Daily Focus ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Photography Elective

I recently found out that my niece is interested in photography. I remember sharing a link some time ago (five years ago) to a Charlotte Mason approach to studying photography as a high school elective, here.

If your child/student is interested in photography, I’d stick with the suggestions on Dollie’s site. Then if your student enjoys that and still has interest you could use one of the free photography classes available online (from the links Dollie has on her site with the other suggestions).

It wouldn’t be necessary to get and use an expensive camera. Many students have a cell phone and most of those have good cameras in them. So the ideas suggested on Dollie’s site can be followed using a cell phone camera and finally printing the ones you want in the end. (We print at Wal-Mart but you could use the place you usually print photos.)

I hope this gives you some good ideas for you child that is interested in photography. And don’t forget to ask your student what they are interested in taking pictures of. Remember, the point behind this is to find your child’s interest and develop it.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Inktober Week 2 Doodah and Cadent

Well, my Inktober is not going well! It’s more of a Movietober. ;) We’ve been watching a lot of chick flicks and very little art has been done. But I did get one piece done using two of the week’s tangles: Doodah and Cadent.

I’d originally planned to use some of my inks and my calligraphy pen. I started with a bristol vellum tile but then decided to just use a black inkpen.

Here’s the scan of my tile before shading.

Here is the picture I took of it in natural light. :)

Here’s the scan of the tile after shading.

The sun had gone down by the time I got it shaded. So I had to take this picture the best I could.

I liked both the process of doing this tile and how it turned out.

I hope your Inktober is going better than mine. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Taco Hamburger Helper

Some time ago I came across this “hamburger helper” recipe on Robin Brookshire’s website Mamashire. She has two versions: Italian and Taco. We love both versions. I’m sharing the taco version today.

Her version uses shredded cabbage but Michael isn’t doing well with cabbage right now, and thus not wanting to eat cabbage. But cabbage adds some good bulk and veggies, so I felt another veggie was needed. I went with ‘riced’ cauliflower.

Start by browning ground meat. We use ground turkey because Michael cannot have beef.

Meanwhile put 1/4 of an onion and a zucchini cut into chunks in the food processor and pulse cut them to small bits but not pureed.

Add it to the meat and saute until softened. I steam a bag of cauliflower, pulse it in the food processor. Then add it with the spices, salsa, and water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt (nonfat is good if you need to make it a bit lighter) or sour cream and more nutritional yeast, if desired.

Pop over to Robin’s site for the full recipe.

I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we do.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Maybe it is Time to Just Be Silent and Pray

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am opinionated and mouthy, especially to my husband. This is not a trait I’m proud of and one I am ready to confront.

You may recall that we are looking for a new church home. Between that and our middle son moving out of our home (but still on our property), I have seen the error of my ways. ;)

The other night a situation arose where I would have normally jumped in to referee between hubby and son but instead, I just shut my mouth (for the moment). Of course after Sean left to go back to his home, I blew whatever progress I had made by erupting at Michael.

In my defense, it had been an emotional day for me and don’t want to lose my grown children. But that is no excuse. I need to grow up and put everything in God’s hands . . . and pray about these situations.

Sometimes the best thing I can do is shut up. But of course, pray too.

I hope this encourages you today. If you are in a situation where the thing you SHOULD do is not say anything, know that you are not alone. God will help us! We just have to ask Him to. Of course, when I pray, I also pray for God to change me where I am wrong and change the other party (be it Michael or one of my grown children or even any other person) where they are wrong.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Books~ Lifeofjoy.me

Books, Reading, Fall Food, and Dogsitting

Wow! Another week has passed and I really don’t have much to tell. I finished the Mistborn Series last month. I really enjoyed it but definitely didn’t see the end coming, in spite of being spoiled for some bits (including the ending).

I have to say, I am glad Tiffany gave me the spoilers she did. I’m generally a person that doesn’t ever believe someone dies for good. ;) I read a lot of sci-fi so I generally expect my characters to make a dramatic re-appearance. :D

I’ve also been reading the Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I’m enjoying it so far. I’m on book five but they are young adult or juvenile fiction, so they aren’t as long as those Sanderson books I read last month that had over 700 pages each. :D I’m reading these on my kindle and enjoying how swiftly I am getting through them.

The Missing is a time travel series with mostly 13 year olds as the main point of view. It’s been fun to discover different time periods and Haddix has really made it clear in the afterward where she took creative license and what was true. She even shared some conflicting information she found and why she chose the versions she did.

Tiffany made some pumpkin desserts the other day. It was nice to have her feeling up to baking again. It’s been a while since she has felt up to it and found desserts light enough to make. The recipes she made were from Briana Thomas’s second cookbook, Convenient Food. One was pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and the other, which was scrumptious, was pumpkin torte.

I’ve been playing my hidden object game a bit too much lately. I’m in a group/guild that is very active. I have leveled up several times in the last several weeks and prior to joining this group, I did not level up nearly that often.

I’ve been having a hard time with motivation and follow-through in doing nearly everything else . . . sad to admit.

We’ve been watching Eureka again. I love this show. It is kind of like The Andy Griffith Show but with a sciency twist. We finished watching the Stargate series. We still have a movie to watch but it’s not our favorite, so we’ve skipped it at this point.

Tiff put up our fall decor! Nothing is more hygge than the orange lights we put up under our kitchen cabinets. :) Maybe I can get Tiffany to take a picture or two of them. I’m not very good at pictures, so I like to let her take them. ;)

Tiffany is dog sitting for my parents for another few days. They went to visit family and friends in Florida and then on to their happy place: Myrtle Beach where my sister and her girls joined them for a few days. Hutch is their goldendoodle and we just love him. :)

He cracks me up because he’ll come over and put his paw on top of my hand. It’s even funnier when he turns his head away, not looking at you. I just here “I wanna hold your hand…” in my head. :D

Well, that enough from me this week. I hope you have a good weekend. Hopefully Michael will get our bathroom tub finished this weekend! Oh happy day! :D

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Should I Allow My Child to Read Books with Magic in Them?

Today’s post is guest authored by my daughter, Tiffany Michele. I hope it is helpful to you and your family. You can find her on Instagram here.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

So you’ve come across a game, movie, or book that you want to enjoy. But low and behold…magic.

Yeah it can suck to have this happen. But let me share with you something my mother had us kids do as children.

“How can you explain it not being magic or witchcraft?”

We kids took that question as a personal challenge and ended up coming up with scenarios that feel so real to me that I forget that it isn’t Cannon.

“Well you see, Mom. They have nanites in their blood that gives them abilities to freeze water by affecting the molecules around them!” or “So they have this device in their brain that allows them to move things with their minds!” and “See their ‘Wand’ or ‘Staff’ has technology in it that only works if you say the password for the ability you want to use!”

If our arguments were convincing enough, then we could play, read, or watch what we wanted. Though usually during this if my mom would look over and see a new ‘Spell’ or something she would sorta quiz us on it.

Just to see if our minds were in the right place.

I remember when we were using potions in Kingdom Hearts she looked over and was like: “Well how do you explain that?”

And me and my brothers were like: “Oh hohoho. We have explanations.” We went on to theorize that Potions were simply herbal concoctions. And the more powerful ones may or may not be imbued with nanites that can help heal you or heighten your senses creating a ‘Luck Up’ effect. (this explanation was easy to reach due to having read the Warrior Cats books that deal with Herbs and also having been fed a steady diet of Sci-Fi all our lives.)

As you can tell, I still remember these explanations. And honestly they weren’t hard to come up with. My brothers and I usually made them up on the spot. We didn’t spend much time thinking about them. We just were like: “Well here’s a logical explanation,” and that was that.

To this day I’ll find myself almost subconsciously doing this, making up explanations for ‘Magic’ and the like.

(Sometimes like with Narnia or Lord of the Rings we said ‘God blessed them’ and that was that.)

Instead of saying or thinking: “Oh no. Witchcraft etc. things! I must not let my child view this because they will think it’s real.” Challenge your child, like my mom challenged us. Take it as a learning experience and let your child come up with an answer. (We did not by any means win every debate. Sometimes we had to lick our wounds before trying again. Pokemon was one we never won until we were late teens, and then we didn’t even want to play it! It was just the principle of the matter . . . )

Kids are smart. And with the right carrot at the end of the stick, they can come up with really convincing arguments.

Personally I’m going to do this with my own kids. I’m not going to let them play Kingdom Hearts without a good explanation. I’m not gonna spoon feed them my own hard won victory. They have to do their own reasoning.

And that’s really good for them.

I will add that sometimes when we would watch certain things (like Krats Kreatures or movies with unexpected bad language) that were iffy, my parents would say: “That’s not true!” or “Bad word!” so much so that whenever we kids heard it we would start saying: “Bad word!” and “That’s not true!”

Also there were some things that even if we had an agreement for it, my parents did not let us watch it. Disney Princess movies were one of these things (though personally I don’t remember coming up with an explanation for Princesses, as a Tomboy it wasn’t my thing).

And that’s my rant. Hope it was helpful!


Inktober 1-6 2020

Well, I didn’t exactly do some art every day. :( But I did create three pieces.

The first is day had the prompt tangles of Flux and Jester from my first two lists and then #doodlewashoctober2020 had the prompt of night. So I decided to use a black tile and a white gelly roll pen.

Day two I incorporated all three tangle prompts: Jackstripes, Snelly, and Ondalina. I wanted to try out my shimmery inks I got for Christmas last year and my dip pen too. I chose a blue one because Ondalina looks like waves.

This is my first ever attempt with this pen, so the tile isn’t that great. AND I didn’t feel like doing any shading that day. I am very happy with the pen and nib. The letter “class” I took at the beginning of the year was very helpful in using it. :)

I loved the weighted lines on the downstrokes of the waves. :) I may go back and add some shading with something later because I’m not liking how it looks very much. That might also be why I didn’t do another tile over the weekend. ;)

Here’s the scan. You can see I struggled with using the ink a bit but that’s okay.

Here’s a picture taken in natural light.

Over the weekend I did not do any art, nor on Monday. So yesterday I decided to combine the tangle prompts from Everything is Art (the first list I found) for days 3-6. So the tangles included are Anthem, Unbirthday, Pepper, and Henna Drum. Unbirthday was the new tangle for me on this day. I really like how this tile turned out. :)

Here’s the scan before shading.

Here is a picture I took outside while the sun was shining nicely, before I shaded it.

It was nice to go back to my comfort zone of black ink on white tile and pencil shading. :)

Here is the scan of the tile after shading and the picture taken outside.

I enjoyed shading with a regular pencil once again. :)

Looking forward to continuing with inktober.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Low Budge Menu Planning

Have you watched any of those extreme low budget weekly meal plans? I have and it always makes me feel guilty for how much I spend on groceries weekly, in spite of going to 4-5 different grocery stores to get the best deals. You see I go to WinCo, Sprouts, Aldi, Walmart and sometimes Dollar Tree and I get the best deals I can for eating sugar-free and healthy as possible.

Most of those videos I watch have them eating the same meals 3-5 times during the week. I understand why with one or two people eating for the week but I cook for four people and that means we eat an entire meal at one meal and seldom have any leftovers. So we can make a different meal each day rather than eating leftovers for several days.

Another thing I notice is the high use of carbs and not the healthy ones either; I’m talking white rice and egg noodles, both of which are very inexpensive. Healthy carbs are a bit more expensive.

So I’ve been thinking about this. Thankfully healthy carbs like brown rice, beans, and lentils can be eaten on the Trim Healthy Mama program and these items are inexpensive. Some aren’t as inexpensive as their unhealthy counterparts but we’re already used to paying a bit more for them.

I generally get boneless skinless chicken breast for under two dollars a pound, so this is a good meat option for us. I also get frozen ground turkey for $1.35 – $1.50/lb so this is another good meat option for us. Limiting our fresh veggies will be important because they can be a bit more pricey.

A couple of the plans I watched made their own bread and I love it so much, I’m planning to try it myself. :) It is very similar to a no-knead sourdough bread on Glenda’s website. Of course the whole wheat flour is more expensive than the white all-purpose flour.

Here are some menu ideas I have for this. I’ll make another post when I actually make a low budget menu and how much it ended up being for me.

  • taco rice
  • tortillas filled with leftover taco rice
  • cajun sausage, rice, and beans
  • pizza (using 2 ounces of mozzarella or some cottage cheese, chicken, and veggies on a homemade crust – I used a can of tomato paste watered down and seasoned for my pizza sauce.)
  • chicken, rice, and veggie soup
  • make a gravy with the ground turkey and serve over brown rice and add some veggies (e.g. canned green beans) – this one will be a crossover if you don’t drain and rinse the meat but could also be made with chicken breast.
  • chicken “fried” rice using the pepper stir fry package of frozen vegetables from Dollar Tree for the veggies and reducing the amount of oil used to 2 teaspoons for 4 servings.

So, that’s what I’ve come up with. I buy my rice in BULK at WinCo, so I have a 20 or 25# bag of it but you could do this with 1-2 pound bags as well.

I make another post when I actually follow this menu or modify it and use it some time in the next month or so. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Chili ~ LifeofJoy.me

“Make the Chili”

My daughter was on facebook recently when she saw this post and read it to me. It reminds me of something my friend told me quite a few years ago. You see I was struggling with my relationship with Michael. Don’t get me wrong, I love the man dearly, but it was that stage of life where I just realized we’d been having the same problems and arguments over and over and over again. I felt like he still had the same problems/faults he did when we first got married–ones we both thought he’d work through.

At this point, some nearly ten years later, I cannot even tell you what was frustrating me so badly but I asked God for help and wanted a ‘mentor,’ as such, to counsel me in my situation. There was a lady at church that really worshiped God with all her might AND I noticed that she seemed to ‘hear’ from God. So I asked her to come for lunch the next week and told her that I believe she is a woman of God and is led by Him and told her that I was hoping she would be able to speak into my life in regards to my marriage.

She came. We had a lovely visit. I think God had other things in mind for our day but before she left we did talk about what I wanted to. Her husband had passed away a few years prior and she missed him. She said the only advice she had for me was to think about how I would feel if Michael were gone. That is a sobering thought. And it fits in with the story Tiff read me on facebook.

Make the Chili
By Pam Berg
A good friend of mine unexpectedly lost her husband. A couple of months later we were going for a run together, chatting about nothing. She asked me what my dinner plans were. I told her my hubby wanted chili, but I didn’t feel like stopping at the store. We ran on for a few more minutes when she quietly said, “make the chili.’
It took me a few minutes to realize we were no longer taking about dinner. It was about going out of your way to do something for someone you love because at any moment, they could unexpectedly be taken from you.
So today, I’m sharing with you the wisdom handed to me by my dear friend. I’ve thought of it many times since that day. The next time someone you love wants you to go for a walk, watch some football or play a board game, just put your phone down and give them your undivided attention. Just do it. Make the chili.
1 Cor 10:24
No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

(copied from Glen’s Story Hour on facebook)

I hope this encourages you to keep things in perspective and do what you may not really want to do just because.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Brown Mum's ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Church Search, Weather, Art, Holiday Prep, and Planning

Well, this week has mostly been one of bare minimums. ;) I don’t feel like I’ve done very much this week beyond the things I really needed to do either in the home or for the blog.

Last Sunday we visited another church last Sunday. The people were so kind and welcoming . . . all 7 cars of them. There were less than 25 people there . . . it felt like we’d just gone to a nursing home for a meeting . . . they were mostly in their 70s and 80s. The fiddle player was 85 and the pianist was about 82. :)

They were incredibly nice. They gave each of us a small gift before we left. They really were very welcoming! However, Tiffany is 23 and is looking for a spouse and there are absolutely ZERO options there. So obviously, that will not be the church we settle in for now. :)

There’s another church not too far away that we are considering visiting but we’ve had the durnedest time getting service times. When we were in service Sunday they finally returned Michael’s call asking for the service times. Thankfully his phone was on silent. :)


Thankfully the weather has gotten the memo that it is now autumn and the temperatures are coming down. We’ve still gotten some hot days but most are nice with temps only high in the 70s. :)

Since the weather is cooling off and it is October, I am now eager to get my fall decorations up. I’m also glad to start eating some soups. I don’t know about you but I have a hard time eating soup if I have to have a fan on. :D


Today is October 2nd which means it is the second day of Inktober. For me this simply is a time to focus on art and try to do some art every day this month. It also means, it is probably going to be using Zentangle or Zentangle-like patterns. I’ll be sharing my art on Wednesdays but I may also be sharing on Instagram and/or facebook.

I got my bullet journal ready for fall too. September was a very bad month for productivity and my bullet journal is proof. ;) There is all of 2 or 3 pages of September and that includes my September planning page. It was pretty pitiful. :(

I’m also looking forward to doing another Bob Ross painting with Tiffany this month. Hopefully we can get two done.

Holiday Prep

October is our big push for getting Christmas presents purchased. Of course this means that we have to get our Christmas lists made. I’m a good example and got mine done. But Tiffany was the first one to get her list done. Others are slowly getting theirs done but as you might imagine, the guys in the family are the slowest to do so. :D.

Website Planning

I’m beginning to think about next year. I’d love to say that I’m going to work on updating this website but realistically it isn’t going to happen until after the holidays and the first of the year. But it is something I’m feeling a desire to push through and get accomplished. ;) So hopefully, I’ll be motivated to do it in the new year.

I’m going to run for today. I hope you have a great weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº