Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Weekly Weigh In: My Embarrassing Admission

I haven’t written a Weekly Weigh In post for several months now. Just a couple days after my last post I was scheduled for another total hip replacement surgery. It wasn't even a year since my first hip replacement. Thank goodness I only have two hips! While I wasn't looking forward to going through the surgery again, I was really looking forward to being out of pain. It had gotten so bad with this hip that I was on crutches for four weeks PRIOR to surgery. When I hobbled into the Doctor's office for my pre-surgery appointment on crutches, they all stopped, looked confused and said, "wait, you haven't had your surgery yet, have you?" In other words, 'you're not supposed to be on crutches until AFTER surgery'.

The truth is, my surgeon had tried to talk me out of the first hip replacement because I'm "too young". When the pain was so bad that I could not do daily activities, I insisted on the surgery. The day after the surgery, he came in to my hospital room and said, "You were right! Your hip was so chipped up and was bone on bone. If we had gone in to do a 'clean up' I would have closed you up and told you to come back for a total hip replacement." It's not that I wanted to be right, but I have a real high pain tolerance, so when it gets to a point that I can't take it anymore, it's usually way past surgery time.

Second time around was a repeat...again Doc tried to talk me out of it. "You're too young", he said. "The MRI doesn't look THAT bad." Of course, he admitted that the MRI couldn't ever show the bone inside of the joint. Again, I insisted. I agreed to wait long enough to put 12 months between the two hip replacements (almost to the day). Again, the day after surgery, he came into my room, shook his head, and said, "You were right, AGAIN!" Again, I reminded him that I didn't WANT to be right, but I knew my body.
This time I had asked him to take pictures of my hip joint. I really wanted to see what was causing such pain. (I wish I had thought to ask for pics of the first one.) I hope this doesn't gross you out. They're actually very clean pictures; so here are two pictures of the ball part of my hip. They were taken with the Doctors cell phone, so quality wise, we got what we got.
You should have a layer of cartilage that completely covers the ball to protect it. If you look closely, you can see the cartilage on the outside has been worn very thin and the middle has been worn completely off, exposing bone. This just means that every time I moved it was rubbing bone on bone. Oh, is that all? Makes sense, with the amount of pain I felt. hip replacement was late May. Surgery went spectacularly! When I left the hospital I was weeks ahead of where I was last year physically, same surgery, other hip. Why the difference? Well, that's for another post (too long to put in here). I promise I'll write that one soon because a lot of people have asked me why this surgery went so much better and I am healing so much faster this time. It is really quite interesting...well, I think it is.

But I still haven't told you about my embarrassing admission. Yes, it has to do with my weekly weigh in. I was updating my medical history this morning...when you've had as many surgeries as I have, you have to print your medical history on a full page of paper to give to Dr's for your file. There is no way to even begin to write it in the two lines they give you.

Anyway...I was updating my medical history this morning and I realized that I have had SEVEN surgeries in the last three years and (the embarrassing admission) gained 7 pounds with each one of them!! Seven pounds...okay, not so much. But times that by six...that's 42 POUNDS!!! Wow! I suddenly find myself 49 pounds heavier than I should be.

Five years ago I fought to lose 65 pounds and get back in shape after having 30 weeks of chemo and 6 surgeries in 12 months. I finally felt like "myself" again..strong and healthy. Now I am the first to say that being strong and healthy is a lifestyle, not a diet that gets you there and then you're done. But there is definitely a different approach to losing the weight to get back to that state and maintaining it once you are at that healthy place. I'm also not a huge proponent of aiming for a particular weight. I believe too many people get hung up on a number (or a size) that they have heard should be their ideal weight. Every body is different. I believe you know your healthy weight when you feel good, you feel strong, your clothes fit comfortably (in the appropriate size) and you know (if you are honest with yourself and not being "hollywood critical") that you look good.

So how does someone who loves fruit and veggies, juices every day and blogs about a healthy lifestyle get 42 pounds overweight? Each one of these surgeries left me unable to exercise (including walking) for an extended period of time. I was used to eating the amount of calories that I could handle while running 5 miles a day. Obviously, I didn't adjust my caloric intake once I wasn't able to exercise. Another contributor was all my well meaning friends who brought lots of great treats to "cheer me up" after surgery. Or took me to lunch so I could get out of the house a little.

And so, here I am, with 42 pounds to lose. I acknowledge it. I accept responsibility for it. I don't like it. I don't like how hard I'm going to have to work to get it off, but I'm willing to do it because today I am sick and tired of carrying it around. It drains me of energy and strength. I can't fit into my clothes, and I refuse to by a new wardrobe in a bigger size. Try picking up a 25 pound bag of potatoes and carrying it around your house for a while. I'll bet you don't get very far before you set it down thinking, "there is no way I can carry that all day!". When you gain external perspective like that, you begin to understand the extra stress you are putting on your body by being 25 pounds over weight.

So my question(s) to you is this. Are you interested in taking this journey with me? Whether 'Weekly Weigh In' or 'I'm Losing It, Again!'? Do you have a personal goal to improve your health? Is it motivating to you to read my progress? Would you share challenges with me and comment with your progress to help motivate others?

Leave a comment with your opinion and your thoughts on your personal health goals and what would be motivating to you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Motivations: How Are You Spending Your Dash?

Last Saturday we attended funeral services for a dear friend who was vibrant and loving, even to the end of her 2 1/2 year battle with brain cancer at the young age of 49. Two days ago we held funeral services for my Father-in-law, who passed at age 83; having lived a full and productive life, he was also taken by cancer. We are grateful his illness was fairly short and did not drag out his suffering.

Interacting with a friend and family member in their last days and reflecting upon their time on this earth during the celebrations of their lives reminded me of this poem written by Linda Ellis. Reading it always makes me contemplate how I am spending my "dash".

The Dash
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what the little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own,
The cars...the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile...
Remembering that this special dash
May last only a little while.

So, when your eulogy's being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Wesley Douglas Hobbs, Jr. 1925 - 2012
Julie A Jacobsen 1962 - 2012

For more Monday Motivations Click Here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Motivations: Who Packed Your Parachute?

I've seen a lot of people do a lot nice things for others, often with no acknowledgement or thanks. This week it made me think of Charles Plumb; I share his story with you below. I hope people recognize and acknowledge their "parachute packers" while they still can.

Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.
"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.
The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!"
Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he had looked like in a navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything, because you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor."

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.

He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute.

He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily challenges  that life gives us, we miss what is really important.

We may fail to say hello, please or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes!
Have a great week!
For more Monday Motivations Click Here.

All images courtesy Google Images.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Homemade Orange Cleaner

I love living in Arizona where we have fresh oranges, grapefruits and lemons almost year round. I'm also a huge fan of finding ways to use, reuse and upcycle so that nothing goes to waste. So when I heard this idea of making homemade orange cleaner, I had to try it. It was super simple and super effective. It also feels good to use cleaner that is all natural and smells good...I like doing my part for the "green movement". So here's how easy it is.

If you have a whole bag of oranges, use this Citrus Technique to cut them up. Layer the cut peels into a glass jar. If you only eat one orange a day, that works too. Just add the peels to the jar each day until it is full. 
Once the jar is full of peel, pour while vinegar into the jar covering all peels.
Put the lid tightly on the jar. Then let it sit 10-14 days. See how simple that is?
Don't open it during this time...just let it sit! The vinegar pulls the natural oil from the citrus peels.

When 10-14 days have passed, open the jar and pour the citrus oil into a spray bottle, filling to half way. Fill the rest of the spray bottle with water making a 50/50 mixture of citrus oil and water. Shake just a little to mix it and you are ready to clean. This cleaner works great on sinks, counters, windows, floors, showers...well, just about anywhere.

I also tried it with lemon peels and it worked just as well. 
Really, the only cost to this cleaner is the vinegar, because you are using the throw away part of the orange as you eat them, and not purchasing oranges specifically for this. I used a pint jar for the lemons, and a quart jar for the orange peels.

What is your favorite reuse, recycle or upcycle tip?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Banana Nut Choc Chip Muffins

I really like bananas. They are, in fact, one of my favorite fruits. That is, as long as they are yellow and firm. I cannot eat a banana that is soft; not even one that has just started getting soft. So in my mind, bananas have a very short window of perfection. They might be partially green when I purchase them. Within a day or two they will be perfect...completely yellow, firm, with no brown spots. They must be eaten within a couple days of that perfection. As soon as they sprout brown spots and are soft to the (gentle) squeeze...uh uh...past it's prime and I won't eat it.

That being said, I never throw bananas away. As soon as they are soft, I remove the peel, break the banana in half and add it to a baggie in my freezer. These frozen bananas are perfect for Smoothies. In fact, you need to let the banana get a little soft before freezing it. This enhances the natural sweetness of the fruit. I always have a baggie of frozen banana halves in the freezer ready to go for smoothies.

But every now and then I'm not paying attention and the bananas on the counter get past the "perfect to freeze softness" and are just plain mushy. I still don't like to throw them away, so that calls for a batch of Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins or some Banana Nut Oatmeal. Note: the softer the bananas are the sweeter they will taste. These muffins are quick to whip up and perfect for lunch boxes...or setting on the counter for kids to grab as they run in and out all summer.

This recipe makes 36 muffins.

6 Large Very Ripe Bananas
1 Cup Oil
3 Eggs

2 Cups Sugar
4 Cups White Flour **see tip 1 below
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Baking Powder

1 1/2 Cup Walnuts, Chopped Roughly
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 300*.
Mix wet ingredients in the blender. Pour into a large bowl.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing in a little at a time until fully incorporated.
Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake 20 min at 300*.
TIP 1: Whole wheat flour and white flour can be mixed 50/50. Sift the wheat flour and it will bake a little lighter.

TIP 2: Bakes well as loaves instead of muffins. Large loaves will bake in about 60 minutes. Small loaves will take 20-30 minutes.

Printable Recipe

What is your favorite recipe for using overripe bananas?
For more Passion For Excellence recipes Click Here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Motivations: Makin' Pancakes

Yesterday (Father's Day), I made waffles from scratch with fresh homemade strawberry syrup and whipped cream (not homemade) for Doug. With a couple of his favorite poached eggs alongside, they were soooo good. While I was mixing this whole grain goodness, I remembered this story and thought you might like it. 

One Saturday morning six year old Brandon decided to fix pancakes for his parents. He found a big bowl and a spoon, pulled a chair to the counter and climbed up on it. He opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it to the floor.

He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar. All the while leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.

Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad. He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove, (and he didn't know how the stove worked)! Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away. In doing so, he knocked the egg carton to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky. And just then he saw Dad standing at the door.

Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon's eyes. All he wanted to do was something good, but he's made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking.

But his father just watched him. Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process.

That's how God deals with us. We try to do something good in life, but sometimes it turns into a mess. Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend or we can't stand our job or our health goes sour. Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can't think of any thing else to do.

That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us, even though some of our mess gets all over Him. But just because we might mess up, we can't stop trying to "make pancakes," for God or for others. Sooner or later we'll get it right, and then they'll be glad we tried.

This story also reminds me to be patient with others who are traveling this journey with us. We don't always know what others are thinking; they may be trying to do something good and it turns into a mess.

Have a great week, everyone!! For more Monday Motivations Click Here!
To leave a comment Click Here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Easy Homemade Whoopie Pies

Call them Whoopie Pies or Stuffed Cookies, everyone loves them. And they are so easy to whip together. It doesn't take much longer to make four flavors than it does to make one. A variety of flavors makes an attractive dessert tray and allows you to satisfy different flavor preferences among those you are serving. They also freeze well. It's nice to be able to pull a few out of the freezer on a week night, or to be able to put a quick plate together to deliver to a friend.

Father's Day is a perfect time for Chocolate Bowls For Ice Cream Sundaes and a selection of different flavored Whoopie Pies. Speaking of Father's Day, another dessert that is ALWAYS a hit is this Almost Better Than Sex Cake. In my experience, even guys who aren't huge chocolate fans LOVE this's like eating a candy bar in cake form. If you are having a crowd over and want variety, make a couple of these super easy Butterfinger Pies. I can always count on these two dessert plates being empty before the day is over. And what are you making for Dad for dinner? Shouldn't it be some of his favorite foods? All guys love Gourmet will enjoy the creamy, decadent flavor of this one too. 

Back to the Whoopie Pies...I know there are multiple recipes out there, but I like this one because it is simple, quick and delicious! Without further you go...and Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

What you need:
1 Box Cake Mix
1 Stick Melted Butter
2 Eggs

Frosting: Purchase cans of frosting to coordinate with cake mix flavors.

Some great combinations are:
Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting
Chocolate OR Devils Food with Cream Cheese OR Vanilla Frosting
Strawberry with Chocolate Frosting
Yellow with Chocolate Frosting
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Gingerbread Cake with Vanilla Frosting


Mix cake mix, melted butter and eggs together.
Scoop rounded teaspoon, roll into ball and set on baking sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes on 350*
Don't overcook. Cookies will continue to cook as they sit.
Let cookies sit for 5 minutes before transferring to wax paper.
Let cookies cool completely.
Turn cookies upside and and pipe frosting on one half of the cookies, using the piping technique below.
You can also just spread the frosting on the cookies, but piping is so much easier and faster.
Gently press a second cookie on top of frosted cookies while frosting is still soft. For best flavor and consistency, refrigerate for a couple hours before eating. If you need to keep them for more than a day or two, they store very nicely in the fridge. And as I mentioned before, they are awesome frozen! 

Piping Technique:
Stand a plastic baggie in a glass, spreading it over the outside of the glass. 
Using a spatula, fill the baggie with frosting. 
Using scissors, cut the tip of the baggie off. Keep the size of the hole relevant to what you are piping. For Whoopie Pies, it can be a fairly large hole.

Printable Recipe
My two favorites are red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and a Dark Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Just can't decide which I like best. What is your favorite flavor combination? Can you suggest a new combo for me to try?

To leave a comment, click here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm Ba-ack!

Maybe you've noticed (or maybe you haven't), that I have been MIA for several weeks. I'm not a deserter...I just needed a little time out for surgery. I am now home recovering.

I mistakenly thought that I would have plenty of time to complete the dozens of blog posts that I have started and taken pictures for, while "sitting around" recovering. Turns out that there is very little time left between PT, naps, visiting with friends who stop by and just taking care of every day activities that take me twice as long to complete. I'm not complaining...not at all! Those of you who know me well know that I had this same surgery exactly one year ago on the other side (total hip replacement) and it was a long, difficult recovery.

As I add this to my list of nearly 40 surgeries and procedures, I joke that my purpose in life must be to experience every medical procedure I possibly can. I now need to figure out how I can use those experiences to help others (while making a living). Anyway, I approached this surgery differently by putting together a plan for everything that didn't go as well as I would have liked, or I thought could have gone better with last years surgery. I discussed my plan with the Doctors ahead of time and got their buy in. Among other things, my plan included a different drug protocol before, during and after surgery as well as juicing for intense nutritional therapy before and immediately following surgery. Yes, I prepared my own fresh juice and Doug brought it to the hospital in a cooler.

Let me just say, "Woo Hoo!!" HUGE SUCCESS!! I feel great. I was able to get out of bed BY MYSELF just 15 hours after surgery. (For comparison, last year it was three days before I could get up and then with great assistance.) I felt wonderful immediately. It is still a lengthy recovery for my hip, but I feel good and have great energy. At three weeks after surgery, I would compare my overall strength and energy right now to where I was week seven or eight of last year. The whole experience has been 100% better and overall I am thrilled with where I'm at and the progress I've made.

My hospital experience was super positive. Just a quick shout out to the staff on the 3rd floor, orthopedic wing of Arrowhead Hospital in Glendale, Az. When I arrived in my room after surgery I was thrilled to find that my nurse and CNA were the same wonderful people that had assisted me last year. PT and OT were the same too. It's a good thing they were awesome and I was happy to see them, huh? I guess if they hadn't been so wonderful last year, it would have been a long four days. And my incredible husband, Doug, was beside me in the hospital the whole time. He may hold the record for most days spent sleeping in a hospital room chair! We just don't like being apart. We're still's only been 11 years. I love that we love being together!

I actually asked my Dr. to take a picture of my hip as they replaced it. He did, and then emailed it to me. I thought about putting it in this post, but don't want to freak anyone out who doesn't have the stomach for things like that. I think it was quite interesting to see what had been causing all the pain.

I can't wait to get active again! Those who know me also know that I'm not the type to sit still for long. I love the outdoors and I crave activity. Even when watching tv I'd rather be walking on the treadmill or riding my bike on the trainer than sitting in a chair. I'm learning to accept that I won't be able to run any more. I'll have to walk/hike the mountain instead of run the mountain. I was training for a marathon when my first knee went out. Now I've had two hip replacements (consequences of a very active life and cancer drugs that destroyed my joints) and have to protect my knees as well. Right now I am working on being able to walk without crutches. That may take a while, but I'll get there. I'm faithful in doing my PT every day

I'm trying to wrap my brain around walking a marathon. Have you ever done that? When I think marathon, I think running. But I'm trying to get to the mindset that it would be just as great of an accomplishment to walk it. If you've walked a marathon, what tips or advice can you offer me?

I'm working on getting a few posts up before Fathers Day: quick and easy table decor and yummy homemade whoopie pies. But let me just say, if you need a killer dessert for Father's Day that never disappoints, try Almost Better Than Sex Cake; even guys who aren't crazy for chocolate love it! Another hit with the guys is Butterfinger Pie.  Mmmmm...good!

It's good to be back; with a little time, I'll be back stronger than ever!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How To Cut A Mango In 90 Seconds Or Less

Do you love eating Mango's, but hate cutting them? If so, then I suspect you are still trying to peel them and then cut them. Aaarrrggghhh! That's enough to make you scream, or... just not eat mango's!

Mango's are super easy to cut and prepare once you know the trick. When they are on sale I love to buy bags of them and make an Incredible Mango Salsa. I'll share more delicious Mango recipes in coming weeks. But right now, let's look at how to cut a mango in 90 seconds or less. Seriously, that's all it takes! Here's how...

First, pick a perfectly shaped, ripe Mango. Okay, any Mango will do!
Next, stand it up on it's skinny side and point it away from you.
The pit of the Mango is long, but only about 1/2 inch thick. It runs right down the middle of the Mango.
Imagine a 1/2 inch strip down the middle. 
You are going to cut a slice off the Mango on both sides of that 1/2 inch strip.
(Wow, this seems way more complicated to  put into words than it actually is!)
Cut one side off and spin the Mango around and cut the other side off.
You are left with the thin center piece of the Mango, which we will come back to.
Hold one half of the Mango in the palm of your hand.
With your knife, make 3 lengthwise cuts, being careful not to cut through the skin.
Turn the Mango in your hand and make 4 cuts the opposite way, creating a grid of cuts. 
Do this with both halves.
Gently invert the Mango half. Now all of your pre-cut pieces of Mango are sticking straight up so you can easily cut them off the peel. Once they are on your cutting board, just cut the Mango into smaller chunks for Mango Salsa.
Or leave them big and eat them just like this.
Pick up the thin center piece of Mango. There is still a lot of good fruit around the pit. At the end opposite of the stem, cut through the peel. Holding it between the knife and your thumb, pull the peel back to the stem. Do the same to the other side, then just cut off the stem with the peel.
Use the knife to cut the remaining Mango off the pit.
Rotate the pit until you've cut all the way around and on both sides. 
You are left with a thin husk-like shell. Inside this is the Mango pit. If you set this on a plate and let it dry out for a few days, you can break open the husk and remove the Mango seed. The actual seed looks a lot like a bean (it is very small). Set it in a shallow dish of water and it will grow. It grows a cool little tree right out of the center of the seed.
Now you have a beautiful pile of ready to eat Mango!
This whole process really takes about 60-90 seconds once you have done it and know exactly how to do it.

Now, take that pile of Mango, chop it up a little smaller and try These Two Mango Salsa Recipes! They are amazing!

What is your favorite recipe for Mango? To leave a comment Click Here.

For more recipes Click Here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Motivations: Why Women Cry

I wish I knew who to credit for today's writing, but the author remains anonymous. In honor of Mothers Day...

Why Women Cry

"Why are you crying?", a young boy asked his Mom.
"Because I'm a woman", she told him.
"I don't understand", he said.
His Mom just hugged him and said, "And you never will, but that's okay".

Later the little boy asked his Father,
"Why does Mom seem to cry for no reason?"
"All women cry for no reason", was all his Dad could say.

The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry.
Finally, he prayed to God, who would surely know the answer.

God answered and said,
"When I made woman, I decided she had to be special.
I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world,
her arms gently enough to give comfort.

I gave her the inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times will come even from her own children. I gave her the hardiness that allows her to keep going and take care of her family and friends, even when everyone else gives up, through sickness and fatigue, without complaining.

I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances.
Even when her child has hurt her badly.
She has the very special power to make a child's boo-boo feel better,
and to quell a teenager's anxieties and fears.

I gave her the strength to care for her husband, despite faults, and I fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart.
I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

For all of this hard work, I also gave her a tear to shed.
It is hers to use whenever needed and it is her only weakness.
When you see her cry, tell her how much you love her, and all she does for everyone, and even though she may still cry, you will have made her heart feel good. She is special!"

Don't forget to give your mom a hug this Sunday. Happy Mother's Day to all you fabulous Mother's!

What is your favorite memory of your Mom?

For more Monday Motivations Click Here.

Photo credits: Google Images

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strawberry Angel Kabobs

Don’t you hate it when you're browsing through Pinterest and you come across something that someone else has pinned that is just like something that you have been making forever and have been saving to post?! That happened recently when I logged on and saw something similar to my Strawberry Angel Kabobs (which I had been saving to post this week.) These are a favorite for Mother's Day Brunch.

This is the perfect dessert for Mother's Day that is low-calorie, (what mom isn't always looking for low-cal?) and easy to assemble (see tips for chocolate striping below). It also has an elegant presentation and tastes delicious! What more can you ask for from a dessert? You could even serve Ice Cream in Chocolate Bowls alongside the skewers. 

If you like brunch that leans towards breakfast foods, try these Personal Frittatas, with  Perfectly Crisp Bacon and Roasted Asparagus on the side. They are always a hit and everyone loves bacon! If your brunch is more of lunch food, here's a new and fun way to serve Caprese Salad. And this Sweet Mango Salsa is delicious served as a salad on a bed of lettuce. And Mom will think you are a gourmet chef when you present her with Chilled Avocado Cucumber Soup. 

So, on to the kabobs...

Angel Food Cake (check your grocery store bakery for rectangle or square cake-it's easier to cut in squares than round cake)
Fresh Strawberries
Wooden Skewers
Melting Candy - Chocolate & Vanilla

Cut angel food cake into squares
Cut tops off strawberries
Slide strawberry onto skewers, followed by cake.
Repeat until skewer is full.
Set skewers close together on a tray.
Squeeze melting candy over skewers, either in stripes back and forth or twisting and circling.

Preparing Melting Candy:
Here's a super easy way to squeeze chocolate or frosting for decorating.
Put chocolate in microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Keep heating in 30 second increments, stirring in between each until melted.

Stand sandwich baggie inside of a small glass, spreading it open over the top of the glass.
Scoop up the melted chocolate and put in inside the baggie.
Pick the the baggie, using your hand to slide the chocolate down into the corner.

Cut a TINY bit off the corner of the baggie. I can't stress TINY enough, if you want to decorate in thin strips of chocolate.

Once you have finished decorating your skewers with chocolate melting candy, repeat the process with the vanilla melting candy.

Happy Mother's Day!

What is your favorite Mother's Day dessert? To leave a comment Click Here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Motivations: How To Choose A New CEO

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different.

He called all the young executives in his company together. He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you." The young executives were shocked , but the boss continued, "I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, an the one I choose will be the next CEO.

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost, and he planted the seed. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by--still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - he so wanted the seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He tool his empty pot to the board room.
When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful - in all shaped and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him.
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"
All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, the CEO knows I'm a failure. Maybe he will have me fired!" When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed, Jim told him the story.
The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. He couldn't even grow his seed. "How could he be the next CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds. They were dead; it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

The moral of the story:
Be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you you will reap later.
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment.
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.

For more Monday Motivations Click Here.