Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year's Resolutions May Not Happen

After looking over my New Year's Resolutions from last year, I realized that they are all still a work in progress.

1. Be on time more for meetings, work, etc.
2. Have a time set aside for a devotional
3. Drink more water
4. Remember important events and anniversaries.
5. Leave work on time.
6. Do the things I love.
7. Work on the blog.

These are not in the order that I originally blogged about, but I have been thinking about this year and the things that I have accomplished. What has made 2015 important and what will make 2016 even better?

1. Be on time to meetings/work/events/etc.
I have put a few things in effect so that I can be more successful. Truthfully, I have battled this so much this year. And truthfully, still am not conquering this as much as I would like.  While I would like to blame the fact that I am not ontime to work regularly to the fact that I am blocked in the driveway, I cannot fully and honestly say that it is to blame. I point the blame at me. After reviewing many other blogs about tackling the mornings, I have tried a few things to change what I need to do.
a. I created an evening checklist that I try to follow in the evening before I go to bed so that I can be motivated to complete tasks that have to be done. There is a sense of accomplishment that I crave that I receive with I check off that I have completed tasks.  A couple of blogs suggested taking time in the evening to plan the next day with to dos. I don't have ten minutes to do this, but might.
b. I have enlisted the help of a coworker/boss to help with my timeliness to work. I feel like signing into a book is not enough. I text when I arrive and park my car. I just send a simple text and say, "Here."  If I am late, I have to see that co-worker/boss and they say something to me. I don't want them to have to say anything to me, but I needed this. Why? Because for whatever reason that 5 minutes shift in my morning routine, I am going to be 10 minutes later in traffic. Being on time is an expectation and I need to show that I am on time....that I can meet expectations in punctuality.
c. I took into consideration laying out everything the night before and loading the car the night before. Believe it or not, this helps. This has even changed my laundry routine. (I match my kids clothes on hangers for quick morning grabs.)
d. Lunches are made the night before as well. While this is a financial motivator, I make 4 sandwiches at night 3 out of the 5 nights a week generally so that the family has a lunch to take.

2. Have a time set aside for a devotional.
a. There is a time in the morning that I have set aside. Unfortunately, I do not follow that routine as much as I like. I scheduled 5:00 AM for a morning devotional/prayer time. I meet this maybe 2 times a month, shamefully. Excuse 1 - I am tired.  Excuse 2 - It will be ok.  Excuse 3 - I need to be in bed next to my husband. 
b. I did spend more time in a devotional than what was actually listed in 2.a. but just not at the time I had carved out. During the summer, I actually completed a Proverbs study inspired by Good Morning Girls, and followed a small group of ladies that my sister-in-law had created for women to encourage each other in the Word. The creator of Good Morning Girls has a process called SOAK that helps study God's Word and to retain the information to a depth that I have been longing for. Challenges with this makes a 30 minute session reviewing scripture is that I want to make notes on all of the scriptures because I get so much. SOAK stands for the following - Scripture, Observations, Application, and Kneel and Pray. I can actually say that I found that study to be encouraging and uplifting. Some sessions actually were 1 - 2 hours once I completed my daily chapter of Proverbs. Once I went back to work in the fall, I was unable to keep up with that pace in the study of Acts.
c. One of my co-workers shared a piece of information that I have held close, "You cannot make time. You have to take time."  This has been important, whether I take time as I walk, as I cook, as I drive to think or pray to God. I think that the "Be Still" part is still difficult for me. When I am "Still," I fall asleep!  Excuse 4 - Once I am up, I fall back asleep.
d. I would like to extend this into 2016 that there is a specific time, that I begin with a Heart of Gratitude, noting things I am thankful for and counting my blessings in my notebook. I don't have a fancy notebook, just something with paper and a working pen. I am thinking that I may need to have an actual devotional book to follow. This will keep me from fighting temptation to switch back and forth between Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

3.Drink more water.
a. Some days this works. Some days, not so much.
b. I have been substituting hot water with lemon and raw honey for coffee in the evenings. There is something about a hot drink in the evenings that I find important. I don't know why I love the coffee in the afternoon so much, but I do.  The health effects of the hot water, lemon, and honey can be found easily by checking on the internet.

