The Porch Light copyright by Revka (2006-2010). All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Frugal Tips and Tricks (6)

I'm working on my kitchen right now so here are a couple of tips and tricks for that area.

Clean a nasty microwave without tedious scrubbing

  • Place a semi-wet dishcloth or clean rag in the microwave.
  • Nuke it for 60 - 90 seconds.
  • Use the rage to wipe out the loosened junk. (The rag can be extremely hot; be careful not to burn yourself.)
  • Follow by wiping out with whatever cleaner you would normally use.
Microwave deodorizer
  • Pour some vanilla into a bowl and place it in the microwave; heat it for about 30-60 seconds.
When using your dishwasher, use half of the recommended amount of detergent in both the pre-wash and wash cups. My dishes end up with less residue than if I fill the cups completely. Sometimes less really is better! You get the added bonus of having your detergent last longer.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A pitiful cry for help

I am pathetic! Apparently, when I reinstalled Windows XP I lost all my contacts and Address Book info from Outlook Express. I know, I know: that's why you create a backup CD. Only, I didn't think to back up that info! Can anyone tell me if I am officially sunk or if I can somehow retrieve my info?


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bad balanced by good

Well, I haven't written about my personal life since Thanksgiving, and there is a very good reason for that: it has been a disaster. There are little disasters and then there are DISASTERS. Yesterday was one of those DISASTERS.

The kids had been playing a new learning game on the computer. When they were done, I tried to shut down the computer, but the stubborn thing wouldn't budge. I tried the Start, Turn Off Computer, Turn Off sequence and I tried the ctrl+alt+delete sequence. I tried going into the Task Manager and turning it off from there. NADA! I finally just shut off the power. That was probably my first mistake. When I tried to restart the computer, it wouldn't even boot. It said something was missing, and I was clueless. After much frustration, I reloaded Windows XP and was able to start the computer only to find out that our user accounts were no longer being accessed and programs that were still on the computer were no longer registering as having been installed. ARGHHHHHHHH! I don't know enough about computers to fix what I think is most likely a fairly simple problem so I have been spending hours upon hours (insert gentle sarcasm) reinstalling programs and setting everything back up. I'm aggravated because I can find all the old files and programs but I don't know how to get them where they need to be now. So I'm dealing with that lovely issue.

Just before I began writing this rant, Pookie Bear and Miss Muffet were taking a bath. I went in to check on them only to find that they (I couldn't determine whether it was one or both of them) had emptied a brand new bottle of body wash into the tub "to make bubbles." That's the third bottle in a week! Needless to say, they are in trouble. Oh, and before that, Baby Bear threw up all over her crib for no apparent reason. I am VERY thankful it was only in her crib!

As Featured On Ezine Articles

On the bright side, I received an e-mail informing me that my chocolate-substitute article (an edited version of my Guilt-free Chocolate post) has been accepted by Ezine @rticles. No, there's no pay associated with this particular honor, but it should increase traffic here. At the bottom of the submission form is a place for you to write whatever you would like, and I gently plugged my blog. Hey, it was fun. *grin* I've gotten a lot of mileage out of that post!

Also, Mr. Incredible just purchased a car charger for our cell phone. We (I) left our regular charger at his grandparents' place where we spent Thanksgiving night. Now I am suffering from cell phone withdrawal! We use it for our long-distance calling, and I have not been able to talk with most of my family this week. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, honey! I really appreciate your buying that.


Thoughtful Tuesday (6)

from Bob Vallier, a Christian financial counselor

"We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like."
"A man [person] who is wrapped up in himself makes a pretty small package in life."


Personal Style - Part 5

Welcome back to my Personal Style series. Today's concluding tips are about learning by observing and being patient.

The individual posts in this series are:
Part 1 - know your shape and "your" colors
Part 2 - know your individual style, and develop it without breaking the bank
Part 3 - use accessories, and be selective in what you buy
Part 4 - don't get stuck in a rut, and cut your losses
Part 5 - learn by observing, and be patient

Now for the conclusion of the series.

9. Learn by observing.
Actively look for people who have great style. Observe people who are resemble you in build and coloring. Sometimes it is helpful to watch a particular celebrity. Fashion magazines can provide a wealth of information, but don't get sidetracked with all the fads represented. Whoever you choose as a role model, notice what does and (sometimes more importantly) doesn't work for them. If you are learning from someone similar to yourself, chances are that the same outcomes will apply to you.

10. Be patient.
Great style is not usually something that happens overnight. Some people are gifted that way, but for us normal folks, it's going to be a journey. Take your time and don't rush into anything. Do rest assured in the knowledge that you, too, can develop your individually flattering style.

Thank you for joining me in this series. I hope that this has been informative and helpful.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Personal Style - Part 4

Welcome back to my Personal Style series. Today's tips are about getting out of that rut you've fallen into and cutting your losses.

The individual posts in this series are:
Part 1 - know your shape and "your" colors
Part 2 - know your individual style, and develop it without breaking the bank
Part 3 - use accessories, and be selective in what you buy
Part 4 - don't get stuck in a rut, and cut your losses
Part 5 - learn by observing, and be patient

Now, on with today's tips.

