Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Works for Me!

Welcome to the kitchen edition. All of this week's participants are to talk about something they have or do in their kitchen that "works."

1. First of all, I have a Hamilton Beach food chopper. It is probably 12 years old, but it's still going strong. The main thing (not the only thing, just the main thing) I use it for is to chop onions. Onions burn my eyes terribly, and I am a slow chopper. I can just pop some onion into this baby, and I have diced onions in a snap! Here's a picture of what their new ones look like, and retail price is only $26.99, very affordable. But, mine doesn't look exactly like this because it's very old.

2. Making a menu plan and sticking to it is what works for me in the kitchen. It assists me in planning my grocery list, and when I get home from a long, tiring day at work, I know what I need to do to prepare dinner rather than just looking in the pantry and wondering what to cook. Saves me time. And, if I really want to hold myself accountable, I can post my menu plan at I'm an Organizing Junkie each Monday.

3. If you want your big pot of water to boil faster, keep it covered. It seems to boil in about half the time as it would if it isn't covered. You can then take the lid off to cook your pasta, or whatever you're cooking.

4. Speaking of boiling, my husband read somewhere a method to boil eggs that I hadn't used before. Boil the water vigorously. Using an egg punch, punch a tiny hole in one end of each egg. Turn OFF the stove and let the eggs sit in the water for 15 minutes, and you will have perfect boiled eggs. It really works well, and the shells don't crack.

5. And here's a link to one of my favorite homemade recipes for dessert: Texas Chocolate Sheetcake.

All of this works for me!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Heads or Tails


The Heads or Tails prompt for this week is "shake," and being a girl who grew up in the 70's, this song popped into my head. I actually went to see K C and the Sunshine Band in Concert (1976). Woot!

So, shake, shake, shake,
shake, shake, shake,
shake your booty!
shake your booty!





Or, Peaches and Herb, one of my favorite duos from that same time period (1978), might also inspire you to shake!

Shake your groove thing, shake your groove thing, yeah, yeah.
Show 'em how we do it now.


Check the homepage for more Heads or Tails participants. We wish you well, Skittles, our awesome hostess. Hope you're up to shakin' your booty and your groove thing soon!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Travel and Tipping

Thank you to Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy for hosting The Revival of Common Courtesy.



Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...Travel can bring a whole host of frustrations: Crowds, delays, late arrivals and departures, inevitable waiting in lines, particular for security checks at airports, traffic jams, "lost" spouses who won't ask for directions, just to name a few. The hardest thing to do is to keep your frustration and anger in check. This may be the most difficult time to apply the Golden Rule. Just remember that having a bad attitude isn't going to change the circumstances or speed up traffic or change airline restrictions. Keeping your patience will allow you to enjoy yourself more once you arrive at your destination.
If you travel, chances are you will be dining out. And chances are, you will have hostesses, servers, or other people who provide a service or take care of your needs. While tipping is a social custom and it is your expression of gratitude for a service provided, it is definitely NOT okay NOT to leave a tip.


Generally speaking, tipping (leaving a gratuity) in a restaurant will depend on several things: the quality of the restaurant, the amount of the bill, and the quality of service. A standard rule of thumb is to leave 15-20% of the pre-tax amount of your bill. It is also standard practice to tip skycaps at airports and bellboys at hotels $1 to $2 per bag. It's also customary to tip shuttle drivers, taxi cab drivers, and maid services at hotels.



There are non-travel situations where tipping is a good practice. Some of these include home delivery of food, flowers, and gifts; help with carrying groceries to your car; movers; and valet attendants.


Clients generally tip for salon and spa services as well. Whether you're getting a shampoo, haircut, hair color, and/or style, your barber or hairsylist will appreciate a 15-20% tip for their quality service. In addition, it is also acceptable to tip after receiving a manicure, pedicure, wax service, or massage.

Last, but not least, tipping on cruises is basically a requirement. The amount you tip will vary depending on your cruise line and the length of your cruise. Cruise lines usually publish a guide to tipping. And new cruisers need to understand that tipping is basically a service charge to make up for low wages that are often paid to the staff. Many of these gratuities are automatically charged to your shipboard account. Click the following links to see published tipping guides for some popular cruise lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.

The two main things to remember:
1. Travelling will be more fun if you relax, stay calm, and smile.
2. It is NOT okay NOT to tip.

Sunday Scrappin'

Thank you, Amy, for hosting Sunday Scrappin' so we can share our love for paper crafts!

Ta-Da's
I only got one page done this week :-( and I don't even like it. I really wanted to finish something else before I posted, but it's not gonna happen!



