Saturday, January 30, 2010

Super Excited About Super Bowl 44

Saints vs. Colts. It is going to be a super exciting game!

It would be super fun to watch the game at the Miami Dolphins Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. It should be beautiful weather. The Stadium is newly improved and you can tour it now until February 5, 2010. New interactive exhibits have been added as well as more concessions and restaurants, suites, and high definition TV monitors.

The game will begin at 5pm CST on February 7, 2010. It will be televised live by CBS. Kick-off is at 5:28pm. It is predicted to be a high scoring game.

Carrie Underwood will be singing the national anthem.

The Who will perform during the half time.
Ads for the Super Bowl are a bargain this year although most of the slots have been sold. The cost for a 30 second commercial will be $ 2.5 to 2.8 million which is less than last year. Pepsi won’t be advertising their drinks for the first time in 23 seasons although its’ Frito Lay company will be advertising Doritos. You can preview the 2010 ads at I don’t get to watch them during the game because I am usually at a very loud party so I like to watch them on line before the game starts.

Who will be the champions? Saints or Colts?

This is going to be a really good game!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Energy Equals Happiness

I have signed up for the Happiness Project at Gretchen Rubin’s website: . I couldn’t find her book at the library or in the bookstores here in town. They must be sold out. I had a discount from Christmas shopping from so I ordered one. I should get sometime next week. I can’t wait to read it.

If you are following the Happiness Project, this month’s focus is energy. You can’t be happy if you are tired all the time. It makes you cranky and unable to function. We are supposed to try to improve our energy levels this month. It is impossible to feel happy if you feel tired and drained of energy all the time. I think it is reasonable to expect to feel happy every day although maybe not every minute of every day. Life is stressful, stuff happens, and some days it is all you do just to crawl out of bed. If you can drag yourself out of bed, you should be able to find a way to be happy about it.

Here are Gretchen Rubin’s tips for increasing your energy: 1. Exercise, 2. Listen to lively music, 3. Get enough sleep, 4. Take a 10-30 minute nap, 5. Act energetic, 6. Talk to friends, 7. Get something done, and 8. Do not use food to energize. Those are great ideas that could help anyone get more energy!

I think there are several things that contribute to my fatigue. I know that I need to lose weight. I have lost 5 pounds and feel a lot more energetic so losing even more weight should help. I know that I feel weak if I don’t drink enough water. I try, but sometimes I just don’t want it. I need to get into the habit of drinking water, juice, tea, all the time. Most importantly, I do not get enough sleep.

I have never slept well. When I was a child, teenager, young adult, I could not get to sleep at a decent hour and then wanted to sleep away the morning. Not possible if you have to go to school or work. Now, I go right to sleep but I wake up at 4 or 5AM and my brain wants to get up and get going but my body is still exhausted. Why on earth can’t I get back to sleep and get the rest I need? I have tried sleeping pills, melatonin, calcium, reducing my caffeine intake and several other things but nothing works. I am going to start a sleep diary and start researching ways to get a good night’s sleep. Meanwhile, I’m not going to worry about it. Worrying makes it worse and I can survive on less sleep.

Here is a new blog about diet and exercise: Live it Up Fitness at: . It is a very energetic site that will help you lose weight, get fit , and increase your energy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut,Jr. Review

This was my first Kurt Vonnegut novel.
Little did I know that it is usually recommended for high schoolers. Nevertheless I really enjoyed it. Sometimes it is fun to read something a little different than you usually read.

by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
190 pages
Copyright 1969

Slaughterhouse-Five was a building that served as a German POW camp during World War II. Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner there and witnessed the firebombing of Dresden. The long lasting impressions of this incident inspired him to write a fictional story about Billy Pilgrim’s experience as POW, mixing fiction with reality.

I think this novel is about the horrors of war, the sacrifice of young men who are still like children for the purpose of defending your country, and the helplessness of humans to direct their own destiny. The author accomplishes this in a jumble of events where Billy’s experiences and observations of war and encapturement are mixed with his mental time travel through his life. Billy’s time travel occurs after he was abducted by the aliens know as Tralfamidoreans on his daughter’s wedding night. He was transported to their planet for several years to be observed like an animal in a zoo. The Tralfamidoreans believe that life occurs in 4 dimensions and whereas you cannot change how it enfolds, you can visit any moment in your life as it is occurring. Death will not exist because you can always visit another part of your life at the same time.

