Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

by Douglas Malloch

A friend of my daughter's reminded me about this poem. I had been looking for it for days now. Tip o' the hat to John Webster.
I think about this poem whenever I think about growth and challanges that we as humans must go through in this life. I think of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and what kinds of growth they will now go through as they face the loss of a home, maybe no jobs, or the loss of a loved one. Life will go on even with these hardships. Many will have to start over with little or nothing. I hope they have strength and the help of their Heavenly Father, as well as friends, as they march on and forge a new way for their families.

How do you like your berries?

Ahhhh yes, Blackberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries and etc. I am in charge of a Frozen Berry order for my church group. Every year for the last 15 years or so, we order frozen berries from the northwest. We order in August and they come in September. Most of the berries come IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) and others come in Straight Pack (the berries are poured into a bucket and frozen all together) Some of the berries come in as Puree. The straight pack and puree are used to make jams and jellies. My husband and I like the IQF Blackberries. They come in a 30 lb. box and I scoop them into quart sized freezer bags and pop them into our big freezer. My husband’s favorite way to use them in on top of ice cream. He will put a small bowl of frozen berries in the microwave for 2 minutes and then pour them over Vanilla Bean, Blue Bell ice cream. Yummm! The tartness of the berries blend perfectly with the sweetness of the ice cream. You talk about Heaven. At this rate it does not take us very long to go thru our berries.
Other frozen items that we order are: Pineapple chunks, Mango chunks, Granny Smith Apple slices, Rhubarb slices, Apricots Slices, and Cherries. Each year we put together a nice order.

Question here: How do you like your berries?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

It Could Come Our Way…..

Living on the Texas Gulf Coast, we have to watch for Hurricanes. We have one now, Katrina, looming out in the Gulf over near the tip of Florida. It did some damage as it passed over the Florida Keys and is now looming out there deciding which way to go. Some of the hurricane models show it turning north and going in between New Orleans and somewhere in Mississippi. Right now it is meandering due west with no hint of turning North. Now the weather forecasters say that it won’t come our way because of a high weather system hanging over us, but it could go around the high and still come in a little too close for comfort. Living down here I am pretty well up on hurricane knowledge and think that I am pretty well prepared for such an event. I pray that I never have to worry about such a thing, but you never know. What do you know about Hurricanes? Check out this hurricane quiz and see how you fare.

Next month my husband and I will be flying to Florida to visit his parents. I told him when I bought the plane tickets that they were non-refundable and if a storm decided to come their way, out tickets would be flying in the wind. Right now I am hoping and praying that a hurricane doesn’t decide to visit Grandma the same time we do. Wish us luck.

Update: Sunday morning around 9:00am..... The storm has turned Northerly and has grown to a catagory 5 with winds up to 160 mph. It still has room to grow and it is a MONSTER of a storm. It is projected to go in somewhere near New Orleans, possibibly close to Mississippi. Anyone to the east should prepare for huge damage. I am so glad that we are to the west of the storm. We are very lucky at this point to be out of the full fury of this storm, because it is going to be very bad mama....Pray for those in it's path.
Update: Sunday afternoon almost 2:00pm..... Winds are now up to 184 mph. with the pressure dropping down to 902 millobars.....MONSTER!
Update: Monday morning around 1:00am....Winds down to 160 mph. and still a catagory 5 storm. Looks like New Orleans, La. is in for a tough night.
Update:Monday morning around 11:30am....The storm went on shore just to the east of New Orleans and is churning around there now. We are not going to get any rain from this, but there are others that are getting a direct hit. A friend of mine just called to say her son just drove in from New Orleans with a car load of people and they will be camping out in her house for a couple of days. She is just grateful that her son is alright.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Yes, I know what you are saying, "Are you crazy, chocolate pie with pinto beans in it. No Way!"
This has got to be one of the best Chocolate pies I have ever made. I made it for my family and didn't tell them about the beans until they were beggings for more. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

½ cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup mashed cooked pinto beans (1-15 oz. can, drained)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Combine sugars, eggs, margarine, and vanilla; beat until creamy. Add pinto beans; blend well. Place chocolate chips in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell. Pour filling over the chocolate chips. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with whipped topping or ice cream.
This is a recipe by Chery Driggs.

For those of you who like to can, here is a recipe for canning dry beans.

Caning Dry Beans
1 and a 1/4 cup plus 2 TBLSP of beans in each 1 quart jar
1 tsp salt
fill jar with water to 3/8 inch from top of jar

Close jar with prepared lids and rings. Prepare pressure cooker as directed in Manufacturer's instructions. Place jars in pressure cook and cook for 90 min. Remove from cooker and let jars sit out overnight with space between jars. Cover the jars with a tea towel and out of a draft while they sit overnight. After they have sat out overnight they may be moved, and boxed for storage.
This is a recipe from a friend who cans all her beans like this. It will work with most all beans. Give it a try.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I was thinking about one of my fellow bloggers this morning, Darlene, whose daughter is in the hospital suffering with Cancer. I can't imagine what her family must really be going thru but I thought of this "Memo From God" that a friend gave to me. Sometimes we get to a point where we just have to hand our troubles over to God and let him take care of them. Here goes:

Reference: LIFE

I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please Remember that I do not need your help.

If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. All situations will be resolved, but in My time, not yours.

Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold onto it by worrying about it. Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life now.

If you find yourself stuck in traffic; don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard of privilege.

Should you have a bad day at work; think of the man who has been out of work for years.

Should you despair over a relationship gone bad; think of the person who has never known what it's like to love and be loved in return.

Should you grieve the passing of another weekend; think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.

Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance; think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.

Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror; think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.

Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to get the opportunity.

Should you find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities; remember, things could be worse. You could be one of them!

Should you decide to send this to a friend; thank you, you may have touched their life in ways you will never know. When you think you have it bad, there is someone out there who wishes he or she had it as good as you do.

Be nice to everyone, because everybody is wrestling with their own personal "giants".

FORGIVE AND FORGET. A grudge is like a termite in your soul.

Remember life is very short. The next life is very, very, very,
very, very, very, very, very, LONG. Sometimes our "big" problems are actually small ones.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Which category do you fit in?

We have had a water bed for the last 27 – 28 years and we have decided that it’s about time for a change. My husband has a bad back and for the last several years he has had a hard time turning over without pain. Soooo… last Saturday night we went to the Select Comfort store to look at beds. The store was a bit busy but we finally got our turn to check out the beds. We looked at the # 5000 model and the salesman started his sales pitch. He started with the top of the line and before long he had us eating out of his hands. He pushed a button and the head of the bed started moving up. Then he pushed another button and the bottom of the bed started moving up. As it did my husband’s pain started to ease off. He instantly fell in love with the bed. Well needless to say we bought the bed and they will be delivering it within 10 to 14 days. We have been in our house now for 13 years and we decided that we should go ahead and get new carpet for the bedroom too. We will probably splash some fresh paint up on the walls at the same time. We have wanted to do this now for a while but didn’t want to mess with moving the water bed. Poor excuse, I know.

Last night we started cleaning out the room. I can’t believe how much stuff we have accumulated in the last 13 years. My husband threw out old locksmith publications that he had been saving just in case he needed them. Tomorrow I get to clean out all my stuff. I grew up with depression era parents who saved everything. Some of that has rubbed off on me and now I have to make decisions as to what to part with. It doesn’t help that we own our own home based business and have food storage. We also have 3 grown children who still have some of their stuff in the upstairs closets.

My sister, on the other hand, is a neat freak! She even has a special vacuum cleaner for her fireplace. When you go over to her house you have to take your shoes off at the front door. Please don’t spill anything on the carpet or she will run over there with a paper towel and scrub it up. Her house looks like a show palace and sometimes I’m afraid to touch anything. I remember when my dad died, she was throwing away a perfectly good Coleman Lantern because she didn’t need one. Did she ask if anyone else needed a Coleman Lantern? We had to watch her and make sure she wasn’t getting to trash happy. While cleaning out the garage we found cans of paint that was 50 years old. It really made me think about what is important and what isn’t important to keep. I don’t want to put that kind of think on my kids any day.

So the question here is: Are you … 1) a slob, 2) clean but a saver, 3) somewhere in the middle or 4) a neat freak. Did I leave out a category? I don’t expect you to answer the question, but just think about it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Crazy Beans

Want something quick to throw in the crock pot for dinner tonight?
Here it is: Courtesy of Chet’s Crock

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup catsup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 (1 lb. 15 oz) cans Bush's original baked beans
1 16-oz can light kidney beans
1 box frozen baby limas
1 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper

In skillet, brown beef, bacon and onion. Drain and place in slow cooker. Cook baby limas for 8 minutes; add along with remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Stir well. Cover and cook on low heat for at least 4 and up to 9 hours.

If you prefer butter beans to the baby limas, it is okay to substitute. Use a 1-pound can. Also, drain all beans except the Bush's baked beans before adding to the slow cooker.
Fabulous crock pot recipes, tasty cookie recipes, and vegetarian, vegan, and healthy raw food recipes shared by a natural health food writer who loves to eat. Fun!
Visit Chet at http://chetday.com/healthyrecipesmenu.htm

Check out a previous post I wrote on Crock Pot cooking here:

Saturday, August 20, 2005

What Criminals live in your neighborhood?

I got this website from a friend of mine. I typed in my zip code and was shocked at how many sex offenders lived right in my own neighborhood. It only takes a minute, give it a try.

It doesn't hurt to know where they live. Just click the link at the bottom and type ONLY your ZIP code.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Today is the Day…….

That day has come when the puppies go to their new homes. They take their last worm treatment today and then their new owners can pick them up. It has been a real experience for our family to have puppies. We have never done this before and it was a real learning experience. Roxie has been a good mother and I’m sure she will miss her babies. She still follows you around if you are holding one of the puppies and she gets nervous if you handle the puppies for too long. She has been going thru the weaning process pretty well. The only problem is that if you put one of the puppies down anywhere near her, they run straight for mom’s “food”. They have not nursed at all now for two days.

The little rascals have grown sooooo fast. When they were born they were 14 ½ to 16 ounces. Two weeks ago, when they went in for their 3 ½ week check up they were 4 ½ to 5 pounds. That was two weeks ago. I wonder what they weigh now? They are still growing by leaps and bounds. When they started weaning I would make a mush out of their puppy food, now they eat regular puppy food right out of the bag. They chew on everything and it amazes me just how sharp their teeth are.

These puppies have done everything together. They play, eat, and sleep together. They sleep together on a towel that I put in their pen. I wonder what is going to happen when they are all separated and in their new homes. I have a feeling it is not going to be fun for them. They tend to cry for each other when we take one out of the pen. I can’t imagine this being easy. The vet gave me some information that tells you how to take care of a new puppy. I have put some puppy food in a zip lock bag along with the instruction sheet to give to the new owners.

The one thing that I won’t miss is the mess these puppies make. Every day I have had to pick up all the news papers that I have lined the pen with. There is not one piece of paper that doesn’t have poop or pee on it. What a mess. I get that all cleaned up, sweep and then mop. After the floor dries I cover the floor with new newspapers. The puppies go back into the pen and start all over with their mess. The other night I put the puppies in the laundry room while I cleaned. When I was done, I opened the door to find three piles of poop and their were little brown footprints all over the laundry room. They had to have a bath. My husband gave each one a bath in the sink and dried them off and put them back in the pen. I was tired but still had to clean the laundry room. What a mess. I won’t miss this part of raising the puppies.
Wish me luck....I'll need it.

Here are two current pictures of the puppies:
http://bonnietravels.blogspot.com/2005/08/puppies.html andhttp://tfsternsrantings.blogspot.com/2005/08/7-puppies-getting-drink-of-water.html

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Camping Breakfasts

By Brenda Hyde for the Dollar Stretcher webpage.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of my Dad cooking breakfast while we were camping. He would whip up scrambled eggs, fry bacon and "toast" bread over the fire or the camp stove. It always seemed to taste better than at home! Now that I am a Mom, I have developed my own recipes and tricks for camping breakfasts thanks to my Dad's inspiration! Lucy's Note: On of my favorite camping breakfasts is: Bacon fried in a cast iron skillet, crumbled. Chopped up, cooked left over, potatoes which you add to the crumbled bacon. Add how many every eggs you would like and stir till eggs are done. You can also added chopped onion and seasonings. Yum!

Breakfast Tips and Suggestions :
I indulge my children once a year and buy the little boxes of cereal that come with a variety of choices. Yes, it's more expensive, but they think it's extra special to have their own box. Often they wake up while we are camping and are "starving to death", so I let them pick a box of cereal and fix their bowls while I clean up the tent, gather up clothes for the day and then start fixing a hot breakfast.

I have a supply of old bowls, eating and cooking utensils, and cast iron pans. I splurge and purchase paper plates and plastic cups, plus napkins and paper towels. We do have a camping stove, but we cook over the fire as well. I recommend using a cooler for the perishable food, of course, but also heavy duty, covered plastic tubs to store the cooking supplies and non-perishable food. Be sure to bring along a small plastic dish tub, old towels, dishrags, scrubbers (for the pans) and dish soap. I've found that loose items, paper or even plastic sacks just end up making a mess.

The recipes below are fun and easy. I also like using left over ham, or deli ham, chopped and cooked with scrambled eggs. For easy breakfasts or snacks, bring along bananas, oranges, toaster pastries (you can warm in a pan or on the fire very briefly) and yogurt. We usually have a big breakfast, a light lunch as the kids get hungry later, and a hearty supper with time for marshmallows and S'mores afterwards.

Click Here for recipes: http://www.stretcher.com/stories/01/010716d.cfm

Monday, August 15, 2005

4 credit-scoring myths you should know about.

Looking to buy a house? Make sure you know what will truly hurt and help your case with lenders -- and don't fall for the misinformation mortgage lenders can spread. By Liz Pulliam WestonThere's a lot of misinformation being propagated about what does and doesn’t hurt your credit score, and much of it is coming from sources who should know better: mortgage lenders.Now, let me say first that I’ve worked with several excellent lenders who really knew their stuff and kept up to date, not only on loan trends but on the information that’s available about credit scoring. That’s important, because the FICO credit score, in its various permutations, is used in three-quarters of all mortgage lending.But what I heard from several lenders responding to my recent column, “8 big mortgage mistakes and how to avoid them,” was the kind of bad advice that can cost you money and keep you from getting the best loans.

So if your mortgage broker gives you any of the following advice, take a tip from me: Find a new broker.Closing accounts can help your credit scoreNo, no, no. For the umpteenth time:

Closing accounts can never help your credit score, and may hurt it. Every time I write this, I get more e-mail from people who say their mortgage lenders told them exactly the opposite. It’s true that having too many open accounts can hurt your score. But once you’ve opened the accounts, you’ve done the damage. You can’t repair it by shutting the account, and you may actually make things worse.The credit score looks at the difference between your available credit and what you’re using. Shut down accounts, and your total available credit shrinks, making your balances loom larger, which typically hurts your score.The score also tracks the length of your credit history. Shutting older accounts can also make your credit history look younger than it actually is, which can hurt your score.Of course, credit scores aren't the only thing lenders look at when making decisions. They typically consider other factors, such as your income, assets, employment history and credit limits. Mortgage lenders in particular might look at your total available credit and ask you to close a few accounts as a condition for getting a loan.But if your goal is to improve your credit score, you generally shouldn't close accounts in advance of such a request. Instead, pay down your credit card debt. That's something that actually can improve your score. Lucy's Note: This is one of those things that I did not know and I had just closed down 4 accounts right before we applied to refiance our house. Lucky for us it did not hurt our chance. We qualified anyway.

Checking your FICO score can hurt your credit. Unfortunately, I heard this one from a mortgage broker who is otherwise pretty smart. He was confused about which type of inquiries hurt your score and which don’t.Applying for new credit is generally what hurts your score. Ordering a copy of your own credit report or credit score doesn’t count. Those mass inquiries made by credit card lenders, who are trying to decide whether to send you an offer for a pre-approved card, also aren’t going to hurt you, either -- unless you actually take them up on their offers.If you want to minimize the damage from credit inquiries, make sure that when you shop for a mortgage you do so in a fairly short period of time. The FICO score treats multiple inquiries in a 14-day period as just one inquiry and ignores all inquiries made within 30 days prior to the day the score is computed.For most people, one inquiry will generally knock no more than 5 points off a score (and scores typically run from 300 to 850, so that’s not a big percentage).

Credit counseling will hurt your score as much as a bankruptcy. The current FICO formula ignores any reference to credit counseling that may be in your file. That’s been true for the last three years, after researchers at Fair, Isaac, the company that created the FICO scoring system, noticed that people getting credit counseling didn’t default on their debts any more often than anyone else.Your ability to get a loan could still be hurt by credit counseling, however. Your current lenders may report you as late, because you’re not paying what you originally owed or because your credit counselor isn’t sending your payments in on time. Late payments do hurt your credit score.Lenders consider other factors besides credit scores in making their decisions, as well. The factors they look at can vary widely. Most want to know your income, for example. Some want to know how much savings you have or whether you’re a homeowner. Some will find credit counseling disturbing, while others see it as a good sign.The mortgage lenders who don’t like credit counseling generally treat its enrollees the same as if they had filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 is the kind of bankruptcy that requires a repayment plan and is looked at somewhat more favorably than Chapter 7, which allows you to erase many of your debts. You might still be able to qualify for a loan from one of these lenders, although your interest rates will almost certainly be higher than if you had perfect credit.If you plan to get a mortgage soon, and you’re not already behind on your debts, it’s probably smart to steer clear of credit counseling. If you’re already in trouble, however, a good credit counseling agency might be able to help you get back on track.

Your FICO isn’t the only score you need to check. This came from lenders who thought the FICO score is offered by only one of the three credit bureaus: Equifax. In reality, all three of the bureaus offer FICO credit scores using the formula developed by Fair, Isaac, but they each give the scores a different name. At Equifax, the FICO is known as the Beacon credit score. At TransUnion, it’s called Empirica. At Experian, it goes by the unwieldy title of “Experian/Fair, Isaac Risk Model.”Complicating matters further is that you’ll probably have three different scores from the three different bureaus, largely because the bureaus don’t all share the same data. One bureau may list more accounts for you than another, for example, and the differences (in types of accounts, payment histories, credit limits and balances) will be reflected in the score that bureau computes for you.Because of those differences, it does make sense to pull and examine your credit reports from all three bureaus before you apply for a big loan like a mortgage. Many mortgage lenders take the middle score from the three bureaus when making their decisions, so fixing errors in all three reports before you shop for a loan is smart.You can get all three of your FICO scores from myFico.com. But the ways you improve your credit score are the same in any case: Correct errors. Pay your bills on time. Pay down your debt. And apply for credit sparingly.

Liz Pulliam Weston's column appears every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. She also answers reader questions in the Your Money message board.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

16 Ways to Save on Fuel (Gas)

With Gas prices going sky high, I did some investigating on how to save on fuel. I found this article on the Dollar Stretcher website and thought I would pass it on.

1. Keep the tires inflated properly. Under inflated tires waste fuel and wear out the tire tread. Also, check tires regularly for alignment and balance.

2. A well-tuned engine burns less gas. Get regular tune-ups and follow through with routine maintenance.

3. Get the junk out of the trunk. A weighed-down car uses more fuel. For every extra 250 pounds your engine hauls, the car loses about one mile per gallon in fuel economy.

4. Buy the lowest grade (octane) of gasoline that is appropriate for your car. As long as your engine doesn't knock or ping, the fuel you're using is fine.

5. Pay cash at stations that charge extra for credit cards.

6. Don't top off the gas tank. Too much gas will just slosh or seep out. Why waste those extra pennies?

7. Drive intelligently; don't make fast starts or sudden stops. You're just overexerting your engine and burning extra fuel. Engine-revving wastes fuel, too.

8. Lighten up on the accelerator. The faster you drive, the more gas you use. For example, driving at 55 mph rather than 65 mph can improve your fuel economy by two miles per gallon.

9. Avoid long warm-ups. Even on cold winter mornings, your car doesn't need more than a minute to get ready to go. Anything more and you're just burning up that expensive fuel.

10. Combine errands into one trip and plan your stops for the most-efficient route. You'll save yourself time and money.

11. Do not rest your left foot on the brake. The slightest pressure could cause a drag that will demand additional gas use -- and wear out the brakes sooner.

12. Tighten the gas cap. Buy a new one if your current cap doesn't fit snugly. Gas easily evaporates from the tank if it has an escape.

13. Buy a fuel-efficient car. When pricing cars, factor in long-term fuel costs. Keep in mind that sunroofs add to wind resistance, lowering the mileage per gallon.

14. Be smart with the air conditioning. On the highway, closed windows decrease air resistance, so run the air conditioner. In stop-and-go traffic, shut off the air conditioning and open the windows.

15. Remove snow tires in good weather. Deep tread and big tires use more fuel.

16. Fuel up at the service station with the lowest price in your area.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Old Sayings…..

We have a poster of old sayings sitting in front of the thrown in our thrown room. Every time you sit down to do your business you can read the poster. I thought you might be interested in a few that I like:

1) Birds of a feather flock together.
2) There is more to life than increasing its speed.
3) No one gets too old to learn a new way of being stupid.
4) It is better to be a has-been than one who never was.
5) We didn’t all come over on the same ship, but we’re all in the same boat.
6) The same wind blows on us all, it’s how you set the sail that counts.
7) Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
8) Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.
9) The man who is too old to learn was probably always too old to learn.
10) To most of us it would be very convenient if God were a rascal.
11) It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside the frame.
12) The dog that trots about finds a bone.
13) He that has but four and spends five, has no need for a purse.
14) The vow that binds too strictly snaps itself.
15) If at first you don’t succeed, you’re running about average.
16) Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
17) The fellow who is a good sport has to lose to prove it.
18) Easy street is a blind alley.
19) The growth of wisdom can be accurately gauged by the drop in ill temper.
20) Don’t discourage the other man’s plans unless you have better ones to offer.
21) Who lives content with little possesses everything.
22) The man who wants for things to turn up has his eyes fixed on his toes.
23) To approve is more difficult than to admire.
24) Some people pay so much attention to their reputation that they lose their character.
25) It may be those who do most, dream most.

These are just a few that I read on a daily basis. My mom and dad were good with old sayings. A few good ones that I learned from them were:
1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2) What goes around, comes around.
3) One of these days you’re going to have a kid just like you.
4) It’s not the challenges you have in life, but how you handle them that count.

What are some of the “old sayings” you heard growing up?

Puppy Update: Check here for a current picture of the puppies.

Bargain of the week: Today while I was out grocery shopping I found Chicken breasts for .69Cents per pound. I purchased 4 packages which had 5 chicken breasts in each pkg. and I paid around $ 3.25 per package. I came home and cleaned and repackaged the chicken for use at a later date and put it in the freezer. Don't forget to check out the sale bin at your grocery store. I wrote a previous post on just how to do this. Check it out here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Tortilla-Black Bean Casserole

Tortilla-Black Bean Casserole
Recipe By : Real Food for Real PeopleServing Size : 12
Preparation Method:

-2 cups Onion -- chopped
1 1/2 cups Green Pepper -- chopped
14 1/2 ounces Tomatoes, canned -- chopped, not drained
3/4 cup Salsa
4 ounces Jalapenos -- chopped
4 cloves Garlic -- minced
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
30 ounces Kidney Beans -- black/red, drained
12 6 inch Corn Tortillas
2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese -- shredded
2 medium Tomatoes -- sliced
2 cups Lettuce -- shredded
1/8 cup Green Onion -- sliced
1/8 cup Black Olives -- sliced
1/2 cup Sour Cream -- optional

In a large skilled, combine onion, green pepper, undrained tomatoes, salsa, jalapenos, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in beans.

In a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish, spread 1/3 of the bean mixture over the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the tortillas, overlapping as necessary, and half of the cheese. Add another 1/3 of the bean mixture, then remaining tortillas and bean mixture.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and let stand 10 minutes. Top with tomato slices, lettuce, green onion, and olives. Cut into squares to serve. Serve with sour cream or yogurt.

Additional information: This recipe is also great with substitutions. Try flour tortillas for corn tortillas and add chopped vegetables, such as celery and carrots when sautéing onion. You can also cut the amount of cheese in half or use soy-based cheese and no one will ever notice!

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 421 Calories; 9g Fat (19.5% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 63g Carbohydrate; 21g Dietary Fiber; 21mg Cholesterol; 301mg Sodium.
Exchanges: 3 1/2 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 1/2 Fat.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Taking a road trip? Ways to De-Stress

Our family loves going to Colorado for vacation. It’s so beautiful up there and the air is fresh and clean and it is perfect for camping. It’s quiet a drive from Houston, 23 hours to be exact. Ahhh mom, dad, and three young children, it can stress a body out! I was reading an article in Women’s World magazine yesterday, by Christina DeLalla, that reminded me of those days. Here’s what it said: Don’t let the driving part be the worst part of the trip. Here are some helpful tips.

1) Turn on the air conditioner even if it’s not particularly hot out: Studies show we’re most calm and content when we’re feeling cool. In fact, a recent British study found that the hotter it gets in a car, the more aggressive and irritable toward each other people inside the car become. Lucy’s note: If you are driving and having a hard time staying awake the cool air will do the trick. Warm air will put you to sleep.

2) Pack the snack that calms everyone down: “Carb-rich foods like popcorn and crackers help boost serotonin levels in the brain,” says dietitian Elisabeth Weber, helping everyone stay happy! “Just make sure to get the low-salt variety-otherwise, it can make people too thirsty and uncomfortable.”

3) Have a sing-along: It’s fun for a reason-studies show it triggers the production of endorphins, the brain chemicals that generate pleasurable feelings. It also stimulates circulation, which helps prevent the muscle spasms and aching joints that can be triggered by sitting in a cramped space for a long time, says pediatrician Terry Shields, M.D. Lucy’s note: My kids enjoyed singing in the car and now I know why it was good for them.

4) Play the game that stops carsickness: If kids complain about feeling carsick, play the car game “ I Spy,” where someone in the car describes and object they see on the horizon and everyone else tries to guess what it is. “When you’re in a car, your inner ear tells your brain you’re moving – but if you’re focused inside the car, your brain thinks you’re standing still; it’s this mixed signal that makes people nauseous,” explains Dr. Shields. But keeping your eyes focused outside the car – by playing “I Spy”- helps keep carsickness at bay. Lucy’s Note: I have personal experience on this one. When I was young, I would get terribly car sick. As I have grown older it is not that bad, but I still can’t read a map for more than a few seconds before I start to feel nauseous. I immediately look for something outside the car to reverse the feeling. It really does work.

5) “Read” while you drive: Can’t agree on music? Put in a book on CD/tape from your library. Studies show that listening to books in the car actually makes the time pass faster, since it requires concentration – and that’s not all: Studies show it reduces stress. Lucy’s Note: Several years ago I went to visit my daughter in Denver. My husband had given me a couple of “books on tape” to listen to while I was driving. The time really does go faster and I enjoyed listening to them. It really is a good idea.

6) Hang the right air freshener: Before you hit the road, put a citrus or potpourri scented air freshener in your car. Research shows the scents make people happier and help them get along better – in one study, the scent of potpourri cut arguments between people in half!

7) Start out on a Thursday: Many of us like to get a headstart on our weekends, which makes Friday afternoon a busy time to drive. And it’s also a dangerous time to be in the car: According to a study by Progressive Insurance most car accidents occur between 3pm. and 6pm. on Fridays. The fewest crashes occur on Thursday mornings, so if you can get a jump on the weekend, you can avoid traffic and lower you risk of trouble.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Going on Vacation – Burglar-proof your home!

This story was written by Alison Bell.

August is one of the biggest months for home robberies, but experts say you can keep your home safe when you are away by:

1) Doing some landscaping: Trim hedges or trees that obscure your home from the street. Burglars look for houses that they can enter without being seen.

2) Rounding up spare keys: Burglars know exactly where to find those spare keys you’ve left hidden outside! “No matter how clever your hiding place, they’ve thought of it,” warns Lauren Russ, of the Burglary Prevention Council.

3) Clearing your answering machine while you are away: “A full voice mail box is a sure sign you’re traveling,” says Robert Siciliano, author of The Safety Minute. No wonder savvy burglars call before they enter a house to see if the voice mail is full.

4) Borrowing a car: Burglars are always on the look-out for an empty driveway or a car that sits for days in the same spot. Simple resolution? “Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway or to move your car every few days,” Russ advises.

5) Faking them out: Homes without security systems are three times more likely to be broken into. But studies show that just putting stickers on your windows that say you’re protected is an effective deterrent, Russ notes. Find them online at: http://www.home-security-signs.com/

Did you know that a recent study revealed that 12% of burglaries occur through an unlocked door? Lock it or lose it!

Lucy’s notes: Whenever we go out of town for a few days we always have someone pick up our mail and news papers. I don’t know how many times I have seen newspapers piled up in the yard and think to myself that they must be out of town.
I will ask a neighbor to feed our animals. With our dog in the back yard, it looks like we are home. It is also advisable to use timed lighting switches to turn the lights off and on at certain times of the day or night. You might also leave a radio on so that it sounds like someone is home. If you are going to be gone of more than a week then you might want to hire someone to cut your grass and edge. One last note, If you can get someone to stay at your house while you are gone it also helps.

Monday, August 01, 2005

How To Land Your First (Any) Job

This year’s 1.4 million college graduates may enter the best job market in three years. Still, it takes an experienced worker more than three months to find a job. Experts say new grads shouldn’t take the whole summer off. Here’s their job-hunting advice for the Class of 2005:
A Game Plan
Five to 15 resumes in a highly focused job search are more productive than hundreds in a random search, says Bill Coleman, senior vice president of Salary.com. First, identify what you want to do, where you want to live and the type of company you want to work at. Next, look for people who can help you apply there. Tell everyone your target jobs and employers, and ask your parents’ friends and colleagues for advice. Talking to them is good practice for interviews.
Your Résumé
Stick to one page and a simple layout that notes:•Your college and degree. Don’t list a grade-point average below 3.5. It only puts you at a disadvantage vs. graduates with higher averages. A résumé without a GPA won’t be tossed unless it’s a requirement; and if an employer asks about your GPA, you can soften bad news with an explanation.
•An objective. Sound as if you know what you want. (“My goal is a job that will lead to a career in marketing.”) Don’t worry if you’re not really sure yet, says Mark Cenedella, CEO of TheLadders.com. Your first job won’t lock you into a lifetime choice.
•Work experience. Don’t just list job duties, describe the results you achieved. (“Senior Day Camp Counselor: I wrote, directed and produced a play featuring 15 six-year-olds, on a limited budget.”)
•Strengths. What are you good at? (Meeting deadlines, organizing, creative thinking?) These abilities should tie into your job and personal achievements.
•Skills. Knowledge of computer programs, fluency in a second language, license to drive a truck.
•Extracurricular activities. “You never know when you’ll connect with someone because you’re both interested in building for Habitat for Humanity,” says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Your interests help a company get a better handle on who you are and separate you from the competition.”
The Cover Letter
It must be specific to each company or job you apply for. Your letter should be enthusiastic and grammatical and fit on one page. Ask someone you respect to proofread it. End the letter by saying you’ll follow up with a phone call—but even if you e-mail it, wait three days before you call.
The Interview
Do your research. Many recruiters say job applicants are clueless about the companies they interview at. There’s no excuse for that. You can find out everything you need to know on a company’s Web site. Be ready to ask a few questions about the firm and the job and to say why you’re interested in the company, what appeals to you about the job and where you see yourself in five years.
“The ability to write and speak well is a major plus,” adds Bill Coleman. It helps to be able to improvise too. One of his early interviews went fine until the interviewer asked, with a smile: “By the way, how many l’s are there in William?” “I immediately realized there was a mistake on my résumé,” he recalls. “I figured I was likelier to have put in an extra l than to have dropped one, so I said: ‘In my name? Three.’ ‘Really!’ she said, ‘I thought it was a typo.’” P.S. He got the job.
Follow The Rules•Record a new voicemail greeting. Replace “Yo, dude, leave your digits!” with “This is John Smith. Please leave a message. I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”•Don’t use an e-mail address like honeybunny@xyzmail .com. Create one that uses your first and last names.•Proofread your e-mail to employers. Use the same rules of punctuation, grammar and style you’d use on paper.•Keep your cell phone off during job interviews.•Address the interviewer as Mr. Smith or Ms. Jones unless you’re asked to use his or her first name.•Dress conservatively. No jeans, T-shirts, low necklines or sandals—even for interviews at dot-com companies.•Send thank-you letters after interviews.

This information would be good for anyone trying to get a job.
By Lynn BrennerPublished: June 12, 2005 Parade Magazine