Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry, Happy & Prosperous!

My family and I have been enjoying the last few days of this year, the Christmas holiday and looking forward to a prosperous and healthy new year! And we hope the same for you and yours!~TJ

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Need Prayer?

The day after Thanksgiving, in my morning time with the Lord, I felt led to pray for all those in the world who may not have anyone to pray for them. I don't know why (but He knows). Lord knows I'm no saint, just a struggler. I don't even consider myself a so called "prayer warrior". I just pray for what's on my heart at any given moment of the day. And I DO know desperately the need for, and the power of, prayer. So, if you have a prayer need, I invite you to share it with me and I will share it with my Father...and ONLY Him. (You don't even need to share your specific need with me~I don't need to know it~God will know.) That's a promise. You can message me on my Facebook page (found on the sidebar here).
Or email me at: TJsSweetHome@hotmail.com

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites - Puppy Pumpkin Stew

My dear fellow blogger Rachel was kind enough to send me her recipe for Puppy Pumpkin Stew for my sweet little Dollface. Who knew that Bobo, our finicky cat who only has ever preferred cat food and the water poured off the canned tuna, would put a roller derby worthy elbow move on Dollface to get at the Pumpkin Stew? Poor Dollface. But now I put it in both of their bowls. Thanks Rachel! I hope you don't mind me sharing (along with my tweaks that follow)...


Puppy Pumpkin Stew


1 basic can of pumpkin


1 can of chicken broth


1 lg. can of chicken pieces


1 finely diced carrot


1 cup of frozen peas


1 Tbsp. olive oil


Directions: In a saucepot, saute the carrots in olive oil until they are softened. Add broth and pumpkin, stirring to combine. Add chicken. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the frozen peas and cook for one more minute.


Measure 1/2 up serving sizes and pour into greased muffin tins. (she uses silicon muffin tins). Freeze the stew and pop the portions out, storing them in a ziploc bag. Pull our a serving as needed and microwave until thawed. Serve warm not hot(!) with a regularly used kibble. (Her recipe is based on the Proportions stew component)


*My Tweaks: 1)I took some already cooked turkey we had on hand, ground it quickly in my Ninja (love that thing!) in place of the chicken. 2)I didn't think I had any peas on hand so I omitted them. (Only to find out later, after bravely cleaning out my freezer, that there were, indeed some hiding in there!) 3)I added about 1/4 cup of cooked brown rice that I had on hand. 4)I put the stew in ice cube trays to freeze (which I've done with a lot of things I freeze since my "homemade baby food making days".)


Hope your "babies" enjoy as much as mine do!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites - Sugarless, Crustless Cheesecake

This is really an everyday favorite for me since I am usually watching the carbs & sugar, but it's good enough to serve as a dessert to those guests who may be watching those things too, IMO. Did I mention it's easy? That's always a bonus for me!
Sugarless, Crustless Cheesecake
The cake:
3 - 8 oz.pkgs of cream cheese, room temp.
1 cup of Splenda
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Sour Cream Topping:
8 oz. sour cream
2 Tblsp. Splenda
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
In large bowl, cream the cream cheese while adding 1 egg at a time until blended well. Add Splenda and vanilla. Pour into a well "Pam" sprayed 9" pie pan. Bake for 30- 35 minutes. Cool for five minutes while you prepare topping.
Topping: Blend all ingredients until well blended. Pour over top of cheesecake, spreading evenly, and return to oven for 5 minutes.
Cool and refrigerate.
Note: To make it extra fancy schmancy & elegante, offer fresh fruit to top it with. You may wanna make more than one since, if you don't make a big deal about the fact that it's sugarless & crustless, everyone will be loving this dessert!
Enjoy and check back for my next, and final, recipe for your furry friends! After all, they deserve a little punkin' sumpin' too!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites - Dinner Rolls

This is the third installation in my Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites where I am sharing our family's tried and true, absolute favorite dishes!

If you're feeling up to making these deee-luscious dinner rolls, prepare yourself, they will go fast. They do take a little time and effort, but are sooo worth it! And as with most of my recipes that have been gathered over the years from hither and yon, I don't know where these originate to give credit where credit is due.
Get the butter ready y'all...

Dinner Rolls
2 Tblsp. plus 2 tsp. yeast
2 Tblsp. plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 c. warm water
1/2 c. sugar
6 c. all purpose flour
8 Tblsp. butter
1/4 c. veg. oil
1 egg
1 c. hot water
2 tsp. salt
2-3 Tblsp. veg. oil
Combine yeast, sugar and one cup of warm water in a med. sized bowl. Stir to dissolve and let rise until it equals 2 cups. In a large mixing bowl, add 1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. oil and the salt. Mix well. Add egg & mix well. Add the cup of hot water and the yeast mixture. Add three cups of the flour & mix well. Add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each. On lightly floured surface, knead dough until it's easy to handle, about 10 - 12 times and then form into a ball. Place 2-3 tblsp. veg oil in a large bowl then place the ball of dough in the bowl with oil. Turn dough until all surfaces of the dough is coated with oil. Cover and let rise until doubled in size in a warm place. Melt the butter and set aside.
When dough has risen, punch down. On a floured surface, sprinkle dough with flour and roll out to a one inch thickness and cut into triangle to roll into crescent shapes or pinch off small balls of dough (without rolling out dough) with your hands (about the size of golf balls) for round rolls. Dip each dough ball into melted butter. Place rolls in shallow pan with sides touching and cover again and let rise until double in size.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit on lowest oven rack until golden brown. You may brush with butter when they come out of the oven.
YUMZ!!!
Note- I have never made these ahead of time and warmed them up, but I don't see why you couldn't. I would probably just not butter them when they come out of the oven if I were going to do it this way.
What are YOUR family favorites?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites - Daddy's Appetizer Cheese Dip

I don't know about you, but at our house, thanksgiving dinner is usually not quite ready when the company begins to arrive. And that's okay, it gives us time to get reacquainted before the meal and before they roll...ahem...head home. We all need something to keep the hungry masses from getting cranky before the turkey is done. For us, it's the always-requested-and highly-disappointed-if-it's-not-there Cheese Dip that my hubby makes. It's the usual hot Velveeta type dip, and his is never quite the same from one time to the next. One year, he dictated the recipe to me so I could pass it along to my sister, Cindy. And that's what you will be getting here. But don't worry, you really can't mess this up. We serve ours with Tostitos and for the low-carbers *cough*me*cough*,- veggies).
"Daddy's" Appetizer Cheese Dip
2 lb. box Velveeta, diced
1 can Rotel brand tomatoes with cilantro & diced tomatoes in tomato sauce (or whatever version you like and/or can find)
1 can regular Rotel
Put all the above ingredients in crock pot on low.
While that is beginning to melt, brown a small package of chorizo (about 3 links. Squeeze the chorizo out of the casings into the skillet to cook.) Cook til "dry" (I guess when all the liquid has cooked off)
Add the chorizo to the cheese mixture in the crock pot.
*Note- he has also used ground beef but I think we like the chorizo best.
**'nother Note- we usually keep the Rotels mild since we have assorted ages and palates eating it.
Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipe Favorites and My New Blog Button Debut!

First of all, I wanted to thank Jenn from The Days of a SAHM for my new blog button (on the right...)! She did this for free, can you believe it? She may do one for you too if you ask, "pretty please, with a cherry on top?"! Thanks so much Jenn! You are so talented!

And, with Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, I thought I would do a series these upcoming days of all the Thanksgiving family favorites we've enjoyed over the years. Some recipes show up year after year. Every year. Some make an appearance occasionally. But often. Today I thought I would start off with the star of our dessert lineup. This creamy, luscious, fruity pie makes an appearance every Thanksgiving and Christmas. There would be an uprising if it didn't. The kids start talking and asking about it well before the holiday, just to be sure it's not forgotten in the hustle & bustle of things. My sister Cindy has taken on the role of making several of these pies each holiday for the past few years. (Yes. Several. They go fast and furiously. We need several to satisfy the masses.) Thanks for always coming through Aunt Cindy!



Aunt Dot's Blueberry Pie*
1 - 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
1 large box of Dream Whip (+ ingredients on box to make)
1 can of blueberry pie filling (or fruit pie filling of your choice)
2 baked pie shells
2 bananas
Cream the cream cheese & sugar and set aside. Whip the Dream Whip according to package directions then fold in cheese and sugar mixture. Slice the banana in the bottom of the baked pie shells. Pour the cheese/whipped cream mixture over the bananas. Make a shallow well in the center of each of the pies whipped cream/cream cheese mound and put 1/2 the can of pie filling in each.
Note- Cindy uses Cool Whip instead of Dream Whip but I'm not sure of how much she uses. You may want to try that. I'm guessing 1 small tub for each pie.
* Our Aunt Dot didn't create this recipe (& I don't know who did) but she is the one who gave it to us years ago so we call it that, lol!
Sorry I don't have any pics to go along with these recipes. We haven't made them yet. I just figure there may be people out there that still don't know what to make for the big day. Hope this helps!~TJ

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Daddy & Son

As my son & grandson were heading home on halloween, I snapped a few adorable photos of them...






LOVE!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Update on My Spending

Just as I suspected, I am not able to buy everything on sale or with coupons, BUT this challenge to myself has made me work a little harder at saving money. At first, I jumped in with both feet and made a big splash! I was scouring everywhere for deals and coupons but found it was taking me a lot of time. As I always try to find balance in all things (which is always a work in progress as I tend to be a little OC about things!), I took a deep breath, a step back and calmed myself. I want this to be a lasting endeavor not another flash in the pan thing for me. So, I spend only a certain amount of time a day (not much at all really!) looking for bargains and coupons. Then I make a list of what we need and the stores I plan to by the items at (the items I don't have coupons for or can't find on sale, I buy at the store where I know it will be least expensive). I then look for coupons and when I'm in the area of the store, I run in & buy what I have planned to buy there. Tip: I've found it handy to keep a collapsible cooler in the trunk of my car to hold cold food items while I run other errands if need be thus making the best use of my time & gas mileage.

Anyway... here is what I spent the second week on food and personal care items at grocery stores and drug stores: $121.12. And since I've gotten a bit behind (thanks for bearing with me *blush*) in my reporting, here is the grand total for weeks 3 and 4:

week 3- $91.65

week 4 -$70.98

Any tips you would like to share?


Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blissfully Busy

I'm still around but God and family are ALWAYS my priority and lately, my life has been blissfully full! And I'm enjoying it. The cooler temperatures in the air, apron making, being creative in the kitchen using what we have on hand to save money (we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year so it's imperative that I make room in our freezers and pantry!)


I do plan on gathering my money spending/saving adventures soon to share. Hopefully later today! (And YES I do consider it an adventure...I find myself being more creative with my cooking endeavors, which makes for some tasty meals and breaks up the "what should I cook?" boredom syndrome that I can oh-so-easily fall into.


Soooo...see ya soon!





But for now I will leave you with this...



A Few Things I've done This Week To Save $$$

1) We had some dinner rolls that I made that turned out not so tasty so, I made them into bread pudding. Oh yeah! That did the trick. And I didn't have to throw them out! Thing is, I didn't have raisins but I did have some prunes on hand. I chopped 'em up & used them instead~tasty! And of cours, I used the rolls in place of the bread...I think any bread item would work.


2) I spied out a box of frozen spinach and searched for spinach recipes online. I found one that sounded good and that I already had all the few ingredients that it called for on hand. Eureka! And it was good too. Hubby kept saying how good it was. A winner!


3) While watching a sales demo on natural skin care products that were pretty pricey and being tempted to BUY them, I stopped, took a deep breath and decided that I could probably make some sweet skin care products in my own kitchen. So I did. FOR PENNIES! I treated my face last night to a honey egg masque and this morning, I indulged in a vanilla brown sugar body scrub. Luscious. Want the recipes? Here they are...

Honey Egg Face Masque

1 egg yolk (dry/normal skin) or 1 egg white (oily skin)

1 Tbsp. honey

1 1/2 tsp. milk

mix thoroughly & apply to your face, neck & de'collete'. Let dry & rinse off with cool water OR use a warm damp wash cloth for a few minutes on your face before rinsing. Decadent!

Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Scrub

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. olive or coconut oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

rub all over your body while in the shower then rinse off. CAUTION! Be careful~this will make your shower or tub slippery!!!

Enjoy y'all!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Money Saving Strategies

Recently, I said I would share the things I do on a regular basis to save money. To some, these might be a little extreme. To others, not extreme enough. That's okay. I think we each need to find what works for our individual situations. For instance, my husband is on a high protein, low carb diet that his doctor told him about which includes some pricey protein "shots". (When I go to the Vitamin Shoppe to buy them, I ask for the website price because it's cheaper than the price in the store, but still costly.). He has lost almost 40 pounds and his blood pressure is no longer high, so it's worth it to us to accomodate the extra expense.

My daughter has stomach problems which have not been diagnosed yet (we are seeing a GI doc in a few weeks so hopefully, we will find out something), in the meantime, we have found that drinking lactose free milk, taking Lactaid before eating dairy, taking Align supplements an adding fiber seem to help. All of which add expense to our grocery budget.

We have pets. A cat and a dog. They can be costly as well.

AND then there are the unexpected expenses. Just this past week, I had to take dd to the doctor since she had been running a high fever. Another expense, unplanned. The juice, the soup, the crackers, Dayquil/Nyquil, prescriptions, a second doctor's office visit when the fever had not come down and more prescriptions. Totally unplanned. And many of those things were not stocked on our pantry shelves or medicine cabinet. In fact most of them weren't.

But such is life. And these will be the challenges I face during this challenge to myself. We all face them so, if you have any tips & tricks up your sleeve, please share!

Anyway, off the top of my head:

1) I scan the weekly ads to my nearby grocery stores, write down the best deals and plan our meals around them. I make a loose/flexible menu plan. I shop at more than one store as long as I'm a) in the area and b) I have the time (I don't go out of my way wasting time & gas).

2) I use coupons but I try not to pay for them. I don't normally buy a Sunday paper. I'm not a "coupon queen".

3) I use less shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, laundry detergent & fabric softener than "they" recommended. (But I probably use more dish soap than I ought to-I need to work on that.)

4) I do practice the proverbial washing of the ziploc bags. But not if they're greasy & gross. I just won't go there. They have to be fairly easy to swish in bleachy, soapy hot water or I toss'em. After all, time is money & I don't want to wast too much time on jobs that will only save me a couple of pennies. I want my "hourly wage" so to speak, to count for something!

5) I try to improvise when cooking. For instance, while making a cake one day, I didn't have the applesauce it called for but I did have a bit of apple butter but still, not enough!) and some fresh apples on hand. I ground enough of the apple in my blender with a bit of water & added it to the apple butter to equal the amount of applesauce called for in the recipe. It turned out great! I was able to use up the apple butter that might have otherwise gone bad and some of the apples no one was beating down the kitchen door to eat.

6) I try not to waste. Anything. If I can help it. Fruits threatening to go bad? I freeze 'em and use them for my fruit smoothies. And frozen bananas are great in banana bread & pancakes. Veggies on the verge? A spoonful of veggie leftover at dinner? I save 'em for soup (in the freezer as well). We invested in a Food Saver a couple of years back and I believe that thing has paid for itself many times over in preventing food waste! Meat bones (chicken, beef & the like make delicious, hearty stocks that can be used in many recipes) are saved in the freezer as well.

7) I've learned to listen to my inner mama that says "no" to most of the impulse purchases I'm tempted by. (most!)

8) I try to do any shopping that needs to be done without my daughter. That alone saves me not only money but stress. Speaking of my daughter, I have also told her what I'm doing and have asked for her cooperation in this endeavor before we step foot in any store together. This way, I hopefully, she will be more accepting of her mama saying "NO".

9) I try to use what I have on hand and make do with what I've got before running to the store to buy whatever it is I "think" I need.

10) I try to guard my eyes & ears against the constant onslaught of advertising by cutting down tv time, staying out of stores & malls as much as possible and being careful of the publications I browse. (Have you noticed you can barely walk three feet in WalMart without those nuisance tv thingys loudly blasting us with advertising?! And they aren't the only ones. We are constantly bombarded with sly, ingenious-dare I say subliminal?-advertising tactics these days everywhere we go.)

11) I'm not afraid to ask for discount or reduction in price. And more times than not, I get it. (If you notice a cheaper price elsewhere or on the company's website or if you want to buy something that has a minor defect...ask! The worst that can happen is that they say no...don't take it personally.)

12) This ties in with #11. Ask, ask, ask! Knowledge is power! (and can save you money!) For instance, (and I'm sure many of you know this...what can I say?) I just found out I can use more than one JoAnn's coupon per transaction as long as the numbers at the bottom of the coupons are all different. I just used 6 at one time the last time I was there! (This is embarrassing but in the past, I would have my daughter check out an item, I would check out an item and use the other coupons during other visits. Oh the time and trips I wasted! P.S.-my mom informs me that not all JoAnn's will let you do this so I would ask first to save any embarrassement or hassle at checkout.)

So there. Just a few.

What do YOU do to save money?

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Free SCOBY's & Update on my $ Saving Challenge

Recently, after a hiatus from making Kombucha due to being preoccupied with other life happenings, I went through the process of making my usual gallon batch. I set it on the shelf to ferment, came back a week or so later to check on it and...nothing.

I had left several scoby's tucked safely away in my fridge hibernating, or so I thought, for the day I would inevitably be ready to make a batch. Well, I don't know if I just left them in there too long or what but one day, I decided I would try buying a bottle of kombucha at the store and attempt to grow a scoby from it. After a couple of stores that I knew I had seen carry it with no luck in finding any, the helpful worker at the health food store told me that it had been pulled off the shelves for some reason. The FDA would be stepping in because of it. Oh, great. So, I went home and "
Swagbucked" the situation (Swagbucks is my friend...yeah buddy! Don't know about Swagbucks yet? Click on the button on the right under my etsy shop listings-it's FREE & painless to use & they have lotsa cool stuff you can earn!). Yep, for sure what he told me was true. I then began my search for another scoby. And I found one for free (but I did have to pay shipping & handling-totally understandable.) So in honor of that, and paying it forward, and the fact that I am beginning to now have a surplus of scoby's that I'm almost sure my hubby doesn't want taking over our home (again...don't ask!). I am offering a free scoby (with starter) to anyone willing to pay the s&h, which I am setting at $10 since I send via priority mail so it gets to you quickly and for the time, materials and gas associated with sending it off to it's new owner.


Do you, or someone you know, need a
SCOBY?

Now if I could just find some free kefir starter!

Thanks for stopping by!

****************************************************************************
Now for the update on my first week of challenging myself to see if I could get by without paying full price on items we need/want:
I did extremely well but didn't wuite hit my target. I had a birthday that I needed to buy a card for and since it was last minute, I grabbed the card while I was at the grocery store...and paid full price. The only other item I had to buy that wasn't on sale and I didn't have a coupon for was cat food. And I did pay full price for a few tacos at Jack in the Box when my mom was visiting and she and my DD were having cravings for them (their favorite!). But all in all, I feel I did pretty well for my first week trying this experiment.
The highlights of my shopping week:
*I got several items free when I bought the Lean Cuisine meals I was going to buy anyway at HEB. They usually offer several deals like this each week. Some of the free items were: a bag of prewashed spinach, a pound of bananas, a theatre box of Butterfinger candy, and a six pack of bottled water.
*I had coupons for free eggs & a free Tony's frozen pizza at Kroger.
*I had a $3 off $10 worth of produce coupon which I was going to buy anyway and all of which was on sale!
*I got 10 pounds of shrimp for $20. We love shrimp!
Besides the coupons I have already mentioned, I had an additional coupon savings of
$6.99 for the week!
In total, I spent $91.24 for grocery and non grocery items this week. (Not including the Jack in the Box tacos!) I would like to lower that total and will work on doing so in the upcoming weeks. I'm not quite sure what a good average for three adults (I'm counting my fifteen year old as an adult here!) grocery bill should be but I will keep tweaking as time goes by.
Thanks for all the encouragement everyone!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Have You Heard About Swagbucks?!

I've been using Swagbucks for a bit now in place of Google and have so far earned a $10 Starbucks card (yum! Can you say Frappucino?)which I used to treat DD and myself to an after school treat! All for just using Swagbucks for my online searches! I've made it my home page so it's ultra convenient and best of all, it costs NOTHING to use! If you're interested, click on the button to the right here under my etsy shop listings to get started!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Can I Do It? A Challenge...

I was raised by a frugal mama who imparted her frugalness to me. And after years of being a single mama and having to be frugal to survive, I just can't seem to shake it. No matter how I've tried, I can't justify paying high dollar for things. Well...for most things anyway. There are a few things I spend waaayyy too much money on.

Since I lost my part time job back in June, and considering some very expensive recent events, I have been trying to watch how I spend money and doing what I can to bring in extra money but yesterday, I began wondering if I could go a year without paying full price for anything. So, I thought I'd challenge myself to a year of seeing if I could truly get by without spending full price for anything. Most everything goes on sale at one time or another, and if I can stock up on said item when it does, I will.


Now to be fair and honest, this challenge is for me, not my hubby who can be a little spendthrifty at times. He has been known to pop into a store & bring home things to surprise us or just because he thinks/knows we need something. But my frugal ways have begun to rub off on him so, he tries. Also, we are by no means in dire straits because I lost my job but, we did count on that money and I don't want my job loss to become a burden financially to my husband if it doesn't need to be. So I am committed to doing what I can to stretching our dollars to go as far as possible.

I am also taking into account that some things rarely, if ever, go on sale. Things like milk (we buy lactose free) for instance. Yes, I find markdown milk. And veggies and meat do go on sale but, I won't beat myself up if I absolutely need something and can't find it on sale. I am determined to buy in bulk when items are on sale and use coupons for things I would buy anyway if I have them. I am going to do my best and we will see.

I will probably update weekly to see my progress. If this can help someone that may be having hard times or is just interested in saving a buck or two, then that would make me so happy!

I will share some things I do on a regular basis to save money another time.

Thanks for stopping by! (and wish me luck!)

*I would love to hear about YOUR frugal tips! Or maybe you would like to join
me in challenging yourself?!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mom's Visit and My Etsy Shop is Featured!

My family and I just enjoyed a 4 day visit with my mom who takes a few days each year to come stay with her daughters. A few days with us then she's off to my sisters for a few. It was nice to catch up! Love you mom!

And I'm SO excited to share that Amanda at bigDAYpartyshop just featured my Polka Dot Half Apron - "Barbara" in her rick rack themed treasury!!! Thanks Amanda! Go see her cute party ribbons and banners! You might find just the thing there for your next celebration!

Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend~thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Recovering!

From a stressful couple of weeks to be exact. We've all had 'em. Those days, weeks, sometimes even months of unexpected, expensive events that seem to occur in multiples.

The thursday before Labor Day, I awoke at around 5 AM hearing a dreadful noise that I can only describe as the sound that say, a metal zipper or buckle makes when it's in the dryer. It was also thundering, lightening and raining at the time so at first, in my just-waking-up disorientation, I laid there...listening. Again...metal clanging-banging sound. So, I get up to see if my DD is up doing a last minute dryer-ful of clothes so she will have something to wear to school (not uncommon-she is in charge of washing her own clothes and has to be at school at 7 AM, and she's a teenager (; ). Anyhoo, the dryer isn't going. The noise doesn't happen again. I just woke up (I'm NOT a morning person!). So, I fuhgetaboutit and lay back down until I have to get up. Life goes on.


Fast forward to friday evening. hubby retires for the evening, & DD & I are watching t.v. when DD says, "did you hear that?" Well, vaguely. Because when I'm "watching t.v." I'm usually also reading. I just figured it was hubby making noise because he was also awake, reading in our bedroom. Well, goosebumps & adrenaline went on alert & we waited & listened. Again..."there it is again". DD gets up and goes toward the noise to investigate. Again, the noise. She comes back looking like she saw a ghost. For the rest of the evening we wait & listen and finally conclude there was SOMETHING in the air vent in the ceiling. Eeeek!

Let me tell ya, I didn't get much restful sleep the next two nights not knowing what it was. Would it chew it's way through and walk across me in the middle of the night? Would I wake up staring into it's beady, glowing red eyes? Would it eat my puppy? What was it?! My imagination ran wild...


Saturday morning I had the pleasure of greeting hubby with the news and we begin to search out a pest control guy. We found one & he was GREAT- showed up when he said he would & all-that's a rarity in our experience.


To (try and) make a long story short, by Sunday evening, we had to call him out at 11 PM on his day off (double the $!) because hubby saw a possum tail in the vent in our bathroom...YUK! We thought it might be dying since it seemed to have been trapped in there for at least two days trying to get out. Well, the pest man got him out alive, and after a third visit monday morning to set out traps & bait for any other varmints that might be lurking up there, we have had quiet, restful nights. Hallelujah!!!


NOW, last friday, we had to call out plumbers because of some concerns hubby has had about our driveway that seems to be sinking since we got our house foundation leveled back in May, and a couple of leaks in a couple of our bathrooms. Two full days with two plumbers at work (and they aren't finished yet), our laundry room ceiling ripped out, new bathroom sink & tub fixtures, and the cost of a GOOD NEW CAR later (hopefully insurance will pick up some of it), we are waiting to hear from the insurance adjuster as I type before we can move forward.


Now add in my recent second foot surgery, hubby's back & hip problems (limiting us physically) and the trials and tribulations of raising a teenage girl (she's really a great kid~I just added it for dramatic effect (; ) and you've got just a wee bit of stress.


But, God is still good and blesses us each day beyond measure so, I will cast all these cares on Him & try to trust like a little child. After all, it could always be worse. I just pray that hubby is able to do the same...


If you would like to share/vent any of your stressful times with me, here's my shoulder...& my prayers for you.


Thanks for stopping by & listening!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cute as a Cupcake!

With cooler temperatures in the air, I've been bitten by the baking bug. I had a box of brownie mix that I recently bought on sale, along with a bit of 'nilla frosting leftover from a previous baking binge, and decided to put on my new cupcake apron & whip up a quick sweet for my sweets...
BROWNIE CUPCAKES!!!
I just made the brownies according to the directions on the box, poured them in cupcake liners, baked, cooled then frosted. Then I sifted a bit of cocoa powder on top.

Quick & easy & ohhh so yummy...

made even better by wearing just the right CUPCAKE apron!

My cupcake apron?~I didn't make this one, I got it in my AVON shop for a price that can't be licked!


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Hostess Apron~product #632630







And some other cute as a cupcake cupcake makin' accessories:








Multi Tier Cupcake Stand~product #635850







&






Cupcake Decorator Tool Set~product #635864


Get 'em before they're gone!


The right tools can make a big difference no matter what job you're doing.


(if you love AVON, you can sign up on my website to receive regular emails about the latest products & specials! And orders of $30 or more receive FREE shipping! Thanks for shopping with me and spreading the word!)

Thanks, as always, for stopping by! I treasure your sweet comments!






Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mornin', Glory!

My sweet "baby" girl proudly brought home a plant that she started from a seed at school. It was just a little tike in an eight ounce styrofoam cup & a handful of soil the first time I laid eyes on it. She said it was a "Grandpa Ott" morning glory. I planted it out back near a piece of lattice and watered it when I watered everything else. Daddy helped from time to time by placing the new little tendrils on the lattice work to help give it a "leg up". And here it is today...


























She's so proud of her Morning Glory!


Glad you were able to visit today!


Welcome Autumn! Welcome Fall!

Welcome Autumn...I'm ready for your spicy, wood-smoky scents...
Your rich jewel colors...
I'm ready for your cooler weather...
Welcome Fall!!!
You are welcome here...
Thanks for stopping by~I love "meeting" each & every one of you!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!


We hope you enjoy the day whether you get to rest from your labor or have to work anyway.


Because of threatening thunderstorms, we did our grilling yesterday. Burgers, wings, steak, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and watermelon were on the menu. Today we will truly be able to rest from our labor!


How will you enjoy your Labor Day?


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dollface

This past Mother's Day, I adopted a new furry baby. It had been two years since we lost a sweet, faithful dog that we had had for thirteen years. I took it hard. And no matter how many times Ari asked if we could pleeeease get another dog...I just wasn't ready. The time wasn't right. But then one day, when I least expected it, (sorta like the day the Grinch's heart unexpectedly warmed and grew)...I was ready. We began looking. Our search didn't take very long when...
we fell in love...

with this face...

this little Dollface.

Thanks for stopping by!

Christmas Aprons in my Etsy Shop!


Christmas will be here soon! If you have already begun your shopping, I invite you to please take a minute to browse the cute little aprons I have added to my etsy shop! They make perfect gifts for someone who loves aprons or for yourself! Please spread the word!

Thank you for visiting!
I think I smell cookies baking...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mama's Recipe Collection

With the Autumn season fast approaching, I find myself craving more comfort foods. That being said, I thought I'd share one of our family favorite recipes. Most of the recipes I make have been gathered from here & there along my life's journey. Family reunions, work parties, or just thrown together out of sheer necessity when tummy's were growling and the dinner hour was upon me. Most are simple and budget friendly & what I like to call "down home gourmet"~delicious ingredients that dance on the tongue, stick to the ribs and satisfy both body and soul. Being a single working mama for many years, I had to abide by the three "F's" when it came to feeding my little family: fast, frugal & flavorsome.

Tex-Mex is something I could eat everyday so I present to you...

Mexican Casserole*
1 lb. of hamburger meat (can use any ground meat~whatever you like)
1 onion, chopped (no onion on hand? I've used onion powder or dehydrated onion flakes)
1 can (14 ounces or so) chili beans (Ranch Style works too!)
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 teasp. chili powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1 package (ten or so?) corn tortillas
grated cheese (again, whatever amount shakes your mariachis)
1 can of Cream of Chicken soup that has been mixed with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water
Put on whatever apron makes you feel a little spicy, a little motivational music (I like Gypsy Kings!) and then fire up your oven to 350 degrees. Turn the fire on under your hefty cast iron skillet (yeah, the one we use for personal protection) to get it nice & hot. Add your hamburger meat & chopped onion & cook til browned. Drain off the fat then add the beans, Rotel tomatoes, chili powder, salt & pepper & cook til bubbly.
In a baking dish (9" by 13" or maybe a tad smaller) that has been sprayed with cooking spray, begin layering your ingredients. I layer in this order: 1/2 the package of corn tortillas, 1/2 the meat mixture, cheese (whatever amount you like). Repeat the layers then pour the chicken soup/water mixture all over the top, top with a bit more cheese and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
I like to serve this dish with a bit of sour cream and chopped green onions as a garnish.
Mama's Menu (just an idea)
appetizer~chips & salsa
Mexican Casserole
simple salad
club soda (or lemon-lime soda) with a squeeze of lime & a lime twist for garnish
buen provecho!
*I don't know where this recipe originated from to be able to give credit where credit is due~I did not invent it...










Friday, August 27, 2010

I've Been Away Too Long...




I seem to take the summers off from blogging life. Probably because Ari is home & we do mama/daughter things. And then there's work. And this also has been a season of having to take care of my tootsies with the dreaded bunion surgery & shortening of my toes. Yeah. Ouch. I sit here in the boot as I type. So, needless to say there's been stuff going on besides just the usual summer stuff.

I have begun feeling the thrill of anticipation as I look forward to, probably my favorite season of the year, Autumn! We have experienced a couple of days of lower temperatures and less humidity recently! I love it! I'm ready for the inviting aroma of apples, cinnamon, pumpkin and freshly baked bread! The sounds of family gatherings! And the deep, beautiful colors of the leaves on the trees as they prepare for their winters rest. I long for that golden glow that graces the afternoon sky as I turn the corner into my quiet neighborhood heading home after a long day or a quick errand.


I'll be happy to say good bye to the sweltering heat and buzzing mosquitoes. For a while anyway! Each season has it's wonderful qualities. (I learned just how effective Avon's Skin So Soft Bath Oil can be repelling mosquitoes this summer for sure! I gave that stuff a workout let me tell ya! And it smell sooo much better than bug spray. Ooooh and let's not even talk about all those harmful chemicals~yikes!)
We're settling nicely into the routine of the new school year and I plan on getting back to journaling the goings on of our lives again, but for now I will just go light my Fresh Bamboo candle, pour a tall glass of ice cold lemonade, have a freshly baked sparkling sugar cookie, put my feet up & enjoy the last few days of sunshine & summertime!























Friday, May 14, 2010

Fig Tree

Our fig tree is soaking up the sun...and soon...
I'll be sharing it's sweet, juicy fruit with my birdie friends!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blushing Baby Pears

Pears. Sweet, juicy, juice dripping between my fingers and down my chin pears. I look longingly at you pears, each day, as I water the garden and dream of the delicious things I'll do with you.

Hurry pears.
But I will wait for you. Patiently.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free Plants

I love "free". Even close to free. Cheap works for me too.
I was out back one day and got to admiring my "free" plants and thought I'd share a few of them with you...

This, I believe, is a curly willow that I took from a bouquet hubby had given me, dipped the bottom of the stalk in rooting hormone and then into potting soil.
This ficus was just a little sprout not very long ago that I took from it's big mama (like me!) plant, dipped in rooting hormone, and placed into potting soil. Poor thing lived in a pot the size of a thimble and through much neglect while rooting. I finally had mercy on it and put it in a proper pot. And look how it rewards me. I am ashamed. = (
And see the little spider plant peekeing out from behind Ficus? I had it's mama sitting near this spot and it sent out a baby who promptly rooted in the dirt in the crack. I guess I should dig it out and give it a nice little home to wiggle it's toes in. My plants have to be survivors to make it around here. It's sorta like a boot camp.

I have other "free" plants around here (african violets, ivies, lots and lots of spider plants, etc.) and am experimenting with another branch that I confiscated from a recent bouquet. It isn't looking too good, but we'll see...it doesn't hurt to try.

What have I eaten lately? Don't ask. Really. You don't want to know. I will just say, I've been a bad, bad girl. (No, that's not a twinkle in my eye (; )

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Next...?

Wow. It's amazing how life can go along in a seemingly uneventful fashion and then you happen to notice rain clouds on the horizon...

And then the rain begins.

First it's just a sprinkle, and then...

Thunder.

And lightning.

Ohhhh, it's not really all that bad but life has thrown us for a loop and created some challenges lately.

Hubby's back began acting up again and then he had a bad reaction to one of his medications. And then Saturday, he had a terrible reaction to something and he broke out in hives all over his body! Oh my!!! Sunday, he's not any better so we head to the emergency room where they promptly give him a shot of benadryl. He's still polka dotty and his back still hurts and my foot isn't totally healed yet but...it's not death or life threatening so, as far as I'm concerned, we are still highly blessed!

I hope that in whatever circumstances you find yourself today, that you can consider yourself blessed!

Feel better my love!!!

Next?!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ho Hum

Ari loves Bobo...
Bobo barely tolerates lovin'...
Ho Hum (yawn) booorrring.
____________________________________________________________________

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fragrant Pink Roses Abloom!

Just a few short days ago, my rose bush looked like this...
covered with buds.
Yesterday I hobbled outside to find...



I chose this rose mainly for it's fragrance; soft, sensual, subtle. I just wanna bury my nose in it!!! This is the first year it has bloomed so richly (I've had it for a couple already but it has been vying for sun next to plants that my hubby finally cut out)! I'm in heaven!!!





















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