Monthly Archives: March 2012
A few things that have made a difference:
- Extreme stress. Sorry, I know it’s not a good way to lose weight, but extreme stress is definitely contributing to me having less of an appetite.
- Packing. Moving around a lot of boxes and packing up the house turns out to be exercise!!
- Leadership – I took on the role of leader for one of my Sparkpeople teams. Being a leader and trying to set a good example has given me an extra level of accountability that I definitely needed. I love my Casual Travellers 5% Spring Challenge Team!! We have learned not to push ourselves too hard, but to do the best that we can and most importantly to TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES!!!
So, as you can see, I am still moving (albeit very slowly) in the right direction. And that makes me more confident that I will eventually reach my goal.
What makes a difference for you in your weight loss journey?
I am a HUGE fan of Mexican food – tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tamales, chile relleno… I could go on and on. But my all time favorite is the simple dish of refried beans. The problem is traditional canned beans are made with lard. We switched to vegetarian refried beans awhile ago, but that only means no saturated fat. The calorie count is still the same – 120 calories for a paltry 1/2 cup. I’ve tried the no fat canned refried beans. They save 20 calories a serving, but they taste nasty (in my opinion). So I was thrilled when I stumbled across a recipe for crockpot refried beans. These beans have no fat, but I swear they taste just as good as restaurant refried beans. Best of all, you can make these for less than 5 cents a serving, as opposed to about 30 cents a serving or more for the canned version.
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp. salt (or less, if you prefer)
1/8 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4+ cups water
Combine all the dry ingredients and 4 cups of water in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 8 hours, adding water as necesssary.
When the beans are done cooking, strain them, reserving the liquid. They will look something like this:
Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding reserved liquid as you go. I like to finish then off with a handmixer, continuing to add liquid until desired consistency.
These beans don’t save anything in calories, but they do have virtually no fat, plus more fiber and potassium than canned beans. Plus they are so creamy and delicious – I believe they are actually more filling than the canned so you won’t need more than one serving to be satisfied!!
This freezes really well. To reheat, just defrost in the microwave, then add a little water and cook until bubbly, over low heat.
per 1/2 cup serving: Calories:118.5, Total fat: .5 g, Sodium: 595 g, Potassium 405 g, Carbohydrates: 22 g, Dietary Fiber: 7.5 g
For Part 1 of my interview with Terry Grahl – see Enchanted Makeovers – Giving the Homeless a Haven for Change.
Terry Grahl, an interior designer has been asked to make over a homeless shelter. Here is part 2 of her story:
Six months later, the makeover was complete and it was amazing. Even more amazing to me was that I had found my true calling. I wanted to use all of my talents and skills to provide refuge, solace, and hope to people, women and children in the shelters, myself, and volunteers alike.
As I continued accepting work from private clients, I felt something was missing. I had taken on additional shelter projects in 2007, but continued to hold onto the security of my paying clients. In December, 2008, I decided to close my decorating business, Terry’s Enchanted Cottage.
I knew without a doubt that God had much bigger plans for my life, and He needed to use me for His glory. We made a deal with each other on that day. I asked that He would continue to provide the needs for my family (food and a roof over our heads) and His request was, “Glorify Me”.
In August 2009, Terry’s Enchanted Cottage, established back in 2005, ultimately became Enchanted Makeovers, a non-profit 501 (C) 3 organization.
TM: Tell me about any current or upcoming projects.
TG: For the past six years, I have had a cleaning job in the evening in order to devote my day to this mission. I have never received a salary and use my 800 sq. foot home I share with my husband and 4 children to store donations and supplies. However, this important work can no longer be sustained under the current structure and operating model. As the requests and demand continue to increase, I am no longer able to address all that needs to be done. In addition, I have had to turn-away donations due to lack of storage space.
TG: We hope that people will first stop and think about what “EM’s Believe” before they move forward in working on any project with their local shelter.
- ”Words” segregate and label human beings (those women, the needy, the poor people, the homeless etc.) None of us have been without burden or struggle. The EM family helps each other face life’s issues together as ONE. We believe that none of us are “super-heroes”. In fact, our company philosophy is She Is Me.
- The makeovers are just as important as the shelters programs. No woman or child who is now on a new journey to restore their lives should have to sleep in a room that reflects their feelings of despair and unworthiness.
- All of us have ”Love Tanks” and they need to be filled.
- I’m not using the word volunteer but ”investor”. When you invest in another human beings life you’re investing in yourself.
- Everyone has value and needs to be heard.
- Life’s greatest value can sometimes be found hidden in its broken pieces.
- In the power of mother’s love, simplicity and building a home from within.
- Handmade items are very important to the healing process. It carries with it the love and positive energy of the creator. An ”investors” story is woven into each handmade item that is donated.
- Everyone is worthy of surroundings that will nurture their soul and allow their greatness to emerge.
- Without attention to the spirit, there can be no true healing.
TG: Monetary donations, small and large, are the sustaining heart of the makeovers. Donations are tax deductible with the IRS.
- Investing time and/or services on a special event, pre-Makeover Days and on the Makeover Day. Bulletins are posted on this website as to the needs/services when they arise.
- Are you a Crafter or Artist? Contact EM to see how you may be of help. We love and prefer items made by loving, human hands for the special touches for our events or makeovers.
- We are always in need of sewing groups or individuals to make pillowcases, twin size quilts (cottage style), quilts for kids, dolls, aprons and capes for kids.
- We are always in need of new white bath towels, new white wash cloths, set of new white twin sheets, new twin mattress pads, new standard pillow protectors, new or custom journals, new or gently used books, new white crib sheets, sewing supplies and new converse tennis shoes.
- Watch Enchanted Makeovers’ video…..We hope it will inspire you to work with us.
- Spread the word about Enchanted Makeovers! Refer people to our website www.enchantedmakeovers.org for more information.
- Always keep the women and children who are re-building their lives in your prayers.
I’ve decided I may have to name my Wednesday blog “Food Porn” since lately I have been posting recipes for food we all enjoy but know we shouldn’t have. So if you’re trying to eat healthy like I am, then you can either make a half batch, do like I did and make a full batch but only eat a few, or just enjoy the pictures and the recipe (too bad there’s no Smell-a-Vison app!)
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp sugar
(salt and sugar are more to taste depending on if you like your fritters sweeter or saltier. This particular recipe is more even, so you can either dip them in ranch dressing or maple syrup when you’re done, whichever you prefer.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 can (14 oz.) sweet kernel corn, drained
Heat oil in a heavy pot, at least 3 inches deep, until a tiny amount of batter will sizzle when dropped in.
In a medium bowl, combine all the other ingredients.
Drop fritter batter by heaping teaspoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until golden.
Serve warm with your favorite sweet or savory condiment.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Mom Blog Society. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
The Quick and Easy Guide to Branding Your Business and Creating Massive Sales with Pinterest
About the Book:
Pinterest, though rhyming with interest, is only loosely related! Basically, it’s a virtual pinboard just like the corkboards we had in our rooms as kids and you may still have in your home or office. Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to create photo collections online – like online, upscale scrapbooking. It is primarily a photo sharing website where the members are allowed to create albums pertaining to a certain theme or pattern.
Over a very short period of time, Pinterest has become one of the leading social media networks. Fairly recently, given that it launched in early 2010, the site has grown in leaps and bounds and is viewed as a strong competitor to the older social media networking websites. At present, the website attracts over 11 million visits each week, placing it among the top 10 social networks.
Over the past few years, businesses have been using social media websites for promoting and boosting their businesses. The same is the case with Pinterest. You might be wondering how a photo sharing website can help your business become a success.
This book is intended to be a guide for using Pinterest to strengthen your business and brand.
I have been a Pinterest fan for a few months, but aside from pinning some of the recipes I have blogged about, I hadn’t really thought about using Pinterest to promote my blog.
This book is chock full of great tips. For beginners, the author explains the best way to set up Pinterest to highlight your business. For the more experienced, she tells the best ways to optimize Pinterest to promote your blog. One idea I loved was to organize your boards so that the ones that are the most popular or most relevant to your brand are at the top. I rearranged my boards so the top 9 have direct links to my blog or other interesting blogs and the other 12 are more of personal interest. Looking at it just now, though, I think I will probably rearrange it again. LOL, a pinners’ work is never done.
The book contains lots of screen shots and ways to promote your product or service-oriented business. As Kim says in the book, “Don’t assume that because you are NOT in the business of selling products that Pinterest is not for you.”
The last two sections of the book focus on branding your business on Facebook and on why you can’t ignore Pinterest. Even if you’re not a rabid pinner, you probably have fans who are. Taking a look at this book and at Pinterest could help you grow your business.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Mom Blog Society. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
You can find out more about this book and the author at http://www.kimgarst.com
Follow Kim Garst on Twitter
Like Kim Garst on Facebook
Kim Garst is offering a free copy of her ebook The Quick and Easy Guide to Branding Your Business and Creating Massive Sales with Pinterest to one lucky reader!! You can enter on the Rafflecopter below. Contest begins 12:01 a.m. March 20, 2012 and ends midnight April 3, 2012.
This giveaway is over. Congratulations to the winner: Kim K.!!
Another person I met while doing research for my upcoming book on bullying was Terry Grahl. Terry is the founder and CEO of Enchanted Makeovers. The mission of Enchanted Makeovers is to transform shelters for women and children into an environment that inspires psychological and behavioral change. A haven is created where women and children rebuilding their lives are reminded everyday they hold the ”golden ticket” to transforming their dreams into reality. Our unique makeovers, projects and programs supplement the shelter’s efforts, building a stronger foundation for success and improved outcomes.
I am honored that Terry has agreed to be interviewed for my blog.
TM: How did Enchanted Makeovers come to be?
TG: A polka-dotted pillow changed my life and my journey. When I tell people this, most will say, “what?” and then envision a pretty, feminine, polka-dotted pillow, trimmed with a big flowing ruffle. Well, that is exactly what my heart saw when I viewed the old, worn, tattered bed (photo below), but clearly not what my eyes saw. That vision was the beginning of my personal transformation.
Opportunities present themselves all of the time. We just have to be awakened enough to see them. I feel blessed that God opened my eyes with the vision of the polka-dot pillow. You see, in December 2006, I received a call from a gentleman asking for help. I was an interior decorator, and he was the black tie event coordinator of a local shelter.He said, “we would be so grateful even if you just painted one wall.” Honestly, at the time, my first reaction was fear. I was fearful of going. I really didn’t know what to expect. I had never been to a shelter.
I decided to make the visit and, as with all of the consultations I conducted with my private clients in my decorating business, I took photos to assist with any necessary planning and visualization. That is, if I would actually accept the volunteer job. I still wasn’t sure, and was leaning towards a “probably not”.
A week had passed since my first visit to the shelter. I hadn’t given it much thought. All I know is that I had this lingering feeling of despair knowing the living conditions of the women and children. I began to reflect upon my own expectations for my life and the dreams of a child. I was a big dreamer; my mother instilled this upon me and my siblings.
Had I forgotten my own dreams?
My mother taught me that decorating didn’t need to be motivated by money and that by relying on your own creativity and vision – each home improvement was a selfless act of love. For my mother, making a home where her five children felt safe and where our spirits could soar was as important as keeping us fed and clothed.
There amongst the harshness was something dear to my heart: a polka dot, a safe pattern that has no sharp edges. There on that seemingly ordinary pillow was an answer. It was an answer from within me but not directly from me.When I saw the polka dots in that picture, I heard, “Trust me.” From that moment, I knew I was prepared to do whatever I could to bring hope to those women and children.Soon, I was back at the shelter presenting them with a design plan and a vision of what was to come. There was no turning back. I vowed to see this project to completion.
With no funds and no volunteers lining up at the door, I had only to put my trust in God, keep the faith and, most importantly, I needed to step away from my ego. These women and children must not be disappointed again.
As I presented the plan to the group of women and staff, I was overcome with emotion. I again was that vulnerable child wanting their acceptance. I realized the thin wall that separated our lives. We all deserved and desired the same things. It was simple, but seemingly so complicated in its simplicity. I would find a way to break through this thin wall.
Transforming the shelter took more than just my decorating skills. It required me to pull out strengths I didn’t know I had- finding, organizing, and leading enthusiastic volunteers and donors nationwide to help me carry out my vision.
You can read part 2 of my interview with Terry Grahl here.
Prophecy of the Flame
Publication date: March 2008
About the Book:
From the website: In a blinding flash of light, five nondescript strangers are yanked from this world and thrust into a land of sorcery. Transformed into the characters they were pretending to be; Archmage Reba, Jamison the healer, Jerik the dwarf, Charles the prince charming, and Allinon the druid elf blend twentieth century technology with the supernatural powers of this new world. This band of wannabe heroes soon discovers that having the powers you have always dreamed of, does not make life a dream come true. The Crusaders of the Light struggle to form a cohesive band as they fight to liberate the kingdom of Cuthburan from the evil horde threatening humanity. Battle is also waged within Reba, an ordinary housewife who has become the most powerful mage on the planet, as she struggles to remain true to her wedding vows. Drawn against her will to the arms of Prince Alexandros, Reba must choose between the prophesied marriage to a handsome prince in a magical world or returning to the husband she left behind.
I was very excited when I began reading Prophecy of the Flame. I attended quite a few Renaissance Faires back in the day (at least three times in full costume!) and was drug along to more than one game of Dungeons and Dragons with Art and his friends. So Lynn Hardy’s premise of Reba being the lone woman in a band of gung ho men was right up my alley. From page one I could not help but love this book. The portrayal of D&D and the LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) world is spot on. I love the silly rhymes Reba makes up off the cuff when she needs the spell and the baudy undertones that permeate the story without a bit of the graphic sex scenes I hate (still I would not recommend this book for children). It’s a bit of Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court meets Alanis Morissette with just a hint of Erin Brockovich thrown in for good measure. Have you ever wondered how a medieval world would handle a modern woman with power? I just could not put this book down.
About the Author:
Led by a series of dreams and encouraged by friends, Lynn Hardy began the journey to become an author. She stored her work in a computer file labeled “second job.” Writing began as a passion she could not contain and has become much more than she ever expected.
Lynn has attended many science fiction conventions and has had the privilege of serving on panels about writing. Renaissance fairs are another favorite event for the author. Seeing others dressed in costume (as she always is during book signings) makes her feel right at home. Meeting other writers at these conventions and events who are struggling to break into the publishing field has led Lynn to merge Resilient Publishing with Borderline – a unique type of publisher that offers the individual attention to their authors that the big publishing houses give, with the control and increased payouts of self-publishing. As marketing director of Borderline, Lynn is blazing a new path for authors to follow.
An Interview with Lynn Hardy:
TM: What drew you to writing for the fantasy genre?
LH: I have loved escaping into fantasy worlds since I was a teen. But the
turning point for me was a set of dreams I had. They were so real, so vivid,
and the story was so captivating that I had to write it.
TM: Tell me about the path to publication for Prophecy of the Flame.
LH: I am a just a girl from Idaho. I had no idea how to go about getting an
agent or how to tell if an agent was good or just a scam. When I met an
author at a convention and heard how he self-published, I figured that may
be the best route to get my book out there.
Self-publishing is a long and bumpy road, filled with potholes and detours.
It’s been four and a half years since my first book came out. I hope to
guide others down this road with what I’ve learned. That’s why I merged
Resilient Publishing, the company I started my books under, with Borderline
Publishing, a publisher that isn’t quite self-publishing and isn’t quite
traditional, but somewhere in between.
TM: What is Agape Assistance?
LH: I always told myself, that when I was a rich and famous author, I would
start a charity to help kids get a warm bed. Just because parents have hit a
rough patch, lost a job, had a medical emergency — kids shouldn’t suffer.
When the recession hit in 2009, I knew it would only get worse. These kids
needed help sooner rather than later.
I decided to start Agape (uh-GOP-pay) Assistance so that when my book
became a movie, there would be a charity I could trust, one that didn’t pay
board members salaries, one that made sure the money got to the kids that
needed it. I have dedicated 100% of the proceeds from the first book in my
series to the charity. I figured if people didn’t trust a new organization,
perhaps they’d just buy a book, that way they’d have something for their
It really shocked me when a local producer said, “If we make a movie based
on the book, would you be willing to donate those proceeds, too?”
I said, “Of course! That’s what the book is for, the charity!”
Kickstarter is an online site that provides a forum for projects with an
artistic expression. I started the Prophecy Project on Kickstarter in February
as a way to rally support for the movie. A couple of days later I was
contacted by an Oscar nominated Director, who has won at the Sundance Film
Festival Award and an Emmy. The Director said, “If Kickstarter tells
Hollywood that people love our project, producers will back the movie with
big bucks to make a Blockbuster film.”
I have been in overdrive since that moment. We need to get the word out
about this event. Having major backers could mean a lot to The Prophecy
TM: What are your upcoming projects?
LH: I am currently working on Book Three in the Prophecy of the Flame series.
It’s been delayed because of the movie project for Book One. So I am
releasing a bridge book: Prophecy of the Flame: Book Two.Five – Love’s
Reward. That should be out just after the Kickstarter project ends.
You can visit Lynn online at:
I was not compensated in any way for this review. I did receive a review copy of the book. However, my opinions are my own.
When we moved into this house in 1993, we never dreamed of the “joys” that come with an older house. Built in 1952, with a flat roof and a slab foundation, the houses in our neighborhood were slapped up quickly to accommodate those flush with money after WWII ended. They were never intended to last. Old house = old pipes = plumbing problems.
We’d lived here less than 5 years before it happened. The laundry sink backed up. Not too big a deal. Except that the laundry sink, garage sink, kitchen sink and back bathroom shower are all connected. For the first day we tried using drain cleaner, but that didn’t really help. Then Art bailed all the water out of the garage sink and snaked out the cleanout under it. That worked for a little while, but after the first load of laundry we were backed up again. So I got the bright idea to try to snake out the cleanout under the laundry sink while Art was at the gym. I put a bucket under it to catch the excess water, then poured the water into the back toilet, but I accidentally flushed the plug for the cleanout. Which, of course, made the back toilet unusable until Art could take it apart and get the plug out.
After that we decided it would probably be a good idea to call a plumber (you think?). The next day when the plumbing professional arrived, I explained to him the steps we had already taken. I give the man a lot of credit for never even cracking a smile. He asked me if we had a cleanout in the backyard. I wasn’t positive of the exact location, but I took him out to the back patio. Fortunately, he found the cleanout easily and brought in a giant electric snake. It ran for 5 minutes or so and I could see the black goo in the garage sink slowly receding.
Once the drain was clear, the plumber plugged the sink and filled it near the top with water. Then he reached in and pulled out the plug. “Come look at this,” he called me with a big smile plastered across his face. I walked over to the sink and peered inside. “Look at that vortex!!” he crowed. Love that plumber!!
I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and was
compensated. However, the views and opinions are my own.
I was introduced to this recipe many years ago by my friend Marianna Slayter, but over time I have adapted it a little. I eliminated the flour and now I find it eats just as well for dessert or breakfast. You could consider cutting down a little on the sugar, also, depending on how tart you like it.
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick or old fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Heat oven to 325F. Grease bottom and sides of a square 8×8 pan.
Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with fork. Serve warm, with whipped cream or vanilla yogurt.
Not bad, about 300 calories, not including the whipped cream or yogurt.
In doing research for my upcoming book on bullying, I was introduced to the organization WHOA(Working to Halt Online Abuse).
WHOA is a volunteer organization founded in 1997 to fight online harassment through education of the general public, education of law enforcement personnel, and empowerment of victims. The mission of WHOA is to educate the Internet community about online harassment, empower victims of harassment, and formulate voluntary policies that systems administrators can adopt in order to create harassment-free environments. We’ve also formulated voluntary policies which we encourage online communities to adopt in order to create safe and welcoming environments for all internet users.
From haltabusektd.org, the official website for WHOA-KTD:
WHOA Kids/Teen Division is the offshoot of WHOA, a volunteer organization founded in 1997 to fight online bullying, harassment and stalking of kids and teens. We achieve this goal by educating parents, teachers, the general public, law enforcement and others. We let victims know they are not alone. We have formulated voluntary policies for schools and online communities and encourage them to adopt these policies in order to create a safe and welcoming place for all.
Today I have the privilege of interviewing Jayne Hitchcock, the president and co-founder of WHOA.
TM: How was WHOA started?
JH: I was cyberstalked in 1996 and at the beginning of 1997, a friend
introduced me to a Lynda Hinkle, who was also being cyberstalked. We
co-founded WHOA, at that time it was called Women Halting Online
Abuse. When she left in 1999, I took over and changed the name to
Working to Halt Online Abuse, as we were seeing more men coming to us
for help and they were leery because it looked like we only helped
women. We are all-volunteer, including me, and help victims online
anywhere in the world for free.
TM: How did WHOA-KTD come about?
JH: In 2005, we started getting requests for help from parents and
kids/teens, so it was natural to have an offshoot of WHOA to cater to
TM: What are some resources WHOA can provide for victims of cyberbullying/cyberstalking?
JH: In addition to helping victims resolve their cyberstalking
situations, we offer lists of lawyers and private investigators, the
latest in cyberstalking statistics and online safety tips and more!
TM: What are some steps kids and adults can take to prevent cyberbullying/cyberstalking?
JH: You can never prevent it from happening to you, but to minimize the
chance, I offer these tips:
1. Try to use a free email account like Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmal for
your online presence and keep your private email for family and close friends.
2. Make sure your email/username is generic, not too cute or
something that may be frowned upon by a potential employer, school,
or your parents
3. When you join a web site, open a social networking profile, chat
room, message board or group, “lurk” before posting your comments.
Make sure that you feel comfortable and if you don’t, leave and find
another place to socialize! The internet is so vast, it won’t be hard
to find a place where you feel comfortable and safe.
4. Don’t join in online arguments, even if it involves a friend or
family member, or someone you work with. You could end up being the
target of a cyberstalker or bully or it can get out of control and
*you* become the bully or stalker.
5. If you feel you are being stalked or bullied online, respond only
once to the person doing it to you. Write something simple, such as
“Please stop communicating with me.” And don’t respond after that,
but keep anything they may send as evidence, just in case you need to
report it the web site, ISP or police.
6. If you’re being harassed or bullied on Facebook, report the
profile, group or page to Facebook, then block them. Any posts they
made on your wall should be saved as a screenshot, then delete them.
Don’t get caught up in the drama! Facebook never lets the
bully/harasser know who reported them, so you remain anonymous.
7. If it’s gotten out of hand, then come to our organization for
help. Just click on Need Help? on the site and follow the steps from there.
TM: How can people help your organization?
JH: If someone does want to donate money, they can contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also always looking for volunteers, just
click on the link on the main page of our web site and fill out an application.
You can get more information on WHOA and WHOA-KTD at the following websites:
You can read more about Jayne Hitchock at her blog:Net Crimes & Misdemeanors.