Thursday, January 31, 2013

Amazing Women Day Four

Let me tell you about a friend of mine.

Another amazing author I've recently discovered is Barbra Annino.  She writes one of my new favorites...the Stacy Justice series.  Stacy is a reluctant witch and has the best misadventures!  And how can you not love a witch who's familiar is a Great Dane named Thor???

Barbra is also one of those fantastic authors who honestly loves each and every one of her fans and interacts with them on a regular basis.  That fact just adds to the enjoyment of her books!  There are currently three books in the Stacy Justice series with the fourth on the way soon.  I can hardly wait!

To check out Barbra's books, you can go to her Amazon page here.  In addition, you can check out her website here.

Go!  Read!  Enjoy!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Amazing Women Day Three

Let me tell you about a friend of mine.

Lisa is the owner of Coy Clothes.  If you've been a follower of my blog for a while, I've raved about her before!  She makes the most adorable shirts, apron, towels, etc.  I personally own two of her shirts and they are fantastic!  They are made from organic bamboo and are the most comfortable clothes I own!  Not to mention the cute comments on the front of each shirt!

This is what's next on my wishlist from Coy Clothes...she has the most clever aprons!

Bacon meakes me happy gingham apron

If you want to check out Coy Clothes for yourself, you can find the website here.  You can also follow the goings-on at her Facebook fan page here.

Go!  Shop!  Giggle!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Amazing Women Day Two

Let me tell you about a friend of mine.

C.L. Bevill is one of the best writers I've discovered in a long time.  I'm actually a huge fan of more than one of her series!  My absolute favorite is The Lake People series.  When talking with her other fans, however, I'm usually outvoted by fans of the Bubba series.  Now don't get me wrong, I love me some Bubba but the Lake People series is tops for me.  The first series I read was the Moon Trilogy and it comes in a close second for me.

For a number of fantastic reads, check out her Amazon page here.  You can also find her on her website here.

Go, read, enjoy!!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Amazing Women Day One

Let me tell you about a friend of mine.

Tracey is an amazing artist.  I mean AMAZING!!  I personally have a set of ornaments she made me in honor of breast cancer awareness.  They are so beautiful I haven't even used them because I'm afraid they'll get messed up!

Tracey creates the most beautiful portraits and murals.  Obviously, for a mural you need to be local, but check out her website for everything she offers.

In addition to her business, Tracey is also a certified Mneme therapist for Art Without Boundaries. This is an organization that uses art as therapy for clients with autism or Alzheimers among other things.  The incredible art she creates with her clients is awe-inspiring.

To check out Tracey's work, visit her website here.  You'll be happy you did!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Sweet Bite

Winter is the perfect time to enjoy carbs...and here's a sweet one to enjoy!

Pineapple Bread


4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup melted shortening
4 cups flour, sifted
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (I prefer walnut, but you can also use pecans)
2 cups crushed pineapple, drained


Beat eggs and sugar together and stir in shortening.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt.  Blend well.  Add nuts and pineapple.  Stir only until combined.  Pour batter in to two greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Bread can be frozen for storage.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Frugal Planning

I managed a couple of sweet scores this week.

One...I found a deal for a local attraction that I've been wanting to see.  It was a half-price deal with four tickets for under $20 dollars.  Score!!

Two...I needed to purchase a birthday cake and an ice cream cake was specifically requested.  Lo and behold, I receive an email from Dairy Queen saying everything was half price on the 23rd.  I don't need the cake until the 31st...but that's what a freezer is for!!  Score!!

When you're looking for deals, the number one thing you need is patience.  I've been wanting to visit this attraction since I got here...but this was the first time a deal became available.  Patience pays.  Also, sign up for the email club for restaurants you visit.  You'll receive emails with deals like the one I received.  They may not always be the deal you want when you want it...but then there are the occasions when the timing is perfect!

Go hunt, my friends!  Find those deals!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Simple Wishes

I do have a few simple wishes that I would love to see come true.  They're nothing fancy...just some things that would make daily life a little sweeter.  Here they are:

1.  I wish I could wear makeup just to look pretty...not to hide the fact I need more sleep!

2.  I wish that I wasn't so exhausted at night that I could read more than five pages of a book.

3.  I wish coffee came in an IV.

4.  I wish chocolate came in an extended release pill.

5.  I wish I could take my dogs to school with me.

Like I said, nothing fancy.  Also probably not anything that will actually come true.  But they are nice scenarios to imagine.  What are your flight of fancy wishes?


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Be Careful!

We've all heard the old adage "Be careful what you wish for!".  I have definitely learned that lesson this year!

You may remember me writing about leaving the pain behind and filling that hole with the new adventure of college.  I can now attest that the hole has been filled to overflowing!  I am so busy and so overwhelmed that most days I don't know if I'm coming or going!

I knew I needed to keep busy in order to move forward.  I'm not that sure I had quite this busy in mind.  Never having attended college before, I honestly had absolutely no idea what I was in for.  I do now.  I no longer have to worry about filling that hole...I don't even have time to think about it. And that's a good thing.  Nothing works better at leaving pain behind than not thinking about it at all.

There is no longer any time to brood, to re-examine, to "what-if" anymore.  My days are now filled with what I need to get done, have I finished everything, and "what's next".  So much better to live in the land of "what's next" than in the land of "what went wrong".  "What's next" is a world of excitement, adventure, and possibilities.  It is where I choose to live my life now.

And the adventure continues!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Missed It!

There was a holiday that got missed yesterday amid the excitement of the inauguration and the service performed in honor of Martin Luther King.  Yesterday was National Hugging Day!

It's a bit sad, really, that it would take an actual "day" to remind us of the fact that everyone needs a hug now and then.  In our digital world, human contact seems to happen less and less.

We're more likely now to reach out to loved ones via text or email.  Nothing replaces the human touch.  It has been medically proven that the simple hug can reduce heart rates, elevate moods, reduce blood pressure, and increase nerve activity.  All that just from a hug!

We may be a day late, but it's still a good day to begin!  Start passing out those hugs today!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Bliss

Here's a little drink to bring some light to your winter!


2 ripe bananas
1 cup orange juice
2 oz vodka
2 oz rum
1 1/2 cups ice
Orange slices

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.  Serve in tall glass with an orange slice as garnish.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Frugal School Continued

Last week I let you know about the free backpack I managed to score.  Part of that deal was the free shipping I get by utilizing Amazon Prime.  This week, I found a deal on Amazon Prime itself.

As a new college student, I became eligible to join Amazon Student.  With Amazon Student, I receive six months of FREE Amazon Prime.  As I already use Amazon Prime, Amazon refunded me six months ($39.50) of the yearly fee.  Not only refunded it...but did it within 24 hours!

I still receive all the fantastic benefits of Amazon Prime.  This also includes the ability to add up to four family members to my Prime account so that they also reap the benefits.  With it, we get free two day shipping and access to Prime streaming video.  I don't know about you, but with the frequency that I hit Amazon...Prime pays for itself in no time flat!

If you are a student or are the parent or grandparent of a student...check out Amazon Student for incredible deals and savings!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Feeling Good

One of the easiest ways I know to put a smile on my face is to hug one of my dogs.  Studies have shown that petting a dog or cat lowers anxiety and blood pressure.

Pets give you unconditional love.  They are always thrilled to see you walk through the door.  You can leave for an hour and when you return, they greet you like they haven't seen you in a week!

In addition to the benefits from cuddling them, there are also the added physical perks involved in the care of the pet.  They need to be fed, watered, groomed, walked, let outside, etc.  All of this requires us to get off our butts and get moving.  Remember, every step you take counts!

If you don't have a dog or cat, let me beg you to consider a rescue.  There are millions of dogs and cats out there that would be so grateful for a loving home.  I have adopted two of my own and it's one of the best decisions of my life.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Engaging The Mind

Earlier this week, I mentioned engaging your mind as a way to beat the winter blues.  Here are a few ways to do so.  Remember, it will not only chase the blues away...they say it also staves off dementia due to aging!

1.  Crossword puzzles.  Put that brain of yours to work!  Start with a pencil if you haven't done one in a while...but graduate to ink when you're back in the swing.

2.  Word search puzzles.  You can find books in every level of difficulty and even specific topics.

3.  Learn a new craft.  You can find easy instructions and how-to videos all over the web.

4.  Play an on-line game.  Studies have found that puzzle games such as Bejeweled lower anxiety and increase brain function.

5.  Write a letter.  It awakens skills most of us haven't used in a long time such as penmanship and grammar.

Those are just a few ideas to get you started.  Get that brain energized!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Simple Trick

Want to shake the winter blues?  I have a simple trick that works every time.

Pick up the phone and call a friend!  Yep, it's really that easy.  Especially for empty-nesters, it is vital to maintain that human contact.  Just a few minutes chatting with a friend will chase the blues away, re-energize your spirit, and actually lower your blood pressure.

Now think of those benefits doubled.  How you ask?  Well, if it does all that for you...don't you think that it does the same for them?  It's a surefire way to spread joy and sunshine.

Pick up the phone today and call a friend.  Smile and it will come through in your voice.  You'll see it's not quite as gray outside.

P.S.  A piece of chocolate never hurts either!!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Cabin Fever

It's that time of year.  The excitement and busy work of the holidays are over and the winter doldrums have set in.  Whether you live where it's cold or where it's rainy in the winter, it's easy to get cabin fever.

What do you do then to beat it?  Personally, one of my favorite things is to curl up with a hot mug of peppermint tea and a good book.  Also on my list?  Writing, of course!  But besides that, there are a multitude of crafts I enjoy and a good movie always fits the bill.

I think the most important aspect to beating cabin fever is to keep your mind active.  Don't let down time bring you down!  It's too easy when it's gray outside to let that gray seep in to the inside.  Engage your mind, and your spirits will lift!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Breakfast On The Go

Now that I'm back in school, I needed something I could grab and go in the morning.  And as one of major goals this year is to cut back the grocery budget...that means more homemade than store-bought!  With that in mind...

Homemade Cereal Bars


4 cups favorite cereal (I prefer Fruit Loops or Cap'n Crunch All Berries...but then I'm a kid at heart!)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I prefer peanuts but walnuts or pecans will work)
3 Tbsp butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows


Grease a 8x8 pan.  Melt butter and marshmallows in a double boiler. Pour over cereal, coconut, and chopped nuts in pan.  Stir to thoroughly coat.  Pat down in pan.  Allow to cool and cut in to bars.  Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap for transporting.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Frugal School

By now you know me.  If I can get it for cheap or free, I always will.  That applies to school supplies too!

I needed a backpack for school.  Now my youngest child is 23 so I haven't had to buy a backpack in quite a few years!  Heading online, I was shocked to see the prices!  Thirty to fifty dollars for a backpack?  Are you kidding me??

There was no way that was going to happen.  Not only for the fact I couldn't afford that, but it goes against the very core of my being to spend that kind of money on a backpack!

Doing some more searching, I found a cute backpack on clearance on Amazon.

It's more than large enough for my needs, and it was definitely affordable marked down from $40 to only $7.42!!  Even better, I had Amazon credit on file from my moneymakers.  My final price including shipping?  $0.00!!  Now, how can you beat free?

I decided to share this story to illustrate how that hour a day spent on money making sites pays off in an immensely practical way.  I have a brand new backpack...which every college freshman needs!

Now take a good look at that moneymaker page on my blog...start racking up that cash!!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Me Time

When I finished my homework this past Sunday, I picked up a craft project.  It seems I haven't had time for them in ages and I needed to create something.

Why?  Because creating something beautiful feeds your soul.  It calms your mind as you work and brings about a zen-like state.  You also get an immense feeling of satisfaction when you view and hold your completed project.

I have very few things I've made in my possession.  As a rule, I give projects away as soon as I complete them.  It's as if the journey is enough for me...I have no need of the prize at the end.  In addition, it brings me pleasure to give to someone else and see them enjoy my handiwork.

Let's add this to my goals for the year.  I will do my best to build in that "me" time as much as possible.  You do the same!!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First Day

Friday was my first day of class.  When I woke up that morning, the first thing I heard on the news was that the bridge I needed to take to get to school was closed with no re-opening in the immediate time frame.  Really?  My first day and this gets thrown in the mix?

I scrambled to get ready.  I knew I had to find an alternate route to school, and I wasn't sure how much longer that would take me.  Like I wasn't nervous enough already?  I was a brand new college freshman and now I had to find a new way to get to school?  The universe has a twisted sense of humor.

Leaving the house, I headed on my alternate route.  The gods were smiling on me as there was no traffic to speak of and my route was clear sailing the entire way to school.  I made it to my classroom and dropped in to a seat with a deep sigh of relief.  I'd done it!!  I was at school and on time!

I realize it seems like such a small thing.  But to me, it was a hurdle crossed.  This year is all about jumping those hurdles and moving forward.  One down!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Moving Forward

Going back to school is a big step for me in moving forward.  I am leaving the pain of the past year in the past.  But even when it's pain...when you leave it behind, there is still a hole to fill.  I am determined to fill that vacancy with things, activities, and people who make my life better.

Starting college is a huge step in that direction.  I am meeting new people (granted, all younger!).  I am getting out of the house on a regular basis.  I am challenging my mind, my comfort zone, and facing my fears.  Not bad for Step One!

What will be Step Two?  No clue...I'm still settling in to Step One!  Trust me, it will be something that makes my life happier, fuller, and more content.  I am determined to eliminate any room for fear, drama, or misery.

Stay tuned...there's more to come!!


Monday, January 7, 2013

A New Chapter

I'm a college student!!  I'm still in shock myself.  I can't believe that at the age of fifty, I'm a college freshman.

The first day of walking around campus was surreal.  I had the college uniform down pat with my hoodie and jeans but my white streaks in my hair definitely differentiated me from the majority of the other students!

I've also noticed a difference in learning style.  I'm at the stage in my life where I want you to tell me the information I need to know and move on.  I'm an adult...I get it the first time.  If I'm afraid I won't retain it, I write it down.  Questioning each sentence that comes out of the professor's mouth is most definitely not my style!

Come along with me on my new adventure...It's going to be a hell of a ride!


Saturday, January 5, 2013


The holidays are over and the fridge and freezer are stuffed.  It's time to get creative and turn leftovers in to something that won't send the family running screaming from the kitchen.

One of my most vivid memories from childhood is leftover night.  My stepmother saved the little aluminum tins (so dating myself here!) that pot pies used to come in and each one would be placed on a cookie sheet with a different serving of leftovers in it.  After heating in the oven, we were allowed to choose the tins we wanted to eat.  It was a creative way to use up the leftovers and give us a bit of autonomy over what we chose to eat.

Another popular use of leftovers is soups and stews.  You can combine meat and vegetables in to something new.  They also freeze well and serve many.

Head on in to the kitchen.  Take a pad of paper and a pen.  List all of the leftovers you have.  

Go online.  There are a number of websites where you can enter the ingredients you have and they will suggest recipes using those ingredients.  Try something brand new.  


Friday, January 4, 2013

Grocery Budget

This would be one of my areas of biggest challenges when it comes to money.  It always seems like the grocery budget is out of control.

I try to coupon, I really do.  But I'll skip a week of clipping and then I don't feel like it and before I know it, I've completely given up.  The good intention is there but I have the feeling I'm paving that road to hell with this one.

This year, it is one of my goals (not resolutions!) to find ways to drastically reduce the grocery budget.  Whether by couponing, watching sales, or adjusting my cooking...there has to be a way.  It may be a combination of all of the above, or it may end up being something completely different that I haven't discovered yet.

If you have managed to accomplish this, or have any suggestions for me...please contact me!  I am open to any and all suggestions!  If you would like, write it up and I'll be more than happy to post it as a guest post right here on the blog.

Let me know what brilliant ideas I'm sure you have!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

One Day

Resolutions...the bane of every new year.  How many of us actually follow through with the incredibly lofty goals we set each January 1st?  I'm lucky if I hit one!

In that are some one day resolutions.  Easy things you can complete today and brag about fulfilling a resolution.  Here goes:

1.  Go through your make up bag and throw away the old stuff.  Admit are never going to wear that bright blue eye shadow...let it go!

2.  Clean out your email.  If it's been sitting in your inbox for two weeks and you haven't read it?  It doesn't matter...Delete!!

3.  Pet your dog or cat.  This actually counts as a health resolution as cuddling a pet has been proven to lower blood pressure!

4.  Put a post it note on your checkbook with "2013" written in bold!  You know you've already messed it up once this year...this will help you remember!

5.  Do a jumping jack.  Yep, just one.  Remember, this is a one day resolution.  You can now say you worked out today.

Now, don't you feel so much better?  Look at all the resolutions you've already kept this year!  I'm so proud of you!!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


The holidays are over.  Hopefully, you made it through with a minimum of stress and even less of a hangover!

What's on your agenda for the new year?  Have you made a list of resolutions or are you playing it by ear?

Personally, my goal for this year is to move beyond just surviving and re-enter the land of the living.  The changes that happened last year are done, it's time for a new plan.

What that will actually entail...I have no idea!!  I never thought I would be starting my entire life over at this age.  But not knowing what it will entail also means that the possibilities are wide open! There is no one and nothing telling me "I can't" except myself.  And I'm not going to say it!!

Let me know what you have planned for this bright, shiny, new year of possibilities!



Jerri's Empty Nest