Monday, December 21, 2009

New York Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

As the holidays approach many of us are searching for new recipes as well as presents. With all the parties that are thrown every year, we have a lot of baking to do and it can get pretty tiresome making the same treat 5 times in one week - at least that's how it is for me. I have to have variety when I bake - especially when I find myself in the kitchen so many times throughout the holidays.

Well, yesterday my husband and I attended our Sunday School party and every couple was supposed to bring something. So, naturally with the hustle and bustle of the holidays - I forgot. Until Saturday night. When I was out shopping. So, I picked up a magazine and found a recipe for strawberries stuffed with cheesecake AND dipped in chocolate! Could it get any better? I didn't think so, until I glanced at the recipe and saw how easy they were going to be to make. Of course, I enlisted the help of my husband...after all, he was going to be eating them too.

If you are looking for an easy and yummy treat to bring somewhere this holiday season then you simply HAVE to give these strawberries a try! The recipe is below.

15-30 Fresh Medium Strawberries, washed and dried
1 8-oz. pkg. of Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 c. Powdered Sugar
1 t. Vanilla Extract
1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 bar of milk chocolate, chopped (dark chocolate works too)

1. Cut off the stem of each strawberry. Use a knife to dip out the center of each strawberry - creating a small cavity.
2. In a bowl, use an electric mixer to mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract together. Mix until smooth - then place the mixture in a pastry bag - or, if you're like me, put it in a ziploc bag and cut off the tip of one of the corners to squeeze it out of. Then, take each strawberry and fill the center with cream cheese mixture. You will want to mound it on top a little bit to make it pretty. Then place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.
3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler until it's smooth. Then dip the bottom of each strawberry in the chocolate. Return strawberry to wax paper and top with graham cracker crumbs.
4. Refrigerate strawberries to set chocolate. Serve.

These strawberries were amazing. The recipe says you should serve them within 6 hours of preparing them, but I made them the night before our Sunday School party and served them the next morning. It was probably at least 14 hours later and they were just fine. The key is to make sure the strawberries you use are fresh and don't have any soft spots. Enjoy!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Few Updates

Okay, so my promise to blog at least 2-3 times a week has recently fell by the wayside. I feel terrible about this, but I have had so much going on that I've barely had time to sleep - let alone blog. However, I am on a mission to get this blog back in the shape I had envisioned it to be in.

I have had some exciting new developments in my business lately. I finally got my freelance writing website up and going and landed my first client within a week of publishing it online. I am also staying busy by helping other freelance writers with their overflow. I have to say that I am still really enjoying this new venture of mine. My plans are to let it grow and by the time my son is in school, I will be able to start doing this more full-time instead of going back to a traditional job.

Also, big news for my family and I is that we are expecting to add a Bichon Frise puppy to our family in late July 2010. I know - that seems like a long time off, but after our experience with our first Bichon and his poor breeding, which led to health problems, we have decided to do it right this time and go through a reputable breeder. We finally found one who is planning a future breeding with a male from JR's bloodlines (the bichon that won Westiminster) and a female whose parents, both of them, come from Brazilian champion bloodlines. The best part is that the price for the puppies is actually lower then what we had budgeted for! So, we have reserved a puppy from this all we have to do is wait.

We are very excited to be adding another Bichon to our family. When we had Casper, although he had numerous health problems, we fell in love with this breed. The Bichon is such a happy breed who loves being around people. They are non-shedding and don't have the "dog smell" like most other breeds. My husband and I got very spoiled by having a house dog that didn't shed or have the dog smell - so now, it is a requirement for a house dog. They can be an expensive breed to maintain though as they require regular grooming and can have allergies. However, if you've ever owned a Bichon Frise, then you know it is all worth it!

Well, so there you have it. That's what has been going on around here lately. I am actually thinking about starting a couple of niche blogs - if I can ever find the time for that. :) The two niche blogs I would like to start are about cooking and the world of freelance writing. Of course, they will have to be updated regularly and assuming I will do that, what do you think?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wow - Time Has Flown!

In the week and a half since I last blogged, there has been quite a bit of excitement around here. The Monday before Thanksgiving my parents, son and I went on a road trip to visit my brother and his wife as they were expecting their first child. They induced, but the little guy wasn't ready to come yet. So, after a full day at the hospital and 1 night in a hotel we came back home to prepare for the Thanksgiving festivities.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. My husband was able to be home (he works in the oil field) on Thanksgiving day and not work, which made it even better. Of course, what would Thanksgiving be without doing a little Black Friday shopping? I was ready to go shopping with my mother at 3 am, but my son had other plans. The poor guy started running a 104 degree fever at 1:30 am. Luckily we got it down after tylenol and a lukewarm bath, but he didn't get back to sleep until 2:30 am. So, I called my mom and cancelled our 3 am shopping trip. However, we did go at 8 am and I was still able to find the bargains I was looking for. My husband will be so excited on Christmas morning when he sees his gift!

We were also able to take advantage of the beautiful Thanksgiving day weather and put up our Christmas lights and set up our tree. My house is officially ready for Christmas now. Last year we were smart and invested in a pre-lit tree (after the holidays of course - when they were on sale!)....I have to tell you that I'm already thinking it was the best purchase we've ever made! You talk about saving some serious time...a pre-lit tree is the way to go! After my son went to bed, my husband and I decorated the tree and were actually able to sit and enjoy it for the rest of the evening. Ever since the next morning, I have been chasing my 2 yr. old around with the ornaments. What would Christmas be without a little bit of chaos though?

Well, tonight my brother and his wife had their first baby - a healthy baby boy! So, I am now officially an Aunt. It amazes me how God's timing works everything out. It was hard when we lost my grandmother before Thanksgiving, but with the birth of this new baby our hearts are beginning to fill with happiness again. :) So, that is what has been going on around here the past 2 weeks. I hope your holidays are looking to be as promising as ours!

Monday, November 16, 2009

In Honor of my Grandmother

Well, these past few days have been especially difficult for me. Last Thursday at 6:45am, my mother called to tell me that my beloved grandmother had passed away. My grandma Della was 87 years old, in a nursing home and was in the final stages of alzheimers. I have to agree with those that think it is a blessing that the Lord took her now. Regardless, that does not make it any easier when I think of all the memories she left me with.

Some of my fondest memories are those with grandma Della in them. I can remember back to the summers when I would get to spend the night at her house. She and my grandfather would take me to the park where we could ride the train, the carosel and the little mini metal cars. Then the next morning, there would always be a walk to the donut shop just down the street where I always got donut-holes and grandma always got her cake donuts to go with her morning coffee.

As I got older, my brother and I would spend hours sitting at grandma's dining room table playing an array of different card games. Games such as SkipBo, Uno and Dallas. For those of you not familiar with the game of Dallas - it is a card game designed after the famous soap-opera "Dallas." Grandma was quite competitive during those many games - and so were my brother and I. We could literally sit there all afternoon and play those games.

Not long after those years, came my teenage years. Things got a lot busier for me and I wasn't able to spend as much time sitting at grandma's playing cards. Instead stock shows, band, work and boys took up the majority of my time. However, I would still find some time to stop by and talk with grandma. We would just talk about things going at school, work and of course my boyfriends. It was during these years that my grandmother and I became confidants and friends.

Like most mother-daughter relationships, during my teenage years my mother and I did not see eye-to-eye. Well, grandma Della was who I would go and tell everything too. She would often tell me that she had no idea why my mother was being the way she was. lol. And then, she would tell me stories from when she and her mother went through similiar situations. She would also tell me stories about my mother as a teenager. I learned a lot about how my grandmother was when she was younger during these talks. I learned that she and I shared many personality traits. Most importantly, during these years I came to recognize and appreciate how much my grandmother loved me.

