Friday, January 30, 2009

My Guys and Girls

My Family

Since I talk so much about my four-legged kids, and many of you have never met them, here's your chance. I created two Smilebox slideshows - one for the boys and one for the girls. This is so cool!! You can also create ecards, invitations, scrapbooks, photobooks, and postcards. This is such a great way to share photos with family and friends!!

In an earlier post, I told you something that is wrong. It's FREE, unless you want to order the premium version of a project, or join Club Smilebox (see their site for more details).If you decide to print a specific project, you can pay for just that one by purchasing a one time premium version. Or you can join Club Smilebox for only $5.99/month or $39.99/year and get unlimited access. There are more benefits to the the premium version and Club Smilebox - please see their website.

"A meow massages the heart." - Stuart McMillan

Click to play My guys
Dogs are miracles with paws.
~Attributed to Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy

Click to play My girls

Create free Birthday ecards, invitations, scrapbooks, and slideshows
with your photos and music in just minutes!

Create amazing digital scrapbooks in minutes!

Money Savings Tip

Energy Savings Light Bulbs save money. To see how much money you could save, I did my research and I found this neat energy savings calculator on the EDF's website. We have been switching our bulbs as they burn out, and gradually our electric bill is going down. They cost more, but in the long run, you will save money. Has anyone out there changed all their bulbs at one time? If so, how much did it save you a month on your electric bill?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do What You Love

Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.
David Frost

Ponder this quote. What do you love and believe in? Do doors seem to open when you work with your passion - doors that you didn't even see?

My passion, as my niece says, is getting dirt under my finger nails, or, as many of us know it as, gardening. I love to garden! It comes naturally to me. One of my Aunt Janet's famous quotes is "If you see someone weeding, they have gardening in their blood." I know which one of my nieces and nephews have it. They will kneel in my garden and start weeding. It comes natural.

My dream is to have a garden that teaches. In small ways, it's already begun in my nieces and nephews digging, planting, and picking the harvest. Someday this dream will grow, and more children will learn if they have gardening in their blood. Probably a couple of adults will find out too!

Favorite Recipe

Since I had the easy 10 minute cake in the last recipe, I thought I'd share a frosting recipe that everyone in my family loves. Girls - now you have it, and everyone can make a birthday cake for Stefanie! Happy Birthday, Stef!

Dad's Favorite Frosting

Cream: 1 stick Margarine
1/2 cup Shortening (Crisco)
1 cup Sugar

Add: 3 Tbs Flour - 1 at a time
2/3 cup room temperature milk (not hot)
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Beat until sugar is dissolved. If you aren't sure, taste it. If it feels gritty, it's not dissolved.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Life is Precious

          Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
          Life is beauty, admire it.
          Life is bliss, taste it.
          Life is a dream, realize it.
          Life is a challenge, meet it.
          Life is a duty, complete it.
          Life is a game, play it.
          Life is a promise, fulfill it.
          Life is sorrow, overcome it.
          Life is a song, sing it.
          Life is a struggle, accept it.
          Life is a tragedy, confront it.
          Life is an adventure, dare it.
          Life is luck, make it.
          Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
          Life is life, fight for it.
                    Mother Teresa

Life is so precious that it must be lived fully each day. After difficult times in life, we become awakened to the truth of these statements.

Last night, my Maggie had a seizure that lasted over 2 hours. I prayed over her. I also prayed for mothers who had children that suffer from seizures, so that God gives them strength and faith. My Maggie has 4 feet - I could only imagine what goes through a mother's mind with a child who has 2. (If you'd like to see a picture of Maggie, read the post Maggie and the Christmas Ham.)

Live your life to the fullest, live with passion, love with passion, and be inspired by the words of Mother Teresa!

Money Savings Tip

I found a new blog, and, in the process, made a new friend. Her name is Stephanie, and her blog is, The Coupon Game ... learning to be a better steward of God's money - one coupon at a time!

She shows how to use coupons to save money, and gives lots of coupon links. She even tells you how you can get some things for FREE! Check out her website! I'll let you know on Sunday how much $$ her blog helped me save on my groceries.

Until we meet again,
Aunt Janet

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Success After Many Trials

When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting, I go ahead of it and make trial after trial until it comes.
Thomas A. Edison

Here I am working on a new look for my blog, and it’s already 3:30 Sunday afternoon. I’ve been playing with it all weekend. Since I’m still not feeling well, there’s not much else I can do, right? Well, I really don’t have a lot of energy yet, and I’m having fun doing this! Here is a sneak preview – After you view it, you will have to click the back button to go back to this post. Please leave your comments about the new look below - I’m excited to hear what you think!

Well, the quote for today fits me perfectly this weekend. I keep trying and trying until I get it right. Why? I am hoping that I can touch someone’s life with this blog, with either a quote, a story, a money saving idea, a time saving idea, or an idea to ponder. I began this blog to hopefully still reach out to my nieces and nephews. They are too old for lectures, too old to hear Aunt Janet’s stories, and they only know what’s best for themselves. Yes, they are at that age. (Sorry, guys, we’ve all been there, done that, understand.) I still hope I can touch their lives for I love them as if they were my own, each and every one of them. They are all unique, with their own personal talents and blessings that God has given them. Yet, just like you and I, each day is a new discovery into who they are, and who God meant them to be.

I hope I can touch yours, too, as I hope that you, in turn, will touch mine with your comments, emails, and friendship. I am having fun doing this blog – looking for and revising computer html code has got me right now. That’s why, I have to keep trying until I get it!

Easy Recipe

Even though this is one of the products I sell, I never heard about this recipe until my niece Jillian told me about it. It has more to do with the type of bakeware you use, and the method in which you cook it. If you don’t have a stoneware bundt pan, please email me, and I’d be happy to send you a catalog.

10 Minute Cake

Cake Mix, Made According to Package Instructions

Unless stoneware bundt pan has been thoroughly seasoned, oil pan, getting in all the nooks and crannies. If you don’t know what seasoned means, or for a good measure to prevent sticking, oil it anyway. Pour cake mix in the stoneware bundt pan. Bake in microwave for 12 minutes – normal setting. (Cooking time may differ according to microwave.) Check to see if it’s done with cake tester or toothpick. If it’s not done, bake for 1 minute increments until cake tester comes out clean. Cool, remove from bundt pan, and frost as desired.

It’s so easy and moist! Thanks, Jill!

Money Savings Tip

Keep your virus software up-to-date on your computer. If you don’t know, I am a computer technician by day. At night, I do some moonlighting fixing friends’ and colleagues’ computers. The majority of the problems I fix are caused by viruses or spyware, which would have been prevented if the computer had up-do-date virus software installed. Even though I do not charge a third of what a computer repair service would charge (they’re my friends), they end up paying over $100 for my time, and I don’t charge for the time I’m not sitting at the computer. 90% of the time, I have to reload the computer from scratch because it would take me too long to repair the damage the virus or spyware caused, and, thus, increasing the computer owner’s cost. About quarter of the time, they lose some or all of the data on the computer.

Yes, good virus software is not as cheap as a gallon of milk, but it’s cheaper than $100, and it’s well worth it! One thing – when you install it, you need to make sure that the automatic updates are turned on. Also, when it expires, you need to renew. If you don’t understand what I mean, either ask a computer person, look at the virus software’s website help, or call the virus software’s support line.

Time Savings Tip

Leftovers! Especially in the winter, a big pot of stew, chili, or soup is always better the second day.

Aunt Janet’s Famous Saying

You are grown-up* when your realize you don’t know everything. (*Can be replaced with an adult, old enough, etc.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Commitment to You

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”

Peter F. Drucker

I'm going to make a commitment to you, and to myself. On Tuesdays of each week, I will post a quote and a quick tip – money or time saving tip. On Thursdays, I will post a quote, a short blog, and a quick recipe or idea. On the weekends, I will post a longer blog. If something comes up where I am not able to write my blog, I will post a short note so that you don’t think that I forgot about you.

I’m going to stop emailing my updates, unless, of course, you request an email by clicking on Subscribe to My Blog on the top right under my profile. How does that sound? Please continue to visit my blog. If you visit, the blogs will come. (What is that from?)

I love doing this, and love hearing from everyone! The computer geek in me loves learning to write the programming code. The creative person in me loves coming up with the ideas. The broke person in me needs to hear the money saving tips, ways to make money, and your help making money. The cook in me loves the recipes. The perfectionist and procrastinator is me needs to find ways to save time. And, I just discovered, the writer in me needs to write.

I do hope that you are enjoying this as much as I am! Again, I appreciate and long for your comments, ideas, recipes, and money or time savings tips. Please share my blog with your friends. Thanks Mandie for your comments! Now, where are my other nieces and nephews?

Aunt Janet

Easy Recipe

Cheesy Ham and Noodles

1/2 pkg. of wide egg noodles, cooked
8 oz. Velveeta Cheese - more or less to your liking
1 cup ham, bite-sized cubes

Cook noodles according to directions. Drain. Melt cheese. Mix in noodles and ham, and you are ready to eat!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

You Reap What You Sow

…For a person will reap what he sows… So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people…

Galatians 6:7-10

You reap what you sow. What goes around, comes around. Do good and good will come to you. How many times have we heard these sayings? We heard them from our parents, our teachers, our churches, books, and other influential people throughout our lives.

So, we live our life with this in mind, giving, with the promise that someday we will reap the harvest and benefits. The problem that I have encountered in my life is the waiting. See, all my life, I have tried to sow, tried to give, tried to be kind ... and I have waited for the harvest.

I was at the yearly rally for my jewelry company. It’s held in Fort Worth, Texas, in a big stadium. There on the stage was a minister from Chicago, my city – the place I was born, the roots of my family. With his Chicago matter-of-the-fact way of talking, he told me that no where in those verses does it say when – it just says it will happen. And, to top it off, I’m not supposed to grow weary and stop doing or giving.

His words hit me like a ton of bricks. God promises that someday I will reap the harvest. I need to be patient. How? To do this, I try:

  • To give thanks for the little things in life, no matter how small. My animal children, a bird chirping, the first seedling that appears, a snowman, a really good movie, and …

  • To realize that He has a plan that I cannot even venture to understand.

  • To know that there is something for me to learn in all of this. Maybe I’m to be more involved when it comes to dealings with me. You know – always read the fine print. Maybe it’s to take people as they are without trying to change them. Maybe it’s to stand up for myself when someone is taking advantage of me.

  • And, even when the creditors are calling, the bills can’t be paid, I am too tired to make another business phone call, a family member is sick, or I own the money pit - to know that He is in charge and He will give me the strength. I might not see it at first, but it will come if I look really hard in small things. I’ll get an order from out of the blue. $20 will appear in the pocket of a pair of jeans. A friend will call to ask how I’m doing or offer to bring over dinner. He’s in those small things!

  • For those of you who do not know my situation, I will attempt to explain it in one newspaper heading:

    "Financial Ruin for Heiress Who Kept Money Pit to Aid Relatives"

    Okay, heiress makes it sound like it’s something really big – it’s not. Had to spice it up. In fact, after it’s sold, I didn’t inherit anything, instead I lost money. But because of it, I am in the midst of a financial nightmare.

    One favor or plea to you - you can help me make $$ by utilizing the advertisements on my blogs, checking out my eBay items, and emailing me about my home businesses. Maybe you would like to have a show for me or purchase an item or two (beautiful jewelry, helpful kitchen gadgets, and tasty foods). Anything would be greatly appreciated!

    Question to you – I am thinking of selling some short stories that I have written from my website. If I did, would you be interested in purchasing one? If so, how much would you be willing to pay? Also, how about a Donations button? Do you think they are tacky? How about if I gave a free sample of my tasty food business with a donation? (I'm thinking about that super model who got out of debt by doing this. If she could do it, why not me? he he) Thanks for your opinion in advance!

    Aunt Janet’s Famous Sayings

    When you go to heaven, God’s not going to ask you what others did to you. He’s going to ask you what you did for others.

    There are consequences to every action. If you do something positive, there will be a positive consequence. If you do something negative, there will be a negative consequence. You may not experience the consequence right away, but you will eventually.

    Money Savings Tip

    First, I do not advocate credit card use, but with today’s credit ratings, it is almost impossible to build credit without a credit card or two. With that in mind, save for your purchases, and pay for your credit card balances at the end of each month.

    If you find yourself having a balance (shame on you and me), never have a credit card maxed out. It is better to have smaller amounts on two credit cards than to have only one credit card that is almost maxed out. This will affect interest rate and your credit score. Google it if you don’t believe me.

    Easy Recipe

    UT’s Favorite Onion Chip Dip

    16 oz. Sour Cream
    1 pkg Onion Soup Mix

    Mix together until blended well.

    Time Savings Tip

    If you do not want to receive my blog (save you time from deleting it), please email me. If you would like to subscribe to it (instead of receiving personal emails from me), click on the subscribe button under my profile – top right corner. If you enjoy my blog, please comment, and pass it on to your friends!! I even have an e-mail your friend button under my profile.

    And where are all my nieces and nephews? I miss your comments, and I miss you!!

    Thanks for reading my blog! God Bless!

    Aunt Janet
    (Suffering from Empty Nest Aunt Syndrome)

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    Unconditional Love

    "Dogs give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive."
    Gildna Radner

    When you are sad or happy, mad or joyful, having a bad hair day or totally right day, your dog will always love you. They are always happy to see you! A dog will be there for you when the rest of the world has seemed to move to another planet. They are loyal, loving, and faithful.

    I have been blessed with 5 dogs in my lifetime, 5 dogs that I could call my own. Each one filled my life with love. There was Lance, or Sir Lancelot of Peanuts, because my dad would only call him Peanuts since he was the runt of his litter. He was the one that first taught me about unconditional love. When my heart was broken, or I was celebrating a new love, he was there. Even though he was a smaller schnoodle, he stood up to the world, strutting his stuff, and loving me with his whole wagging being.

    Then there was Allie, my princess and Lance's surprise "I can so be a father" daughter. Half Lhasa Apso and half Schnoodle, she was spunky and full of life, running here and there, but always stopping for a kiss. She stayed longer than her time so my heart wouldn't hurt any worse than it was already hurting, because of...

    Sheba, my lady. She was my protector. Half German Shepherd and half Husky, she watched over her domain with passion, and played with as much passion. She loved children that grew up with her, and all stray animals that came into her domain. Her uncle was known to come and take her for rides, and I swear she would jump the fence and run just so she could get a ride on the way home. She died when I wasn't ready. Allie, old and weak, hung on for a couple of months to help ease my pain.

    Then came Puppy - an angel sent straight from heaven! She's the peacemaker, the protector, the nursemaid. She breaks up fights, protects the weaker animals in the family, and is a wonderful nursemaid when someone is sick. In the months before Allie died, Puppy would put her nose under Allie's belly and help her stand up. This is why I believe that she is an angel sent to me!

    After Sheba and Allie, I thought my heart would never heal. See, every time I asked God for a baby, He sent me another animal to mother. And now, two were gone in such a short time. I did not know His plans. Maggie was on her way! Maggie is my free spirit! Figured out how to get out of her crate within the first month! Smart, never leaves me alone, needs constant attention, loves to get into trouble, but loves to learn. She keeps 12 year old Puppy on her toes and young at heart!!

    If we could only show others this kind of love - what a different world this would be!

    Money Saving Tip

    Never, ever leave a dog alone with a simmering crockpot. No matter how good the dog is OR how many times you have left them alone with the crockpot before, he or she will someday end up being the worst dog in the world (even worse than Marley).

    Our Maggie ate our whole Christmas ham while we were seeing "Marley and Me" on Christmas Day. She took it right out the crockpot, unplugged it, and shared it with her dog mom and 3 brother cats. At least, she had the Christmas spirit.

    We came home to a big mess (she got sick), no ham, a burnt nose, and Maggie with a stomach that was twice as big as usual, moaning "I ate too much!" She was so pathetic looking that we didn't have the heart to get mad at her. Come on, we just saw "Marley and Me", and Maggie won the Worst Dog competition hands down!

    Food is expensive, and people food isn't good for dogs. So, to save money, make sure that the dog never is left unintended with a crockpot.

    Money Making Tip

    Blogs! I make money on the advertising you see in my blog. Some advertises pay me if you click on their site, some if you sign up, and some if you buy something. One cool site is Smilebox - you can try it before you buy it! It's a fun site, and has really cool scrapbook pages!

    Also, you really do make money with SnapDollars and InBox Dollars. It might not be a whole lot, or it may take a while, but it does work. Try them!

    Other Money Making Tips

    Home-based businesses - I have three. I sell jewelry (my passion), cooking utensils, and tasty foods. If you would like to hear about any of these, email me. I'd be happy to send you a catalog or direct you to my websites. If you work them, they make money, especially the jewelry. Women love jewelry!!! New catalogs are coming out soon!

    Thursday, January 01, 2009

    Let There Be Peace on Earth

    Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

    Jill Jackson and Sy Miller

    My favorite New Year’s hymn is “Let There be Peace on Earth”. It was sung every year at the church I attended as a child. I learned how to play it on the piano at an early age, and would sing it out, loud and strong, so that the whole world could hear (and tell me to be quiet because my voice wasn’t, well, pleasant to the ear, to say the least).

    My favorite verse is “let it begin with me”. How can I let peace begin with me, little old me? Peace is harmony, freedom from conflict. God knows that we are all different, and we all don’t agree on the same things at the same time. He made each of us unique, with our own set of talents and gifts and knowledge. Our being has also been shaped by what has happened to us in the past – some we had no control over, some we chose. Being unique, we will not always agree.

    Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. Oh, how hard this is to do at times. Our tongues are like sharp daggers, wanting to hurt anything that threatens us. This is our natural response. To turn the other cheek takes so much effort and energy.

    What I have learned: Pause and think before you respond – count to 10, to 60, to 1 million if you have to. If you personally attack someone's flaws - it does no good, it only hurts the other person. Anger shuts down communication, brings up defenses, and slows down productivity. And many feel terrible that they hurt someone afterwards, and have to make amends. Others try to justify that they were right, that somehow their feelings are more important than others. Getting out your feelings is good, but hurting others in the process is not. There are ways to get out your feelings without hurting others.

    Things to take into consideration:

      Will it matter a year from now? Is it really worth fighting over? Is it petty?

      Am I expecting too much out of someone else? Am I using guilt to motivate someone to do something I think they should do? Do I want them to do something that I should be doing myself? Is it the end of the world if this action that I’m mad about doesn’t go my way?

      We all have different views and opinions on certain things. It’s okay. Sometime we have to agree just to disagree.

    When the feelings are too intense, the hurt too heavy, the anger too passionate, silence is golden. Words on earth will do no good. Only words sent up high will carry any weight.

    And sometimes, words should be said in a subtle way, a gentle way, maybe in writing. Right now, I am going through empty nest syndrome, and I’m not even a mother. The tears just keep coming. It’s the holiday season, and I feel so alone. But I know if I say anything, it will be taken wrong, excuses will be made, or I will look like the lecturer, again. So, instead, I decided to write about peace. My time to lecture is over. You are all grown. But I still want to share my knowledge and experiences, and more importantly, my laughter, life, and time. So, I give to you a prayer of peace throughout your life, and a hope that you pass it on to others.

    And I ask God to give me peace, to accept the fact that I may never hold my own child in my arms, hear a sweet voice call me mom, pick up the phone Christmas morning to hear “Merry Christmas, mom”, and all the other wonderful things that so many moms experience. Yes, I could have had children, but, having the good Catholic upbringing I had, it was a choice I made, believing that a miracle would happen. It did in you.

    So, I will live with the belief I’ve held dearly since I was a child “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

    Easy Recipe

    Chipped Beef Dip

    1 - 8 oz pkg Buddig Beef, chopped
    2 - 8 oz Cream Cheese
    1 bundle Green Onions, sliced

    Soften cream cheese. Mix in other ingredients. Serve with crackers.

    Time Saving Tip

    Instead of folding over the edge of those rolls of big tape (so you can find the end), put a large paper clip on the end. You will save tape and time.
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