Posted in Crafting, Education, Family

Just Another Charity Case

I’ve wanted to write but it’s difficult to formulate a complete thought with everyone home and everyone’s been home since Friday.

We celebrated my better half’s birthday, but it wasn’t much of a celebration considering a couple of us are still nursing broken hearts after the loss of our beloved hamster.  I have to admit, this loss has been rough on me as I really believe it was preventable.  I’m still having trouble digesting it, but slowly it’s becoming more bearable.

In December, S. MADE taggie blankets with her own hands and resources, she collected books, DVD’s, some toys and I managed to find some brand new stuffed animals around the house.  We decided that we were going to take them all to Riley Hospital for the kids at Christmas.  Time flew by so quickly that we didn’t make it there by Christmas but we decided to finally take it all Friday morning.

Can I say I am just so disappointed.  I realize that you don’t contribute, donate or volunteer for the recognition.  I have tried to teach my children to expect nothing in return as you do it out of love and self gratification.  The gift you receive comes from within and I do believe that.  However, I do think that acknowledging children’s efforts and possibly even listening to a child’s story can leave a lasting impression on them.  Thanking them for taking time out of their lives for others less fortunate is important.  They will be the ones that will either continue to help or only do for themselves.  I believe the more positive reactions they receive will help enforce that they continue to make others needs as important as their own.

Here’s what happened.  S. and I walked into the hospital, there was no one at the reception desk.  We saw plenty of people with ID tags walking around, but not a one spoke although we stood there for a few minutes.  We walked to the gift shop and I explained to the woman behind the counter the situation, the first thing she could think to ask was were the items new?  S. had printed their requirements for donations and we had followed that.

She asked if we could bring the box in and put it behind the counter and she’d call someone to come pick it up.  As we went back in, there were people checking out and there wasn’t much room.  The girls and I waited patiently for them to finish their transactions, then the girls took the box and put it next to the counter.  Apparently, I looked at the woman behind the counter and said thank you.  Then she said thank you and we walked out.  We got in the car and the girls said, “Why did you say thank you?  We’re the ones that donated.  She should have been thanking us.”  And ya know, they are right.  I don’t actually remember saying thank you, but I’m sure I did because they called me on it.  I probably said it in hopes that the lady that received the box, would look at the two children that collected, made and carried the box full of items for children less fortunate than themselves, with a warm and genuine smile and thank them for giving of themselves.  And maybe even encourage them to make, collect and donate more.  Maybe it’s me and maybe I’m selfish to think this way, but you know what, I really don’t care.  A genuine thank you goes a long way.

Posted in Family, Home

“This has been the longest day of my life”

These were the words that came out of my daughter’s mouth this afternoon while we were out shopping for my better half’s birthday gifts.

Her hamster died this morning.  I was making the bed when I heard her and her sister talking.  I heard, “I have to warm him up, he’s so cold.”.  I took him from her and knew immediately he wasn’t going to make it.  I wrapped him up in his blue flowered blanket, tried to warm him up and just held him.  I kissed him and told him he could go and within 30 minutes he had.

She cried while trying to eat her waffles.  I hugged her.  She said she had to get ready for school.  She headed to pack her stuff before the bus came.  As she walked out the door, I told her, I’ll come pick you up of you want to come home.  Heaven knows how difficult it is to focus on anything in the wake of death.  And the death of a pet that you have loved and cared for and cuddled with can be massively devastating.  I’ve been there, more than once.

I picked her up before the first bell.  I took her shopping, took her to her favorite fast food place and to Baskin Robbins for a milkshake.  She did well, she kept her feelings in check, we even laughed on occasion.  Once we were heading home, she asked, what do you think happened?  I wish I knew.  Tuesday he had a good report from the vet, today he’s no longer.  I wish I had all the answers and I wish I could fix what hurts, I wish I could bring him back.  This is the one and only draw back of loving God’s little creatures – any of them really.  It’s staggering to lose that unconditional love – even when they weigh less than a half pound.

Hug your pets, treat them like family and love them unconditionally.  You just never know when they’ll head for the rainbow bridge.

we love you – always
Posted in Family, Food, Home

Stuffed Peppers

Good Morning! I’ve already started out the day in the kitchen, of course. I am trying my hand at bread sticks, compliments of Olive Garden. I’ve never ever played with yeast before, so this is a first. The recipe said to allow it to foam, it didn’t foam before I mixed it with the flour so I’m a little concerned I didn’t have the water hot enough. But it’s early enough in the day that if I have to try again I’ll have time!

Yesterday was a day of running. It was dark and gloomy out and at least some of my attitude reflected that. I did manage to dance, which always helps put a positive spin on things. I at least felt good all day because of it, but I do have to admit, I’m still reeling from the events of a couple months ago when our vet committed suicide. Each and every time I think of her (which I dare to say is at some point almost every day!), it saddens and confuses me. The better half has told me not to allow it to bother me, but I simply can’t help it. She was young (my age), had a business that I would assume was somewhat successful, she had children. I did hear that the reason she committed suicide was because her husband was going to file for divorce. No man is worth killing yourself over, or woman for that matter! It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem…this is why one of my life’s motto’s is “take care of you”. You have value, probably more than you think and if you take your own life, you don’t really know who you’ll be affecting by doing so. I was just a random person and she had no real position in my life, but her death impacted me more than she could ever imagine, I’m sure. The entire situation upset me more than I even thought possible. She was, in all sense of the word, a stranger, I knew nothing about her other than what I read on her website. I did find out more about her after her death, but that was out of curiosity more than anything. I, in an very odd sense, feel guilty. Is that even remotely normal??

It had to be done, I can’t wallow in whatever this is, so I called a new vet and made an appointment. They were very kind and seemingly gentle with H. I appreciated that tremendously. He is a hamster and must go to the “dentist” every two months to have his tooth cut so he can eat. He just won’t chew on anything to grind it down on his own. He’s a stubborn and expensive lil guy, but he’s worth it, he’s just a sweetheart.


I ate very little yesterday, a banana and yogurt for breakfast, some cucumber and Opa blue cheese for lunch AND of course, two glasses of wine around 2 p.m.. I made stuffed peppers for dinner. I even ate almost the entire pepper! Three years ago, I wouldn’t even have touched a pepper much less eaten it! I found the recipe in a weight watchers cookbook I have and figured, why not. The kids complained they didn’t like the pepper, the better half said there was too much rice, not enough meat, then on the heels of that comment, the kids then decided it was just too much rice. It was a no win situation. I did make Bosco sticks, so the kids at least had something to eat! Here’s the pepper recipe if you are so inclined!

Stuffed Peppers

6 medium sized peppers
3/4 lb. ground round (I used 1.25 lbs. of ground sirloin)
1 3/4 c. finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. cooked rice (I used brown rice)
1 t. marjoram
1 t. oregano
1/8 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c. plus 2 T. nonfat sour cream
(shredded colby & monterey & avocado, if you’d like – this was my own addition)

Cut off tops of peppers. Remove and discard seeds and membranes. Finely chop pepper tops, discarding stems; set chopped pepper aside. Cook pepper cups in boiling water to cover 5 minutes. Drain peppers and set aside.

Cook chopped green pepper, ground round, onion and garlic in a dutch oven over medium high heat 5 minutes, stirring until meat crumbles and vegetables are tender. Add tomato sauce and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, 6 minutes, stirring often.

Spoon meat mixture evenly into pepper cups; place in an 11×7″ baking dish. Add hot water to dish to depth of 1/2″. Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 20-25 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Spoon 1 tablespoon sour cream on each pepper before serving.

(I put a little shredded cheese on top and some mashed avocado on mine!)

The best part of this entire thing, I’m dropping the weight from the holidays and I’m not even hungry!  What a plus!!

(1/27/16: 157.8 -2.4)

Posted in Food

A Southern Winter Evening

Yesterday I went to Wal-Mart to see what I could find in the way of “cheap” organic milk and here’s what I found.


Like I said before, I don’t drink a lot of milk, but I did have to try 1/4 cup of this and…ohmygoodness, it tastes like butter. It’s absolutely delicious. Mind you, it’s all the fat of course, but man it’s good! It was $4.24 for a half gallon. Almost $10 for a gallon of milk is to me, absolutely ridiculous. I won’t be purchasing this type of milk on a consistent basis as I think it’s simply too expensive, but if you’re in the moooo-d for some delicious milk – I highly recommend it!

I had a desire to exercise yesterday…I really did, but, I didn’t, but I didn’t make any excuses either. I just didn’t exercise. I did eat fairly well, albeit I had 2 glasses of wine, but other than that, I behaved. I made 15 bean soup for the first time ever, added a couple smoked ham hocks and a package of Butterball Turkey Kielbasa sausage. It was great – and the best part, everyone ate it! The youngest only left the sausage, but she ate the actual soup! Put that in the “win” category! I made some good ole corn bread to go with it.


15 Bean Soup with Ham Hocks & Sausage

2 smoked ham hocks
1 pkg. Hurst’s 15 Bean Soup
1 large onion, chopped
6 baby carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
7 c. chicken broth (I used a 32 oz. box of Swanson broth + what I had left over in a box in the fridge, but the original recipe called for 6 cups)
2 bay leaves
1 14.5 oz. can Hunt’s fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 T. minced garlic
2 T. honey
salt & pepper to taste
1 13 oz. pkg. Butterball everyday Turkey Sausage Polska Kielbasa

I rinsed the beans, put them in a pot and soaked them overnight. In the morning, I rinsed the beans again and put them in my crock pot. I added all ingredients except the sausage. I cooked it on low for about 8-9 hours. Then I put the crock pot on warm, removed the meat from the hocks, removed the bay leaves and added the sausage and meat pulled from the hocks. I kept the crock pot on warm until we ate at 4 p.m. They were a little more done than what they probably should have been, but tasty all the same!
The recipe was adapted using these two recipes:
Get Crocked 15 Bean Soup & Hurst’s 15 Bean Soup

Creamy Cornbread

1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 8.25 oz. creamed corn
1/4 c. light sour cream
2 eggs
1/4 c. colby & cheddar jack shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400*, grease an 8×8 baking dish. Combine ingredients, pour into dish and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe was adapted from the recipe found here.

Great dinner for a cold winter evening!


(1/26/16: 160.2 -.5)

Posted in Food, Self

Back to Weight Loss Grind

I was going to fast yesterday but I decided against it. I had some coffee – with heavy whipping cream (that we are now out of) and sugar. I will not be purchasing any more whipping cream, probably just some 1/2 & 1/2, those calories add up so quickly. And to be honest, I just don’t enjoy my coffee with only 1% milk and sugar. Gross! Ya just can’t beat that coffeemate fat free hazelnut creamer, man that stuff is the BOMB! I’ve tried to stop drinking it, but I feel like I might as well stop drinking coffee if I can’t enjoy it.

For lunch, I had a banana and a glass of white moscato wine – less than the recommended 4 oz. too. I made some “healthier” beef stroganoff for dinner with some microwaved buttered carrots and tri colored al dente pasta. I thought it was good, and apparently the kids thought it was good too. S. even went back for another serving of carrots! I had a bunch of the veggies, about 1/2 cup of the meat and around 1/4 cup of the noodles. Everyone but moi had dessert, I behaved and really wasn’t hungry for any – amazing I know!  Here’s the recipe:

Healthier Beef Stroganoff III


I did some reading yesterday too and I think it’s absolutely amazing how the food industry has fooled people into believing that manipulated food is the way to go, and they’re doing it either by chemical enhancements or by filling “fat free” foods with sugar. It’s really no wonder people are more unhealthy than ever.

I read this article about drinking low fat milk. I thought it was interesting until I discovered they were trying to sell a cookbook. LOL Luckily for me I drink very little milk. The majority of my calcium comes from yogurt and cheese (and sometimes ice cream!) I do have to admit though, when I drink milk, I drink 1% which is apparently full of sugar. If you do think about going to full fat milk, try to purchase raw, organic milk from grass fed cows, I do think that’s the better way to go. Here’s one  but it’s probably $9 a gallon at your local grocery store…ugh.

(1/25/16: 160.7 -2.3)

Posted in Food

Cream Cheese Banana Bread

I found this recipe yesterday on and thought it looked delish. I had most ingredients (and of course, bananas that were going bad which prompted the search for a recipe in the first place) so I figured why not! I did modify a couple ingredients, but you can see the original recipe here.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread
(I plugged the recipe in to My Fitness Pal using a total of 16 servings and it came to approximately 170 cal. per slice)

For the bread:
1 large egg
½ c. packed light brown sugar
¼ c. vegetable oil
¼ c. vanilla yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large bananas mashed (about 1 cup)
1 c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

For the filling:
1 large egg
8 oz. 1/3 fat cream cheese
⅓ c. granulated sugar
2½ Tbs. flour

Preheat oven to 350*.
Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan and flour, set aside.
In a large bowl mix all filling ingredients using hand mixer or whisk, and set to side.
In another large bowl mix together egg, sugar, oil, yogurt, and vanilla, and using a hand mixer, mix until smooth.
Add bananas and stir to incorporate.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Gently stir the dry mix to the wet, folding it in and stirring until just combined, don’t over mix.
Put about ⅔ of the bread mixture into prepared loaf pan.
Put filling mixture over top, and carefully smooth over with a spatula.
Top with remaining bread mix and smooth over the top.
Bake about 50 minutes, until top is golden, and center is set. If top is getting too brown, and center is not set, tent foil over the top.
Allow bread to cool for 10-15 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack.