When I went to college, grandma Della and I would keep in touch by writing lengthy letters to each other. Not just here and there, but often weekly. During my sophomore year in college, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. The suddenness of it all caused my grandmother to have mini-strokes and sped up the Alzheimers process. She soon had to be moved to an apartment complex for senior citizens and shortly after that we began having to have a nurse come out and make sure she was taking her medications. It got so bad that within a year and a half after my grandfather passed away, that we had to put her in a nursing home. By this time, my grandmother was unable to continue writing letters to me - however, I continued to write to her.

As time went on, the trips to visit grandma at the nursing home became harder because Alzheimers made it difficult, and eventually impossible, for her to have a normal conversation with us. That's really when I began to lose the grandmother I had known. Although there were times when I would see that familiar sparkle in her eyes showing a hint of laughter. She eventually had to be moved from the general nursing home to the Alzheimers unit when the disease got to bad. By this time, she didn't remember who I was, which was hard - but although she couldn't remember who I was you could tell that she knew I was someone close. The few times I brought my son out with me to visit, she always wanted to hold him - and back when he was first born, and she held him he just layed in her arms and smiled at her while she tried to sing lullabies to him.

My grandmother was an important part of my life and she will be missed dearly. I am sad that my son and future children will never know her as I did, but all I can do is tell them as much about her as possible. And one day, when I become a grandmother myself, I can strive to create the lasting wonderful memories with my grandchildren that my grandmother helped create with me. It is a blessing that God did not leave her to suffer with Alzheimers long, just 6 years, and I know that one day I will see her again. Until then, she will remain in my heart full of memories.

Monday, November 9, 2009

1 Thing to Help Manage the Holiday Stress!

It's November and the holidays are just around the corner. The holidays are so much fun, but they can bring on a lot of stress in our lives if we aren't careful. Why? Because at this time of year, demands start coming in from everywhere! Your kiddos will have multiple parties, plays, sports events and many other things expected of them at school. Which means you will have numerous things to prepare for whether it's just attending the event or baking cookies for everyone in the class. If that isn't enough, you also have to get your Christmas shopping done, attend various parties of your own, find time to prepare for family gatherings and dinners and continue your normal day-to-day activities!

While we're in the midst of it all, we find ourselves being stretched to the limit and wondering, who has time for this? The truth is nobody does! While there is no way to completely eliminate the holiday stress because there will always be school events, holiday parties and extended family to deal with, I have discovered that if I do one thing, I will have more time to concentrate on all the other stuff.

What is it? Dusting off the crock-pot and making a home for it on my kitchen least for the next 3 months! The crock-pot is an amazing invention and though I hate the space it takes to store it for most of the year, I absolutely LOVE it at this time of the year. There are so many recipes out there specifically designed for your slow cooker, all you have to do is find them and put it to use! I promise that you will love freeing up the time you would normally spend preparing dinner. Some of my favorite dishes to cook in it are: Gumbo, BBQ Pork Chops and a yummy Southwestern Chicken dish!

This morning I broke out the crock-pot and am trying my hand at Potato Soup! Judging from the smell wafting throughout my house, I haven't messed it up yet. I have included the recipe below if Potato Soup sounds good to you!

3.5 lbs. potatoes, peeled & cut into cubes
1/2 C. chopped yellow and/or red sweet pepper
minced garlic to taste
1/2 t. ground black pepper
4.5 C. chicken broth
1/2 C. whipping cream or half-and-half
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C. thinly sliced green onions - optional

1. Combine potatoes, sweet pepper, garlic and black pepper in a 4-6 quart slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
3. Mash potatoes slightly with a potato masher. Stir in whipping cream, cheddar cheese and onions. Serve! Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Amazon Prime to the Christmas Shopping Rescue!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween weekend! My little man is 2 years old and he was the most adorable Frankenstein you will ever see! Although he still didn't quite grasp the trick-or-treating part, his daddy and I had a blast taking him around to visit this year!

I love this time of year when Fall is officially here! Although it is by far one of the busier seasons, I just love the cooler air and the hustle and bustle of the crowds preparing for the upcoming holidays! I have discovered an amazing secret to help me with my holiday shopping. I actually discovered it by accident last year, and it literally saved me hundreds of dollars in taxes for my Christmas gifts.

If you haven't tried out Amazon Prime - it is simply amazing. I buy a lot of books from and I was offered the opportunity to try Amazon Prime out for free for 30 days. This amazing tool offered by Amazon gives you the option to buy a product form Amazon's own store for a set amount, but you get your item in 2 days for free! No shipping costs or taxes!

Well, last year my plan was to order a few books and cancel Amazon Prime before I got charged for a full year's worth of this program. Naturally, I log in a day late and have already been charged $75 dollars for an entire year! My dear hubby was a little upset with me over it, so I decided to get my use out of it for Christmas.

Amazon has a large selection of products ranging from books to clothing to camping accessories. So, about 80% of my Christmas shopping last year was done online with the click of a button. And 2 days later, I had the item in my hands! I am not exaggerating when I tell you I save literally hundreds utilizing this service. And to think it was all by accident! I actually have paid to renew my Amazon Prime account for another year - and yes, I plan on doing the majority of my Christmas shopping online again this year with! If you haven't tried this out - now is the time to do it. The free trial is the best if it's being offered. Just be sure to call and cancel BEFORE it expires!

Happy Shopping Everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My New Favorite Toy...

The Fridge Phonics Magnetic Set by Leap Frog has officially became my new favorite toy for my son! My little man turned 2 two weeks ago, and this was one of the gifts he received. If you read my blog regularly you have noted that I don't do very many product reviews. That's because before I put my name on a product I have to use it and be absolutely in love with it! Well, I am estatic about this Leap Frog product!

This magnetic set features a magnetic letter-reading base that easily attaches to your refrigerator door. All of the 26 letters are also magnetic. When you put it up on the fridge and see all of the colorful letters decorating your doors, it will remind you of the plastic magnetic letters we had when we were little. This set created by Leap Frog easily puts those original magnetic letters to shame. Once you turn it on, your child will pick a letter and place in the base and then push it. When the letter is pushed, the base will start singing a little song for the corresponding letter. The song tells the child what the letter is and also tells what sound(s) the letter makes as well. There is also a music button that, when pushed, will sing the Alphabet Song to your child!

I am not one who enjoys a lot of electronic toys that make a lot of noise, but educational ones such as Leap Frog's Fridge Phonics are gladly welcomed in my home. This toy will hold my son's attention for at least 20 minutes! Not only that, but he has already learned many of the letters and their corresponding sounds! If you have a child between the ages of 2 and 5, this would make a wonderful Christmas gift that they will benefit from tremendously!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Freelance Writing Update and a Few Other Notes...

As you may have already read, I have started a freelance writing business. As of today, I have been doing this for a little over a month now and am happy to report that I have earned right around $150! This may not sound like much to you, but for a stay-at-home-mommy who is doing this VERY part-time, it is quite an accomplishment!

I have decided to create my own website, which I will be working on this week, to get my name out there and promote my services. The money is a nice bonus, but the truth is, I absolutely LOVE my new "job!" I am able to do it when my son naps and after he goes to bed. It provides me with something constructive to do and gives me a feeling of satisfaction after I meet my deadlines.

One of the cool aspects of it, is that I am constantly learning about a variety new things! Over the past month, I have learned about the differences between fiberglass and acrylic bathtubs, the benefits of organic shampoo, how mind-mapping software can be beneficial and so much more! I love getting up every day not knowing what I will learn next, it takes away the monotony of doing laundry, dishes and cleaning.

If you love to write and don't mind doing a little research, I highly recommend tapping into the freelance writing market. It's great for SAHM's like me, college students who want to earn a little extra money, or even women who want to make the transition to working from home and still make a decent income. If you have the time available, motivation, determination, and the necessary writing skills, you can easily make a full-time income by being a freelance writer!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh, for the Love of Soccer!

This past weekend we celebrated my son's 2nd birthday. What a celebration it was with the entire family joining in on the fun. He had aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, and cousins there - so there were a lot of gifts for him to open.

When it came to opening gifts last year at this time, he wasn't sure what to think. My how things change in a year. The presents were definately the hit of the show for him this year! It is amazing to me how much stuff they make for little ones now. Honestly, I do not remember having anything like the cool electronic toys they have now when I was little. Maybe, all parents are supposed to say that though. Our little man received a string-less/wireless guitar that works by laser light, lincoln logs, legos, building blocks, Mr. Potato Head, lots of tool related toys and many other wonderful, exciting, and noisy gifts!

He was pretty excited about all the above gifts, but the last gift he opened was what excited him the was a $6 soccer ball his father and I picked out for him. We knew our little guy loves to play with any kind of sports ball or bouncy ball - in fact, our house is overrun with them...however, he did not have a soccer ball. So, we decided to go ahead and get him one. We knew he'd like it, that's why we saved if for last, but we had no idea it would be a show-stopper for him! He spent the rest of the night attached to the soccer ball, and if I would have let him, he would have slept with it too!

Isn't it incredible that in this technological world full of iPods, video games, and noisy toys, some of the most enjoyable gifts are still the simple a soccer ball?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From SAHM to Part-Time WAHM

As you know, I am a stay-at-home-mommy who has a toddler running circles around her. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home with my son for two years now. I can't believe how fast time has flown by! I have loved every minute of it and every day when I'm able to make lunch for my son and lay him down for his nap afterwards, I am reminded of how truly blessed I am to be able to do this.

Well, over the past month I have not-so-gradually worked my way from the stay-at-home-mommy status to the work-at-home-mommy status. Since I have started this blog, I have re-discovered my passion for the written word and through that I have discovered how much fun it is to actually write! So, after reading through a few forums I discovered the world of freelance writing.

Now, I had never written anything major before, but a lot of people have complimented my writing so I decided to take a leap and answer an ad on a forum from a lady looking for content writers for her website. She started out giving me a weekly assignment of writing one 300 word article per week over one of the following subjects: parenting, environmental issues, or saving money. After the first couple of weeks, she informed me that she was impressed with my writing and then sent me 6 articles she needed completed in a week. After that she requested 2 travel articles from me and 3 rewrites. Keep in mind, this is in addition to the weekly website article I was continuing to write for her.

Over the course of two weeks I had gained a second client and had written a total of 13 articles - earning myself roughly $65! Therefore, I averaged $5 per article - while it may not sound like much, considering the very short length of the articles, it is a nice part-time income. I have to say that this has been the easiest $65 I have made from home. I learned to research during my son's nap times and write at night when he was in bed. So, it doesn't interfere with the time I spend with him during the day.

So, now you know how I have rather quickly transitioned from a stay-at-home-mommy to a work-at-home-mommy. I am no different then a lot of other women out there who have tried several work at home business such as selling Mary Kay, Usborne Books and several other products. While I loved each and every product I sold, I just didn't enjoy selling the products as much as I did using them. I have had a completely different experience with this. I don't mind doing the research and I love writing the articles and seeing the finished product. And the extra cash I'm earning while doing it is wonderful! Who knew working from home could be so much fun?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My 4-Day Diet Results

Well, I have completed my 4-day diet experiement and am here to report the results to you! The article in Prevention magazine stated that by following a few simple rules, I should be able to lose 7 pounds in 4 days. So, I followed their rules and kept a journal of my daily calorie intake which allowed me to cut my calories down. Also, instead of having just 3 meals a day I followed their rules and increased that to 4 meals per day scheduled every 4-5 hours apart. During each meal I incorporated 1 serving of a MUFA food to combat hunger and fat build up.

On Friday, I weighed and had lost not 7, but 2 pounds. So, the 7 pounds in 4 days did not work for me...but, I did notice some other positive changes during that 4 day period. First of all, I was sleeping better at night and I was waking up refreshed and with more energy! (It's important for you to understand here that I was not sleeping any longer then before.) It was not uncommon for me to wake up and still be tired, and then to try and catch up on my sleep, I would sometimes nap when my 2 year old did. Well, during my experiment last week - that was not the case. Because I was waking up more energized, I feld better and I got a lot more accomplished during the day and all without taking a mid-day nap!

I think I will continue to add a serving of MUFA foods at every meal from now on. The extra boost of energy that I've received from it, makes it well worth it to this toddler-mommy. If you haven't tried this diet out already - you should give it a 4 day trial like I did and see how you feel afterwards about it. If you don't know what diet I'm talking about, then read my last two blog posts and you will be caught up to par. Also, there is a book called "The Flat-Belly Diet," which was written with these principles in mind, so if you are really interested in learning more then go and check out that book!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Our Future

"The way America sees itself and the world is changing and it worries me because we used to have a common vision. But now that vision is split and what I believe is the prevailing vision, has been relegated in the mass media to the fringe. Things like: Belief in God over government; parents' rights over children's rights; the honor of military over the honor of the politician; being willing to do the hard thing now and have less so that our children can have a chance at having more." Glenn Beck

I am not a huge Glenn Beck fan mainly because of the way he presents some of his information, but I have to say that I agree 100% with the statement above. As a mother, it upsets me to look around and see the way this country is headed. Glenn really nailed down every major issue I have with this country. Why have we let the government put limits on God in this country? Things such as where we can and cannot pray, taking the Pledge of Allegience out of schools because of the word "God" and now considering removing "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency? Does this baffle anyone besides me?

The next is one of my pet peeves. It is giving our children more power then we, as parents, have. I understand there are many children out there in abusive situations, and they should by all means be removed from that situation, but by telling parents how they can and cannot discipline their children, our government is taking power out of our hands and placing it in our childrens' hands. I am not saying I support excessive spanking, but I do believe that sometimes it is necessary to effectively discipline our children - which is the process parents have to take in order to produce well-mannered and respectable adults. It's no wonder the majority of the younger generations are so lazy, rude and have no comprehension of what manners are. It doesn't take the smartest person out there to see where this is going to land us in a few short generations.

What parents are not willing to go with less now so their children can have more later? Well, just look around, because there are quite a few of them out there. Why? Because their parents made the mistake of giving them everything they wanted and not teaching them what it means to go out and earn their "stuff." I was very fortunate that my parents raised me differently. Did I enjoy the fact that I had to do chores around the house to earn money instead of getting a weekly "allowance" like other friends of mine did? Of course I didn't - I was a child! This is where my parents had enough wisdom to understand that if I didn't learn at an early age what it meant to earn things, then I would grow up to be a lazy member of society who is always expecting a hand out. We are now seeing parents who are part of the "me" generation, who are more concerned with their own happiness then they are about their children's welfare.

I am so sad to see this. It scares me to think about what the world will be like when my son is in school. There is not a doubt in my mind that my son will think he has the meanest parents alive. My husband and I are willing to go with less now and in the future- in terms of how our son will view us - so that he can have more later. More what? More self-respect, more character, more work ethic, more love and more opportunities. And when that time comes, my husband and I will suddenly be more appreciated by him for not giving in to his every whim when he was younger. I know because I have been there and now I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for all of that "tough" love my parents bestowed upon me.

Our society, country and world are all in terrible shape and the future looks even bleaker. It will not change if we just stand passively by and wait. It must start with us. We need to voice our concerns - peacefully of course - and not stand by and do nothing. And most importantly, we need to instill our values and beliefs in our children and teach them to be strong and stand up for what they believe in, because, like it or not, our children are our future.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The New Diet

Yesterday I blogged about the Prevention magazine article I stumbled across that claimed I can "Lose 7 pounds in 4 days" by following a new diet involving MUFA foods. If you read that post, then you are familiar with what MUFAs are - if you haven't read it, then you should check it out so you will understand how this new diet works.

First thing you need to do is to have a daily calorie goal. The magazine article suggests 1600 calories per day split up into 4 meals. These meals need to be eaten every 4 or 5 hours to make sure you keep your metabolism, blood sugar and hunger all under control. Now, the key is that at every meal you include at least one serving of MUFA food. After reading about the 5 different varieties of MUFA foods, I don't feel that this is something that will be hard to do at all.

I have decided I'm going to try this diet out - starting Monday. That gives me time this weekend to make sure my pantry is stocked with plenty of MUFAs! The article stated that after trying this diet out on 11 panelists for 4 weeks, the results showed they had lost a total of 91 pounds! 91 pounds is amazing in itself, but how about the fact that they lost a combined 83 inches with that 91 pounds?! That has given me some motivation to test this baby out and see how it works. We all know exercise is good for us, but the best part about this diet is that it is not required! So, check back next Friday and I will post an update!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ever Heard of MUFA Foods?

Yesterday I was cleaning out a drawer and stumbled across a copy of Prevention magazine from 2 years ago. On the front cover they were advertising a diet that claims I can lose 7 pounds in 4 days - so I had to read it. After reading the article, I was surprised to find that this is a diet I actually think I can do. Tomorrow I will post the instructions for the actual diet, but today I am going to tell you a little about this mysterious MUFA food.

MUFA is short for "Monounsaturated Fats." MUFAs are good fats that come from plant foods like nuts, avocados and olives. MUFAs have been found to help people lose small amounts of weight and overall body fat - all without exercising or lowering their calorie intake! Not only that, but MUFAs prevent the build up of that unsightly belly fat - which also lowers our heart disease risks and type 2 diabetes.

So, just what qualifies for a MUFA food? There are 5 different types of MUFAs. The first basically consists of any type of oil with a plant base. Examples are: Flaxseed oil, olive oil, walnut oil, canola oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil or peanut oil. This can easily be incorporated into a daily meal just by cooking with the oil. You can also drizzle it over salads and grilled meat. One serving is equivelant to 1 Tablespoon.

The second type of MUFAs are from Nuts and Seeds. These include, but are not limited to, Almonds, Peanuts, dry-roasted cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. You can even get this particular type of MUFA from chunky natural peanut butter and sunflower seed butter. One serving size is equal to 2 Tablespoons.

The thrid type of MUFAs come from Avocados. I am not a huge avocado fan, but thought it went pretty nicely with the Spicy Steak Taco recipe I posted on here a while back. Prevention magazine provided the idea of mashing it with lime juice, salt and pepper and serving with chips, or even chopping and folding in with store-bought salsa. One serving size is 1/4 cup.

The fourth type of MUFAs are Olives! This is probably my favorite type right here. I am a HUGE green olive nut. I go to the fridge regularly for a snack of green olives. It's nice to know that these are healthy for me. Both green olives and black olives are great. A serving size is 10 large olives or 2 Tablespoons of tapenade.

Finally, the last type of MUFA is found in - drumroll please - CHOCOLATE! Yep, you read that right - I did say chocolate! I imagine I have several of you on the other side of the screen smiling now while thinking this may be possible to do after all. The best types of chocolate are dark or semisweet chocolate chips, shavings or chunks. One serving size is 1/4 cup.

Be sure to check back tomorrow and find out how Prevention magazine claims you can "Lose 7 pounds in 4 days" by incorporating these MUFA foods in your daily diet.

* Information was found in the February 2008 issue of Prevention magazine.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quesadilla Casserole

I have stumbled upon another great recipe that I just have to share with you! Once again, this recipe came from Rachel Ray's magazine Every Day with Rachel Ray. I must say that if you have not read this magazine then you are missing out. It is FULL of amazing meal ideas that are worth trying! Last night I decided to try the Quesadilla Casserole and, to no one's surprise, it turned out great. The only change I made was that I added ground turkey to satisfy my meat-loving husband. It turned out great!


3 T. Vegetable Oil
3/4 C. Chopped Onion
1 29 oz. Can of Black Beans, drained with 1/2 C. liquid reserved
1/2 C. chopped flat-leaf parsley
5 10 inch Flour Tortillas
Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1 C. Green Enchilada Sauce
For Meat-Lovers add:
1 lb. Ground Turkey, browned and drained

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of black beans and mash into a chunky paste. Stir in the reserved liquid.

2. Grease a heavy, ovenproof skillet. In a bowl, combine the corn, parsley and remaining black beans. Place a tortilla in the skillet and spread with 1/3 cup mashed black bean mixture. Top with 2/3 cup corn-bean mixture. Top with a handful of shredded cheese. Top that with desired amount of ground turkey. Repeat this process with remaining tortillas. Press to compact the layers.

3. Bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through, about 30 minutes. Serve with enchilada sauce.

Like I stated above, I altered the reciped by adding meat but it was still wonderful regardless! To find the original recipe go to Rachel Ray's website at: and search for "Quesadilla Casserole."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Sad Farewell...

I was hoping that my freedom would last just a little longer. You know, like until Christmas. My son, however, had another idea. He learned how to crawl out of his play-pen yesterday morning. It has only been a day, but I have already learned that life has changed big time for me now!

Before, I could never understand why people talked about using naptime as a time to catch up on things. I would always do my to-do list while my little man was happily watching Noggin from his play-pen. At that time, I allowed myself to take a small nap on the couch during naptime. It was my small "reward" for getting my to-do list done. Oh, those were the days!

Now, my mornings are spent chasing little man around while trying to get some of my to-do list checked off. But, so far, I haven't mastered finishing an entire project with him up. So, sadly I have to part with my mid-day naps so I can get laundry done or the dishes or cleaning the bathroom or....the list goes on and on. Oh, how I will miss you my beloved naps!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tumbling for Toddlers

I decided, and then convinced, my husband a few months ago that we needed to enroll our son (3 weeks shy of 2) in a tumbling class. My husband was very skeptical, and I think the majority of it was because tumbling is not considered a "manly" sport. Nonetheless, he agreed that Dalen could learn a lot of necessary skills while participating in the class. And besides, 2 is a little young to be enrolling him in football. :)

So, the first class was the week before Memorial Day and it did not go that well. Naturally, this was the one class my husband has been able to attend. Dalen loved jumping on the trampoline, but couldn't understand that he had to wait his turn and that we also couldn't spend the entire class period on the trampoline. So, the majority of that class was spent crying and trying to get back to the trampoline.

Well, today was the 3rd class we've had and Dalen has already learned so much. He made it through the entire class without crying and he patiently waited his turn for the trampoline. Even better than that was that he did the other activities and seemed to enjoy them. I am so glad that we decided to sign him up and keep him in it. It is never to early to teach our children structure. I mean, I can only do so much at home where there aren't any other children. But I can already see the benefits of putting him in an environment with other children where he has to learn structure. It will save us a lot of headaches in the future if he learns these things now rather than when he is 5 and starting kindergarten.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

BBQ Pork Chops

We are less than a week away from October! I love October and the cool weather that it brings. The cool weather lifts my spirits and I often find myself in a cooking frenzy - at least twice a week. I have to admit though, part of this is because I LOVE my crockpot and throughout the colder months I am in the mood to use it even more. I love the fact that I can just mix up all of the ingredients together in the morning, set the temperature setting, and 7-8 hours later (or sooner depending on what I'm cooking) dinner is ready! Not to mention the wonderful aromas that slowly begin to drift throughout my home all day as a result!

Well, today you are in for a treat. I am in the mood to share with you one of my favorite recipes: BBQ Pork Chops!

What you will need:
4-6 Pork Chops, trimmed of fat
1 C. Ketchup
1 C. Hot Water
2 T. Vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika

What you do with it:

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine ketchup, hot water, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, pepper, chili powder and paprika. Stir until well mixed.

2. Place pork chops in crockpot

3. Cover. Cok on high 5-6 hours.

4. If necessary, cut in half and serve. Most of the time the meat is so tender it will fall apart easily.

As with all the recipes I love, the best part about it is that it's EASY! The prep. time is only 5-10 minutes and then I'm done until dinnertime! Plus, it has an amazing flavor to it! Try it out - I promise you'll love it!

*I found this recipe in the Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly: Healthy, Low-Fat Recipes for Your Slow Cooker cookbook.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fresh Mixers by Healthy Choice

I have heard them advertised on television, but never made it a point to go and pick one up to try. But, the other day as I was cruising along the canned food aisle looking for some green beans, I noticed that directly across the aisle from me were these cute, little, and stackable green-lidded containers. I admit it was the "cute" factor that caught my attention, but regardless, I reached up and grabbed one. I was surprised to see that I had found the Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers.

These are the little things that you see on television where they just add water to it and pop it in the microwave and then the lid acts as a strainer. Then finally you just stir in the sauce mix. The selling point for me was that it contained almost 7 ounces of pasta and the pasta was made with whole grain wheat flour and it contained no partially-hydrogenated oils! As if that were not enough, there were only 300 calories total, 28g whole grain, 4g of fat, 11g of sugar and 10g of protein. Oh, and only 30 calories were from fat! Did I mention these are healthy?!

So, I decided to try one out that evening on my unsuspecting son, because his daddy was preparing chili and it is way to spicy for my little man. After I had steamed the pasta in the microwave, I stirred in the "marinara sauce," which consisted of fire roasted onions in tomato sauce. Then, took it over to my son and gave him his first bite, to which he responded, "More. Good." He ate the whole thing minus a bite or two from me!

If you have not tried these things, they are wonderful! They are healthy, taste great, and are filling...all for only $2.84 each! It is a great low-cost solution when you need a good meal, but don't have the time to cook.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Great Escape

As a woman, I am always trying to balance a million things in one hand while trying take care of all the things that "pop up" during my already hectic days in the other! I know I am not the only one out there who has experienced this sensation. After a long and stressful day, I look forward to that one moment where I am able to escape from it all. Some of you may be guessing that moment is when I finally drag my weary bones to bed, but surprise, that isn't it. It's MY bathtime!

I discovered this wonderful thing years ago while I was still in high school. I quickly found that it was the only time when I was able to "escape" from homework, chores, and so much more. It is probably the one habit that I made all those years ago, that I have actually kept around. My husband will tell you that this time is the only time when it is forbidden to disturb me, and if you do, the house better be on fire. Consider yourself warned.

It is my time to put my head back and kick up my heals and to think about whatever I like...undisturbed! During this time, I will usually meditate on things that happened throughout the day, briefly think about my agenda for the next day, and then there are the nights when I just take a short cat-nap. The point is that it is my own personal time away from all things stressful. There is only one rule when I go into that bathroom: Relax! By the time I return from "The Great Escape," I feel like a completely different woman and amazingly, my shoulders feel so much lighter.

When is the last time you experienced this? Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually have to have perfect lighting, candles, bath oil or even bubbles. In fact, the majority of my baths consist of me and the steaming hot water. I think every woman, especially us mothers, need this time by ourselves just to unwind.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Halloween Costumes Anyone?

I am still in shock that fall is knocking on our door so soon! I have to tell you though, that I absolutely LOVE this time of year. It is probably my most favorite season, because the Oklahoma heat cools off at the same time the leaves on the trees begin to change and eventually fall to the ground. Something about the weather lifts my mood and spirits as the holidays approach...and it all starts with Halloween.

I'm sure we all have memories of Halloween and the costumes we wore during our childhoods. I am no different. While I had many costumes throughout the years, the one I remember the most is from when I was in probably 3rd or 4th grade - my parents decided that I could have a Halloween party at our house and go trick-or-treating that evening with my friends. I was so upset because my mom insisted that I didn't need to go and buy a costume, because she had the "perfect" one for me. Her vision of perfect was me dressed in a HUGE stuffed pumpkin costume. If that wasn't bad enough, she made sure it was complete with green tights and even a green hat for the vine stump! Sure, I laugh about it now right along with my friends who were there to see me in it - I have made sure that all pictures associated with that night went MIA. However, as funny as we find it now, I assure you that at the time it was not a laughing matter!

Well, now I have a 2 year old and am starting to feel the excitment of picking out his know, before he can protest and be scarred for life from the memory. I have decided that this year I am going to try and save a little money while picking out his costume. There is a store in our town that is hosting the first annual Halloween Costume Exchange Sale. The concept is that you bring in your child's slightly used Halloween costumes between September 21st and October 9th and, in exchange, you receive a coupon if you come back on October 10th and purchase another costume from the store. There will be no new costumes there, just the ones that were brought in from parents during the specified dates.

I personally think this is a wonderful idea - especially for those of us with young children who we want to look cute, but have no desire to spend a lot of money to make it happen. Plus, my son's spider costume is still hanging in the closet from last year. As you can see from the picture above, it was just as big around on him as my pumpkin outfit was on me - and even was completed with a black hat with eyes...I decided to not make him wear tights though. This costume exhange and sale has provided me with the perfect way to free up that closet space and also see that it gets worn again. I don't know if any of your communities have something like this for parents, but if not, I am willing to bet - monopoly money of course - that it would be a pretty successful thing to get started!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Interested In Saving Some Money?

Well, in case you haven't checked the calendar lately it is now the middle of September. For me, that means not only is Halloween right around the corner, but so is Christmas! If you are like me, then you like to do your Christmas shopping in the fastest and most efficient way possible. A couple years ago, I discovered the online shopping market - and boy, has it helped me out a lot with my holiday shopping. Well, I have been contacted and asked to review a new website out there that is designed to help busy people like ourselves with our online shopping! This site provides us with amazing shopping deals and coupons!

This website is and it is an amazing tool for people like me! This site is a bargain hunting website that allows users to share any great online deals and coupons that they run across with other consumers! This helps you and I out because if we are in the market for say...a new camera, then we can go to and type in "Camera" in the Search box and it will pull up all the great deals that have been posted for cameras. I tried this out this morning, not only because I'm reviewing the site but because my digital camera got left outside one evening and the dog got a hold of it -oops! Anyways, I found several great cameras for even better prices from stores such as Newegg, Best Buy, and OfficeMax. Not only were the results giving me cameras, but also coupons that other stores were offering that could go towards a new camera.

The thing I love about this website is that not only does it provide consumers like you and I with one centralized place to search the internet for the best possible deals and coupons, it also gives us a great place to share deals that we stumble upon with other consumers. If you like to stay away from the crowds during the "Christmas Rush," then you must check out this site because it will save you time and money while you complete your online shopping!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Marriage and Children

I just read an article off MSN that really got me thinking. After reading the title, "Couple get married at 7-Year-old son's funeral," I felt compelled to read it. And after reading it, I am overcome with sadness.

The biggest question I had before actually reading the article was, "Why?" Of course when I clicked to view the full story, the answer became clear very quickly. The little boy had been asking his parents to get married for a while before his tragic death. So, his parents decided to honor his request by marrying at his funeral. It is so sad to me that the little boy was unable to witness his parents exchanging those sacred vows.

I am happy that the couple has finally married, but it grieves me to read that their little boy had been asking them to get married for some time now - and that it took his death before they felt compelled to do it. I know that not all people will agree with me on this, but as a mother to a little boy myself, I just cannot imagine trying to explain to him why his daddy and I aren't married. I know that cohabitation is quickly becoming the new "norm," but in my opinion it is so sad. I honestly feel that parents are not thinking about their children's best interests when making the decision not to marry, but to just live together instead.

The people at have compiled a list of the many benefits of having a healthy marriage. Although marriage has it's benefits for both men and women, my heart cries out for all of the children out there because the benefits are far greater for them. Just some of the ways children benefit from being raised in a family whose parents are married are that: they are more likely to attend college, more likely to succeed academically, physically healthier, emotionally healthier, less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, have a better relationship with their mothers and fathers, less likely to become pregnant or to impregnate someone as a teenager, and so many more.

The reason marriage is so benefical to children is that it gives them a sense of stability in such an unstable world. I was fortunate to have been raised by a mother and father who did not believe in divorce. I grew up with that sense of stability. No matter what issues I was facing at school, work or with my friends I knew that I was coming home to a loving mother and father who would always be there for me.

The key though is that parents are in a HEALTHY marriage. An unhealthy marriage is just as unstable as not being married at all, in my opinion. Children are so much more intelligent then we adults give them credit for. They pick up on everything and their behaviors often reflect our own. So, if you are in a marriage that is unhealthy - more then likely your children will be attracted to the same type of relationship down the road. On the other hand, if you and your spouse have a marriage that fosters love, understanding and compromising then your children will learn those behaviors and probably seek out the same relationship for themselves when they are older.

It is vitally important that we take this marriage business seriously - especially when children are involved. If you are single, regardless of if you have children or not, and are looking for that special someone, please consider how marriage, or the lack of it, will affect your children and/or future children. Children are the most precious gift that God gives us and all they want is to be loved and to feel secure. Why should we not provide them with that?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My New Recycling Venture!

This morning I woke up and was so excited to go to our first MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting for the year! I absolutely LOVE the 2.5 hours I am able to spend in fellowship with other moms going through the same stage in their lives as I am. The one thing I look forward to the most, other than the fellowship of course, is the speaker. At every meeting we have a speaker come and talk to us about a specific topic. Well, our theme for the year is "Life on Planet Mom," so we thought that it would be a great idea to start out the year talking about how we can be more enviornmentally friendly by recycling. This is one meeting that I needed to hear because as horrible as it sounds, I am not a recycler. But, after today's speaker I have decided that I am going to get my family on a recycling system! We are going to recycle aluminum cans, paper, and plastic bottles. Plus, we are going to start to become more conscious about the amount of energy we are using just in water.

For instance, did you know that the average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of 2 gallons per minute? This means that if we would just turn off the water while we brush our teeth in the morning and at night, we would save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which equals 240 gallons a month? Or, how about the fact that by letting your faucet run for 5 minutes, you will be using about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours! My husband will just be tickled pink to find out that I have finally crossed over to his way of thinking in this area.

One of the bad habits I have is that I love a nice cold can of Pepsi. Some people have chocolate...I have Pepsi! I don't care how healthy you claim to be, we all have a secret indulgence. Some are just unhealthier than others. Anyways...back to the subject...recycling 1 aluminum can saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV fo 2 hours! Did you know that Americans throw away enough aluminum every month to rebuild our ENTIRE commercial air fleet! Now come on people, seriously? Our ENTIRE commercial air fleet?! Wow. Now consider this, the energy saved from recycling 1 ton of aluminum is equal to the amount of electricity the average home uses over 10 years!! Now do you see why I'm going to start recycling those pop cans? Also, in most communities there is a place where you can take aluminum cans and get paid for them - so you will be getting some money back. I think I may just conduct my own little experiment and save all of the aluminum cans my family goes through for a year and see how much money we get back for recycling them!

Before I became a stay-at-home-mommy, I worked as a paralegal for 3 years. Any of you out there who are familiar with the legal field know that there is an extraordinary amount of paper involved in it. Even though I stay home now, I still feel the need to have a paper trail for everything so I end up printing off a lot of unnecessary stuff. I also like to shred anything and everything that has any of my information on it - even if it is just my name and address. This is something else I acquired from working in the legal field. Probably once a month or so I empty the shredder and toss it in with the rest of the trash. I knew that you could recycle newspapers, but I really didn't think about all the other paper we can recycle, such as books, magazines, junk mail, and even shredded paper. I know all of you professional recyclers out there are just shaking your head at me in disbelief. I'm sorry - I really just had no idea!

But today I learned that recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity - which is enough to power the average American home for 5 months!! Not only that, but recycling paper instead of making it from new materials generates 74% less air pollution and uses 50% less water! I am really getting excited about this recycling business - and am now embarrassed just looking into my shredder and trash can right here in the office, they are both overflowing with all kinds of paper! In fact, out of everything that I'm going to start recycling, I know that the majority recycled will be paper! It's exciting though, because recycled paper can be turned into so many other things such as paper towels, envelopes, notebook paper, boxes, molded packaging, compost and even kitty litter!!

The last thing I'm going to start recycling are our plastic bottles. Just the #1s and #2s. Again, I'm a newbie to all this and had no idea until today that there is a number on the bottom of all the plastic bottles identifying the specific grade of plastic it is. The #1s and #2s are just your basic juice bottles, water bottles, milk jugs, ketchup bottles, etc... I was absolutely shocked to learn that Americans go through 25 billion plastic bottles every YEAR! The upside is that if every American household would recycle 1 out of every 10 HDPE bottles they use, we would keep 200 million pounds of plastic out of landfills every year!

I honestly just cannot believe that I have been in the dark for so long about the benefits of recycling. One last fact for you guys, Americans make up 5% of the world's population, but we produce 40% of the world's trash! Isn't that sad? I encourage all of you to start recycling at your house. You don't have to go all out and start your own compost or anything, but maybe just start by keeping a bin to recycle all your paper in - or if you like pop like me, have a separate bin for your aluminum cans.

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I still can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do." ~Helen Keller
**While the above recycling facts were discussed at our meeting today, I found found them at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Action Scrubber To The Rescue!

Okay ladies I have to write to you about a wonderful product I have discovered. I actually discovered it several months ago before I started my blog - but every time I use it, I get all excited about it again. So, I'm going to put my excitement to rest here and now by informing all of you about it! Hopefully somebody out there will benefit from my discovery.

Okay, well as you know I am a stay at home mom and I am proud to be one! I couldn't ask for a better job to have. It would be even more perfect if I got paid for what I did. I'm pretty sure I just heard an "Amen!" coming from your side of the monitor. While I bring a lot of great qualities to this business of being a SAHM there is one quality that I just simply do not have. That is the love for organization - in my mind under that HUGE category falls cleaning. I just do not enjoy cleaning! And mom, if you are reading this I'm sorry, but I have to blame you for this one.

For those of you who don't know, my mother cleaned houses all throughout my youth so that she could have the flexibility to attend school events and be home for my brother and I when we got out of school. And, now that I am a mother, I appreciate that more and more every day! Of course, back in high school when everyone was able to go and hang out with friends and I had to come straight home to do chores and homework I didn't appreciate it...but, now I am so thankful that she made that sacrifice for us. But, back to the house cleaning business...during the summers my mom continued to clean houses and of course that meant that my brother and I had to come along with her and help. I was usually in charge of cleaning windows, bathrooms, vacuuming and occassionally dusting here and there. Nothing really bothered me that much - except for the bathrooms - I HATED the bathrooms.

Everyone has a household chore they dislike doing whether it be the dishes, laundry, taking out the trash - well for me it's STILL the bathrooms. So, naturally that is what gets put off the longest before getting cleaned. Once I get started, it's not a huge problem, but it's just getting motivated to get in there and get it done. And the thing I hate to clean the most is the shower. I just hate the routine of getting the sponge wet, wetting a section of the wall, sprinkling it with comet (or whatever it is at the time), scrubbing, rinsing and then repeating the whole process until finally I have finished the shower and tub. I'm sure I'm not the only woman out there who feels this way.

Okay, now enter my own personal miracle cleaner....drum roll please.....the Scrubbing Bubbles Action Scrubber! Out of all the little cleaning gagets out there - this one is my favorite by far. This little thing is so easy to use that if it were a Geico commercial we could say "even a caveman can do it." Basically, it's just a foam handle that has a velcro bottom that attaches to a soap pad. Once attached, you get it wet and just start scrubbing - the pad provides all the soap. It literally has worked wonders for me. I don't feel like I am scrubbing nearly as hard trying to remove the dirt and soap scum off the shower. Once I'm done, I just peel off the wet soap pad and throw it away! It's as easy as that! The best part is that I don't have to store that yucky sponge!

I know it sounds pretty silly, but now when I decide to clean the bathroom I do not have a sense of dread about scrubbing the shower. The Action Scrubber has made that part of my bathroom cleaning a breeze. If you haven't tried this product out then next time you are in WalMart go to the cleaning aisle and pick one up. I promise you will not be disappointed! Happy Cleaning Ladies!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's That Time Of The Year Again...

All you ladies out there who have a sports fan for a husband know what "that time of the year" is. That's right - it's football season! I grew up in a home where it was tradition every year to watch Monday Night Football....and any other day of the week a football game might be on. I have to tell you that I like watching football, especially the Dallas Cowboys. I can't help it all you Philly/Washington fans - I was raised that way!

My father, brother and grandfather were all relieved when they realized that my future husband was also a football fan and, even better, a Cowboys fan. Remember I said I am a football fan...well, I am a football fan, but please take note that I did not say I was a fanatical football fan - not even the tiniest bit of a fanatic. To my husband's dismay, it doesn't bother me if we miss the football game on Sunday night, Monday night or any of the other nights football may be playing. That's right, while I am a still a football fan at heart, I am perfectly fine reading about the previous night's game the next morning from the front page of the sports section.

Well, now for the past several years (due to all this new technology) us wives have an even more exciting thing to look forward to during football season and, guessed's FANTASY FOOTBALL! My husband tried out fantasy football for the first time three seasons ago and he has been hooked ever since. In fact, he is in the other room on his computer right now intently staring at the screen fighting for the best players for his latest team during the LIVE draft. Yes, I said "latest team," why you ask? Because this year we have expanded and now have 2 fantasy teams.

I actually like the concept of fantasy football - but since I am not an avid football addict, I wouldn't make the best team manager because I am only familiar with the players on the Dallas Cowboys - and really, I'm only really familiar with the players who make the big plays. Now, while I like the concept of fantasy football I have noticed over the past three years that fantasy football sucks those football fans in even deeper then before. (I really didn't think that was possible 4 years ago) Not only do we have to watch our favorite team play now - we have to make sure we catch the games that any of our fantasy players are on in real life too. Why? Because our fantasy team scores points based on the performance of our players in their real life games - so we can't miss those games!

It really was an ingenious idea for the sports industry. In fact, a study that was done in 2008 reported that in 2007 there were 29.9 million people ages 12 and up in the U.S. and Canada playing a fantasy sport. Not only that, the industry is now an $800 million dollar industry! Can you believe that?! Well, it's no wonder that in 1998 the Fantasy Sports Trade Association was formed. I hope those of you who are reading this who do not have a football fan in the house, but have another type of sports fan in the house, are not smirking to yourself right now because I'm about to burst your bubble. You are not exempt from this just because you are not the proud owner of a football fan - no sport is safe now! There are currently fanatsy leagues for: Football, Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Soccer, Ice Hockey, Wrestling and even Golf! So, I bet you aren't so smug now, huh?

I have to say that after doing a little bit of research on the whole fantasy football league, I am much happier now that I know it could be worse. If my husband wants to play fantasy football - even have 2 teams - that's okay, at least we aren't playing fantasy baseball, basketball and golf too. I would never get to watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 then! Hopefully, he won't read this blog post and realize there are (in my opinion) endless fantasy sports leagues!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Tip For All You Travelers!!

At the beginning of August my husband, Dalen and I went on our first family vacation to San Antonio, Texas. We had so much fun, but I have to tell you that the best part of the vacation actually happened BEFORE we left! My husband and I love to travel, but as many of you know, traveling is not cheap - especially with the price of hotel rooms nowadays.

After deciding that we wanted to go to San Antonio, Texas, we had to decide on where to book our rooms...which leads to the dreaded task of figuring out how much we need to budget just for our lodging. I absolutely HATE that part of traveling. It is so depressing to see how much we have to spend just for a room. Well, I decided this year to check into trying something different. So, just for fun I went to - I'm not sure about you guys, but that little annoying song "PRICELINE NEGOTIATER!!" gets stuck in my head after watching one of their commercials. There is a reason they have these catchy little tunes...and it's for people like me.

Well, we decided to try our luck with priceline. After submitting the usual information such as where we were going, how many nights we were staying, how many rooms and people, etc., it then asked us what area of San Antonio we wanted to stay in. We were going to see the Alamo and visit the riverwalk so we selected the downtown/market square area. Then we were able to select the star rating of the hotel we wanted to negotiate for. We decided to go for the 3-star "upscale" rating.

After that came the exciting part. Laugh if you will, but I actually got a little thrill when I got to name my own price! We decided to aim high and try to get our room for $50 a night - it showed us that the average room in that area went for $130 a night - and would you believe that our offer was accepted? That's right, we got our $130 a night room for $50!! We stayed there for 4 nights - so we spent $200 and if we would have booked through the hotel's website it would have cost us $520! That's right, we saved $320!

Our story doesn't end there. The catch to is that when you enter the price you're willing to pay, you then have to enter your credit card information and if they find a hotel that accepts your offer then they book it for you. You are not able to change your reservation in any way after this point and that includes getting a refund if something happens and you can't go. So, make sure that there will not be any change in your plans before deciding to use priceline. Also, you do not see the hotel that is selected until after your offer has been accepted.

Our 3-star hotel was a Holiday Inn and it did not disappoint us at all. It was VERY nice - we had two beds, a bigger-than-average bathroom and free internet. The fact that we saved $320 on our room made us enjoy it even more - even the desk clerk told us when we checked in that we got a really good deal.

Well, on the last night of our stay before heading back to Oklahoma, we decided that we wanted to go to Arlington and tour the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium - which is nothing short of amazing! So, being the new priceline fans that we were - we went back to priceline. This time we decided to go for the highest star rated hotel in the Arlington area - which was 3.5-star. Well, we were getting a little bold so we decided to see if we could get it for $40 a night (the normal rate is $150 a night). And would you believe that our offer was accepted again?! So we saved $110 on that room right there!

When we got to our hotel we discovered that it was located right in the middle of the sports-plex area. The Texas Rangers' stadium was right there along with Six Flags, and yep - the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium! The total amount of money we spent on lodging for our vacation was $240 and if we would not have used we would have spent $670! We saved $430 on our lodging for this vacation! Because of priceline we were able to do a lot more on our vacation then we would have otherwise.

And the rooms exceeded our expectations! If you are going to be traveling soon and are interested in saving a lot of money, but don't want to give up the quality of room, then give and try. I have a feeling you will not be disappointed!

What About Mommy's Time?

Do you remember the days before mommyhood? Go back even further than that and picture how life was before you were married. For me, I was in college and was in a long distance relationship with my now husband. I thought it was hard then to find time to work, study, cook, clean, spend time with friends and my boyfriend. Forget the laundry, cooking or cleaning!

Now, I'm trying to fit in time to cook, clean and do the laundry between the time I spend chasing my toddler around! Don't misunderstand me, I gladly embraced the tradeoff between studying and work to become a not-so-domestic-goddess. But sadly, the one thing that I have let slide to the back burner is spending time with my friends.

How long has it been since you have had a "Girls Day Out?" I have been a mommy now for 22 months, and I have only had one or two...usually for a bachelorette party or something of that nature. This isn't anybody's fault but my own. You see, my problem is that I have a hard time letting go and leaving my little one at home with daddy. Not because my husband isn't a good father, because he is an amazing father and I couldn't ask for a better one. It's just that I'm so used to being here during the day every day and taking care of my son, that I get into the bad habit of thinking that things will go more smoothly if I am here to oversee.

Now, I do take my son to "Friday School" every Friday, which is a wonderful service provided by our church. For a low monthly cost, I am able to bring my son to the church and leave him from 9am-3pm. The answer is no, I didn't think of doing this on my mother actually gave it to me as a Valentine's Day gift when Dalen was 6 months old. I was sold after those first couple of Fridays! I now refuse to give that day up. It gives me time to go and run errands - such as grocery shopping, going to the bank , and even the dreaded Wal-Mart trip - or even indulge in a few guilty pleasures such as scheduling a massage, getting my hair done or even just being able to go back home and take a nap if I want. It is so nice to have a day that I can just be by myself. Plus, it is also a much needed time away for my son as well. He needs time to spend learning how to socialize with other children without mommy right there.

While Friday School is a wonderful way for me to get my errands done, it does not provide much time for me to just have some girl time with my friends. Mainly, because those who also use the Friday School program or one like it are spending their time running errands to and then there are my friends who work during the week. So, I have decided that I just need to let go and ask my hubby every now and then to watch the little one for a few hours on a Saturday so I can go and spend some quality time with my friends.

A few days ago, I timidly asked him if he would mind watching Dalen while I go to the movies with some friends. He surprised me by saying, "No, I think that's a great idea. In fact, I think you should do that more often." I don't know why I was surprised by his answer, but I was. I guess it is because, as a mother, I have allowed myself to believe that things will not go as well if I am not around and that since I am not bringing home a paycheck I'm not really entitled to some time away. This is very unhealthy thinking on my part. Why should I not be entitled to time away? I mean, my husband likes to spend a Saturday here and there out playing golf with his friends, why shouldn't I spend a day out with mine? Luckily, I have been blessed with an amazing husband who understands this. So, this Saturday afternoon I am headed to the movie theater to watch The Time Traveler's Wife for some much needed quality girl time!

If you have not had a "Girls Day Out" in quite a while, then I encourage you to get together with some of your friends and schedule a time to go. I know it's hard leaving those little ones without feeling guilty - but, we are going to be much happier mommies if we would just do it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

I have to rave about the book that I just finished reading! It is none other than The Time Traveler's Wife. The same book that the movie is based off of. I was debating about reading the book when I saw the previews for the movie, but decided to get the book after hearing from friends what a great book it was. I have to say that I was not disappointed!

For those of you who have not heard about this book, it is about a man's inability to stay in the present. He is always unwillingly being taken from the present into the past. When he is time traveling, his wife is left with a pile of clothes and has no idea where he is or what he is doing. A lot of the time he is with her back in the past. Towards the end of the book, Henry's time travels become more and more dangerous and he is trying to find a cure for his "disease" before it is to late. That is all I am going to tell you - you will have to read the book for yourself or go and watch the movie to find out how it ends.

I am an avid reader and I love books that get me thinking about all kinds of issues - and this book did that for me. It was such a touching love story, that often had me in tears. By the end of the book, I had a new appreciation for the way my life is. I've often thought, "I wish I could go back and change that," but it never occured to me that going back in time could actually be a curse, especially if you couldn't change anything. Even traveling in the future could be a curse. I don't think I would want to know how or when I die, because as every day brings that day closer I would become more and more depressed.

If you have not read this book and like to read out-of-the-ordinary romances, then this book will not disappoint you. I am definately going to have to keep this one so I can go back and re-visit Henry and Clare from time to time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Spicy Steak Tacos

One of the things I love doing is trying out new recipes. I have to tell you that it is amazing that God blessed me with a man who does not mind eating new things EVERY WEEK! Well, I happened to pick up a copy of "Everyday with Rachel Ray" and found a recipe for Steak Tacos that I just had to try. I mean, just look at the picture - it makes me hungry just looking at it!
The short version of the recipe is that in a plastic bag you marinade about a pound of skirt steak in a mixture of cola, olive oil, lime juice, chili powder and salt. I marinaded it for 2 hours and it worked out great. Then you grill the steak - my hubby is "king of the grill" so this was his job. While he was grilling I was dicing tomatoes, onion, jalepenos, and cilantro to mix together in a bowl and form a salsa. When the meat was off the grill we thinly sliced it and mixed it in with the salsa mixture - adding a little more lime juice. Now the real recipe calls for hard taco shells, but we found we liked it better with taco sized tortillas. Instead of lettuce, put slaw in the taco with a slice of avocado and then top with the steak and salsa mixture.
Oh my gosh! It was SO good! I have to admit though, that next time I will put less jalepenos in the salsa because it was just a little more spicy then anticipated, but nonetheless great! The exact recipe can be found at if you are interested. I would advise checking it out on her site because she gives measurments for the recipe, which I didn't look up and just did my own thing based off the article in the magazine.
We had friends over for dinner that evening and after telling my friend what I was making she decided she wanted to bring over a key lime pie -which just topped everything off. We also decided to make margaritas to go with it and those tied everything together perfectly!
This instantly became a hit at my house when my husband exclaimed, "I would order this in a restaurant!" Needless to say, this is one recipe I will have to keep around after receiving a compliment like that! Plus it's healthy...makes it even more yummy!

What To Expect From Now On....

Well, as you can see it has been over a year since I last blogged. Believe me, I never intended for that to happen. What did happen was that I set up my first blog without having a plan for what I wanted to accomplish with it and then shortly thereafter I forgot about it. I rediscovered my long lost blog when I was trying to set up another account. You can imagine my initial shock when it showed that I already had one! After digging in the back of my brain for that long lost password, I spent about half an hour changing settings and renaming my blog. So, hopefully I am ready to go. I'm sure I will be changing things from time to time on here until I get eveything worked out.

This time around I know what I want this blog to do for me - and you! I have found that as a mom I have lots of opinions about lots of different things, and that I love to share those with people. So, here you will get "the whole shebang" from me! I may be sharing with you something funny that happened over the weekend or I may blog about a new recipe I just tried that turned out amazing! I will also blog about products I have found to be useful to me in my life - and of course I will blog about products that do not work for me and my family.

The truth is, I am a stay-at-home-mom who appreciates receiving tips from others out there going through the same things I do. So, shouldn't I do the same for others by providing helpful little tips? So, that is the goal of this blog. In the future, I may decide to partner with companies and review their products, but I will be sure to inform you, my readers, when I am doing this. I value and appreciate honesty from others and that is what you will get from me. Everything you read on this site will be my honest opinions. If I don't like something I will tell you, but if I find something I like, you WILL read about it because I tend to go on and on about those finds!

I hope you find my blogs to be funny, uplifting, informative and helpful. I will be updating this blog frequently. My goal is at least 2-3 times per week if not more. I welcome any and all comments as long as they are respectful in nature. It is okay if you do not agree with me and express your disagreement, just please do so in a respectful way.

I am looking forward to this new venture for me and can't wait to start hearing from you!!