7. Don't get stuck in a rut.
We've all seen the person who is stuck in a style that is decades old. Maybe her hair is worn in the style of twenty years ago. Maybe it's her makeup, or perhaps it's her clothes. While knowing your style and sticking to it means that your clothes could last you for years, you should still experiment and try new things. Cut your hair in a new style. Play around with new makeup colors. Try on an article of clothing that seems completely out of character. You never know when you will find a new favorite that will freshen your look. I recently purchased 2 blue jean skirts at Cato's for $5.38 each. Obviously, I was thrilled with the price, but I mention them here because they are very different from the style I would normally wear. I prefer straight skirts that fall at either the knee or the ankle. These skirts fall right below the knee and are made in an A-line style with panels that make the hem kind of ruffle in a very feminine manner, but they are not so trendy that they will be outdated next year. I absolutely LOVE these skirts! They look great with nearly every top I own, and they have updated my look. They make me feel flirty and feminine and attractive. If I had not been willing to try on something out of character, I would have missed out on something excitingly different. However, before you go shopping for that new look, read Dilly Dilly's posts Don't Believe the Hype (which details current fads to avoid) and Winter 2006 - Wardrobe Essentials (which describes the "must-haves" for this winter).

8. Cut your losses.
You may be wondering about those "misses" in your wardrobe - you know, that piece of clothing that just doesn't work for you. We talked previously about avoiding those purchases in the future; now I want to tell you to let go of the past. It doesn't matter how great a deal it was or who gave it to you. You need to purge your clothes. has an informative article on Closet Purge How-to's that gives you specific criteria to use when sorting your clothes. You should sort your clothes at least twice a year; the season change is a good time to do this. BE RUTHLESS! If you don't love it, get rid of it! You are probably not wearing it anyway, and your storage space is too valuable to waste on clutter.

Well, this series is almost finished. I've enjoyed researching and writing it, and I hope this has been a help to you.

Coming tomorrow: Personal Style - Part 5.

I'll expand my last two tips:

9. Learn by observing.
10. Be patient.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and to all. I know I'm a day early, but we have a family celebration tomorrow, and then we're helping my in-laws move on Friday and Saturday. I will not be able to post again until Sunday at the earliest.

I am very thankful for the following:

  • My salvation. This is a gift from God that I did not and could not earn. If you want to know more about salvation, read The Gospel ABC's.
  • My darling husband. He is so wonderful, and I am blessed beyond measure to be married to my beloved.
  • My three girls. They are the light of my life and definitely keep me occupied. Like all children they are the very essence of change: sweet one minute and little terrors the next. I thank God for bestowing these three precious gifts.
  • My family. (immediate, in-laws, and extended)
  • My church. It is so nice to finally have a church home again!
  • My friends. Having lived here for one year, I am doubly appreciative for old friends and new. It can be very lonely after a move to an area where you know no one. Old friends have provided a life-line, and new friends have met the need for "in person" contact.
  • My home. God placed us in the perfect home for us.
  • God's direction. He has worked miraculously in our lives to guide us where He wants us to be.
That is only a partial list of my blessings. I pray that we all remember to thank God for His bountiful gifts to us.


Carnival News

I am excited to report that I have been asked to host Babylune's December 5 issue of the Healthy and Fit Family Carnival. As usual, the carnival will feature ten practical, family-oriented posts about leading a healthier life. Next Tuesday's Fifth Healthy and Fit Family Carnival will be hosted by Babylune and submissions are now open. What are you waiting for? Go submit your ideas for keeping your family on the right track.


Personal Style - Part 3

Welcome back to my Personal Style series. Today's tips are about accessories and the need to be selective when creating your wardrobe.

The individual posts in this series are:
Part 1 - know your shape and "your" colors
Part 2 - know your individual style, and develop it without breaking the bank
Part 3 - use accessories, and be selective in what you buy
Part 4 - don't get stuck in a rut, and cut your losses
Part 5 - learn by observing, and be patient

Now, on with today's tips.

5. Accessories are important.
Accessories are another way to express yourself and stretch your wardrobe. You can wear the same outfit but change the accessories, and it will look like a completely different outfit. Think of a sleeveless "little black dress," for example. Wear it with a jacket, a simple gold chain, a watch, and black flats or pumps; you have an outfit for the office. Wear the same dress with high heels, a classically-styled black purse, and pearls at your ears, throat, and wrist; you now have an outfit for church or a similar occasion. Take the same dress. Accessorize with a sheer wrap, glamorous jewelry, stiletto heels, and a little clutch purse. Presto - you're ready for an evening out. Take a look at your clothes and see how many outfits you can create just by accessorizing.

6. Be selective.
Don't buy anything that is not your style or color. Take the advice of that old saying, "If in doubt, don't!" I am especially tempted by sales. I may find something that is very close to what I would like but doesn't quite fit the bill. Often, I find myself saying, "Oh, that is such a great price, and it's close to what I want. I'm sure I'll wear it." However, I've found that the items I am not sure about and buy anyway are the ones that get stuck in the back of my closet. Be ruthless. A bargain that sits unused is no bargain; it is a waste of money. If someone gives you something that is not flattering, do genuinely thank the giver for their thoughtfulness, but don't hang onto that item. Exchange it; give it to someone who would look good in it; give it to a thrift store; do anything (discreetly!) with it except keep it. No one needs a closet full of clothes they don't like or wear.

I recommend your reading Dilly Dilly's informative post about What NO WOMAN Needs in Her Wardrobe (from her blog What Every Woman Needs in Her Wardrobe). PLEASE NOTE: she does refer to a woman's bottom as "a**".

Coming next week: Personal Style - Part 4.

I'll discuss my next two tips.

7. Don't get stuck in a rut.
8. Cut your losses.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Healthy and Fit Family Carnival Is Up

Hi, guys! I just thought I would let you know that Thrifty Mommy is hosting the Fourth Healthy and Fit Family Carnival. This carnival is for the purpose of helping families remember to do things to remain healthy and fit. The 10 posts linked on Thrifty Mommy are about topics such as weight loss, exercise, nutrition, and medical issues. My post about a healthier substitute for chocolate is included. Go over there to read all the great entries.