To-Do's
1. Make a two page layout (karate and dance)
2. Make two thank you cards
3. Participate in the Sunday Scrappin' challenge and try to use a sketch from 52 Sketches.


Challenge
Use paper clips (which come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and colors).

Happy Scrappin' everyone!

Camera Critters



This is Lacy sleeping on MY bed with MY pillows! I don't mind, though.

This is Rocky yawning, but it looks like he's sticking his tongue out at the cat as if it say, "Nyah, nyah, I got my picture made, too!"Join the Camera Critters meme or click over to view more cute critters!

Win $50 to Tiny Prints!

I recently received a sample package of cards from Tiny Prints. They sent me a variety of cards including personalized notecards, kids' thank you postcards, and holiday greetings. These deluxe greetings are printed on quality cardstock with superior detail and design. They have a huge variety of cards available including birth announcements, invitations, birthday and holiday cards, as well as personal and corporate stationery. Now you can communicate with style! They have even started a new line of wedding papers and invitations called Wedding Paper Divas.

Here is a sample of some of their cards:


Would you like a chance to win $50 to spend at Tiny Prints? Visit this post at Family Review Network and enter for your chance to choose a holiday design for the Tiny Prints line and a $50 gift certificate for products of your choice. Click over now! You have until September 30, 2008 to enter this contest. Good luck!

An Award and a Friendship Poem

Sassy Mama Bear of Cafe at the End of the Universe, Library at the End of the Universe, Author's Lounge at the End of the Universe, Shop at the End of the Universe, and Awards for the End of the Universe kindly offered me this award and friendship poem. (How DOES she manage five blogs?) Bear hugs right back atcha!


We need Friends for many reasons,
all throughout the season.
We need Friends to comfort us when we are sad,
and to have fun with us when we are glad.
We need Friends to give us good advice,
We need someone we can count on,
and treat us nice.
We need Friends to remember us
once we have passed sharing memories
that will always last.
I also offer this award and friendship poem to all of you, whether you're on my blogroll, whether you "follow" me, or I "follow" you, or even if you just read my blog every now and then. It's for you! Please grab it and post it with pride.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

This Week on the Home Front Part 2











I love to organize. And I love a neat home. And I strive to make sure my home feels comfortable. But face it... I have a husband, four kids at home, two pets, and a full time outside-the-home job. Therefore, to keep myself motivated, I participate in Organising Queen's declutter challenges and Home Sanctuary's Company Girl/Small Things challenges. And being the efficient woman that I am, I'm going to combine my weekly update for each of these.

This week, I tackled my other step-daughter's closet (not nearly as difficult as the closet last week). Some pillows, stuffed animals, and a few outgrown clothes and shoes are being donated.



I also decluttered my email inbox, with some inspiration from Marcia (OQ). I started with 542 emails and ended with 218. Woo hoo! I kept the emails that have photos attached (so that I can save them to the computer later) as well as confirmation of account/password type emails. Pretty soon, I will have all of that organized, too, so I will eventually be able to delete those. I feel so free already! (By the way, over at I'm an Organizing Junkie, her monthly challenge is the home office. Marica guest posted at OrgJunkie this week.)

Marcia encouraged me to update my reader. I deleted three blogs. I think a few more can go. I also began the very time-consuming task of decluttering the labels on my blog. This one is going to take a while.





Rachel Anne (HS) inspired me most this week from something she posted earlier in the month. She asks up to read a verse and print it off. My verse was in a visible place at school, but since the hurricane, I haven't had it in front of me every day. But it was there when I went back today, and it was comforting. (Ephesians 4:24)

Today's task was also my favorite for the week. She asked us to give a "round of applause" to a family member who could use a little boost! Sometimes, I think my husband doesn't realize how much I appreciate him. I made sure he did, today. And my oldest stepdaughter helped around the house (without complaining). Not only did she get a hug and words of appreciation, but I tried really hard to help her with several things that she was doing, and it was so good for our relationship.

The most clever post at Home Sanctuary this week was to do something "square." I had fun with that! I used a square laundry basket to get some washing done, squared away some bills, made a square scrapbook page, squared away some housekeeping, and worked with two other squares (my mailbox and my email inbox).


That's it for this week's issue! Please come back next week for some more decluttering/organizing/creating sanctuary goodness. If you subscribe to my blog, you won't miss it! And while you're at it, why don't you join me at these great challenges!

Subscribe in a reader



You still have time to enter to win a Bob the Builder computer game!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Brilliant Tag

Dandelion tagged me with this Brilliant award (thank you so very much! I don't think it's brilliant, but it sure is fun.)

But... I have to answer the following questions with ONE WORD ANSWERS! This is going to be difficult for me, because I like to talk! And write!

1. Where is your cell phone? purse

2. Where is your significant other? sofa

3. Your mother? home

4. Your father? heaven

5. Your hair color? brown

6. Your favorite thing? sleep

7. Your dream last night? weird

8. Your goal? security

9. The room you're in? living room

10. Your hobby? scrapbooking

11. Your fear? loneliness

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? somewhere

13. Where were you last night? home

14. What you're not? selfish

15. One of your wish-list items? furniture

16. Where you grew up? Texas

17. The last thing you did? bath

18. What are you wearing? jammies

19. Your TV? living room

20. Your pet? chair

21. Your computer? lap

22. Your mood? tired

23. Missing someone? Dad

24. Your car? 4-Runner

25. Something you're not wearing? makeup

26. Favorite store? Bed, Bath, & Beyond

27. Your summer? boring

28.Love someone? yup

29. Your favorite color? pink

30. When is the last time you laughed? today

31. Last time you cried? weeks


I'm supposed to tag 7 people that I think are brilliant and will answer these questions. Wait. Doesn't that contradict itself? Oops! I'll tag some people anyway:






Melanie of Through our Eyes




P. S. I DO think you are all brilliant!



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Friday Fill-ins


1.Friday night football games and cooler weather are some of the things I'm most looking forward to in October.
2. Sometimes I forget what I was looking for when I enter a room.
3. Before I was a parent, I swore I would never let my kids do certain things, and that's why there is a saying, "never say never"!
4. When I'm down, I take it out on everyone.
5. At the computer or in my bed are where you'll find me most often.
6. A rainy day is good for reading, snuggling, napping, playing with the kitten, and taking a long, hot bath.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to resting after my first day back to work in two weeks, tomorrow my plans include planning lessons and getting caught up on grading, and maybe a little shopping, and Sunday, I want to grocery shop, scrapbook, and rest!

Good Mail Part 2

I participated in my first online swap, a favorite things swap, hosted and organized by Because Wendi Said So!! Thank you, Wendi, for all of your hard work. It was so much fun!

My swap partner was Jennifer of Living Life Moment by Moment. She was so sweet, creative, and generous with her swap gifts that I feel like I didn't do enough for her. Jennifer really went above and beyond expectations!


She selected some of her favorite things based on my favorite things, too. She wrapped each item separately in the most adorable paper, and she labeled each gift with the "category" for which it fit as one of her favorites such as "travelling." She also sent a typed note telling me why these are her favorite things and a handwritten gift enclosure, not to mention a little "extra something" which will come in handy due to the hurricane. Thank you so much, Jennifer.


Here is a photo of all of my gifts!




Fuzzy Socks - 2 pair, lavender and purple. They are so soft!


Calendars - a pretty lighthouse calendar. I, too, like planning and being organized.

Notecards - Very cute! I like to send handwritten notes.


Chocolate - A box of Swiss Miss Instant Hot Cocoa (yum!), and a dish towel and hot mat that say "chocolate." Cute AND useful.


Candles - A box of 12 candles, 4 each of three fragrances. I've been enjoying the aroma of pumpkin pie all day.

Lists - An adorable notepad. I'm a list person, too.

Travelling - A travel bag with travel sized products sure to come in handy for the next hurricane evacuation. (just kidding! I sure hope I get to travel for fun some time in the next few weeks, even if it's only for a weekend.)


Photography - Two black picture frams. I love to display my photos.


This was an awesome experience, and I would definitely participate again, and I would try to be as organized and clever as Jennifer. Thanks, again, swap partner, for the great gifts and for showing me how to do this creatively! My son wanted me to be in the picture with the gifts, so here ya go!

Good Mail Part 1

I got the cutest birthday card in the mail from my blogging buddy Chrissy of Chrissy's Creative Spot. Please go over and tell her what a fabulous crafter she is! I love it. Isn't it adorable? This made me feel so good!

What I Thought of The Women


I was anxiously awaiting the premiere of the movie The Women on September 12. Then, Hurricane Ike decided to make an appearance in southeast Texas, and my plans to see the movie got post-poned... by two, full weeks! Power is now restored in most places, and things are returning to normal, finally, so my oldest step-daughter and I went to see the movie last night.


I was not disappointed. My step-daughter actually enjoyed it as well, and from her, that is high praise! You can go here to read about the film and watch the trailer.


First of all, who can resist the cast? Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, for starters. They are fantastic! Ryan is the perfect heroine, likeable, easy to relate to, smart, and endearing. Eva Mendes plays the "other woman" convincingly. Bette Midler was a hoot, and it was so great to see Cloris Leachman in a substantial role. Even young India Ennenga, as Ryan's daughter, was remarkably talented. I also have to say that, true to their word, I did not spot one single maleactor onscreen, and I really tried! I think the "baby boy" was even played by a female.


Then, there is the story. (No spoilers here! Go see it!) The Women isn't just about a woman's response to a cheating husband. It's also about friendship, betrayal, healing, independence, and success. It's about finding out what makes you happy, and pursuing your goals. It's about our relationships as wives, friends, mothers, daughters, and the many different roles we women perform on a daily basis. It will leave you feeling good about being a woman.


Thank you to Dove for sponsoring The Women, and thanks to the Family Review Network for the opportunity to review this movie.

Bloggity Blog Tag

TAG, YOU'RE IT!
I have some catching up to do on my blog today, and I'm really excited about it. I think I'll have about five new posts today. This first one is a tag from WLK (What Lo Knows).



This blog has been bloggity blog tagged.
The rules:
1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you either positively or negatively
2. link back to the person who tagged you WLK (Thanks for thinking of me!)
3. link back to this parent post: tag post
4.tag a few friends or five, or none at all
5. post these rules— or just have fun breaking them!



1. Blogging consumes a lot of my time (by choice), but it takes time away from other things I could be doing such as grading papers, scrapbooking, watching TV, or napping.

2. I am constantly thinking about my blog and my blogging buddies. Sometimes I wonder if it's too much of an obsession, but it's not something I want to give up.

3. I have won/received some great things from bloggers (which you'll get to read about later today or tomorrow). I love entering blog contests. I've also been able to give things away, and that feels good. (Right now, I'm giving away a Bob the Builder computer game. Soon, I'll be giving away some children's books and a cookbook.)

4. Blogging is a creative outlet. It allows me to express myself through writing and photos. It's a great way to share my hobbies, such as scrapbooking, and I learn new things from my blogging friends.

5. Best of all, blogging gives me a sense of community. In many ways, it's better than FIRL (friends in real life). I have developed some special friendships, and making new friends is always fun, too. Bloggers are genuine, accepting, generous, understanding, honest, and fun!



I tag Chrissy at Chrissy's Creative Spot, Lucy at LuLu's Petals, Genuine Gem, Tammy at Queen Size Funny Bone, Jenn at My Kids are My World, and Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy and anyone else who wants to join in. (I can't wait to see how blogging has affected your lives.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Birthday

It began in the sweetest way. My 12 year old woke me up to breakfast in bed. She made a breakfast sandwich with a fried egg, cheese, and ham on buttered, toasted bread. She even remembered to bring me chocolate milk (one of my weaknesses). Happy start to a happy day! I wish I had a picture of her doing this.


Hubby came home at 11. He takes an early lunch. He made everyone come downstairs for presents. He (and all the kids) bought me a Cricut cartridge (awesome!) and some makeup items that I had asked for as well as a bottle of Clinique Happy Heart cologne. My son and daughter gave me a box filled with things to pamper myself with. Two homemade (by her) bath fizzies, Bath and Body Works hand gel, Bath and Body Works Spray, and Bath and Body Works Foaming Antibacterial Soap, and some Precious Momemts scrapbooking items. She had also painted a bear for my desk at work.
Then they brought out an adorable cake and sang to me. We couldn't decide if the cake was a cat or a lion,but it's cute nonetheless. Different view of the cake here. During the afternoon, I got to take a nap (although I did sneak in one load of laundry between snoozes.) Everyone chipped in to help, clean the kitchen, clean the bathroom, take trash out, unload the dishwasher, etc.
Hubby and I had some alone time. I may be 43, but I still got it! We went to eat at a local eatery called Frenchy's Italian Restaurant that has the best baked lasagna that I have ever eaten. It's a little taste of heaven in every bite.

I got to come home and take an hour long soak in the tub with my new bath products while reading my book. This day was absolutely fabulous!
If you haven't subscribed to my blog, won't you consider it? Just use the orange button at the top left of the blog.
If you enjoyed this post, try these:

Wordless Wednesday


Cat or Lion? I say Lion? They wanted a cat since we just got one, and I love her.
The candles are poked in his poor eyes. But I loved my birthday cake!
Go here to see more Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mama Kat's Hoover Giveaway Extravaganza

You could win the Hoover U5491-900 WindTunnel Anniversary-Edition Bagged Upright Vacuum Cleaner. Leave a comment at Mama Kat's Blog Mama's Losin' It!

Professional and Public Manners



The Revival of Common Courtesy (sponsored by Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy)


What are Professional and Public Manners?


Professional manners are those etiquette rules that govern your behavior when you are associating with professionals (as in a Doctor's office or place of business) or when you are working with colleagues in a professional manner.


  • One should observe the hierarchy in one's business, study it, and emulate it.


  • Typically, a lower ranking person is introduced to the higher ranking person.


  • Stand when meeting someone, and stand for a higher ranking associate, male or female.


  • Professional courtesy usually calls for a handshake upon meeting a new client or colleague.


  • If offered a business card, it is best to acknowledge some information from the card while making eye contact with the giver.


  • Dressing as a professional is common courtesy in most places of business.


  • Avoid gossip and back-stabbing.


  • Keep emails in a professional tone, and keep personal email to a minimum (if your boss approves) or to none. Just because email is so much easier to use than the telephone doesn't mean it doesn't deserve the same attention to detail and professional courtesy that a face-to-face conversation would receive.


  • Keep professional conversations short, and leave out personal information unless specifically asked.


  • Don't complain about your boss or your workplace while you are in the workplace.


  • You can create a professional image with just these few reminders!


Public manners are those that are always on display when you are in public.



  • Out in public, it is best to keep your cell phone calls private.


  • Other rules you may follow to display courteous manners include saying "Excuse Me" or "Thank You" if the situation calls for it.


  • Another rule of etiquette to remember when you are out in public is to be patient.


  • You may also consider it proper common courtesy not to spit, litter, or curse in public.


  • It's easy to present a positive image in public by following a few, simple rules of etiquette.


In both professional and public situations, treat others with consideration. For me, that boils down to the three P's.
  • Be Prompt


  • Be Prepared


  • Be Polite

(These are the same rules I have in my classroom, and they pretty much cover everything.)

"Manners are the happy ways of doing things. If they are superficial, so are the dewdrops which give such a depth to the morning meadow." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


My New Badge


Thank you to Sassy Mama Bear for designing my badge and helping me with the code.

Thank you, Jenn, for the Birthday Shout-Out on your blog!

And Tamy! What a great Birthday mascot on your blog! (I've used three of your yummy recipes this week!)

Thanks, D. and Chrissy, and Lucy for the sweet emails.

And thank you to all of my wonderful bloggy friends for the happy birthday wishes! So far, it's been a great day. I love all of you guys!

Tackling the Bar Area

I tackled the bar area today. What a cluttered mess! Candy, books, an old flower arrangment, a flashlight, the broom propped up next to it, and more. It only took a few minutes.

Doesn't the "after" shot look more appealing? The mug is something my daughter made for me, and the "Lincoln" is something the kids brought back from their 5th grade trip to Washington DC. We have some coasters, a candle, a candle snuffer, and a reed diffuser. That's more than enough for the bar area!

Heads or Tails


Tails - How would you change where you live?

On June 4, 2007, I wrote about finding my dream house, well almost dream house. I don't love the house I live in. I appreciate it, but there are many, many changes I'd make, and this dream house seemed to solve most, if not all, of those issues. Here it is if you'd like to read it.


As for climate, San Diego seems to rank #1 with many people, but I don't want to move to California. I'm a Texas girl.

That leaves me the Texas Hill Country. The climate may not be a whole lot better than where I am now, but aesthetically, it's pretty peaceful!

For more Heads or Tails, go to the HoT Homepage. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Give Me Five Monday


Becca hosts this meme where we share five things on a topic she gives us. Click over to her blog to see more or to join in!

This week, we get to share five birthday memories. How fitting! My birthday is tomorrow!

1. My husband's 40th birthday was a wild and crazy time. He and I had only been dating a month, and his friends talked him into having a huge party at his house (all the kids were with our exes). Someone told one friend, who told two friends, who told three friends, and the house was packed! I guess we're lucky there were no incidents of any kind. We sure had a good time, though.

2. My 40th birthday was much less exciting. We'd been married four months, so we were still adjusting to living in a blended family (actually, we still are!). We had to evacuate because Hurricane Rita was projected to hit near us, so I spent my 40th birthday in a crummy motel room in Port Lavaca, about 100 miles southwest of here.

3. I remember a photo of myself at my own birthday party when I was 7 or 8 years old. I was wearing navy blue shorts and a red and white halter top that my mom had made me.

4. The best party I hosted for my twins was at a gym when they were 6 years old. They got to do tumbling, balance beam games, and jump on trampolines. I think that might be the last time I did a cartwheel, too!

5. I'm saving this spot for this year.

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