Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Yummy (Easy) Dessert for Cinco de Mayo or any Mexican meal.

It is almost Cinco de Mayo, so today I am sharing a dessert recipe that is one of my favorite endings to a Mexican meal. If you make my Sopapilla Cheesecake Squares, this recipe will probably become a favorite of yours too! 

Image 1 sopapilla cheesecake squares

It seems like practically everyone likes Mexican Food.

Mmmm. Mexican food.  It's so yummy and a perfect menu choice for a party, especially on the festive occasion of Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May.) 

Before I share my dessert recipe, I have a suggestion for an easy Mexican main dish you might want to make, as well.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mayday, mayday. I can't believe it's already May 1st!

The title of this post is both an expression of joy and a cry of distress. I am so glad spring is here - but how can it be MAY already?

May 1st - a mayday distress call or a day to celebrate?

Okay, so I am not really sending out a distress signal. 

To truly use the established cry for help, I should have typed the words "mayday" three times instead of twice for this title. But, in the United States, it is apparently a punishable offence to falsely declare a "mayday" - and I'm not taking any chances!

May 1st and so much to do.

I went to bed late last night, and the sun was streaming in my window when I awoke. My first thought was a cheery one - "It's May Day - Yay!" Then I remembered. May is followed by June. Actually, I'm okay with it being May. I'm just not ready for it to be June.

I feel a little bit this way every May. There is still a lot of spring cleaning to accomplish and many indoor projects are begging loudly for my attention. But the outside is calling too. Everywhere I look there is yard work and gardening to be done, and when the weather gets nice it seems a shame to spend any time indoors. Each year about this time, I question why I didn't tackle all the indoor projects sooner, and I start to feel a little paralyzed by it all. 

June is scaring me a little.

In June, my youngest child will graduates from high school; which means that I am sort of graduating as well. When he is handed his diploma, I will no longer be a parent of a school-aged child. No more making lunches, excusing absences, volunteering for school activities, or attending sporting and music events. Just like a high school senior, I am uncertain of what my future holds and I'm a little apprehensive.

It's May Day not mayday, mayday, mayday.

Time isn't going to slow down and May will have just 30 days, whether I wish for more or not. I've decided I'm not going to waste this month lamenting how quickly it is passing by, but instead try to enjoy every moment. 

May 1st - May Day.

Happy May Day!

Are you happy that it's May?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blog Buttons & Blouses: Really Useful "How-To" Tips for Both.

Whether you need information about blog buttons or clothing with buttons, this post provides some good "how-to" tips for everyone!  

Buttons can be found on both blogs and blouses

For Non-Bloggers:

 My button box is a bandaid tin

Unless you are a blogger, you might not find the topic of blog buttons very interesting. However, if you scroll down lower in this post, you'll find some information that could be really useful to you! 

For Bloggers - Some Tips About Blog Buttons:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day Today and Arbor Day Next Friday!

Today is Earth Day and next Friday is Arbor Day (in the USA.)

Every day should be arbor day and earth day!

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in April 1854 when J. Sterling Morton proposed a tree-planting holiday. The first Earth Day was observed on April 22, 1970. Arbor Day (as stated on the Arbor Day website) "celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care." The focus of Earth Day is on the environment. These April holidays have their differences, but both are about helping our planet to be healthy and a better place.

If you go back to the post I wrote last year about Arbor Day, you can learn more about Arbor Day and take a quiz to determine which tree your personality most resembles! In that post, I mentioned a tiny pine tree

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How to Be More Productive: Follow Good Routines

"Routine : a regular way of doing things in a particular order."
 (definition provided by Merriam-Webster)

Have you ever noticed that when you follow certain routines, you are more productive and more likely to accomplish everything you need to get done in a day?

Actually, I don't usually give my routines much thought - until I deviate from them. When that happens, a lot of things seem to fall apart.

Here are just a few examples of how routines have affected my productivity:

First cup
I often feel like I can't function until I've had my first cup of coffee in the morning. It is not that I need the caffeine to wake me up or energize me. It's just that drinking coffee is the first step in my morning routine; without it I feel a bit lost and I can't seem to get organized to tackle everything else.
Activities of daily Living
Most of us follow certain habits when getting ready for the day or going to bed. It is because we have established a habit for when we brush our teeth, apply deodorant, and pack our lunches that we remember to do these things. I always take out (and apply) my right contact lens first and then my left - this habit makes it a lot less likely that I will mix them up. By keeping my car keys always in the same spot, I am able to easily locate them the next day. It is usually when my daily routines become disturbed that I become less organized.
Medication schedule
I used to struggle with remembering to take my daily vitamins. A few years ago, however, I became much better at it. A veterinarian prescribed a daily medication for our dog which I give to her before bedtime, usually right after she comes inside for the night. I began taking my pills at the same time, and I almost never forget them now. Never, that is, unless we are out of town and the dog is not with us. Without the routine of bringing in the dog and giving her a pill, I sometimes forget my own!
Routines at work are as important as they are at home 
In my first job as a registered nurse, I worried that I would never figure out how to keep track of and stay on top of my many responsibilities.  I soon learned that the best way to meet all of my patients' needs was to set and follow some routines. Trying to do certain tasks in the same order (with every patient, every day) kept things orderly instead of chaotic. Of course, when caring for ill patients there are always many interruptions to the best thought-out plans, but a general routine to follow kept things running smoothly most of the time. 

You are less likely to skip parts of a multi-step task if you stick to a routine

Preparing a photo for a blog post is a multi-step process that includes taking the photo; uploading it to a photo-editing program; adding a watermark, a border, a caption; and resizing it appropriately. By always performing these tasks in the same order, I am much less likely to forget one of them. Following a set photo-editing routine can save me a lot of time. 

Routines keep us on the right track

Back in January, I published a post called "My Blogging Routine Broke." I described how my new exercise routine of getting up early was interfering with my previous pattern of writing and blogging late at night. I'm happy to report that I've stuck with the new exercise routine, but I have been slow to establish a productive new blogging schedule. This is partly because I have been taking a few on-line classes and doing some other writing; which are both tasks which I have not previously incorporated in any of my routines. 

Are all routines good ones?

A routine, as stated above, is "a regular way of doing things in a particular order." A good routine is one when all things to be done regularly are accomplished in an order that is maximally effective.
 Example of a routine:
  •  You get ready for bed, brush your teeth, and read for a while. 
  •  Right before you turn out the light, you're ready to take your pills - but one of them cannot be taken on an empty stomach. 
  • You go back out to the kitchen, drink a glass of milk and eat a cracker; take the pill. 
  • Brush your teeth again. 
  • Get into bed and turn out the light.
Example of a good routine *
  • Drink a glass of milk and eat a cracker, and take your bedtime pills
  • Brush your teeth, get ready for bed, and read for a while. 
  • Turn out the light - and get 5 to 10 more minutes of sleep than if you follow the routine above!
* Note that these are the same tasks as above, but the order in which they are accomplished is more efficient)
Routines help us remember to get things done. Good routines help us to get things done in an efficient  and timely way. 

Have you established good routines?

Think about all the things you need to accomplish on a regular basis:
  •  Evaluate whether you do those repetitive activities in an effective order. 
  • Are you doing them at a time when it makes the most sense and/or you have the maximum amount of energy for them? 
  • Are these all things you really need to be doing, or can you streamline your list of tasks?
I am taking a close look at all of my routines and trying to figure out ways to improve my own productivity. I know the secret lies in good routines, and I hope to soon re-establish better writing and blogging ones. When I do - you will see a lot more writing from me!

How about you? 
What can you do differently to set up some good routines?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

7 Easy Ways to Make Someone's Day Better

My husband used my car to run some errands on Sunday, just before he went out-of-town for a few days. After he left, I experienced a warm, fuzzy filling when I discovered this little guy perched above my steering wheel, smiling right at me.

It was a silly little gesture by my husband - but I knew that I was being given a hug. He placed this happy little red doll (with his arms held out wide) right where I would see it, as a way of telling me he loves me.  It

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April 7th is No Housework Day!

Sometimes when brainstorming ideas for an article, I will look at the National Day Calendar or the Cute Calendar website to see what we are supposed to be celebrating on any given day. These calendar observations are actually copyrighted, and I'm often surprised by some of the topics! Take today for instance: April 7th is No Housework Day!

April 7 is No Housework Day

According to the Cute Calendar website, No Housework Day originated in 1987 and it is to be observed worldwide by "people who don't like housework." I cannot believe

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Montanans Are Tough - But a "Bison Run" Down Main Street?

Montanans have faced many tough challenges in the history of the state, and cowboys often put themselves at risk. So, maybe it is understandable that I read about three-quarters of an article about a bison run on Main Street in Laurel, MT before I began to question the truth of it! Only then did I note that it was written on April Fool's Day.

Here's the link:

True or not, this story is entertaining, well-written and really not all that far-fetched in comparison to the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.  

Mark Twain wisdom

Have you ever seen a bison (buffalo)? 
They are huge and can be very dangerous!

Happy Weekend!

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Fractured Bone and Broken Plans

My daughter was supposed to be in Ecuador last week on an environmental service trip with other college students, doing some reforestation and working at a high school. Instead, she spent her spring break at home in Montana on crutches with a broken foot. After so much anticipation and planning for this trip to South America, her disappointment was palpable.

 a pair of crutches

Being home, however, was healing. The swelling, pain and bruising of her foot diminished greatly over the week and she caught up on some much-needed rest. She had not planned to be home at all this spring, so

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter is early this year

I feel like Easter sort of snuck up on me this year, but that it is probably because it did! Even last week felt like it was just too close to St. Patrick's day to dye eggs and put out Easter decorations!

An easy Easter decoration

Easter does not occur on the same date each year.  

It can be observed anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th, depending on the timing of the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. With Easter falling on March 27th this year, that is nearly a month early compared to some other years. So - if you weren't feeling ready for Easter, perhaps it's because it really is very early, compared to many other years. 

Not all schools take their spring break at the same time, and Easter does not always coincide with those breaks. This year, Easter weekend marks the last few days of my daughter's break from college and the first