Thanksgiving carnival

Hey, Thrifty Mommy has the Thanksgiving Carnival of Family Life posted. Go visit and see what others have shared. You can read my Thanksgiving story and recipe here. This is a wonderful celebration that keeps getting shoved further back towards oblivion. Let's remember to thank God for all He has done.


Personal Style - Part 2

Welcome to Personal Style - Part 2. Today's tips discuss recognizing your individual style and developing your style without breaking the bank.

The individual posts in this series are:
Part 1 - know your shape and "your" colors
Part 2 - know your individual style, and develop it without breaking the bank
Part 3 - use accessories, and be selective in what you buy
Part 4 - don't get stuck in a rut, and cut your losses
Part 5 - learn by observing, and be patient

Now, on with today's tips.

3. Recognize your style preference – your lifestyle and your individual style.

Your lifestyle will in some measure affect your individual style. For example, if you are in business, you will need more business clothing than someone who lives a more casual life.

Three basic lifestyles are Metropolitan, Middle American, and Casual. The Metropolitan family lives more formally, the Middle American family is neither excessively formal nor excessively casual, and the Casual family is perpetually casual in life and dress (think California stereotype). Your individual style will generally fall into one or more of the following classifications

You enjoy comfort, gravitate to natural fabrics, and use simple accessories. You don’t care much about trends and like everything to be low-maintenance.

The Classic
You favor styles that are timeless, meaning your wardrobe will last for years. You are more concerned about quality than quantity. You stick with the same style for years, occasionally making small adjustments.

The Romantic
You enjoy beautiful clothing and are drawn to very feminine attire which often features ruffles, lace, silk, flowery prints, and fancy jewelry. You like to accessorize with antique or nice imitation jewelry.

The High Fashion-Dramatic
Your strong personality is displayed in your attire. You like bold colors and accessories. The latest fashion trends are important to you, and you are always changing your look to make a statement.

The Artsy-Creative< style="font-weight: bold;">Adapted from Dress like a Million Bucks without Spending It – by Jo Ann Janssen and Gwen Ellis

4. Develop your style without breaking the bank.
You should never go in debt to buy clothing. You do not have to spend a lot of money to get the look you want. When you buy clothes, consider the following ideas:
  • Never pay full price. Everything will go on sale at some point in it's life. We are coming up on some of the greatest sales of the year. You've waited this long, and it won't hurt to wait a little longer, especially if you can save money by waiting.
  • Outlet malls are not necessarily any cheaper than regular malls, but catch their sales, and you will probably end up with some great deals.
  • Actual outlets are different from outlet malls. An outlet is where a manufacturer sells excess and second quality products. If you are purchasing an item labeled as a second, ask the clerk to show you what is wrong with the item. I once purchased a Winnie-the-Pooh bathing suit for my little girl for $.99. The only thing wrong was that part of a seam had not been sewn together properly. That was very easily fixed. At another outlet, I purchased 4 and 5 yard lengths of khaki and denim fabric for $1.00 per yard. You definitely can't beat that!
  • Consignment stores usually offer good quality clothing that have passed high standards. Most consignment stores require that the clothing be no more than one or two years old and be in good condition. While I am not aware that they will only accept certain brands, I do know that good brands are very likely to end up here at great prices.
  • Thrift stores can be great places to shop, but you usually have to search to find what you want. Examine everything very carefully before you buy it. My favorite thrift stores have been the ones that benefit battered and homeless women and children. If there is a thrift store located near an upscale neighborhood, chances are good that you are likely to find upscale clothing there.
  • Garage sales are an adventure in serendipity. You never know when you will stumble across that perfect article of clothing. I don't often go to yard sales simply because I hate to get up early, but my children have been well-outfitted because their grandma and great-grandma love to go to yard sales. I certainly appreciate the fruit of their efforts!
Coming tomorrow: Personal Style - Part 3

I'll develop the following tips:

5. Accessories are important.
6. Be selective.


Thoughtful Tuesday (5)

In honor of Thanksgiving, consider the following:

"Thanksgiving is not a day; it's a season"
Pastor Steve Cuthrell

"When the fires of gratitude die on the altar of a man's heart, that man is well nigh hopeless."
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.

"If you can't praise the Lord for something, praise Him on credit anyway."
Maze Jackson


Monday, November 20, 2006

Your Personal Style - 10 Tips to Help You Develop It (Part 1)

Perhaps like me you have become interested in developing your personal style. As with any other pursuit, knowledge is power. Throughout this week I would like to share 10 pieces of information that have helped me in my quest to transform myself from "no style" to "great style."

The individual posts in this series are:
Part 1 - know your shape and "your" colors
Part 2 - know your individual style, and develop it without breaking the bank
Part 3 - use accessories, and be selective in what you buy
Part 4 - don't get stuck in a rut, and cut your losses
Part 5 - learn by observing, and be patient

1. Know your shape.

Every body is a particular shape, and knowing your shape is the only way to discover what styles will flatter you.'s article Dress for Your Body Type explains the different types of figures and gives links to articles on dressing for a particular shape. Another place that features this kind of information is Igigi's (a plus-size woman's clothing Internet retailer) page: Welcome to My Shape. The information contained at both sites is good for all women.

If you need more personalized help figuring out both your body type and the most flattering clothing for that type, visit's Body Types page where you can order a personal profile and 3 months' worth of personalized help for $9.95. There is also a 12-month option available for $29.95. (In no way, shape, or form am I compensated for recommending any of these sites.) I think this is a small price to pay for that kind of service. Let's face it, how many times have we spent much more than $10 or even $30 on clothes that just didn't suit us?

2. Know "your" colors.

Everyone looks good in certain colors and terrible in others. Our overall coloring determines which colors we need to wear and which ones we need to avoid. Knowing which colors are “your” colors will be a great help when choosing the right clothes for you.

A popular way to categorize individual coloring is by the four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.
"A Winter person usually has very dark hair. Her best colors are contrasting colors, deep colors (often deep reds and blues), black, and white; her neutral colors are black, gray, and navy blue.

A Spring person usually has light to medium blond hair and warm golden skin tones. Her eyes are often in the brown or gray family. Her colors often include peaches, tans, and other earthy light colors. Her neutrals colors are cream, tan, and golden brown.

A Summer person may have blond or ash blond hair, a pink or rosy beige complexion, and bluish eyes. Her colors include ones with undertones of blue or rosy pink (i.e. mauve, rose pink, periwinkle blue). Her neutral colors are rosy beige, taupe, and cool gray.

An Autumn person is most likely a redhead but may also be a brunette with warm skin tones and brown eyes. The browns and golds of fall complement her coloring best. Her neutrals include anything in the warm brown family, rust, and olive green."

Adapted from Dress like a Million Bucks without Spending It – by Jo Ann Janssen and Gwen Ellis

If you still are not sure of your color palette, visit to get your own Color Makeover Online. They have picture illustrations along with the written descriptions to better help you choose your main color characteristics and get you started on the road to finding your best colors.

Coming tomorrow: Personal Style - Part 2

I'll share more on the following tips:

3. Know your style preference.
4. Develop your style without breaking the bank.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Reclaim Your House Week" - last post

Well, on Friday I went grocery shopping with the girls and on Saturday we were out of town for a family Thanksgiving dinner so I can't remember what I accomplished each day. However, click to see the week's "goals" list and come back here to see my actual "accomplished" list.


Kitchen/dining area

  • Washed/dried/put away dishes - all week, of course
  • Cleared off and wiped down the table but not the counters
  • I washed 15 (large) loads of laundry but only put away 3. The other 12 loads are piled on my love seat in my piano room.
Living Room
  • Everything was put away multiple times.
  • Both bathrooms were swished and swiped multiple times.
  • The tub was scrubbed.
  • All 3 bedrooms were picked up. YEA!!!!
  • Only Baby Bear's room was decluttered.
Toy Room
  • I didn't even touch it. Oh, well. I guess it's my "job security." *grin* I'll get to it next week - I hope!
Throughout the house
  • All floors were swept.
  • All rooms with carpet except one were vacuumed.
  • Both bathroom mirrors were cleaned 3x.
That's about it, but as busy as my week was, I am pretty happy with that. Overall, my house is looking quite a bit better. Now to continue the improvement! Sho, thanks for joining me. That made it a lot more fun.


Our church search has ended!

For those of you who do not know, we moved to this location just about a year ago and have been searching for a solid, fundamental, Bible-believing church since. We had joined a church in May, but right after we did, trouble erupted. When the issue was resolved, the Lord made clear to us that our time at that church was done. There are maybe five Independent Fundamental Baptist churches in this area. While we are not hung up on denominations, our standards and convictions most closely match the Independent Fundamentalists. After leaving the first church, we visited another for about a month and had actually decided we were going to join there when the Lord very firmly shut that door, too. We ended up at Calvary Baptist Church and have been visiting for 3 1/2 months. Mr. Incredible and I both felt like this was where the Lord wanted our family to worship, and today we went ahead and joined. It is so nice to have a church to call home again! There are three pastors, and I have been blessed by the sermons preached by all three. One other aspect of this church I really appreciate is their ability to love the sinner while still holding firm and preaching against sin. Over the years I have noted that many Baptist churches, and particularly Independent Fundamental Baptist churches, have a legalistic attitude that makes love for a person contingent upon their upholding a certain set of rules imposed by the church. Without watering down the Bible or lowering their standards, the pastors and members of Calvary manage to convey Christ's love regardless of where you are in your walk with God. I praise the Lord for directing us to this church and pray that He will continue to use us there.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Nutritious and (reputedly) Delicious

Since I enjoy a good salad and even like brussel sprouts , I was excited to find a post featuring recipes for both. Instead of the traditional boiled or steamed brussel sprouts, these are stir-fried with olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms. In the post, the writer goes on to state that the same method can be used to make a hot spinach salad additionally featuring portabello mushrooms, crumbled egg, and tomato. I think adding bacon bits or crumbled pieces of real bacon would be even more delicious. Go read Hot Salad Method for all the information.


"Reclaim Your House Week" - Day 4

I am thrilled to report that I actually accomplished quite a bit yesterday! I think it was because I didn't have to go anywhere that day.

Here's what I accomplished:

1. Cleaned both bathrooms
2. Wiped down the bathroom mirrors
3. Swept both bathrooms
4. Picked up the MBR - includes making the bed
5. Cleaned Baby Bear's Room
6. Picked up the LR yet again
7. Washed 2 loads of laundry
8. Vacuumed the LR, hall, MBR, and Baby Bear's room

How is it going for you?


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Baby news

Congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law, Rakel and Rodney, on the birth of their daughter, Stacy Amber. She was born November 15 and weighed 6 lbs. 13 oz. Mother and daughter are doing well. Since they live almost a thousand miles away, I have not yet been able to see this precious darling. Her daddy says she has a head full of dark hair. This makes the 9th grandchild for my parents with the 10th due in late February. My brother and his wife are expecting a boy then.

In the same vein, my husband's brother and sister-in-law found out their baby's gender yesterday. Since I know that some family members read this, I won't spill the beans, but I know that Richard and Christy are thrilled. They expect their bundle of joy to arrive early April.


"Reclaim Your House Week" - Day 3

Well, I was away from home AGAIN yesterday so this is pretty much a repeat of Day 2.

1. Washed 2 loads of laundry
2. Washed dishes
3. Cleaned my bathroom
4. Picked up the living room
5. Picked up my room

The good news is that I do not have to go anywhere today, and I will be a regular cleaning tornado (I hope!). Until tomorrow, happy cleaning.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Help for the clueless

Do you remember the days when you first started blogging? That's where I am. Some days I feel as though my inexperience gleams as brightly as a newly-minted penny. For instance: I only recently found out that some lucky people actually get paid to blog. And tonight, I was relieved to be informed that referrals from "adult" sites are just a sad fact of blogging life when your blog is public. Well, in the sense that now I know my former blog URL and name were not sending an unintended message, I am relieved. My only regret is that I did not know that fact sooner - I wouldn't have changed my blog's location, which would have saved everyone some inconvenience. However, it's entirely my fault that I didn't know sooner. I failed to ask the right person the right question. Live and learn, and there's just a little bit less "newly minted" gleam to me now. (At this point, I'd like to say a big "thank you" to Karen and Alan for educating me in this new arena I've entered.)

Earlier today, I ran across a series of posts that aims to help new bloggers like me. It is Blogging for Beginners and discusses topics from basic introductory material such as "What is a Blog?" to blog design, writing content, and making money. If you have a blogging-related question, this appears to be a good starting point on the road to finding answers. I am going to read each and every post!


Monterey Chicken review

Okay, I made the Monterey Chicken last night. It was very good, did not take much time to make, was an easy recipe, and my husband said he would like to have it again. Next time I make it, I think I will put a little more barbecue sauce on the chicken. I neglected to measure the sauce this time and don't think I used quite enough to give the chicken the full flavor. The bacon paired nicely with the chicken creating a much more interesting taste than just the barbecue-covered chicken would have been. Of course the cheese and scallions added to my enjoyment of this entree, but I think the bacon is what really "made" it for me. Overall, I would rate this recipe a 9 out of 10. It might be a 10 once I adjust the amount of barbecue sauce. Thank you, Sandra, for sharing this recipe.


"Reclaim Your House Week" - Day 2

Ugh! Yesterday did not go well! It was crazy around here, but I'll spare you the details and get on with the list of what little housework I accomplished.

1. Cleaned my bathroom
2. Washed 2 loads of laundry.
3. Washed more dishes.
4. Worked on our room but did not complete it.

That's about it, sorry to say! Sho, I bet you're ahead right now, but I'll catch up soon.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Indulge your taste for chocolate - guilt-free!

What do you do when you love chocolate but are concerned about the calories, caffeine, and other harmful substances it contains?

That is the question with which my mother dealt while I was growing up. My father is border-line sugar diabetic, but he has a sweet tooth, particularly when it comes to chocolate. His all-time favorite cake is still German chocolate cake. Mom checked into healthy alternatives for chocolate and discovered carob powder.

Because they taste very similar, carob powder is a great substitute for cocoa, and it's a breeze to use: just use carob powder instead of the cocoa powder prescribed in any recipe. Doing so allows you to get the chocolate taste you crave without putting your health at risk.

UCLA Professor Arthur C. Gibson teaches a course on economic botany and has written the manual used as a textbook for the course. In his informative essay on carob located on UCLA's botanical garden web site, Professor Gibson describes the nutritional advantages of carob powder when compared with cocoa powder:
"Although this product has a slightly different taste than chocolate, it has only one-third the calories (total 1595 calories per pound), is virtually fat-free (chocolate is half fat), is rich in pectin, is non allergenic, has abundant protein, and has no oxalic acid, which interferes with absorption of calcium. Consequently, carob flour is widely used in health foods for chocolate-like flavoring."

Carob powder is generally available from health food stores and can also be purchased over the Internet.

Here is a recipe from Barry Farm Foods to get you started:


2 c. sugar
6 T. Carob powder
2 T. butter
2/3 c. milk
Pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla

Combine sugar, milk, salt and carob powder. Bring mixture to boil, not stirring. Boil to soft ball stage (234-238°F). Add butter and vanilla and cool without stirring 'til butter melts. Beat mixture 'til creamy and thickening and shine disappears. Pour into well-buttered pan. Cut into squares.

If you want nutty fudge, add 1/2 c. chopped nuts when you add the vanilla.

Enjoy your guilt-free "chocolate" indulgence!

This post is an entry in the Fourth Healthy and Fit Family Carnival hosted by Thrifty Mommy.


Monterey Chicken

Tantalized by Sandra's post about Chili's Monterey Chicken, I am using her recipe tonight. I'll let you know the results tomorrow. Her family obviously loved it, and it certainly sounds like a delicious entree. Here's a sampling of her descriptive paragraph before the recipe:

...chicken breast covered in bacon and cheese and then topped with green onions...


