Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Sound of Silence

Summer is in full force here in Texas and an empty nest is decidedly different.

There are no screen doors slamming over and over.  There are no voices screaming "Mom, can I have a dollar?" when the ice cream truck is still three blocks away.  No more spending the summer known as "So and So's mom".  No begging for watermelon or to go to the neighborhood pool.

So the silence can be deafening and all encompassing.  Summer seems to be lacking without the chaos of children.  It doesn't hold the same excitement, the same anticipation.  As adults, we forget to take joy in the simple pleasures of summer and of life.

So go get a watermelon today and have a seed spitting contest.  Go to the park and enjoy the concert.  And when that ice cream truck heads down your street...run outside to meet it!!!


And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13




God bless America

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hot Hot Hot!!!

Red Hot Onions

Ingredients:

3 large purple onions
2 or 3 Tbsp hot sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Directions:

Cut onions into thin slices.  Pour 1 cup boiling water over the onions.  Let set for one minute, then drain.  Combine hot sauce, olive oil, and vinegar.  Pour over onion rings in bowl with lid.  Cover, chill, and let set for at least 3 hours.  Drain before serving.

Enjoy!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Freedom Is Not Free

All week I've seen ads for Memorial Day sales, offers for Memorial Day travel, and posts about what your plans are for the holiday.  Where did the meaning get lost?

Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) was instituted after the Civil War to honor the war dead.  After World War I, it was expanded to include the dead from all wars.  Your flag is to be flown at half-staff from dawn until noon and then raised for the remainder of the day.  There is also a national moment of remembrance at 3 p.m.

It seems we've forgotten who earned for us the freedom for the shopping, the barbecues, and the road trips.  We have become complacent and take our precious liberties for granted.  The nation has forgotten that it is built with the blood of it's soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.  And it is that sacrifice we honor and remember on Memorial Day.

As one who wore the uniform then...a salute to those who wear it now.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Winning on Facebook, Part Three

The third and final installment of winning on Facebook!!

The last way I have of winning on Facebook involves some searching and some luck!

First, do a search on Facebook for some of the following words:  Thrifty, Frugal, Freebies.

This will bring up pages, usually of bloggers, who track sweeps, freebies, and samples.  They track these as part of their blog...which is their business.  They are my best source for a heads up on the latest sweeps out there.  Also, if a particular brand is doing a giveaway...they post as soon as it goes active.  This will help you catch it in time in addition to following that particular brand!!

And just a quick reminder...always be polite and grateful!!!  These sites put a huge amount of work in to this and your feedback is appreciated!!!

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hump Day #7

Silk Stocking

Ingredients:

Hot cocoa mix
4-5 ice cubes
3/4 measure tequila
3/4 measure white creme de cacao
3 1/2 measures light cream
2 tsps grenadine

Directions:

Frost the rim of a chilled cocktail glass by dipping it into water, then pressing it into the hot cocoa mix.  Put the ice cubes into a cocktail shaker with the tequila, creme de cacao, cream, and grenadine.  Shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds, then strain into the prepared glass.

Salud!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dear Mother Nature

I live in Austin, Texas.  As far as weather disasters go...it's not a bad place to live.  We get the occasional flash flood, rare tornado, and once in a great while a hurricane actually makes it this far.  But this year, we are in the most extreme drought in over 100 years.  My yard has cavernous cracks in it.  And we are still so much more fortunate than the rest of the country.

The South has had tornadoes, floods, and one line of storms after the other.  The Midwest is being devastated by the same.  Hawaii has had eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc..  It is as if the earth itself is revolting against us.

So, Mother Nature, a prayer for some relief.  We realize we've screwed up a lot of things on our planet but there are people hurting and dying all over our country.  We promise to do better but can you ease up a bit??

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Lesson We All Can Learn

Just for a second, look away from your computer.  What is your pet doing?  Odds are, they're taking a nap.  So what can we learn from our furry friends?

1.  They eat when they're hungry.  How often do you skip a meal because you're busy or stuff your face when you're stressed?  Look at your dog or cat.  They eat when they are hungry and stop when they're full.  They don't worry if the job is done first.

2.  They nap when they're tired.  How many times have you stayed up late to finish that presentation?  Or woke up before the birds to fit one more thing into your day?  Did it really make your life better?

3.  They are overjoyed to see you at the end of the day.  Does anything match the enthusiasm of a pet when you walk in the door after work?  Do you greet your significant other with the same enthusiasm?  Wouldn't that same joy make a difference to them, also?

4.  They play.  Somewhere in history, it was decided that adults shouldn't play.  Why not?  I'm not saying fetch a tennis ball or play with catnip.  I'm saying...while you're watering the garden...turn the hose on your spouse!  Make green mashed potatoes for St. Patrick's Day!  Wear a goofy hat on New Year's Eve...even if you're staying home!  Life is short...have some fun!!

Now go hug your pet...they deserve it!!

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Sweet for Your Sweetie

Rocky Road Bars

Ingredients:

1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 (10 oz) package miniature marshmallows

Directions:

Place chocolate morsels, condensed milk and butter in top of double boiler and heat until chocolate and butter melt, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in peanuts and marshmallows.

Spread mixture quickly on wax paper-lined 9 x 13 pan.

Chill at least 2 hours, cut into bars, and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Winning on Facebook, Part Two

There are two applications on Facebook dedicated solely to giveaways.  The odds of winning through these apps are lower than following your favorite brands, though winning is possible. (I have!)

The first is the Promotions application.  It can be found at:

http://apps.facebook.com/promotionshq/?ref=bookmarks&count=0

Here, you can sort by sweepstakes, contests (which require you to perform a task), or coupons.  You can also sort by Most Popular, Most Recent, Top Prizes, and Ending Soon.  There is also a search box you can utilize to search for specific items such as an iPad or trips.  When using the application...be sure to follow all the steps.  Most sweeps require you to like the corresponding page and failure to do so will disqualify you!!  Also, some sweeps are location specific so you may not qualify.

The second application is Big Prize Giveaways.  I have not personally, nor do I know anyone who has won on this app but it may just be a matter of time!  It can be found at:

http://www.facebook.com/BigPrize?sk=app_228636177288

This app offers 6-10 prizes ranging from gift cards to trips to electronics.  It also has the option to enter a Facebook friend to win with you when you enter.  If either of you win...you both win!!  This is also an extremely popular app which lowers the chance of winning.  But you can't win if you don't try!!!

Good luck, everybody!!  And let me know when you win!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Argh!!

Have you ever had one of those days where as fast as you run, the further behind you get??  I am so having one today!  You would think as an empty-nester...I would have unlimited time on my hands and be able to fill my days with only what I love to do.  And then reality rears up and bites you in the butt!!

Just because the kids are grown and gone doesn't mean they don't need you anymore; whether a phone call, instant message, or text...it seems there is always a pressing question that must be answered immediately!!  From whether this job offer is right or how to make queso, it is nice to be needed!

And the hubby...it is amazing how he has found things he needs done.  Where was all this stuff when the kids were home?  Hmmmm.

And now add in friends who need an ear or a shoulder, dogs who I swear have to pee every five minutes, etc. etc. etc....I guess I shouldn't be surprised when the day flies by.  Don't get me wrong, I feel blessed to have those days to actually fly by!!  But just for once...could I catch up??

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hump Day #6

Tiki Treat

Crushed Ice
1/2 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, plus extra slices to decorate
3 coconut chunks
1 measure coconut cream
2 measures aged rum
dash lemon juice
1 tsp superfine sugar

Put a small scoop of crushed ice with all the other ingredients into a food processor or blend and blend until smooth.  Serve in a stemmed hurricane glass with long straws and decorate with mango slices.

Salud!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Incredibly Blessed

Last week, I sent out a request for prayers for a young Marine, Danny Reich.  They have determined it is not aplastic anemia but rather Monosomy 7.  This is still a potentially life-threatening disease and he is still in need of a bone marrow transplant.

After hearing the news, my youngest asked Danny's mom Patti how to become a bone marrow donor.  My son has never met Patti or Danny but he wants to help.  On Sunday, Patti posted the link to the bone marrow registry on her Facebook wall.  Since then, I have seen so many of my friends respond that they have sent away for their kits to become a bone marrow donor.

Danny was born after Patti left the Air Force.  So the majority have never met him.  Does it matter to them?  No...they want to do everything they can to save this young Marine's life.  I am already a member of the registry, so now my prayers are for a match.

And reading all the posts for prayers, that registry kits have been requested, that kits have been sent in for testing...I realize that I am so incredibly honored and blessed to have such incredible people in my life.  They  are willing to literally give up a piece of themselves to help a friend.  What greater blessing could one ask for?

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60 and in good health, please consider joining the registry.  The link to join is below.  And thank you.

http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/index.html?src=tabjoin

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seize the Moment

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a workout with celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels.  HEB had sponsored a family fitness event at the Texas School for the Deaf and it sounded like it would be fun.

Now there was obviously some kind of short circuit in my brain Saturday morning that enabled me to ignore the fact that I'm 49 years old, I've been smoking since I was 14, and my idea of working out is having to reach for the remote!!  The 30 minute workout completely and totally kicked my butt!!!  What was I thinking???

Well, I was thinking that this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance.  And it was.  How many people outside of the Biggest Loser ranch actually have the opportunity for a workout with Jillian?  So my innate sense of adventure told me to seize the chance and go for it!!  Isn't that the best part of empty nest life?  The time and freedom to try new things and one of a kind experiences.

True..I paid dearly for this one!  I spent the majority of my Sunday on the couch with my e-reader groaning every time I moved.  Today is a bit better but I'm still not moving at my usual warp speed.  And the hubby?  Thoroughly enjoyed himself at my expense!!  While grocery shopping yesterday morning, he kept wanting items on the bottom shelf.  At the end of the trip, he admitted he did it because my groaning every time I got back up was funny!!  And as I lay in misery yesterday evening, he assured me he had done the chores, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, etc.  So imagine my surprise when I woke this morning to a full dishwasher and a sink full of dishes!!!  He is having WAY too much fun with this!!

So to my dear, sweet hubby....I will get you back!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Cool Treat

Pink Lemonade Pie

1 (6oz) can pink lemonade frozen concentrate
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz) package whipped topping
1 (9 in) graham cracker piecrust

In bowl, comine pink lemonade concentrate and condensed milk...blend well.  Fold in whipped topping and pour into piecrust.  Refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Entry Table

I have a small table near the front door.  Looking at it this morning, I noticed a distinct pattern.  On the top of the table are a wedding gift for an upcoming June wedding, a magazine article for a friend, a sock one son left when he stayed the weekend and a pile of books destined for another son.  On the bottom shelf, a bag of magazines being forwarded to a friend to read (easy way to recycle them!).  In front of the table are a couple bags of clothes going to yet another friend's daughter (another form of recycling!).

Looking at the table, it seems I have a steady stream of both people and stuff going in and out of my home.  Viewing it from another perspective...how lucky am I to have so many wonderful people in my home and in my life!!!

And those are my random thoughts this morning...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hump Day #5

Maiden's Prayer

Ice Cubes
2 measures gin
2 measures Cointreau
1 measure orange juice

Fill a cocktail shaker 3/4 full with ice cubes.  Pour the gin, Cointreau, and orange juice over the ice and shake well.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Salud!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Winning on Facebook, Part One

The very first step to winning on Facebook is to follow your favorites.  Which favorites?

1.  Your favorite food brands.  Brands such as Ore-Ida, Uncle Ben's and Coffeemate frequently give away full size products.  And who couldn't use free food at the grocery store?

2.  Your favorite alcohol.  Ok...so they won't actually give you beer or vodka...but they do give away t-shirts and other promotional items!

3.  Your favorite stores.  Here you'll find giveaways for everything from free appliances at Sears to fan only shopping discounts.

4.  Your favorite authors.  They often do giveaways of signed editions, free sneak peeks, and swag from the more popular series.

5.  Your favorite household brands.  Swiffer, Proctor & Gamble, Tide, Downy etc. give away not only free full size products, but frequently coupons and samples.

6.  Your favorite designers.  Want to score a free purse, perfume, etc?  Follow them on Facebook and you have a chance!

7.  Your favorite beauty products.  Full size products aren't given as often as some others but they do happen!

8.  Your favorite movie companies.  They give out free DVD's, free swag from movies, and free movie tickets.

9.  Your favorite local venues.  Score tickets to local events...can't be beat!

10.  Your friends' favorites.  If you have a friend who also enters sweepstakes...keep an eye on what pages she/he are liking.  Jump to that page and check out why!  They may have found a giveaway or sweepstake you haven't heard about!

One last note...don't discount the sample size giveaways!  Samples are the perfect size to throw in your bag for a weekend getaway and don't take up near the space of full size!!

Good Luck!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Winning: The Basics

There are some basic rules to winning contests and sweepstakes.  Not a long list but necessary.

1.  Follow ALL the rules exactly!  Even one misstep can get you disqualified.

2.  Always be polite!  Say thank you when you win, congratulate the winners if you don't!

3.  Be grateful!  Bloggers in particular earn their living off views of their blog and reviewing the products they're giving away.  If winning or requesting a sample from a company...remember, they don't have to give you free stuff!!  Be glad that you have the opportunity!

4.  This one is optional but depending on how many sweeps you enter, you may wish to set up a junk email account.  This will give you somewhere to direct sweeps related emails to that won't interfere with your regular email.

5.  Share!!  Many of the sweepstakes on Facebook, Twitter, etc. give you the opportunity to invite your friends to enter.  And when you win, share the prize if you can.  Spreading the wealth makes the experience that much better!

In future posts, I'll be breaking down some of the different locations for sweeps.  Stay tuned!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!

Today, I wish all the Moms I know a Happy Mother's Day!!  That includes pet mamas too, of course!  Instead of writing myself this morning...I am sharing what my youngest wrote for me for Mother's Day.  I'll stop crying later.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!!

This is a shout out to the most opinionated, strong willed, stubborn, sarcastic yet patient, caring, nurturing mothers I know.  My mommy.

I am responsible for every grey hair my mom has on her head.  From skipping school, throwing fits, to jumping off cliffs and wanting to go skydiving.  But every step of the way, no matter how far I pushed her, she pushed me back.  Then she told me she loved me with all of her heart.

I never could fathom the reason why after all the hell I put my mom through why she still wanted to buy me gifts, shower me with love, look for stuff while shopping to see if I'm interested in it.  She pursued my interests as if they were her own, researching new things just to keep me updated.  Just to make sure I was on top of it.

For all these reasons and much much more, I love my mom very much.

Now I don't want you to leave this blog thinking I never did anything for her.

When my mom had early signs of breast cancers, you best believe I called her everyday wanting an update even though I was 9 hours away.  I didn't care.  Every time I heard something new, I prayed that she would be alright.  She has been cancer free for something like 3 years now.  And last november I ran in the Race for the Cure 5k for her.  To show my support for her. (picture below)  I actually ran it on my own then turned around and went back for her. And I made sure she ran across that finish line as kind of a subtle saying that she can do anything.

I may not say it much cause I kind of keep my feelings to myself but my mom means the world to me.  I hate to say it but I have broken her heart before and I have to do it again real soon when I leave for Canyon in August.  She has always been one of the over protective mothers and I am the baby of the family, yet one of the tallest.

Mom.  I love you.  You have chased me to the ends of the earth just to hold me back from falling off the edge.  I have put you through more hell than Calvin and Dennis put together (comic book reference ask me later).  I know I haven't been the greatest son but I do hope that I have changed for the better and I am slowly becoming the son you can be proud of.  I love you mom.  Happy Mother's Day.

For all these reasons and much much more, I love my mom very much.

Now I don't want you to leave this blog thinking I never did anything for her.

When my mom had early signs of breast cancers, you best believe I called her everyday wanting an update even though I was 9 hours away.  I didn't care.  Every time I heard something new, I prayed that she would be alright.  She has been cancer free for something like 3 years now.  And last november I ran in the Race for the Cure 5k for her.  To show my support for her. (picture below)  I actually ran it on my own then turned around and went back for her. And I made sure she ran across that finish line as kind of a subtle saying that she can do anything.

I may not say it much cause I kind of keep my feelings to myself but my mom means the world to me.  I hate to say it but I have broken her heart before and I have to do it again real soon when I leave for Canyon in August.  She has always been one of the over protective mothers and I am the baby of the family, yet one of the tallest.

Mom.  I love you.  You have chased me to the ends of the earth just to hold me back from falling off the edge.  I have put you through more hell than Calvin and Dennis put together (comic book reference ask me later).  I know I haven't been the greatest son but I do hope that I have changed for the better and I am slowly becoming the son you can be proud of.  I love you mom.  Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Quick and Easy!!

A quick and easy recipe for today...get out of the kitchen and enjoy your weekend!!

Steak-Bake Italiano

Ingredients:

2 pounds lean round steak
2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt
2 (15 oz) cans stewed tomatoes (I use Italian style)

Directions:

Cut steak into serving size pieces, brown in skillet and place in a 9x13 baking pan.  Combine herb seasoning, garlic salt and stewed tomatoes.  Mix well and pour over steak pieces.  Cover and bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Request for Prayers

Thirty years ago, Patti and I were stationed together on the island of Crete and have been friends ever since.  Today, Patti is packing for the Marines to fly her to Hawaii to be at her son's bedside.  Danny was medevac'd from Okinawa to Hawaii yesterday.  He is suffering from aplastic anemia and is considered acute enough that the Marine Corp is flying his wife from Japan and his mother from Florida to be at his bedside.  Danny is a proud Marine serving his country and the brand new father of a five week old daughter.

So I'm asking, no..begging, for prayers.  For Patti and Sayuri to have strength and safe travel.  For Danny...for his health, for a match to be found on the bone marrow registry, and for his life to see his daughter grow.

To my fans and followers...please re-post and forward.  To my fellow bloggers and bloggesses on BlogHer and BlogFrog, please, please ask your followers to join us in prayer.

I will post updates as I have them.  Thank you, everyone, for your prayers.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Winning Contests and Sweepstakes

I enter a lot of contests and sweepstakes.  I mean, A LOT!!  And here lately, I've been on a major winning streak.  From free groceries to concerts, I've pretty much covered all the bases!!  Except for that elusive iPad...I'm still trying for that golden ring!

The best part of winning?  I get the privilege of sharing these experiences/goods with my friends and family.

I've taken friends to concerts, I've taken friends and family to cultural events.  We've seen classic movies, attended social gatherings, and explored what Austin has to offer.

I've won free and discounted groceries.  My husband has gotten to enjoy his favorite flavored creamer (usually a splurge) when I won not one, but two free full-sized bottles.  And in this economy...who's going to turn down free stuff at the grocery store??

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll do posts on where I find them, the best places to win, and how I do it.  Because what's the fun of winning if you can't share??

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hump Day #5

Gingersnap

2-3 ice cubes
3 measures vodka
1 measure ginger wine
soda water, to top up

Combine the vodka, ginger wine, and ice in an old-fashioned glass and stir gently.  Top up with soda water.

Salud!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Change of Plans Part Two

Social media is an amazing thing.  When the scroll came across my TV Sunday night about the impending announcement; I, like millions of others, immediately went online to see what was going on.  Twitter and Facebook were both blowing up with the news an hour before the official announcement from the White House. The immediacy of the news and access to it are a marvel that is to be appreciated.

But along with the news comes not only beautiful sentiments, but hate-filled diatribe, insensitive jokes, and political backlash.  This is the ugly side of social media and it was in full display yesterday all over the web.  I've personally had to delete a post from my Facebook page due to responses being filled with such.  I have friends on Facebook who are minors...it is not appropriate for them to see and I will always do my best to shield them from such.

This is not saying we should not be proud of our President and our military for a job well done.  But that is exactly what it was.  Their job.  The Navy Seals are among the best of the best and any praise and congratulations are well deserved.  But that praise can be expressed without crossing the line.

The following quote has been posted all over.  The first part of the quote is of unknown origin but the second half comes from Dr. King.  This is what I keep in mind during this time.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. 

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction." Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Change of Plans

This morning I had planned to start a series of posts answering questions I've received about the blog, winning prizes, samples, etc.  After the news last night, I've decided to postpone them for today and address current events instead.

First and foremost, my thoughts go out to the families of the victims of 9-11.  While there is no such thing as complete closure, I hope Osama's death brings them a measure of peace.

Second,..God bless the Navy Seals for a job well done.  Along with this elite team, the same to all the men and women in uniform and the contractors supporting them.

Last night after the press conference, fireworks were set off at the University of Texas, Austin campus.  I understand the students' ebullience...but the short-sightedness of the young concerns me as well.  Osama Bin Laden was but one head of the hydra.  The very real possibility of him becoming a martyr to the cause means our danger has in no way been lessened.  As I still have friends and family in uniform, as private contractors, and as civilian employees of the military...my first and persisting thought is for their safety.  It would be a wonderful thing if this one death meant the threat from terrorism was over but that is both a simplistic and dangerous mindset.

My hope?  That his death causes chaos and disruption in the ranks of Al Qaeda, rendering them unable to carry out any type of organized response.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep praying.

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