Monthly Archives: January 2017

Ground Meat and Green Bean Casserole ~

Ground Meat and Green Bean Casserole

This is a cheesey, low-carb, complete meal in one pan, and is quick to throw together but should have some time to bake.

This week’s recipe is so quick and easy that I forget that it needs to go into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Yes! 40 minutes. However, when I forget that one little thing and need it to be done sooner, I just finish it off on the stove, which is what I did when I made it the other day and took pictures to share with you today.

Brown your ground meat with the diced onions, celery, and mushrooms. Once again I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. Since I’m on keto diet, I add a little coconut oil to up my fat content a little.

Ground Meat and Green Bean CasseroleGround Meat and Green Bean Casserole ~ Lifeofjoy.meNow, I made the mistake of just dumping in the drained canned mushrooms. I knew better when immediately after doing it but it was too late. My kids, even though they are grown, do not like big pieces of sliced mushrooms-I should have diced them too.

If you are following a low-fat diet, then drain your meat. If not, drain off whatever is excessive to you. ;) As I mentioned already, I added a bit of coconut oil to mine since I’m following a keto diet.

Add in the remaining ingredients and combine.

Ground Meat and Green Bean Casserole ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is at this point that you put it in the oven to bake until it’s nice and bubbly. SO, if you put it in a 2-2.5 quart greased casserole dish, it will take about 40 minutes. WHEN I remember to allow enough time to bake it, I prep it in my cast iron skillet and just put the skillet into the oven. My skillet has more surface area than my 2.5 quart casserole dish, so it takes a little less time for it to bake and get all bubbly.

However, as I mentioned earlier, when I forget to allow enough time to bake it, I simply lower the heat on my burner, put a lid on the skillet, and cook until it is bubbly.

Ground Meat and Green Bean Casserole ~ Lifeofjoy.meServe!

Ground Meat and Green Bean Casserole ~ Lifeofjoy.meThose nice browned bits are because I cooked it on the stovetop and it got a bit stuck but oh so yummy. :)

Ground Meat and Green Bean Casserole


  • 1 pound ground meat
  • 2 14-ounce cans French cut green beans, well-drained
  • 4 ounce can mushrooms, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 2.5 ounces)
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Brown the meat with the onion, celery, and mushrooms. (Drain the fat if desired.)
  2. Combine all ingredients.
  3. Transfer to a 2-2.5 quart greased casserole dish, if not using an oven safe skillet.
  4. Bake uncovered at 350º for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted.
  5. Original recipe said it serves 6. This serves the 4 of us adults with a little left over.

I got this recipe from the awesome website when I was on phase 3 of the hCg diet.

I hope you like this one.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Intimacy, Especially When You Don’t Feel Like It

Intimacy ~ Lifeofjoy.meToday’s post is written with mothers of young children in mind. I remember how tough it was to have children pulling on you all day. The cooking and the cleaning doesn’t get done by themselves either. When it comes time for bed, all you want to do is crash and get some rest before it starts all over again (or before the little one wakes you for an early morning feeding).

And then it happens . . . that wonderful man you married asks if you’d like to tango. ;) Don’t make the mistake I did and assume that he is just asking to be kind and that it doesn’t matter to him. If your man is anything like mine, he knows that you do a lot all day and does not want to just be another thing on your to-do list. To be quite frank, he wouldn’t ask if you wanted to, if he didn’t want (or maybe even need) to.

Of course it isn’t exclusive of mothers of young ones. Mature ladies can be hit with a very similar situation. You stay up later than he does, because you can’t sleep yet or just aren’t finished with a project or a book or . . . whatever it is you do . . . you finally go in and slip into bed, trying not to awaken him, as he needs his sleep and your eyes are burning tired. Then it happens, he reaches for you. You have a choice to make, brush him off and pretend you’ve already fallen asleep or give your sweetie a little love and attention.

In either case, the best thing to do is to let yourself relish in the love of your spouse. Seriously! Don’t fight it. Show him you love him. It doesn’t have to take an incredible amount of time; a quick dance isn’t a bad thing and then you can get to sleep in short order. But I’m here to tell you, the best thing you can do for your marriage is to show him some lovin’! And let’s face it, it isn’t like you won’t get some enjoyment out of it. ;)

Now, I know there are exceptions but for the most part, you will be doing yourself, your husband, and your marriage a great favor by doing so. You honey will feel important, loved, and respected and you will get some good rest.

It’s something to think about.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


New Traditions and Yummy Food

So  yeah, Liam was here last weekend! Isn’t he a cutie?

Liam ~ Lifeofjoy.meMichael picked him up on his way home from work and then Lauren came and got him several hours later. (I hope this will be a new tradition.)

He’s enjoying tummy time now; he went through a spell where he did not like it at all though. He crawls/scoots around in a circle and rolls over with ease now. I need to get him a few more toys to play with here though. I cannot wait for yard sales this year. You can find baby things so inexpensively!

Laim Scoots ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis is the first time Michael has picked up Liam; Lauren and I learned somethings from this. The biggest is that she either needs to text me or leave me notes in the diaper bag or I’m probably not going to get the message. ;) When she arrived to take him home,  he was not in his pajamas because Michael forgot to tell me to go ahead and put them on him after dinner. :o

We also realized, beyond all doubt, that I, grandma, need to get a highchair! Michael, grandpa, does not make a good one. ;)

Grandpa is not a good highchair ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis child really likes applesauce!

I was getting some snuggles in while Tiffany made dinner. She caught a picture of him watching her.

What's Auntie Tiff Doin? ~ Lifeofjoy.meHe was really drooling a lot too. Cutting teeth is slobbery hard work.

In other news, I took some process pictures for the Chicken Lasagna Florentine this week and should have that recipe updated before the day is out. It was really good and we found we could serve it on some more spinach, if desired, and with broccoli as a side dish; it really goes well with it.

Single serving Chicken Lasagna Florentine ~

And finally, we’ve started a new tradition with my parents this week. See, we used to go to their house every Sunday; I liked it that way. It was actually Michael that started it the year we got married. At any rate, over the last four years or so, it has dwindled down to once or twice a month, unless it is birthday season. ;) So, in an effort to stay connected with them, we decided to have them over for dinner once a month.

We did that for the first time this week. I had purchased a ham when it was on sale last month, so I decided to fix it. (I’ll be sharing that recipe eventually; didn’t take but one picture. :( ) Tiffany made the scalloped potatoes for me, while I made an attempt at scalloped cauliflower. I also made some green beans.

Ham ~ Lifeofjoy.meAfter dinner I fixed some blueberry cobbler. Everyone said they enjoyed it. I know I did. :)

Of course, I’m still bad at pictures. I got a couple of my parents walking out to the car to leave. That tickled Mom but the one of her looking at me laughing wasn’t a good picture, so this is all I got. :(Parents came to visit ~

Well, that’s my week! (Well, except for the part where we rearranged Tiffany’s room after running errands, which made for two tired gals.) I hope you have a good weekend. We shall!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Growing Crystals

Growing Crystals ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s winter and it may not feel much like winter where you are. Snow and ice remind me of crystals, so I thought it would be fun to share how to grow some crystals. The site I’m sharing with you today has several different methods for growing crystals. Some methods are very  quick, for those impatient little ones, and some take a bit more time, be it several hours or a couple of days. Some use readily available items you can purchase at the local grocery store and others require harder to locate ingredients.

I recommend the first four, as they use borax (found in the laundry section) or epsom salts, which can be found in the pharmacy department. The fourth one makes a geode, which seems pretty cool to me.

Growing Crystals ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis one uses simple salt and vinegar and gives a bit of explanation of how it works.


Here’s another collection of ideas.

Growing Crystals ~ Lifeofjoy.meYou could try several different methods and have your child/children log the similarities and differences in each method and length of time to form crystals. Don’t forget to have them look at the crystals with a magnifying glass or microscope. Or might be able to use a macro lens on a camera and zoom in to see it better on a computer screen.

Well, that’s enough for today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



iamthedivacztYesterday was Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day. I mention this because this week’s Diva Challenge is to use the logo for the the Moebius Syndrome Foundation. The diva’s son has this rare disorder, so she does this challenge each year. And a challenge it is for me because I struggle to draw it, as you will soon see. ;)

FB□1 ~ LifeofJoy.meThe Square One: Purely Zentangle and Shading Zentangle focus is Mak-Rah-Mee. I’ve wanted to try this one since I first saw it, although it hasn’t been all that long ago now; I just don’t take time to play with tangles often enough.

Anyway, I was thinking about how to go about incorporating the Moebius logo with Mak-Rah-Mee. Here’s what I came up with, unshaded first.

DC#300 + Mak-Rah-Mee ~ Lifeofjoy.meAs you can see, the Moebius Syndrome Foundation logo is those interwoven triangles at the bottom. It’s not perfect but there are no mistakes with Zentangle, right? Also that large strand on the right was also . . . uhhhh, an opportunity for some creativity? I guess I could have put a Bronx Cheer over it. ;)

I was inspired by to show at least one more work-in-progress scan.

DC#300 + Mak-Rah-Mee ~ Lifeofjoy.meHere’s the final version.

DC#300 + Mak-Rah-Mee ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy eyes started to blur a bit as I was about 3/4 finished, so it appears that I didn’t quite complete blending all of the shading. Oh well!

The comments on last week’s tile were so sweet! Thank you all! As always, you all are very encouraging!!! Thanks also to any of you that take the time to comment this week as well. The Zentangle community is great.

I hope you all have a great week.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Cheeseburger Soup ~

Cheeseburger Soup

This creamy ground meat soup is easily customized to your diet, be it low fat or high fat, with just a few tweaks. It is a low carb soup, full of flavor.

I found this soup over three years ago, somewhere online. I must’ve been on a low carb diet at the time because this one was both low fat and low carb. Now, this doesn’t exactly fit my current diet but it is close enough to adjust with just a few easy changes. The low carb works but the low fat does not, as keto is a high fat diet because you are in a state that your body is burning fat.

The recipe calls for ground turkey and this is what I used. However ground turkey is a low fat meat. Consequently, I added a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil as I was browning it. As it browns, add salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Cheeseburger Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meIf you are doing a low fat diet, drain off any fat.

Add chicken broth, basil, and veggies. When I made this the other day, I was out of fresh broccoli so I used a bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrot medley.

Cheeseburger Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meCheeseburger Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meBring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the veggies are tender or how you prefer them. (We do not like our cooked veggies crunchy.)

We also do not like big chunks of vegetables, so I break them up a bit. ;)

Cheeseburger Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meNow add heavy cream, half and half, or fat-free half and half depending on the level of fat you need in your diet. Also add in the shredded cheese at this time.

Cheeseburger Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meCheeseburger Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meRemove the pot from the heat and stir until the cheese is melted. DO NOT return it to heat or the cheese will probably separate and not be as creamy; it will still be edible but clumpy and maybe a little rubbery. ;)

Cheeseburger Soup ~

Serve as soon as the cheese is melted.

Cheeseburger Soup ~ Lifeofjoy.meCheeseburger Soup ~

Cheeseburger Soup


  • 1 pound ground meat
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups each broccoli and cauliflower OR a small bag broccoli, cauliflower, carrot medley
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, half and half, OR fat-free half and half
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Brown the ground meat, season with salt, pepper, and onion powder. (If you need it low fat, remove the drippings but if you use ground turkey and you need the fat, add a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil.)
  2. Add chicken broth, basil, and veggies.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are desired tenderness.
  5. Add cream and cheese. Remove from heat immediately.
  6. Stir until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve!

I hope you understand the different options on how to make this according to your dietary needs and it wasn’t confusing. Enjoy!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

St. Valentine’s Day Planning

Being Wife and Mom ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s hard to start thinking about what I will do for Michael for Valentine’s Day already. I mean, really . . . I just finished the twelve days of Christmas a little over two weeks ago. But plan I must! Because if I don’t begin giving it some thought now, it will be here before I know it and I’ll be caught off-guard, with no plans . . . and that just won’t do.

Of course, if it hadn’t be been for the Christian marriage blogs that I follow, I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought yet. The Generous Wife has a countdown going on her site and on her facebook page, which is very helpful. She had some good ideas and tips the last week. It’s a really good encouragement to me.

At any rate, it’s time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day and what I’m going to do for Michael and the kids. I’ve always liked to do something for the kids that day, so that they feel special and aren’t in a hurry to find a boyfriend/girlfriend. At this point I’ve done it so long, I don’t want to stop it . . . it just wouldn’t be right.

I like to make something red for dinner that day. Of course, I love spaghetti, lasagna, and pizza, so it works for me. Of course being on the keto diet, I will have to change things up a bit. I guess any soup that has tomatoes, tomato paste, or tomato sauce would do as well.

I have written letters to the kids in the past. On year I forgot that I did that and Tiffany was very saddened by the omission. I’ve tried to remember ever since. ;)

I think I’ve mentioned before that Michael prefers homemade cards rather than purchased ones, so I generally make him one. Usually I tangle it.

When I can, I like to buy something little for everyone. Usually it’s just something inexpensive from Dollar Tree or such. I found some unique little things for Sean and Tiffany this year. Now I just have to find something for Michael. At least I’m thinking about it now and it won’t sneak up on me. :)

Well, I’m going to run for now. I hope I’ve encouraged you to think about what you plan to do for your loved ones for the ‘Love’ holiday. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Iciness, the Van, and Blog Updates

It rained last Friday and Saturday but Friday night the temperatures dropped and the rain froze. I guess, since the trees look like this . . .

Iced Branches ~ Lifeofjoy.meit must have been freezing rain. At least we didn’t get a whole lot of it and it is quite pretty. Don’t you think?

Some are Icy and Some are not ~

The poor cedar trees! At least they aren’t bent way over like they have been in past years.

I love how some of the ‘grasses’ are iced over a lot and some are not. The whiteness of the branches, in the background,  with ice on them is so pretty. I’m just glad it wasn’t any more than it was, so we didn’t lose any branches.

Here’s a close-up of those ‘grasses’.

Pretty Iciness ~ Lifeofjoy.meI think it’s pretty cool. :)

Iciness Beauty ~

By the way, see the Cedar trees on the right side of the above picture? Michael transplanted those trees up there when we moved out here, twelve years ago. I’m amazed how tall they are because they were under a foot tall when he moved them.

So, Michael went out to go to work Monday morning, after really feeling like he should stay home; it wasn’t a feeling he could pinpoint so he ignored it. He went out to start his work van and it wouldn’t start. He tried multiple times and nothing!

There was nothing to do but have it towed to the mechanic. We live in the country and take our vehicles to a country mechanic, not some city shop. ;) Problem is, his is the only name on the AAA card, so he had to be here until the tow truck left. Well, by that time it was  late enough that he decided to just stay home.

Unfortunately the mechanic couldn’t look at the van until Wednesday afternoon. Larry said it started right up! Seriously! There was nothing wrong with it. So, Sean drove Michael over to pick it up yesterday morning and he said it had just a slight hesitation but fired right up. Totally crazy! Needless to say, we are very thankful that we didn’t have to pay to get it fixed after all.

I un-Christmased the blog this week. I was looking for something Valentine’sey and settled on the Bleeding Hearts and a pink background. Of course, that made some of the items hard to read so I had to change those as well. It’s never just as simple as changing up one thing for me. ;)

I hope to have a few more changes next week, as well as fixing one of the changes I made this week. :D When you hover over a link it does this cool highlight text thing but unfortunately, it is not so cool on my banner up top. Thus, I need to find how to keep that one from following that command or just eliminate it all together. AND, I also have to change the favicon. That’s the one bad thing about having my son do things for me, when I need to update it, I’m at his mercy. ;)

Well, I guess I’ve rambled enough for today. We are getting to spend some time with Liam this evening! Whoo hoo! I bet I’ll have some pictures next week. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Pluto and our Solar System

Solar System ~ Lifeofjoy.meI was one that was taught that our solar system had nine planets. See that tiny dot on the right end? Pluto. Yes, the planet Pluto.

So, after doing a little research for my sissy, I found that from 1979-1999 Pluto was the eighth planet from the sun because of its odd orbit. This orbit is one of the things that has caused the controversy over whether to call Pluto a planet or not.

When they demoted it to a Dwarf Planet in 2006, I did not like it at all. I believe when we did anything with planets any time after that, I told the children that I’d been taught it was a planet and now they say it isn’t. I don’t believe we went into it too much because although I am open-minded, I am a bit stubborn. ;) But it has now been 10 years and they haven’t changed their minds, so I guess it’s time to bend. ;)

I found a good and informative but easy to ready website to help with this information. Here’s a link to the page on It’s really good because it puts the info about the reasons behind Pluto’s demotion right up front, followed by info about dwarf planets, and then a bit more down near the bottom with the information on Pluto itself. It also has a few details about each of the planets. I found it quite interesting.

I felt that was enough information but if this topic is interesting to your child, you might want to let him/her check out this website. Now, I will tell you that right on the main page it says that Pluto is the ninth planet. It was last copyrighted 2015, so I think this may be the reason why. However, it does mention that some don’t consider Pluto the ninth planet and talks about it more on the page dedicated to Pluto. I think it would be good to show this to your children because then you can talk about why it might have different information, how you cannot just take the word of one website, and show them how to look for the copyright (usually at the bottom of the page). All of this helps with critical thinking and teaching them not to take everything they read as fact. This website also has some coloring pages and a planets quiz.

While I was looking for a picture to post with this post, I found some other interesting pictures. Some of them would make a great picture for your children to make up a story about. You can put whatever requirements you want on the paper/story they write or you can just let them go wherever their imagination takes them. Maybe they’ll just use the picture as a basis for some imaginary playtime later, or maybe they’ll want to use several of them. There really are some nice ones here.

I hope you enjoy and I hope this helps, Little Sis!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Lollywimple and DraWing

iamthedivacztThe Diva Challenge was on hiatus when the DraWing tangle with its step-out was released last month. Thus it hadn’t been used as a Diva Challenge yet, so this week, here it is. I am less than enthusiastic about this because I have not yet quite made friends with this tangle. When I follow the official step out, I get something that looks scribbly and prickly almost; definitely not something that would be thought of as wings. As I mentioned last month when it was the focus of most of the other groups I participate in, there was one video tutorial available to help me out. I watched it again before attempting today’s tile. :)

I haven’t played with it any more, probably because I don’t really care for how it turns out for me. But thankfully, the focuses and challenges I participate in push me to do so. Thus, today I get another go at it. ;)

FB□1 ~ LifeofJoy.meSquare One: Purely Zentangle and Shading Zentangle’s focus for the week is Lollywimple by Sandy Hunter. Once again, I didn’t follow the directions very well so it was a bit like crescent moon to me but I like all she shows you can do with it. I may give it another whirl sometime soon. (The part of the directions I did not follow was to aura some sections a couple times before doing others, thus creating some great overlap. Sure wish I’d have done that but there’s always next time.)

Once again, I tried to incorporate a bit of overlap between my tangles but then didn’t do anything with it. Also, they didn’t overlap very much. Just an honest assessment, not being hard on myself. I like to find areas for improvement so that I can continue to grow and develop my skills. :)

So, here is my tile before any shading occurred.

#DC299 ~ Lifeofjoy.meI do like how I varied the sizes of the orbs for Lollywimple.

Here’s the finished tile.

#DC299 ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhere should I have added overlap shading? I considered some cast shadows but erased them because it was clear that I was not doing it right. :D I’d also appreciate any suggestions on DraWing.

I want to thank you all for so many kind comments last week! Sure does pay to get the link in early. ;) You all are great and very encouraging!!! Thanks so much!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº