Monthly Archives: March 2015


I sincerely hope that by the time I reach the end of my first year of blogging that I have a handle on taking pictures for Tuesday posts. Here I am, once again needing more pictures for a recipe. At least this time I have some for the first few steps and then pictures of the final product.

If you want to make this a little easier on yourself, you can buy a graham cracker crust instead of making it from scratch.

Crush graham crackers, mix in sugar and butter and press into pie plate.

Cheesecake Crust ~

Melting Butter ~ LIfeofjoy.mePie Crust ~ LifeofJoy.meIf you are using Cool Whip you can skip this next step. Pour one cup of heavy whipping cream in container and beat until stiff peaks form. I use my hand blender.

Whip Cream ~ Lifeofjoy.meBlend cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla together. Then fold in whipped cream and spread into pie crust. (I’ll add more pictures next week as I am making this to serve on Saturday for company we are having.)

You can serve with all-fruit on top or make fruit topping, like I do by crushing berries in pan with sugar and water. Boil for 2 minutes and strain. Combine sugar and cornstarch in pan and gradually stir in berry mixture. Boil until thick and clear.

Blackberry Cheesecake ~ LifeofJoy.meCut Blackberry Cheesecake ~

No-Bake Cheesecake


  • Graham Cracker Crust OR
  • 1¼ cups fine graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped
  • Glaze:
  • 3/4 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • red food coloring, optional


  1. Combine melted butter, graham crackers, and sugar in 9" pie pan. Press into pan and up sides of pan. (I use a measuring cup to do this.)
  2. Crush strawberries in small saucepan.
  3. Add water and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Strain, discard solids (although my brother-in-law likes me to keep it all in the glaze)
  5. Combine 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in the sauce pan and gradually stir in berry mixture.
  6. Bring to boil stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thick and clear.
  7. Add some red food coloring to preferred color, if desired.
  8. Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
  9. Fold in whipped cream.
  10. Spread into pie crust.
  11. Once glaze is cooled slightly, spread on top of cream cheese mixture in pie plate. Refrigerate until glaze is cool.
  12. Cut and serve!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Think on These Things

Think on good things ~ LifeofJoy.mePhilippians 4:8 gives us a list of things to think about, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Unfortunately too many times in marriage there is the tendency to think about the negative things.

The problem with that is the more you think on things the bigger they seem and the more you see them. If it is positive things you are focusing on, you tend to see more positive things. But if it is negative things that you are focusing on, you tend to see even more negative things.

The suggestion then, to better ones marriage, is to write down three positive things about your spouse each day. Then once that pattern is established, go one step further, complement your spouse each day. Eventually the positives so totally outweigh the bad that the bad things are viewed much more dimly than in the past.

Crystal of Money Saving Mom talks about this in her article about an interview with Focus on the Family back in November ’14. Click the link to read about her experiences and with looking for the positive.

I’m keeping it short and sweet today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Visits, Birthday, and Shopping

Wow! What a busy week! I really should have taken a picture of our cart at Ross yesterday. It was stuffed full of clothes for Lauren, Tiffany, and I to try on in an effort for us each to find outfits for Easter.

New Clothes ~ LifeofJoy.meI must have tried on 2 dozen dresses and then another dozen tops. I found one, yes you read that right, one top and a nice little jacket. Tiffany found a lovely maxi dress and gorgeous chevron top after trying on about 20 items. And Lauren found a lovely maxi dress as well! She only tried on about 15 items. We were there a meer two and a half hours or so. HAHAHA  But thankfully, we all have nice outfits for Easter. Now, next week we will look for accessories. :)

It was a lot of fun though!

Tuesday was fun as well because my baby sister and her girls came out for a visit. Tracie and I tend to think alike a lot. We both had a surprise for the other and it turned out to be the same surprise! We enjoyed visiting outside for awhile in the beautiful sun and breeze. I made my new favorite dessert for them, Hot Fudge Pudding Cake; it was a hit and loved by all. It has been a while but Tracie and I spoke the exact same words at the exact same time with the exact same rhythm. We once played a game of Battleship and had place our ships in nearly the same places . . . crazy!

Happy Birthday Sean ~ LifeofJoy.meWednesday was a busy day, as it was my middle son’s 22nd birthday. He has been a huge blessing to me and I know God has special things in store for him this year and his future. On my kids’ birthday I let them pick their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. He chose Cinnamon Roll Cake, Tuna Pita, Breakfast Burrito Bake, and Strawberry Cheesecake. The Cinnamon Roll Cake was a new recipe and pretty good. :)

I was surprised that he picked the Breakfast Burrito Bake but evidently we had his other favorites recently enough that he went for a breakfast for dinner with bacon and Hawaiian rolls, which I served simply because we had them.  He  doesn’t usually pick Strawberry Cheesecake, so I was a bit surprised by his dessert choice too. (I thought I’d shared this recipe already but I can’t find it so I guess I will have to share it soon.)

Brian and Lauren came out to celebrate with us. We enjoyed playing some Mario Cart and Mario Party 10 as a family. I really wish one of these games would support 6, 8, or more players but we make it work anyway. We also enjoy playing Nintendo Land together but didn’t Wednesday night.

There were some bad storms around the area Wednesday night. They were in the area around rush hour. Our church cancelled for the night and told us all to stay home and stay safe. Thankfully nothing severe came our way. We had a really good evening here.Another Bday ~

Today is my youngest nephew’s birthday. He’s two years younger than Sean. Soooo, here’s wishing Justin a happy birthday.

I have an appointment to get tires aligned on our vehicle. So I’ll be getting some time to tangle a bit; I may just get my piece done for the Tripple B challenge before the weekend is over.

Well, I have a busy day, so I guess I’ll go for now.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Simple Ideas and Encouragement

Old West ~ LifeOfJoy.meSometimes my facebook newsfeed has a lot of really good and encouraging articles. The other day was one of those days. I had about 7 open tabs with stuff to check out.

In one article the lady shared that putting out her younger children’s work with post-it notes on them stating what needed to be done really changed how their year went, for the better.

When my kids were young, I made a check list of the things they needed to do and taught them how to find out what specifics they needed to accomplish for each subject. There were some things that they could do on their own and there were some things they could only do with me. Your goal should be to help your children to become independent learners and eventually work yourself out of a job. ;)

Another good article was a guest post by Kacey over on She stated,  “My kids don’t need me to be good at it. They don’t even care if I’m good at it. They just need to see me fully immersed in this process of learning with them.” It is so true when they are young. Show excitement for learning and your kids be excited to; although if your kids have lost their excitement, it can be reignited with time.

One other thing she mentioned in passing is that there isn’t a wrong way to homeschool. I do agree with this if the parent is actually overseeing their child’s education but unfortunately there are some unscrupulous people out there that “pull their kids out of the public school system and say they are homeschooling” when the truth of the matter is that their children are being truant and not being educated at all (well, at least not in a good way). It is those situations that cause lawmakers to think they need to make more laws regulating homeschoolers. Ugh! I will not even get started on that subject.

The last article I read the other day and wanted to mention was Am I Doing Enough in my Homeschool?Even though this was written by a teenage homeschooler, I have to say that I agree with most of what she wrote. I think she has some good recommendations for what to do for each subject and even has a link to another article she wrote with 100 historical book suggestions. I recommend the article because she makes some good points, has some great suggestions, and a couple of great links with even more great suggestions!

As always, do check out because they generally have something good to share. This week they have a few websites to share; one is from the National Parks Service about using historical places to teach history. :) Sounds like fun if you like to travel at all and even if you don’t, you can probably find something in your own area too.

Well, that’s all I have this week. I hope it is an encouragement to you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

DC#210 Spiralstring and More

First I want to thank Kate and Annemarie for their kind words about last week’s tile. Comments are ALWAYS appreciated!

The Diva Challenge this week is to use a spiral string. I did this one in a bit of a hurry but it was rather easy for me. I’ve done a spiral before, so the hardest thing for me this time around was to do something different than I had done before.

DC#210 ~

I had a bit of a shaky hand tonight, for whatever reason. I used finery and florz.

I will be adding my post for the Triple B Challenge later this week, as the two weeks are nearing an end to get up completed. The String Thing Challenge looks interesting too this week, so I may try to get that in but knowing me and all I have to do this week, it is unlikely. Maybe one day I will actually participate in all the challenges and focuses that I really want to but don’t make time for.

Well, I must run for now. Hope to post more later.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well, here it is, Tuesday and again I don’t have any pictures for a recipe to share today. I thought I’d share the chocolate chip cookie recipe that we use, so we set out to make the cookies.

I don’t purchase desserts at the store, generally speaking. So my kids learned to bake. I told them they could have dessert but I wasn’t making it. I’d just made dinner and thus if they wanted dessert, they’d have to make it. Their go-to desserts have been chocolate chip cookies and the brownies I shared before.

Over the years, we have had flat, super thin cookies and nice full puffy cookies. Both are good but the full puffy ones are nicer. Well, unfortunately, tonight, Tiffany made the flat thin cookies. We still are not sure how this happens except that she didn’t think they were done and baked them longer than the recipe stated.Chocolate Chip Cookies ~

I have decided to go ahead and share the recipe because it is delicious. I will definitely change out the picture the next time we make these cookies. :)

Combine Crisco, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla.

Choc Chip Cookie Step 1 ~

Add egg and combine. Add dry ingredients and blend.

Choc Chip Cookies Step 2 ~

Add in chocolate chips and nuts if desired. (Mike doesn’t really care for the chocolate chips in his, so we take out a few cookies worth for him before we add them. (I know, that’s just weird!) :D

Choc Chip Cookies Batter is done ~

Then spoon out onto cookie sheet. We use a cookie dropper to make the process go quickly.

Choc Chip Cookies Ready to Bake ~

Please follow the directions and only bake them 8-10 minutes. They will be moist! I believe this is the reason we had flat cookies.

Choc Chip Cookie Done ~

Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 3/4 cup butter flavor Crisco
  • 1¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (1½ cups in not using nuts)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 370º
  2. Combine Crisco, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat on medium speed of mixer until well blended.
  3. Beat egg into creamed mixture
  4. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture, just until blended
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoons, 3 inches apart onto UNGREASED cookie sheet
  7. Bake one sheet at a time for 8-10 minutes (COOKIES WILL APPEAR MOIST. DON'T OVERBAKE)
  8. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet
  9. Place on foil on countertop to finish cooling and firm up.

This recipe is from Crisco Butter Sticks package and are called Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Positive Words, Positive Changes

Positive Words ~ LifeofJoy.meI know I’m not perfect. Actually I have a lot of room to grow and change. That doesn’t mean that I accept that all of the friction in my marriage is because of me but I definitely make my contribution to it. But I digress . . . I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve myself.

I recently came across two articles that were interestingly thought provoking. The first was about changing one bad habit to make a big difference in a marriage. It was a good read about how the author looked on the positive side of things and spoke positive words rather than the negative words or what others might call ‘reality’ that she used to. She gave a really good example of how she used to respond when her hubby got home and then how she responds now and the difference it has made in their marriage. It is all about perspective. :)

I know I have been guilty of saying some of the very things the author of he post wrote about. I have to say, it definitely made me think.

The other article is called Nine Ways to Nurture your Marriage. I won’t share it all here but she made some good points, especially about celebrating your anniversary and showing your spouse love in a way they feel loved (a.k.a. love language). There was some that I didn’t necessarily agree with but definitely worth a read.

The last point of the last article is to serve one another which goes right in line with the Marriage Challenge for the week over on The Generous Wife: show preference to your husband. I don’t know about you but I am going to accept the challenge. And if you are looking for some more good articles on marriage, The Generous Wife has links to some great ones.

Well, I think that is enough for today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

The Weekend is Here!

Springtime ~ LifeofJoy.meLauren introduced us to a new show this week — Covert Affairs. Unfortunately, we really like it. Why is this unfortunate, you ask? It is unfortunate because the series is already over but available to watch online. So we got hooked with Lauren’s DVD’s of season one and we have watched most of the rest of the series from online. If we didn’t have to run errands this week, we probably could have finished it up, since it is only 5 seasons of up to 16 episodes in each. We haven’t watched it in the evenings though because we watch something as a family and we are not willing to wait to watch it only when they are home. :D hee hee

There have been a few scenes we’ve had to fast forward through but other than that, it has been pretty clean. I love spy shows and sci-fi shows and it a show combines both I probably love it. ;)

Last night we honored to help a new friend celebrate a momentous birthday. It was fun getting to fellowship with some people that we don’t normally get the opportunity to spend much time with.

I am in the midst of planning the next fellowship dinner at church. It is something that is very needed. There are certain groups of people that tend to fellowship with one another but it is nice to expand ones circle and get to know others a bit. Thus I’m looking for some fun games to play and things to do that both allows people to fellowship/mingle but also entertains. I’d love to have some ideas. This is my next focus of internet searches. ;)

We’ve gotten a lot of rain the last several days, which Tiff and I are very happy about because it has given us an excuse to stay inside and enjoy our series rather than working outside. The early flowers are blooming and my Bradford Pear trees are in full bloom. One is gorgeous and the other . . . well, let’s just say, it likes to skip the flowering part of its cycle for some odd reason. In years past, it was because we had a mid-winter warm-up and it budded too early and then freezing temperatures returned and killed the buds but it did not happen this year, so I don’t know what its problem is.

Tiffany took the lovely picture of our Bradford Pear tree the other day. I hope to get a few more pictures of them today and include them as well.

I need to go back in the woods and check out my wild Redbud trees because they should be getting ready to bloom as well. I love the Redbud trees. They are the official Oklahoma tree and very pretty to behold.

Well, it is getting late and I have a lot to do, so I will run for now. I hope you have a blessed and relaxing weekend.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

More March Observances and Burn Out Recovery

Sean in Tree ~ LifeofJoy.meI was going to run down some more observances this week but after I got started I realized that I wasn’t really giving you more than a rundown. So here it is real quick. This weekend is both Sherlock Holmes Weekend and International Tree Climbing Weekend.

This coming week is Tsunami Awareness Week and National Cleaning Week. Maybe one of those will inspire you. ;) I just may get some major spring cleaning done next week, who knows. hee hee

Saturday has MANY observances, such as Corn Dog Day, Memory Day,  and Poetry Day, to name a few. Check out Brownielocks for several more on the 21st alone, not to mention all the others throughout the month. The 24th in National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day, the 25th is Pecan Day, and the 26th is Spinach day.

Then I checked my email and I found this article that I just felt I needed to share, so I hope it blesses you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


What to Do When You’re Nice & Crispy

By Mary Hood

This morning I sat down to write an article on avoiding burnout. I’ve written articles about that subject many times and have a popular CD on the subject titled Burned Out vs. On Fire. Unfortunately, I was too burned out to write it one more time, so instead I did what many of us do nowadays: I turned to Facebook and complained about it. One of the people who responded asked me: “What are you writing about? Recognizing the signs of burnout? Avoiding burnout? Or what to do when you are nice and crispy?” That’s it! I can’t write about avoiding burnout when I’m already turning brown and crumbly! So instead, today, I’m going to make some suggestions about what to do when you are already nice and crispy. Perhaps, somewhere along the way, I’ll figure out what I’m supposed to do too!

  1. Get away by yourself. If you have young children, find a babysitter, put them in Mother’s Day Out, or toss them in the general direction of your husband. Do whatever you need to do! Just because you made the decision to homeschool does not mean you need to be joined at the hip every single moment of the day! (Side Note: For me, when I had a nursing baby, that baby was an extension of me. It wouldn’t have helped me to get away from the baby; it would have hurt me. Maybe that was just me. Do whatever works for you!)
  1. I recommend having your alone time outdoors if at all possible. Take a walk in the woods or down by a pond. There is a reason Psalm 23 says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul.” Go outdoors and commune with your Maker!
  1. If you can’t go outdoors for some reason, find (or create!) one small area of your home that is neat, clean, and conducive to restful contemplation.
  1. Start by getting yourself in a receptive spiritual mood. Perhaps you could read the above psalm or another Bible verse or a chapter in an inspirational Christian book. If you are out in the woods, recite a favorite Bible verse or two that you have already memorized.
  1. Get your hands off that computer! Facebook is not the place to look for answers. (It can, sometimes, be a place to release steam or get the inspiration for an article for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine . . . but that isn’t what you need right now.) Seriously, limit your time on the computer and your cell phone. Get out and exercise or read a good book or find a real friend instead. (I think I might have just put a finger on part of my current problem! Between my work in real estate and my ministry to homeschoolers, plus a little totally unproductive wasting of time, I do spend too much time on the computer these days.)
  1. Okay. Now start asking yourself questions. Learn the fine art of talking to yourself (and bringing God into the discussion as appropriate).

First, start with a spiritual checkup: Have you been rooted in God lately? Many of you are gardeners or wanna-be country folks. You need to be rooted in good soil, watered and fed daily. Have you been too busy to spend a little time every day with God?

Are you familiar with spiritual warfare? Do you have your armor on? (Read Ephesians 6:10–17.) In two weeks I’m giving my talk titled “Homeschooling Moms: Soldiers in a Spiritual War.” Of course the enemy is after me right now! If he can get me spiritually burned out, physically exhausted, and depressed, I won’t be able to do a good job! He loves to attack homeschooling moms with his favorite tools: depression, exhaustion, and feelings of incompetence and unworthiness. Brush that little devil off your shoulder and tell him where to go.

Second, give yourself a physical checkup. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you drinking enough water? Are you getting enough sleep? Eating good, real food? Are you avoiding anything that you should be avoiding, like maybe chocolate (gasp!), caffeine, dairy, or wheat? Not all of us have the same bad reactions to some of these things. You know your own body; take care of it!

How about physical exercise? Having several children is no excuse for not taking care of your own body. Start out each day with flexibility exercises and get some aerobic exercise at least a few times a week. This is one area where you can take the children along, so you really don’t have any excuse. If you are seriously out of shape, remove most of your clothing, stand in front of a mirror, and repeat these words: “Thank you, God, for my magnificent body that you created. I love the way I look right this minute! However, I need your help. Let’s get it in a little better shape together.” Repeat at least twice a day until you mean it!

What about your own needs in other areas? Do you have any friends? Are you desperate for adult conversation? Are you putting off your own desires in order to “be a good mother”? That’s not being a good mother! You can’t take care of everybody else if you don’t start from a position of strength. Have you always wanted to learn to play piano? Do it, even if you have to have two toddlers on your lap while you are practicing. Have you always wanted to get a college degree? I got my Ph.D. one class at a time while I was homeschooling. You are allowed to set goals for yourself as well as your kids, and if they are goals that fit in with God’s overall plan for your life, He will help you reach them, one tiny step at a time.

Is something driving you crazy about your kids, your homeschooling, or your curriculum? Take the time to figure out what it is and why. Don’t just keep plodding along, beating the same horse, because you “have to finish the second grade textbook by the end of second grade.” Remember that new wine doesn’t belong in old wineskins. Throw away all the assumptions you’ve been carrying around from your own days in school, set your own goals for your children, and don’t make the mistake of worrying more about the curriculum you are selecting than the needs of your kids as individuals.

Relax and become a family again! Isn’t that why you chose homeschooling in the first place? If we can help in any way, feel free to contact us at . We are an army of homeschooling moms who are learning to relax and enjoy our children! Now, join me as I turn off the computer and go for a walk in God’s beautiful world.

Mary Hood, Ph.D., and her husband, Roy, homeschooled their five children since the early 1980s. All have successfully made the transition to adulthood. Mary has a Ph.D. in education and is the director of ARCHERS for the Lord, Inc. (The Association of Relaxed Christian Home Educators). She is the author of The Relaxed Home School, The Joyful Home Schooler, and other books, and is available for speaking engagements. Contact her via her website, .

Copyright 2013, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education

A Green Tile

I really appreciate those who stopped by last week and took the time to comment. Thank you so much for your kind words. It is always nice to get some feedback. I didn’t get my Diva Challenge tile up until very late in the week, so I’m very thankful for the views that I did get.

On to this week’s entry . . .

Oh my! I am not very pleased with this week’s Diva Challenge. I generally prefer my zentangles to be grayscale. Thus the ‘Green Up’ challenge was just that — a challenge for me.

I started by tangling the tile. I used lucky and sh’rock. My lucky was less than I desired but there are no mistakes in zentangle, so I kept plugging through. In an effort to make it something I liked more, I tried adding some smaller lucky behind the big one but it just got a bit messy.

Next I added the sh’rock but wasn’t pleased with that either. :\  I seemed to put the x’s in a repetitive way rather than random. Then it seemed more like flowers than shamrocks, so I auraed the ones in the upper left corner.

Then I used a green watercolor pencil, which I have only used once before when playing around with my nieces, around the border. I had hoped that It would end up being darker on the outside and go lighter toward the middle where I had lucky and shaded around it. I had hoped that the two shadings would come together lightly but alas, it didn’t happen. I must have colored the green on too darkly and thus had too much “paint”.

Then all the sh’rock was too dim, so I went over it to darken it and re-did the shading around the middle lucky.

Well, without further ado, here it is.

DC209 Green ~

When I drew the main lucky the sides of my stem were too far apart so I made it a four leaf clover but the fourth leaf wasn’t wide enough, so I tried to make it look like it was a curled leaf. I’m not sure if I was successful or not.

The String Thing Challenge looks interesting this week and the focus tangle for the Square One facebook group is one I have not yet attempted, so maybe I’ll get more added to this post later in the week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº