Compliment Him

Handsome Honey ~ Lifeofjoy.meOn the way to church yesterday morning, I just stopped and looked, really looked at my man. I was filled with gratitude for how blessed I am. I wish I would have snapped a quick picture but I was living in the moment, as I should have been.

My husband is handsome. His beard is mostly gray now, which he dislikes but I love it. I think gray hair makes a man look distinguished. :)

I reached over, stroked his beard, and told him that I was blessed and that he’s handsome. :) Of course, he ate it up. It’s good to pump them up . . . it’s part of that respect thing . . . of course you can over do anything, so I keep it moderate so that he doesn’t get prideful. ;)

I held his hand for a few moments, as he drove along, trying to get us to church on time . . . the kids wanted some hot chocolate this morning and I had a few minutes before we left but it took twice as long as I thought and we ended up leaving about five minutes late, but he got us there on time. :)

I was just struck with awe at how blessed I am. Michael is, and has always been, faithful to me and loves me dearly (that does not mean that we don’t argue at times though-just keeping it real). He’s a really good man!

So on this day, that is not a holiday, birthday, or any such thing, I let him know that I love him and I’m blessed to have him for my husband, my partner in life. It made him smile and I could see that it warmed him.

So today, I just want to encourage you to compliment your man, for no special reason, but just because you realize that you are blessed.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Valentines, Liam, and a Nice Visit

Last weekend was rather chill; you know, where you just relax. It’s nice to do that sometimes. :) But I should have been making my card for Michael, since he was out of the house. Silly me! Thus I was making his card Tuesday morning. Yes, that is right . . . Tuesday morning . . . Valentine’s Day. Silly, silly me! I shared most of that card on Wednesday, here.

I also write letters of love to my children every year. I didn’t realize I had done it every year until one year I didn’t; Tiffany was very hurt and told me of my mistake, with the letters to prove it. Needless to say, I’ve been careful to write one every year since. ;) I will stop when they marry, whenever that will be . . . who knows, this could’ve been the last one.

Michael got me some lovely flowers!

Valentine's Day ~ Lifeofjoy.meI usually make spaghetti or lasagna but this year I made Hamburger and Roasted Vegetable Soup and some rolls from coconut flour. The latter turned out rather flat, so it’s back to the drawing board on that.

On Monday I got to have lunch with a dear old friend. When we first moved to Oklahoma, she and her family moved in next door, the same day. We lived next door to each other for eight years and then we moved. I realized this week that it has been twelve years since we were neighbors. That means that we’ve been away not just as long as we lived next door to each other but half again as many years. That is just amazing to me. It does not seem anywhere near that long.

Well, Joyce and I had a really good visit. We met at Cracker Barrel. I got my usual Country House Salad lunch special; that chicken is so good but I’m pretty sure it’s got some sugar in it. ;) We got all caught up and even shared some art ideas. She has been into lettering for quite some time and I’m just beginning. I shared the ‘tutorial’ I’m getting ready to begin from CreativLei. I’m looking forward to beginning this myself but have been a bit busy, maybe this weekend.

Michael’s going to pick up Liam and bring him out later. :) I’m so excited; love my grandson! Hopefully I’ll remember to take pictures to share his cuteness with you next week. :)

Liam ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis one’s from last time he was here. He didn’t sleep long though. Grandkids are fun! :)

Well, I’ve got stuff to do before he gets here, so I’m off for now.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



vanilla ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis week I was researching homemade vanilla extract. I had previously learned that you can make your own vanilla at home by placing a vanilla bean pod in a skinny jar with some alcohol; vodka is recommended. Then it sits for several months in a cool dark place.

Recently a friend said she’d made alcohol-free vanilla extract and I was intrigued. She said she uses food grade glycerin and vanilla bean pods in her instant pot. Of course that made me wonder about food grad glycerin and sent me off researching.

Vanilla ~
By Hans Stieglitz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

My travels landed me on where I found out a most surprising truth: Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid! In the words of my son Sean, How did I not know this?

I was shocked! I also did not know that the orchid is the largest family of flowering plants, with over 20,000 species. There are at least 150 different varieties. To find more interesting facts, check out the FAQ at

If you want to give your hand a try at making your own vanilla, here’s some recipes I found:

Of course, no talk with young children about vanilla would be complete without pointing out that vanilla is not sweet. ;)

To complete this little foray into vanilla, make something that includes it in the recipe. It could be so many things but a good vanilla pudding from scratch would be fun. I’ve got a vanilla base pudding that I make for banana pudding here.

I hope you found this interesting. It sure surprised us!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Valentine’s Day Card

iamthedivacztToday’s Diva Challenge is to make a Valentine’s Day card and to give it to someone. Well, this fits in my lifestyle very well because I have been making Michael’s cards for the last many years. He prefers handmade cards, so that is what I give him.

Since this is to be a gift to Michael, I didn’t want to combine it with any other challenge or focus, although I could have. Last week, pattern-collections put together a page of heart patterns. I tried too but the tangles by type for hearts wasn’t working at the time.

I also saw a video by silmeboth on how to make a Valentine card. She used Valenty, which I really liked, so decided to give it a whirl.

I decided to make Valenty the focal point of the front of my card and would write on the inside. Thus I only needed a little flourish inside. (I really wanted that word to be spelled fleurish but apparently it is not, but I think it should be because little scrolls, lines, and swirls look much more elegant than flour but I digress. ;) )

For the little flourish inside, I decided on Knot, to which I added the little black line hearts that were in silmeboth’s video about halfway into it. I liked it’s simplicity and cuteness.

I added a bit of shading and a message to my love on the upper inside portion of the card. Then I thought I’d get all creative and add just a touch of red with my distress inks and spread it with my waterbrush. I put two coats on before I decided to scan the card for this post. And that’s when I saw it! the water had caused the splash of red to bleed through to the outside/front of my card!!!! Now, I’m able to clean it up to show it to you the way it was but I’m going to have to come up with another solution for the real thing. Unfortunately, I think that a white gel pen or white-out is going to be brighter than the card white. Ugh! Oh well, it’s really appropriate for our lives together anyway . . . we have imperfections but our love is strong. :)

Here is the outside before fixing it. Oh, I scan in grayscale, so it isn’t showing its full horror either. ;)

Valentine Card ~ Lifeofjoy.meHere’s how it was before bleeding.

Valentine Card ~ Lifeofjoy.meAnd the inside.

Valentine Card ~ Lifeofjoy.meHmmm, looking at the word roots right now, I’m wondering if I should put a smile or lips under the oo’s. :D

If I manage to get tile done for the Square One: Purely Zentangle focus or Shading Zentangle focus this week, I’ll add it here. I was in a bit of a hurry to get this done, so I even forgot to take scans of the work in progress.

I appreciate all the kind comments submitted last week! You all are so wonderful! Thanks, you boost my confidence.

UPDATE: I just thought I’d let you know that I used white out and covered up the red on the front. It had to do. ;)

Fixed Valentine ~

I hope you have a wonderful day and a blessed week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Meaty Casserole ~

Meaty Casserole

Very meaty bowls of deliciousness with lots of cheese!

This is a recipe I found years ago, shortly after I’d started my first low-carb diet. I copied it out of a book from the library but have been tempted to call it pizza bowls because it has all the things I love on pizza. It’s just that it doesn’t have enough sauce to really be a pizza bowl and of course, there’s nothing replacing the dough/crust. In the end, I opted to just leave it as meaty casserole.

So this is pretty simple and doesn’t take very long to accomplish either. It is made in individual serving bowls, so can be made to order. :) Thus, the kids and I use ground beef and Michael gets ground turkey.

So begin by browning the ground meat.

Meat Casserole ~ Lifeofjoy.meSeason it with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Meat Casserole ~ pan already had some grease from cooking some bacon or steakumms on it earlier. I didn’t bother to get rid of it but probably should’ve since my meat is a fatty one. ;) )

Add diced tomatoes, which I choose to puree with a stick blender.

Meat Casserole ~ add a tiny bit of baking soda so that there is less chance of heartburn later.)

Meanwhile, make sixteen meatballs out of the Sweet Italian Sausage links. I don’t know how large the links are generally but these are rather large. I ended up only using one and a half.

Meat Casserole ~ I think I’ll make twice as many but half as big, next time, since it is difficult to cut them when eating them. Smaller would definitely be better. Who knows, maybe there are only supposed to be four that size. ;)

Next add additional ‘toppings’. I add canned mushrooms and diced green pepper to Michael’s and mine. Sean and Tiffany do not care for those items. Next comes pepperoni, which I cut into quarters, so it’s more bite-sized.

Meat Casserole ~ Top with the ground meat, after the tomatoes have thickened. (About 5-8 minutes)

Meat Casserole ~ Lifeofjoy.meI like to put some pepperoni before and some after the ground meat.

Then top with cheese.

Meat Casserole ~ Lifeofjoy.meI like to put them all on a rimmed baking sheet so that it is easier to move them.

Meat Casserole ~

Bake at 400º for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Meat Casserole ~

It’s supposed to have the shredded parmesan cheese added before baking but I always forget until just about the time I go to put it in the oven and then I’m in too big of a hurry, and decide to just wait until later. ;)

Meaty Casserole


  • 1/2 pound ground meat
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic or a sprinkling of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt or a bit less onion powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 ounces pepperoni slices
  • 2 links Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of choice
  • 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400º.
  2. Brown ground beef over medium heat, drain, if desired. 😉
  3. Add tomatoes, which I purée first.
  4. Add 1/8 teaspoon or less of baking soda along with the other spices, salt and pepper.
  5. Cook until sauce thickens, about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Remove casing from Italian sausage and form into 16 small balls.
  7. Divide sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, and mushrooms between individual dishes.
  8. Add beef mixture to each.
  9. Top with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.
  10. Bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

I hope you enjoy these. We have. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


It’s Really About Choice

It's Really About Choice ~ Lifeofjoy.meI have a tendency to get defensive when Michael makes certain comments or does certain things. The problem is that I don’t always see it coming or even know why it comes but it comes. He doesn’t mean to offend me and yet I fight getting offended.

Oh, I hope I’m making sense to you. I’ll try to give you an example. I’ve started a new habit last month because I am notorious for leaving a dishcloth out too long. The new habit is that every night when I run the dishwasher before going to bed, I put out a clean cloth and put the used one into the laundry.  I’ve done very well with this new habit and am pleased with myself for accomplishing this new habit. So, a week or so ago, Michael picked up a barely used dishcloth and put it in the laundry made a comment about wondering how long we’d been using that same dishcloth.

I reacted poorly. I hadn’t told him of my new habit but had expected that he would notice by the end of the month. So for some reason, I got upset. I guess I felt attacked even though I was not attacked.

So the question is why do I react that way? Why do I get defensive?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to that question. But I recognize the problem and can now do something about it. I guess the first step is to pray and ask God to help me. Then ask for His help again when a situation arises and I’m wanting to ‘defend myself’. Of course this is easier said than done.

It boils down to choice. It is a choice to react badly or without frustration. It’s like I told my children when they were growing up, happiness is a choice; and unfortunately for you, you only have one choice: choose to be happy. So now I just have to tell myself to grow up and make the right choice, which is to believe that my love is not intending to hurt my feelings in any way.

Now I just have to do the hard and mature thing and make the right choice. Choose not to take offense and remain happy.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Super Bowl, Liam, and Knitting

This week was the Super Bowl football game. I’m not really all that big of a football fan but we enjoy getting together with family. Mom makes homemade pizza for all of us. And we’ve celebrated Lauren’s birthday that day as well, for the last couple of years. We have our own celebration with her another day.

Superbowl Sunday ~

I was able to get some good snuggle time in with Liam! Of course, I didn’t keep him captive. I put him on the floor for a bit.

Superbowl Sunday ~ Lifeofjoy.meHe was all dressed up for the game, sporting his OSU jersey.

He likes to crawl backwards right now.

Superbowl Sunday ~ Lifeofjoy.meAs usual, we all took turns holding him. :)

Superbowl Sunday ~ Lifeofjoy.meAround about halftime, he was getting tired, so Nana was mesmerizing him.

Superbowl Sunday ~ Lifeofjoy.meGreat Grandpa even had him for a while. Here he was tickling his feet. :)

Superbowl Sunday ~ Lifeofjoy.meBabies are so fun!

I got an awesome deal on eighteen pairs of carbonized bamboo knitting needles. I paid less for them than I have for just two pairs locally. I was concerned about them being sturdy enough because I am a novice knitter and am pretty hard on the needles I have used thus far.

Knitting ~ Lifeofjoy.meAs you can see, I use a continental hold. I was trying to use the standard american hold but was having difficulty because I crochet and hold the yarn in my left hand. Thus it was unnatural for me to switch hands. I also found that I need to wind the yarn around my index finger three times instead of just two, like I do when I crochet.

I’m using this cute dishcloth pattern over on KrisKnits. I didn’t have any solid yarn so I am using this variegated cotton yarn. I hope it turns out. I’ll be looking for some solid colors when I go this week. But I have been having fun knitting this.

Oh, I had to wait quite some time to start it because the pattern calls for size 3 or 3.25 needles. I’m using 3.5 needles because I misread the pattern but I don’t think it will matter much.

Monday evening, after dinner, Tiffany started feeling ill. Then come bedtime, Mike started feeling bad. By the middle of the night, I started feeling bad. Stomach ache. Gastric trouble. Yucky!

We were improved by Wednesday but only about 75%. The first night nobody wanted to eat anything but soup–Lipton Noodles Soup to be precise. At least we felt more like eating the next day. I know we’ll be doing fine quickly though.

I’m going to run for now.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



A Link of Links

Music and Art Links ~ Lifeofjoy.meI was checking out the website where I got the handwriting scripture planner and followed along to another of her sites, where I found some great links. She has a page with LOTS of interactive music and art links.

There are sites to play with sound, rhythm, melody and more. They work on a tablet, phone, laptop, or desktop. There are links to sites where you can practice instruments. It reminds me of the Wii Music game, which is another great offline option.

It’s worth checking out to give your children some art and music appreciation. There’s lots to check out so I’ll keep this short today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Another Watercolor Tile

I was not feeling good yesterday! Some nasty bug going around, but I’ll talk more about that on Friday. I mention it today because it is why I have not yet done a tile for the Diva Challenge or any of my focuses but that does not mean that I have nothing to share today. ;)

I had fun with the Shading Zentangle challenge last week and did a second tile and took a few pictures in progress. I’m not sure how I feel about it.  I did enjoy drawing Nia Kay by Erika Kehlet which can be found over on It’s a rather high focus pattern though but fun. I like the outcome, especially if the center is blackened in rather than how I did it here coloring half blue and the other half green but it’s okay here.

I added some of Eni called Arc Flower and some Joki without the printemps spiral at the base. I just really played around with different strokes rather than any real patterns other than Nia Kay.

OH! I got some Bristol vellum paper for Christmas. I cut a sheet into 3.5″x3.5″squares and used one for this. It was really easy to spread the ink color around on this paper! So if any of you struggled last week, I really recommend that paper.

So, here is the line art. I just took the first two with my phone’s camera, as I didn’t feel like getting up and down taking scans. ;)

Watercolor Tile ~ Lifeofjoy.meI kept turning the tile as I drew it.

Watercolor Tile ~ Lifeofjoy.meI forgot to take any more pictures until I was done coloring it.

Watercolor Tile ~ Lifeofjoy.meOdd how the purple looks redder in real life. Oh well! I had this on the scanner, thinking I was finished and remembered that I needed to add the white bits.

Watercolor Tile ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’m hoping that I will be up to doing a tile for the Diva Challenge and Square One: Purely Zentangle focus later today.

Yay, I managed to do the Diva Challenge and the Square One: Purely Zentangle and Shading Zentangle focus! :) However I forgot to take a scan before shading it.

I wanted Hammadox overlapping Neuron. Hammadox reminds me of Showgirl but it was easier to draw right off than when I first attempted Showgirl. However, it is possible that it was easier because I had done Showgirl. :)

Neuron seems like it should be easy but I have difficulty with random, so I struggled a bit with it. I was going for a net-like structure under and below Hammadox but it grew into something else. At first I had minimal shading on it and thought I was done and then I saw a couple of lines that could be shaded, so I shaded those. And one line led to another and I had added some shading to most of them. :)

Hammadox Neuron ~ Lifeofjoy.meI did this tile on the Bristol Vellum but I have to admit that I did not like shading on it. I’ve learned to shade on other mixed media tiles and I prefer it. I guess every paper has its purpose. ;)

Thanks for all the sweet comments last week! Y’all are sooo encouraging!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Chicken and Garlic Cream ~

Chicken and Garlic Cream Sauce

This is a satisfying creamy, easy to make entrée. It is good served over raw spinach or with broccoli.

I got this one from a menu-planning service YEARS ago. I think it was the first one of its kind-actually, I think she invented the whole concept. At any rate, I had been given a small gift from my aunt for Christmas and had been wanting to try out this service. As it turned out, they were having a special that week, so I paid for something like a six-month subscription and got three months free. It was a great help to me since I was on the Atkins diet at the time. Oh! she had two versions: regular and low-carb. As you can probably surmise by now, I got the low-carb one.

The original recipe, and the one we tried first, used pork chops, so feel free to substitute the meat. However, I was going through my recipes for something different to eat and happened upon this one. I realized that I could substitute chicken for the pork, and we could enjoy this recipe once again, since Michael couldn’t eat pork because of a reaction he gets when doing so.

I like to buy chicken breasts on sale and they are usually family packages. Well the breasts in those packages are nearly a pound each, so I try to find packages that have five breasts and weigh as close to five pounds as possible. In this way I can freeze each individual breast in a freezer bag and thaw one for dinner, since about one pound of meat is appropriate for a family of four. Unfortunately my family was extra hungry tonight and I should have had an extra half pound of meat. (It’s okay thought; they ate dessert.)

A one pound breast is rather large. :) So I cut it in half horizontally and vertically, creating four smaller pieces weighing about a quarter pound each. Salt and pepper each piece.

Chicken and Garlic Cream ~ Chicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meChicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meChicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meChicken and Garlic Cream ~

Melt some butter, olive or coconut oil in a skillet and sauté the chicken a few minutes on each side.

Chicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meChicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meChicken and Garlic Cream ~

Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add the butter to the pan and melt, over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so. Be careful not to burn it or you’ll need to start over.

Chicken and Garlic Cream ~

Add the cream cheese and milk, stirring until it is thick, scraping any brown bits from the cooked meat into the creamy sauce.

Chicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meChicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meChicken and Garlic Cream ~

Serve on a bed of raw spinach. The meat and sauce will perfectly wilt the spinach.

Chicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meChicken and Garlic Cream ~

When I serve broccoli with this meal, I double the sauce because we like to add it to the broccoli.

Chicken and Garlic Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meIn order for the spinach to wilt properly, it has to be under the hot food, chicken and/or sauce.

Chicken and Garlic Cream Sauce


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless meat
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Raw Spinach


  1. In a skillet, heat oil (or substitute butter) over medium high heat.
  2. If using chicken breast, cut it into four cutlets.
  3. Brown the meat on both sides.
  4. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  5. Melt butter over medium heat.
  6. Add garlic and sauté for a minute or so, careful not to let it burn.
  7. Add cream cheese and milk.stirring until thick, incorporating the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, left from cooking the meat.
  8. Serve on raw spinach.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº