floors (Wipe up any spills).
  4. Vacuum hallways.
  5. Take trash to the outside dumpsters.
  6. Ensure all lights are turned off, bathrooms are clean, and building is locked up.
  7. Return dishes and utensils to owners.

Monday, February 20, 2017


Cypress Creek Natural Area and Corbett Wildlife Management Area

For our President's Day hike this year, we returned to Cypress Creek Natural Area and did the longest "blue loop" trail in the northeast section of the area.

We decided that this would be a great place to return with grandchildren. Just about 1/2 mile in there's a little observation platform by a little lake. It might be prettier during the rainy season when there's actually water in the lake.

I'm still intrigued by these knobby cypress knees.

On the other side of the canal which forms the boundary of the natural area we discovered new crops growing. That was a bit unexpected.

We're looking forward to returning and exploring the other loops of the trail.

We returned home via the J. W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area, in order to prepare for future hikes there. We were quite amazed that we hadn't heard of this large part of our county (over 60,000 acres), which actually lies within our ward boundaries. That's probably because there aren't really any facilities to make visits there comfortable. It's basically land set apart for hunting. We'll have to pay attention to the hunting calendar when we plan those future hikes!

Saturday, February 18, 2017


We're still enjoying new experiences, and one great thing about three-day weekends is that we can double our fun.

First up was watching our very first professional tennis match - as part of the 25th Anniversary festivities of the Delray Beach Open.

First we watched a doubles match - part of a Team USA vs. Team International competition.

When that match was over, the players were available to sign paraphernalia (which was available for purchase if you didn't bring your own), but we decided to just walk around the stadium a bit.

And then we watched a singles match between Fish and Gonzalez, also part of the pre-tournament competition.

I was quite impressed with the choreography and respectful attentiveness of theball boys and girls.

On President's Day we didn't try a new activity, but we did do some new exploring. I'll write about that in a different post, and leave you with an "artsy" photo of the cool tennis stadium in Delray Beach.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

DuPuis Hike - Loop 4

I went on Loop 3 of this trail (and also on Loops 1 and 2), but we mutually decided that 10 miles is my maximum limit, so when it came time to do Loop 4, Wayne went alone. He had a wonderful time, and so did I!

Since it was a loop trail and I didn't have to drive to a pick-up spot, I decided to do some exploring on my own while waiting. There was a short trail from the picnic area to a family campground that I took. I'm not used to hiking alone, so it was a bit disconcerting being out in the wilderness all by myself. However, I'm proud of myself for doing something new, and relieved that I didn't encounter any wild animals.

With campsites surrounding a little lake, the campground itself looked like a nice peaceful place to spend a few days.

It was a lovely, peaceful day, and I'm glad we could spend it in this beautiful, natural setting.
Doesn't he look way too happy for having just walked over 15 miles? As you can see, he loves doing things like this.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

French Toast Four Ways

On the first weekend in January we had a little staycation, and I chose French Toast for breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The next weekend we watched the sunrise, and then had breakfast at Lazy Loggerhead Cafe. For some reason I didn't feel like eggs, so ordered their French Toast, and then realized I had started a pattern!
Lazy Loggerhead's version - a bit too much cinnamon in the batter for my taste.
We had another Saturday restaurant breakfast, so once again I ordered French Toast, and just to keep the pattern going, I made my own the last weekend. I'm not surprised that I enjoyed my own recipe the best, but it was fun comparing the others. I'm a bit particular about the fruit on my French Toast - berries and not bananas - and I prefer my own syrup.

Maybe next year we'll try the experiment again!