Monthly Archives: June 2016

Summer Reading

Summer Reading ~ Lifeofjoy.meI always made my kids sign-up and complete the local library summer reading program. I felt like it was good to keep them practicing those reading skills, plus they got coupons that we could use over the next several months after fulfilling the criteria (books read and library visits).

Yes, they even did it through their senior years. :) Tiffany and I even complete the new adult summer reading program last year, which reminds me, I need to check into it again. :)

Here are some fun looking activities to do for reading this summer. Although the printable is rather bland, it is an interesting summer reading scavenger hunt. This is a direct link to the printable pdf used by some school/teacher. You can use it to come up with your own requirements and rewards. And here is another. [2018 update: this last one is no longer available.]

On this webpage when you scroll down the page, there are two pictures of bingo cards. The one on the left is the reading bingo and the one on the right is summer fun bingo. If you click on the card itself, it will open up the pdf which you can then print. They look pretty neat. She has some good ideas on how to use them cooperatively and individually. She also has links to a camping scavenger hunt bingo and a road trip bingo at the bottom of the post. (All are free.) [2018 update: these are now available with email sign up.]

Although this next suggestion seems to be an old post, it has some neat suggestions they call book-tivities. They also have some suggested book lists for different ages/grades.

I did find one more, that looks to be for older individuals. I have never heard of this author before so, you might want to do a bit of research before entering, but it is definitely interesting. [2018 update: the prizes are no longer available but it could still be a fun way to choose books to read]

I hope these will be beneficial to you and your children this summer. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Rundl Beads of Courage

iamthedivacztThis week’s diva challenge is Beads of Courage, which is an art medicine program for children with chronic illnesses, like Laura’s son, Artoo. It sounds like a pretty neat program. Laura raises money for the program.

FB□1 ~ LifeofJoy.meThe Square One: Purely Zentangle focus is Rundl. I’ve never drawn rundl before, but it looked rather easy and very bead-like, so I thought I could use it for the diva challenge.

I wanted to add a drop shadow and finally got brave enough to add a bit of shadow for the string but not so on the “beads”.

Rundl Beads of Courage ~ Lifeofjoy.meAs usual, once I see it enlarged on here I see where I could have deepened the shading. It doesn’t look that lightly shaded when I look at it in my hand. ;)

I just realized that I didn’t scan it before shading! DRAT!!! Oh well, I’ll try to remember next week.

I appreciate your comments. They are always such an encouragement to me.

Have a great day!

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Vegetable Fajitas ~

Vegetable Fajitas

This week’s recipe is really kind of a cheat for me. It is really just my Chicken Fajitas without the chicken. ;) But it was really more different than I intended because we were out of balsamic vinegar, so I just used a tiny bit of Italian dressing instead.

So here it is . . .

Slice your vegetables of choice, into sizes you prefer. I like long thin slices of different colored peppers, long thin slices of onion, and slices of mushrooms. Tiffany likes broccoli and carrot, so at the end I quickly cooked up some for her.

Heat a skillet with a drizzle of oil. I used olive oil today.

Vegetable Fajitas ~ Lifeofjoy.meI put a couple of shakes of dried oregano and a couple shakes of dried basil on them for flavor and sprinkled with salt.

Cook them until desired doneness. We like ours very done!

Fry up or simply heat up some tortillas. We like to quickly fry ours in coconut oil. I like small corn tortillas, Tiffany and Sean like whole wheat flour tortillas, and Mike likes both.

Tonight I shredded some colby-jack and pepper jack cheeses, cut up an avocado, and put out some sour cream. And that was that! :)

Vegetable Fajitas ~ Lifeofjoy.meThe next one I remembered the avocado. :)

Vegetable Fajitas ~ Lifeofjoy.meTiffany put hers down for a moment to add a few more pieces of broccoli, so I snapped a picture. :)

Vegetable Fajitas ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis is super simple! You can use any veggies you like and any tortillas you like as well.


