New beginnings

“Take another one, I don’t look fat enough!”  I have never before said that to a photographer!  But here I am, beginning a new journey and writing about it as I go along.  So I had my husband take a “before” picture.

Like many people, I’ve made resolutions before… mostly about diet and exercise, since that’s the issue I struggle with the most.  I have been successful in losing weight in the past, but not for years now.  So I thought maybe, as I begin this new year, I could write about it as I go along, like a journal, and have you follow along with me.  Scary?  Yes!!

A little background in pictures:

Me at 23, at my wedding.  So skinny!:

Me in my early 30’s, at my sister’s wedding.  It had begun to be really hard to keep my weight down.

Me now, in my 40’s (this is my official “before” picture):

(I turned completely sideways at first, but we had to retake that picture, too, since I looked 7 months pregnant!)  Without a lot of excuses or whining, in a nutshell… I can’t eat as much as I used to!  It’s a hard, cold fact that I am one of those people who has to eat less, and watch WHAT I eat as well.  (Confession:  I never had a great metabolism, and even had to watch what I ate in my 20’s… it just worked better then.)

Sometimes I read articles about people who’ve lost 100 pounds, and they talk about how they used to sneak whole bags of potato chips and cartons of ice cream.  I’ve never done that!  I overeat at times, but so do some of the skinny people I know (I observe them with envy!).  Cookie dough is my biggest weakness, which is why I don’t make cookies often.  But overall, with age comes a slower metabolism and lifestyle modifications must be made.  I want to look good, but I also want to be healthy and fit.  I should probably note my starting weight, but I just can’t put it into print.  Let’s just say, I’d like to lose 60 pounds total, at least half of that this year.

Here’s a little about my first day:  I woke up this morning determined, and came downstairs to make breakfast.  As I rounded the corner into the kitchen, there they were, staring me in the face… absolutely delicious peppermint-chooclate cookies from last night’s New Year’s celebration (did I mention I love peppermint-chocolate anything?!).  I was tempted to eat just one, with a little glass of milk, along with my healthy breakfast.  That would keep my blood sugar from getting low between breakfast and lunch, I reasoned.   Somehow, knowing I would write about this very scenario kept me from giving in.  I quickly stashed the cookies in the microwave (along with some other treats I will not be eating), and made sure my skinny 14-year old knew where they were.  Then I made homemade oatmeal and added applesauce, 1 T half and half, cinammon, 1 t brown sugar, and a drop of vanilla extract.  I followed up with a banana.  That, plus my morning coffee, was breakfast.

My goal is to look closer to the middle picture than the top one.  I think we set ourselves up for failure when we set our goals too high.  That was my 23-year old self, and yes, I loved being that thin… but that time is passed, and being a healthy, happy wife and mom is my goal now.  Thanks for reading this!  I hope we can encourage each other on a journey to a healthy body, step by step.

Posted on January 1st, 2014 by DaisyMuse  |  No Comments »

On friendship and cookies

 “A friend loves as all times.”  How I know that to be true!  Rose is one of those friends.  For over 20 years we’ve been talking and cooking, laughing and crying, and worshiping and praying together.  Our appearances are completely different… my tall, red-headed, fair-skinned self is a contrast to her petite, dark-haired, olive-skinned beauty.  But our insides are the same, as sisters in and followers of Christ.  This joins us together in a beautiful friendship I know will last for eternity.

Rose is a gem among women.  All who know her love her and look up to her.  She’s the perfect combination of the biblical Mary and Martha.  She loves to worship Jesus, whether it’s through music at church, God-given laughter, or just looking out her window and appreciating the beauty of God’s creation.  She also will be the first one there in a crisis, bringing meals and comfort to the suffering.  This I’ve watched her do for others as well as me.

She’s like a sister to me and aunt to my children.  Our husbands are quite good friends also, so it is natural that our kids are more like cousins.

Which brings me (almost) to the wonderful recipe she shared with me.  You see, she’s my eldest’s “mom away from home” while my girl is away at college.  Words cannot describe how grateful I am that she’s near my baby.  Rose made these delicious cookies for my girl, and her own eldest daughter, and my niece, who are all attending the same school near Rose’s home.  They curled up on the couch and enjoyed the homemade mama warmth that chocolate chip cookies bring.  And Rose took a picture, and shared it with me, and my mama’s heart was sad and happy all at the same time, missing my daughter, but knowing she’s in good hands…. Rose’s and God’s.

(PS… She added a few new ingredients to these cookies, some which are considered “health food,” so I think they count as healthy cookies, don’t you?)  And the girls loved them!

Here, in her own wording, is Rose’s Absolutely Delicious, Slightly Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe  (I made up the title.)

1 stick butter,  1/2 cup shortening,  1 cup sugar,  1 cup light brown sugar,  2 eggs,  2 tsp. vanilla,  2 cups flour,  2 1/2 cups oatmeal (processed until flakes look like powder).  I used my food processor and pulsed for several minutes. (I also added the flax seed and instant coffee and processed at the same time.) 1 tsp baking powder,  1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt,  1 TBS flax seed,  3 packets of instant coffee ( I used Folgers),  1 bag of chocolate chips (I used a combination of milk and semi sweet).

Cream butter and shortening. Gradually add sugar. Blend for 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Stir in oatmeal mix and add chocolate chips last. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 min. I eyeball until they barely look set and let them keep cooking on cookie sheet. Be sure you have a gallon of milk! They are addictive!

I could say so much more about my friend, but there isn’t room or time to describe what a gift from God she is.  I am so thankful He sent her into my life!

Posted on September 7th, 2013 by DaisyMuse  |  No Comments »

Eat dirt!

Mothers everywhere, it is now ok to let your child eat dirt.  And worms!  This fun recipe below is surprisingly similar to my friend over at Hodgepodge’s “Edible Sand” which she reposted from

After I made “Edible Sand,” I realized I’d made this dessert 15 years ago with my then-4-year-old, with one change… regular Oreos instead of golden, and the addition of gummy worms.  It was my daughter’s first time having a friend spend the night, and this yummy, fun dish was their special activity.  Honestly, I think it saved the whole sleepover, because the friend was really missing her mommy… until we began to blend the gooey, creamy ingredients.

Dirt with Worms

Crush one package Oreo cookies; set aside.  Mix together 1/2 stick soft butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, and 8 ounces soft cream cheese.

Prepare 2 small packages vanilla pudding according to directions, using 3 1/2 cups of milk.

Mix cream cheese mixture and pudding together.

Fold in one 8 ounce package Cool Whip and crushed cookies.

Now comes the fun part!  Choose a flower pot or bucket and shovel (new and clean, of course) and fill it with the “dirt.”  (We used a boring pie dish, as you can see.)  Add gummy worms.  Call your children to eat some dirt and worms.  They’ll be amazed, and delighted!


Posted on July 7th, 2012 by DaisyMuse  |  No Comments »

My Mom’s Zucchini Bread (aka “The Best Zucchini Bread Ever!”)

I’ve had my share of zucchini bread (and my share of neighbors ringing my doorbell, offering  grocery bag loads of zucchini because they had way too much and couldn’t think of any other way to get rid of it!)  None, however, has ever been as good as my mom’s.  Hers is so moist!  She used to make it every Christmas for friends and family.  Now, she’s handed the recipe down to me and I am using it to try to get to the bottom of the pile of zucchini that seems to grow each day.  Keep your doors closed, neighbors!

Mom’s Zucchini Bread

BEAT together:

3 eggs beaten ‘til frothy

2 cups grated zucchini

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil (I used canola)

2 teaspoons vanilla. 


MIX together:

3 cups flour

2 teasp. Cinnamon

1 teasp. Baking soda

1 teasp. Baking powder

1 teasp. Salt

1/2 teasp. Allspice

1/2 teasp. Nutmeg


Add flour mix to egg mix gradually, beating well.  Add 1 cup chopped walnuts. Bake at 350 in 2 well greased and floured loaf pans for about 35-45 min.  Check it when you start to smell it.  Cool; wrap and store overnight before slicing (if you can stand it!)

Posted on June 25th, 2012 by DaisyMuse  |  1 Comment »


Are you up to your ears in tomatoes right now? Here’s a recipe to use some up, as well as any peppers, onions, or basil you may have growing, also! (If you have your own chickens, this recipe is almost entirely homemade. Almost!)

1/2 (15 oz) pkg refrigerated piecrusts… I love these! Quick, easy, tasty, and less fat than homemade.
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 purple onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tblsp. olive oil
2 Tblsp. chopped fresh basil
4 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half or milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

FIT piecrust into a 9-inch deep-dish tart pan; price bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork.

BAKE at 425 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside.

SAUTE bell pepper,, onion, and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet 5 minutes or until tender; stir in basil.

WHISK together eggs and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in sautéed vegetables and cheeses., Pour into crust; top with tomato.

BAKE at 375 for 45 to 50 minutes or until set, shielding edges with strips of aluminum foil after 30 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings.
Prep: 20 min., Bake: 60 min.

Posted on July 18th, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  2 Comments »

Ten Things I Love About the South

It’s hot right now. And humid! And just, well, icky outside. Makes me miss my northern California days, where we had to wear a sweater sometimes in July. So, I’ll try to focus on the positive… here are ten things I love about living in the South

1. Fireflies (thanks, hodgepodgemom, for reminding me!) Before my early twenties, when I first entered the land of Dixie, I didn’t know these creatures really existed. Yes, they sounded really neat in books. But I truly thought they were fiction! Imagine my utter surprise when, one evening, sitting on my future husband’s grandparents’ porch in North Carolina, I saw a flash of light. What was that? Another one! And another! These things certainly were real, and I found myself mesmerized by them.
2. Iced tea. This was the answer to cooling off, combined with a front porch ceiling fan, before air conditioning. For me, not too sweet. I order it half sweet, half unsweet at restaurants. That makes it just right. Or better yet, half unsweet and half lemonade.
3. Old people. There just seem to be more of them down here! I wanted to know the secret…how do they live so long? Surprisingly, none of the sweet, elderly people I know are vegans or run three miles a day. But the vast majority of them have made gardening a regular practice for their adult lives. Hmmm… that brings me to #4….
4. Gardening! It’s just the thing to do down here. I’m growing zucchini, tomatoes (2 kinds), green peppers, cucumbers (I think… I planted one but I can’t find it), peas (first time), basil, rosemary (which won’t STOP growing… anyone want some?), thyme, oregano, zinnias, and sunflowers. What are you growing?
5. College football. It’s just not as big of a deal where I’m from. Down here, it’s all people think about from… whenever college football season is. I don’t really get into it, but it’s fun to watch everyone else make fools of themselves for their team. I did pick a team… Auburn. Not because they won the national championships last season. Because everyone else around here is crazy for the Georgia Bulldogs, and I like to be different.
6. The accents. No one from California has an accent. At least, my mom and I didn’t think so until a lady at my church asked my visiting mom where she was from. Upon hearing “California,” the lady responded with “Oh! Ah thought ah detected an ac-cint!”
7. Church suppers, and food delivered in times of need. It’s just beautiful seeing women rush over with something special they baked just for that new mama, or neighbor who just had surgery, or friend who’s not feeling well. Nothing says love like good old-fashioned Southern cooking!
8. Sundays. Truly a day of rest, not a guilty pang at all for taking a nap!
9. Thunderstorms. But only when I’m inside and there are no tornado warnings. NOT when I’m in a metal canoe in the middle of the Blackwater River miles from the end of the route! (But that’s another story.)
10. The Gulf of Mexico. Sorry, Pacific, but this wins for best swimming ocean. It’s as warm as a bathtub and calm as the Pacific should be, given it’s name.
These are some things I love about living in the South! What are some of yours? If you have special recipes to share, please do!

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  6 Comments »

The Brownies They’ll Never Forget

Long, long ago, I made my brownies from one of those mixes you can buy at the store. And I was content, until I found this recipe. It takes about the same amount of time as using a mix, maybe 5 minutes longer to melt the butter. It tastes immensely better…like chocolate, butter, and sugar should taste! If you are a “brownies from a box” type of person, please give these a try. You may never go back again!

Delightfully Delicious Brownies

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Posted on June 8th, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  No Comments »

“In the Good Old Summertime….”

I’ll come right out and say it. I just do not understand homeschoolers who do “year round school.” (Although I certainly respect their right to do it!) I NEED A BREAK!!! While mothers with children in school may be saying, “Oh no, three days until summer…the kids will be home all day!” I say, “Oh yes! Three days until summer… no more pencils, no more books, no more”… well, you get the idea.
My brain is frazzled from planning, teaching, keeping schedules together, driving this child to this activity and dropping another one off at another activity…

“Oops, what time did I need to pick you up?”; “Did I pay that bill?”; “It’s three o’clock and I haven’t given you your spelling test yet!”

We will be taking off more than 2 months and enjoying it! But we won’t just be stopping school for a while and replacing it with other activities. Yes, some of my daughters’ lessons will continue through the summer, one will attend camp, and two will continue to work as much as possible, doing housecleaning and babysitting. You won’t, however, find me taking on extra responsibilities or spending large amounts of time finding things to do outside the home. I have enough to do already!

Summer is a time to slow down, relax, and enjoy my family. I am home with my children all day, year-round …but I am also standing over them, telling this one which math problems to do and another one that if she doesn’t finish all her schoolwork and chores she will NOT be attending ballet class tonight, and checking and grading their papers and tests. Just for these couple of months, I will be spending more time “playing” with them. We will get out and enjoy the season!
So, what are my “Top Ten Favorite Things to do in the Summer?”

Read more of this post at habitsforahappyhome

Posted on June 1st, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  No Comments »

Yard Sales…. The frugal way to shop!

It’s that time again…the beginning of spring and of yard sales! I get giddy just thinking about waking up early on a Saturday morning, putting hot, strong coffee in a take along mug, and heading out in my van, extra seats removed, to the nice neighborhoods north of me. Here, on sunny weekends, I can always find several good yard sales.

Why go “yard saling”? Well, first of all, it’s the frugal way to decorate your home! I obtain many needed or wanted items for my home at yard sales…all purchased at rock-bottom prices and in decent condition, simply because someone wanted to get rid of them.

Here are some of what I call my “golden finds”:

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Posted on March 27th, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  2 Comments »

Advice from an “older woman”

Since February is the “month of love,” I want to share some of the best advice I received when I was engaged to my husband.  At my bridal shower, every married lady wrote a piece of advice on a 3 x 5 card for me to keep.  One quote in particular sticks in my mind today:  “Treat him like a king, and he’ll treat you like a queen.”

Enough said.  It works!   Wise words from a woman who’d been married for some time.


Posted on February 6th, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  1 Comment »