Friday, December 26, 2008

Had to Stop

You all know by now that I am a flower lover, so it won't surprise you that when I drove by this house I had to stop and take a picture. Look at this cute yard. The brightest, happiest mix of flowers I have ever seen. Click on the picture so you can see the cute Santa by the door, the french awnings and the gorgeous flowers!

This house is by a friend of mine. I was going there at night and again it blew me away and I had to stop. The scalloped lights with the bright round lights inside each one. How adorable is that! Who is this cutest lady? If the outside is this cute, what must the inside look like?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Outside dinner- Birthday Party

Jade, my party planning daughter, came up with a really fun idea. She got 6 couples together and made a dinner group. It is run kind of like bunko. Two times a year you host a dinner party at your house. You bring the hostess $20.00 to help out with the food and decorations. Instead of going out to dinner you get to know these other couples, be in their home and get to go to a party a month. Sounds like a great thing for these newlyweds to do. My two daughters are in the same dinner group. Jade put it together and she was the first one to start. She went all out of course with decorations, yummy homemade food, favors and games.
The next night it was my 14 year olds birthday so Jade decided she could duplicate the party she did with her friends the night before. It was quite a treat for all of us to go in her backyard where her husband had made a table for 12 out of plywood. It was covered with a beautiful tablecloth and fancy china. She put on a 4 course meal.

Spinach, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese, pears and homemade poppyseed dressing. So good!

Butternut Squash soup that we all love. The recipe is a few posts back. She also had good bread with homemade herbed butter in the left corner.

Lemon herbed chicken, sweet potato casserole (recipe from Thanksgiving post), scalloped potatoes, and mashed potatoes. Our family loves potatoes.

Texas Sheet cake by request from the birthday girl.

Jade is a dish collector. She has several sets of china, fancy dishes and antiques. She bought herself these 12 days of Christmas dessert dishes a month ago.

I thought this idea was pure genius. They put revolving heaters under the table. We wore jackets to dinner and we stayed toasty warm.
Here is what else I wanted to pass along. This originated from my famous quilter sister Amy. She does back to back Christmas parties. She makes double the food, decorates once, and the house is basically cleaned from the night before party. She will do one friend party, a neighbor party or church party. It is a really brilliant idea.
Just like Jade's party, it was a lot of work for her friend party and just a little more work for us to come over and be treated like royalty. Thanks Jade!!! We would love this to become a family tradition:)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tiffany & Co. Keychain

My visiting teachers are the best ever! First of all they have not and will not miss a month. I get the message every time they see me regardless if it is a lunch date, a drop by gift or a sit down in my living room visit.
What great women I have coming to see me!
This month Lori Costello and Shelly Brown stopped by to drop me off a little Christmas gift. I couldn't believe what they handed me. It was from Tiffany's! How fun it was to open such a beautiful box and find a CTR key ring inside. I feel so spoiled.
Thank you ladies!!!!!! You are amazing!!!!!!!!!! Love you!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Paying attention to our Strengths

Sorry I haven't been posting very faithfully. I have lots of things in the pipelines but no time to put them all together (picture, correct English etc.) I have been so giddy about my retreat that it is all I can think about and spend time doing.

Here is one of the assignments I am having the ladies do before they arrive. I posted it last April. Here is the link if you haven't done it yet.

This is one thing I got from taking the test. My #1 strength is creativity, ingenuity and originality. I use ingenuity constantly. I am always looking for the fastest and best way to do things. It has always been kind of a game for me to see if I can improve how things are done. I really never knew that I was unique in this area. After it was brought to my attention, I realize that this is a gift of mine.
What is funny is that this strength of mine is also one of the things that drives my husband crazy about me. When he is doing a project and I walk in I instantly see a better way. He says that he doesn't care and doesn't always want to hear that he is doing it "wrong" or not efficiently.
I think the main point of taking a test like this is for personal awareness. See what your strengths are and how you use them. Maybe you use yours too much like in my case with my husband and can tone it down a little.
You may want to look at the last one on the list, which is an area you can improve.

When you know yourself better, you can choose the best ways to use your strengths.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Best Yams I Have Ever Had!

Makes a 2 quart casserole, serves 6 to 8 people. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Bake 6 to 8 yams, enough to make 3 cups after being mashed.

Mix and beat until smooth:
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. milk
Add yams into the mixture.

½ c. brown sugar
¼ c. flour
4 tsp. butter
2/3 c. crushed pecans
Spread over top. Marshmallows optional.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
My husbands family weren't big on yams when I first got married. To make Thanksgiving meal complete I brought them every year to their dinner. I inevitably would bring home half a dish because only my family ate them.
One year a friend gave me this recipe. I brought it to the inlaws and they have been eating them and asking for them ever since. Yummy! I'm making them this week:)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight- The Movie

Heather Stone siteinstone.blogspot.comis friends with the author of the book Twilight. Heather rented a 300 seat theater for the movie that came out today.
Jodi Hatfield and I made some cute York peppermint pattie handouts for the ladies in line and told them about Jodie's store and fashion show, and about my coaching and retreats. It was so fun being able to speak with so many fabulous ladies in one night.

I gave away a retreat in Heathers raffle and Mindi was the lucky winner.

If you aren't able to go to the retreat Dec. 18 and 19th, email me so I can let you know when the next one is scheduled.

Here are my hopes for the retreat:
Women will go home feeling happier
Loving and appreciating themselves more.
Have some "me" time to fill up their buckets.
Do fun things they haven't done for awhile.
Learn things, grow, journal, set goals, great tips
Life changing craft projects
Be entertained
Connect with others

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Want You to Meet my Retreat Team

Shari Lyon. She is a wellness coach and licensed massage therapist. She is passionate about her slogan of “live well, eat well, be well.” The only thing that makes her happier than living a natural health lifestyle is helping others make great changes in their lives so that they too can experience “wellness”!
She has completed many, many hours of natural health education, has earned a BS in holistic nutrition and is currently working on her MS in holistic nutrition. She has trained in EFT, Chinese cupping, reflexology, and aromatherapy. She has also completed the requirements as a certified natural health consultant.

Michele Baer is the mother of six, a singer, songwriter and inspirational speaker. She has released 2 CD's, "Never Give Up-Songs of Faith and Family", and "Out of the Dust." She is currently working on her third. She has a big heart and it comes through when you hear her messages of Hope for women. Michele is very involved in the community, serving as the State Director of Family Leader Network as well as producing numerous charity events. She received the American Mothers National vocal award in recognition of her ability to balance family, music and community service. Hear selections from

Dodie Blomberg, M.Ed, is a professional development coach with a passion for moving people towards a more positive outlook. Dodie is a Certified Positive Discipline Associate who supports and encourages teachers and parents to focus on children’s strengths and assets, thus promoting cooperation and solutions. She is dedicated to promoting respectful relationships in homes, schools, and communities. Dodie gets the opportunity to practice her positive relationship skills as a Junior Scout Leader, an AFAA certified fitness instructor, a children’s dodgeball coach, and especially as a wife and mother of two great children

I admire Allison Johnson's sophisticated and classic style. She helps others find their style, best looks and proportions. She is amazed at the transformation that happens to women on the inside by helping them with a few changes on the outside.
Allison has always loved clothes and what they can do for a person's self esteem. She believes we truly do reflect what's inside by how we present ourselves on the outside. We do that by what we wear. Every body can look fantastic. Every body-- not just the perfect size 4, Victoria's Secret body. Allison's passion is to help every woman find that beautiful diva inside and teach her how to look her absolute best by how she adorns her body.
Allison is a graduate of Brigham Young University, a flight attendant for 22 years, and is a professional Image Consultant.

Jodi Hatfield is the owner of Blossom Salon and Boutique on Main St. in Mesa. She is a creative genius and she is our designated fun maker. Jodi has a great eye for flattering hair styles and colors and has great taste in clothes and interior design. She completes our retreat team.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Women's Retreat

As most of you know I have been training to become a life coach for the past 2 years. I have learned and grown a lot since then. My passion is to help women find their passion and live their purpose. The best way I thought of to do this, is to put on retreats for women. I want women to be able to come to a retreat for a weekend and get their buckets filled. I want women to leave with new ideas, deeper friendships, more love for themselves, bigger dreams, be rejuvenated, and have the time of their lives.
To insure success I have put together a team of amazing women that are passionate about what they do and teach.
Michelle Baer
-Singer, Song Writer, and Inspirational Speaker
Dodie Blomberg
-Professional development coach, Positive Discipline Parent Trainer and Fitness Trainer
Jodi Hatfield
-Blossom Boutique and Salon Owner, Designated fun maker and creative genius
Allison Johnson
-Image Consultant, Personal Shopper and speaker.
Carla Jorgensen
-Success coach, President of Time to Blossom Coaching and Retreats, passionate about helping women discover their greatness.
Shari Lyon
-Wellness Coach, Nutritionist, Trained in reflexology therapeutic massage, essential oils and much more. Her slogan is "live well, eat well, be well."

I was planning on doing my first retreat Jan 2009. But I was able to get some fabulous rooms at Marriott's Canyon Villas at Desert Ridge in Scottsdale for a great deal so I thought I would just go for it. I know it is a crazy time of year! The retreat dates are Dec. 18 10:00am to Dec. 20 9:00am.
This is a 3 night package. The retreat is 12/18-12/20 (scheduled activities), the third day 12/21 is included for those who choose to stay an extra day to relax at the resort or shop nearby. The 2 day retreat includes classes, food, fun, a life changing gift, and a more enriched life. The 3rd day is complimentary but includes no food or activities. If you want more info email me
You take care of everyone else all year long. Let us take care of you! If you can't justify treating yourself to such a fantastic event, give me your husbands email and I will tell him how much you deserve it. I'm sure he would appreciate a Christmas gift idea that you would love.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Motherhood is Hard Work

My daughter, her husband and two year old have been staying at our home while they are looking for a house to buy. This is the same daughter that had the baby on Halloween. It is hard being a mother. It is a wonder that so many of us do it again and again.
Baby Jack is adorable and fun to cuddle but he is a full time job. We all go through several outfits a day with the throw up and diaper leakage.

This is me with my 4th and 5th child. They are 13 months a part. I look at this picture and feel a little sorry for myself. The truth is I just did what I needed to do and I didn't think that much about it. Now that I have free time, and my children are independent, I look at my former self in amazement. Where did my energy come from? How did I do all the motherly duties? How did I keep up? I'm not sure. I think the energy must come with each additional child.

It has been 12 years since this picture was taken. I had to sacrifice a lot for my big family but it was all worth it. I have the rest of my life to pursue my goals and dreams and I am finally finding the time to attempt some of them.

We women can do everything, just not everything at the same time! Do the best you can in the season that you are in, so when you look back you will have no regrets.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


My daughter Mindy had her baby on Halloween morning. They named him Jack, he was 8 lbs. 3 oz. She had a great experience with her new doctor, Dr. Christina Brass-Jones at the new Banner Baywood hospital. It went so smooth I highly recommend both.

I had so much fun being Sarah Palin for Halloween. I couln't believe how many people came up to me at a church party and wanted to talk about politics. I had a ball!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Butternut Squash Cream Cheese Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

6 tablespoons chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups butternut squash, cooked
3 cups water
4 cubes chicken bouillon
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

In a large saucepan, saute garlic, onions and seasonings
in butter until onions are tender.
In a blender, puree cooked squash, water, bouillon and
cream cheese in batches until smooth.
Add squash mixture to seasonings in saucepan, mix well
and heat through. Do not allow to boil.

*If you (or your family) do not like onions, you can blend the onions/seasonings in with the squash and they won't even know they are in there!

I didn't grow up eating butternut squash. The first time I realized I liked, was when I ordered butternut Squash ravioli with cream sauce at a resturant. It was years ago and I still remember how much I liked that meal.
My daughter Jade is the one that found this recipe. I am a soup lover anyway but this one over the top. You have to try it to believe it. She even worked out the calories on a cup of it and it is only 180 calories. I still find this hard to believe because the cream cheese makes it so thick and creamy. She also mentioned how few of us eat yellow veggies.
She brought this over the other day in a crock pot to a family gathering and I fed it to my grand-baby. It makes a great baby food too.
This recipe is great for this time of year!

I just made this soup and tried a new technique. I cut the squash in half, cleaned out the seeds, put back together and wrapped in foil. I cooked them at 350 for an hour and 15 min.

After they cooled I peeled them. It was similar to peeling a peach, very soft.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Painted Furniture

Here is my daughter painting her furniture.

For about $5.00 worth of semi gloss paint, we took a pretty ratty looking dresser and made it quite pretty.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Keeping America Free

I was taught by my mother what a blessing it is to be an American. I grew up with a reverence for this land and a love for our country.
I grew up in a home where I was taught constitutional principles. It was in an era where we didn’t know if the communists would take over America or if we would win the cold war. My father was constantly reading political books and discussing the topic with any who would listen.
My father is now 78 and was in the hospital for open heart surgery a few months ago. He told me that he enjoyed asking the different nurses their take on issues (he enjoys debating).
He was talking to one nurse. She was really curious about all the things he was saying. She asked him how she could learn more. He said the first and best step would be to read the constitution. She said, ”Who wrote that book? Who’s the author?”
This was hard to hear. He knows that America will not stay free if it’s people don’t even know about the document that created our Republic.
Have you ever watched Jay Leno when he does man on the street interviews? He will ask someone questions like, who is the Vice President or why do we celebrate the 4th of July? It is frightening. People can answer pop culture questions, but none about politics or history.
"The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced. The arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance. Who said it, George Bush, John McCain, or Newt Gingrich?
No, that was said by Marcus Tullius Cicero in 55 BC. Just before the Roman republic fell to Julius Caesar and the long decline of Rome began. About the same time the delegates were debating the limited powers of our Republic in Philadelphia, a scholar of the ancient world, Alexander Tyler, warned of the dangers of democracy and the arc of civilizations, when he said this: (the origin of the quote is disputed, but the logic has a razor sharpness.)
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment the majority always votes for the candidate who promises to give them the most, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship".
The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence:
From to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complaceny to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into"

My father quoted me this last paragraph after he told me the story about the nurse. He had forgotten who the author was. I was able to find it on the internet. I agree with my father that we are heading from apathy and complacency to dependency.
"In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all; security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was the freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again."
If you enjoyed the indented article above you can read it in its entirety on this blog.

This is a painting called The Old Man Wept by my favorite artist Del Parson. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see tears coming down Benjamin Franklins face.
If you want to read the constitution go to

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Message for all women

This was emailed to me. I googled it and was unable to find the original source. I hope the author doesn't mind me sharing it.


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking 
for the vote. 

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. 
Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing 
went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 
'obstructing sidewalk traffic.' 

(Lucy Burns)
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above 
her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping 
for air.

(Dora Lewis) 
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her 
head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, 
Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. 
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, 
beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, 
when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his 
guards to teac h a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because 
they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right 
to vote. 
For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their 
food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

(Alice Paul) 
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike,
they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured
liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks 
until word was smuggled out to the press. 

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- 
-why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? 
Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new 
movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle 
these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling 
booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the 
actual act of voting had become less personal for me. 
Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. 
Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, 
saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk 
about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought 
kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 
'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, 
my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just 
younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The 
right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in 
their curriculum I want it shown anywhere else women gather.
I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think 
a little shock therapy is in order.

 It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul
was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

 The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.' 

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so 
hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Brownies

My daughter just made these brownies from a recipe at . She loves this website and has found some really good recipes! Check it out!

Man-Catcher Brownies
3 cubes unsalted butter
2 cups cocoa powder
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 Tbs. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. kosher salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Mix together the eggs, sugars, vanilla and cocoa mixture. Add flour and salt and stir until combined. Don't overmix. Spread batter evenly onto a greased jelly roll pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350, or until a toothpick, inserted into center, comes out clean.

*She cooked these in a 9X13 pan which made them very thick. It takes about an hour.

This is the best brownie recipe I have found.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Organize your Refrigerator

I have these turn tables in my refrigerator. It allows me to move the shelf way up and put more things on that shelf.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Forever Strong

Forever Strong, is an inspiring movie worth supporting. I for one have a hard time giving Hollywood my money just to watch religious bigotry and no moral values portrayed on the screen. This movie shows accountability for bad choices, character, high values, forgiveness, and taking a higher road. It doesn't have bad language and has a very good message especially for teenagers. (Don't drink and drive, do , cheat on tests, and dishonor your family)
It is based on a true story of a coach that didn't want to just turn out good athletes, he wanted to turn out good human beings.
This movie opened in select cities last Friday. Hopefully people will support this good movie to send a message to Hollywood that we would like more movies like this one.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Christmas Tip #6

Here is my theory on wrapping paper. Costco or Sam's club usually has wrapping paper that isn't all the way Christmas. It is usually silver, cream or gold. I buy the huge bolt of it, not the cheap rolls that wrap one gift each tube. I leave it in my gift wrapping area and use it year round for weddings or showers. I like the simplicity of one paper and not having to store Christmas paper year round in my storage room. This year I bought gold. It might not be as fun looking as all the different papers, but it does look uniform and classy. (I think.)
When I was young, I knew a lady who rewrapped all the gifts that came into her home with the wrapping paper she used for her gifts, so every gift under the tree matched. Believe me I don't care that much about uniformity . It is the simplicity that I am looking for.

I also use Christmas gift bags year after year. What I do is leave that gift in the bag that it came in and knot it closed. I then put it in a plastic grocery bag and tie it closed. It is almost impossible to untie those bags. This helps keep the gifts a secret. It is like a little padlock. I put tissue paper over, to cover the tackiness of a grocery bag so it looks nice. At my house if I put an item in a bag and just put a piece of tissue paper over it, my kids would peek.

Here is the damage I have done so far. I will put bows on them when I am ready to put them under the tree. I am already feeling in control of the Christmas season instead of it controlling me.
Good Luck with your preplanning.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas-Christmas Tip #5

This is one of the nicest and most meaningful gifts I have been given. My daughter saw this idea at someone's house and made one for me on Mother's Day. She later gave one to her dad. I have them both hanging in my bathroom.
Here is how she made it. She printed out words about us in different sizes and fonts and printed them. She cut them out and glued them on a piece of scrapbook paper and framed it with frames that were in my basement. It didn't cost her any money and it was a big surprise. It is fun to see what she thinks of us and the spelling makes it that much cuter. If you click on it, it will enlarge.
I think adding one of these pictures to a kid's bathroom would be a real self esteem booster. I know it makes me feel good every time I read it.
Hanging above my son's bed, where only he can see it, are vinyl letters that say We're Proud of You. I thought that when he saw it, that he might take it down but it has been up for 3 years. He gets made fun of a little when friends see it but it is still there. Every one thrives on love, attention, affirmations and good words said about them.
This would be an easy, inexpensive gift to start working on for Christmas gifts.

I know there are some really creative people out there. If you do this project will you send me a picture? I would like to do some of these for my kids. Thanks!

This is one of my favorite "neighbor" gifts. It is a scripture printed on top of a printed flower picture. It was made on the computer and printed on nice paper. I put it into a fancy frame and it sits on a table in my entry way.

I love these inexpensive vinyl letters.

Here is a list of games my family likes
Apples to Apples
Whoonu? (We played this last night. Fun for anyone who can read. You get to know what each other likes.
Phase 10

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gift Exchanges- Christmas Tip #4

This year what if you tried to simplify a few things. If you normally have to buy everyone you know a gift, what if you picked names this year? What if you were able to buy less more meaningful gifts?
I was in an extended family gift exchange for years.
At one time I was doing a gift exchange with my mother in law's family (7 gifts) and my father in law's family (7 gifts). I not only had to buy 14 extra gifts, but I had to wrap them and mail them all over the country. I did this ritual every year. Why was I buying a gift for an uncle in Florida and a cousin in Iowa?
I finally got brave and told the people in charge that I wasn't going to be in the gift exchange anymore. WOW! What a relief!!! Did I really get away with it? Yes,...... Nobody cared! ..... I would stress myself out every year and all I had to do was say NO. It's amazing how that little word can work.
If you love that type of thing do it. If it is a headache and makes your holidays no fun, opt out.
So far I have not changed my mind, but if I ever do, I'm sure they will let me back in. Maybe it is time for you to step out of a few of your have to's.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Neighbor Gifts-Christmas Tip #3

In my area we exchange gifts with other families. Some are my husbands friends, my friends, neighbors, people at church, piano teachers etc. These gifts are usually either homemade plates of goodies or a gift for $5.00 or less. This year I really hit the jackpot! My daughter was in Chicago shopping at a Bath and Body Outlet Store. She called me and told me about these ceramic gingerbread houses that have 2 different oils to make your house smell good. They were regularly $24.50 and were selling them for $3.99. I called the store and asked if they could mail them to me and so they did. They sent me 24 of them. Here are the boxes. I can't show you what they look like because my friends read my blog and I want them to be a surprise.

How easy was that?? No thinking, no driving, no cooking. They are super cute, nice and with shipping comes to $5.00 each. One huge headache off my shoulders.
Today's tip is to decide on the "neighbor" gifts. Buy them, wrap them and put them away. If you make goodies for neighbors, you can buy the plates, ribbon and even write the cards.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pictures and Cards-Christmas tip #2

This would be a great week to pick out Christmas cards and schedule your pictures to be taken (If that is a tradition of yours).
The first 12 years of my marriage I had our family pictures taken like clock work and sent out the cards on time. It was a real struggle getting my husband and some of the kids to go along every year. I would have to cancel the appointments and reschedule them at least once. It wasn't enjoyable for me, so I let that go. I gave up the perfect family routine. You know there is no rule that says you have to do pictures and cards. If you enjoy it and like it, do it. If you are doing it out of obligation or perfectionism, give it up for a year or two. No one will care. It is your joy and happiness that matters.

My friend Launette bucked the system a few years ago. She sends out her family newsletter every Valentines Day. It looks like the ones you see at Christmas but it is on heart or love paper instead of Christmas paper. I wish I had thought of it. She sends her love and I catch up on her life. When I receive several family letters and card in the mail on the same day in December, I have a hard time sitting down to read and enjoy them. It is such a hustle and bustle time of year. I don't savor and appreciate the cards as much as I do when I get Launette's Valentine letter.

What time of year is best for you to send out pictures, cards or newsletters (if at all). It is important to stay in touch but who says it has to be in December.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

100 days Till Christmas-Tip #1

We have 100 days left until Christmas. This may sound like a lot, but not for me,
I celebrate 2 daughters, a son in law, a husband and a son's birthday within 2 weeks of Christmas. I can get stressed out if a don't do a lot of pre-planning. This means doing everything I can before December. If I am worrying about Christmas duties, I can't celebrate birthdays and the true meaning of Christmas.
One year I got my Christmas shopping done in August and I didn't step foot in the malls all of December. It was too weird. It didn't even feel like it was Christmas. So in my opinion, that early is a little extreme.
I do think it is nice to get as much done before Thanksgiving as possible. So I have between now and Nov. 27 to get everything done. I like to mail my Christmas packages out the day before Thanksgiving when there is no line. I also like shopping in the stores with few people and easy parking.

For the next 6 blog posts I am going to give you tips to prepare early so you can enjoy time with your family.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

72 Hour Kits

I was watching CNN this morning speaking about the hurricane that just hit Texas. They said that 4 million people are without electricity. They mentioned that when Katrina hit some didn't get their power back on for 3 or 4 weeks.
I heard the frustration in the leaders voices about the people not evacuating and now they have to spend there time rescuing people.
He also mentioned the fact that FEMA has told ALL Americans to have 72 hours worth of bottled water and food in their homes. He said that Salvation Army and the Red Cross and the government cannot do everything for everyone.
To me it is common sense to have this on hand. We see everyday somewhere in the country catastrophes happening. We need to do our part to help ourselves.

My mother made these kits at her church. These are 72 hour kits. If you have one of these for each person in your family, 2 liters of water, and cash tucked away, you can rest at ease.
(Click on the picture to see them up close)
This is what is in the containers.
Day 1
2 granola bars
1 juice box
1 pkg soup mix
1 pkg crackers (peanut butter or cheese)
1 beef jerky
1 pkg. ramen noodles
1 pkg cocoa mix
5 pcs candy
3 pcs gum
1 fruit roll up
Day 2
2 pkg.oatmeal
1 pkg cocoa
1 beef jerky
1 pudding cup
1 can soup
1 pkg crackers (peanut butter or cheese)
1 fruit roll up
5 pcs candy
3 pcs gum
1 pkg peanuts
Day 3
2 pkg oatmeal
1 pkg cocoa mix
1 beef jerky
1 pudding cup
1 can soup
1 pkg crackers (peanut butter or cheese)
1 fruit roll up
5 pcs candy
3 pcs gum
1 pkg peanuts

My daughter, her husband and baby were in Oahu, Hawaii when an earthquake hit on the Big Island. She heard about it on the radio. At the time I was speaking to her no one knew if it was going to turn into a tsunami.
She was very nervous because they had moved from one apartment and was heading to another. She had thrown away a lot of food and hadn't had much in the refrigerator because she didn't want to move it. They had only $17.00 cash and all the stores were closed and the power was out. The gas pumps didn't work and they could only pay with cash because the credit card machines didn't work.
She had a cell that could be charged with the car so I could talk to her, but not help. She bought junk food at a gas station and was very worried about the baby with not much formula.
If she had these little kits, the water and cash she wouldn't have been so panicked.
Lucky for them the power was restored in about 24 hours. She and I learned a valuable lesson to be ready in case of unexpected emergencies.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fast Way to Cook Bacon

Open a package of bacon and slice the whole block up and put in a pan to cook. As it gets warm the pieces start falling apart. I stir a little but don't really have to turn it.

If you are cooking bacon to use in a salad or even a sandwich this method saves a lot of time. If you cut it up and put it in a pan it all cooks evenly and you don't have the messy job of crumbling it after.

Can you see that each piece is crisp and there are no burnt pieces and no raw pieces.

When I cook for my family, I am looking for speed and efficiency over how pretty it looks. If you think it looks tacky on the plate you could throw it in scrambled eggs.
I cook the whole pound at once and can use it later in the day or week. This cooking method can save 10 or more minutes.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Proper Portion Sizes

What a great idea Amy Roskelley had when she invented this simple plate. I saw this in a magazine a few weeks ago.

We have been conditioned to put a large piece of meat on a plate and add a roll and small portion of vegetables. When in reality it should this way, large portion of vegetables and small portion of bread and meat. After seeing this, when I dish up a plate of food, a picture of her plate pops into my mind. I think she is onto something.
Teaching our children proper portion sizes will help it become natural for them to eat this way.
Amy, owner of was quoted in the Utah Valley magazine below.
One of her habit changes was not so much about the food she served her children but the plates she served it on. Amy found that she was better able to teach proper portion sizes by giving her kids sectioned plates."A balanced meal should be half fruits and vegetables,"Amy says. "I didn't want my kids to grow up with mac and cheese as the main part of their meal with a couple piesces of broccoli on the side."
And then she took the sectioned plates one step further.
" I thought, 'It sure would be nice to have pictures on the plate,'"Amy says. 'That way the kids are the ones to say, 'Hey mom--I need more vegetables on my plate,'"

Even if you don't buy one of these plates, it is a good idea to teach our children the message, and maybe even have a picture like this on the table for a while as a reminder.