Vegetable Fajitas


  • 1/3-1/2 green pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 -1/2 red pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 - 1/2 yellow or orange pepper, sliced thinly
  • about 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • one large onion, sliced in half, pole-to-pole, and then in thin slices, pole-to-pole
  • about 6-7 broccoli florets, chopped
  • about 1 small carrot, shredded or julienned
  • basil, oregano, salt
  • oil of your choosing
  • tortillas of your choosing
  • shredded cheese, about 8 ounces or so
  • avocado, if desired
  • sour cream, if desired


  1. Prepare your veggies.
  2. Heat skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Add the veggies and sprinkle with salt, basil, and oregano.
  4. Cook until desired doneness. We don't like any crunch left in our veggies. 😉
  5. Heat all tortillas either in microwave or individually heat them quickly over the flame of a gas burner, turning each with some tongs, or quickly frying them individually in a few tablespoons of heated oil, draining on paper towels.
  6. Place tortilla on your plate and add toppings as desired. Fold and eat!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Individual Happiness

Individual Happiness ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is not my husband’s responsibility to make me happy. Seriously! It is my responsibility to choose happiness and to have a relationship with God wherein I find joy.

It is through my relationship with God that I learn how to serve my husband. I learn to give to him without expecting anything in return. Of course, he too, has a relationship with God and learns to serve me without expecting anything in return. In a Christian relationship, this is how things should work. Now I realize that it isn’t always the way it turns out but it is the best plan. We both give 100% to each other and our marriage.

I cannot expect anyone else to make me happy. When I wait for Mike to do something for me to be happy, I could be waiting a very long time. I have to take responsibility for myself. I cannot put my happiness in the hands of someone else. I have to find joy and contentment within myself and with God. Then it is easy to be happy in other relationships, because I start out from a place of happiness, not seeking it from some other person.

Then out of my joy I can invest in other relationships, in this case, the relationship I have with my husband. Too many times people go into marriage looking to be completed or be treated like a queen or princess. Marriage is about two people partnering together to walk through life together and do what God has called them to do. In the process, you learn that serving one another is a vital key to the kingdom of God and it begins at home, with me.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

More Vacation News

I thought I’d share a little bit more about our restful vacation we had a week ago.

Throughout the years, we have had the privilege of meeting most of Paul’s family. We got to visit with his sister Mary Jane and her husband Louis on Sunday. I snapped this picture as they were leaving. It’s a bit of a climb, so I had time. ;)
More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt was good to see them again. It’s been several years since we last saw each other. They’re good people. :) {In the above picture, if you look just to the right of that metal building, you can see the river. It is very relaxing to listen to.}

As I said before, we celebrated Tiffany’s birthday while there.

More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meI crammed both her gifts, a game for her 3DS and makeup setting spray, into that little bag.

More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meMud pie was the dessert of choice. :)

Here we are at the beginning of the Twin Pinnacles Trail at Grayson Highlands State Park. (It’s a bit of a drive from their cabin but we enjoy it and we are used to things being at least a half hour from home. ;) )

More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meShiloh, Tiffany’s dog, even went with us.

Here is some of the view from the top.

More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meMore Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s just gorgeous when you are there looking out!

We decided to do the complete trail this time rather than just climbing to the view and retracing our steps back to the beginning. The pinnacles are definitely in the beginning of this trail, probably even the first half mile of this one point six mile trail.

More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meAlong this part of the trail, we realized there were some spots that we’d forgotten were even on this trail. This tree, for example, is one that they guys took pictures on MANY years ago (maybe 10?).

More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meMore Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meWe also so a tree that Tiffany and I had taken a picture on all those years ago. Of course, we were to far past it when someone pointed it out to me and I realized we should’ve taken another picture on it. Oh well.

Living in NE Oklahoma for the past nearly 19 years, I had forgotten that trees out east are taller. Once you cross the Mississippi River, they seem to get taller. I don’t really remember that on a daily basis here, as I’m just so very thankful to have trees at all. ;)

But, for all you Okies that may be reading my blog, check out the height of these trees!

More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meHere’s another shot of just the trees.

More Vacation News ~ Lifeofjoy.meHaving enjoyed living with such specimens, I’m ever so thankful that God put me in Green Country in Oklahoma instead of in the flat areas.

Stephanie and I played some Tenzi and had a really good time doing so but decided that the rest of the group needed to play with us too. :) So I guilted them into it. :) We had fun. If you have never played Tenzi, I highly recommend it. I also recommend getting the 77 Ways to Play Tenzi card deck because it will give you some great ideas and keep it from getting dull or monotonous. Once you play some of the ways directed on the cards, you can make up your own variations very easily.

More Vacation News ~

I hope you have a good weekend. We have a baby shower to attend on Saturday. Other than that, we have no big plans. Of course, next Sunday is Father’s Day, so it will be busy; thus we will enjoy our restful day this week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Interesting Trial Offers

I received this email recently about several programs you/your children can try for free this summer. Of course, their hope is that you will like it so much that you will subscribe when the trial period is over but you don’t have to. :)

I thought these looked pretty interesting and would share them with you in case you have not seen it. (I am not an affiliate, nor do I receive any compensation at all.)

I hope this blesses you. If not, please check back next week and see what I have to share, maybe it will bless you. ;)

Until next time, God Bless,

Michele ºÜº

PS. This doesn’t look as pretty as I’d like it to but do click the co-op link and then the individual programs to read more about them. If I still had school-aged children, I’d be signing up for these. :)

★ FREE for the Summer! ★

If you are like us, you are ready to give your kids a break for the summer, but you may prefer they do things that are educational as well as fun!

This summer, the Co-op has secured permission from eleven of our publishers to offer their products FREE for the summer. These are products that have received rave reviews from homeschool parents and kids alike. Many of them have won national awards.

Choose any or all of the 11 great products shown below – absolutely FREE!

Enjoy, and please help us spread the word!

Homeschool Buyers Co-op

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Always Icecream and Clever Dragons are in the TOP 3 products that kids love at the Co-op!

** Special FREE Bonus **: Get the official Always Icecream Lesson Plan for Homeschool Planet to help you take full advantage of your free subscription!
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Vacation Art

Last week we were on vacation with friends over in VA up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Paul and Stephanie have been our friends since before we got married nearly thirty years ago. Stephanie was even my matron of honor in our wedding. :)

Steph is a very creative sort. She is currently into Bible Journaling which is something I had only just heard of the week before we went on vacation. It is something that interested me and I was excited to see what she has done and to know all about it. She likes to follow Rebekah R Jones. I think it probably goes without saying that I am looking into this since I have gotten home (there is very spotty internet coverage up there and we AT&T users had none).

While we were there, Steph and I talked craft supplies. I had gotten out my Zentangle tiles and was going to tangle a bit. I had gotten a black Zentangle tool set for Christmas or some such celebration and hadn’t used it yet but was eager to see what was included to shade with. I also have not used any of my pre-strung Zendalas I got the year before; I’d pulled one of them out as well.

I showed Steph my scratch off tiles and told her of my issue with actually scratching them off. I’ve tried various calligraphy nibs in the past but they are scratchy and not pleasing to scratch with. But Steph came to my rescue. She had just the thing. It is a fine point stylus for use with graphite paper/carbon paper. I tried the different sizes she had but the smallest one is really the only one that worked. The ball tip on the larger ones didn’t scrape off any of the black stuff. I will be getting me one of these on my next trip to Michael’s with coupon at the ready. :)

Here’s the tile I did with her stylus.
Vacation Art ~ Lifeofjoy.meI took this picture outside on our deck hoping the sunlight would enable me to get a better picture. It did photograph better than using a flash indoors but you cannot see how nice and shiny it is. :(

Here are some with the flash and the light over the kitchen table. :)

Vacation Art ~

Vacation Art ~ Lifeofjoy.meI used Bellaposa from the Tangle Library iPhone App and Henna Drum.

Here is he black tile that I did to play with the tool set that I got for black tiles and a white Uniball pen that Steph had.

Vacation Art ~ Lifeofjoy.meHere I used Antidots, which formed a butterfly like object, Pokeroot, and Flux (I think) and a touch of Fescue. The Uniball was the white Signo gel pen. I liked it but it had a rather large point and the ink seemed to flow heavy but I liked it too. (Actually I did the left half of the antidots with the uniball and the right have with the sakura gelly roll .) This tile was done very quickly! I also have this white woodless pencil thing (pictured below) that I thought was soapstone but now I don’t know. They have it in other colors but I only got the white. That is what I used on the light area between flux and pokeroot. I definitely like shading with the white pencil that came in the tool set much better!

Zentangle Tool ~
White Pencil Thing

By the time I finished these, I didn’t have time to play with my zendala so I put it away for another time.

The Diva had too many other challenges this week and attempted to post a challenge but even that was too challenging with not feeling good. Technology not cooperating is tough on a good day, let alone when you aren’t feeling good. Thus, no Diva Challenge this week. I thought I might do a tangle for the Square One and Shading Zentangle focuses or the It’s a String Thing Challenge but I didn’t make it. I would say that I hope to get it done and post here but the reality and my track record say quite the opposite. :D

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~

Black Bottom Banana Bars

I got this recipe a LONG time ago from a Taste of Home magazine. I have only made it a few times but I really should make it more often because it is well-liked here. We had some bananas that were in serious need of being used, so I asked Tiffany to make them for me. This was the same day Tracie and the girls were here and they made the pizza. The girls had decided they’d had enough cooking and wanted to play so Tiffany made them by herself AND took the pictures too (so please don’t be too hard on them ;) ).

Begin by creaming one stick of softened butter and one cup of sugar. (We love our Kitchenaid mixer!)

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~

Add the vanilla and egg; beat thoroughly.

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meBlend in bananas.

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meAdd one and a half cups flour, and one teaspoon each baking powder, baking soda, and a half teaspoon salt. Mix well.

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meDivide the batter in half! Add 1/4 cup cocoa to one half and spread into a greased 13×9 pan. Since my gang isn’t wild about nuts, I like to put some nuts on one end, so that Mike and I can have some and the kids don’t have to have any. :) Since Tiffany made these, no nuts were added this day. ;)

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meSpoon remaining batter on top and swirl with a knife. (No swirling was done this day either. ;) )

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meBlack Bottom Banana Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meBake at 350º for 25 minutes and cool.

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~ Lifeofjoy.meBlack Bottom Banana Bars ~

Black Bottom Banana Bars


  • 1/2 cup softened butter (one stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, optional (or nut of your preference)


  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add vanilla and egg; beat thoroughly
  3. Blend in bananas
  4. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
  5. Put half the batter in another bowl.
  6. Add cocoa to one half batter and blend well.
  7. Spread into a GREASED 13x9 baking pan. Add some nuts if desired.
  8. Spoon remaining batter on top and swirl with a knife. Add more nuts, if desired. 😉
  9. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes.
  10. Original directions said to cool on a wire rack.

Black Bottom Banana Bars ~

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Marriage Advice

Marriage Advice ~ Lifeofjoy.meSaturday we were able to attend the wedding of a young man that we have known since he was about three years old. Sean was his best man. It was a sweet succinct ceremony.

It made me think about what advice I’d give to newlyweds and I thought I’d share it with you today.

  • Put God first! Don’t make an idol of your spouse. Make your relationship with God your number one priority and then your spouse. God wants you to have a good marriage; there is plenty of room in your life for both.
  • Love is not just a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a vow to stay together no matter what comes your way or how you feel on any given day.
  • Marriage takes work. Always look for ways you can make your marriage better.
  • Give 100% – it is not about only giving 50% to the marriage. Give your all, every day. This is the most important relationship you will have with another person; it is worth giving it everything you have.
  • Don’t look to be served. Do things to bless your spouse without thought of what you get in return. {I’ve heard some gals want to be treated like a queen, but remember queens are married to kings and the king is not the servant.}

What advice would you give a newlywed?

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

A Relaxing Week

Today’s post is a bit late because we were on vacation this week and for some reason I thought I’d be home early enough to get this one written after we got home. Silly me!

We went to our long-time friends’ cabin up in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

A Relaxing Week ~
This was taken when we were leaving. Bye Paul and Steph!
A Relaxing Week ~
Tiffany! We love you bunches!!!!! and bunches!!!!!

We drove all day last Saturday and arrived after 10 pm our time. Sunday was Tiffany’s birthday and we celebrated our usual way, as much as possible. I even took our usual birthday banners to hang. :)

We had French toast, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken enchiladas, and mud pie, which I forgot to take pictures of as I made it to share with you. :(  We relaxed and recovered from our 16-hour excursion. We had stopped several times to eat – I don’t know why we did that, we could have just snacked and stopped once but we haven’t traveled that far for about five years, so I guess we’re out of practice. :D

On Monday we went over to the state park to hike the trail I enjoy, Twin Pinnacles. It is a 1.6 mile hike. I’ll write more about it next week and share some pictures of the wonderful view at the top.

Tuesday the guys went into town, we ran ourselves out of the distilled water. They thought they might get a fishing license but ended up not doing so. The river is literally across the street from the cabin, so it is relaxing to just sit out on the porch and visit. My feet were swollen from the drive, so I needed to keep them elevated, thus we gals just stayed inside and did our visiting. :)

We enjoyed sharing some of our favorite movies with them. We really enjoy old Cary Grant movies. We shared Operation Petticoat, Father Goose, and Bringing Up Baby with them. Operation Petticoat was the favorite. :) We also enjoyed Green Lantern, Knight and Day, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, of which Knight and Day was the favorite. :) Knight and Day is probably my current favorite movie. (It does have a couple of curse words and she is in a bikini for a very short scene – less than a minute long.)

Stephanie is a crafter! She does stamps, makes cards, and is currently big into Bible journaling. I took a lot of my Zentangling resources. I knew I would not have internet access up there so I took the Zentangle books I have and all my tiles, pens, and pencils. On Wednesday Stephi and I shared our art supplies. :) I’ll share more about all that next week too.

A Relaxing Week ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy family was great to me all week! Of course, I cooked all day on Sunday but Sean was a gem and cleaned up for me all day. :) Then Monday was a yoyo day until dinner, which Tiffany made for us – spaghetti with rolls and a side salad. (Stephi introduced us to the term yoyo; it means You’re On Your Own! I love it!)

On Tuesday, the kids jumped in and helped me make waffles, eggs, bacon, and sausage for breakfast. Then for dinner Sean made tacos, Mike jumped in and helped him. I seasoned the meat for them and Tiffany cleaned up.

A Relaxing Week ~ Lifeofjoy.meOn Wednesday, everyone did their own thing for breakfast and then Paul treated us to lunch at his sister Lynn’s restaurant, DJ’s Pizza,  nearby (out in the country, nearby is a relative term ;) ). We had some DELICIOUS pizza along with homemade potato chips, loaded fries, and fried dill pickles, all of which were yummy. Stephi’s King Salad – a large chef salad – looked delicious too.

That night we made Sweet and Sour Chicken and Egg Rolls. Tiffany started it and Sean, Mike, and I jumped in doing our part. Mike helped roll the egg rolls, I cut, dipped and cooked the chicken, and Sean cleaned as we went. Tiff really did the most that night. Had she not started dinner when she did, we may not have eaten until 9 that night. :D It was seven before we ate, the way it was.

A Relaxing Week ~ Lifeofjoy.meWe had planned to do s’mores over a fire on Tuesday night but after the guys had gone out and selected the wood, it POURED down rain. S’mores got moved to Wednesday night. Tiff was determined to have s’mores, thus she started dinner when she did. ;) As we were outside by the fire, it started to sprinkle. :D We managed to eat our s’mores though.

We left Thursday morning. We stopped only once to eat; Dairy Queen was the winner. We snacked a lot and stopped several times for gas/potty breaks. Sean and Mike split the driving time again, like they did on our way to VA. It was dark and had begun to rain when we arrived back home last night.

We had a good trip, lots of rest, and the joy of visiting with lifelong friends. This has gotten rather long now, so I’ll run.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº