Thursday, June 30, 2005

Win a Family Reunion in Florida...

Wow! Win a Family Reunion at the Marriott Grande Vista and Discover Cove! Win free accommodations for 4 nights in two luxurious, two-bedroom/two-bath villas (each sleeps 6 people) at Marriott’s Grande Vista in Orlando plus, receive 8 passes to nearby Discovery Cove where you can swim with dolphins, snorkel and more. (The passes include admission to SeaWorld, the 200-acre marine life adventure park.) Your family will also enjoy a reunion dinner (the chef at Nick’s Grille will cook your family’s favorite meal), a free family reunion photo, free use of the following amenities: 3 heated swimming, free use of tennis courts, beach volleyball and fitness center, including steam rooms and sauna, and more.

To enter the sweeps, just visit (One entry per day per email address. Entries must be received no later than 11:59 pm (time zone) July 12, 2005. Entries will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the e-mail address submitted at the time of the entry. AIR AND GROUND TRANSPORTATION AND ALL OTHER EXPENSES NOT SPECIFICALLY STATED HEREIN ARE WINNER’S SOLE RESPONSIBILITY. The approximate retail value of the prize package is $4999. Stay must be completed by July 15, 2006. Check out the official rules before entering the contest. Sign up here to enter the contest.

This sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Give it a try.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

We Are Going to have Puppies…..

In all the years TF and I have been married we have had pets. We made sure that they were spaded and neutered and we have never had litters of puppies and kittens. Well, guess what, we’re going to have puppies. About a month ago we acquired a dog named Roxie. A friend of our son’s was moving and he could not take Roxie to his new residence. Our son told him that he would take the dog, all he had to do was have Roxie shipped up to Wyoming via Continental Airlines. His friend dropped the dog off at our house without food or heartworm pills and disappeared. We were dumped on, folks. Well we decided that we were not going to ship Roxie off to Wyoming. Our son has a hard enough time taking care of himself, so how is he going to take care of Roxie? It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with her. She is sweet and she gets along with our other dog just fine.

Last week I noticed that she was growing in the mid section. I also noticed that her “motherly milking devices” were growing also. Uh-Oh! I think she might be pregnant.
I made an appointment with the vet to make sure and this morning we found out that she is definitely going to have puppies. The Vet did a “puppy ultrasound” on her and you could see little baby puppies moving around inside of her. They were so cute. Since this is totally new for me, the vet took some time to give me verbal instructions on what to do. She gave me written instructions on how to care for Roxie and what to do when the puppies are born. I took Roxie home and broke the news to my husband, who is still in shock. I purchased 2 bottles of doggie vitamins with calcium from the vet. This afternoon I went to Wall Mart and purchased a children’s swimming pool for Roxie to use as her “delivery room”. I bought the smallest one they had which is 48” wide. The vet also told me to put Roxie on some good puppy food. I found some Iams puppy food and bought that too. Well, $100.00 later, we are ready to take care of our mommy dog.
Please wish us luck, because we have never done this before.

Take a look at a blog my husband wrote introducing Roxie to the blogosphere.

Plan a Fourth of July Garden Party:
For some Fourth of July party tips: The Fourth of July garden party has a long and venerable history. In 1778, General George Washington ordered his men to decorate their hats with "green boughs," issued them a double allowance of rum and called for a Fourth of July artillery salute. Check out this website for some “PARTY” ideas:

Back to Basics with Smoothies: Check It Out.
Nothing says summer more than a thick, frosty, fruit smoothie. How can you get that smoothie shop taste at home?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fourth Of July Food:

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, you might want to try these three wonderful dishes. The first one is a Taco Dip from Kaylin at Real Food for Real People. Your friends will love it and be asking for more.

Awesome Taco Dip:

16 ounces Refried Beans
8 ounces Cream Cheese -- softened
1 package Taco Seasoning Mix -- 1.25 ounces
2 cloves Garlic -- minced
1 small Tomato -- chopped
1/4 cup Onion -- chopped
1/2 cup Black Olives -- chopped
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Sour Cream -- optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread beans onto bottom of 9 inch pie plate. In medium bowl, combine cream cheese, taco seasoning mix and garlic; spread over beans. Top with tomato, onion, and olives; sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with sour cream, if desired. Serve with Tortilla Chips. Serves 16

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 123 Calories; 8g Fat (58.6% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 23mg Cholesterol; 389mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Another easy dish to make for your gathering would be this wonderful pasta salad by Cheryl Driggs. I made it for a wedding shower a few weeks ago and it was a real hit.


1 lb. rotini pasta
2 cups chopped celery
1 small red onion, chopped
1 jar (4 ounces) chopped pimiento, drained
1 jar marinated artichokes, drained and cut up
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) Monterey jack cheese, cut into small cubes
1 can (6 ounces) black pitted olives, drained
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 bunch fresh broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Italian dressing with herbs
5 fresh mushrooms, sliced
7 ounces whole cashews

Cook rotini according to directions adding 1 Tbsp. oil to water. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Rinse with cold water; drain well. Add all but mushrooms, cashews, and dressing. Stir in 1 Tbsp. oil. Refrigerate. Just before serving, add mushrooms, cashews, and remaining dressing. Serves 24.

AHHHH. Now for an awesome desert. Try this Texas Sheet Cake by Lora Lee Heaton. It's to die for.

Texas Sheet Cake

1 ¼ cup - Margarine
1 ¾ cup - Sugar
2/3 cup - Dark Karo
2 tsp. - Vanilla
4 – Eggs
2 cups – Flour
¾ cup – Cocoa
1 cup – Chopped Walnuts

Grease 11 x 15” pan. Beat margarine and sugar well. Add corn syrup and stir well. Add flour and cocoa mixture. Add eggs and vanilla, then chopped nuts. Mix lightly. Spread evenly in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Cool completely, then frost with…
½ cup margarine – ¼ cup milk – 1/3 cup cocoa stirred over low heat until melted. Beat in 1 lb. powered sugar. Spread over cooled cake.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Doesn't God care any more?

I got this story in my email this morning and thought you might like to read it.

Michelle jumped up as soon as she saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: "How is my little boy? Is he going to be all right? When can I see him?" The surgeon said, "I'm sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn't make it." Michelle said, "Why do little children get cancer? Doesn't God care any more? Where were you, God, when my son needed you?" The surgeon asked, "Would you like some time alone with your son? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes, before he's transported to the university." Michelle asked the nurse to stay with her while she said good-bye to son She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick blond hair."Would you like a lock of his hair?" the nurse asked. Michelle nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of the boy's hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Michelle. The mother said, "It was Danny's idea to donate his body to the university for study. He said it might help somebody else. "I said no at first, but Danny said, 'Mom, I won't be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his Mom." She went on, "My Danny had a heart of gold. Always thinking of someone else, always wanting to help others if he could." Michelle walked out of Children's Mercy Hospital for the last time, after spending most of the last six months there. She put the bag with Danny's belongings on the seat beside her in the car. The drive home was difficult. It was even harder to enter the empty house She carried Danny's belongings, and the plastic bag with the lock of his hair, to her son's room. She started placing the model cars and other personal things back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She laid down across his bed and, hugging his pillow, cried herself to sleep. It was around midnight when Michelle awoke. Laying beside her on the bed was a folded letter. The letter said: "Dear Mom, I know you're going to miss me; but don't think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just 'cause I'm not around to say I LOVE YOU.. I will always love you, Mom, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy so you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. He can have my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn't like the same things us boys do. You'll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like, you know. Don't be sad thinking about me. This really is a neat place. Dad met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. And, you know what? Jesus doesn't look like any of his pictures. Yet, when I saw Him, I knew it was Him. Jesus himself took me to see GOD! And guess what, Mom? I got to sit on God's knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important.. That's when I told Him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you good-bye and everything. But I already knew that wasn't allowed. Well, you know what Mom? God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off to you. God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him 'Where was He when I needed him?' "God said He was in the same place with me, as when His son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children.. Oh, by the way, Mom, no one else can see what I've written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn't that cool? I have to give God His pen back now. He needs it to write some more names in the Book of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I'm, sure the food will be great. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore. The cancer is all gone. I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore and God couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery! How about that? Signed with Love from: God, Jesus & Me.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Call of Warning to the Mothers and Fathers of our nation….

The Supreme Court yesterday said cities can seize people's homes or businesses to make way for private commercial development such as shopping malls, a far-reaching ruling decried by property rights advocates. By a 5-4 vote, the justices for the first time said governments can take private property and give it to developers citing eminent domain, a practice historically used for public highway projects. This means that any government enity that wants to build a shopping mall can take your land/home away from you whether you want them to or not. You not longer have the right to say, “Not for Sale”. They can throw you out on your duff and send you packing. What’s happening to our country? Can Supreme court judges just negate the fifth amendment? You say no, well look again, yes they just did. How is it that our checks and balances in government have made it this far out of whack? Do we want to be slaves in our own country? If we allow the government to gain complete control, we will be. Please read this webpage for complete details of the decision:

Do you know someone who has a family farm? How about someone who owns prime lake front land? What about your own neighborhood? What if Wal-Mart came in and wanted your land of one of their stores. You wouldn’t even have the right to say, No Thanks! Your land would be confiscated so fast it would make your head swim. To me this is the last straw. It is a very dangerous precedent.

We need to fight for judges who will protect the rights of the Constitution, those that believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life…. Basic to our understanding of the Constitution is that governments should have only limited powers. It seems to me that they are taking more power away from the citizens of this country. Back in the early years of our country our pioneers were busy defending themselves, their property, and their liberty from the “lawless West”. In order for people to prosper, they cannot afford to spend their time constantly guarding family, fields, and property against attack and theft, so they join together with their neighbors and hire a sheriff. At this precise moment, government is born. The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only what they had a right to do for themselves – nothing more. Quoting from Bastiat: “If every person has the right to defend – even by force- his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these right- its reason for existing, its lawfulness – is based on individual rights.”

As a parent I want my children to enjoy the fruits of the Constitution. I don’t want to see my children owned by the government. We have rights and we need to defend them. Why are we allowing the Supreme court to change the Constitution? They don’t have that right. The time has come to defend this precious document. Write to the President and tell him what you expect of him. Write/fax/email, your Senators and legislators and tell them also. Stand up and take a stand. If we don’t, then the Constitution as we know it, will no longer look the same or mean the same. It may be to late then to make a difference. Make your voice be heard.

A personal letter to the President/ Senators/legislators means the same as 200 emails or faxes. If you can write it by hand it means even more. ( I read this on a website) It may take a little time but it will be worth it. Thanks for lending me your ear.

President George W. Bush
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC. 20500

Here is the web page for the complete list of Senators and their addresses:
For your state legislator:

Struggling With Student Loans

Student loans were one thing I never had to worry about. My goal was not to borrow money for my education. I saved money for tuition, worked a part-time job and was allowed to live at home until I no longer went to school or got married. But thousands of people do borrow for their education and then have to pay back their loans for years. I was reading my weekly copy of dollar stretcher this morning and saw this article about “Struggling with Student Loans”. I couldn’t help but read it. It reminded me of a friend of mine who couldn’t even buy a house until all his loans were paid off. He was married and already had children to support. He had used these loans to get through law school. I don’t know how much he owed but it was a considerable amount. It took him years to pay off the loans and get enough credit to buy his first house. Here is the opening paragraph of the article:

"I am a middle-age single mom who has gotten herself into a mess with student loans. I took out loans to support my children and myself while I was in school. I was the first person ever on either side of my family to finish high school and go to college. I thought I was doing the right thing. Now I am stuck with a debt that I will never be able to pay off in the next 30 years. I am default. I have gotten deferments before, but the interest just keeps making the amount of my loan go up. The amount of my loans is over three times more than I make in a year. I will never be able to buy a house for myself. Does anyone have any suggestion, besides prayer or moving to another planet? " H.

There were some excellent responses from various readers. I couldn’t paraphrase it any better. Go take a look for yourself if you need help with student loans.

I’m Home – Had a Great Trip

I pulled into the driveway around 10:15pm. I’m surprising wide awake; it must be because I took a two hour nap this afternoon. Everyone was lathering up with sun screen and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I announced that I was going to take a short nap and would come down to the beach when I wake up. That was around 2:30pm and the next thing I knew it was 4:30pm. I couldn’t believe I had slept two hours. I snatched up my sunscreen and headed for the beach. Donnie and Pat were out splashing around in the water. Jula and Robert were practicing on their buggie boards. Barbara and Stacey were sitting under the umbrella taking in the sights. I found my chair and plopped down for a nice sit. I had my readers digest in hand and a soda to sip on. We sat out there for 2 and a half more hours before coming in to cook dinner. While everyone was cleaning up, I started the Spaghetti. Finally after dinner, I packed up the car and headed home. I hated to leave but I had promised TF that I would be home Thursday night. Barb and Stacy go home Saturday and everyone else on Sunday. I had a great time.

The trip was filled with lots of family fun. We went to our usual camp spot at the end of the seawall on the west side of Galveston Island. We always get the same spot so that we can see the beach and the little lake next to the camp ground. With Dad’s travel trailer we get full hook-ups. It’s a great way to camp and still have a little luxury. You need air-conditioning in Texas to get any kind of decent sleep. This year our trip included: Daily trips to Wal-Mart, fishing, swimming, sand sculptures, night time crab hunts, a trip on the ferry boat, shopping on the Strand, kite flying, a visit with an old friend, homemade ice cream, and good clean family fun. My sisters favorite words were: “We’re on vacation”. She didn’t want any diet food “on Vacation”, if you get the drift. One night we made a late Wal-Mart run for Banana Split fixings and Pat wore her Pajama pants.

I’m glad Dad started this tradition. It gives us a chance to be together as brothers and sisters for a whole week at a time. We don’t have to worry much about anything. We just have a good time together as a family. When dad died, five years ago, we decided to keep the travel trailer and continue the tradition. Dad would be happy to know that we enjoyed it enough to continue with this special time together. I wish I hadn’t left the camera on the nook table so I could post a few pictures. The most important thing is the pictures are in my mind forever. I can pull them up anytime I want and review them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Lucy is down at the beach with her brother and sisters until tomorrow. I thought all her loyal readers deserved to have at least a small article so I decided to write about something I really do know about, peanut butter and jelly.

I started out as an amateur letting my mom do all the work. I have steadily advanced to the journeyman PB&J status. I still depend on Lucy to bake up some home made whole wheat bread; but, other than that I hold my own with the spreading knife. The best way to enjoy the flavor is to lightly toast the sliced bread until golden. The bread should be limber as opposed to stiff or crusty. I prefer plain over crunchy peanut butter; but each to his/her own. The store brands; Peter Pan, Jiff, Skippy are okay, a little on the thin side or you might get lucky and have the stuff we crank out at church which is close to perfection. ( just a slight plug there for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ) As soon as the toast comes out slap some peanut butter on it and let the natural heat melt it. This is to be an open face slice rather than sandwich style so that the flavor reaches your tongue quicker. Follow this with your choice of jelly; my preference would have to be blackberry, jelly or preserves depending on the angle of the sun coming through the window, the relative humidity and the alignment of the planets.

If you can’t get Lucy to come over and bake you a loaf of fresh whole wheat bread then you might try some of those heavy weight store bought varieties, Oro-Wheat and Nature’s Grains come to mind as having reasonably good texture; but it needs to be the heavy stuff, the regular sandwich slice is almost a total waste of effort. I’ve even had peanut butter and jelly on left over garlic bread from the spaghetti dinner the night before; it took a little getting used to but it really was pretty good. Garlic bread, or any of the pre-buttered varieties need to be nuked in the microwave for 12-15 seconds rather than putting it in the toaster; butter leaking down the sides would be a disaster.

For a quick meal on the run when a call comes in before you are ready to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, make it sandwich style and eat it while driving down the street, keeping it level so as not to drip any jelly. The preferred beverage would have to be chocolate milk; Ovaltine for you health nuts. Now, go out and practice your technique and be creative. ( Lucy will be home soon, I promise ) TF

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Gone Till Thursday….

I’m off to the beach with my brother and two sisters. They left today to get everything set up at our usual camp site. I called my sister Pat a few minutes ago and they were on their way to the showers after having been on the nightly crab hunt. The moon is 2/3 full so they had some good light to “hunt” with. I can’t wait to get down there. We have had a great Father’s Day and now I’m trying to pack a few clothes and things for the trip. To find out more about our family fun go to this post and read about our yearly trip to the beach:

Talk to ya later, guys and gals.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

We Miss You Dad….

It Fathers Day again and I’m thinking about my dad. My mood is somber as I remember all the wonder times we had with him. Mom and Dad got married in Jan. 1948. The next year they bought a house on the south side of Houston, Texas. It was a small post WWII house. There was no air-conditioning back then so the houses facing the North had small porches on the front and a screened in porch on the back. It was a two bedroom house with one bathroom, about 1,100 square feet. That was supposed to be a starter house, but it ended up being the house my dad died in. He took in the back porch and made a third bedroom out of it. He and mom raised 4 children there. Yes, it was very cramped but we didn’t care, we didn’t know there was anything different.

I’ll never forget all the fun times we had in that house. Dad built us a “Jungle Jim” in the back yard. We would play out there for hours climbing all over it. During the summer, we would go down to Galveston Island on the weekends. We would swim, build camp fires on the beach, cook hot dogs, scour for treasures in the sand, sleep in a tent and just have a wonderful time together as a family. Mom didn’t like the camping out part much, but she went along with it. During the school year we would go to the drive in movies on Friday night. You could get in for $1.00 a carload. We would have hot dogs for dinner that night and Dad would pop popcorn and put it in a grocery bag for snacks at the movies. When my brother turned 8 yrs old, my Dad decided to be the manager of his little league team. We would go to the games and all of us had a job to do. I helped my mom keep the official score book. My sisters would wait behind the outfield fence and bring in foul balls for free snow cones. We had many a fun night at the ball field. I’m certain that is why I love baseball so much.

In my teenage years, I was a girl scout. I loved camping and hiking. One year they had a camp out where all the dads were invited to come. We were at camp Robinson and most of the girls dads didn’t come because of work. My dad was there and he had fun cooking with us and doing what ever was planned. I’ll never forget the fun we had. My dad was good at trying to be there for us. When I was older and married and had a family of my own, he would go on vacation with us. He grew close to my children and he was a good “Grand-Bobby”. He really did love us, he was there for us until the day he died. I’m not saying that everything was perfect because it wasn’t. But all in all I feel very blessed to have had my dad. I know that I will see him again someday in the eternities. I pray that he is with us in spirit always. I love you, dad.

Check out these other blog posts to learn more about my dad.

See a picture of dad on this one:

Friday, June 17, 2005

Is it true that iceberg lettuce is completely devoid of nutrition?

Fridays Healthy Tip:

It's not devoid of nutrition, just a less concentrated source of nutrients than the darker green leaf lettuces, spinach and other dark leafy greens. Lighter colors in vegetables mean they contain more water and therefore fewer nutrients "per cubic inch." Here's a comparison of one cup of iceberg and one cup of romaine lettuce:

Iceberg lettuce -- 11mg calcium, 11mg phosphorous, .3mg iron, 88mg potassium, 19RE vitamin A, 2mg vitamin C.

Romaine lettuce -- 20mg calcium, 25mg phosphorous, .6mg iron, 162mg potassium, 146RE vitamin A, 13mg vitamin C. Both have 7 calories, 1g protein, 1g carbohydrate, 1g fiber.

Iceberg lettuce is a perfectly good food, but darker lettuces are even better.

This healthy tip obtained from: Dr. Diana Mirkin. Check out her website at:

800 Numbers

How many of you take advantage of 800 numbers? Did you know:

1) Save the price of a postage stamp or long-distance call: use toll-free 800 numbers whenever possible. Many businesses maintain these numbers to take orders and handle questions and complaints. A number of government agencies also have 800 “hot lines”.
2) If you don’t know a specific 800 number – or if you’re not sure the company or agency has one – dial 1-800-555-1212 and ask.
3) You can also go to the internet for 800 numbers. I go to Yahoo and in the search category type in: 800 phone number directory. There are all kinds of listings for 800 directories.
4) If you know what you want but don’t know the name of the company, refer to the classified section in an 800 directory (sold in both consumer and business edition). Not every 800 number is listed in the directory, however.
5) Why doesn’t someone pick up the phone? Because not all 800 lines are manned around the clock; consider time-zone differences when making the call.
6) When placing an order, have your credit card number and all product information at hand. Make a written record of the order, including the name of the person you talked to, the date, the amount, and the estimated delivery date.
7) Don’t confuse 800 and 900 numbers: 800 series numbers are free, whereas 900 numbers are not. Please don’t get the two confused.

Why pay for a long distance phone call when you can use an 800 phone number.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Master Mix

Using store-bought mixes can be costly. Using a homemade "Master Mix" will not only produce more tender and better flavored baking products than most commercial mixes, but will save you money as well.
In making homemade mixes, using general purpose enriched flour, double acting baking powder, and solid vegetable shortening will probably produce the best results.
Below you will find the "Master Mix" for Biscuits, pancakes, quick breads and muffins with a few recipes to use. Happy Baking!

The Master Mix
• 9 Cups flour
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 2-1/3 cups powdered milk
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1/3 cup baking powder
• 2 cups shortening
1. In a large pan, stir the dry milk, baking powder, sugar, and salt into the flour; mix thoroughly.
2. Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until the MIX is the consistency of corn meal.
3. Place the mix in a covered glass or plastic container and keep inn a cool, dry place. In warm weather the MIX should be refrigerated. Use within a month.
4. To measure, pile the MIX lightly into a cup and level off with a spatula or the back of a knife.

• 3 cups MASTER MIX
• 1/2 cup water (about)
1. To the Master Mix, add the water all at once, tossing the MIX lightly with a fork and forming a soft dough which can be turned onto a floured board.
2. Knead the dough slightly and then roll or pat the dough to 1/2 inch thickness.
3. Cut with biscuit cutter and place on a greased cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
5. Serve with butter. Makes 10 large or 15 medium biscuits.

• 2 cups MASTER MIX
• 1 egg
• 1-2/3 cups milk
Beat ingredients together with rotary beater just until smooth. Grease griddle, if necessary.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour mix onto griddle. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear and before they break. Makes about 18 four-inch pancakes. For thinner pancakes, add more milk; for thicker pancakes, add more MASTER MIX.

• 1 egg
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup water
1. Add the sugar to the MIX and stir with a fork until well mixed.
2. Combine the egg and water and add all at once to the MIX. Stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened - about 25 strokes.
3. Fill greased muffin tins about 2/3 full and bake 18-20 minutes in a 400 degree F. oven. Makes 12 medium muffins.
Variations: Banana Muffins - add 1 cup mashed very ripe banana after the egg mixture.

Apple Muffins - add 1 large apples, pared and chopped with the egg mixture and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon with the flour. Sprinkle tops with brown sugar before baking.

Blueberry Muffins - add 3/4 cup frozen blueberries(thawed and well drained) with the egg mixture.

Date-Nut Muffins - add 1/2 cup cut-up pitted dates and 1/3 cup chopped nuts with the egg mixture.

These recipes are by Patti Chadwick
Another book you can buy at the book store is called “Make a Mix” with the same basic ideas. Why spend so much money on Bisquick or Pioneer Baking Mix when you can make your own mix and save a bundle? Give it a try, I think you will be happy with the results.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

23rd Psalm for the Workplace

The Lord is my real Boss, and I shall not want.
He gives me peace when chaos is all around me.
He gently reminds me to pray before I speak and to do all things without murmuring and complaining.
He reminds me that He is my Source, not my job.
He restores my sanity every day and guides my decisions
That I might honor Him in everything I do.
Even though I face unrealistic deadlines budget cutbacks,
gossiping co-workers, discriminating supervisors, and an aging body
that doesn’t cooperate every morning,
I will not stop-for He is with me!
His presence, His peace and His power will see me throught.
He raises me up, even when they fail to promote me.
He claims me as His own, even when the company
threatens to let me go.
His faithfulness and love are better than any bonus check.
His retirement beats my failing 401K
And certainly will last longer!
When it’s all said and done,
I’ll be working for Him a whole lot longer and for that,
I bless His Holy Name.

That is job security.

My daughter got this from someone at her job. I don’t know who wrote it but I thought it was great and I just had to post it. Hope you take it to heart.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Minimum Payments on your credit cards to double…

Twelve months from now this will be a desperate reality for thousands of credit card holders making minimum payments. A rule change by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency first introduced in January of 2003 is now being strictly enforced, requiring credit-card companies to increase required minimum monthly payments over the next 12 months.
If you are having a hard time paying your monthly payments now, look out. Today, typical required minimum monthly payments are 2% of the balance. Some credit-card companies require as little as 1% of the balance. In 12 months, typical required minimum monthly payments will double to 4% of the balance! You ask, “Why are they doing this”. It's an attempt to assure at least some of the principal is paid with each minimum credit card payment. As it is now, usually only interest payments are being covered by the basic monthly payment. If you think bankruptcy will provide some relief, think again. A new bankruptcy bill has been signed into law making it tougher for heavily indebted Americans to wipe out their obligations. The only guaranteed way to avoid this disaster is to start today with a systematic plan to pay off all debt, but especially your credit card debt, as fast as possible. Even paying off 1 or 2 cards will create some cushion to absorb increases 12 months from now. I took this information from Greg Moore, a credit counselor.

One way you might start saving to pay off these credit cards would be to start the “Money Jar.” When TF and I were first married, we lived in an apartment complex and in those days we did not have a washer/dryer right in our apartment. I would go to the apartment laundry room on my day off from work and I would wash clothes. Back then it cost 35 cents to wash and dry a load of clothes. Each night when TF and I came in from work we would take whatever change we had in our pockets/purse and put it into a half gallon glass jar. When I needed to go wash clothes I would take my laundry money from the jar. We discovered that we were putting more money in the jar than we needed for the laundry. Before long we had accumulated quiet a bit of change. Over the last 33 years we have continued this practice. It is an easy way to save and it accumulates quickly.

I had a friend that used to eat a donut and drink a cup of coffee on her way to work every morning. She decided to eat breakfast at home and put the money she saved in a cigar box. She was faithful in putting the money in the box and at the end of a year she had saved almost $500.00.

There are ways to cut expenses in your budget and pay off your credit cards. Do it now and save your self some heartache when those monthly payments double in the next twelve months.

What are some of the ways you save money?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Who Are We?

I’ve been relaxing this Sunday afternoon and watching a little TV. TF and I were watching Bourne Supremacy with Matt Damon. If you have ever watched the movie before you know that Jason Bourne can’t remember who he really is. He ponders his identity and he has that nagging feeling deep down inside to know who he is. He remembers bits and pieces but he just can’t figure out his real name. At the very end of the movie he calls Pam Landy, the head of the department, and she thanks him for helping them with a problem. Wanting to help him she looks in his file and tells him his real name and gives him his birth date. My mind flooded with thoughts about this. The movie ends and you wonder what’s going to happen next.

We all want to know who we are. I have known several people who have been adopted. Somewhere deep down in their soul they want to know who they really are. Who was their father and mother. Why were they given up for adoption? Didn’t their father and mother want them? I think it tugs at their soul for the need to know the answers to these questions. Most of these people were adopted by loving people who became there “new” parents, but who were the ones that physically made them?

It makes me think of our Heavenly Father. We came here from the pre-existence to the earth to live till it is time to be called home again. Do we know who our Heavenly Father is? Do we remember him. If we don’t know him do we have a nagging deep down in our hearts to know who he is? Are we all children of God? For me the answer is yes. I know it without a doubt. I think this is something we all need to know.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Gift Box…

Years ago I started, what I call, “The Gift Box”. My children were small and it seems like they were always going to somebody’s birthday party. I was always at the store shopping for one gift or another. I decided that I was wasting time and spending more money than I wanted to for gifts. I started watching for sales on items that would fit the category. When I found a sale I would buy several and put them in the gift box. Before long I was doing this for birthdays, Christmas, weddings and whatever came along. I have just wrapped a wedding gift for one of the two weddings I’ll be going to this weekend. I went upstairs and looked in the gift box to see what I had that I could wrap up.

I watch for the really good towels, in neutral colors, to go on sale and I will buy 6 or 8 at a time. One of my favorite things to buy, for weddings, is a certain Lasagna pan from J C Penneys. It sales for $25.00 regular price and I can usually get it for $ 9.99. It is a nice stainless steel pan and everyone I have given them to really like it. My daughter buys her gifts strictly from the bridal registry, but there are gifts you can buy that most any bride will like. Many times I will look at the registry and see if the couple has listed something similar to what I would like to give them.

For bridal showers, I like to give practical gifts. I go into the Williams and Sonoma store at the mall and buy their nice dish towels when they are reduced or go on sale. Two weeks ago, while shopping at the HEB store, I ventured over to the side of the store that had the kitchen ware. There was a display with some nice summer dishes and they had just been marked down to half price. I knew that I would be going to a bridal shower a few days later so I decided to take a look. I ended up purchasing some kitchen shears, a pot holder, a spoon holder, 2 dish towels and a matching trivet for around $ 10.00. They made a great gift and fit within my budget. The colors fit with her color scheme and she really liked them.

Wrapping paper goes on sale at Walgreens several times a year and I will usually buy enough to make my trip worth while. You can also get wrapping paper and gift cards at the dollar store for a great price. I like knowing that when an event comes up, all I have to do is go upstairs and look in the gift box. It saves time, money and frustration.

Year round Christmas shopping… that’s a whole different story.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Vacation Close to Home…

Years ago after my mom died, my dad started going on vacation with us. He loved all the travel and seeing places he had never seen before. He especially loved going camping in the mountains of Colorado. About five years before his death, he purchased a travel trailer so that he could go to the mountains and spend the whole summer there. Because of health problems he could not do that anymore. We started taking vacations close to home so that we would be near dad's doctors incase of an emergency. When we started doing this it became a vacation with my brother and sisters also. It became a great time for us to spend together as we did when we were young.

Living in Houston, we had the beach within an hour's distance of home. We would pick a week when we could all get some time off and plan our trip. There was a nice trailer park at the west end of the seawall that we would reserve for dad’s travel trailer. I usually got the job of grocery shopping because I didn’t have an outside job and I could do my magic of shopping and get the best prices for food. We split the expenses evenly and had a great time. The best part about this kind of vacation is that we could be together as a family and have fun together, something we haven’t been able to do since we were kids living at home. It meant the world to my dad and it made him happy to have his family together like that for a week’s period. There were times when I could only go down for three or four days. One year my sister couldn’t get off of work so she would come after work, have dinner with us, spend the night and then drive back early the next morning. She lived on the south side of town and it only took her about 45 minutes to make the drive. This made things workable for a busy family.

We had such a good time together as a family. We would fish, take long walks on the beach, go shopping down on the Strand or in little “tourist trap” shops, build camp fires, hunt for crabs on the beach at night, read a good book and listen to the waves come in, take a ride on the ferry boat and many more things. At night we would play cards or games or just watch TV together. Sometimes we would sit outside in beach chairs and feel the ocean breezes on our face. Many times we would talk about our growing up years and we would laugh till our sides ached. This gave us quality time together that we will never forget.

If you cannot afford to go on a long trip, a day trip or a vacation close to home can be just as much fun. Pick a fun spot that your family likes to go to or pick a place you have never been to. Go and have some fun. If you have children you could go to a water park.
One year we decided to go to Schlitterbahn near New Braunsful. It was a three hour drive from home and we spent one night in a hotel. Talk about fun! You should have seen this old lady flying down the waterslides and relaxing in the wave pool. The park allowed you to bring in your own food and they had picnic tables set up everywhere so you could eat when you wanted to.

You do not have to spend a lot of money to have fun. Decide on a budget and pick a place close to home.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Discount and Dollar store shopping…

I love shopping at Discount & Dollar stores. What fun. There are so many bargains but you have to know your prices to do it properly. My favorite store of this type is “Big Lots.” I buy the “Sun” laundry detergent there for $ 2.49 a bottle. Other items that I buy there are: Peanuts, cashews, dryer sheets, plastic trash bags, cleaning items, hair dye, toys, baby clothes, food and many other items. It’s actually my favorite place to shop. If you have never been in a” Big Lots”, you need to check it out.

Dollar stores and 99 cents stores are very familiar. One of my favorite things that I purchase there are greeting cards. You can get them for 2 for a $1.00. These are cards that you would pay $1.99 to $3.99 for in other stores. We have three weddings to go to in the next few weeks and a couple of showers so I have already bought the cards that I will need for these events. Why pay more when you can get the same cards for a fraction of the price. Please remember that these stores get items in as close-outs. You might see it there one week and it be completely gone the next week. If you see an item that you will use over and over again, I would suggest that you get what you want right then. Last year I found sliced black olives for 39 cents a can. I purchased all they had on hand. I use them quite a bit and I had been paying 89cents to $ 1.09 at the grocery store. It’s a good idea to look at the dates on these cans because many times they will be close to date. One thing that I do not buy at the dollar stores are dry cereals. I have found them to be stale and not so good. I am also careful about buying bottled juice. Check out the bottom of the bottle for sediment. You can tell if it is too old to buy. This time of year you can get a good price on suntan lotion and after sun products.

CAUTION ABOUT DOLLAR STORES: Don’t buy toothpaste from Dollar stores. I saw some information on the news a few months back that warned shoppers not to buy toothpaste from these kinds of stores. Many times they look like toothpaste you would buy from the grocery or drug stores, but they are not. Some of them are down right dangerous. They are look a likes of popular brands and they are packaged outside of our country and they are not up to safety specifications.

I found out by accident that the generic shampoos from dollar stores are watered down versions. These shampoo and conditions are made just for dollar stores. I started thinking about what else was watered down and I quit buying the generic mouth wash. When I went back to the name brand, I could tell the difference.

Watch for bargains, but don’t buy something you aren’t going to use just because it’s a good price. Remember: If you want to try something you have never tried before, only buy one and try it out before you buy more.

Be careful about purchasing long distance phone cards from these stores. Read all the rules before you buy. Some cards charge a fee every time you use the card and you usually have to use them by a certain date. The best place to buy Long Distance phone cards is Sam’s Wholesale Club. I buy one there that is like 850 minutes for $ 24.99. They do not charge a fee every time you use it and there is no expiration date. You can also call in and recharge the card when it gets low and get the same price. I love those cards.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Why pay full price for meat…..

I learned many years ago how to shop the sales in the bargain bins. Almost every store has a day old bin for its meat and chicken that are coming up to their “best used by” date. They usually mark their meats down in the morning. If you don’t know when they do this, just ask the person behind the meat counter. They will tell you what time of day they do their mark downs. I go to the H.E.B. store between 8 and 9am. to look for bargains. Memorial Day I went in to purchase a brisket that they had advertised for 98 cents per lb. I looked at the briskets and decided that they looked just a little too fatty to buy. I started looking for the sale items and found an 8lb. bag of chicken thighs marked down to $ 2.50 for the bag. I slowly walk the meat isle looking for the extra ticket on the bag that shows the reduced price. Also check out the isle with the sausages, bacon, wieners and other forms of meat. Cheese, luncheon meats and cold packed sandwiches will also be marked for immediate sale.

A few rules when shopping for sales:
1) When chicken is close to it’s “best used by” date, please smell the bag to determine if it is still fresh enough to purchase. If it has a bad smell, don’t buy it. A bargain is no bargain if you have to through it out.
2) Make sure you know when is the best time to go shopping for these items. The bargains will go quickly, so you want to be there to get the first look.
3) Make sure you either use the meat by the stamped date or prepare it for the freezer and use it at a later date.
4) If you live in the South, where it gets mighty hot inside your auto, then you might want to purchase an insulated bag to put you refrigerated items in. You can get the insulated bags at Costco, Sam’s Wholesale and Wal-Mart. They cost about $3 to $4. each.
5) Watch your grocery ads for weekly sales.
6) If you have a job and can’t get to the store when the items are marked down, work with a friend who is home during that time of day. Give her some money and let her know what kinds of things you are looking for. I have a list of several people who I will call when I see certain things on sale or reduced. We help each other out and save money.
7) If you have three or four grocery stores around your home, check them all out and learn what their policy is for reducing the price of meat and etc.

Several weeks ago I found 6lbs of chicken breast for $ 2.50 a bag. That comes to around 42cents per lb. Last month I found Beef ribs that were marked $ 13.89 and I paid $ 2.67 for the package. I found three packages marked about the same price and I bought them all. I have purchased filet mignon for 99cents each. I have purchased ground sirloin for 99 cents per pound. The list goes on and on. I get good meat for bargain prices, why pay more?

You can fill your freezer in no time at all with prices like these. Stay within your budget and get more for your money. Have fun shopping.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Are You Kidding…I’m not going to pay that!

Last week we got a telephone call from a young lady saying that they had a special for a “Springtime” air conditioning checkup and for $ 39.95 they would come out and inspect our equipment and add 1 free unit of Freon if it is needed. We said, “Why not”. Yesterday a man from the company came out and inspected our unit and then proceeded to give us the bad news. “Lady you need a new outdoor condenser/compressor,” what ever it is. He said you have a burned out solenoid that is leaking Freon and this and that and whatever else he thought he could convince me of. I said, well how much is this going to cost? After a few minutes on the phone he came back with, $ 3,775.00 with a factory warranty or $ 4,675.00 with a life time warranty. I nicely paid him my $ 39.95 and told him we would think about it. Yea Right! I immediately got on the phone to my son-in-law who knew a few people in the business and today a man came out to give me a second opinion. Guess what? There is nothing wrong with our equipment. There is a tank that is starting to rust and will someday need replacing, but all in all, nothing that needs fixing. He gave us some advice on what might be going out in the future, but he was up front and honest with us. We are eternally grateful that we didn’t have to fork over $ 3,775. for some unneeded compressor.

BTW, that amount of money is way more than it should cost to replace that particular piece of equiptment.

There are companies out there that will come on to you with a cheap price and try to bate and switch you to something you really don’t need. Be smart. Check around. Ask your friends who they use for these services. Study your options and always get a second opinion. You can also check with the credit bureau to see if there have been any complaints lodged against a certain company. If a voice in your head tells you that something isn’t right, listen to that voice.