Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: DIY & Home Improvement (page 1 of 2)

Killer Recipes: The Best Bread EVER

Let me tell you a little story.

I am a little bit of a cheapskate . . . or maybe a lotta bit.

Sometimes, as a result, my husband and I eat some foods of questionable quality, because why would I spend 20 more cents per ounce on the name brand?

But sometimes, it results in some really great things.

Ever since getting married, my husband and I have been buying the cheapest bread we could find at the local supermarket. It was 89 cents a loaf, so we thought it was worth the slight stale-ness, and overall cheap-o flavor. I soon started to get sick of it; never wanting to pack a sandwich for lunch because the bread was THAT bad. Food, in my opinion, is all about the pleasure factor, and this bread scored about a -12 on a scale of 1 to 10.

But I wasn’t about to buy the most delicious bread in the bread aisle! No way, José!

So I thought to myself, “How can I have a more pleasurable experience eating cheap bread?”

And then it came to me.

I would just make my own bread. Who doesn’t love homemade bread?

I’d never made homemade bread before—at least, not without the help of a pre-packaged mix—but I figured that buying a mix would defeat the purpose of saving money, so I started my search for a delicious bread recipe.

Since this was my first attempt at the bread making business I decided to go the fool-proof route and save the internet searches for delicious and fluffy bread recipes for another time. That was my first mistake.

I came across this recipe for no-fail Amish bread, and the picture looked yummy, so I trusted it. Ha.

Anyway, I did know at least one thing about baking bread, and that was that it’s different in high elevations, like Utah. I wasn’t sure where this recipe came from, so I looked up what adjustments you could make to bread recipes for high elevation, and I did all of those things, just to be sure. That was my second mistake.

The bread came out of the oven a little stumpy looking, but it looked like bread, so success! Right?

Wrong. It was dense, crumbly, and all around not so delicious. I figured that’s just how bread was going to be, so I kept making that horrid bread recipe! Why, oh why did I do that?

Weeks later, as I began my bread-making, I thought, “Why am I even making this? It’s not even that great.” I slumped down and berated myself as a baker, telling myself I was a failure because my homemade bread didn’t taste nearly as delicious as literally everyone else’s.

But YOU, TOO CAN BAKE. I promise you, if it’s not working, just try a new recipe. You’ll see.

I finally searched for a fluffy bread recipe, because the denseness of my bread was the feature I most disliked about it, and I found the winner, folks.

This recipe is from Connie Armstrong, and was featured on It is already adjusted for high altitudes, so don’t worry about it not working (unless you live in a lower altitude than Utah. I haven’t tried it anywhere else, so I don’t know).

Here it is, friends: The tried and true Best Bread EVER

Makes 2 large loaves, 3 medium loaves, or 1 large loaf and 2 mini loaves


2 1/2 cups HOT water

1/3 cup oil

1/3 cup sugar or honey

1 T salt

3/4 cup flour and about 5-7 cups of flour (divided) *I give flour notes and tips at the end.

1 1/2 TBSP yeast (any kind)

Spray oil

  1. Whisk water, oil, sugar/honey, and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Add 3/4 cup flour and whisk for 30 seconds, then yeast and whisk for 30 seconds more.
  3. Add 2-3 cups of flour and mix together with a spoon. If using a mixer, add the rest of the flour.  (The total flour should amount to about 5-7 cups, not including the flour used in step 2.) Let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes plus. If mixing by hand, add the rest of the flour and mix until shaggy looking and hard to work with a spoon. Knead in the bowl a few times and then turn the dough out onto a floured counter. Knead for 5+ minutes. The dough should be soft, but not really sticky.
  4. Let rise in a clean, greased, covered bowl for about* 30 minutes. You can let it rise on the counter, but it will rise nicely in the oven. Set your oven for 450 degrees for a minute or less, then turn it off before placing the oven-safe bowl inside.
  5. When the dough has risen, remove from the oven and heat the oven to 175 degrees.
  6. Grease your bread pans and the counter with spray oil. Divide the dough.
  7. Roll out the dough into a long oblong shape until all the air bubbles are gone.
  8. Roll the dough into a tight cylinder, tuck the ends under or squish them, and place it in a greased bread pan. Repeat with remaining dough.
  9. Place loaves in a warm oven (175 degrees) for about* 1/2 hour, or until the dough has risen to fill the pan.
  10. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees, and cook for about* 30 minutes. The bread is done when you hit the top and it sounds hollow. Don’t worry about time as much as this indicator. The bread isn’t done until you hear the hollow sound. If you are worried that the crust is getting too brown, cover it lightly with a piece of foil.
  11. Turn out on a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting. Smother the top of the loaves with butter if you desire.

* The times listed for rising and baking are approximate. Weather, altitude, your oven, the moisture content of your flour, etc. can all affect how quickly your dough will rise and bake. Make sure that you check to see that the dough has doubled for the first rise, filled the pan for the second rise, and that you hear the hollow sound to know when it is done baking. All these indicators supersede any time estimates given.


Rats, Hurricanes, and Cleaning Checks

Yes, I grew up in a clean home; however, it wasn’t my mom’s or dad’s desires to have a clean home that made me a clean person today. In fact, while growing up, I had one of the messiest bedrooms out of all my siblings, except maybe occasionally one of my brothers would out “messy” me. My dad would even use a hurricane scale to rate the messy level of my bedroom.

“That’s definitely a hurricane class six in there!” He would say.

So, I bet you are curious to figure out why I’m such a clean and tidy person today. Well, I would like to think that throughout my high school years I got better at putting clothes away and keeping a clean room, but mostly the big change happened when I finally moved out of my parent’s house. The move out to college, for most college-bound students, isn’t always a smooth one. I think a lot of college students choose to “find themselves” by setting their own rules (now that they aren’t under the roof of their parent’s house); one of the most common expressions of these rule changes, at least in my experience with roommates, is that of cleanliness.

“You can’t go out with friends until your room is cleaned!”
“Once you clean your room, then you can take the car.”

We have all heard one adage of this simple request to clean. And yet, how much of it sticks and turns into habit? If someone is constantly prodded and coerced into cleaning, does an appreciation or desire of cleaning grow? I’d say probably not.

When I moved into my first apartment in Provo right before my first semester, my mom and I spent the good part of four hours deep cleaning my room and my bathroom (and may I mention that a razor blade was even used to scrape hardened nastiness off things—I mean really people? That’s gross). Let’s quickly revisit that number: FOUR HOURS! How many college students do you think spend four hours (even with the help of another person) cleaning their room they are about to move into? Especially with the preconceived notion that a “cleaning check” happened prior to their moving in. I’d say the number is fairly slim.

Okay, so the apartment is as spotless as possible and I’m moved in. That’s good enough, right? I mean, the first cleaning check isn’t for two months! And I just spent four hours deep cleaning, remember? Let’s pause; can you take a second and wrap your brain around that. . .two months without cleaning. What? Two months’ worth of rings around the toilet; two months’ worth of dirty water build-up in the shower, two months’ worth of toothpaste spit on the mirror and in the sink; two months’ worth of hair build-up on the floor (you know what I mean ladies)—Can you picture it? Now, what would you think if I told you that is the norm in college life?

(Okay, you’re right. I’ll take a break from being a cynic and recognize that there are still people out there who are clean people. Okay, break’s over.)
Let’s return to the topic.
I’d like to illustrate my opinion by telling a few personal stories of instances I’ve had with my roommates throughout my time in college housing.

One summer day, I had gotten back from work around 5:00 p.m. to walk into a messy apartment. My previous plans to relax for the night were thrown out the dirty window as I realized I wouldn’t be able to relax in such a messy place. So, I began cleaning; I had been cleaning for about an hour when one of my roommates walked in while I was dusting the living room. She stopped and asked, “Do we have cleaning checks tomorrow?” There was a bit of worry in her voice as she asked. I replied with a “nope” and turned back to dusting. She looked perplexed at me and asked, “Well, then why are you cleaning?” HA! As if the only reason I could possibly think to clean the apartment would be that cleaning checks were the following day. I smartly replied, “I’m cleaning because our apartment is gross.” I admit, it might not have been the most prime choice of words, but I think I’ll just blame the fact that I was probably in shock.

In general, cleaning checks will mostly be at the end of every semester. There are the occasional times I have had a mid-semester cleaning check, but that’s only ever happened to me once. Now, with these cleaning checks, I have been the one (and I mean the only one) to do the cleaning. There were maybe one or two times when one of my roommates would pitch in a bit, but that was usually it. And let’s also mention that I am a full-time student, part-time employee, and single, so I try to keep my social life as alive as possible. So, it’s not like I have loads of time I can fork out to do all the cleaning. Multiple times I would get back from class at night, eat, and then clean the apartment, sometimes until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

This brings me to another story. In preparation for one of my cleaning checks, I texted all my roommates to remind them when cleaning checks were (one of the efforts I would make to encourage my roommates to help me out with the cleaning). This time, one of my roommates actually replied and said she would clean the bathroom. What a blessed miracle that was to hear! I got home later that night to start cleaning, and I walked into the bathroom to see what (if anything) got done. It looked just like I left it earlier that morning. So, I texted my roommate and asked what she did. She replied that she had cleaned the bathroom. I didn’t quite believe that because the bathroom didn’t look clean, so I asked, “So, what did you actually clean?” She said she went to clean, but we didn’t have any cleaning supplies (um probably because I use them up so frequently from actually cleaning). So, she said she just rinsed out the shower and the sink and then took water and a rag to the toilet.

Excuse me? Doesn’t that just mean she turned the shower on and let the water run? Yeah, I definitely feel like that cleans the grime up really nicely.

What I don’t understand is why she wouldn’t go buy more cleaning supplies. To me, that is the most logical solution. Plus, it would have been nice to have someone else buying them for a change, since I am the only one to ever not only take the time and do the cleaning, but actually dish out money to purchase the cleaning supplies. It has taken a lot of practicing patience and love to not ask for repayment for the time and money I consistently spend on cleaning and even more patience and love to not complain about it to my roommates’ faces. Let’s just say my mom is accustomed to my frequent venting episodes.

As I have dealt with messy roommates, I have learned to keep to my room. My room is my safe place, or as my family calls it, my “sanctuary.” A sanctuary is some place we feel comfortable and at home. Well, my room is my sanctuary. I clean my room often; everything has a place and is in its place. It’s nice to be able to shut the door and close off any view of the explosion that lies beyond. Now I understand more about the hurricane rating my dad would use. I think it’s safe to say my roommates are consistently at a hurricane class eight. And yes, that is even messier than my hurricanes growing up.

One thing that confuses me most of all is the boyfriend situation—Don’t worry, this relates; I promise—So, my roommates are dating people. (Yes, and I’m not. I know. Don’t rub it in.) One thing I always keep asking myself is this, “Don’t they know? Don’t they know what they are getting themselves into! RED ALERT! Your girlfriend is a slob! The only reason you think she is clean is because I’m cleaning!” Sometimes I think about telling them how messy their girlfriend is, like I’d be doing some great public service, but I don’t of course.

One final story happened to me recently. I have long tried to keep my apartment clean and tidy to avoid any kind of gross growth or infestation. (Yes, I’ve had to purge a past apartment of something that was growing larvae in my roommate’s food—ew, let’s stop thinking about that.) The last thing anyone ever wants is to live in a place that is so messy and dirty that you start having, heaven forbid, a rat problem. Well, one of my roommates recently bought two pet rats. Yep. That happened. In all my efforts to avoid a rat ever making it into one of my apartments, my roommate welcomed two in. Needless to say, one of these a black ratdays my sanctuary won’t just be my own room, but my own apartment: larvae free, hurricane free, and yes, rat free too.

By Camille Baker

DIY Christmas

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Now that the Thanksgiving feast is over and the snow has started to come, it’s time to bring out the Christmas décor! There are lights to hang, the tree to decorate, and goodies to bake.

But this year, why not branch out from the traditional Christmas decorations? Here are some simple ideas to add personality to your Christmas cheer:

1. Holiday Shakers

holiday shakers









Link found here.

2. Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar








Link found here.

3. Honeycomb Wreath

Honeycomb wreath









Link found here.

4. Let It Shine Centerpiece

let it shine








Link found here.

5. Playful Button and Yarn Trees

button and yarn trees








Link found here.

6. Paper Ornaments

paper ornaments








Link found here.

7. Whimsical Touch Snowflakes

whimsical touch








Link found here.

8. Tabletop Snow Globe

tabletop snow globe








Link found here.

9. Sparkling Staircase

sparkling staircase








Link found here.

10. Whimsical Christmas Bunting

Whimsical christmas bunting







Link found here.

—Bridget Lewis, Editor, Stance

Thanksgiving DIY

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy being with family and reflecting on the blessings we have received.

And, of course, who can forget about the food?

Sometimes we can focus on making sure the turkey and stuffing are cooked to perfection, that the table is set, or that the house is clean and festive. I know, for me, having as many preparations done beforehand helps make the holiday a little less hectic. Such things as having the house decorated, place settings done, snacks and treats made, etc. before starting the Thanksgiving feast helps me to more fully enjoy season of family and gratitude.

Here are a few things that you can do now to get ready for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday:

Thanksgiving Table Setting




Source found here.

Rosemary Wreath Place Cards
Rosemary place cards




Source found here.

Thanksgiving Message Board
leaves board




Source found here.

Cozy Votive Holders




Source found here.

Pumpkin Centerpiece
Pumpkin Centerpiece




Source found here.

Turkey Treats
Turkey Treats


Source found here.

Kids Crafts, Turkey Style
Yarn Turkey






Source found here.

Thanksgiving Banner
Thanksgiving Banner




Source found here.

Cinnamon Apple Chips
Cinnamon Apple chips




Source found here.

Fruit Cornucopias




Source found here.



—Bridget Lewis, Editor, Stance

No-hassle Trick-or-Treating: Bags

Perhaps one of the biggest dilemmas of Halloween is deciding what costume to wear. We all want to stand out, to be remembered as the one who had the scariest, cutest, or most creative costume of the night. But when you create your costume, why not include your trick-or-treating bag as a part of it? Why not make your candy bag as unique and clever as your costume?

We’ve all seen the classic plastic pumpkins that the kids carry around, and don’t forget about the pillowcases. But rather than settling for the traditional candy bags, why don’t you try something different?

Here are a few ideas to help you get creative and stand out this Halloween.

Cereal Box Freaky Frankenstein
green monster



Link found here.


Personalized Treat Buckets
kate and emma





Link found here.


Milk Jug Monster
milk jug monster






Link found here.


Embroidered Tote
embroidered tote







Link found here.


Silhouette Tote Bags
sihouette tote



Link found here.


Glow-in-the-Dark Bag
glow in the dark 1




Link found here.


Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween!

—Bridget Lewis, Editor; Stance

10 DIY Halloween Decorations

With Halloween peeking right around the corner, why not get yourself ready with some fun Halloween decorations? Whether you like the homey and welcoming decorations or the more spooky ones, there are hundreds of simple and creative ways to bring the Halloween spirit into your home. Keep reading below for ten quick DIY Halloween decorations.

1. Paper Bag Luminaries

paper bag lightsLink found here












2. Candy Corn Centerpieces

Candy Corn CenterpiecesLink found here

3. Flying Bats

Flying batsLink found here

4. Glittery Pumpkins

Glittery PumpkinsLink found here








5. Ghoul’s Night Out

Ghouls Night OutLink found here








6. Floating Head Hanging Ghosts

Floating Head Hanging GhostsLink found here








7. Mason Jar Jack-O-Lanterns

Mason Jar Jack-o-lanternsLink found here






8. DIY Ghost

DIY GhostLink found here







9. Paranormal Portraits

paranormal portraitsLink found here








10. Black and White Pumpkin Topiary

black and white topiaryLink found here






Thanks for reading! Happy Halloween!
Please comment below.

—Bridget Lewis, Editor, Stance

A Few Last Minute DIY Easter Decorations

It’s not too late to put a few things up for Easter! Hope these cheap and easy decorations can bring the Easter cheer into your home.

Umbrella Door Decor

easter decoration

Use an umbrella, small basket or even a hat to hold some beautiful spring flowers on your door. Doesn’t it look so cute on that green door??





Paper Straw Easter Bunnies

easter decoration 2

An adorable display can be made with these paper straws, some glue and a frame. Love it!





Flowers in Tea Cups

easter decoration 3My sister-in-law did this for her wedding and I thought it was beautiful!! You can use real or fake flowers—fake will obviously last you longer. But this is a super simple way to make something that looks elegant and vintage. Love it!

I hoped these cute decorations gave you some Easter ideas and got you in the mood for an amazing weekend! For more posts like these, follow us on Pinterest or Facebook! If you liked what you read, feel free to share! Thanks for reading!

For pictures and more detailed information on these projects, click here.

—Emmaline Frost, Stance

Ideas for Family Fun: Ice Cream in a Bag

With the warm weather this spring, a great way to have some fun with your family is to make homemade ice cream together. This activity can be done at any age, but it’s also a little messy, so the best place to do it is outside.

Picture from here.

Picture from here.

For this activity you’ll need gallon zip lock bags and quart zip lock bags. First, put the ice cream mixture in a smaller, quart sized bag and ice and salt in a larger, gallon sized bag (double bagging is a great way to keep these from leaking). For different ice cream mix recipes, click here. Next, place the quart-sized bag inside the gallon bag filled with ice and salt. When you’re placing the smaller bag in the larger one, be careful to make sure that the smaller bag is properly sealed to prevent getting ice and salt into the smaller bag.  Now here’s the fun part: once the smaller ice mix bag is inside the larger ice and salt bag, shake it for ten to fifteen minutes, and watch as the mix turns into ice cream right before your eyes! This is a great activity for kids to see science at its best and parents to spend some quality time with them.

—Rachel Harris, Stance


10 DIY Nightstands

Good morning, Stance readers!

Looking for ways to update your bedroom. Why not try making your own nightstand? Keep reading below for 10 ideas about DIY nightstands.

1. Square Table

image from here

2. Crate

image from here

3. Stacked Luggage

image from here

4. Hanging Nightstand

image from here


image from here

5. Restoration Hardware Look

image from here

6. Cinderblock

image from here

7. Paint-Dipped Stepstool

image from here

8. Upside-down, wire wastebasket

image from here

9. Jenga Stacking Game Inspiration

image from here

10. Recycled Wood Stump

image from here

Thank you for reading! Please comment below.

—Katie, Editor-in-Chief, Stance: Studies on the Family

10 Easy Accent Walls

Dear reader,

Happy Friday! Maybe you feel like your walls are looking boring. Why not try shaking it up? See ideas for 10 easy accent walls below.

1. Broom—Texture. Different kinds of texture are so great. And this one is peculiar—in a good way!

image from here

2. Wood Panel. This style is very cabin-esque. Let’s go mountain-ing! This look would be great in any room, not just for baby!

image from here

3. Pattern Paint Rollers. Love this idea! And this pattern looks like modern-art/wheat. Too cool.

image from here

4. Gold Polka-Dots. So glam! So easy! Invest in a circle punch.

image from here


image from here

5. Starched Fabric. This option is a fun way to decorate walls in apartments or rental homes, especially if you are unable to paint where you are living.

image from here

6. Sponge—Texture. A nice soft touch added to any room.

image from here

7. Contact Paper. Play with different pattern ideas. Chevron isn’t the only way to go!

image from here

8. Stripes. Vertical or horizontal stripes are very elegant and very “in.”

image from here

9. Triangles. Bold and unique! Very cool for a bedroom.

image from here

10. Corrugated Metal. Rustic look that’s simple to create!

image from here

Thank you for reading!

—Katie Hollingsworth, Editor-in-Chief, Stance: Studies on the Family

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