Baking times will vary based on the bananas you use and their moisture content. It will also vary by climate, elevation, etc. So keep an eye on the bread rather than the timer.
The toothpick trick will not work well because the cream cheese will never set up completely. Instead, give it a jiggle, and see if the center wiggles much.


The bread was a little more done than I would have liked it, but it was my fault for not covering it or taking it out sooner.  It’s very moist and it is delicious!  I would have loved to smother it with some room temperature butter, but I decided against it and only had a half a slice.  The real verdict will come in once the family descends on it tonight.  I’ll update the post once I hear their opinion!

*Update: One loved it, gave it an 8 out of 10, one said eh…gave it a 6 out of 10 and the DB said he wasn’t a fan of the cream cheese – but he ate the most of it. LOL.  Bake at your own risk…but only if your family likes cream cheese.


Posted in Finance, Home

Why I Can’t Clean My House Better Than Strangers

It’s funny how you become accustomed to things and develop a behavior that shows how much you take for granted.  Recently, I have been assessing our finances since they’ve gone a bit awry.  In doing so,  I agreed that one of the first expenses that could go should be the housekeeping service.  I mean I am home all day, it’s not like this house is so huge I couldn’t possibly keep it clean.  I keep it clean pretty much anyway as the housekeepers only come once a month.  I like them coming because it’s nice to have it all done at once.  I do it piecemeal and like today, I find that, well, that I just…I just can’t clean my house better than they can.

I usually start at the “working” end of the house, the laundry room, mud room, 1/2 bath and kitchen and work my way through to the bedrooms.  For the housekeeping service, it takes two women, two and a half hours to clean the entire house.  Based upon that and my crappy math skills, I can then deduce it should only take me about 4 hours total to clean the house in it’s entirety.  But, in fact, it takes me at least two hours to do only a quarter of the house and approximately 2-3 days to clean the entire house!   And here’s why…

In the laundry room, I have to dust all surfaces, wipe the blinds down and wipe the window sill.  I have to clean the exterior washer and dryer with windex, wipe them down entirely, clean out the filter and wipe out the seals, make sure the doors are wiped free of hair, paper, or whatever remnants someone’s left in their pockets that week and vacuum the dryer vent and make sure there’s nothing blocking the filter.  Then I pull out the drawer underneath to wipe the top of it and see that there’s something spilled inside, so I have to remove all items in the drawer and wipe that out.  I then have to change rags, because there’s detergent all over the rag and I certainly can’t wipe anything else with a soapy rag.  I realize since I have the drawer emptied to wipe up the spill, I might as well remove it completely so I can vacuum the rest of the floor underneath the drawer.  I find a loose battery that someone’s let roll under the washer and set it on the counter.  I put everything back neatly in the drawer, then open the cabinet to put the battery where it goes.  I notice that there’s some dirt/dust in the bottom of the cabinet where the batteries go, so I empty out the cabinet that holds the batteries and other sundries, I rearrange the plastic bin that holds the batteries, wipe out the cabinet fully and then replace all items into that cabinet.  I can’t possibly clean only one of the cabinets, the other 3 cabinets have to at least be wiped out and the two drawers should be too, I mean, what’s the point of doing all but the drawers, right?

So after a hour’s worth of work, I’ve managed to finish the cabinets and drawers, return a found battery to its proper place and wiped down the washer and dryer.  I still have to vacuum, under, around and behind the washer and dryer and then I have to remove the vent in the floor, make sure it’s wiped clean and then vacuum out the actually vent so dust doesn’t blow all over the newly cleaned surfaces.  I still have to wipe the light switch plates and door handles and then conclude with mopping.  Multiply this scenario at least three times (laundry room, mudroom and half bath and for the half bath, I even pulled out the touch up paint and 2 paintbrushes!!) before I even allow myself to consider moving into the kitchen and you can see my dilemma.

It’s so much easier to pretend the housekeepers clean to my standards and just ignore that battery under the washing machine.  Ugh…