Becoming a Non-Consumer

Well, here goes nothing...

I’ve decided to challenge myself in a way I’ve never been challenged before. In fact, it’s in a way that I never, in a bazillion years, would have ever wanted to be challenged. If it was ever imposed upon me I would have been incredibly  angered and would definitely have resulted in a whole lot of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

What is this challenge you ask? Hold on to your hats friends….

I’ve decided to become a non-consumer for the month of April.

That’s right. A non-consumer of new non-perishable items. I’ll buy our food and gas new (because really… um… who wants USED food? ICK…) And, while I know there are people who dig through the trash bins at grocery stores to obtain their groceries and it’s their sole source of food. Um… so can’t go that route either. Double ick!

I know it’s going to be the hardest thing for me. Ever. Well, maybe not ever, but definitely incredibly hard.

Though I haven’t gone shopping in a craft store in a few weeks, I still find myself drawn to them. I have an intense desire to acquire. I know there isn’t one stinking’ thing I need. In all reality, I probably have the overwhelming majority of products carried there anyway (those of you who have seen my studio know I’m right). I still find myself drawn by some crazy power to just go in, look around, and see if there’s something I need (or want).  There is NOTHING I need. Literally.

I find myself buying clothes for my baby boy, even though he doesn’t need anything. Again, quite literally. My friend, Cara, has a son who is older than Fred, and she kindly loans us their used clothes so that really, we don’t’ need to buy more. But I do. They’re just so darn cute! And… since he’s not a girl (not that I’m sad any longer – I do so very much love my baby boy), I want to get him every single cute thing there is. Quite honestly, it’s a good thing he is a boy because there isn’t a whole lot of cute boy stuff. Girl stuff on the other hand…

I spend my weekends running around town, supposedly doing the grocery shopping, but in truth I stop off here and there because I “need” A, B, and C but would end up getting D, E, F, G, H, and I too.  Then, I get home and have to work to either justify it and/or find a place to store it.  I have an overwhelming desire to acquire.

Now, if there are indeed things we need during the month, I don’t need to buy it new. It would serve me, my family, and my community better if I would visit a local thrift or second hand store. I can better serve the environment by doing it that way too because it could be stopping something from ending up in a land fill.

I do have a very strong need and desire to acquire. I have many theories on why I find myself that way. Rather than waxing poetically about it, I’m just going to accept it for what it is… a not-so-positive desire. While, like a piece of chocolate, is not a bad thing in small portions, but when taken to the level where I currently find myself, it is an out of control addiction. I’ve been this way for years, so it’s going to take some time for me to break the habit and build better, more healthy ones.

I want to get to the place where I value the things I have; not finding myself antsy for nice new furniture but enjoying the furniture we have that is paid off. Instead of pining for beautiful new clothes, enjoying the mass of clothes I have. Who cares if they are last year’s style – it’s not like I work in the fashion industry. Instead of a nice new car, enjoying the fact that ours are (almost) paid off.  And instead of the fancy cute and oh so fashionable shoes – wearing and appreciating the dozens I already own. I want to find myself being more creative. Instead of buying the cool looking vintage style art piece – I’d like to make it myself.  In short, I don’t want to think about the things I don’t have an instead enjoy the things I do. I want more time to enjoy my family, more enjoyment and satisfaction in what I have, and I want to feel empowered knowing that I have overcome one of my (many) weaknesses.

I know I will struggle. I’ll be blogging about it, so please keep me accountable.

This is going to be the new me… the Non-Consumer me.

COOKING: Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwiches


1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

12 slices white bread (use a firm white bread for best results)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 (8 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

1 (24 ounce) jar vodka marinara sauce


Preheat your oven's broiler. Put a cooling rack onto a cookie sheet (Using the cooling rack eliminates being left with soggy-bottom bread!! Total-surface ventilation.)

Place 6 slices of bread onto the cooling rack. Spread a small handful of the mozzarella cheese over each slice. Top with the remaining 6 slices of bread. Mix together the butter and garlic powder, brush some over the tops of the sandwiches, or spread with the back of a tablespoon. Sprinkle with dried oregano.

Place baking sheet under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove pan from oven, flip sandwiches, and brush the other sides with butter, and sprinkle with oregano. Return to the broiler, and cook until golden, about 2 minutes.

Cut sandwiches in half diagonally, and serve immediately.


Another option is to make them out of provolone and cheddar and use your George Foreman. Make your own garlic butter using 1/4 cup of butter, 1 tsp granulated garlic, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tbls parmesan cheese, dash of salt and pepper and 1 tsp oregano. Mix it all together and spread it over the sandwiches before grilling them.

If you really don’t want to try using the oven cooking route, here’s another, easier way, to make them stovetop! Melt your butter in a large skillet, and sprinkle in garlic powder, onion powder and oregano. Add 3 slices of bread, sprinkle cheese on each slice and add top slices of bread. After the bottom seared, I flip. Also, I use a mixture of whatever shredded cheeses I have on hand: Italian, swiss, mozzarella and/or parmesan. If you need more sandwiches than your skillet will hold, wipe out skillet and add another round of butter and seasonings; otherwise, second round will taste burnt. Next time I will try with olive oil instead of butter to reduce the 'bad' fat content.

If using a thick slice of cheese, or a pair of American singles, you might want to melt the cheese with the sandwich open-faced before closing it, buttering and baking/broiling as indicated. I find that the cheese sometimes doesn't get melted completely otherwise. To me, there is no comparison; the oven gives a nice, crispy texture that I have been unable to duplicate any other way.

Using the cooling rack eliminates being left with soggy-bottom bread!! Total-surface ventilation.


We’re huge – no massive – fans of Harry & David Moose Crunch. Seriously. I fight Steve for it every year when our packages arrive. I’ve even been known to stash it into my secret spots all over the house (of course this doesn’t help me when I go looking for it when I want to eat it.) This tasty popcorn treat is coated with brown sugar and corn syrup caramel then micro waved for a crunchy and simply tasty treat.


½ cup butter

2 ¼ cups “golden” brown sugar

3/4 cup corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 bags of “natural” or “plain” microwave popcorn (or about 5 quarts popped popcorn)

1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips


Place popcorn in a very large bowl, making sure to pick out all the unpopped kernels.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. (If you have a candy thermometer, cook it to 260 degrees). Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. It’s going to foam, so make sure you’ve got space in your saucepan for it – and just keep stirring. The foam will die back down. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.

Divide the corn into two big paper grocery bags. Microwave each bag for 30 - 40 seconds, remove the bag from the microwave and shake it (without opening the bag). Repeat microwaving and shaking for a total of 4 times for each bag. Open the bags carefully sprinkle in ¾ cup of chocolate chips into each bag and quickly shake the bag to both melt the chocolate and distribute it evenly. Then spread out the candied corn to cool on a waxed cookie sheet - breaking up any large pieces (or to make it even easier, just lay out sheets of parchment paper on your countertops or table)

Clean up is easy - just throw away the bags. Gotta LOVE that!


Try adding 2 cups of dry roasted peanuts, or even the deluxe mixed nuts before separating the mixture into the grocery sacks.

If you have any leftover, store in an air tight container or it will get soft. Portion controlling into Ziploc bags makes snacking hand.)

COOKING: Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are really chewy and addictive.


1 cup butter, softened

1 cup peanut butter

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

4 eggs

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups chopped semisweet chocolate


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chunks. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

COOKING: Rich and Creamy Tomato Basil Soup


56oz. tomato sauce (or so)
1/2 C fresh basil leaves
2 T. garlic, minced
16oz. tomato juice
1/4 cup salted butter (totally optional, but adds richness)
½ t. lemon juice
½ t. balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
1 t. granulated sugar (optional, but cuts the acidic taste)
salt and pepper to taste
1 C. heavy cream (you can add it to each bowl, just before serving if you think you're going to freeze some of the soup. Alternatively, you can use part cream part evaporated milk)


Add tomatoes, basil leaves, and garlic into stockpot and cook over medium heat. Add tomato juice, butter, lemon juice and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper (add sugar if desired). Heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Once the butter has melted, add the cream but not let it boil.

For a creamier taste and to keep the soup from thinning, I added nonfat dry milk, between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup.

Slow Cooker Mexican Style Meat

This makes a very hot and spicy chuck pot toast that cooks for 2 to 4 hours on a low-temperature setting. Seasoning should be adjusted for individual tastes.


1 (4 pound) chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups diced green chile pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 (5 ounce) bottle hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Trim the roast of any excess fat, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the roast to a slow cooker, and sprinkle onion over meat. Season with chile peppers, chili powder, cayenne pepper, hot pepper sauce, and garlic powder. Add enough water to cover 1/3 of the roast.

Cover, and cook on High for 6 hours, checking to make sure there is always at least a small amount of liquid in the bottom. Reduce heat to Low, and continue cooking for 2 to 4 hours, or until meat is totally tender and falls apart.

Jalapeno Popper Spread

This is an easy cream cheese spread to make, and it tastes just like the jalapeno poppers you wish you could make yourself! The hardest part of this recipe is not eating it all by yourself!


2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
6 oz canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ c. bread crumbs

Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles, jalapeno peppers, and remaining chees. Pour mixture into a microwave safe serving dish.

Microwave on High until hot, about 3 minutes. While it is in the microwave turn on your broiler. When the dip is hot, take it out of the microwave and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and pop it into the broiler and for a minute or two to crisp up the top.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies


5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups canned pumpkin puree

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.

4. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.


The cookie by itself is just good. By adding cinnamon to the frosting and sprinkling chopped pecans on top it rates outstanding.

Margarine can be substituted for the butter.

Do not store them in an airtight container though - they have a lot of moisture from the pumpkin and get moist and mushy. They stay great out on the counter for days. Delicious w/ coffee!

Instead of using icing, try flattening them with a sugared bottom cup. I liked the un-iced ones better...simple and basic in flavor.

Try adding mini chocolate chips. They are great without frosting but also delightful with a little cream cheese icing drizzled on top.

You can also freeze the already-iced cookies in saran wrap for about 2 weeks. They thaw out very quickly (fridge or countertop), and are just as good as freshly made.

Chicken a la King


1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained, liquid reserved

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

1 1/4 cups hot water

4 cooked, boneless chicken breast halves, chopped

4 ounces chopped pimento

16 oz. Frozen peas and carrots


1. Cook and stir drained mushrooms and green pepper in butter or margarine over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in instant bouillon, milk, water, and reserved mushroom liquid. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute.

4. Stir in chicken and pimiento. Heat through.

Delicious Black Bean Burritos

Onions, bell peppers and jalapenos are heated in a skillet. Black beans come next and then cubes of cream cheese and a bit of cilantro. Scoop this wonderful concoction into a warm tortillas and try and eat just one.


2 (10 inch) flour tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno peppers
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Fajita meat
Green chilies
Diced tomatoes


1. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven heated to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.
2. Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Place onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapenos in skillet, cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour beans into skillet, cook 3 minutes stirring.
3. Cut cream cheese into cubes and add to skillet with salt. Cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir cilantro into mixture.
4. Spoon mixture evenly down center of warmed tortilla and roll tortillas up. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak


1/4 cup all-purpose flour

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds round steak, cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 green pepper, diced

1 onion, chopped

3 c. baby carrots cut into 1” pieces

2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice

1 (14.5 oz) can cream of mushroom soup

1 T. garlic, minced

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

2 T. brown sugar (optional)

2 beef bouillon cubes

1 T. cornstarch


In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, salt, and pepper. Lightly coat the round steak pieces in the flour mixture. Place the vegetables and beef in a crock pot. Mix in the tomatoes with juice, Worcestershire sauce, soup, garlic, brown sugar, and beef bouillon and add to the crock-pot.

Cover, and cook 8 to 10 hours on low, until the round steak is very tender. About an hour before you’re ready to serve, add the cornstarch mixed with a bit of sauce to the pot to thicken everything up. Delicious with mashed potatoes.

Really good! I took my steak out of the freezer only about 1 hour before using, which made it easier to cut into cubes.

Yummy and Healthy Bran Muffins

Makes 12 muffins. A delicious source of fiber!


1 1/2 cups wheat bran (crushed fiber one cereal works too!)

1 cup buttermilk (or 1T lemon juice and 1 c regular milk – mix together and let sit for a bit before adding or 1c plain yogurt)

1/3 cup applesauce

1 egg (1/4 c. egg substitute works too)

2/3 cup brown sugar (5 TBSP white Splenda and 2 1/2 TBSP Brown Splenda works too!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup all-purpose regular flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray cupcake tin with non-fat spray.

Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes.

Beat together applesauce, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in raisins and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Brush the tops of the muffins with honey on top of the muffins right when they came out of the oven. Cool and enjoy!


Try replacing the applesauce with pumpkin, cooked and pureed carrots, shredded zucchini, shredded carrots, squash, and banana

Pepperoncini Beef

Roast beef cooked in a slow cooker with garlic and pepperoncini makes a delicious and simple filling for gyro sandwiches. Serve on hoagie rolls with provolone or mozzarella cheese, and your choice of condiments. When making the sandwiches, place meat in rolls, cover with cheese, and zap in a microwave for a few seconds. Don't forget to use the pepperoncini in the sandwiches.

2 medium onions cut in half and sliced
2 (3 pound) beef chuck roast
8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 (16 ounce) jars pepperoncini
1 package of Italian Seasoning
Provolone cheese
Hoagie Rolls


Place sliced onions in the bottom of slow cooker.

Make small cuts in roast, and insert garlic slices in cuts. Place roast in the slow cooker, and pour the entire contents of the jar of pepperoncini, including liquid, over meat. Sprinkle the package of Italian seasoning over roast. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.

Serve meat on hoagies, top with cheese and broil long enough to melt the cheese. Add a dressing of sour cream and horseradish if desired.

Sauté some mushrooms and serve it alongside the sandwich toppings – great addition! Another great topping is the canned fried onions.

Another alternative is to use Italian sausage instead of the beef. Brown the sausage in a pan along with a large onion. Put the meat and onion into your slow cooker with a large jar of the pepperoncini, (which I chopped in my food processor), fresh chopped garlic, onion powder and Italian seasonings.

Mexican style Meatballs


2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
8 oz. can of tomato sauce
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 small onions, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Frozen meatballs

Pour the diced tomatoes into the container of a blender along with the chipotle peppers. Blend until smooth, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion; cook and stir until tender. Stir in the remaining garlic and cumin, and cook for a few minutes to release the aromas. Pour in the tomato mixture and chicken broth. Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt, and mix well.
Add the meatballs to the pot of simmering sauce. Let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for about 30 minutes. Longer will not hurt them.

Potluck Idea: Put this sauce together the night before. Then the day of party I just threw the meatballs in the crock pot with the sauce and a few hours later, they were done! Everyone loved them.

Chinese Chicken Salad


6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
4 tablespoons peanut butter
4 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot chile paste
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
16 (3.5 inch square) wonton wrappers, shredded
4 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded carrots
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Alternative additional salad additives:
Red Pepper, julienned
Cucumber, diced
Mandarin oranges, drained (reserve juice)
1 cup of bean sprouts
Chopped snow peas for extra crunch.
Water Chestnuts
Rice Noodles


To prepare the dressing, whisk together the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, chili paste, ginger, vinegar and sesame oil.

Grill or broil chicken until cooked, cool and slice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Spray a large shallow pan with nonstick vegetable spray, arrange shredded wontons in a single layer and bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, wontons, lettuce, carrots, green onions and cilantro. Toss with dressing and serve.

Cuban Stew

This is an easily prepared, traditional Cuban dish that contains some lively flavors (raisins, stuffed green olives, capers, sherry wine, cumin, and vinegar). Potatoes are added in the final stage of cooking. It freezes well, but the potatoes may get mushier when you reheat it.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 pounds sirloin tips, cubed
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons capers
4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
salt and pepper to taste


In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic in oil, stirring frequently, until transparent. Stir in cubed meat, and cook until browned. Stir in red bell pepper, bay leaf, cumin, and oregano; cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in sherry, tomato sauce, vinegar, olives, raisins, and capers. Pour in enough water to just cover meat. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer until fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add more water if the stew becomes too thick.

Stir potatoes into the stew. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, covered, until potatoes are almost tender. Uncover, and cook until done.

Serve with rice.

Try using pork tenderloin instead of beef.
If you want to thicken the soup, add a bit of cornstarch.
If you don’t like the saltiness of capers (and they are SALTY) rinse them off before adding them.

Where oh Where?

Oh my stars and bananas! It has been forever since I updated this blog! Shame on me!

Where oh where have I been? When I think back at what I've been doing since my last post - it's overwhelming! So much going on and yet, not so much has been going on. I'll try and summarize what we've been up to.

We traveled to McAllen, TX to introduce Fred-let to his Grandpa Beste, and Uncle Scott. He also got to meet his Aunt Bekki and her family (including all 4 of her children). We drove to South Padre Island a few times and enjoyed the coast. So relaxing!

We also traveled to California so that Steve could introduce Fred-let to Grandpa Russ, Grandma Jill and all of his Great-Grandparents (Fredric, Joyce, Charlie, and Muriel).

I started back to work on February 18th. Booo!

I also got sick the same week. Finally, round two of antibotics kicked the ick's hiney two weeks later and I got better. Of course, just in time for everyone else at our house to get sick.

I held my first combined Basic and Advanced Soldering class last week. It was fantastic and from what I've heard my students had a great time too. I think I'll be adding this style of workshop/class to my regular calendar in the very near future!

See, I was right! It sounds like so little, but really I've been going crazy busy for ages. I'm working on simplifying our home.

I'm not an "Opraphile" though I record her shows (thank you DVR!) and watch them on occasion. However, a few weeks ago she did a show on learning what we could live without. I wrote out two pages of notes, which is SOOOO not me. Seriously. I watch and it all goes in one ear and out the other. Except for this particular show.

I came to many, many realizations. One of which is that somewhere along the road, I started believing that if you have more, you're better or are doing better. I know, its crazy, but it's true. For years I've bought loads of craft supplies and other items because somehow I was thinking that if I had it all, I'd create better. In reality, all it does is stump my creativity because there are entirely too many options. If I can find them, that is.

You see, in addition to the above realization, I realized something else that shocked the heck out of me. I buy things. And, then I buy things to organize the things I just bought... and I don't even need or use the things I bought in the first place. WHAT THE HECK am I doing? Seriously! I'm tossing money into stuff I don't need, or will ever use.

So, I'm in a deep cleaning, simplifying mode. I've been thinking about how I have things I like, but never use. Or how I have frames on my walls with the default filllers and photos in them (you know, like as they come from the store). I have bags and boxes of craft product stuck and stashed in closets, cabinets, and rooms that I've never touched. What's even more crazy to me, is when I decide to go through some of it, I don't know why i bought it, I have multiples of it, or I realize I will more than likely never use it again.

Of course, with all of this thinking comes the brilliant idea to have a garage sale. But, in all reality, most of it will sit in boxes waiting for me to have time to organize it and a garage sale. So, I've come to the decision that I'm going to just donate it. Maybe if I see how much money I'm tossing away, instead of trying to recoup it, I'll be more wary and judicious with my purchases.

I'd like to think that I will be anyway. We'll see how it goes.

I have lots of creative things I'd like to be working on, but I want to get the house cleaned out and simplified first. Lots of my friends are traveling to California to attend one of Kim's amazing events. So very jealous.

Silver Bella registration is coming up next month. I SO desperately want to go. However, the priority of expenses have changed now that Fred has joined our family and we begin discussing the timing/scheduling of possibly having another one (I can't believe I just admitted that! He's only 3 months old for goodness sake!). I'm doing everything I can (including simplifying and cutting back on crafty expenses) so that the funds are there and I'm able to register with my Bella friends.

I'll work harder to keep this blog updated. I'm going to be helping my crafty partner in crime, Heather B., this weekend with one of her incredible endeavors. And, am so very glad to be doing something for someone who is there for me... always! We'll take photos and share our crafty fun with you!

Easy Killer Brownies

I moved to Texas from Dayton, Ohio. In Dayton there is a chain of grocery stores called Dorothy Lane Market - it's very much like the Central Market chain we have in Texas. At DLM, they have this delicious, incredibly tasty treat called the Killer Brownie. Oh my stars - it is so delicious! It's also very expensive. (They even sell them over the internet). Anyway, I can't afford to pay their price for brownies, especially the mail order price. So, I started working on making my own version. 

My version is not much like the DLM version, but is rich and has the caramel layer that the DLM ones have too. It is very very easy, and I get compliments on it every single time i make them. So... here you go! Enjoy!

  • 2 boxes of Ghiradelli brownie mixes (We get the Triple Chocolate mixes in bulk from Costco), and the ingredients to make them according to the package.
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 bag of Kraft Caramel Bits (they're over by the chocolate chips in the baking aisle)
  • 1 container of chocolate frosting (optional)
  • 1 bag of Heath Bar candy pieces (optional)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease/spray a 9"x13" baking pan. 

Mix up one box of brownie's according to the package and spread it into the baking pan.  Sprinkle the bag of caramel bits on top of the brownie batter. If you want to add walnuts, sprinkle them on top of the caramel bits. Mix up the second box of brownies according to the package directions and carefully pour/spread it on top of the caramel bits and brownie mix. 

Bake the brownies for 50-55 minutes.

Once they have cooled. Spread the frosting onto the brownies, and then sprinkle the Heath bar (toffee bits) onto the brownies. 

DLM lightly sprinkles powdered sugar on top of the brownie and does not do the frosting layer.


Michele’s Crock Pot Tortilla Soup

This recipe is from a can of Hatch Green Chilie Enchilada Sauce. The can is yellow, and I found it in the Mexican food section of my local Wal-Mart. It's super easy, and really lowfat/healthy depending on what you use to garnish it with. 


·       1 1/2 lbs shredded cooked chicken (I have used canned, frozen fajita, and leftover diced frozen chicken.

·       1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes

·       1 (14 ounce) can hatch green enchilada sauce

·       2 (4 ounce) cans hatch diced green chilies (I’ve also used the regular green diced chilies)

·       1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained (we like using two cans)

·       1 medium onion, chopped (I’ve used dried onions, and frozen diced onions)

·       2 tablespoons minced garlic

·       2 cups water

·       1 (15 ounce) can chicken broth

·       2 teaspoons cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper (I only use 1/2 tsp of salt)

·       15 ounces corn, drained

·       Optional Garnish: chopped cilantro, cubed avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, and tortilla chips



Combine all ingredients to the corn in the large crock pot. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low.

The others items on list are for garnish.