Aunt-Niece Day

The weekend after we celebrated Brian and Liam’s birthday, I had an Aunt/Niece Day with my youngest sister’s girls while she took Tiffany out to lunch. They had a good time, as did we.

The girls and I started with making lunch. Tracie has told me that they enjoy cooking or would like to cook more, so I figured we’d make our lunch together. Ashlee likes chicken nuggets and she’s the oldest, so I let her do that with my help.

Making chicken nuggets ~ Lifeofjoy.meShe did a great job cutting cutting the breast into pieces. Then she followed the easy directions of adding beaten egg and then the add the breading ingredients. Then fried it, all with my supervision.

Macie likes vegetables and cheese, so I thought she’d like to do the broccoli tots.

Making broccoli tots ~ Lifeofjoy.meShe too did a great job. I helped her prep the ingredients and then she mixed and formed the tots, with supervision. I put them in the air fryer but let them cook a few minutes too long and some of them were overdone. But rest assured, none were tossed. ;) Some were leftover for the guys to eat upon their return from work that night.

Homemade lunch ~

It was a tasty lunch and fun cooking together.

Lunch with nieces ~ Lifeofjoy.meAfter we ate and cleaned up our mess, it was artsy time. :) I pulled out my beloved washi tape, pens, pencils, markers, inks, stencils, and stickers. I gave them each a bookmark and they decorated any way they wanted.

Washi tape, paint, etc. ~ Lifeofjoy.meI think they had fun.

Niece Craft Time ~ Lifeofjoy.meThey are so used to pictures being taken. They’d pause and pose so quickly, all with a big smile. :)

Discovering the washi ~ Lifeofjoy.meMacie is a bit quicker with her crafting (well, with everything . . . she reminds me of Tiffany in that regard). If you look closely at the picture above you can see Ashlee’s just barely begun on her bookmark but that Macie’s has been painted and is sitting to dry. She as done several other pieces as well and even put a second coat of ink on the bookmark all in the same time Ashlee has spend on hers. I’m definitely more like Ashlee. ;)

Quite the crafter ~ Lifeofjoy.meYeah, they tolerated me taking some quick pictures and obliged me with some smiles. :)

When they were finished with their works of art, we moved on to a board game. But first, Macie and I whipped up some ice cream in the ice cream maker. I used a recipe from the booklet for regular ice cream for them . . .  because I’m a good aunt and won’t make them go sugar-free while they are here.

Ice Cream and board game ~ Lifeofjoy.meI had magic skinny chocolate nuts while they ate their ice cream. I enjoyed the Mario Monopoly game. I don’t usually care for Monopoly but this one is different and fun.

The girls spent the night, enjoying some cousin time (and some Uncle time too). They got to play games with the cousins. Tiffany was a trooper and played a lot, even though she felt miserable. She’d come down with some nasty sinus yuck and even got feverish before the weekend was over. She ended up sharing that nastiness with Sean and I, which wasn’t very fun. Thankfully Tracie said they took some E-merGenC and didn’t get anything. Whew! So glad.

Gaming with cousins ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt was a fun time! We’ll do it again next year. ;) (Yeah, I’m real . . . I’d love to say before the end of the year but I know better; it’ll be next year before we do another full one like this.) But I have made plans to be a cool aunt and have them spend the night more often. We’ll see how that goes.

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my life. It was a special time.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Writing Tips and Ideas and Finding Outdated Links

I’ve been combing through some of my old bookmarks and such to find things to share each week. I have found some of them are missing. Thankfully, most things are not lost forever, thanks to the internet archive. :) You simply copy the link you were attempting to access, go to and then paste it in the Wayback Machine and click enter. It will open up a calendar page.

Internet Archive ~

Click on one of the highlighted dates.

How to use internet archive ~

Sometimes it won’t produces any good results, so you click the left arrow. how to ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhich in this case will bring you to this page for the link I wanted to share. :) It is 15 grammar goofs. It includes words that are frequently confused with handy ways to remember which is the correct usage.

The other link I wanted to share with you today is a quick writing tip. The author found an easy, painless way to get her child, who normally bemoans any writing at all, to write effortlessly. She shares that having her child make a wacky list was the key. Head on over and read her succinct post. She also has a free printable with some list ideas for you. :) I think it’s a cute idea and will give your kids  fun writing activity to look forward to in their week. Hey, maybe one of the lists they could make is a list of lists. :D

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



This week I wasn’t sure I was going to get a tile done but I was able to without much wrist pain. However, shading was where I was a bit challenged. I guess I press my pencil differently when I shade than I press my pen when I draw.

At any rate, I used the Square One: Purely Zentangle focus tangle of Fan Club but did not do it justice. I will have to play with it a bit more because I do like the tangle quite a lot but I just did not do it justice here today. I cannot seem to get the right sizing on the “petals” and I cannot squeeze as many on each fan as the step-out. I think I like it best with the outer aura and extra orbs.

Then I used Calantha which was the focus tangle on Pattern-Collections yesterday. I didn’t do this one justice either. It seems that I was not in a pointy/jagged mood of drawing. Now that I think about it I should have adjusted it and added some rounded “petals” instead of the pointed ones. Hmmm, well, maybe I will go back and play with this one again.

The final tangle I included was today’s focus tangle, Cupcake Flower, on Pattern-Collections. At first I thought it resembled Zinger quite a bit and wasn’t sure I would like this one very much but since Chris had written such a good piece when introducing Fan Club as the Square One: Purely Zentangle focus tangle for the week, I decided to give it a go anyway.

I have to tell you, I LOVED IT! It is so easy to get into a flow with this one. You simply must give it a try. If I’d have had more room on my tile, I probably would have drawn a few more. :) It really is good.

Here is my tile before shading.

Fan Club, calantha, Cupcake Flower ~ Lifeofjoy.meThat big cupcake flower on the left was my first attempt and I wasn’t getting it, so I kind of finished it off like Zinger. ;) But with the next one, I caught the flow of the tangle.

And here it is after being shaded. I’m calling it Butterflies because the Fan Club resembles butterflies to me, the way I’ve drawn them (with not enough ‘petals’;).

Shaded Butterfly Tile ~ Lifeofjoy.meHere it is a bit smaller, showing less imperfections. ;)

Shaded Butterfly Tile ~ Lifeofjoy.meUnfortunately, it was late by the time I got this finished and had no more sunlight to take a photo of it. Maybe I’ll get one soon and add it here.

I appreciate you stopping by and comments; it means a lot that you take your time to do so.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Baked Okra ~

Baked or Oven “Fried” Okra

Don’t like slimy okra? Then this is for you. :) Okra has so many benefits that it is worth trying.

Yep, you read that right. AND I’m going to go ahead and say it, these pictures aren’t that great. The okra probably looks overcooked to you but let me just say, that’s how we like it, at least Tiffany and I. :) There are some vegetables that just need to be DEAD when I eat them. :) I like them better that way. Generally speaking, over time, I can enjoy them less dead.

The thing about okra is that I don’t like the sliminess of it when it isn’t completely cooked. It has to get dried out. :) Now, that level of “dried out” is different for each person. So, just adjust this picture to see it how brown YOU like it.

One thing I’ve learned with recipes is that people like quick and easy. This is one of those recipes. But like many of my recipes, it isn’t really a recipe. ;)

So here’s what we do.

Line a pan with foil. Because we like ours well done and that leaves its mark on the pan, so for easy clean-up we line the pain with foil.

Line pan with foil ~ Lifeofjoy.meNext, dump on desired amount of frozen okra pieces.

Frozen Okra ~ Lifeofjoy.meDrizzle with some coconut oil.

Add coconut oil ~ Lifeofjoy.meAdd seasoning of choice, we use a generic Mrs. Dash kind of seasoning.

Season Okra ~ Lifeofjoy.meSprinkle with salt.

Add salt to okra ~ Lifeofjoy.meStir it all around to get it evenly coated. Tiffany likes to just get in there and use her hands but you could use a rubber spatula if you so desire. ;)

stir to coat evenly ~ Lifeofjoy.mePut in air fryer, toaster oven, convection oven, or regular oven and bake until desired browning has occurred. Ours takes about 20 minutes on 450º. It would probably be a toastier brown if we weren’t always so impatient and baked it on like 350-400º for about 30 minutes or so. (We use air bake–which is convection–in our toaster oven/air fryer.)

baked okra ~ Lifeofjoy.meYou see that green part on the edges? Yeah, that went back in after we removed the nicely burnt ones to our mouths. ;)

It really is easy. If you are trying to time it for a meal, give yourself 30-45 minutes depending on amount and method of baking. You can always keep it in the oven, with the heat turned off while the other things finish cooking.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Hopes and Dreams

Hopes and Dreams ~ Lifeofjoy.meA couple weeks ago I talked about inspiring your man. To do so, you have to have knowledge of his hopes and dreams.

I’m guessing that when you and your spouse were dating, you talked about all kinds of things. You probably talked about how you both felt about different topics from where you wanted to live to having children. Those are some hopes and dreams that you may have created together.

If you’re Christian, you may have talked about your giftings and callings. I know in my life these are very important to me and are also things that guide my life. So these are also good things to talk about.

In order to properly inspire your spouse, you need to know his hopes and dreams. Knowing his giftings and callings is also helpful. Of course, prayer is of utmost importance, so that as things arise, you both KNOW if it is something God wants you to do or now. Sometimes God has things for you to do individually and sometimes there are things that you must do jointly. Then there are some things that are your thing but your spouse can help you and vice versa.

Knowing what your hubby’s hopes and dreams, giftings and callings are enable you to encourage and inspire him. This takes communication. :) When was the last time you talked about any of these things. I’m not talking about things that you are pushing for, like maybe getting a new vehicle or house but things that are important to him. Be sure to pray about these things and be an encouragement when things get tough.

I hope you’ll remember to talk to your hubby about his and your hopes and dreams sometime soon.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Birthday Weekend Continued

Prior to Brian, Lauren, and Liam coming for the weekend last time, we purchased a new high chair, very reasonably priced at Walmart for under $40. Yes, I could have gotten a better deal at thrift stores, garage sales, craigslist, and such but we were short on time and the nearest ones to us had none. Also, the old high chair we had was wood and hard and Liam did not like sitting in it. We decided it was time for a change.

High Chair ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s really cool because it folds down and can be hidden away until it is needed again.

folded high chair ~ lifeofjoy.meWell, little dude had been riding in the car for 2 hours, then not long after getting here it was time to sit at the table and eat. He was not happy about it and pitched quite the fit. Then the poor fellow had to get in the carseat once again to go 15 minutes to my sister’s home to celebrate with extended family. By the time we got home several hours later and it was dinner time, he had a melt down where the high chair was concerned. :o

When the kids come and spend a Saturday night with us, we tend to not go to church the next morning, so that we can enjoy time with them and a leisurely breakfast. Well, we decided that because he is such a social kid, maybe his problem with the high chair was that he wasn’t at the table with us. So, we tried this taking the tray off and pushing him up to the table. That didn’t work either. So at Sunday morning breakfast we tried this . . .

high chair at table ~ Lifeofjoy.meHe was happier but still not really thrilled. He’s been able to sit on people’s laps at our house for so long and that is what he likes to do here. He sits in a high chair at home perfectly fine but here. Oh my! :p Oh well, this too shall pass.

There were lots of good moments. :) He is used to having some daddy time on Saturdays, since Lauren used to work Friday nights and got some sleep then. He was quite the daddy’s boy while he was here too.

Daddy and son ~ Lifeofjoy.meSean was a good fill-in for his daddy; giving Brian a needed break.

guys play video game ~ Lifeofjoy.meAunt Tiffany got some cuddle time too. :)

aunt cuddle time ~ Lifeofjoy.meHe loved his horse that Sean got him for his birthday.

Liam on rocking horse ~ Lifeofjoy.meLiam on rocking horse ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s sooo fun to see him play. :)

He like cleaning tools. He got very busy in the utility room.

Grandson with mop  ~ Lifeofjoy.meHe was enamored with the dryer. I stood by making sure he didn’t end up doing anything crazy. ;) We played some ball . . . it’s our thing.

Playing ball with grandson ~

I made some homemade sugar free ice cream before they left Sunday afternoon.

son and grandson love ice cream  ~ Lifeofjoy.meYeah, it was a hit.

When it was time to go, he was definitely ready. He decided to help Brian put his shoes on. :D

grandson helps dad with shoes  ~ Lifeofjoy.meThere was much cuteness which made the difficult times bearable. ;) He’s a sweetie and I miss him so much.

I think that is enough pictures for one week. So I’ll run for now. I hope you have a great weekend. I intend to.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Year Long Travel Quest

travelling adventure ~ Lifeofjoy.meHere is a fun little activity to help teach your children some research skills and find some interesting places of the world. There are 36 weekly sites with clues and of course their answers. The goal is to identify the name and location of where the intrepid traveler Mrs. Waffenschmidt has traveled.

The first week I would talk about it with your child and work through it together. Probe them, see what their ideas are and give them ideas of what to search for, if they are stumped. You can also talk about how they could find the information without the internet. ;)

Here they have some ideas for how to use this in a classroom setting that you may be able to utilize but I’d just use it as a fun research activity for your kids.

Of course, this is a free resource online and as such, the answers are provided online also. So they do have some ideas if that happens.

I hope you enjoy this interesting geography study one place at a time. You could even use it as a jumping off point for other study if you so desired.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Art Inspiration

DC#356 Name Tangling ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’ve been battling some wrist issues lately that makes writing and drawing a bit painful. I am in the process of overcoming this but I also had to fight some horrible sinus mess that had my head aching, with special focus on my ears. NOT GOOD!!! Seriously folks, I was miserable!!! Anyway, it was just too much for me to deal with to attempt to draw too.

So, I decided to share some of my favorite artists with you.

I guess I should start with Rick and Maria, the creators of Zentangle. I learned about this art form from a fellow home educator who was teaching a monthly art class. :) I’m so thankful to Cheryl for introducing me to this easy art form that has been so meaningful in my life. I’m also thankful to Rick and Maria for using the time honored technique of stepouts that makes it so easy to obtain good results. Sometimes it is better to see the tangle drawn but most of the time the stepouts is enough.

One of the first to make an impact on me was Sandy Kelley-Jones. I don’t know her in real life (irl) but she added such contrast with a lot of black inked backgrounds. Just gorgeous. She inspired me. (I loved her work before she even became a CZT. :) ) Turns out she is friends with the lady that does our Tulsa Zentangle Group, Pam. :) What a nice coincidence. Sandy created a closed facebook group where members share their daily tangles; it is aptly named Today’s Tangles.

Eni Oken is another that has left her mark on me. Although she was an artist before finding Zentangle so she keeps her artist ways in shading which has been a real challenge for me. One of the things I love about Zentangle is not having to worry about where the light source is. ;) It seems like Eni finally realized this when she got into Zendalas. But she has helped me become who I am with regards to this form of art.

The next one that really inspired me is known on facebook as Lily Moon. She does some amazing work. For any that don’t know, she has a website where she shares her tiles and tangles she creates. I really like caracole. I don’t do it justice but I like it and her art. :)

The most recent one impacting and inspiring me, is Zen Linea whom I also follow on facebook and do not know irl. Her work is just stunning and adds a bit of color. I will admit that in the very beginning of my Zentangle experience I wasn’t sure about the lack of color. But as I drew it myself, it was so freeing. I got to where I preferred it to those that had used color. But then this artist started adding just hints of color and I could see how it enhanced the art. Now she has some amazing colored work. She has a website and has started doing videos too. :) Very nice to see how she does what she does.

When I went online to get the links for this post, I came across this interesting post on Today’s Tangles for a summer challenge. I wish I’d have seen it at the beginning of the summer but then again, I was so busy I doubt I’d have committed to doing this. But it sounds interesting to me now and may start this or something like it next month. We’ll see. Who knows, maybe I’ll use it as a jumping off point and start filling up the empty spots (which is most of them) in my Tangle-a-Day calendar.

Oh! As I was looking through the summer challenge I saw she had a clarification page. As is typical, I followed the bunny trail and found that Zentangle Project #3 incorporated some color and white chalk. I enjoyed watching the videos of Molly and Maria adding the color to their finished lineart.

Well, I hope that I’ve shared something here today that will inspire you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

drinking health shot ~

Health Shot

We’re fighting a lot of sinus pain from . . . well, it is miserable.

Sean’s first line of defense is a health shot. It’s something that a co-worker showed him but I’d seen online too. I think I actually have had it before for allergies but really dislike it. In all honesty, this isn’t really a “Tasty Tuesday” recipe but it can be helpful so I’m including it today. Plus, I’m not feeling great and need to get this post done as quickly as possible.

So, here are the ingredients he uses.

Health Shot Ingredients ~ Lifeofjoy.meWe’d just gotten some fresh lemons, so he used it instead of lemon juice.

Roll the lemon to get the most juice out of it.

rolling lemon ~ LIfeofjoy.meSqueeze the juice of half the lemon into a glass.

squeeze emon ~ Lifeofjoy.meAdd some shakes of ground ginger (you can use some fresh ginger or ginger juice).

Ginger ~ Lifefojoy.meAnd then add some cayenne pepper.

Cayenne Pepper ~ Lifeofjoy.meAdd a couple tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

Add ACV ~ Lifeofjoy.meOops! Almost forgot to add the sweetener; a doonk or two of stevia for us.

add stevia ~ Lifeofjoy.meStir and drink! OH! Wait, be sure to have a glass of water ready! You’re going to need it. Of course you could water it down, but then you’d have to drink more.

I have tried this but it really helps Sean. I prefer Trim Healthy Mama’s Good Girl Moonshine and Shrinker. The first has apple cider vinegar and ginger, and the second has the cayenne pepper. I’ve also drank the Singing Canary which has lots of vitamin c.

So, if you find yourself fighting some nasty suffiness, give it a shot. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Communicate: Ask for What You Need

Say what you need ~ Lifeofjoy.meYou have to ask for what you need. If you just keep going on as you have always done, things will probably stay the same. But if you are bold enough to talk about your insecurities, even though you know that you shouldn’t be insecure or that you should find security and self-esteem in God, things can then change.

People are not mind readers! Spouses are definitely NOT mind readers and it is unfair to expect them to be. They have their own stuff they are dealing with.

Even if you are met with undesirable comments when you bring up the subject, persevere because now you have informed them and now God has a little more to work with in them. ;)

Recently I was talking to Tiffany (my 21yo daughter), exposing my insecurities about sometimes feeling unimportant. She urged me to talk about it with Michael and Sean at dinner that night but I refused. She took matters into her own hands and brought up the subject. (Since I had talked to her about it earlier that day, it had confirmed something she’d already felt she needed to do.)

The initial reactions were much as I anticipated but since then Michael has been much more attentive and helpful. :) Of course, I have had some health challenges of late as well, so the extra attention could be because of that too. But it doesn’t matter, the point is, I have let my needs known which made them able to give me what I need. Now we are all happier. :)

I hope this encourages you to share your feelings with those you love and don’t be upset if things don’t seem to go well at first; it just might take a little bit for it to sink in and affect change.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº