Monday, March 30, 2009

Busy and Thankful

I was a busy little bird during my "unplugged" Friday...that turned into Saturday. I spent Friday making copies of my staycation class materials, and getting that class all ready. I got a new journal set up on my computer, to go along with my "big rock" goal I made recently of  journal writing every day, and I spent time with family. I know, technically I was on the computer, but I say I got a to-do item done, so it doesn't count.

All Saturday morning I was attending the women's activity at church -- it was awesome! We had lots of gals there teaching fun how-to classes: square foot gardening, blogging, homemade bread secrets, self-defense, family history tips, clutter-control (and mine: staycations). The only bummer about the activity was that I couldn't get to every one of the classes! LOL

I'll be posting the staycation class ideas here on the blog, but first, I'm looking into a way that I can make the packets I created available to you. (You know, something you could download.) So, stay tuned on that. 

The biggest thing I wanted to share was that after almost 4 full months of *nothing*, Mr. H landed a temporary contract and starts tomorrow! I have mixed feelings. Down in my gut, I just want a full-time, health-benefited position for him. Having to settle for less is painful for me -- I'm a gal who likes safety and security. I'm tired of worrying. I don't want to be strong and creative and survive. I want us to thrive. This contract is a 1099 and we're on our own for taxes and social security payments and insurance. Bleh.

On the other hand, I have to be realistic and say that we are lucky to find work at all.  And this is a 1099, which gives us a lot of freedom. He will be working at home most of the time, and he can then keep the overall, big job search alive. Mr. H is also looking seriously at education opportunities, and these options can stay open. Plus, I do like having him around. ;-) That stays, too. To fill in the insurance gaps, I'm looking at the basic insurance programs our state offers, like CHIP. We'll enroll in those. At least we'll have basic coverage.

So -- bottom line? It's not the answer we're looking for, but we're gonna be possibilitarians and see what opportunities we can pull out of this. Sometimes you pray for A, B or C and the Lord says.... "Q".  This job trial is not over by a long shot, and we still could use good thoughts and prayers. But this little blessing will keep the wolf from the door and for that, I am...


picture credit

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Words to Live By

flowers growing on a church wall

Things turn out best for the people
who make the best out of the way things turn out. 

                                                            -- Art Linkletter

picture credit

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Have you heard about Kimba's Unplug Friday? She challenged the bloggy world to unplug for 24 hours from whatever it is that distracts you from what really matters. Whether it's blogging, your Blackberry, twitter, computer, TV.... that's up to you.

Love this idea!


You in?

I'm doing it! Lots to talk about on Monday. See you then!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Low-fat Cupcake Brownies/Brownie Babies

Sometimes I just HAVE to have brownies. No, really. The world will end if I do not satisfy my chocolate brownie craving. Lucky for you, and the rest of the planet, I found a way to soothe the choco-beast and still keep my girlish figure. Found this Weight Watchers recipe on-line.

Brownies for one point. Bring it, baby.

I'll post a picture of these later today. I made some up to show you -- but my brother and Mr. H scarfed them all down. All of them. Sheesh. Boys.   ;-)


Weight Watchers Cupcake Brownies/Brownie Babies
Serves 12

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, plus...

1 tablespoon brown sugar, all firmly packed

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1  1/2 teaspoons margarine, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.  Preheat oven to 350° F.

2.  In a bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

3.  In a second bowl, stir together remaining ingredients.

4.  Pour liquid mixture over flour mixture.

5.   Stir until batter is smooth.

6.  Pour into a non-stick 12 hole muffin tin coated with cooking spray.

7.  Fill cups until half full.

8.  Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.

9.  Remove from oven.

10.  Let stand 5 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool.

A couple of things here:

My Sweet Girl ran from the room screaming (ok, not really) when she saw me putting in cider vinegar and applesauce into a BROWNIE recipe. Trust me: it works. Go with it.  Also, I like to double this recipe. It doesn't quite fill 12 cups in my cupcake pan as the recipe's written.

My favorite way to make these is to use my *mini* muffin pan.

I call them Brownie Babies. Just cook them for 10 minutes instead of 18.  I can make lots of little mini-brownies and have TWO for one point. You feel very naughty for chomping a bunch of these brownies babies, but you're still being good. 

Brownie Baby Sundaes

We like to make brownie sundaes by warming the babies up, putting them in the bottom of a bowl, and topping them with low-fat ice cream and light chocolate syrup. Maybe some fat-free Reddi-Whip too. Yummers.


Choco-beast happy. ♥

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Storeroom Project

*disclaimer: the photos in this post are not my storeroom, nor my shelves (YET!) They belong here. These are the type of shelves I have in my storeroom, just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. I hope my shelves will look like this gal's someday -- right now they are a little on the Mother Hubbard side, with our out-of-work budget. I will include MY "after" storeroom photos once I have the new set up in place (bare shelves and all). W :-)

food storage shelvesOne of the reasons we picked this house, was the storeroom in the basement. It has wonderful, built in, sturdy food storage shelves that line every wall -- and it's a fairly big room. It's unfinished, and it reminded me of my Omi and Opa's cold storage room, in their sweet little house.

Over the years, this room has gone more in the direction of junk room than a food storage room. (In my defense, it's the only space in the whole house that we could store the miscellany of life! We have no attic to speak of, and no unfinished areas of the house where you'd store "stuff".)

Well, all the junk is gone now and floor is open and clear -- the shelves will now get an extreme home makeover. Gone will be boxes of Mr. H's comic books and empty electronic boxes and old CD's we never listen to. Three of the walls will be dedicated to food and supplies storage. The fourth wall I'm turning into a butler's pantry.

It will hold all my extras that my tiny kitchen can't hold. The ice cream maker, the fondue set, the soup tureen, miscellaneous glassware, and (*blush*) extra sets of dishes.

Hi. My name is Wendy. I have a problem with loving pretty dishes and bringing them home.                  (...hello Wendy!)

I can't wait to have everything in apple-pie order down there. (Look at that. Isn't that wonderful? Job or not, looking at stocked shelves like that makes me feel safe and that all is well... This picture is my inspiration photo for my project...)

    food storage shelves 2

I just have one thing that might keep me from achieving my dream -- a mountain of magazines. ACK! I love having ideas at my fingertips to be inspired from, but they are out of control! Please help -- tell me how you deal with magazines at your house. How do you keep good ideas handy without them taking over? [Seriously, HELP.]

What projects are you working on?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A little bit more March Madness

I'm looking at a busy week. I picked a good week to hunker down in, though! It's snowing outside right now, and the cold temps will be with us all this week. Wait a minute. If spring takes a break for a week, does that mean it's Spring's Spring Break? Hmmm. ;-) Hurry back, Spring!

staycationMy big to-do item this week is to put the finishing touches on my staycation class I'm doing for a church-sponsored workshop on Saturday. If you don't know what a staycation is, go here. I've gathered a lot of good ideas -- I'd be happy to post some here, if there's interest. Staycations are perfect for us recessionistas! ♥

I'm one lesson behind on my "me" class, so I've gotta play catch up there. I'm lovin' that class, by the way -- so helpful!

Oh, and our Aggies lost over the weekend -- we're out. No more of that madness this year. :-(

And then, I've got my current de-cluttering project going -- the storeroom. (Hah! -- I typed that, and in my mind, scary theme music started to play! If you would've seen the "before", you would know why...) But, more on that tomorrow.

My usual "prescription" for Spring Fever is usually some spring cleaning. (Must be the German in me.)  I can't help myself. The days start to warm up, and I throw the windows open and dust starts flyin'! I've got to declutter.

How about you?

picture credit

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Words to Live By

rainbow in the storm


Become a possibilitarian. 

No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are,
raise your sights and see possibilities -
always see them, for they're always there. 

                                                                                     ~Norman Vincent Peale

picture credit

Friday, March 20, 2009


It's Officially Spring!-1

Yeah, and the weatherman's forecasting snow here in a couple of days...
I'm not listening! (lalalalalalalalalalalala!)

Go Ags!

Mr. H bleeds maroon

Stop the world -- it's time for March Madness! 

Mr. H and I played hooky from all our cares and worries for one day to watch our fightin' Texas Aggies play BYU in the NCAA tournament yesterday.

We went over to my brother's house (also playing hooky, heh-heh) and watched the game -- we cheered, whooped, and munched on chips and salsa -- and at half time ,we pulled out the BBQ and grilled hamburgers. Did I mention that it was absolutely gorgeous warm spring day?

Seriously -- life does not get any better than that!

Oh wait. Yes it does.

Final Score

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

st. patrick's day girlHope you and yours are having a fun St. Patrick's Day!

We have a wee bit o' fun. There's the wearin' of the green -- if you don't you'll surely be pinched around here with the two mischievous leprechauns I live with!

