Monday, December 17, 2018


Cake Mix Sugar Cookies
Super easy and tasty.
Mix a package of cake mix (I used Funfetti cake mix for these)
1/2 Cup oil
2 eggs
(white sugar for dipping)

Mix all the ingredients together. 
Once mixed, shape the mix into a ball, and then roll into a log shape. 
Refrigerate for an hour or so then slice and dip in a bowl sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. 
*These work well with as cookie cutter cookies


Hot glue pine cones to twine for a natural (and cheap) garland  for the Christmas tree.
 So easy! 
And beautiful. 


Tara and I are signing off for 2018. Our kids are making their ways back home, so it's time for these Really Real Housewives to put our tips and advice to practical use. May your holidays be full of blessings and love. We'll be back in 2019 with more tips, advice, and the occasional whine.

Until then...

Monday, December 10, 2018

Tis the season of STRESS!

I loved Liz's post last week. We are still moving (since we moved only a short way from our old house and it isn't sold yet, we are taking our time moving some things every day and organizing as we go--we sure have a lot of junk!) and I'm only bringing over what Christmas decorations I can handle putting up before bringing more. December 12th is coming! I'm looking forward to it and hope I can get enough done that I don't have to keep decorating while they're here.

Besides the move, I'm also stressed about presents, parties, expenses, work, etc. At least I got my Xmas cards out early to give everyone our new address. And I finally decided we wouldn't travel for the holidays, even though I really wanted to, so I just finished up the easy gifts, wrapped them, and will ship them tomorrow. But I still have so much to do! It never ends! I like being busy, but this is ridiculous!

So I've come up with some ways to de-stress during the holidays (and beyond):
  • listen while you work - I love music. I like to sing, too. Whether just listening to some soothing holiday music or belting out my current favorites, music is a big de-stresser for me and makes the work less of a chore.
  • watch while you work - then there's the other option of watching a Christmas special or other favorite movie or show while you get your wrapping/cleaning/online shopping done. I scroll through the guide and schedule shows to record on my DVR - then I can watch them later and FF commercials, they stress me out too!
  • get physical - I was doing well with my eating plan (diet) and lost 10 lbs this summer. But as soon as we got back from vacation and began our selling/moving process, my scale and my diet went into storage. It worked before, and it will work again--starting right after the holidays. In the meantime, exercise is a great stress reliever, so I set an alarm on my phone to do some exercises each night. I hope it works!
  • organizing and prioritizing - writing down my to do items in a nice neat list, I feel I can accomplish them. I also know my limitations, so my daily list is reasonable. When I cross things off the list, stress recedes.
Some people bake, some jog or do yoga, and some take long baths... How about you--any de-stressing ideas or techniques? Please share!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Enjoy a Holiday

My boys and I getting our tree. I took it from my son's Instagram.
I hadn't even thought to post one. That loses me Mom of the Year, right?
As you can probably tell by the picture, Christmas is coming!!! If the picture wasn't a big enough hint, I'm sure you've noticed the decorations adorning the streets, the homes, the stores...and you don't need me to remind you that you that the clock is ticking...closer and closer to The Day. I know I feel a bit of panic when I start to think of all the things I need to do to make this an amazing holiday for my family. 

The planning and the work and quickly spin out of control. I have had Christmases where I was still putting out decorations on Christmas Eve. 

That's crazy. 

Christmas Eve should be reserved for cooking and last minute shopping and wrapping. 

It was a real downer to look at Christmas and sigh (the bad, tired kind of sigh). I love Christmas. It's a magical time of year. But I was ruining it with stuff. It was then that I invoked the December 12th rule. Whatever I didn't have set out by December 12th stayed in storage. Eventually, by setting a deadline, I was inadvertently sorting stuff out. I was cherry picking the important stuff to make sure it was getting set out in time. After stuff stayed in the boxes for a few years, I decided it was time to donate them. 

This year, I had all of the decorations I planned to use out by December 1st and not a single person has noticed it didn't take me two weeks and twenty-some boxes to get there. 

Minimize work. Maximize fun. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

#Christmas #Crafts

I always try to make time for at least one craft at Christmas time. But they have to be easy. This year, I needed a gift idea for promoting my books and came up with ornaments! Michaels had lots of ornament crafts to pick from... I chose clear plastic balls to fill and added sparkly pipe cleaners, sequins, snowflakes, ribbon, and other items I could fit into the ornaments along with printed pics of my books with cute characters. Here's how they came out:

They were a big hit!

And here are a few other crafts I've done over the years that were easy and came out pretty well.
our family singing xmas carols--
painted tp rolls with mini printed music
and baby sock hats!

sent away for EDIBLE LABELS--
won a prize for most creative cookies!

reindeer cookies

marshmallow mice--I miss these little guys,
they're so big now!
I've also done wreathes, stockings, hats, and more. So, I'd say Christmas Crafts are a tradition for me.

