Monthly Archives: May 2011

All-American Easy Apple Pie


This recipe is as traditional as Baseball, Apple-Pie, and 4th Of July!


12-13 Granny Smith Apples – Or The Apples Of Your Choice

1 Stick Of Butter


6 Tbsp Flour (for thickening)

2 Pie Crusts

1 Cup Sugar and Sugar To Sprinkle On Crust

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

Peel Apples

Enlist help!

This is the most time consuming aspect of making this pie!!

Slice apples.

This will seem like a ridulously insane amount of apples.

It is.Place pie crust in pie plate.

We will make this pie in three layers.

Layer One…

Add 1/3 of the apples.

This recipe is so simple your kids can help.

If you consider yourself a novice baker you now have no excuse!

As you’ll see, my 5-year old makes this entire pie!!

Layer One…

Add about 1/3 of the butter

Layer One…

Add cinnamon (as much or as little as you like).

Layer One…

Add 1/3 of the sugar.

Layer One…

Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of flour.

Repeat these steps for Layer Two…

And then do the same for Layer Three…

This is what the pie will look like after Layer Three has been added.

You definitely will get the “Biggest Bang For Your Buck” when it comes to apples in this pie!!

Cover pie with crust.

It probably won’t fit.

No worries. =)

You will have to stretch it a bit.

Use water to adhere pie crusts together.

This will hopefully keep the butter from oozing out during the baking process!

Adhere pie crusts.

Gently stretch the top pie crust so that it meets up with the bottom crust.

Using your fingers wet the pie crust edges and press together.

Water acts as a glue.

Brush the top of the pie with milk.

A pastry brush works great!

Sprinkle with sugar.

Or douse with sugar.

Whichever you prefer

 Vent with a knife.

Make pretty designs.

Sign your name if you wish.

Cover with tin foil.

Place on a cookie sheet also covered with tin foil.

Bake with tinfoil on pie for 30 minutes.

Take off tin foil.

Continue to bake pie for an additional 40 minutes.

Or until apples are bubbling.

Finished Product!


Add Ice-Cream.

F.Y.I.  I love Vanilla Bean.


Thanks for the inspiration, Jill!


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Filed under RANDO•RAMA, Recipes, Videos

$35 Well Spent

My daughter LOVES StarFall! is a FREE website that teaches children how to read and write. When I first heard about Starfall my daughter was 2 ½ years old. After introducing Starfall to her she quickly learned her alphabet and letter sounds. This website is so FuN and EnGaginG that children don’t realize they are learning!

Starfall recently added an extended version to their website. Spend $35 and receive a 1-year membership that will include math songs, colors, nursery rhyme videos and much more! We purchased the membership and our whole family loves it. I try to sit down with Leanne when she wants to get on Starfall so we can share in the activities together. What a great way to INTERACT and help your child LEARN!

At the VERY least, try out the FREE version and share this wonderful website with others!


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Filed under Kid Stuff, Parenthood, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships

“800 Pound Gorilla In The Room” – The Challenge (Wk 7)

We all seem to have that InFaMoUs GoRillA hanging around – that thing that is larger than life, distracting, paralyzing, and oh so annoying.

My 800 pound gorilla?  “All-Or-Nothing” thinking.  I’m not sure why I deal with this issue.  I’ve tried to trace it back to my childhood, my personality and a host of other psychological explanations, but to no avail.  Sometimes it really doesn’t matter “why”, you just need to get on with it and deal with the “what”.

This issue first surfaced for me as af freshman in college.  In high school I was a good student.  I did exactly what my teachers asked and as a result got A’s and B’s.  However, when I went to college and realized I could not read the 1,000 pages assigned in a particular class for one week I threw up my hands and simply gave up.  I never got any D’s, but I did get plenty of C’s – something that previously was foreign to me.  My “All-Or-Nothing mindset just wouldn’t let me AdApT aNd AdJuSt to the situation.  I made it through college alright, but did so disappointed, knowing that I did not reach my potential and definitely did not give it my best.

As time went on my “All-Or-Nothing” thinking continued to plague me in other areas of my life until I finally said, “EnOuGh!”

(I’ll share how I’ve learned to deal with this issue in future posts.  So, stay tuned…!)

I may not have mastered this entirely (YET) but the one thing I have to say is. . .



Adapted from my book on peace with food.


Filed under All-Or-Nothing, Dream Big, Inspiration, Inspire, Life, The Challenge

What Inspires Me – Magazines

I love magazines!!

It is a special treat for me to buy one and then carve out a time to enjoy diving in.  I love looking at the pictures, reading the interesting bits of information, and looking at the eye-catching titles and subtitles.  My favorite ones are those that deal with home & garden, women’s magazines that contain household tips and recipes, ones that contain interesting places, and magazines that are motivating and inspirational.  Any time I find something that jumps out at me I rip it out and put it in a basket.  From time to time I take these magazine pages out to enjoy once again.  I’ve even put some of these pages in plastic sheet protectors and then in a 3-ring binder.  As a result, I have compiled my own “magazine” chalk full of my favorite articles, photos, and covers!Tell us what inspires you by commenting below.  In doing so you will be eligible to win the magazines shown below.  Winner will be announced on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Share your inspiration!