Slaughterhouse-Five is a very enjoyable novel. The sadness and horrors of war are balanced with the absurdness of Billy’s postwar life and the Tralfamidorean influence. Two things in this book have really made an impression on me. First was the terrifying reference stating “the candles and soap were made from the fat of rendered Jews and Gypsies and fairies and communists, and other enemies of the state”. This made a terrible impression on me and I really hope it is a myth. Second was Vonnegut’s repetitive “and so it goes” statement whenever someone or something dies. I like that phrase and now find myself using it quite often. This was my first Kurt Vonnegut novel and I can’t wait to read another.

Other books by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.:

Breakfast of Champions
Cat’s Cradle
Player Piano
The Sirens of Titan
God bless You Mr. Rosewater
Hocus Pocus
Mother Night
Deadeye Dick

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quick,Easy,Romantic Valentine's Day Dinners

My Valentine’s Day gift this year will be a trip to Las Vegas the week following the holiday and that is what my sweetheart is getting too. We’ll be staying home and cooking steaks on the grill with baked potatoes, green beans, rolls, and maybe a nice chocolate dessert. What if it is snowing and we can't grill outside? Well, here are two other delicious, romantic and very easy to prepare meals that you could also make for your sweetheart:

Meal #1
Baked Chicken
Roasted Potatoes
Green Beans
Crescent Rolls
Chocolate Mousse
This is a tasty meal and is easy to prepare if you are pressed for time or hate to cook. Pick up a rotisserie chicken, 2-3 baking potatoes, and 1 can of green beans, a can of crescent rolls, a package of instant chocolate pudding and a tub of Cool Whip. You should have Butter Pam, seasoned salt, milk, and butter at home. Be sure to allow time for the Cool Whip to thaw before beginning. Preheat oven to 375 degrees about 1 ½ hour before you want to eat. Wash and cut potatoes into 1 inch chunks. Spray a cookie sheet with Pam and arrange potatoes. You can also add carrots or other vegetable chunks. Spray vegetables with Pam and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Put chicken in a separate baking dish and bake with vegetables for one hour. Cover chicken with foil if you want it to stay moist or leave uncovered if you want a crisper chicken. Season the green beans with salt and pepper and simmer in a small saucepan while chicken is baking. Prepare mousse by whipping instant pudding and 2 cups cold milk for 2 minutes. Blend in 1 cup thawed cool whip. Spoon into dessert cups or wine glasses and garnish with remaining cool whip. Refrigerate. Shape crescent rolls and place on greased cookie sheet. Remove chicken and vegetables when done and start baking rolls. The rolls will only need to bake for about 10-12 minutes so you can arrange the chicken, potatoes, and vegetables on a pretty platter and set the table

Meal # 2.
Garlic Bread
Neapolitan ice cream

If you have ever seen Lady and the Tramp, you know that spaghetti is a romantic meal. It is quick and easy to prepare also. Pick up a pound of spaghetti, a jar or can of Spaghetti Sauce (I recommend Del Monte), a package of frozen meatballs, bag of salad, salad dressing, loaf of garlic bread, and a pint of Neapolitan ice cream. One hour before serving: Preheat oven to recommended temperature needed to bake garlic bread. Combine sauce and meatballs(you probably won't need the whole package of meatballs) in a large sauce pan and simmer for about an hour. I like to add a tbsp of sugar to my sauce for a sweeter flavor. Stir frequently and you may also need to add a little water if sauce gets too thick. Meanwhile, start heating a large pot of water on high until it begins to boil. Set the table. Wash salad and arrange on salad plates. Spoon ice cream into dessert dishes and refreeze. Fifteen minutes before serving, arrange garlic bread on cookie sheet to be reheated. Add spaghetti to pot of boiling water, stirring frequently and boil for 10 minutes, reducing heat slightly so spaghetti will not boil over. You should put garlic bread into oven as soon as the spaghetti begins to cook. After 10 minutes, drain spaghetti and toss with 2 tbsp. of butter to prevent stickiness. Pour sauce and spaghetti into serving dishes. Remove garlic bread from oven, slice, and arrange in napkin lined basket or platter. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and garlic salt if desired.

For a really special and elegant dinner: Chill a nice wine or make a special drink. Light some candles. Put on some relaxing music. Set your table with pretty linens, dishes, silverware, and flowers. Wear something that makes you look and feel good. Smile and make good conversation.

Monday, January 25, 2010

National Take Back Your time Week

Today is January 25th. It is National Take Back Your Time Week. I discovered this in yesterday’s newspaper. You are supposed to decide what is important to you and what you truly value and use that to balance the demands on your time.
It’s true that people seem to be overworked and overscheduled. We are exhausted and irritable and burned out. It’s time for a change.

Here are a few things you can do:
1. Simplify. Decide what you can do to simplify your life. There is a whole list of fantastic ideas at the Get More Done website. The link to the list is

2. Prioritize. Decide what is most important to you and how you can spend more of your time on the things that make you happy. Is there something you can do to work more efficiently in order to reduce your work hours? Is there an activity you can eliminate in order to spend more time with your family or doing a favorite hobby? Can you make chores and errands a family activity? For example, when I was a young working mother, I would involve my young children in cleaning, cooking, and paying bills. We would talk or sing as we dusted or washed dishes side by side. They loved it and they learned how to do things.

3. Reduce demands on your time. If someone asks you to do something or volunteer for something, you have 3 choices. If it is something that you want to do you can say yes and everyone wins. If you do not want to do it, saying no is the right thing to do. Having to do something you don’t want will make you unhappy and resentful. The person or thing requesting your help or attention will not appreciate a reluctant helper. The third choice is to negotiate. Maybe you want to do part of the request or at a different time. Or maybe you just want to think about for awhile.

4. Reduce people and events that drain your energy. There are people and events that give you energy and some that take away your energy. Make a list of these and cut back on the time you spend with people and things that suck the life out of you! Spend more time with things and people who are uplifting and positive and make you feel good.

5. Make time for yourself. Last but not least, set aside some time for yourself everyday to exercise, mediate, read, relax, do a hobby or anything that makes you feel good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NFL Playoff Sunday

Who will play in this year’s Super Bowl? It is just two more weeks until Super Bowl XLIV. The playoffs for the remaining 4 teams will be this Sunday, January 24th.

In the AFC, The Indianapolis Colts will face the New York Jets at 2:00 pm CST at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. It will be televised on CBS. According to ESPN, the Colts are favored to win. The Jets have a powerful defense and are overconfident but the Colts have Peyton Manning and are mostly undefeated.

In the NFC, the Minnesota Vikings will face the New Orleans Saints at 5:40 PM CST at the Louisiana Superdome in Metairie, LA. It will be televised by Fox. According to ESPN, the Saints are favored to win although it may be a close game. Viking Brett Favre won his Super Bowl title 13 years ago at the Superdome.

Sunday will be an exciting day of football. It’s fun to go out to watch football with other fans. It really brings out the camaraderie and rivalry between fans and adds to the enjoyment of watching the game. If you are staying home, start chilling your favorite beer or soda and stock up on your favorite snacks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This and That

We had freezing rain this morning! It was so slick. Winter will just not give up. Oh well, at least I have a couple of things to look forward to. We have booked a trip to sunny Las Vegas in the end of February and are planning a trip to Playa del Carmen with the whole family in May. The average temperature in Las Vegas is 62 degrees during the day but it drops down to the 30s in the evenings. I hope it will be warmer there than it is here.

I had such a good birthday. My husband gave me presents and a card and took me out to dinner and then out to watch karaoke (I can’t sing but I love to watch it!). I got a dozen yellow roses and a small box of Godiva chocolates from one of my sons. I am now officially in love with Godiva Chocolates! They are the best! Then I had a surprise lunch with my daughter and son-in-law, younger son and his girlfriend, and my husband and more gifts. I am so lucky to have such an awesome family.

We went to see The Book of Eli this weekend. What a good movie! It has a little bit of everything – suspense, mystery, action, humor, and some violence. There is nothing better than going to a good movie on a cold winter afternoon and sharing a huge bucket of buttery popcorn. In the movie an apocalypse has occurred and people are running wild looking for food and water and whatever they can take from other people. Denzel Washington must deliver a book that will save mankind to an unknown place in the west. Gary Oldman desperately wants that book and they collide several times. There are many twists and turns and surprises. I highly recommend this movie.

The earthquake situation in Haiti does not seem to be getting much better. So much tragedy. My friend, Bruce works for the Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach and has been to Haiti many times delivering medical equipment and setting up clinics. He would like to share a YouTube video of what they are doing here in Springfield: and their website: . There is a lot you can do to help. You can donate money to the Hospital Sisters or Red Cross or you may be able to help load supplies or prepare personal grooming kits or medical kits. Check with your local newspaper to see if there is anything you can do in your city.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Bargain Bride Review

The Bargain Bride
By Barbara Metzger
330 pages
Copyright 2009
The Bargain Bride seems to be a promising title for a Regency novel about arranged marriage, but I’m not sure that Penny is such a good bargain. West gets a lot of money out of the deal but Penny is a very unlikeable woman. She is angry and vengeful about being unclaimed for 13 years although he is very beautiful. It is her beauty that causes West to fall in love with her and carry out the bargain making her the wife of a viscount. After a 13 year engagement and at the insistance of Penny’s rich merchant father they wed and set up housekeeping in London. In order to fulfill the bargain, the couple must launch Penny’s stepsisters into Society and find them rich and titled husbands.

Penny and West begin to fall in love as several things go wrong. West is called away to his country estate to find the arsonist who set fir to his stables and killed several of his prize horses. Penny becomes angrier at being abandoned for the second time and has a trying time finding suitable husband for her unattractive stepsisters, managing her unruly brother-in law, and fending off the advances of her money hungry step brother.

I liked the humorous dialogue and comic antics of the zany characters. I did not like the main characters. Penny was always angry and resentful and West was too bland and accommodating. There are too many unrelated things happening at once. The plot and subplots are easily resolved with very little suspense. Despite a bevy of comical characters and a budding passionate romance, I thought this book was rather boring and disappointing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Birthday

Today is my birthday. It is a cloudy, dreary January day but at least it is warm and the snow is melting. Many of my birthdays have taken place on bitterly cold snowy days. I am 53 and in good shape except for all the menopause craziness and some creaky knees. I could stand to lose a few pounds. I intended to lose weight and get in shape when I turned 50 but still haven’t managed to do much more than lose a few pounds. Maybe this will be my year.

Age is just a number. It’s true. There is a huge difference in the way people look and feel after their forties. Some still look and act young and other seem elderly in comparison. According to the Life Expectancy Calculator, I can expect to reach an age between 87 and 95. Awesome! Here is the website if you want to calculate your own life expectancy : .

When I was born in 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and Richard M. Nixon was vice president. The television show: Leave it to Beaver premiered. Tang beverage mix was introduced. Popular movies were: The Bridge Over the River Kwai, Around the World in 80 Days, Peyton Place, The King and I, and The Ten Commandments. Velcro was invented. Sputnik was launched. A first class stamp cost 3 cents. Larry King began broadcasting. Frozen pizza began to be sold in the supermarket. The Cat in the Hat was written. The Edsel was introduced. John F. Keeney received a Pulitzer Prize for his book: Profiles in Courage.

I don’t particularly like my age. People used to say “You have your whole life ahead of you.” and I don’t hear that anymore. I catch myself calculating how many more years I will be putting up Christmas decorations or having to go to the gynecologist. I feel like I need to do things fast because I don’t have time to waste. I guess I feel a little frantic that time is running out. Just this year I realized how stupid and wasteful these thoughts are. You can’t enjoy life when you are running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to beat time. Whatever happens, happens and you have to try to slow down and enjoy whatever the day brings.

This year I will be celebrating my birthday by going out to dinner with my husband. I will be having a huge dessert, hopefully chocolate cake! I'm going to enjoy every minute of my birthday! Birthdays are for celebrating!

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip. ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Happiness Project

My New Year’s resolution for this year is to become a happier person. I usually don’t bother with resolutions as I never keep them. I read an article in a magazine about the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I am intrigued. I wasn’t a very happy person last year and happiness is something I desperately want. I am blessed with good health, a husband and children who adore me, and a comfortable lifestyle. So, what am I doing wrong? Why aren’t I happy?

In the January issue of Woman’s Day, Gretchen Rubin has an article about the Happiness Project. She spent a year trying to discover the secret to her own happiness. Everyone’s happiness will be different. She recommends investigating one topic a month for a year to discover what makes you happy. Here are the 12 topics: Energy, love, work money, mindfulness, order, spirit, fun, family, friends, attitude, and boot camp perfect. There are some questions to ask yourself to get started such as “What makes you feel good?” and “What activities do you find to be fun and satisfying?” And there are more questions to help you. Anyway, she has written a book called : The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. She also has a fantastic website with many helpful pointers, essays, uplifting saying, and much more: . She is also on Face Book and Twitter. A copy of the Woman’s Day Article can be found at!.html .

The month of January is Energy month and you should look for ways to increase your energy. Gretchen has a lot of ideas in her blog. I know that stress causes unhappiness and that there are some stresses that are unavoidable. These are difficult times with the bad economy and unemployment. However, there are things you can do to make yourself happier. You just have to find out what they are and practice them.

Becoming happy is a popular topic this year. This topic has been in most of the women’s magazines this month. Even our local hospital is offering a 5 week course for becoming happy called the Wired for Joy and Solution Method. It is supposed to help you identify your brain state and discover how you can switch your brain from stress toward joy.

Happiness is an attitude of mind, born of the simple determination to be happy under all outward circumstances. (By Donald Withers)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: The Stranger by Albert Camus

I usually only read escape fiction, especially romance novels. This year I have decided to read some literature. I am going to alternate one literature novel with one escape fiction. My first literature book this year was The Stranger by Albert Camus. It was recommended to me by my son who is a college English major. It was a good start - only 154 pages and very easy and enjoyable to read. It also made me think about life in general.
The Stranger
by Albert Camus

Translated from French by Stuart Gilbert
154 pages Copyright 1942

This is a story of a young man who has committed a pointless murder. Monsieur Meursault tells his own story of a young man living a comfortable life in Algiers. He drifts through life, working everyday at his office job and enjoying the pleasures of life: smoking, eating at restaurants, dating his girlfriend Marie, swimming at the beach, and people watching. He is a easygoing, untroubled fellow who lives in the now and is not concerned about the past or future.

His mother dies in a home for aged persons and he travels to attend her funeral. He feels no grief but just observes the proceedings of the funeral and then journeys home for a weekend of swimming and going to movies with his girlfriend, Marie. Marie wants to get married and he agrees; but when she asks him if he loves her, he says no, but he will marry her if she wants to get married. He doesn’t seem to have any deep feelings or emotions. He has no ambition or direction. He is a sensual, feeling, person who likes to observe others.

He is kind to people like the neighbor who has just lost his dog. He inadvertently becomes involved in scheme of a pimp named Raymond whom he has befriended to punish the pimp’s girlfriend. This leads to Monsiuer Meursalt senselessly killing the girlfriend’s brother. He is imprisoned and tried for the crime. Oddly enough, he is prosecuted more for his amoral character than the crime he has committed. While lying in his cell, waiting for either his execution or appeal, he continues to think only of himself, not worrying about dying, just watching, feeling and observing the things around him.

Mersault is an honest, but shallow and ordinary man who is also an atheist. He believes only in what he can see.

I liked this book although it was sad and bleak. The plot is very simple and the writing style is very smooth and expressive and interesting enough to keep you reading until the end. It was interesting to read about what can go wrong when a person just drifts along with life and about how a person can be judged for his actions and not his intentions.
Other novels by Albert Camus include:
The Plague
The Fall
A Happy Death
The First Man

Saturday, January 9, 2010

How to Survive Winter

It’s so cold! It is -5 degrees this morning. How are we going to survive winter?

I’m stuck home for a few days with bronchitis and a sinus infection and am trying to think of some things I like about winter and things I can enjoy only in winter. Here is my list of the 10 things I need to survive winter
#1 One of my favorite gifts I got for Christmas was a royal blue Snuggie. The Snuggie is a lightweight yet warm cover with sleeves to wear while sitting on the couch and reading or having a snack or crocheting while watching TV. It is not very useful for wearing around the house as it is too long to walk around in and doesn’t stay on very well. A poncho Snuggie would be a much better invention. I’m going to crochet a poncho next time I find a yarn sale.

#2 The second favorite gift I got for Christmas was a pair Shea Butter Socks from the Bath and Body Store. My new shea butter socks are very warm and moisturize my feet while I’m wearing them. They are very pretty and washable too, although you can only wash them 25 times before they lose the shea butter. Buttering up your feet with your favorite lotion and putting on a thick pair of socks works just as well but takes more effort.

#3 A warm soak in the tub with a good book. A warm tub of water, scented bath salts or oils, lighted candles, and a good book to read will warm you up after a long, hard day. You may have received some of these things for Christmas and this is a good time to use them. You can also make your own bath salts by combining 3 cups Epsom salts with 2 cups baking soda, and 1 cup table salt in a mixing bowl. Add food coloring if desired and stir until well mixed. Add some essential oil and mix. (You can buy essential oils at craft stores and also Wal Mart.) Store in tightly cover jars. Check out the bath recipes at Pioneer Thinking: .

#4 Hot Cocoa or tea. Many people give hot cocoa mixes and teas as Christmas gifts. A good cup of hot cocoa or tea or coffee raises your body temperature and your spirits and is good for your health too. I am currently hooked on Land of Lakes Cocoa Classics Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix although the Hazelnut and Supreme are pretty good too. They are about 140 calories a cup but are worth the splurge as they are delicious and creamy! Have you ever made hot cocoa from scratch with actual cocoa powder and real milk? It is very simple and very delicious! Here is my favorite recipe:

Favorite Hot Cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
Dash salt
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups (1 qt.) milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to serving temperature. Do Not Boil.
2. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat with rotary beater or whisk until foamy. Serve topped with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired. Five 8-oz. servings.

This recipe can be found on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa Box.
I also like hot tea with honey when I am sick. It sooths a sore throat and eases an itchy cough.

#5 A hot roaring fire in the fireplace. If you are lucky enough to have a working fireplace, now is the time to use it. We use 4 hour Duraflame logs and add a stick or two of wood from our wood pile. Duraflame logs are easy to start, burn cleanly, and make a lovely warm fire. A warm fire can be very soothing on a cold winter night. If you don’t have a fireplace you can buy an electric one (starting at $288 at Sam’s Club) or you could try a fireplace video like this one from Target for around $15.00: .

#6. Hot, comforting, easy to prepare meals like soups, beef stew, chicken and noodles, etc. Here are a few of my favorite winter recipes:
Beef Stew
1 pound beef stew cubes
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 small chopped onion
1 cup tomato juice
1 can beef broth
1 can beef gravy
4 large potatoes
2 carrots
½ cup frozen peas
Brown 1 pound beef stew cubes in 1tbsp melted butter or margarine in heavy skillet on medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion and sauté until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup tomato juice, 1 can beef broth, and 1 can beef gravy and simmer for 3 minutes. Take 4 large potatoes and 2 carrots and peel and cut onto small pieces. Place potatoes, carrots, ½ cup of frozen peas (optional) into a 2 quart casserole and top with skillet mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 ½ hours.

Chicken and Noodles
4 small chicken breasts or 2 cups shredded chicken
3 cans chicken broth
Beau Monde seasoning
10 oz. package of egg noodles

Cut 4 small chicken breasts into bite size pieces and brown in 1 tbsp butter or margarine in a large skillet. (Note you can use Pam instead of butter). Season with salt and pepper. Add 3 cans chicken broth and 1 tsp Beau Monde seasoning and simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1 package of noodles (you may need to add a little more water) and boil for 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. (This makes a very simple but delicious dish. The secret is the Beau Monde seasoning and using good quality noodles. You can add more spices and vegetables if you wish.)

1 package uncooked lasagne noodles
1 jar pizza sauce
1 pound cooked ground beef or sausage
2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Butter an 8 inch square baking dish. Repeat the following layers twice:
1. Spread half the pizza sauce on bottom of baking pan.
2. Cover sauce with sheets of uncooked noodles.
3. Cover noodles with half of the following mixture: 2 eggs, 1 cup cottage cheese, and ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
4. Sprinkle half the ground beef on top of the cottage cheese mixture.
5. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella cheese over ground beef mixture.
6. Repeat steps 1-5. Sprinkle a little more Parmesan cheese on top if desired.
7. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for an hour. Uncover and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

#7 Good books to read. Winter is the perfect time to stay inside and read a good book. Many libraries have winter reading programs and book clubs if you like to read and discuss books. I have always read a lot year round but I like to climb into bed early with a good book when it is cold outside. I read a lot of romantic fiction and have a lot of these kinds of books for sale in my store: The Crafty Cupboard: This year I have decided that I want to read some classic literature too. Every other book I read will be a classic literature novel or maybe even some poetry. So far, I have read The Stranger by Albert Camus followed by The Bargain Bride. I actually liked The Stranger better than The Bargain Bride. I have just started Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and it is pretty good so far. It really shakes you out of your rut to read something different.

#8 Making some pudding. Buy a package of cook and serve pudding and cook it on the stove. Eat it warm with a little whipped topping. It is a delicious and very satisfying dessert. I especially love tapioca pudding. Warm desserts really hit the spot when it freezing outside!

#9 Making a snowman or go sledding or even go for a walk in the snow. It won’t warm you up but the fresh air and fun will make you feel good.

#10 Moisturize. Drink plenty of water and other liquids. Heated air can dry you out and make you feel terrible. Put on plenty of lotion on after showering and bathing and keep your hand and feet moisturized. Use a humidifier for your house if have one. Keep house plants watered as they will put moisture in the air. I don’t have a humidifier but I keep a bathtub filled with water (not a good idea if you have pets or small children who might fall in) and boil a huge pot of water and let it steep twice a day to put moisture in the air.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Strange Christmas

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I’m a little late with my greetings but I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you happiness in 2010! Once again, despite all my planning, Christmas kicked my butt! Christmas day was wonderful. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas dinner with our two sons and opened piles and piles of presents. It was the following day when things got difficult. We hosted our family Christmas party in the middle of a snowstorm. We had about 30 people. Almost everyone arrived at the same time. They were considerate enough to take off their shoes when they came in but what do you do with 30 pairs of wet shoes? Whatever happened to being fashionably late? And, why do people think they can bring extra guests without asking? Well, we had plenty of food and drink and everyone had a good time. Some people were really difficult though. My husband’s cousin had just broken up with her boyfriend that morning and she extremely bitchy to everyone. My brother-in-law got really drunk and started making fun of everyone including my husband, my “might be gay” nephew, and my sick cousin who incidentally infected us all with her cold virus. The kids ran loose all over the house and one little boy ran into something and we thought he might have broken his leg but it turned out to just be bruised. My sister-in-law was on a mission to drink every beer in the house. At 10:33, it was looking like they were all going to stay the night when we luckily ran out of beer! They left quickly after that! We cleaned up for hours.

My mother-in-law visited us for the next three days. She was incredibly crabby, argumentative, critical, and militant. She smoked in the bathroom and insisted that she was not smoking. We don’t like smoking in our house but don’t care if guests smoke outside or in the garage. We were really aggravated with her and couldn’t enjoy our visit. We were so happy when she went on to visit one of her other sons.

As soon as she left my husband got sick with the fever, chills, cough, and headache thing that is going around. One week later and now I have it. I feel terrible. I am sitting here thinking – how can I make my Christmas be better next year? My husband wants to go to Las Vegas for the week of Christmas and New Years. That sounds wonderful to me but I will miss my children. I think that maybe we need to pick and choose and decide what we really want to do instead of doing what we think we should do to please our families. No, we will not host the family party. No, I will not bake 12 kinds of cookies and make certain dishes for people who want them. If my husband wants to do something and I don’t – he can do it by himself and vice versa. In fact, "no" will be my favorite word this year. No, No, No, I am going to use it every day! In the words of Rick Springfield: “You can't please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself".