Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Contest Is Live!!!

Good morning, everybody!!

The BHG Live Better State Cookie Contest is live!!!  Votes will be accepted daily between today and July 27th.  You can vote once a day, every day!!  Please lend your support and vote for Vermont!!  Here is the link to vote:

http://apps.facebook.com/contestshq/contests/123004/voteable_entries/25150441?ogn=facebook&ref=nf

I'll post a reminder daily on my fan page...I don't want to use the blog every day for reminders.  For my fellow bloggers...if you're not entered in the contest, please share with your followers!!  I need all the help I can get!!

Thank you!!  I so appreciate the support!!!

Love,
Jerri

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Product Review, Contest, and Maybe a Giveaway??

This past weekend, I was invited to participate in Better Homes & Gardens Live Better State Cookie Contest.  For participating, I received a 15x10 inch baking pan.  I LOVE THIS PAN!!


The pan has silicone handles so it doesn't slip out of your grip as you remove it from the oven.  Which makes it perfect for my husband who has a tendency to make one-handed grabs!  It's non-stick and has what BHG calls "Triple Performance Grid" on the bottom of the pan.  I know that I baked a sheet cookie instead of individual cookies and with this pan, the cookie browned evenly, baked true to temp, and slid easily out of the pan when I was ready to cut and decorate.  Another aspect I really appreciated is that the pan is substantial.  It is so sturdy (unlike the cheapies I already own)!

Now on to my cookie.  I baked a cookie to represent the state of  Vermont.  I chose a chewy maple cookie recipe to pay homage to Vermont's history and industry of maple products.  (Disclaimer:  I'm a known addict of maple sugar candy!).  Here's the recipe:

Chewy Maple Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flaked coconut

Directions:

In a bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg, syrup, and vanilla until completely mixed.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture.  Stir in flaked coconut.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart or spread into baking pan for sheet cookie.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Yield is 3 dozen or 1 sheet cookie.

As I stated before, the cookie browned and baked evenly in this pan.  So on to the decorating.  Not my area of expertise, obviously!!  But I had a blast trying something new and the entire cookie is edible thanks to sugar sheets and food paint!  And if I do say so myself...it's delicious!!  Hey...SOMEBODY had to eat the scraps from cutting out Vermont!


Now for the fun part!!  Voting starts June 30th for the cookie.  If my cookie wins...not only will I win $100 and a set of bakeware...I'll receive a set to give away right here on the blog!  So get those fingers warmed up, share the link with everyone you know, re-post, tweet, beg....and vote for Vermont!!

Disclaimer:  I received this product at no cost from BHG Live Better.  All opinions stated in this review are solely my own.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How It Works

I've had some questions from friends on how exactly my blog works, and how I earn money from it.  So here goes a brief explanation on how it works.

How I make money:

I make money off my blog from the ads you see.  Whenever you click on an ad, whether Google or Amazon...I make a few cents per click.  The more clicks, the more money I make.  Please understand...you are under no obligation to purchase anything!!

Buttons:

See the buttons under this post?  These buttons enable you to share a post you like via email, Google, Twitter, and Facebook.  The more posts that are shared, the more people get to know my blog.  And see that little button that says "+1"?  If you click that button, it moves that post further up in the ranking on Google Search.  Again, the more people that can find that post...the more that find my blog!

Facebook:

There is also a Facebook fan page for my blog.  You can find it here:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jerris-Empty-Nest/162746363781546

Followers:

On the right hand side of the blog, you'll find the follow button.  This is how advertisers and companies determine the impact of my blog.  The more followers, the more ads.  The more ads, the more money I can possibly make.  Also, with more followers, the more products I can receive to review.  With more products to review, that opens the door to giveaways for my followers.  The more my followers share my blog and attract new followers, the more opportunities.  Sensing a pattern here?

So pretty much it all comes down to my followers.  I post content that I hope you will enjoy, that will make you think, will help you, and will touch you.  If a post does any of these things, please comment and let me know.  I value and appreciate each and every one of you!!!

Love,
Jerri

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where's My Tool Belt?

Last week, the fridge side of my side by side refrigerator stopped cooling.  My hubby spent a couple of days unplugging and plugging it in to reset the thermostat.  Finally, faced with the possibility of having to spend over a thousand dollars to replace it...I took action.

First, I found the model number.  Then I went online and found the owner's manual for the fridge.  Printing out the troubleshooting pages, I did everything it said to do.  No result.  Hubby still unplugging.  Crap!!

So my fingers returned to the search for a solution.  After more hunting on the internet, I found an appliance repair forum where this exact problem had been asked about back in 2007.  There was a detailed fix posted by an appliance repair tech on how to resolve the issue.

Following his instructions, I defrosted the defrost heater coils.  Who even knew what those were??  And within an hour, my fridge was purring away and keeping everything cold!!!  And it is still going strong!!

Now Hubby admitted he was impressed that I fixed the fridge.  Out Loud.  Of course, he's also said if anyone else ever brings it up...he'll deny he ever said it.  But I figure that an hour of research on the internet saved us over a grand by having to replace the fridge!

Bring on the next repair!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Sweet to End the Week

Apricot Bars

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) butter
3/4 cup apricot preserves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and butter.  Mix well.  Place half of the mixture in a 9 inch square pan.  Spread apricot preserves over the mixture and sprinkle with the remaining mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Cut into squares.

Enjoy!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Long Week

I don't know about y'all...but I am personally so very glad to see this week come to an end.  From a week that began on a great note with Father's Day and rapidly deteriorated with emergency eye surgery, a broken fridge, and stress beyond belief.

I think I'm going to cocoon this weekend.  Lock myself in the house, not answer the phone, emails, texts, and any other electronic means of communication!  I have about a thousand books downloaded to my e-readers and SyFy is running disaster movies all day Sunday.  I have ice cream, I have candy, and I have a couch that is just crying out for me to sink into it and relax.  That pretty much covers my guilty pleasures list!

I hope y'all have a fabulous weekend!!  See you next week!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What Sucks About Blogging

I enjoy my blog.  I enjoy sharing lessons I've learned and tips I utilize.  I enjoy sharing book reviews and recipes.  That being said, there is a side to blogging that absolutely sucks!!  I'm talking about the self-promotion required when you have a blog.

For most beginner bloggers like myself, blogging income comes from the ads on the blog.  When a follower clicks on one of the ads, the blogger earns a few cents per click.  To earn those cents, you have to attract followers.  To attract followers, you have to promote your blog, i.e. yourself.  And that's where my problem begins.

Ask me about my friends and family.  I will rave on about how talented, wonderful, loving, and incredible they are.  Ask me about me and listen to the crickets.  It's not something I have ever felt comfortable doing, even in a job interview.  And promoting your blog is like a continuous, never-ending interview!!

So this is my personal challenge...to attain the confidence to promote myself and therefore, my blog.  The empty nest phase may be an unusual time in life to gain this confidence but who knows?  Maybe this old dog can learn some new tricks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hump Day #11

Stormy Weather

Ingredients:

3 ice cubes, cracked
1 1/2 measures gin
1/2 measure Mandarin Napoleon brandy
1/2 measure dry vermouth
1/4 measure sweet vermouth
orange zest spiral, to decorate

Directions:

Put the cracked ice into a cocktail shaker and add the gin, Mandarine Napoleon, and both vermouths.  Shake to mix.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Decorate the rim of the glass with the orange zest spiral.

Salud!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sadness in the Empty Nest

While having an empty nest opens up a new world of opportunities and adventures, it does come with a side of sadness.  This past weekend, Clarence Clemons "The Big Man" passed away.  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have always been in my Top 5 as far as favorite artists go and this just broke my heart.

When you enter the empty-nester phase of life, you realize that the funerals now outnumber the weddings.  That reports of hospitalizations for illness have exceed the reports of joyous births.  People whose talents you have enjoyed for years now take those talents to another plain.

Knowing this is inevitable doesn't make it easier.  It is hard to acknowledge that time brings loss.  But as I grieve for the loss of those both near and far from me, I'll hang on just that much tighter to the ones still here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Moody Monday

I'm having the hardest time getting moving this morning.  I'm not overtired from the weekend.  We had a nice, relaxing Father's Day.  I just have a major case of the Monday blahs.  Even the dogs are just laying around.

Of course, it might have something to do with the extreme heat we're experiencing here in Texas.  We've had 14 days so far over 100 degrees and another is in store for today.  And we're in an "exceptional" drought.  That makes it sound nice, doesn't it?  But the truth is, that is the worst possible drought.  I haven't seen a single drop of rain in over a month.

Now, I know...I'm in Texas and complaining about the heat.  However, Austin is on track for the hottest month of June ever recorded.  We're talking since 1895!!!  So, even for Texas...it's HOT!!!

Maybe that's the cause of my blahs.  Just wore out from the heat.  So what do y'all do when you're just not motivated?  Is there a playlist you listen to?  Do you dance?  I need some ideas here, people!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In Honor of Father's Day---BACON!!!

Glazed Bacon

Ingredients:

1 pound bacon
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions:

Arrange bacon slices close together, but not overlapping, on wire rack over drip pan.  In a bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, and pecans.  Sprinkle evenly over the bacon.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and serve.

Enjoy!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ice, Ice, Please!!!

You know it's a bad hot flash when:

1.  You wake up in a waterbed...and you don't own one.

2.  It's 102 degrees outside...and that feels cooler than inside your own skin.

3.  Your husband who is part polar bear complains the AC is too cold.

4.  You think you're running a fever...and you know there's no point in finding the thermometer.

5.  You stick your head in the freezer to cool off...and you defrost the whole darn thing.

6.  The hottest meal you can imagine eating is ice cream.

7.  At the age when you should be covering up...you can't get your clothes off fast enough.

8.  When you're panting more than your dog...and you haven't even gotten off the couch.

9.  Nudity becomes a matter of sanity...not fun.

10. You actually don't mind that the rest of the family has used up all the hot water.

Now where is my frozen margarita???

Thursday, June 16, 2011

5 Tips for Your E-Reader

The tips below apply to either your Nook or your Kindle.  I don't know too much about the Sony or Kobo e-readers.  And if you follow my blog, you know my husband is already looking for a rehab for gadget junkies.  If I added a third or fourth e-reader to my inventory, I think it might send him over the edge!!

Tip 1:  Get a case!!  It will protect your screen when you toss it in your purse as you head out the door.  And just in general, to save it from having anything spilled, etc. on it.

Tip 2:  Get a booklight!!  If your case doesn't have a built-in light...invest a couple of bucks in a booklight you can clip on to the case.  For some reason, husbands don't much appreciate the overhead light on at midnight just so you can read!

Tip 3:  Use electronic wipes to clean your screen.  They are specially made for screens and are the safest to use.  If you're anything like me, you like to read while you eat...and those darn buffalo wings!!

Tip 4:  Turn off the Wi-Fi!!  If you are not actively downloading books, turn off your Wi-Fi.  It will extend the life of your battery charge.

Tip 5:  Never lend your e-reader!!!  Think of how addicted you are to it...do you honestly believe you'll get it back??

I hope these hints were helpful.  Gotta go....there's more free books on Amazon and B&N!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review: Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda


Here, Home, Hope is a wonderful book about a woman entering the second half of her life.  We meet Kelly, a stay-at-home mom looking for what is missing in her life.  Her search is triggered by a health crisis and we join her on her voyage of self-discovery.

Along the way, we meet her friends Charlotte (a real estate agent and former Miss Ohio) and Kathryn ( a high-powered executive with the "perfect" family).  We also meet Rachel, who proves that no matter the age, there's always a mean girl!

One of Kelly's tools is her T2C (Things To Change) list.  It is a great thread throughout the book and an easy thing for any woman to follow suit!  As we accompany Kelly on her journey, we learn some great lessons.  That women always need their girlfriends.  That a perfect life may not be so perfect when the front door closes.

I highly recommend this book for any woman facing these second phase issues in her life.  And also recommend it for the men in their lives...It will explain so much!!

Here is the YouTube trailer for Here, Home, Hope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRcsMDKlccY

Disclaimer:  I received an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of this book as a member of the One2One network.  All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Hump Day #10

Paddy's Night

Ingredients:

3 ice cubes, cracked
1 measure green creme de menthe
1 measure Irish whiskey
Champagne, to top up

Directions:

Put the cracked ice into a cocktail shaker with the creme de menthe and whiskey.  Shake well.  Strain into a large wine glass and top up with champagne.

Salud!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day.  I fly mine proudly both as a veteran and an American.

But when I went outside this morning...I noticed that I am the only one flying the flag on my whole block.  That is so sad.  Do people not have pride in the flag anymore?  Or is it just that some holidays have lost their significance over the years?

Personally, I think that they have lost some of their significance.  More and more communities each year are dropping parades on Independence Day, Veterans' Day, and other patriotic holidays.  I'm sure some are due to budget cuts but how many other observances are discontinued because it's no longer politically correct to be a proud American?

Well then...I guess I'm politically incorrect.  I AM a proud American and my flag flies proudly this Flag Day and every day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Toxic

No...not the Britney Spears song!  Today, I'm talking about those people in your life that seem to spread poison wherever they go.

As I've entered the empty nest phase of my life, I've realized that I no longer have the time, energy, or patience to have such people in my life.  To be honest, I have never understand why some people expend that kind of energy on being miserable and/or hateful.  Why?  What does it gain for you?

In all honesty, I have, in the past, gone out of my way to try to make such people happy.  And I've learned the hard way that they just don't want to be.  If they can say a harsh word, they will.  If they can spread hate, they do.  It's frequently cloaked as "I'm just being honest" or "I just tell it like it is".  Guess what, folks?  That does not excuse hate and cruelty!!

There's an old saying that anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  For anger, you can also substitute resentment, hostility, hate, cruelty, etc.  Why would anyone want to live that life?

So if any of the above are what you're selling...keep moving.  I'm not buying.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Easy and Yummy!!

Wine Chicken

Ingredients:

6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 oz) can cream of onion soup
1 cup white wine

Directions:

In skillet, brown chicken in a little oil and place in a 9x13 baking dish.  Combine soups and wine and pour over chicken.  Bake covered at 325 degrees for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 25 minutes.

Enjoy!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

TGIF!!

I am so happy it's Friday!!  I have been a whirling dervish this week and still have a couple more events to attend this week.  I haven't even seen my husband in two days!!!

When I was younger, I guess I pictured the empty nest days as being quiet and boring.  Boy, was I wrong!!  With an empty nest comes the invaluable gift of time.  Time to pursue interests.  Time to pursue dreams that were put on hold while raising your family.  Time to attend events, where you don't have to worry about being home before school bedtime.

I am so enjoying this phase of my life, more than I ever thought I would.  I still have days where I wander around the house and miss the noise and chaos.  But, all in all, I truly believe that life just keeps getting better and better!!

Enjoy your empty nest!!  It really is a blessing!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Winning...Paying It Forward

I have won a lot of prizes online.  And I am a firm believer in paying it forward.  There is a verse in the Bible: 


"For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required." -- Luke 12: 48 .  


Now, I don't have much...but I give what I can.  Here are three sites where giving is easy, which takes away any excuse not to do it!!


http://www.coupsfortroops.com/

Coupons for Troops:  This site has instructions on how to donate your unwanted or expired coupons to our troops.  The military can use coupons up to one year past their expiration date so this is a great way to thank our troops for their sacrifice.  Most enlisted personnel with families have a hard time making ends meet, so give them a hand with the groceries!!

http://www.clicktogive.com/?ref=35301

Click to Give:  This site has six charities.  All you have to do is click the button to donate to the charity.  You can donate to all six once each day.  You will set up a personal account and you will also earn points towards thank you gifts for your donation.


http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1
The Hunger Site:  This site has seven charities.  They are listed at the top of the page.  You can donate to each charity once each day.  It literally takes less than one minute to complete all the charity clicks.

I'm sure there are a multitude of sites out there that offer the same ease of donating to charity...but these are the ones I use.  It only takes a few minutes to stuff some coupons in an envelope, and even less time to donate to all thirteen charities every day. 

Please...pay it forward!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hump Day #9

White Witch

Ingredients:

8-10 ice cubes
1 measure white rum
1/2 measure white creme de caceo
1/2 measure Cointreau
juice of 1/2 lime
soda water, to top up
orange and lime slices, to decorate

Directions:

Put half the ice cubes into a cocktail shaker and pour in the rum, creme de cacao, Cointreau, and lime juice.  Shake and strain over the remaining ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass.  Top up with soda water and stir to mix.  Decorate with orange and lime slices.  Serve with straws.

Salud!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Free Books

I am the ecstatic owner of both a Nook and a Kindle.  I'm also a voracious reader who will read the back of a cereal box if it's the only thing available.  Unfortunately, my budget doesn't always keep up with my appetite for books.  But there are literally millions of free books out there to take advantage of.

For the Nook:

1.  Go to bn.com.
2.  Select NookBooks for the search field.
3.  Enter 0.00 in the search box.
4.  Narrow the results by your favorite genre.

For the Kindle:

1.  Go to amazon.com.
2.  Select Kindle Store for the search field.
3.  Enter 0.00 in the search box.
4.  Narrow the results by your favorite genre.

Now, if you don't have an e-reader, don't despair!!  Both BN and Amazon have apps you can download to your tablet, phone, or computer to read e-books on.  And the apps are free, too!!

Enjoy!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Health In The Empty Nest

When you finally hit the age of having an empty nest, does the warranty on your body run out?  It sure seems that way.

A sore back is no longer just a sore back.  Now it requires physical therapy, nerve blocks, etc.  Being a woman now means more than just a miserable week out of the month.  Now it's yearly mammograms, hormone replacement, special pajamas made for hot flashes, and the list goes on.

Somehow it just doesn't seem fair that when you get to the point in your life when you have the time and still have the energy to really get out there and enjoy it...your body says "What the heck are you thinking?"!!

So here's to powering through.  To the determination to enjoy this special time.  To celebrating your empty nest!!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Easy!!!

Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3 cloves, garlic, pressed
1/4 cup lemon juice
Hot sauce to taste (I like a bit more than most!)
2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled

Directions:

1.  Melt butter, saute garlic, and add lemon juice and a few (lot) dashes of hot sauce.
2.  Arrange shrimp in single layer in shallow pan, pour butter mixture over shrimp and salt lightly.
3.  Broil two minutes, turn shrimp, and broil two more minutes.
4.  Reserve garlic butter and serve separately.

(This recipe calls for real butter...NO SUBSTITUTIONS!!!)

Enjoy!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Winning On Twitter

Let me start by saying I've probably won three times as much on Twitter as all the other ways.  And contrary to popular perception, you do not have to participate on Twitter via your cell phone...it can all be done online.

First, follow your favorite brands on Twitter.  They frequently hold Twitter only contests for free full size products, promotional items, etc.  Because Twitter has significantly lower usage than Facebook, you have much better odds!!

Second, follow your local venues.  Tickets are given away via Twitter on a regular basis.  They may be last minute for that same day's show...but if you're an empty nester like me...it's easy to get up and go!!

Third, follow your friends!  They may be following brands, venues, etc. that you may be interested in but they've already done the work of finding them!

Fourth, follow your favorite blogs.  They will post links to their own giveaways, Twitter contests, and giveaways on other blogs.  It's a great resource.

Fifth, follow contest pages.  One example is @giveawaynow.  All they do is run giveaways!!

Good Luck!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Season of our Discontent

First...my apologies to Mr. Shakespeare for the paraphrasing!

I've noticed a trend in a number of people in my age range.  It's a tendency to point out the negative, the scary, the worst news possible.  Whether it is incessant political postings (all negative), or just a general discontent with the world in general...it seems people feel the need to share these feelings with the world.

Why?  I understand you may not personally be happy.  Ok...I get it.  But why would you want to spread it?  Is that really what you want to put out into the universe?  I, for one, do not want my tombstone to say "She spread unhappiness wherever she went".  I know it sounds Pollyanna-ish...but I don't want people to think I'm constantly miserable!

Is it a result of an empty nest?  Do people have more time on their hands, so they spend hours online looking at news stories?  If so...is there not a single positive thing out there on any of the news sites?  I realize there are a lot of terrible, horrible events happening in the world.  But my point is...everyone realizes it.  We all have access to the daily news in one format or another.  But it is a choice how we view it...and how or if we choose to disseminate it.

And let's face it...sometimes daily life can be a drag.  Granted, not everyone's life is a candy-coated paradise, mine included.  I choose, however, not to drag anyone else into my bad day.  It's mine, I'll deal with it, and if all else fails...I'll fake it until I feel better!  Now let me make this clear...I'm all for venting when necessary.  But venting is a personal, one on one event that does not include spreading your complaints as far and wide as possible through posts, tweets, etc.  Trust me on that one...I'm a world class venter!!

TIME IS SHORT!!  None of us are getting younger and as an empty-nester, I want to enjoy this second half of my life.  Wanna join me?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hump Day #8

Penguin

Ingredients:

1 measure brandy
1/2 measure Cointreau
1 measure fresh lemon juice
1 dash grenadine
ice cubes
1/4 orange slice for decoration
1/4 lemon slice for decoration

Directions:

Pour the brandy, Cointreau, fruit juices, and grenadine into a mixing glass and stir well.  Pour into a tall glass filled with ice cubes.  Decorate with the fruit slices placed on the rim of the glass.  Serve with two long straws.

Salud!!

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