Tuesday, September 25, 2012


This post lists some ideas that we had for our Young Women in Excellence night when it was still in the early planning stages. Since I created this post, we actually had our Young Women in Excellence activity on October 24th, so I also have a newer post (complete with photos!) featuring what we actually did and how. To go to that post, click on the "Young Women in Excellence" label on the right side of this page, or simply click here

Our annual Young Women in Excellence night is coming up at the end of October (ours is scheduled in October, though most wards will probably be having theirs a little later in the year). Its never too early to plan!

Our girls picked "Arise & Shine Forth" as a theme (same as the youth theme for the year) and we will be doing refreshments, decorations, invitations, and well, basically everything along with that theme.

All of the food and decorations will be either yellow and/or sun or light related. The songs will involve sunshine ("There is Sunshine my Soul Today", for example).

We will have presentations by the YW Presidency and the class presidencies that explain a bit about the programs of the Young Womens program. We will also have several girls speak about Personal Progress. The girls are going to do a musical number. All of the girls will make their own display table that highlights their accomplishments and interests. We will end the night with a slideshow featuring the YW throughout the year (especially showing them working on Personal Progress, participating in Mutual, Girls Camp, etc) that the YW Secretary is putting together (we plan to "burn" a copy for each of the girls to take home, also)

I will post more information as it is available. The Mia Maids are in charge of food, and here are some of the ideas we've come up with (we will probably have to narrow it down, huh?)

None of these are my original photos/ideas - but if you click on the photos you will be taken to the originating website with info/instructions...


And here is a cute idea that I saw on The Creative Crate that would be a nice take-home gift for the girls if you're using an "Arise and Shine Forth" theme:

Music Night

Most of the girls in the Mia Maid class are not fans of singing. Or lip-syncing - even when they lead the music. This has been pointed out to me by the Bishop several times. I've talked to the girls and gave them the whole speech about how singing invites the Spirit and everything, but they have a lot of excuses - like, they "don't like the hymn that was picked," they "don't like singing in front of people," etc

I've read a variety of ideas about teaching music for a mutual activity and I wanted to combine all of them together so that they would actually take up the entire activity. This activity will reinforce how to properly conduct/lead music, how to choose hymns for meetings, and how spiritually-based music can be uplifting.

Learn how to lead music (for our girls this would be a refresher, but some of them could probably use it). One suggestion to make this more fun is to use glow sticks. If your girls already know how to lead music in the usual 3/4 or 4/4 way, maybe you could teach them to do the trickier time signatures like 6/8. If you don't know how to lead music, you could invite the Primary chorister or another chorister from your ward to come and teach. Or there is a free video tutorial on the church website: http://www.lds.org/cm/display/0,17631,4773-1,00.html#

Choose hymns (since the girls tend to complain that they don't like the hymns that have been chosen, I thought I would make a list of general subjects - faith, virtue, service, etc - and have them go through the hymnbook and choose songs they like. That way whenever I'm asked (or they are asked) to pick a song that goes with a lesson/topic, we can refer to our list (kept in the YW closet or in my notebook) and I will know that at least some of the time we will be singing hymns that the Mia Maids like.

LDS artist music sampling I made a CD for each girl that has modern songs from LDS recording artists (most of them are from EFY, etc). I'm hoping they will take these home and actually listen to them. Hey, everybody likes a goodie to take home! You can also download hymns and primary songs for free from the church website, but I was specifically looking for something for contemporary. The link to the page on the church website where I got these downloads (the Youth page on lds.org) is at the bottom of this post (There are almost 100 songs available, so I tried to pick and choose the songs I thought our girls would like best and ended up with about 12 songs on the CDs).

PURPOSE: Emphasizing the importance of uplifting music and how we can use it

MATERIALS NEEDED: glow sticks (optional), CDs for burning music form LDS artists

Free downloads of contemporary music (mostly from EFY) are available as part of the Youth section of the official church website at https://www.lds.org/youth/music?lang=eng

Thursday, September 6, 2012


My daughter asked me to make her a stenciled shirt for her to wear to her play auditions tonight. These shirts are so easy - I've made about a dozen stenciled shirts over the past few years for my kids, as gifts, etc. It took me about an hour to make this shirt, and the cost is pretty low, so I thought I'd share this stenciled shirt-making process as an idea for a Mutual activity. It would be cute to make YW theme shirts (YW torch, maybe - or a saying like "Arise and Shine Forth" or "Stand ye in holy places")

Since I already had the textile medium, craft paint, and freezer paper, the only thing I needed to purchase was a plain t-shirt. That cost me $5, but you might be able to find shirts on sale at Michaels (sometimes they are 2 fo $5) or other stores - or have the girls bring in a used t-shirt that they already own. If they bring a shirt, your cost would only be about $12 total for the textile medium, craft paint, and freezer paper. And that would be enough textile medium and freezer paper for at least 20 girls (though you might need 2 bottles of craft paint for more than 12 girls, which is only about $1 at Walmart)

This project is easy once you get the hang of it, despite my lengthy tutorial here. You might want to try a few projects at home before you teach the girls, so you can be comfortable with the process.

  • 1 T-shirt per girl (used is ok, if its new it will need to be pre-washed)
  • The image/lettering you want to stencil printed on computer paper (1 per girl)
  • 1 small bottle of textile medium (near craft paints in any store that has crafts). You don't need much, but don't skip the textile medium! 1 bottle will be enough for everyone and its not very expensive.
  • 1 small bottle of craft paint in your choice of color (or more if you are doing multiple colors)
  • 1 small paintbrush per girl
  • A roll of freezer paper (can find it by the aluminum foil in any store). Do NOT use wax paper.
  • An iron
  • 1 craft knife per girl
  • Tape
  • 1 piece of cardboard per girl (about the size of the inside of the shirt - not counting the sleeves). You can cut pieces of moving boxes or something - this is just to keep the paint off the back of the shirt. 

Print out your image and/or lettering on a piece of regular computer/printer paper (one page per girl). Do NOT try to reverse the image or lettering when you print. It will end up looking exactly like how you've printed it on the paper, so if you reverse the image it will be backwards.

Cut a piece of freezer paper (the same size or slightly smaller as their piece of cardboard) and tape the freezer paper to the cardboard, SHINY SIDE DOWN. Then tape the computer paper with the image/lettering on it to the top of the freezer paper (the image should be right-side up - just how you want it to look on the shirt)

Next, using a craft knife, the girls will cut out the image/lettering (carefully cutting through the paper and freezer paper, but not pushing so hard that they are cutting through the cardboard). This is best done on a table. Whatever you cut out will be the part that is painted. If you have letters that should have a blank space in the middle (like the letter 'p' in "keep" on the shirt shown in the example below), go ahead and have them just cut them out now and you can take care of replacing that part later.

Once they have the image/lettering cut out, have them check it over and clean up any rough edges or places they might have missed. The smoother the lines, the better.

Next, set the iron on low/medium heat. Remove the computer paper from the top of the freezer paper, being careful to take all of the tape off. You won't need the computer paper anymore, so you can just throw it out. Next you need to remove the freezer paper from the cardboard (again, make sure to remove any remaining tape left on the cardboard or freezer paper so it doesn't get ironed). Place the cardboard inside the shirt and lay it flat on the table. Now lay the freezer paper "stencil" on top of the shirt, SHINY SIDE DOWN, lining it up where you want it to be on the shirt. When you have it where you want it, iron the freezer paper down onto the shirt until it sticks to the shirt. Don't worry, the freezer paper will look like it is pretty well stuck to the shirt, but it will peel off later. You want to make sure the freezer paper is on there pretty well, so if its still sticking up anywhere, keep ironing until its stuck on.

At this point, you want to add any small pieces that need to be added. For example, if you have a 'p' or an 'o' in your lettering, you want to cut some appropriately-sized pieces of freezer paper to fill in where you don't want the paint to go. Just stick your little pieces (shiny side down) where you want them to go and iron briefly until they stick on.

After a minute or so the shirt will be cooled down and ready to paint. In the meantime, mix the paint. For most textile medium paints, its 2 parts craft paint to 1 part textile medium, but just follow the directions on the bottle - they may be slightly different. Textile medium is what will keep the paint from washing away or cracking when you launder the shirts, so this step is important!

For the shirt I made today I used less than 2 teaspoons of paint (2 parts paint, 1 part textile medium). It doesn't take a lot. You can always mix more if you need more. It would probably be best to use paper cups for the paint so everyone has their own if you have more than a couple of girls.

IMPORTANT: Painting the stencil is a multi-layer process. You can't overstress that the girls need to put on a super-thin layer of paint, especially for the first layer. If not, they're going to have problems with the paint seeping under the stencil and ruining the lines of the image/lettering.

The first layer should be very thin - like almost dry. When that is dry, do another layer (using only slightly more paint). And when that is dry do another layer (using only slightly more paint). To make the paint dry faster, use a hair-dryer (otherwise the process will take several hours). After 3 layers you should have pretty good. coverage. If there are still some spots that need more paint, touch them up. Do not remove the freezer paper until you are happy with how the paint looks and it is totally dry.

When you're satisfied with the paint and it is dry, you can peel off the freezer paper (but leave the cardboard inside the shirt). The freezer paper may rip - that is ok, the paint is dry and so it shouldn't damage the image at this point. You can throw the freezer paper away - you won't need to anymore. Once you have all the freezer paper peeled off, check over the design and make any touch-ups that are needed (fill in bare spots, or repair areas where there was bleeding.... you can't remove any paint that is on the shirt, but you might be able to fix a weird edge with a little more spot painting).

If you've added any touch-up  paint, be sure to use the hairdryer again to get the shirt totally dry again.

Press the painted area of the shirt with a low iron for a few seconds to set.

Viola- you're done!

  • Letters are the most tricky to do (because they are difficult to cut out and if you make a mistake its harder to fix), but if you do want to use lettering on your shirts try to pick a font with the least curvy letters. Straight lines are easier for lettering. And larger letters are easier, also.
  • You can print your own wording and photos directly from a program like Word. Its best to have the picture and lettering on one page instead of trying to Frankenstein together different items on the shirt. Its much easier to get everything aligned on the shirt if its already aligned on the paper.
  • You can find generic silhouettes (like my witch) online, basic shapes are best for beginners.