Do you have any cherished holiday traditions? or favorite crafts?
Happy December!

Monday, November 19, 2018

#Thanksgiving Fun Facts

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US and Canada. Canada was the first to start celebrating in 1578. The  US started in 1621. 

Thanksgiving started as a religious celebration of praise and thankfulness

Thanksgiving was made a national holiday in 1863 by President Lincoln

Pilgrims and the Wampanaug Indians most likely had venison, lobster, and oysters for the first Thanksgiving, not turkey.

The tradition of watching football started in 1920

The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was in 1924 and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo.

Approximately 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving day- double the number eaten for Christmas.

Only male turkeys gobble. The average turkey weighs 15 pounds.

The wishbone tradition was brought to England by the Romans in 322 BC

The first turkey was pardoned by President Harry Truman in 1947, but it didn't become a tradition until President George WH Bush pardoned  a bird in 1989.

And if you have any tough turkey questions, you can call the Butterball Hotline.

From the Butterball Hotline:

Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372) or text 844-877-3456.

2018 Turkey Talk-Line Hours (Central Standard Time):
November 1st - 16th: 8 am - 8 pm (Monday - Friday)
November 17th - 18th: 8 am - 6 pm
November 19th - 20th: 7 am - 9 pm
November 21st: 7am - 10pm
November 22nd (Thanksgiving Day): 6 am - 6 pm
November 23rd - December 21st: 8 am - 6 pm (Monday - Friday)
December 22nd - 23rd: 8 am - 2 pm
December 24th (Christmas Eve): 8 am - 2 pm

Monday, November 12, 2018

Respect for Veterans' Day

This holiday is about to have new meaning to me... My son just joined the Army!

His journey in Basic Training has begun. And one of the best/worst things about it--no phones.

  • Phones are distractions
  • The recruits need to break bad habits and create new good ones
  • But now, down time is "boring"--so we are writing letters! This is my favorite part. It's super slow snail mail, but I love receiving his letters. And I love writing to him too. He's never been a reader, but now he has to!
  • I also send him word puzzles, stickers, photos, and anything else fun I can put into a letter (no packages allowed)
  • Another drawback is not being able to communicate with him directly. But he's a big boy and doesn't need us checking up on him.
It reminds me of the TBCP (time before cell phones, haha) I had several pen pals and lots of down time without a gadget to keep me occupied. I was never bored! I think there should be a required, weekly "no phone" day. Unfortunately, we've all grown entirely too dependent on them. The experience my son is having shows him he can survive without it.

I encourage you to surprise someone with a letter--they're so personal and meaningful. When you take the time to write, others know you care!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Hodgepodge Post, Fall Edition 

It's time for a hodgepodge post. Over time, there is an accumulation of ideas that can't make up a post by themselves, but gathered together, they are worth sharing.

*From Wiktionary, hodgepodge isn't just a silly word for an unorganized eclectic post. It's a real word, a really old one in fact. Hodgepodge is from "Middle English hochepoche, a variation of hochepot, from Old French hochepot, from Middle Dutch hutspot (“beef or mutton cut into small pieces and mixed and boiled together in a pot”), from hotsen, hutsen (“to shake; jog; jolt”) + pot(“pot”), equivalent to hotch +‎ pot. Compare German Low German Hüttspott (“hodgepodge”)."

Have some pine trees nearby? A basket of pine cones makes for perfectly cheap fall decorating. An added bonus? Heating the pine cones in the oven to ensure they weren't carrying any eight-legged company made the house smell like a pine forest.

They're functional as well as good-smelling and pretty. Pine cones also make great kindling for fires on cold nights.

Halloween sales! Not only is now a great time to load up on cheap candy, it's time to grab costumes at clearance sale prices. When my kids were little, I kept a tote filled with costumes for year-round dress up. The kids are all grown, but I still took advantage of the costumes sales.

Move on over Andy Taylor, there's a new sheriff in town. Her name is Artemis, and she's wantin' a treat for wearing the silly hat.

Perennial check. Most of the perennials are being deeply discounted this time of year. Hurry up and plant them so they can establish some roots before the cold hits and cover the base with extra soil or mulch to protect it from freezing temperatures.

And then there is this. The perfect gift...if by perfect you mean the kind of gift that will get you black-balled from all future baby showers and children's birthdays.

At-home DNA kit. Who knew it could be so easy?

Be sure to check out our give away! It's right up there, on the side bar, in the left corner. :)
All you need to do is comment, here or on Facebook during the month of November. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Fall Candy Treats

It's time for tricks and treats, isn't it?

As the weather gets cooler and we spend more time inside, I enjoy making treats--I just wish I had more time to do it!

These fun Fall Candy Treats are easy and don't take much time at all. I made a video of it, to show you!

Of course I did some experimenting--the gummy bears and Twizzlers weren't to my liking--and you should experiment with things you like. You can also coat anything in chocolate the same way.

That's all for now. Happy Trick-or-Treating!

Monday, October 22, 2018


Two weeks ago was my 30th class reunion. Normally, a reunion or special occasion where cameras are going to be everywhere would send my insecurities and desire to crash diet on overdrive. 

But I managed to stay sane this time! The slow and steady, focus on a healthier me approach to weight loss is working. Since I decided to give up the insane notion that there should be an easy solution that didn't require healthier eating and exercise, I've lost 9.5 pounds. That doesn't seem like a whole lot, but considering they were as tough to shake as a clingy toddler, I'm darned proud.

I'll admit, there are times when I'll start to feel like the process should be going faster and should be easier. I mean it's totally unfair how easy they are to add and how hard they are to subtract. Placing the focus on being healthier rather than skinnier helps quite a bit. 

What else helps?

Exercise. I joined a gym with a friend. Going together makes exercise more fun and it's harder to bow out when you have to be accountable to someone else for showing up. I'm not exactly a gym rat or getting totally buff, but regular exercise has helped improve my mood and I snack less. It's amazing how less appealing a chocolatey morsel is once you realize how far you have to walk on a treadmill to burn it off.  

Journaling. Counting calories keeps me mindful of what I eat. It also helps to see the connection between weight losses and gains with different eating habits. 

Eating. Have a bite when you're hungry. Stop when you're full. It seems silly, but nothing brings on binge eating quicker than feeling starved. The same goes for cravings. I had a craving for a Snicker bar. Instead, I had a banana. I still wanted that darned Snicker bar, so I had a yogurt...then a granola bar...maybe a few pretzels. My niece, who is a skinny thing, finally pointed out that I would have been far better off to have eaten a snack-sized candy bar a few hundred calories ago.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hooked on Hooks!

Hooks come in handy and not just for fishing! I love hat hooks, coat hooks, towel hooks, etc... I have many traditional and several non-traditional hooks in my house. And since I love to share my ideas, here are the creative ways I use hooks...

Add a hook in the pantry for aprons & chips!
A hook just outside for the dog's lead
hooks in the garage
I added a hook to find my keys easier - I just clip and flip them in
hooking the curtain tie-backs--but wait, didn't have a hook so I used tacks!
Do you like hooks? There are so many uses! How do you hook?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Holiday Shopping #Gift Ideas

There are only 78 days until Christmas! It's time to start thinking about gift ideas.

How about something personal? There's nothing like a unique gift to prove you put forth the extra effort in the gift exchange. Here's just a few ideas. All of these are things I have purchased in the last few months- I do love unique things!

While on vacation, I bought a bracelet off of Liz at a craft show. My favorite thing about it is the magnetic clasp. That makes it so easy to wear. I can latch it one-handed. I love that! And to keep it from accidentally catching on something and falling off, it has the security chain .

Remember when Pet Rocks were a thing? Clamco makes them to look like your pet.

I had one painted for my son's graduation present with his dog, Artemis. It's a doggone good likeness!

Painted Rocks (by Lorraine)

See more of Lorraine's work on this YouTube video.

Or how about a personalized candle? My son got me this one from Yankee Candle.

Here's another favorite personalized gift. A Fire Drawn craft! My son's hedgehog passed away, so I had Carrie Butler make him a commemorative plaque. She can do just about anything. I've ordered wedding plaques for a few weddings that are coming up and having each personalized for the brides and grooms.

Fire Drawn Louis 
The real thing:

Every detail was captured.

Now, off I start shopping for unique, personal gifts to get for loved ones this holiday season.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Easy Lo-Cal #Latte #Recipes!

I love pumpkin season, aka FALL!

I also love a good pumpkin spice latte. But I don't like the price or the calories or the waiting in line... So if you agree, save your time and money and try one of these lower calorie, easy to make...


Pumpkin Spice Latte
Fill cup 2/3 full of coffee
Add milk and sugar to taste
Stir in 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Top with whip cream and a dash of spice

Easier still, use pumpkin spice creamer

Apple Cinnamon Latte
Fill cup 2/3 full of coffee
Add equal amounts of milk and apple cider
Add sugar to taste
Top with whip cream and a dash of cinnamon

Candy Corn Latte
Fill cup 2/3 full of coffee
Add milk to taste
Stir in 1/4 tsp sugar
Stir in 1/4 tsp vanilla
Top with whip cream and a splatter of vanilla

Notice what ingredient is in each of these (besides coffee & milk): a spritz of whip cream. Whip cream is awesome for sweetness on a diet--it's low calorie, low carb, and adds loads of fun and flavor!

And just for fun, I tried another experiment and video taped it for you! Check it out =)

Happy, cozy, Fall sipping!
And don't forget to enter the contest for the words of wisdom!

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