Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Set a Morning Prep Reminder the Night Before

Whether it's your watch, your cellphone, or a microwave reminder, set something in your home to beep at a certain time every night. When that beep goes off, around 10 p.m., for instance, it means you should drop what you're doing and spend just a bit of time preparing for your morning, while you're actually awake. LifeClever calls it the 10 O'Clock Rule, and suggests a few things we can all do to semi-automate our mornings: set out your clothes, pocket contents, and shoes, grind coffee, check your calendar for events and reminders, and packing anything you're bound to forget into your bag. It's a night person's best hedge against the morning, and a morning person's ticket to spending their energy on more exciting things.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Easy To Make Toffee

Easy To Make Toffee

1 cup unsalted butter (no margarine allowed)
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Line jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil.

Melt the sugar and butter until a boil is reached. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved.

Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly. After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer. (You can add nuts, cracker crumbs, or whatever else you desire at this point.)

Let cool and, if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate until hardened. Break into pieces the size of your choice.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Catching Up A Bit

Weeks have been flying by.  At the start of Hannah's Junior school year, and her dual credit college hour we have all been busy shuffling schedules to get us all where we need to be.

This year I began to our community college, San Jac Central.  I am excited to go for several certificates in Interior Design.  I am loving my classes and excited about the knowledge I am gaining.  My professor, David Vanover is also the head of the Interior Design Department and is an excellent teacher.

My husband, Gary is now 75% complete with his first degree at San Jac also.  We are blessed to live only about 7 minutes from the college campus.

I have recently accomplished a 37 year task that procrastination has had the best of me.  Our garage is now under control and we can actually park a vehicle in it.  I am still towering through a few boxes inside our home, but refuse for them to go back in garage storage until I have combed through all.  Almost all done!

We have enjoyed our Sunday afternoons with our growing family.  Our son, Aaron now has a new baby, Abbey,  that is almost 5 months old and, we have a new 3 year old grandson, Noah, the son of Aaron's soon to be bride, Samantha.

We are so grateful for the miraculous miracle working power of God in our lives.  We are assured that Gary is now healed of the devastating disease of MS.  Now, we wait for God to give him full recovery of the effects in his body.  In Jesus' Name, he WILL walk again.

What a relief for the hot very dry days of summer to finally come to an end.  My favorite time of the year is when the cool fronts start to blow in and the dry cool crisp autumn days begin.  This is our front door just freshen up for the season.

Our Abbey.  So sweet.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Winning Victory Over Your Most Challenged Day

I recently wrote a post on "Tenacity". When I wrote this post, I had a huge breakthrough of my attitude towards life and how to replace haunting bad thoughts to powerful thoughts of victory. From that day forward, in spite of any odds, I have felt like a super hero knocking down every strong hold that I faced.

The ultimate test came just a few days ago. I will tell you that what happened to me knocked me down. I felt like I had been in the ring with my component and the referee was counting down as I was dead off my feet. In spite of the blow, somehow, I refused to let this situation take over my thoughts. Defeat, discouragement and anger was among the many emotions I was facing. This huge blow just did not allow my brain to stop rehearsing over and over the event that brought me down. In spite of trying to force myself to not allow this to take over me, I will say, it was nearly impossible.

Then, the thing that really was out right aggravating is to think how THIS event would STEAL my victory. I refused to go to bed that night without getting some resolution to my situation. I began to google things like, overcoming negative thinking, what to do when you have been wronged, were some among many. Then, wow, I ran across a super powerful article full of scriptures and written by a doctor that gave me my answer. Here is an excerpt of that article:

Practice Mindfulness: This is the concept of letting go of any thought that is unrelated to the present moment and finding something to enjoy in the present moment. Most people do not live well in the present moment; they are always wishing for a different moment in the past when things were happier or simpler, or wishing for a moment in the future when they think they can be happy, such as by getting a promotion, getting out of debt, or buying a new house. Find something enjoyable to focus on in the immediate moment all throughout the day, such as the warmth of the sun, the breeze, music. During breaks at work, don’t think about goals or projects; enjoy your cup of coffee or a magazine. If a stressful thought comes to mind, choose to move on to a thought that is related to what you are presently seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling that is pleasant. Instead of complaining about what you don’t have, be grateful for what you do have, air conditioning in your house or a car to get to work. Dr. Colbert suggests that his patients go for a walk or go to the zoo to practice focusing on all that can be enjoyed in a moment.

In 2 Cor. 10:5, “Pull down imaginations …and carry every thought away into captivity and make it obedient to Christ.” In other words, do not allow your thoughts to control you. Control them by putting out of your mind ones that are not beneficial to your mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual health. God then instructs us to replace negative thoughts with good ones, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, think of these things (Phil. 4:8).”

Bottom line, "live in the moment". Haven't you heard of that one? Number one: we become so focused on the past, or in my case, what just happened. Secondly, we are focusing on the future, training our minds to visualize what we want. These two things prevents us to live in the present.

When I began to think in that moment, of all I had all around me, and be grateful for THAT moment, my spirit began to lift out of the pits that had been pulling me down. What an amazing experience I had when I realized the power of living in the moment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are You a Victim?

Do you want to move forward but strong events in your past seem to keep you a victim of your past?

About a week ago, my husband and I viewed a video online that was recorded in 1999 at a New Image convention. Personally, I don't think I had too much "junk in the trunk" but after hearing this speech, it became one of the most powerful speeches I have heard.

Dale brings this message across with passion and I promise you, it can change your life.

Follow this link to the speech. Please leave a comment once you have had a chance to listen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day Honoring Gary

Tonight, the Saturday before Father's Day, our family had a Father's Day dinner in our home honoring Gary. Aaron worked a 12 hour shift today and other extended events made for a busy Father's Day weekend. Dinner was a simple menu of New Orleans Creole Chicken Sausage Gumbo made with some of Samantha's Dad's home grown okra. Served with steamed rice and fresh wheat french bread and butter. I also made a Martha Stewart recipe, Chocolate Brownies, hot out of the oven with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a stemmed cherry. We were not counting calories tonight!

Gary has been a wonderful Father to our children. He deeply loves his children. His wisdom and guidance and Godly example truly makes him a great leader and "Dad".

We are happy to have a soon to be, daughter-in-law, Samantha Jackson, mother of our new little Abbey, also present at the dinner party tonight.

Aaron (almost 25), Gary & Hannah (16 May 31)

A few more pics on my facebook.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


This, to my remembrance, was my first experience to drive a huge bulldozer. My Dad owned and operated heavy equipment as I was growing up, but this was my first time to climb on a bulldozer and fire it up.

I wish you could see the terrain behind the bulldozer in this picture before, and now after. Once, huge piles of rubble, not so good trees that had taken root and a lot of plain ol' trash made this site, unsightly! And on top of that, it was a place where I had frequently camped.

As the wife of a Home Missions Pastor/Evangelist/and now, a husband struck with MS and disabled, I always gave credit for my survival to my awesome God. But I also forced myself to think right and visualize what I wanted. I will tell you that in spite of all of my trying, I became buried, with the feeling of going down a swift drain and grasping for whatever I could as I went down, before completely going under.

The lack of money or the absence of an income can be totally devastating. Money is a subject we do not like to talk about, but without a doubt, money controls every part of your life or so we think.

I decided I needed a whole fresh attitude about money. Being reduced to a "poor man", "poor me" attitude, I knew it would keep me captive to my past. Searching for answers, this is what I found:

We have a concious mind and a subconcious mind. You will find in every success book or motivational speech that there is power in your thinking and in the words of your mouth. This is all straight out of God's Word. Books like "Hung by the Tongue" and "Think and Grow Rich" are some of very many books written about the subject.

Our minds are hit dead center every day by what is REALITY. This can be a mountain of impossibilties to overcome. The truth is, although your situation does not change, YOU can change. By feeding your mind, and ultimately your subconcious mind that motors your attitudes, emotions and actions, mountains can begin to move.

Affirmation is key!! You MUST begin to AFFIRM what you want! Concious controlled thinking can be visualized like this: Picture a very gentle steady rain falling softly on a rock. Though oh so gentle, over time the rock begins to change. Change is inevitable. When we begin to affirm what we want, write it and speak it, gradually in time it gets accepted as truth and affects the actions and behavior of the person involved.

The accumulated power of the repeated affirmation pushes and drives out the subconcious mind's thoughts, attitudes and habits that are not in harmony with the affirmations, and changes the contents of the subconscious mind from negative and restrictive thoughts, to positive and constructive ones.

Here is what "I" did:

First, I wrote down every dilemma I possessed. These were thoughts that I DAILY had to ward off. Think you don't have any? I challenge you to do this. I listed 26 of them! Though I fought to ignore them, there was a reality that "these" thoughts constantly bombarded my thinking.

Next, I took each one and turned it around into what I wanted. I ended up with 35 affirmations, I got so carried away!

Here is an example: "We are too old to get jobs." Replaced with: "Our age and accumulated wisdom brings unique opportunities for us to make money and minister in fulfilling ways."

See the difference?

Once all said and done, I jumped on this huge bulldozer like a raging maniac with more tenacity than you would ever see in a WOMAN, and turned it around to my back and began to plow up my past. It did not take me long. This dozer was so huge that in just a short time, it was flattened and buried! It is not even there any more! There are still mountains ahead and always will be but I know that from where I have come to where I am now, I have the strength to climb.

I refuse to go back there and camp or even visit! Everyday, I reaffirm what I want instead of rehearsing WHY I can not get to where I want to go.

The first day was amazing. I had to get out my favorite journal and begin to write down all of the amazing events that came in just the first day!

Now...God said it and I believe it. There is nothing more powerful than His Word in our lives:

"Let the words of my heart and the mediations of my mind be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord."

"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Don't be a victim of your past. Bury your past and renew your mind with what "HE" thinks.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Hannah's 16th Birthday

May 31 marked the first day of celebration of Hannah's 16th birthday. With an early end of the year school dismissal, Hannah invited 3 close school friends over for a birthday luncheon.

The Menu: We used our "decorating for the senses" recipes, some of Hannah's favorites:
Gabby's Confetti Pasta, Strawberry Green Spring Mix Salad with a homemade citrus vinaigrette dressing, lemon mint rice, cheese and crackers, home made pineapple cake with a cream cheese frosting and sweet tea.

Decor used for all party celebrations was a Vintage Theme: antique suitcase, radio, newspapers, books, jars, vintage pictures of Hannah and an antique black board. Not pictured: tree limbs in entry about 8 - 9 feet tall with vintage pictures hung with ribbons of Hannah.

The next day, Hannah invited her close church friends that also attend her high school. The table was turned to seat more people and the same menu was repeated.

Hannah's main party consisted of local family members. Twenty-five guest were in attendance.
The Menu: New Orleans Creole Gumbo, my own family recipe, steamed brown rice, prepared by Shelley, wheat french bread, iced tea, lemons, limes & orange slices, the cake and coffee.

The cake was purchased from HEB. We chose half chocolate and half white cake with a cream cheese icing and white chocolate side shavings. The picture used was one taken at Christmas time on our visit at my mother's at Christmas time, 2010.

Shelley and Savannah and Louis.




Aaron & Samantha.


Hannah & Kaylie.

Gary & Dianne.

Jan & Me.

Laurie & Me.

Hannah about to blow out her candles.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How I Lost 15 Pounds

OK... I have really hesitated to share, but in hopes it could encourage someone else, here goes.

I have never had a weight problem and can be thankful to have eaten as many desserts and and drank as many Dr. Peppers without the worry of gaining weight. Having Hannah at age 42, I was at a great weight and felt healthier than ever. I rode my bike often and at my peak of my ideal size.

I unleashed a problem with an imbalance in my thyroids once she was born and my weight started the roller coaster ride. Also, due to hitting my soon to be 50's, hormones kicked around and a struggle with weight actually became a problem. I always knew if I just reduced the amount of sweets, I would surely reduce quickly.

Very long story sister in law, Shelley, also going through the similarities after many children and now metabolism also beginning to change, put on some pounds. She discovered a weight loss plan she tried and reached her weight goal extremely quickly.

I have never dieted in my life, but committed to myself to try for 3 days. I actually thought I would loose extremely fast because I loved sweets and this diet as well as all others will not allow. Learning that after 3 days, I had overcome the very hardest part of the diet, I pressed on.
In 6 weeks, I reached my weight goal of 15 pounds lost. More than the pounds, the inches began to fall off from head to toe. I have gone from size 12 to wearing 8 and 10 skirts!