The Sweet Girl has an Irish first name, so we tease her all morning before school, talking in an Irish accent, and trying to pinch her before she can get her green things on.

I also like to plan a little Irish tom-foolery for dinner, but this year, we're a little subdued from surviving the plague getting over the flu. No creative dinner this year, but potatoes are on the menu, and I know we'll at least have some mint chocolate ice cream for dessert.  I know, I'm so Martha!

Although... these shamrock shakes and Elena's Leprechaun Slush look like fun for next year.

What fun things do you and your family do on  St. Patrick's Day? 

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Madness


So, I'm thinking the sting of being out of work is not gonna hurt so much this week. Yep, that's right -- it's March Madness time.

Mr. H and I whooped when we found out that our beloved Texas Aggies were going to the big dance. We hooted when we found out that our alma mater will be paired up with the local university around here, BYU -- for the second time in a row! Our Ags beat the Cougars last year, and later on, got beat themselves -- but only by the eventual *champions* of the tournament! This year, these two teams are ranked 8th and 9th, so it should be a fun game to watch.

We're planning on flying our TAMU flag in front of the house on Thursday, and expect a lot of ribbing from neighbors and friends, and even a few two-percenter family members. Wouldn't be surprised to find a few BYU fans in the comments here, either.  We are definitely in enemy territory! That's all right -- bring it! ;-)

Our flu is almost gone, the birds are chirpin', the crocus are blooming -- spring is here (FINALLY) and March Madness is on TV.

Life is good.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Words to Live By



Optimism is the foundation of courage. 

                                                                                           -- Nicholas Murray Butler


photo credit: Flickr

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th

four leaf clover

It's nearly noon, and I just now noticed it's Friday the 13th! I guess that doesn't make me very superstitious. For those of you who are very worried about today, you'll be happy to know you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobics.  (That's the irrational fear of Friday the 13th.)

We don't suffer from parask...(oh forget it!) but we have been suffering with a flu bug that found us this week. Our Sweet Girl was slammed with it -- down in bed for a week! Poor thing. Mr. H and I have decided just to get a light case of it and aim closer for the weekend so job searching won't be affected too much. How very sensible of us. :-)

I am feeling just bad enough to be lazy and not tell you really cool facts about Friday the 13th -- but I can manage to send you here, to a fun article about the origins of this unlucky day.

I'm not sure I agree with today being unlucky. But I can say I agree with the Chinese: in China, “may you live in interesting times” is a curse. You know, life has been just a little too interesting for me lately. I'm really ready for boring.

I also agree with this little quotation I got from my Mary Englebreit calendar page a while back:


Go make it a lucky day today...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cookie Sundae... Pzookie... Whatever!

Cookie Sundae Heaven

Oh yeah. Come to Mama.

(sorry. did I say that out loud?)   


So, we were all feeling a little sorry for ourselves with the recent snowstorm that hit our neighborhood. (We are more than just a little ready for spring to get here.)  We needed a little pick-me-up. 

This takes a smidge of creativity when you're working on a spartan budget, but I was just the woman for the job. :-) I remembered something that took us to our happy place before, at a local restaurant called Pizza Factory.  A dessert called "Never on Sundae".

It's slightly undercooked cookie dough served in a hot skillet, topped with ice cream and chocolate, etc. I've seen it called Cookie Sundae, Pzookie (pizza+cookie, get it?), Skookie ... I really don't care what you want to call it.  It's. Good.  And it's just what we needed.

Here's how we did it:

Scrounged around and found some cute heart shaped baking pans leftover from Valentine's Day. Much cuter than some old skillet -- and hey, it'll keep the portion size down.  Then, we made us up some chocolate chip cookie dough, and pressed it into the bottom of the pans.

Cookie Dough in pans

We put the pans in the oven at 350° F, for about 8 minutes. Watch the dough -- you want it to look like this:

 Ooey Gooey Cookie Dough

barely cooked, still ooey-gooey in the center.

 Cookie Sundae Toppings

Ice cream and chocolate on standby... using the lighter versions of each will keep this dessert to about 6 points.

Ice cream on top!

Plunk a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the cookie dough...

Cookie Sundae Heaven 

...and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

There you go. Whatever you want to call it, I'm in my happy place right now. Enjoy. ♥

Monday, March 9, 2009

It Just Ain't Right

Dreaming of this...

Flowering Plum Blossoms

Dealing with this...

March 2009 Blizzard

and this....

white out

and looking at this.

the view out the window

It's spring. It just ain't right.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Words to Live By

Chocolate Chip Cookie Heaven

That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.   