Thoughtful Tuesday (4)

"If you are ashamed of Christ, you are a shame to Christ."
Dr. Bill Wingard

and from
Pastor Dwight Williams

The Gospel ABC's:

A - All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
(Romans 3:23)
B - Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
(Acts 16:31)
C - Call upon the name of the Lord, and thou shalt be saved.
(Romans 10:13)


Monday, November 13, 2006

Life lessons from my baby

I was getting Baby Bear ready for bed tonight. As we entered her doorway, she stiffened a little but relaxed when I took her to her changing table. After I had changed her diaper and dressed her for bed, I carried her to her crib. The moment she realized where we were headed, she began to fight it. When she hit the mattress she began screaming as usual; and, as usual, I told her goodnight, turned out the light, and closed her door as I walked out. After a few moments, golden silence reigned.

I began thinking how, as her parent, it is my responsibility to know what is best for and what is needed by Baby Bear, even when she herself doesn't know what she needs. Bed time is not fun, but sleep is necessary for her continued growth and development. Even so my Heavenly Father knows what is best and what is needed in my life.

How often, like Baby Bear, I kick and scream because I do not like what is happening, not realizing that without the "problem" I so hate, I would not develop as I should. I am thankful for a Heavenly Father Who is all-wise and lovingly gives me what is best even when I desperately seek to evade that needful thing.


"Reclaim Your House Week" - Day 1

Despite being on the computer way too much today, I accomplished nearly everything.

No, not nearly everything on the LIST! :) Just nearly everything I intended to accomplish today. I had you going there for a second, Sho, didn't I? Here's what I did today:

  1. Washed and dried 5 loads of laundry - too bad they're on the love seat in my piano room waiting to be put away (along with 3 other loads). I guess that's on my list for tomorrow. Uh-oh! I just remembered I gotta wash Mr. Incredible's uniforms! Make that 6 loads of laundry for today, and I'm going to be up way too late tonight!!!
  2. Picked up the living room and delivered all non-LR items to the rooms in which they belong.
  3. Vacuumed said living room and the hall.
  4. Swept the kitchen floor.
  5. ALMOST finished the dishes. Maybe I'll complete them while I'm up washing uniforms.
  6. Cleared off and wiped down the kitchen table. It looks good, too.
  7. Made our bed. I know, I know, that's not on the list, but I had skipped that little job for a couple of days, and it looks really good today.
In addition, I played outside with the girls for almost an hour, talked on the phone with several different people, cooked supper (as usual), and filled my other normal roles.


Family life - Thanksgiving style

Thrifty Mommy is hosting The Carnival of Family Life - Thanksgiving style and is asking for recipes and decorating tips. I have the absolute BEST Thanksgiving recipe to enter.

My maiden name was McKinley which is not too common. I grew up in South Texas, and during the winter months, a "Winter Texan" couple who shared our last name attended our church. They became our adopted grandparents, and we loved spending time with them. They normally invited us over for Thanksgiving, and Grandma McKinley always made this delicious and colorful corn casserole. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Grandma gave us girls the recipe, and one year I made it for my husband's family's Thanksgiving celebration. It has been requested almost every year since that time.

Grandma McKinley's Corn Casserole

1 can cream-style corn
1/2 can water chestnuts
2 eggs
1/4 c. chopped green peppers
3/4 c. cracker crumbs
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. milk
1 jar pimentos
1/4 c. sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine

Mix together everything except the melted butter. Pour butter over top. Bake at 350-375F about an hour.

This post is an entry in the Carnival of Family Life #28 - Thanksgiving Thoughts and Feelings hosted by Thrifty Mommy.


Reclaim Your House Week goals

Thank you to my sister, Sho, for the idea of posting a list of chores to accomplish this week. Apparently we are now competing to see who can reclaim her house first! For anyone else who wishes to participate in my "Reclaim Your House Week" *grin* you are welcome to modify this list as needed. This just reflects my goals.

Kitchen/Dining area
  • wash, dry, and put away all dishes (!)
  • clear off and wipe down counters/table
  • wash, dry, and put away at least 2 loads a day - more like 4+ for me!
  • clear junk out of laundry room
Living Room
  • put away anything out of place
Toy Room
  • clear out anything that does not belong!!!
  • put some toys in storage to rotate later
  • organize remaining toys - "a place for everything and everything in its place"
Throughout the house
  • sweep, mop, and/or vacuum all floors
  • dust
  • clean windows and mirrors

Does it seem like I have forgotten anything? Let me know if you think of something else.

Before you leave, here is a good read about the rewards for having a clean house. Hop over for inspiration and then get busy! Happy cleaning!


Frugal Tips and Tricks (5)

I just thought I was finished with the laundry tips. I found this post about the "Top 10 Ways to Take Care of Your Clothes" when you wash them. It was really informative; some things I had never considered:

  • Turn your clothes inside out. The pills will be on the inside instead of the outside.
  • Hang your shirts up inside out ... to get rid of the little coat hanger defects in the shoulders.
I'm not going to quote all 10 tips for you; you'll have to read the rest of it from the source. :)


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Frugal Tips and Tricks (4)

I've been doing a LOT of laundry lately, can you tell? Here are some more laundry tips.

To remove stubborn/offensive odors
Add about 1/4 cup clear ammonia with your detergent and other additives. (Just don't use it in conjunction with bleach!)

I use this trick a LOT! This works great for underwear, kids' urine-soaked clothing (sorry, it's a fact of life at our house), sour laundry, and other stinky items. It amuses me that something that smells horrible itself does such a great job of removing offensive odors.

Dryer sheet stretcher
Cut in half

This will not make any difference in performance, and the dryer sheets will last twice as long. How great is that!

Dryer preventive maintenance
Particularly if you use dryer sheets, scrub your lint filter with hot soapy water and a toothbrush or similar implement at least twice a year. Dryer sheets leave a film that builds up, clogging the mesh openings and reducing your dryer's efficiency and effectiveness. This can lead to dryer fires and break down of the heating unit. I found this tip here at


A round of applause, please!

Well, I am ecstatic to report that Mr. Incredible and I have finished our storage building. We (mostly HE) completed the actual carpentry part on Friday, and then WE spent all day Saturday painting it. It is a most delectable shade of blue. I swear it makes me hungry just to look at it! Hubby swears that it is Carolina blue. (His favorite college team is the UNCTarheels). I think it has a tad too much gray in it to be true Carolina blue, but if it makes him happy to think it's that color... ;) We plan to paint our house to match, but that won't happen until next spring at the earliest so right now the building looks a little funny in the background. The kids played outside for a little while but were inside for most of the day (!!!), and by the time we were done painting, the house was GONE, I'm telling you, GONE!!!!! Starting tomorrow I am going to officially begin "Reclaim Your House Week". Anyone care to join me? We can post on what we have accomplished and hold each other accountable. Sounds like fun, huh? *grin* (It's okay if there are no takers for that one.)


A lesson in humility

Hi, I'm back. About the lesson, well, I was over at Lindsey's blog Enjoy the Journey. In her post she mentioned that she averages between 300-400 readers a day. I had to laugh. Just lately, I had been feeling pleased (proud) that I was averaging more than 15 readers per day! Ah, yes, humbling indeed!


Friday, November 10, 2006

I'll be back soon

I'm rather busy right now, but there are more of my riveting and scintillating posts coming soon. (Ha, ha!)


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hope everyone made it here alright

Again, I apologize for changing addresses on you, but I am not eager to end up at any more horrible sites just because I want to see who referred someone to my site! I hope that everything will go smoothly from here on.


Frugal Tips and Tricks (3) Updated November 13, 2006

I'm not sure the title is correct in the strictest sense because I am not actually giving you any tips or tricks this time. Instead, I would like to highly recommend the following websites where you can FIND tons of great tips/tricks:

The Dollar Stretcher - Living Better ... for Less
Go here for frugal tips, tricks, and advice. In addition to their informative website, they have several e-zines to which you can subscribe for FREE. I found this site via the Yahoo! group frugalfamilies_ncsc. Here is a direct quote from The Dollar Stretcher site:
Our goal is to provide you with useful ways to make the most of your money and time. Practical ideas that you can put to use right away. ... We get many of our best ideas from our readers. Feel free to contribute to the 'Tips' area. We welcome your complaints and suggestions, too!

Look at this informative article on "Cash Flow Management" detailing how to save money without realizing it is gone. (added 11/13/06)

Dumb Little Man - Tips for Life
I found this site via Thrifty Mommy. Here is a direct quote from Dumb Little Man:

So what do we do here? Well, it's simple. 15 to 20 times per week we provide tips that will save you money, increase your productivity, or simply keep you sane. The simple goal is to make the average person's life a little easier through smart thinking, smart use of technology,or a combination of both. If you are the sharing type and have a tip that's making your life easier, let us know!

If you want to see an example of his site, here's a great post on "How to Check the Odometer Before You Buy " [a car] (added 11/13/06)


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Thoughtful Tuesday (3)

"A dancing foot and a praying knee don't swing from the same leg."
-Evangelist Peter Cartwright


Happy Birthday, Mr. Incredible!

Happy birthday to you;
Happy birthday to you;
Happy birthday, dear darling!
Happy birthday to you!!

Today my beloved turns 30. (Isn't he handsome?) He is the kind of person everyone would like for a friend: kind, dependable, loyal, trustworthy, patient, funny, intelligent, and honest. He is my rock and steadying influence. He is incredibly patient with me; I know I have the knack of testing his patience! His standards and convictions are well-thought and firm, and he strives to be a wise and generous leader for our family. I trust him implicitly and love him with all my heart. He is a great father, and the girls all adore him. Thank you, darling, for all you do for us. I know you often sacrifice your desires in order to take care of us. We love you. I hope you have a great birthday; if I have any say in the matter, you will!


Is there something wrong?

When I check my stats, I will often click on the referring link to see who is sending people to my site. Unfortunately, a few referrers have been "adult" sites. The last one I innocently checked was particularly vile. As with the previous sites, the second I realized what the site was, I clicked off of it, but what little I saw was enough to seriously disturb me. My question is this: is my blog's name similar to a term or phrase that would attract that kind of person? Maybe everyone has this kind of problem with their blog? If you can think of ANYTHING, please, please, please let me know!


Fulfillment of a dream

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to record some piano solo music for a CD. Now before you get all excited, I am not intending to market this or anything. It's mostly for my own entertainment. Still, I did record 17 hymn arrangements, including the 5 I have created to date. Of course, out of the 17 songs, I am completely satisfied with only 3 of them and there are only 4 others to which I give qualified approval (meaning if I have time I will probably re-record them, too). So I still have a lot of work left to do. This is one of those things that has been in the back of my mind that I might do "someday." It's nice that "someday" was actually yesterday! Thanks so much to my wonderful friend who watched the girls at home for me so that I could do this! You are definitely getting a copy, don't worry!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gotta love it!

You Are Mexican Food

Spicy yet dependable.
You pull punches, but people still love you.
What Kind of Food Are You?

This was fun! (I know that's pathetic.) I love Mexican food, too, so this result made me happy. I found the original link at A Chelsea Morning.


Breakfast and Dinner Burrito Recipes

I wish I could claim them as my own, but head on over to Barb's blog A Chelsea Morning for these fantastic-sounding recipes. I have not tried them as of yet, but I found them through rave reviews at Sandra's place. I think they're definitely worth trying.


Frugal Tips and Tricks (2)

As I was cleaning for Pookie's party, I was reminded of these two oft-used tips.

To remove crayon scribbles:
Spray with WD-40 and wipe off with a cloth

This is absolutely FANTASTIC! I have used this trick to clean walls; wood chairs; vinyl, hardwood, and ceramic floors; a table top; a trash can lid; a refrigerator door; and even walls. Note: this tip is only for regular crayons and does not work for those horrible water-based crayons! Also, I do not recommend this for material; but if you do use it for that, you can use dish soap to remove the grease spot from the cloth.

To remove ink marks:
Use rubbing alcohol or a hairspray with high alcohol content (such as Aqua Net)

Depending on where the ink mark is, you can try either rubbing it with a alcohol-moistened rag or pouring the alcohol directly on the mark. If the mark is on clothing or other material, follow this treatment with a little bit of soap and warm water.


Hello again

It's funny: I didn't get on the computer AT ALL on Saturday, and I feel like I have been gone forever. Pookie had her birthday party and had a marvelous time. We had 11 kids total at our house - 10 girls and 1 boy. That was my nephew. Sorry, buddy. He has 2 sisters so at least he is used to girls! :)

Mr. Incredible voluntarily stayed up until 11:45 p.m Friday night to help me clean. Thank you, darling!!!! See, THAT is one reason I call him Mr. Incredible. There are many others, too, but I digress. Saturday morning he resumed his work on our building. He almost has it done, and he is doing a super job. He was working on putting up the trim and kept calling me to come help him. Trying to prepare for the party and help him at the same time was challenging at best, but everything turned out well.

After the party, we left the kids inside (YIKES!) while we worked on the building. It was too cold and dark for us to feel comfortable having the babies outside. Our lighting was the floodlight at our back door and a little camping lantern. It got rather interesting at times, but neither of us got hurt. Thank the Lord! There is only a little trim work left, and then we can caulk and paint it. THEN we can store all our STUFF after I sort through it and get rid of some of it.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Happy Birthday, Pookie Bear!

Four years ago, Pookie Bear came into the world. Since that moment, our lives have never been the same. She is sweet, saucy, and tender-hearted. She is a wonderful big sister, always watching out for her little sisters and loving them. Trust me, no one is walking off with her sisters if she is around! She gets upset if our friends even joke about taking her sisters home with them. She freely gives hugs and kisses, which makes the world a brighter place. We love her with all our hearts and thank God for sending her to enrich our lives.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

All in a day's work

Take out the garbage;
Clean the house;
Care for the kids,
And kill a mouse. (Well, it rhymed!)

Cook the meals;
Wash the clothes;
Feed the baby,
And wipe her nose.

Kiss a scrape;
Dry some tears;
Give a hug,
And calm their fears.

Read a story;
Say a prayer;
Tuck them in bed,
And collapse in a chair.

Kiss my husband;
Ask how he's doing;
Watch his show;
Wait, was I snoozing?

Climb into bed;
This day is done;
"Sleep well, darling."
Isn't life fun!

-by me!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Christ-centered Christmas Blog - check it out

Lindsey at Enjoy the Journey has created a Christmas blog called Advent for Evangelicals. Just click the link to check it out. (Note: this is not a denominational thing; it is solely for the purpose of honoring Christ in this upcoming Christmas season.) Here is what she has to say about it:

"Since it is just now November, I will be focusing on preparing for Christmas and advent, as well as enjoying some Thanksgiving ideas with you all as well. Thanksgiving is a wonderful prelude into the Christmas season, don't you think? Here at Advent for Evangelicals I will be offering tips, guest bloggers (lots of great gals from around the web!), recipes, crafts, and more to aid you in your celebration."

It sounds really interesting to me. Let's face it: Christmas becomes less and less about "Christ" and more about "me" every year. I want my family to remember and celebrate the true Reason for Christmas.


Of pennies and pianos

My baby grand (which I love) had been annoying me for about a week, and I decided to fix it last night. Pookie and Miss Muffet know far too much about money and LOVE to appropriate any change they find lying around or even NOT lying around!

When we moved (last December!) I emptied the change out of their piggy banks into ziploc bags and never got around to either rolling the coins or returning the money to the piggy banks. Apparently my darling girls found the bags because they have been playing with loads of money. I keep taking it away, and they keep coming up with new stores from which to pull.

When I picked up Baby Bear and Miss Muffet from the nursery last Wednesday night, the nursery workers were laughing at Miss Muffet. Come to find out, she had gone to church with money in her (little) pocket. No one, including me, knew anything about it until she started pulling it out of her pocket one coin at a time and gave it to the nursery workers to hold. They laughed so hard because they said it was like the widow's oil - it just kept coming. In the end, she gave them over $14 in change!!!! I think I'll apply to the girls for a loan if I am ever in need of money! [All this really does have a point; just be patient a little longer ;)]

Well, back to the piano. Like I said, it had been annoying me. Two crucial keys were sticking, and I knew the reason - I could hear the coins jingling every time I tried to play those keys. I knew that because of where the coins were stuck I would need to take apart the piano so I procrastinated as long as possible. (I'm great at procrastinating.) Last night I couldn't take it any longer, and, besides, I have a student today. I removed the top and fallboard, baring the keys. Upon lifting up the stuck keys, I removed some change as expected. I decided I had better check nearby keys before replacing the lid, etc. I found more change that had not yet created a problem. Like the money from the pocket, it just kept coming! When I had gotten it all out, I had one quarter, six dimes, a nickel, and two pennies - $.92! Never a dull moment! Oh, and my piano works great now; thanks for asking.


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