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Filed under At Home, Inspiration, Inspire, Love•It! List, RANDO•RAMA

Biggest Bang For Your Buck – Adirondack Chairs

Adirondack chairs are really popular these days and it seems like the going rate for these chairs is around $250 a piece.  I really wanted to get two white chairs, but didn’t want to pay $500 so I began looking around.   Here’s what I found:

These nice wood chairs were $99 from Home Decorators.  Their website is      They were a cinch to put together.

If you don’t mind doing a little painting, these wood chairs from Home Depot are a steal for $29.88.  You can find them at

I was looking for a couple of chairs for a tree grove in front of my house and these plastic Adirondack chairs from Walmart were perfect.  The white and red chairs were $15 and the blue chair was $14.

Enjoy the view!


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Filed under At Home, B.B.F.Y.B., RANDO•RAMA

I AM…A Grandmother

•For more “I Am…” stories, click here!

•Do you or someone you know have a story that could inspire other women?  We would LOVE to feature you!  Email us at


Filed under I AM..., Stories

I Know It, But I Can’t Feel It

This week started off a little rough.  On Monday I got an email from a customer saying that I sent her the wrong colored blocks.  I was working on two similar sets and happened to swap the colors.  This meant that now I had 2 customers that wouldn’t be getting what they ordered.  When I realized this my stomach was immediately in knots.  I am a bit of a perfectionist and don’t like to make mistakes.  Although I triple check all of my orders before they get mailed, regrettably I still have a small percentage that are made incorrectly.

Although I was upset with myself, there was no point in panicking.  I contacted both customers and luckily they were very understanding…thank goodness!  BUT I continued to experience a lot of anxiety over what happened.  Even though I was CONSTANTLY telling myself that this sort of thing is going to happen from time to time, the feeling in my stomach never got better.

We may know something is right in our mind but it takes our body a while to catch up with our thoughts.   My mind knew this was not worth worrying about but my stomach felt otherwise.   To minimize my anxiety I continually told myself, “Everyone is human.  Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. You rarely make errors in your business …” and sure enough the next morning my stomach had finally listened.  Sometimes it only takes a few minutes and other times it can take days. Unfortunately you have to wait out the storm until your feelings become balanced with your thoughts.


(*This picture was taken from our backdoor last week)


Filed under Getting Real, Hard Reality, Inspiration, Inspire, Life

“Broke” Was My Goal

After I graduated from college I had difficulty finding a job so I did what most college graduates do, I got a job in a completely unrelated field than my major.  In my case, it was waiting tables.  I remember my first day on the job thinking, “I got a college degree and now I am going to be a waitress for the rest of my life!”  This was a discouraging and disappointing time in my life.  To make matters worse I had three maxed credit cards, student loans that were coming due and was barely scraping by each month.  I remember having no money at all except maybe a little change in my apron from work.  When I needed to mail a bill I would have to go to the post office to BuY oNe StAmP for that bill because I could not afford the $5 or so to buy a book of stamps.   

Needless to say, I had tremendous financial pressure.  It felt like a belt was around my neck and cinched so tight I could hardly breathe.  Who would have thought that being broke could have been a GoaL?  At that point I would have been thrilled to have no money and no debt.  But instead I was thousands of dollars in debt.

Fast forward to a few years later when I landed my first teaching job.  It was at this point that I made the conscious effort to be a GoOd StEwArD of my money and get out of debt.  At first that belt around my neck was still cinched tight, but with every step I took towards financial freedom I found that belt loosening.  It took year after year of making wise financial decisions before I saw significant changes in my finances, but with my commitment and diligence I made continual progress.

How did I whittle down my debt?  Here’s what I did:

1.) I ReFuSeD tO qUiT regardless how small the changes were.

As a teacher, I received a paycheck once a month.  I would pay my bills at one sitting and whatever was left in my checking account was what I had to spend for the entire month.  This amount for me usually was around $75-$100.  Out of this money I had to buy food, gas, oil changes, toiletries, clothes, etc.  I remember once having two luxury items I really wanted but could not afford to buy immediately:  a $20 candle and a $20 garden hose holder.  Both of these items I had to wait to buy until I had money saved up.  I didn’t just live like this for a few months or a year or so.  It was a few years, but I refused to be discouraged and give up.

2.) I was a GeNeRoUs GiVeR. 

The Bible says that whatever you sow you reap and with the measure you give to others it will be given to you.  The first portion of my paycheck (tithe) I gave to my church.  I also gave money to good causes.  As a result I saw God blessed me richly.  Someone gave me a lawnmower. I bought a piano for $100. Good deals and bargains seemed to find me.  Speaking of this . . .    

3.) I became a BaRgAiN sHoPpEr. 

I shopped at stores such as Marshalls and T.J. Max’s where I would find brand name clothes at a fraction of the cost.

4.) I WoRkEd My TaiL Off!!!

My school district would give teachers opportunities to work on projects during the school year and during the summer which I would sign up for.   I also taught night school, gave up my planning period to teach at our alternative school, coached, wrote curriculum, and taught summer school.

5.) I began SaViNg for my ReTiRmEnT.

To be perfectly honest, the amount of money I was saving up was very insignificant, but it was the best I could do and so I did it. 

When I finally got married after six years of teaching I had for the most part paid off all three credit cards and my car!!  It was such a great sense of accomplishment.

Yes, those days were lean, but they also developed much character in me.  I learned a lot of lessons about life.  One lesson I learned was being content.  I learned that I could absolutely love my life and yet not have many material possessions.  I was truly happy and I felt blessed.

If you are where I was at in my days of financial chaos and have a belt cinched tight around your neck, take one step towards financial freedom.  I promise as you do, your belt will loosen and little by little you will move toward financial freedom as well. 


P.S.  Want to read more about Financial Peace?  Check out DaVe RaMsEy’S book “Total Money Make Over”.


Filed under Finances, Life

Biggest Bang For Your Buck — BE the BARBER

One of my best investments was a $25-$30 haircut kit from Target.  I bought it shortly after my husband and I got married 5 ½ years ago and I’ve cut his hair ever since!  Owning a hair clipper has not only  saved us money, but it also SAVES my husband a lot of TIME if we can cut it in the evenings or weekends instead of having to schedule an appointment or wait in line at a barber shop. Now that we have a son we can save money on his haircuts as well!  

I’m obviously not comfortable cutting my own hair (although there was about 6 months that I had my husband cut mine!), so my daughter and I get ours professionally cut.  Keep in mind that there are many salons that give you cheaper rates if you come with your hair already washed and wet.  It SAVES them time and MONEY if they don’t have to wash and style it for you.  The women in your family can save a few dollars too!

Does the thought of cutting a guy’s hair make you cringe?  Don’t worry! It is not as hard as it looks. There are haircut kits that come with an instructional DVD which can be helpful. My best AdvicE is to always start with the thickest blade guard and then go down from there (until you get the hang of it).  Even if you do make a mistake (which I have made a time or two), it isn’t the end of the world.  The guys just get a shorter-than-normal hair style for the next 4 weeks  Ü



Filed under B.B.F.Y.B., Beauty/Fashion, RANDO•RAMA, You

“Refuse To Quit. Period.” – The Challenge (Wk 6)

20.2. . .

. . .miles down and only 6 more miles to go.  (sigh)  

A week ago I ran in the Oklahoma City Marathon and if I had to describe my experience in one word, it would be BRUTAL!!  I won’t go into details, but you’ll get the picture with these descriptive words:  lightning, thunder, rain, hail, wind, cold temps . . . 

When training for my first marathon I remember reading that the last 6 miles of a marathon were the toughest.  I think I would have to agree.   By the 20-MiLe mArK, my muscles were cramping, I was tired, and the thought of another six miles was exhausting.  However, I had come too far, I cOuLDn’t qUiT.

This probably sounds really cliché, but life is like that MaRatHoN.  You find yourself too far in to turn back, but still with a ways to go and with the FiNiSh LiNe nowhere in sight.  If you find yourself at the 20.2 mark in some area of your life here are some tips that might help you finish your “marathon”.   

  1. Get a cHeEriNg section.  The first marathon I ran was a small one with a course that wove around the countryside.  As a result, there was really no one cheering us on until we got to the outskirts of town which was basically about six miles from the finish line.  It was at this point that we began to see spectators and finally had people ChEeRiNg us on.  If you don’t have people cheering you on, get some.  Find some friends that you can share YoRr rAcE with and enlist as a cheering section.  Make sure you are willing to do the same for them.  What you sow you reap.
  2.  Keep your FoCuS on the finish line, not the pain.
  3. FuEL Up!  When running longer races, runners take enery with them.  A couple of things I have used are Gu’s and Shot Bloks – little PaCkEtS of eNerGy.  I pack them in a running pouch and every so often I take them to fuel my body.  In your race, you will need to fuel up.  This may be different for everyone.  Find out what fuels you – spending time with fReNds, a good book, a long wALk, a drive in the countryside.  Don’t forget to stay plugged in to PrAyEr and the Bible, the best energy boosts of all!
  4. Let your CoMmiTMeNt dictate your life, not your feelings.  Keep praying even if it FeEls like the prayers don’t make it further than the ceiling.  Keep reading the BiBLe even if it feels futile.   Refuse to quit, PeRiOd. 



Filed under Dream Big, Inspiration, Inspire, The Challenge