Nested Heart Khloma

I’m going to have to do more tangling throughout the week because I find I’m rushing a bit to get a tile up on Wednesday. This week is no different. :( But my process was the same as it has been for quite some time: I look at the Diva Challenge, check the focus tangle at Square One: Purely Zentangle, then check the daily tangles on Pattern Collections for the day I am tangling as well as the day the tile will go live on my blog.

This week the challenge is a string challenge, specifically to use nested hearts. I was interested in the Pattern-collection focus tangle for today which is Khloma by Irina Sedova. I really liked some of the variations shown and kept imagining it in a heart shape. So that’s what I chose to do.

I didn’t do a lot of shading, although it looks more shaded than some I’ve spent a long time shading. I forgot to take a pre-shaded scan though. So without further adieu, here’s my tile for the week.

DC#352 Khloma ~ Lifeofjoy.meOn my first try with the string, I drew the nested hearts in ink and quickly decided that was not what I wanted. So I started over with the string in pencil and I like the outcome much better.

Well, that’s all I have for today. Thanks for stopping by. I’d appreciate you leaving comments, they’re so encouraging.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

THM Tips and Treats

If you do healthy eating at all, you really should get the two cookbooks from Trim Healthy Mama! They are simply wonderful. I know there are a lot of people that struggle with things not tasting as right to them and struggle eating them. The best thing you can do in that situation is get off of sugar and the high carb foods (white flour, white rice, POTATOES, and yes, pasta) completely for a while. Eat simply cooked foods for a few weeks, grilled, sauteed, and baked meats with vegetables you do like. If you are not a fan of veggies, try roasting them, as it brings out the sweetness in them.

The other thing to do is to find an alternative natural sweetener. Xylitol is a good place to start. But you need to know two things, first that you can overdo it and it can cause you to have some intestinal discomfort and/or very loose bowel movements. So, you want to use it in moderation. And secondly, when you are looking for a xylitol to use, read the source of the xylitol. I choose not to use one that is derived from corn because it is hard to find a pure corn.

The other natural sweetener you want to find a version you can acquire a taste for is stevia. My preferred stevia is stevia glycerite but I have learned to like Trim Healthy Mama’s Pure Stevia Extract Powder as well. We use a variety of sweeteners to avoid intestinal distress. But yet, it still sneaks in on us occasionally and we need to assess where we overdid it. It can be a bit of a puzzle some times (but worth it for all the delicious yumminess). ;)

Stick with more natural flavors when you first give up sugar. Try to find the natural sweetness in lower glycemic fruits. Stay away from chocolate desserts in the beginning because it is harder to get the sweetness right with them. After your tastes have adjusted to a lower glycemic diet and you have found the sweeteners you prefer, then you can begin to find low carb, sugar free version of your old favorite desserts. Know that it won’t taste exactly like the version you used to eat but that it can be just as pleasing in its own right.

For Valentine’s Day I made Michael, Sean, and Tiffany each a sweet treat. Sean’s was “rice krispy treats”. This is the one with which I was the least happy but Sean enjoyed it and so did Tiffany. I’m going to have to work with this recipe some more to make it crispier; currently it is not crispy. ;) I’m told it has good flavor though. (This one was in Trim Healthy Table.)

For Michael, I made some candies that are like a Payday candy. I made them in bars and they really turned out good this time. I was careful to measure the chopped peanuts so there was enough syrupy part to cover them completely. I’ve been generous with the peanuts in the past and it made the candies so that they didn’t stay together well. For those that have the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook, the one I made is the payoff candies.

I made four batches of two-minute truffles (from Trim Healthy Table) for Tiffany. They are a chocolate peanut flour truffle. I made it with my kitchenaide mixer which made it much easier. We have found that they only stay fresh in the refrigerator for two days. Next time I make enough to last a few days, I will freeze the extra. (As usual, I was too busy to even think about snapping pictures . . . so sorry about that . . . I really am trying to improve on this. ;) )

And finally, I made the trimtastic mostess cupcakes which resemble Hostess cupcakes. Oh my gracious! They were delicious!!! Even though the ganache on top needed adjusting when I made it, it turned out great.

THM cupcake ~ Lifeofjoy.meI had a little bit of an issue with the cream filling though because I let the gelatin cool down too much and I ended up with some lumps in it. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing except that I was trying to pipe the swirl on the top and the clumps wouldn’t go through the tip very well. Sometimes I had to press very hard. One time, the cream shot way across the table. :D

Mostess Cupcake ~ Lifeofjoy.meWe had these for three days because it made twelve and there are only four of us. We refrained ourselves because I wanted to make them last. :)

Well, I’ve gotten a bit wordy today. Sorry it isn’t a recipe but more a list of some of the ones we have enjoyed recently.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Improving Your Marriage

Improvement ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’ve found that one of the best things I can do to improve my marriage is the little things that I think of to do. For example, when I think that I should clean off a counter, I probably should clean off that counter. ;) Of course, I’m in a different stage of life now and have less pull on my time than I once did but then again, I have less helping hands too. :D

If I think that I should paint my fingernails, then I probably should do so. Michael likes my nails painted and I really like them painted too. I feel more attractive when they are painted.

Improving your marriage can also mean improving yourself. When I do things to improve myself, I feel better about myself. When I feel better about myself I tend to be happier or less offendable which means I don’t get as frustrated by things.

The only person you can change is you, so to improve your marriage, work on improving yourself, your actions, and reactions. It is not easy to keep calm and even tempered when around someone that is frustrated or angry.

Some times taking up a hobby can be the improvement you need, especially artistic ones. Some hobbies, like music or art, can help alleviate frustrations and such. Even if you have small children, it is still good to take a little time to read or draw, color, craft, or do music or some other hobby.

I hope this encourages you to take one small step each day towards improving yourself which in turn should improve your relationship with those around you, especially your spouse.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Eye Doctor, Hair Cut, and Shopping

eye dr, hair cut, shopping ~ Lifeofjoy.meWell, last week when we went into town, I decided I NEEDED to get my hair cut. I haven’t gotten it cut since the end of last year, so it had really grown. There was a guy there this time and he didn’t do a great job, sadly. It’s okay but I needed a few more layers at the top and he just didn’t get it done. I told him I wanted lots of layers multiple times and still I didn’t get all I wanted. Oh well. Tiffany will probably take a stab at adding a few more for me.

Then I had to go back to the eye doctor’s office AGAIN!!! Yes, that makes three times! So frustrating. The really bad thing is that one of those could have been avoided because they knew they’d made the glasses wrong. Anyway, I digress. I saw a female doctor this time and she really took time with me. I came out feeling confident that the prescription would be much better.

Tiffany needed to get some new clothes. The girl has lost weight and just plain needed some more pants and warm shirts, although yesterday it was 80º. Yep eighty degrees!!! Totally ridiculous for February. So anyway, we went across the street and did some shopping. The glasses were supposed to be ready in two hours or so. We finished in Ross and went to the car and ate our lunch that we’d packed and had a about twenty minutes until they were supposed to be ready. We ran in Walmart really quickly and were back by the allotted time. I got in there and waited for my name to be called, only to be told that they weren’t ready yet! Ugh!!! This time around the experience has not been good at all, well, other than the people themselves being so nice.

So we left and  did our grocery shopping. It was about an hour later than they said it would be and the place was packed! Ugh again. Thankfully the glasses seem fine this time around.

By the time we finally headed home, we opted to skip filling the gas tank. We were just too tired and we didn’t absolutely need it. So home we went. Thankfully I had put a roast in the crockpot with radishes, cauliflower, and carrots that morning, so dinner was easy!

gifts ~ Lifeofjoy.meIn all of our shopping, I forgot to get my Valentine gifts for Michael and Sean. But it was okay because this was the week I had my Zentangle group (art gathering). I decided I’d go early and shop. Michael ended up being off work, so he took me and we did my shopping afterwards, which was a bit awkward since I was buying stuff for him but oh well, I’m flexible.

Afterwards, we went to Red Lobster. We haven’t been there in a long time. Actually over a year because the last several times we went we shared a 4-course meal of chicken alfredo. Well, that is not a THM food. I got the wood-grilled tilapia with seasoned broccoli, a salad, and roasted green beans with mushrooms. I have never had wood-grilled fish before and it was absolutely delicious!!! Michael got the trout and said it was good too.

This is getting a bit long, so I’ll close for now. I’ll probably share the treats I made for my family for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

D’Nealian Handwriting

d'nealian links ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’ve been wanting to better my manuscript handwriting for a while. I have a Creative Lettering workbookish thing I got from Aldi several weeks ago. I haven’t used it yet but I did look through it the other day and found that it isn’t quite what I’m wanting right now but I will use it this year, I think.

I decided that I’m really interested in D’Nealian handwriting style because it is an italic style handwriting and it generally looks really nice. I did a little research about it and found that it is more natural for some kids to learn. But as with most things, each child is different, so what may work best for one may not work so good for others.

If you have a child that struggles with handwriting, maybe you should change up the style you are using with that child.

Here are some links I found:

  • k12reader has some worksheets to print for learning to form the letters. There are individual pages you can download and print or all of the upper case in one and all of the lower case in one.
  • If you are unsure of how to form the letters, you can find videos on youtube that run through them. I increased the speed to 2x so that I wouldn’t have to agonizingly sit through it going so slowly. ;) Here’s one that is sped up 3X already. :)
  • Here are some worksheets at writing wizard for both ball and stick and D’nealian handwriting.
  • If you want to make your own worksheets, you can use this webpage over on handwritingpractice.
  • Here is one more youtube video that has directions, by an instructor in how to form the letters. She teaches them in groups of like construction. I’ve linked to the first lesson but if you click here, you will go to the page where the other 6 are located.

Over on, in response to a person’s question some suggestions were made for strengthening a child’s fine motor skills by giving them opportunities to use those muscles in a fun way by cutting, finger painting, playing with play dough and such. Here’s the link, the information you want is the second paragraph right after the A:, although it isn’t spaced quite right (if the paragraph you read doesn’t seem right, read the one before it. ;) )

I hope these are helpful to you. They were to me. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Zentangle Group and an Olympic Tile (cheat)

This week’s diva challenge is to be inspired by the Olympics but I kind of cheated . . . okay, I really cheated but I think it works. ;)

Here’s how it happened:

Last month I mentioned the Zentangle group I attended. Well, I went again this month and enjoyed myself once again. Pam is a CZT and agreed to spotlight some of the unpublished tangles in our Monday group.

This week she showed us how to draw the tangle Evoke. It looks surprisingly like Fescue but the way it is constructed and how you used the aura’s is it’s distinguishing characteristics.

Here is the piece we constructed as she taught us this tangle.

DC#351 ~ Lifeofjoy.meI added a tiny bit of shading down the shared aura. Pam showed us how using a pencil for the blackening part can really add some depth because you can vary the darkness of the shading then. But I really do love the contrast of the inked areas. I can also see how this would look good inside a string section instead of as a free-flowing piece.

But that is exactly what I did with it. I couldn’t help but see it in a heart shape, since it is February.

DC#351 ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen I look at these and think of the Olympics, I see the Alpine Skiing with the flags they have to go around. :) See it is a bit of a cheat. ;)

I’m not sure if I like the heart shaped one with the extra bit in the middle. I considered stopping and blackening all of that in but figured I could always go back and blacken it in if I didn’t like it. Now, I’m not sure I like it but I am also uncertain if I’d like it blackened. :D

DC#351 Blackened ~ Lifeofjoy.meI blackened the center with GIMP and I think I like it better. What do you think? Should I blacken the center on the tile?

Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate those that take the time to visit and really appreciate comments.

I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Light Laughing Cow Cheese

Yeah, sorry this is not a recipe today. What it is, is a rave about Light Laughing Cow Cheese. It reminds me of a cream cheese. It is a creamy wedge of low calorie cheese.

I use it on sandwiches for moisture and flavor instead of mayonnaise since I cannot have my beloved Miracle Whip. It can be used with cooked veggies give them a bit of a creamy sauce. It melts up really well.

I’ve even used it instead of block cheese on an omelet for a low calorie option. Now, I must say that Trim Healthy Mama is NOT necessarily about low calories but my body is currently in a place where I need to ensure that I do not abuse calories. When I was on keto I did abuse them quite bit and thus did not lose weight after the initial losses. In order to lose weight, I have to cut back a bit and have lots of non-starchy veggies.

Regular cheese can cause my weight loss to stall. To be fair, I do tend to over do it a bit (a lot) where cheese is concerned. I love cheese! Cheese makes everything better. :)

Aldi has a version of this cheese but it has carrageenan in it so it is not as pure as Laughing Cow. Sometimes my budget requires that I use the cheaper Aldi brand though, but it is possible that it causes inflammation in my system. I’m looking into it a bit more but am concerned about it in dairy products, so better to stay with Laughing Cow.

Now, most of the Laughing Cow flavors are good to use in any setting of the THM plan but I know there are a couple that have higher calories and fat, so they should not be used in the E (carbohydrate) or FP (low in both fat and carbs) meals. Stay clear of the Original Swiss but the Light Swiss is great. But the Creamy Asiago and Pepperjack flavors are also the lower calorie flavors. You are looking for 1.5 fat grams and 35 calories.Laughing Cow Cheese ~

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

This is THE Week: Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day ~ Lifeofjoy.meYep, this is the week. Valentine’s Day is THIS Wednesday. Are you ready? Do you have a plan?

Do you have children to make the day special for too? I still try to make the day special for my children that live at home still. They are good kids and are keeping themselves pure for their spouses, which we are all praying happens soon. ;) But while I still get to enjoy them at home, I try to make Valentine’s Day special for them too. So, I got lots of plans to make!

I failed to do my research for Michael’s gift to get it when I went shopping last week but YAY! I’ve got my art group today and will leave a bit early to stop and get some stuff. :)

I’ve thought about the food, which is a huge part of my gift to my family. Usually I serve spaghetti or lasagna but this year I’m opting for Tomato Chicken Bisque which we have had before and all like. I’ll make sure we have some bread to eat with it because that just makes it all better.

I have some special treats planned for each person, a sweet treat each one likes, but am also planning to make some cream filled chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate ganache for our dessert. Since we are on Trim Healthy Mama, many of the desserts taste best after they’ve sat overnight. So I’ll have a very big prep day on Tuesday. ;) But I don’t mind, it is a labor of love.

I had forgotten one year, but then my daughter reminded me that I had given her (and her brothers) a Valentine note for several years prior and it was something she looked forward to each year. I think you can imagine, I have tried really hard not to forget that again. :D

So I do treats, a special homemade red colored dinner, and dessert. Then I usually try to give my honey a little special “dessert” all his own that night, if you know what I mean.

Well, I’ve got my plan. I’m going to make my lists and definitely check them twice because I want to be oh so nice. :)

I hope you have your plan and are able to pull it off as you envision it.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

January Check-In, Celebration, and Yummy Food

In the past week, I had a “meeting” with this cutieTiff Jan '18 Mtg ~ Lifeofjoy.meabout how the last month went. Since we are both “self-employed,” we don’t have a boss to have meeting with so I decided it would be a good thing for us to do together and help to hold us accountable to the goals and productivity we think we should have.

Me Jan 18 Mtg ~ teeth are NOT that color. We’d just eaten BLACK bean soup.)

We had fun and were motivated to have a great February!

Tiff and I Jan '18 Mtg ~ Lifeofjoy.meOriginally we had planned to have a girls day out if we met certain goals. Unfortunately we did not meet those goals so instead we took some extra time when we ran errands, to have our “meeting” somewhere other than home. I thought it might make it feel more important. ;)

Errands took us even longer because I had to take my glasses back to the eye doctor’s to have them checked. Shocker! They were the wrong prescription! Ugh!!!! Then we had to wait several hours for them to be done. So on a day when we had hoped to be home by around at least one o’clock, we didn’t get home until around four o’clock. Ugh!! Even more unfortunate is the fact that I’m not confident this prescription is correct.

When we finally got home, Michael had gotten home before we did, by mere minutes. But this is what we saw as we pulled up.

Skylar broke free again ~ Lifeofjoy.meYeah, this is Skylar and she belongs in the back yard. This is not the back yard. To say that Tiffany was not pleased that she had to deal with this is an understatement. :) We were both dog tired. ;)

I fixed some yummy banana THM pancakes on Saturday morning. That seems to be our Saturday breakfast tradition for the last while.

Banana Pancakes ~ Lifeofjoy.meOf course just a normal batch, where we each get four pancakes is not enough for my guys, so I had to make a double batch. That’s a lot of egg whites. :D But oh so good!

THM Banana Pancakes with Chocolate Syrup ~

We celebrated Lauren’s birthday last weekend. (Sure wish I’d gotten some pics of her and her cake but alas, we were hungry.) They traded in their Wii U and some other stuff and bought a Switch, which they brought with them. We enjoyed playing Puyo Puyo and the kids all enjoyed playing a cooking game. It was fun watching them all play together. They also got Mario Odyssey, at least that’s what I think it is called. OMG! It looks really fun!!! Now, I’m looking for Sean to get a Switch soon.

Unfortunately I did not get many pictures! But I did get a few. Liam enjoyed the basket I keep some of the toys in as much or more than the toys themselves.

Liam with his basket ~ Lifeofjoy.meAnd he liked playing behind my chair.

Liam behind chair ~ Lifeofjoy.meHe’s so cute!

Liam Cutie ~ Lifeofjoy.meWell, I’m going to run. I have lots to do today. Tiffany needs to go clothes shopping, I need a haircut, and we have to get groceries as well as look at some bar stools and cafe tables. I’m tired just thinking about it. :D

I hope you have a great weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Winter Olympics 2018

winter olympics ~ Lifeofjoy.meWell, in case you have had your head in the sand like me, the Winter Olympics have started. Of course opening ceremonies are not until Friday but according to the official website, competitions have already begun.

I remember one year when my kids were young, we watched the olympics a lot! We put socks on our feet and “skated” across the kitchen floor. :D  I don’t know if my kids remember that or not but I do, especially since I bent over to open the bottom drawer in the kitchen and swung my leg up behind me in the air and pulled something. :))

As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to turn everything into a learning event, so we could even binge on the Olympics and it was educational. We learned a lot about the different sports and were introduced to curling that year.

Want to take advantage of a learning opportunity?

  • Have the children pick a sport and find out the rules, history, and how much time is spent practicing it.
  • Have the children pick a country and learn about that culture, history, and people.
  • Learn about the history of the olympics

You could keep a medals count. Here is a printable to help you do that. They also have a word search. It’s a couple years old but should still be relevant.

I’m not going to overwhelm you with links, because hey! there are olympics to watch but here are a few websites I found with some good links for an olympic unit study.

  • This one is aimed at 3-9yo with a Montessori approach–very cool.
  • Sonlight has a free download available to aid in your South Korea study (because that is where the winter olympics are this time).
  • Here’s a good compilation of free unit studies and printables.
  • This one has some good ideas and good points about not trying to do it all too . . . it is worth reading, just take a few minutes and head over . . . includes ideas for the night of the opening ceremony.

I will close with sharing this fun idea that was used for a summer olympics but really looks like it could be used now too: Hosting an Olympic Games Event with games like stacking styrofoam cups and a hula hoop slide. Looks like it was a lot of fun.

I hope you will make some good memories with your children during the Olympics. Oh! and don’t hurt yourself. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº