Monthly Archives: October 2015

Blessed with a Cruise and Dinner with Family

This time last week was a very busy time for us as a family. We were celebrating Mike’s birthday and then leaving on a family vacation. I finally got to go on a cruise! :) Whoo Hoo!!! Thanks Brian and Lauren (and Sean)!!!!!

When Brian was thinking about where to go on his and Lauren’s honeymoon, I told him I had dreamed of going on a cruise to the Virgin Islands for my honeymoon. I don’t know if that is if that is the first he’d thought about it or not but he and Lauren went on a cruise to Cozumel and Progreso for their honeymoon. They loved it!!! They came back and told our extended family all about it. My parents went on a cruise with my baby sister and her family, not too long after that, although I don’t remember where they went. It wasn’t my parents’ first cruise, as they had been on the QE2 with my dad’s work and to Hawaii on a cruise as well. But they all came back singing the praises of cruising too.

I was content. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go on a cruise as well, but it was no yearning. Brian and Lauren decided a year ago, or more, that they wanted the six of us to go on a family vacation cruise together and began saving money and making plans to go. They told us about it and I was happy but didn’t want to put any pressure on them and would understand if things didn’t work out.

As the time got closer to when they wanted to go, they were serious about booking the cruise and had saved enough for interior rooms on a 5-day cruise. Sean decided to add some money to the budget so that we could do a 7-day cruise. So it was booked! October 17-24 were our cruise dates.

Headed to Galveston ~ Lifeofjoy.meFriday night, after celebrating Mike’s birthday, we all got in Brian and Lauren’s suburban and headed to Galveston, Texas. We left around 10:30 or so and arrived before sunrise. We couldn’t board until at least ten o’clock, so we had some time to kill. We found an IHop and got some breakfast, even though Tiffany had made pumpkin donuts for us to eat.

Galveston IHOP ~
Breakfast after traveling all night

We drove around, waiting in a nearby Starbucks parking lot, and then saw people boarding, so we headed over as well. We dropped off our luggage with someone to take it aboard and were left with our carry-on bags. I had my computer in my bag and it was heavy. Being the wonderful gentleman that he is, Mike carried mine for me most of the time. :) He’s such a sweetie!!!

We got checked in and sat, waiting to board the Carnival Freedom cruise ship. We were there early enough that we didn’t have to wait real long. While we waited there was a bridal party that boarded before us — I cannot imagine getting married on a cruise ship and then having guests and/or family members traveling with me on my honeymoon . . . that seems peculiar to me . . . but to each his own.

Waiting ~

Tiff used Lauren’s selfie stick but Mike was sitting in the wrong place, all we got of him was his left knee. :D

This is getting a bit long so I’ll share more about the cruise next week. I am very thankful that the kids decided to take us on a cruise with them! It was a good time and now Mike even likes cruising! We got home and he started looking on youtube for more cruises, to see the best ones and such. I’m glad! We now have another kind of vacation to take AND this one doesn’t have me cooking, cleaning, or washing a single dish the entire time!!! Whoo hoo! (Don’t get me wrong, I like cooking but it is just nice to get a complete vacation.)

(Click here for the next post about our cruise vacation)

On a Different Note:

We invited my parents over for dinner last night. For a while I couldn’t figure out why we hadn’t done that before, well besides the one other time this year (or was that last year?). Any way, I realized it was because we have gone to my parents’ house most every Sunday since we got married (28 years ago) until the last several years. We’ve been in a state of flux recently and now generally go over every 2-3 weeks. With longer periods of time in between visits, it seemed logical to invite them to dinner, to fellowship together. :)

I made Gumbo and homemade artisan bread for dinner and Hot Fudge Pudding Cake for dessert, which I forgot to take pictures of, yet again, in order to share it with you. Oh well, maybe next time. ;) Fortunately we did get pictures of the Gumbo, so I’ll probably be sharing that next week.

We played a little “Last Man Standing” and just enjoyed being together for a bit. It was nice and I look forward to doing it again but it probably won’t happen again until after the first of the year because things get sooo busy and hectic throughout the holidays.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


It’s Hermit Day! and Cat Day and Oatmeal Day and Links!

Mocha Hanging on Screen Door ~
Kitten Screen Climbing

Well, here it is National Cat Day, National Oatmeal Day, and National Hermit Day. I know it is last minute but you could take the day off from other things and have a relaxing cuddly school day. If your kids are young, grab Papa Piccolo or Puss in Boots and talk about cats and such. Then you could watch the movie Puss in Boots and compare the two.

Of course, you should have a bowl of oatmeal for for breakfast. (You could try my recipe for chocolate oatmeal which is yummy.) And then just stay around the house and relax. Read a book, write about whatever sparks an interest, and/or draw something, as these are the suggested ways to celebrate National Hermit Day. :)

Terrific Yahoo Group for Website Suggestions

If you are looking for link suggestions, you should check out this great Yahoo group: Where Can I Find It. It is a restricted group but they send out links 4 days a week. Links range from printables, including mazes, coloring pages for both adults and kids, and masks, to links to history for young and teens, as well as links to pumpkin carving templates and recipes. There really is a wide variety of links shared on this group and definitely worth subscribing to.

I’m keeping it short and sweet today. I hope you’ll check out the yahoo group; it really is a great resource and use Hermit Day as an excuse to take a lazy day. ;) It’s really okay every now and then.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


I was unable to participate in last week’s challenge because I was on a family vacation, on a cruise with no cell phone service. I did take all of my zentangle supplies with me but did not do a single tile. I’m not sure what I think about this yet but will take them along again next time because you never know exactly what you will feel like doing on a vacation. ;) (I did post some zia pieces though, while I was gone.)

iamthedivacztThis week’s Diva Challenge is a guest post by Paula Bramante, Stones and Ceremony. I got a bit lost on all of the words and lovely stone pictures on the Pinterest board and decided to just use the cairn template as my string.

As I was drawing the string, I ran out of room and modified it a bit thus using fewer ‘stones’.

Next came the task of picking tangles. There are soooo many options that it can sometimes get a bit overwhelming. I haven’t used Kuke in a while and even forgot the steps but still wanted to use it on top; so I looked it up on tanglepatterns to refresh my memory.

Nipa came to mind next, so in it went. It kind of looks fossilized, the way I shaded it. I wanted another line tangle, so I used static for not other reason than I thought of it. ;) The my friend ‘Nzepple! I really love this tangle.

I was a bit stumped by this point so I opened up my Tangle Library app on my iPhone. Wabi was my next choice because it had a lot of white space in it and I didn’t want my ‘stones’ to get too heavy. Circfleur was chosen for the same reason. Yincut is next without much texture shading too it. Once again, I was trying to keep it from getting to dark and heavy so I stayed away from the shading that makes yincut seem tufted or puffed.

I finished it off with Ava, also found on the Tangle Library app. I filled it with lines instead of swirls which I don’t like as well coming right after yincut, but it is what it is.

DC#241 ~

When I looked at it after finishing it, it felt too heavy and centralized with too much white space around it so I added the aura-like shading around it and liked it much better. I could have spent a lot more time shading this, to create more depth and layers but had other things to do, so I stopped here.

Thanks for stopping by and seeing my submission to the challenge. I appreciate those that take the time to leave comments or click the like heart below.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Southern Sweet Tea

Southern Style cied Tea ~ Lifeofjoy.meWell, somehow I thought I’d have plenty of time to get a post together for today after getting home from vacation Saturday night but here I am scrambling. What’s worse I can’t even make the recipe I am sharing today because we don’t have any tea bags! Ugh!!!

Oh well! There’s nothing I can do about it since we live fifteen minutes from the nearest grocery store. So, I’ll just write this up, attach a stock photo, and replace it when we get some tea bags. :\

Boil about two and a half to three cups of water in a medium size pan. Remove from heat and add four or five black tea bags.

Be sure they are completely submerged in the water and wait about fifteen minutes.

Put between one and a quarter and one and a third cups of sugar in a one gallon pitcher.

Remove the tea bags from the hot water but it is best not to squeeze them as they say that makes the tea bitter.

Add the tea water to the sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar.

If you have some ice, add about two trays of ice cubes, stir, fill the rest of the gallon with cold water, and give it a final stir. It is now ready to serve.

If you don’t have any ice, fill completely with ice water, stir, and refrigerate for an hour or so until nice and cold.

Serve and enjoy!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Evidence of Love

Evidence of Love ~ Lifeofjoy.meSomething was said recently that made me wonder about myself. So many times in relationships, people think about what they are getting out of it. I know I have a tendency to see all I do and little of what Mike does, but recently I was challenged anew to consider what I do for my beloved.

We were on vacation last week with my kids — a cruise — and I wonder if other people looking at Mike and I would know I love him just by observing us together. Would they see a woman that expects service from her man or would they see someone that serves her man. Ashamedly I must admit that I think people could tell Mike loves me by his actions and how he prefers me over himself but might see a spoiled woman and not really see my love for him.

They might even feel sorry for him with how they overheard me speak to him on occasion, I am sad to admit. OH! Please don’t misunderstand, I did not constantly or consistently say negative things to or about him. I am the type of person that sees her wrongs or embarrassing moments over and over and over and . . . over again. Thus when looking back over the last week or so, I see my wrongs blaring at me . . . scoffing at me . . . accusing me and telling me I have no right to write a blog about marriage since I make these mistakes but I shut out that voice and know that I share these things so that others can learn by my mistakes. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t see them as readily if I didn’t write this blog and maybe not at all.

Since I’ve gotten home I have pondered what I have done for Mike . . . what do I bring to this marriage . . . how is he bettered by being married to me? I can quickly state the answers to these questions switched around. Mike is the provider for the home; he takes his job of protecting me SERIOUSLY. :) He loves me and does little things for me too. But what do I really do for him?

Today I am challenged by this and hope that I will keep these thoughts before me for the next week or so, endeavoring to do more to show him my love. I am reminded of the saying about being a Christian . . . if you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you. Turning this to my thoughts today, if I were on trial for loving Mike, would there be enough evidence to convict me?

I shall endeavor to make my words and actions show this more throughout this week. How about you? I know it is harder when you have children that are young but it is just as important at that stage of life too. I hope you will consider these things and ensure that your beloved knows he is loved and respected by you this week. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Begging to be replaced ~ Lifeofjoy.meI have needed a new pair of tennis shoes for a long time!!! I really didn’t realize it how BADLY I needed them until we went on our long weekend over Memorial Day. You see, it was while walking the trails at Robbers Cave State Park that it was brought to my attention the the sole of my tennis shoe was coming away from the rest of my shoe.

One weekend after getting back from that fateful weekend, Brian and Lauren gave me some money towards getting new shoes. I have been kind of stuck on Reebok tennis shoes for quite some time. They last a long time and have a great arch support.

I tried to get a pair shortly after that. In the past I got them at Kohl’s, so of course, we went to Kohl’s. Unfortunately, as you may have guessed, I struck out. However, while there a fellow customer told me that she gets Sketchers all the time. I tried on a pair and they felt really really comfortable but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for.

Then about a month or so later I tried again, this time with the help of Lauren AND Tiffany. I figured I’d certainly find something at Academy. I had a hard time even finding a pair of Reebok, let alone a pair that fit properly. I even tried on other shoes and none fit right. Another strike out.

New shoes ~ Lifeofjoy.meSo, last week I endeavored, once again to find new tennis shoes. I was advised to try Shoe Carnival. I have looked there before and came up empty handed. So Tiffany and I entered tenuously and eventually another customer saw me trying on various shoes and Tiff and I talking about them. On the next aisle, the same customer recommended a pair of shoes that have goga mat inner soles. I tried them on and they were absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately the pair I tried on was very bright and not me. But eventually I found the perfect pair, with the help of my lovely daughter. The really cool thing was that they were even within the amount I had allotted.

New Sandals ~ Lifeofjoy.meNow, much of the time they run a buy one get one 1/2 off sale and thankfully this was the case on our visit. Tiffany and I proceeded to look through their clearance section. I tried on several shoes but nothing was quite right. Then Tiff tried on this really nice looking pair of sandals. They were only $10, so I said she could have them. We then looked to see if they happened to have a pair in my size. Whoo hoo!!! They did! They are awesome because they have a velcro strap across the top so that it actually fit my foot even with a high arch. Oh! and I got mine for $5! :) But wait! I didn’t tell you that these were $69.99 regular price.

Well, I’m off for now. Hope you have a great weekend!

Until next week, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Over the last little while, I have been seeing bugs in odd places. Well, at least places I wasn’t expecting them to be.

Several weeks ago we had this hitchhiker go part of the way to church before he lost his grip in the wind cause by us driving down the road.

Bug ~

Still there after another mile ~
It’s hard to see because of the green grassy background.
Hitchhiker ~
He’s only hanging on by one leg still. :(

Then a few weeks later, we had this hitchhiker to church. And again, he didn’t make it all the way either.

Another hitchhiker ~
Spider   It’s kind of blurry but he’s there in the corner. Thankfully he didn’t make it either.

Then this week when Tiffany and I headed out to run our errands, I saw this stick bug on the side of the house. It was about 3-4″ long. They are a really interesting bug.

Stick Bug ~

When the kids were young, especially Sean, they liked bugs. For me it was an ‘Ewwww! Gross!’ subject but I had read Wisdom’s Way of Learning by Marilyn Howshall and was trying to embrace their delight directed learning. So I bought some insect identification books so that we could figure out what they found. We weren’t very good at it but this ‘city’ girl gave it her best shot.

At one point I asked the kids if they wanted to collect the bugs but they assured me they did not. I have to admit, I was rather glad about that. You never know where your child’s interests will lead but it is good to follow them; you never know when they will stumble on the thing that will inspire them for a lifetime.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Some ZIA Pieces

It is so hard for me to say some ZIA rather than ZIAs. I guess it is because it isn’t correct either way. ;) ZIA stands for Zentangle Inspired Art. Thus it wouldn’t be Zentangle Inspired Arts. So I guess when it is more than one ZIA, it should be ZIA pieces. :)

Well, normally I participate in the Diva Challenge but I cannot do so this week. So I’m sharing some of the pieces I’ve done in my drawing book, which is about 6″x6″. I like it because I can draw larger. I just haven’t used it in a while because the majority of what I have drawn lately has been on official size tiles.

Here are a few I like. This one is Gneiss and Auraknot. I like Gneiss because it is just sooooo simple. :)

Gneiss & Auranot ~

This next one is Fescue, Betweed, Static, ‘Nzepple, Keeko, Meer, Cadent, and Paradox. It was a fun, easy piece to do.

Simple String ~

And finally, this one with Opus (I think, or is it Flux) and Cadent.

"Potted Plants" ~

Just in case there are any devoted viewers that come here even without the Mr. Linky on the Diva’s Challenge, THANK YOU!!!! And a big thank you to the wonderful commenters from last week: Devin, Annemarie, Yorkshire Tortoise, Lily M., Maggiebee, and LonettA.

Thanks also to the 4 people that clicked the “like” heart. :)

Well, I hope you are inspired to try something different. Have a great week!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Crockpot Chicken Taco Bowls

Chicken Taco Bowls ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis one is a really easy ‘dump’ recipe. I’m planning to dump all the ingredients into a freezer bag one day, so that on Sunday morning all I have to do is empty the baggie into the crockpot and turn it on. Wow! That will make Sunday dinner even more simple.


First you take about one pound of chicken breast (I use frozen) and put it in the crock pot; mine is a six quart crock pot. Rinse and drain a can of black beans and add to the crock pot.

chicken and beans ~

Then add 16oz. salsa. I used these salsa style tomatoes. With regular salsa I have to puree it in order to get my picky eaters to eat it. But this can of tomatoes has the right size pieces that do not need to be pureed.

Add salsa ~

Next combine the spices and sprinkle them on top of the salsa and chicken and give it a stir.

Spices ~ Lifeofjoy.meCombined Spices ~

In the crock pot ~

The original recipe calls for corn in here too but since Sean doesn’t like corn and Tiffany doesn’t always prefer it, I leave it out and serve it as an optional addition.

Cook on low for about 4-6 hours. Unfortunately I was gone longer than that and wish I had put some extra salsa or even a bit of water in the pot too, to keep it moister but it turned out fine. Use two forks to shred the chicken and then mix it all together.

To serve, first some rice, then some chicken.

Rice base ~ lifeofjoy.meChicken on the Rice ~

Add corn, shredded cheese, chips, and sour cream, as desired.

Added a bit of corn ~ lifeofjoy.meCheese and Chips added ~

A bite on a chip ~

I hope you’ll give this one a try. It is really quite yummy. Oh, but don’t leave out the chips, it is just missing something without them.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Bowls


  • 1-1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
  • 16 ounce jar of salsa or the can of salsa style tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 pound corn (I cook mine separately for picky eaters)
  • Seasonings:
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 Tablespoon minced garlic (i used garlic powder instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cracked pepper to taste
  • cooked rice
  • shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choosing)
  • Tortilla chips
  • sour cream, optional


  1. Add chicken, beans, and seasonings to the crock pot along with 1/4 cup of water. (You can add the corn or heat it up later, like I do, for picky eaters.) Stir things up a bit. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  2. Near the end of the cooking time, prepare rice as directed.
  3. Before serving, use two forks to shred the chicken.
  4. Build bowls by placing some rice on the bottom, add some of the chicken mixture, and top with shredded cheese and sour cream if desired, or avocado even.
  5. Eat with tortilla chips.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Whom to Marry?

Marry Your Best Friend ~
Camping (married two years)

Of course, you want to marry someone you are in love with! But I am glad that I married my best friend. I remember one time, shortly after we had gotten married, that Mike and I got in a fight. (Isn’t it odd that I cannot remember what we fought over but I remember this?) My matron of honor and her family had moved several hours away by this point, so I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to.

I remember walking out of the house and just going for a walk down the street. At first I was mad . . . really mad. And then I began to cry. It turned into me crying, not about whatever the fight was about, but because I needed to talk to my best friend. The problem was that Mike was my best friend and I couldn’t talk to him because I was mad at him. :D

I don’t even think I got a block down the street before Mike came driving up in our car. He rolled the window down and kept pace with me. He kept trying to get me to get into the car. I finally stopped walking, looked at him and cried, “I need to talk to my best friend about what happened but I can’t because you’re my best friend! And I’m mad at you!!!”

I got in the car and we worked it out . . . whatever it was. The point is that it is really the best place to be; a place where you won’t talk bad about your spouse to anyone else, he’s your best friend, and you just work it out. (Please don’t think I’ve never talked bad about Mike to anyone; I wish I could honestly say that I haven’t but alas . . .)

I wish Mike and I had more hobbies and such in common because I think that friends that share like hobbies and such are even a better marriage match. The cool thing is that Mike and I are both hermits . . . we both just enjoy spending the evening together, doing nothing, just being together. :) It sometimes makes us odd ducks but we didn’t go out and do things and spend money much when we were dating and our lifestyle has been very similar for the past 28 years and I’m okay with that. :)

So my advice to those looking to get married: stop looking to fall in love, that will come (besides, love is ultimately a commitment rather than a feeling) and find someone that you enjoy being friends with. Someone you have things in common with and who ‘gets you’ is a really good candidate for a good marriage.

For those that are already married, build on your mutual interests, remember what you did together when you dated and, if appropriate, do them again. If you have no mutual interests, share your day with each other, take interest in what the other does, and find common ground. Pursue your spouse like you did to catch him in the first place, there’s no harm with a little flirting no matter how long you’ve been married or how old you are. :)

Dawn, over on shared an article not too long ago entitled, How to Make a Marriage Flourish that has some good things to say about selflessness in marriage. I just thought I’d mention it.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº