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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011

Did you know that Halloween is ALSO All Hallows Eve / Reformation Day?  If you are not of the Reformed  Christian faith, you may not know what happened that day.   Hint:  Martin Luther.  (THE original Martin Luther)  Is it OK to celebrate either? or both?  Here are my thoughts from a previous blog post.

Much of the country is having terrible weather today/tonight, but if you take your children out, be safe. Be careful.  Be alert.

Many of the decorations are too spooky to put on here and I thought some were in bad taste.  Here are a few sights and tastes of Halloween:

Friends whose cat stood up straight for about 1 hour as far as I know...

My  husband and I saw this coming home one night this weekend...

My younger son's first attempt at pumpkin carving...he even won a prize!

A few tasty recipes for your trick or treaters...

AND a few items in my Ebay store that are Halloween related.
To see these listings, go to THIS LINK.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Family Outing: Legoland Florida

Last year for my birthday (and my son's) we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  This year we were looking for another outing and decided on Legoland, Florida.

When I saw on Facebook a few weeks ago that Legoland, Florida was giving away free vouchers to visit the new Legoland theme park, I jumped on it.  I called my older son who lives away from home and he did the same. By doing so, we got three free vouchers (@ $75 each = $225) PLUS a $10 off coupon for a senior ($55).  So, admission  cost us $55.  Admission plus a nice lunch and gas totaled about $100 for all four of us to enjoy this delightful new park.  A great bargain for a theme park just about anywhere.  :)

Regular admission prices are a bit high in my opinion.  I think $50 per person would be  reasonable and might get more people in after an initial visit.  I hope the high prices don't make this park close down as Cypress Gardens did.

If you have not gone to the park yet and have one of these vouchers  good through this weekend, BE SURE that you have read all the fine print and take everything you need to get in  (2 emails, VIP card which must be registered online, photo ID).  I felt bad for one lady and her family who arrived when we did. She apparently had not read all the instructions in the original email and did not have the proper documents to validate her voucher, so they family was turned away.   

Our family has  been BIG Lego fans ever since our sons were very small.  Although this park is really ideal for young children (I'd say up to age 12) there were areas that we could all enjoy-- the four roller coaster rides, the Mini-Land (my favorite), the old Cypress Gardens, a ski show, a water ride...

We ate at The Market near the entrance and all enjoyed our meal.  The weather was perfect, cool in the morning and mid-80s in the afternoon.    All in all, a wonderful day.   I hope the park does well.  There were very few people there when we arrived and it was never crowded. Granted, it was a Thursday, but for a much anticipated park, we expected many more people there.  Hours are from 10 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and you can see pretty much everything in that time frame.  Tickets are $75 per adult; $65 for children (3-11) and seniors.

For more details on the park, go to THIS LINK.

PROMOTIONS  (found this on another website):  
Legoland does offer multiple promotions. There is currently an offer on Pepsi cans. Certified teachers (with a pay stub) can get a free annual pass. Also, if you are a part of a homeschool group, you can set up a field trip and each person is only $5  (you must have proof of FPEA membership or letter of intent to the county stating you are homeschooling).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Two Ingredients + Spices

I love our ladies groups at church.  I attend a Bible/book study 2x a month and our Titus 2 Moms group 1x a month.  Lots of fellowship and conversation and you learn some practical things as well.  At one of these gatherings recently two of the younger women (thanks, Breanna and Mandi) told me how to make pumpkin muffins with two ingredients--spice cake mix and a can of pumpkin.  Someone had brought them that night as a snack and they tasted great.

When I started to make the muffins this morning, I mistakenly used a yellow cake mix instead of the spice cake mix and didn't realize it until I had already dumped the cake mix into the bowl.

Oops!  I had also already opened the pumpkin.  I have baked many, many pumpkin pies (homemade pumpkin pies are the BEST),  so I improvised --something my kids are usually afraid of when I cook.  I added some cloves and fresh ground cinnamon to the bowl.  They added just the extra flavor that the cake mix needed.  If you use the CORRECT mix (spice cake) you don't need to add anything.  

Since there are no eggs or oil added, the batter is lumpy after stirring well. This is actually better for spooning it into the muffin tins since I usually get it all over the counter and the tins when pouring regular batter in them.  No mess to clean up!

I baked the muffins according to the directions on the cake mix--25 minutes at 350 degrees.  This recipe made 16 sizable muffins and they DO taste great.

Added bonus:  I bought the cake mix at Aldi's for 89 cents and the organic pumpkin was free at a pantry swap party... so 16 muffins for 89 cents!  :)

We're headed to Legoland tomorrow and I wanted a take-along snack for the car.  These will be perfect AND taste like fall as well.  :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ebay Q & A: Stories-- The Funniest Thing I've Ever Sold on Ebay

A friend asked me to post on my blog what is the funniest thing that I remember selling.  I had to ponder for a bit to decide what that might be and came up with these:

Do you recognize them?  I did not either when I stopped at a yard sale on my way home one Saturday morning.  I had rummaged through quite a few things at a lady's home and even picked these up and put them back down again since I did not recognize them and had no idea what they were.

The owner of the home saw me set them down and told me (thankfully) what they were:  Frito Bandito pencil head erasers.  She even added the information that Frito-Lay  discontinued (another great Ebay buzz word) the advertising campaign AND their distribution in 1971 due to the "offensive" nature of them for Hispanic people.    These little erasers used to be in packages of Frito-Lay snacks when I was growing up (baby boomer item, another Ebay buzz word) Now, I am Hispanic and it didn't bother me a bit, so I bought all five of them-- for $1.00.  

I sold these five erasers individually on Ebay and as I recall, none of them sold for less than $25.00 and one sold for $50 (the blue one, I think).   Selling a group of similar items separately is generally more profitable.

TIP:  Keep your ears open when yard sale-ing and TALK to the people having the sales.  You learn all kinds of great tips.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  I definitely won on this one!  :)

My favorite Ebay "mentor" is Lynn Dralle.  She has written several books with the best things SHE has sold on Ebay which are very entertaining reading.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Losing Weight Staying Getting Healthy DIE-Ts

SO many women I know have recently begun (or re-begun) to eat healthier, exercise and take better care of themselves.  I am so glad.  I've been working on this over the last several weeks myself since I was basically a sloth over the summer.

Here are some of my favorite tips:

1. Drink lots of water.  I am a big visual aid person so I keep a little dish with 8 "marbles" in it by my water glass in the kitchen.  Every time I drink a glass, I put a marble by the glass.  Silly, I know, but it really helps me drink the water I  need!  I usually start with 2 glasses as soon as I get up and aways end the day with at least one glass before I go to bed.

2.  Keep track of when you exercise.  Another visual aid for me--my kitchen wall calendar. The stars are on the days when I walk carrying weights.  I strive for 5 days a week.

3.  Always keep a healthy snack IN SIGHT during the day.  Here is a bowl of red and green apples on the kitchen table.  It's even better when you really LIKE apples, as I do.  :) For me, it needs to be something chewy and crunchy.

4.  Keep track of what you eat.  I have never been one to keep a journal but this handy app from iTunes is excellent.  I have it on my iPod Touch.  It's called (what else?) LOSE IT!

5.  Start measuring your food--at least until you get an idea of how much is actually going into your mouth.  I honestly have never done this before but doing so, I am shocked how much I was eating.  I am equally as surprised at the fact that once I measure it and then eat it, that it's really enough (with snacks later, of course). :)  Portion control is the key.

6. Speaking of portion control, that is the bottom line in this entire book The Weigh Down Diet by Gwen Shamblin.  You don't need the class, just the book.  Some of the statements made in the book are a bit quirky, but the portion control is what needs to be focused on.   A dear friend of mine used the tips in this book to go from  weighing 200 lbs. to about 115 AND has kept the weight off for about 10 years or more.  She is one you would never believe had ever been overweight.  An easy way to do portions is to put food on your plate and then remove half of it.  When eating out, cut the meal in half as soon as it is served and take the rest home with you for a later meal.

7.  Read through other healthy cookbooks until you get the hang of NUTRITIOUS food, good healthy food practices and portions.  No need to only cook out of these, but they are helpful to get your started.  I like this author, Pam Smith, and  have heard her myself at a local church. She used to be the nutritionist for the Orlando Magic and has created menus for Seasons 52.  I remember hearing her say once that DIE is in the word DIEt.  How true...

So a good tips... but use whatever works for you.  The main thing is to get started on getting your heart healthy and unfortunately for most, that includes losing weight.  Keep yourself motivated, again by using visual aids in the form of weights.  I posted about that once before.   When you lose pounds, get something that weighs that amount and put it somewhere where you can see it, remembering that you used to carry that around ON you.  It really helps keeping you motivated.  :)

Philippians 4:13 
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Timeline of Your Life / Goals / Investing Your Life

My birthday is this weekend and in pondering my age (almost 56) I remembered an exercise that I did with my children when they were younger.  I rummaged around in some old homeschool files and found this timeline that I drew for them when we were talking about the Lord guiding our steps and directing our paths over a lifetime.   When I first drew this little visual aid I was in my early 40s.

Looking at it now I see I am much farther down the path.  :)

As an exercise in examining your own life, print this out and take a few minutes to highlight some of the major times of your life.  It helps to see where you've been and where you may be headed.    If you are farther up in the timeline (20s-30s), age 70 seems like a LONG way away.  I am amazed that it is only 15 years away for me.

When I think back to my 20's and the things I thought I wanted, so much has changed in my perspective.  I wanted to be a famous pianist and entertain.  I tried playing in nice restaurants and for performances and really did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would.  I much prefer teaching piano and playing worship music and for weddings.  :)  I wanted a glamorous job which I had my first year out of college for 12 months.  Although it paid well and was very exciting, it  turned out to be an exposure at a young age to things you read about in the tabloids that I wish now I had not been exposed to.   I thought I wanted to be rich and had a great career with a good income which I gave up to have children.  I did not realize how rich I would become in doing that as my children are the dearest  treasures of my life.   I wanted to travel and see the world.  I did much of that when I was younger, traveling every year to some place exciting.  I realized that it's not where you go or the things you see, it's the people you are with that make life an adventure.

Although I have had a very active life, when I look at this timeline I realize that the most treasured highlights of my life are those where I have invested my time in the lives of others--through being a wife and mother, a homeschool mom, a ministry leader, a piano teacher...  It's not the places where I've been or the things I have that I cherish the most, it's the people I have loved and those who have loved me along the way that matter the most... :)  If I had to pinpoint when my change in perspective occurred, I would have to say it was when I became a Christian in my mid-20s.

Here is my timeline with some of the major events notated.  Each event stirs up so many memories for me and all the people, time and energy related to each...the best of times and the worst of times...all of them have helped shape me into who I am today.

I am thankful that I learned at a fairly young age that people are more important than things and that I am blessed with the treasure of so many sweet relationships.   Consider your priorities and where you are spending your own life.  Where does all your energy go?    Maybe it's time for an adjustment. Ask the Lord for discernment and the ability to change the things that may need to be changed.  Later in life, you will be SO glad that you did and yours will be a life well lived without regrets.

Psalm 90:10 

As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years...  [with modern medicine some will live into their 90s]

Psalm 32:8 
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. 

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