                                                                                                       -- Henry David Thoreau


There's *nothing* better than homemade chocolate chip cookies,
with a frothy, cold glass of milk on standby...

...find the recipe here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Shake it Off and Step Up

Donkey 2

My mom shared this inspiring little story with me this week.  Perfect timing, Mom.  Just what Mr. H and I needed to hear! Though, after a quick Google search, I wonder if we're the only people on the planet who hadn't heard it before...  This goes right along with "Filling Our Sails" that I talked about last week.

The job market is still pretty dry out there. But, I'm happy to report that while we have no real solid leads, we have had 3 or 4 opportunities pop up in the last couple of days, thanks to Mr. H's networking skills. Keep us in your prayers and wish us luck!



This is a parable of a farmer who owned an old mule. The old mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer had heard the mule braying or praying or doing whatever a mule does when it is in trouble.

After carefully thinking about the situation and knowing that the well was as old as the mule, the farmer decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth saving. He called his neighbors over, told them what had happened and asked if they could help him shovel dirt into the well to bury the old mule and close up the well. They grabbed their shovels and went to work.

When the first shovels of dirt came down on top of the mule, he was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back … a thought struck the old mule...

Every time a load of dirt landed on his back, he could shake it off and step up!  This he did, blow by blow. “Shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up. The old mule repeated the words to himself to keep up his courage, "just shake it off and step up. .."

No matter how painful the dirt was as it hit his back or how tired he was, he just kept on “shaking it off and stepping up”. It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well.

What seemed like it would bury him actually helped him…..all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity. THAT’S LIFE!!

If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity, the very adversity that comes along to bury us usually has within it the very real potential to benefit us. Never be afraid to try.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Easy Café Rio Pork

Okay, so there's this restaurant in my area called Café Rio.  Uh, it's. good.  I know there are some of you out there that know what I'm talking about.  I'm lucky to have it close by!

I'm even more lucky to have an extremely talented sister who visited me not too long ago, and made us this recipe. She started to say something about Café Rio and I didn't hear the rest. All's I heard was hallelujah angels singing in my head after that.

I really started singing when we all sat down to eat. Uh, it's. good.

I'm sharing it with you today. Enjoy.

Thanks, Rebekah. You rock.

[Cue the angels...]


Easy Café Rio
Café Rio Pork

3-4 lb pork butt
1 cup salsa
1 cup brown sugar

Place the pork butt in the crock pot. In a separate bowl, mix the salsa with the brown sugar, then add on top of the pork. Cook all day in the crock pot (on Low setting) then shred the meat when it's done.  Use as a taco meat or with cilantro lime dressing, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.

Café Rio Cilantro Lime Dressing

1 1/3 cups sour cream
3/4 cup mayo
1 bunch of cilantro (chopped)
1 package ranch dressing mix (dry)
4 tablespoon salsa verde (green salsa)
2 cloves of garlic
1/8 tsp. Tabasco sauce
juice of one lime (she likes to add lime zest, too)

Mix together in a blender and serve on top of Café Rio pork.

Want to make it low-fat?  Use light sour cream and light mayonnaise!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dr. Suess!


"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind."

                                                                                         -- Dr. Seuss

Gotta love Google's logo today. ♥ And isn't that a great Dr. Suess quote? (I stole it from the Queen!) Today is Dr. Suess' 105th birthday. Happy Birthday, Dr. Suess! I love how you made the world a better place in your own, unique way.

Back on his 100th birthday, I remember that we all ate Green Eggs and Ham for dinner. Trust me -- no pictures of that dinner is a good thing. It didn't look so good, but it tasted great and we had fun celebrating the day.

We love Dr. Suess around here. The Sweet Girl was raised on his books, The Foot Book, in particular. In fact, I think we can all still quote it to you, word for word -- we read that book over and over and over...

The Cat in the Hat is probably his most famous, but I can't say it was ever a favorite of mine. I identified more with the poor fish in that story. LOL

What's your favorite Dr. Suess book? Go vote on the poll I put over on the sidebar. You can vote for more than one. If you don't see a favorite there, leave me a comment telling me which title(s) you love.

**edited to add: the Suess poll is now closed**

Are you doing anything fun to celebrate his birthday today?

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Thank you, Dr. Suess! You continue to inspire me!   

Dr. Suess the places you'll go

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Words to Live By

lemons and lemonade


Life is 10% what happens to you
and 90% what you do with what happens to you.

                                                                                          -- Anonymous