Here is how it was done. With Shelley as my coach and using my primary care physician to monitor my blood levels, I used the Medifast Weight Loss System. I purchased 5 medifast products to eat each day along with 64 ounces of water, and one lean and green meal a day.
The one meal a day was more than I could eat in one meal. I split the amounts and ate half of it for lunch. It was hard to get in all of the medifast meals. I had to learn to drink one shake which was a high protein drink to kick off my metabolism early. Drinking the water was the challenge, but absolutely a must for weight loss. The one meal a day was a good amount of lean meat and veggies other than carrots, beans and potatoes. The key was, you starve your body from all carbs so it is forced to use the stored carbs you have for energy.

If I got hungry, I would eat a small amount of almonds, a celery stick with peanut butter, sugar free jello, olives or a pickle. I will say that I did not beat myself up for the small moments I may have cheated a little. It was such a drastic diet change that I just had to be proud of myself for
every moment I did the right thing.

The Medifast meals were: shakes, ready mix or powder which made thick shakes with ice in a blender, a pancake you make, bars which are delicious and filling, pretzels, which I did not like, soups, which I did not like but many others did. I mostly had the shakes, bars and pancakes.

Here I am late Fall of 2010, camouflaged in this coat.

This was taken just before I began the diet. At hospital to visit Josh, Josie and their new baby, Louis.

This was about one week into diet. Several couples in our family went to Ouisy's on Westheirmer. This was hard. The bread looked out of this world. I had salad and grilled salmon. If my coach had not been there with me, believe me, I am quiet sure I would have cheated. lol

This was 3 weeks into my diet. I was thrilled I could tuck in a top without looking enormous. Now, I can not wear this skirt...huge!

Week 4, size 10 skirt.
Present. I need a better flattering pic.

I can say my main goal was to overcome a very potential deadly problem with sleep apnea. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea a couple of years ago. For me, I obviously could not tolerate much weight to prevent it. I am sleeping better and do not feel the symptoms of the apnea any more. My doctor says my blood sugar level has gone down and all of my levels are perfect. I am just needing to increase my good cholesteral which is being done by taking fish oil. One trick to that: freeze the capsules, then take. You don't get the after taste nearly as bad.

It is a great thing to look in the mirror and not beat myself up for being over weight. Shopping is so much more fun as it was increasingly being a challenge to get the right fit.

More info:
Contact Michelle Piatt who is a counselor for Medifast and can get the products for you:
Michelle Piatt

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hannah is 16!

Wow, it is hard to believe that my sweet Hannah is almost 16. We are celebrating with a family party at our home. She will also have some close school friends after school on her big day, May 31. A night of celebration with her close friends from church is also in the making.

Love you, Hannah. I hope your 16 is your BEST YEAR EVER!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Poem From Hannah

This Mother's Day, Hannah wrote me a poem per my request. Here it is for my readers to enjoy. I especially like the "skinny" part as I have been on a diet this year, first time ever, and lost 15 pounds. Enjoy.

The Lovely...

Her long black hair, shines in the light
She's so skinny, that her skirts are not tight.
She makes things so beautiful with a small little touch
It's such a delight to see her new creations so much.

It's Mother's Day today
And I have been asked to do this
Although it's a request,
It's not written with regrets.

The beautiful, talented, woman I do mention,
Brings memories of laughter to my attention.
I couldn't thank her enough for all that she does,
But all I can say is that I love her so much.

Who is this lovely women you may wonder?
Well she's more lovely than your thoughts can ponder.
I'm so lucky to be the one,
Whom has the pleasure to call her mom.

Happy Mothers Day 2011!!
Love you so very much,

And, I am a very blessed Mother to have two wonderful children, a soon to be daughter-in-law, step grandson and a new baby granddaughter. Thank you Aaron, and Hannah for your gifts, cards and love you gave me on this Mother's day. Love you both so much.

This pic was taken in our master bath around Christmas 2010.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Have a Wonderful 2011 Easter!

Easter is a wonderful time to be with those you love. I am looking forward to being in church this Sunday with my entire family. Next Easter, we will have a new addition to our family as my son Aaron and his "to be" wife are blessed with a baby girl in May.

This year following our service at Life, we will have Sunday dinner with our family here in Deer Park. We all bring a covered dish. This year I will bring my salad with varieties of lettuce, fruits, feta cheese, candied almonds and a home made citrus vinaigrette.