4. Remember important events and anniversaries.
a. I think I scored on this one. However, I think that there is one that we did not celebrate and I will need to follow up as soon as I can.
b. I am thinking of extending this one into writing them out ahead of time and placing them in my Family organizer.  Then, I just have to mail them.
c. I even sent a couple of rounds of pictures and notecards to grandmas, in-laws, parents, and my sister. I think I would like to look at a different time to do this. I did this on Sundays, which may need to be reviewed for this year.

5. Leave work on time.
I don't meet this. I just don't. Why not? I have a life to live and truthfully, I have been living my work and not valuing the time. How can I do this? I need to make a plan.
Part of it is that I may not be able to tutor during the Spring Session. This breaks my heart, because I may not be able to reach some kids. However, I need to reach for my own before I can support someone else's children. There is much truth to this. It may relieve some of the mommy guilt, help with relaxing, and finding enjoyment in my daily living.

6.  Do the things I love.
Where do I begin? I feel like I have grown a lot in the last year in a positive way. I have begun to step out in a way that I don't normally get to do.
a. I have begun to take both kids shopping by myself. I could run to the grocery store for one or two things with two kids. However, I now take them to Hobby Lobby and Barnes and Nobles by myself. That my not sound like a lot for some Champion Moms out there, but this is big for me because even before I had children, I didn't go many places by myself. I spent Saturday mornings cleaning and sleeping. Then Sundays were spent lesson planning. I started making morning runs to the bank on Saturdays to deposit checks, to get out and to start our day with the kids. They enjoy going to different stores. Then we come home and the day feels like it has been full, when it is only half way over.
b. I have started to decorate a bit more. It sounds silly. I didn't spend money on things because we have had bills to pay. And buying something that I wasn't sure would work somewhere didn't make sense. I spent a lot of time reviewing pictures of interior decorating and realized that the value of the decorator's focal point is charged by the items valued by the family. I created a focal point on our wall below the stairs due to the fact that I liked a would be gift for a work party more on my wall than as an idea that it would be given to someone. I also decorated more in the kids' bedroom and in the kitchen.
c. I love to take care of my family. There are some challenges that I faced due to time restraints, cleaning needs, and ever changing lifestyle of a 1  to 2 and 4 to 5 year old this year.
              i. I created a check list for the week for maintaining the home. I would like to take it further by making a checklist for each month with expectations and expenses.
              ii. I am burned out by the end of the week because I try to give 110% every day. Keeping up with the cleaning for a household of a family and a pug is overwhelming when you cook in most nights, wash clothes for two kids and two adults, keep up with bills, and any additional events that happen in between, including but not limited to sickness and health needs....I had to make changes to when I did these items and how I accomplished them. I changed most of the cleaning to the week nights, not the weekends as I used to do. I spent too many Sundays crying over 10 loads of laundry, lesson plans, dirty kitchen, lack of fulfillment, etc. Something had to give.
                 iii. I have tried multiple ways to keep up with food that I cook...food that I cook that I like. I collect cook books, but rarely cook out of them. I rely much on good ole standbys like tacos, hot dogs, and slow cooker meals.I started a numbered list of quick meals in a word document and copied the recipes into a personal notebook. I also use Pinterest to pin recipes that I cooked and my family enjoyed because they were so good. I plan to take the word document further by listing individual meals on separate pages with all of the different ingredients and recipes for easy meal planning and grocery shopping.  (Idea - listing the UPC for quick scanning for quick uploading.)
          iv. I have started a notebook for creativity, family recipes, and memory keeping. I write in it to document family meals, funny quotes, and pictures of meals that we make regularly.
          v. I have actually completed several projects in the house, including the Coffee Can organizers and wreath making. I will say that when you create something, you feel so empowered. A can of spray paint can make a huge difference in feeling accomplished!
         iv.  I took a personal day to spend with my husband. Yes. I did. I never take a personal day. My husband and I took a personal day and we went to lunch and a movie. Ha! I needed that day in the worst way. I cannot verbalize how much good that it was for me.
         iiv. Have people over the house. I have had more people over to our home in the last year. Friends have come over for dinner and for play dates with the kids.  This has been great for us to have fellowship and to laugh.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Painted Coffee Canisters for Storage (Pinterest Idea put into Action)

My storage containers using Folger's Coffee Containers. Idea from Kitchen Kelli from Hometalk, pinned on Pinterest.

I absolutely love Pinterest. If I were left on a deserted island, I think Pinterest might have to be one of my essentials. Not much for meeting Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs, but it might take my mind away from the deserted part...minus the fact that I have internet and I am deserted and cannot make contact with anyone in the world...

Anyway, I found this link over a year ago and pinned it.

It was a pretty cool concept. One of my coworkers shared she was looking for empty coffee containers for her classroom and I gladly shared an empty one that I was going to throw away. Then I found the link. Wow. This was creative and useful --- and the world would be made better. Thus began the process of collecting empty coffee containers so that I could possibly create one day, somehow.

I started hoarding them in our second closet downstairs next to (and on top of my slow cooker). I would add one and hope that my husband did not decide to throw it away when I wasn't looking. One,  two, three, and four large containers still sitting there month after month and then I finished drinking the coffee from the fifth container. Another friend from work was going to throw away one and I asked her if I could have it for my Pinterest Project. (Which I had not started and still wasn't sure that I was going to do, but I had hopes.)

Summer arrived and I decided that the time had come. I wanted to create and I wanted something useful. I determined that the purpose of the containers would be to hold the little toys that my kids play with all of the time: wooden blocks, large legos, little people, little pieces, etc. After all, I am trying to teach that we clean up when we finish with something. And I was losing the battle when the four year old picks up and the one year old comes behind and literally dumps the basket as he walks through the living room. So much for hoping for an adult space, right? There are only so many times that you can deal with a four year old's melt down from picking up and then personally having to pick it up the other 15 times before lunch.

I went to one of the home improvement stores one night and picked out this special shade of aqua for about $6.00. Then I decided that it might not work for what I wanted. Then I discussed the color with my husband, who thought it would work.
Pick your color. I selected a Satin Aqua with Paint and Primer.  
I used Rust-oleum Painter's Touch with Paint and Primer for the color. I thought it would be the best for this project. The satin texture was more of what I was looking for.

I washed all of the containers the night before I began the project. I used Folger's Coffee Containers and they do not have additional labels to pull off. I did check around the edges to make sure that I pulled all of the adhesive from the freshness seal in order to make sure that the paint would stick.

Pull all of the the adhesive and any pieces of the freshness seal.  Wash the containers in hot soapy water. The containers will still smell like coffee. 

Then I stacked them all and went off to do something else (like watch television and sleep...yeah right...more like laundry or picking up those toys again...).

The next day, I made a run to Hobby Lobby, a paradise filled with endless possibilities to create. I scoured the store looking for chalkboard stickers and a chalkboard pen. With both kids in tow, I took both kids by myself through Hobby Lobby. That's right, I was one brave lady.  The chalk pen was $3.49 and the chalkboard stickers were regularly $3.99.  At check out, my stickers were on sale. So I saved two dollars.

Chalkboard pen 

Chalkboard labels
I arrived home with my goods and couldn't wait to begin creating.  I set up a spray station in the back yard with two saw horses and some scrap cardboard.

Two saw horses and some scrap cardboard construct this makeshift table, perfectly ventilated outside in the sun. 

More containers. Pretty color. 

 The containers were dry and I began to spray paint following the directions on the can.

I turned them upside down for the first spray. Then I would walk around the makeshift table to spray specific sections.  When they dried enough for me to actually spray the tops, I found some errors. I also noticed some drips. For my purpose, I didn't think they needed to be perfect.
Oops! Not perfect! I was too close to the container and sprayed too much at one coat. 

However, I noticed how incredibly excited I was about the color. Yes, I liked it more. Another thing to take note of is that a can of spray paint can make you feel incredibly powerful.  I wanted to search the house for things to spray.  My husband thinks I used too much spray on the cardboard. Ha! Me?! Well, maybe he was right.

I tried to spray around the edges. so that it would be a cleaner look.

I ran out of paint on the touch ups and the top edges. I wanted to do a little spray on the inside so that it wasn't red when I opened up the container. However, I did not feel the need to get more paint.

The containers dried in the sun.
All of the containers are spray painted. 

I eventually moved them into the house.
Containers sitting in the kitchen. Notice that not all sizes are the same. That is fine.

I wrote out the stickers with the names of the items that it would hold.

The labels can be wiped and rewritten on if I change out the toys, making it reusable. Neat.

This is the finished product. Six canisters "upcycled" for storage for about $12.00.

My husband made another run to the home improvement store and found knobs that were 1/2 price making them $2.50 each. The aqua stripes matched perfectly.

The plan is to drill holes in the top of the lid and also have a small piece of wood stabilize the knob.

Other knobs that I looked at were very heavy and I was afraid that I would be wasting money and damaging the lids. They were also $5 each and that was more than I really wanted to spend.  This was an added $15.00.  A suggestion for knobs would be to buy the multipack that matches. You can find those on the hardware aisle at many stores like Walmart, Target, or K-Mart.

Total project $27.00 for cute containers. I will post the finished picture with the drilled holes below.

 If you by chance decide that you, too, would like to create these, here are some observations:
1. Paint does flake off with some rough handling.
2. Containers stack easily without knobs.
3. This was not a difficult task. The most difficult thing was collecting the coffee containers.
4. Total spent on this project. $12.00 without knobs. $27.00 with knobs (found on clearance).


Here is Regina and there she goes....

The idea of a blog was interesting and somewhat mysterious. People who blog have something that they want to share and that they are doing. Much of what I do is basic every day things. And I cannot share what I do at work because of privacy.

There are certain parts of the year where I am so involved in my work and house work that during every day events, I am often lost in thought. My husband says to me, "Where do you go when you go?" which is a quote from American Dad.  To be quite honest, I am thinking about how to maneuver two kids to bed, with or without bath time, while trying to orchestrate getting laundry down stairs to the laundry room to start washing a load. Meanwhile, I am trying to figure how to clear the table and unload the dishwasher faster. To think that I would actually have time to think about writing a blog with topics was far from my mind from February to May. Even now, I am finding it difficult to clear time and I am off for a short time. Really, I just want to vegetate. Maybe stare at a television or just sit by the pool. Either way, nothing that requires much thinking. (Reminder...use sunscreen.)

So, for anyone that was on the edge of their seat with anticipation, "What is Regina going to write about now?" Here she is... and there she goes. This blog will possibly be only updated when I need a creative outlet and can only get one here.  Once again, this was for me. And here I am, again.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Family Recipe to Pass Down: Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I mentioned earlier in the blog that I am trying to take time to cook with my daughter. However, I do have an ulterior motive. I want her to be able to cook the family recipes that I have grown to love so that those flavors can help shape her life. (And be able to cook for me when I can't and know that it will be edible! Ha!)

My mother provided me with this recipe. It was a recipe my great-aunt shared with her at one of the family gatherings that I had growing up.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake


1 1/2 cups of butter (margarine is fine) softened/room temperature
3 cups of sugar
1  8 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 eggs (my mother uses 4*)
3 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla (vanilla butter & nut preferred)
1 tsp. almond flavoring



Cream margarine/butter and cream cheese together.

Add eggs one at a time beating well.

Stop and stir as necessary.

Sift flour.

Add it to the mixture.  Add about a cup at the time.  Stop and stir as needed.  Add flavoring.  (Stir flavoring in by hand. Whatever you prefer.)

  Cook in two loaf pans or in a tube pan (bundt). Do not preheat the oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours on 300 degrees Fahrenheit. (Watch your stove. We have gas and it seems to cook much faster, so I cook it for 1 1/4 hours instead so my cake isn't dry.)

Take it out of the oven and allow about 10 minutes to cool before serving.

Homemade Salsa

I love tomatoes. Anyone who knows me knows I love tomatoes...red, juicy, acidic tomatoes...the redder the better!  However a close second is a great salsa. I am particularly picky when it comes to salsas. It has to have a certain flavor and texture.

This recipe is quick and easy. It came from a family friend who shared her salsa recipe with us and I had to have it. And I haven't stopped making it since.  In fact, I make it about every week to two weeks, depending on what our weekly dinners consist of...or my late night stress eating needs when I stay up late working on work related projects.

Homemade Salsa

1/4 - 1/2 of medium sized onion (too much onion is too much for me)
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 regular can of Rotel tomatoes (original...can substitute store brand)
1 can of petite diced tomatoes with or without salt added

Place chunk of onion in food processor or blender. Follow safety rules for food processor or blender in order to operate correctly. Blend enough to chop to medium to small pieces. Do not puree. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend together more or less for chunky or thinner salsa depending on your preference. Serve immediately.

Refrigerate up to 5 days what is left in a sealed container.

Serve with tortilla chips, tacos, etc.

Cooking with Pressure

My pressure cooker was a gift from my grandfather. He was cleaning out a few pans he didn't need. He offered a pressure cooker to me, but after examining what he was offering, I told him that he was missing pieces. While I didn't have one, I couldn't take the one he was offering.

A couple of days later, my mother called me. My grandfather had purchased one for me to use. I have enjoyed cooking with it. While I have only cooked pork chops and soups in it, I have been thrilled to use it.  I actually hope to try a few other dishes with it soon.

These are the pieces to my pressure cooker.  There are many other kinds of models, but mine is not an electric pressure cooker. Mine uses heat applied to the bottom from the stove to cook dishes. Not many people cook with one of these bad boys. It can be intimidating. Heat and pressure with locks? Just a little! However, once you have practiced and have followed proper directions (see the manual for the pressure cooker you are using...they are all different!) you can enjoy cooking with them more often. Additionally, no one will have to know that your meal was not cooking all day long!
Make sure that you check all of your pieces. 

1. Pressure cooker pot.
2. Pressure cooker lid
3. Rubber seal
4. Metal grate
5. Weight

I may not have used specific terminology for this particular blog, but these are the terms I choose to use to elaborate on the process of using a pressure cooker. Remember, the best way to learn how to use a pressure cooker is to actually use the manufacturer's directions. Even more, talk about how to use a pressure cooker with someone who has actually cooked with one before. Their experience can provide an opportunity (with manufacturer's directions) to ask questions and clarify your understanding of how to safely and effectively cook a delicious dish. (My mother taught me how to cook with a pressure cooker and I have been cooking with one since I was about 13.)

1. Check the small seal on the pressure cooker lid. Make sure that the seal is free of debris and moves. Do not attempt to pop it out. This may damage the small seal and also cause issues with achieving desired pressure. Or worse, you could have a problem during cooking with pressure that can cause serious injury.

2. Continue to check the lid of the pressure cooker. Check the small hole where the weight will sit. I always check to make sure that I can see through the hole on the lid to ensure that there is no debris blocking the hole. Steam flows out of this small opening and helps communicate pressure level with a sound that the steam creates.

3. Add the rubber seal to the lid of the pressure cooker, taking care that it slips between the metal piece attached to the handle. This metal piece will help lock the pressure cooker in place. The rubber seal is to obviously create a seal in order for pressure to be built for the cooking process.

Place the metal grate in the bottom of  the pressure cooker, leaving the metal grate up avoiding burning food because the food will sit directly on the grate instead of on the bottom of the pressure cooker pot.

4.Place the metal grate down in the bottom of the pot.  The metal grate should be placed where there is a slight gap between the entire grate and the bottom of the pan, allowing food the opportunity to cook, not burn. (Burnt food in the pressure cooker is gross. Nuff said.) 

5. Add all of ingredients. Be careful to look at the fill lines. If you are going to cook a large amount in the pressure cooker, be sure that you do not over fill. Pressure building can be compromised again, and it can cause injury. Follow recipe directions for pressure cooker dishes, because food can be burned if not enough ingredients (water or broth) has not been added.

6.  Once the pressure cooker has been filled correctly, take the lid and line up the arrows on the pressure cooker and the pressure cooker lid. This is where you will slide the pressure cooker lid into place.  A metal lock will also slide in place to hold in pressure. When the pressure is built, the metal bobber (not technical term) will rise and hold lock even more in place.

7. Add weight to the top of the pressure cooker lid. Make sure that it is situated correctly and able to move as steam and heat passes through the vent. Do not leave the weight off.  The weight helps the pressure build inside to cook your dish. The steam also is able to come through the little vent. Additionally, the sound that is created (jiggling sound), included below, communicates that cooking is taking place and pressure is built.

8. Cook food following directions from recipe from a reputable source. These recipes have been tried and you will have more accurate results, avoiding overcooking, under cooking, and incorrect use of the pressure cooker. I included a recipe from my mother:  Rebecca's Beef Stew

9. Once cooking time has been achieved,turn off the heat and allow the pressure cooker to decrease fully before attempting to open the pressure cooker.

WARNING- Failure to follow manufacturer's directions can cause severe injury and burns to self and to others. Make sure you know what you are doing before you attempt this. 

Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever remove the weight from the top of the steam vent while there is still pressure in the pressure cooker. There is an extreme amount of pressure built up inside that will force the liquid through the steam vent and damage ceiling and surroundings. The user is also in danger of severe burns and injury if directions are not followed properly. 

10. Enjoy your dish.

Check out other blogs and videos from YouTube about accurately using a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker is such an awesome tool to cook with, but if handled inappropriately, can cause severe injury to self and food.
Handle with care.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Rebecca's Beef Stew

The holidays are over. With that brings the thoughts about going back to the daily grind and keeping myself motivated while I load laundry, co-cook dinner, wrestle a baby out of the cabinets, explain to the four year old that screaming right before bedtime is not idealistic, and pay the bills. I am also thinking about the cold weather and the grey skies...and the possibilities of snow and Snow Days. That's right, I need some motivation and I am not talking about Music and Lyrics' "A Way Back Into Love." I am talking about something that motivates me through January, February, and March that doesn't expect me to pay or sign away my life (get in line...).

One of the free-ninety-free opportunities is free child labor. I am joking, of course, but AB is becoming the age where she can help out in the kitchen. At this time, she actually wants to help. I have had her help me since before she was two with stirring and pouring ingredients into bowls and the slow cooker. I want to make sure that she has a good knowledge of basic preparation of a few meals for life, but also make a few pretty awesome memories while we have the time. 

My mother made this particular soup or stew. It technically is a thin broth, so you might refer to it as a soup. It is full of veggies and beef, and the secret to not having to have it simmer all day on the stove top is my secret weapon - the pressure cooker.  

 I made this Beef Soup for the first time when I was in the eighth grade for Home Economics with Mrs. Norris. Mrs. Norris had a specific number of dishes that we had to cook and our parents had to sign that we actually cooked it. (Not that it was edible, but cooked.)  Additionally, we had to collect recipes on note cards, which had to be turned in for a grade. My mom took time to sit down and go over some of our family recipes, where she shared this particular one. (Then, she assigned me the task of cooking Thanksgiving Dinner - the Turkey and sides. Alas, another story, another day.)

Rebecca's Beef Stew (Pressure Cooker 5-Quarts)
1 lb. stew beef
3 carrots, washed and sliced sliced
4 - 5 red potatoes washed and sliced
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2-3 beef bullion cubes
1 can of green beans, not drained (can use fresh)
1 can of corn, not drained
2 cans of petite diced tomatoes, not drained
1 onion diced
Water - fill to top line

I prefer the baby carrots instead of peeling and prepping, but if the carrots are fresh, they add a sweetness to the soup.
Slice the potatoes. Leave skins on if they are red potatoes. Other potatoes can be substituted.

AB poured in all of the canned vegetables. 

Follow manufacturer's directions for assembling the pressure cooker. Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker. Add water up to the fill line on the inside of the pot. Secure the lid and make sure that it locks in place. Add the weight to the top of the steam vent directly on top of the lid. Check to make sure that the weight is situated correctly. Turn on heat medium to high. It may take about 15 minutes before the top weight begins to jiggle and make noise.

 Turn the heat down to medium and set the timer for 15 minutes. Once 15 minutes is past, turn off the heat to the burner the pressure cooker is on. Allow to sit (up to 30 - 45 minutes to cool enough for pressure to be released). (This is the perfect time to make salad, rice, or bread to serve with the soup. Do not attempt to move or touch the pressure cooker in this time period. Manufacturer's directions may note other ways to release pressure, but this is the safest. 

WARNING- Failure to follow manufacturer's directions can cause severe injury and burns to self and to others. Make sure you know what you are doing before you attempt this. 

Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever remove the weight from the top of the steam vent while there is still pressure in the pressure cooker. There is an extreme amount of pressure built up inside that will force the liquid through the steam vent and damage ceiling and surroundings. The user is also in danger of severe burns and injury if directions are not followed properly. 

Once pressure has been released (see directions from the manufacturer to correctly release pressure), be careful when you open the lid on the pot of the pressure cooker. The steam is still extremely hot and you could be burned.

This is the view of the soup once I removed the pressure cooker top. The ingredients inside are cooked thoroughly and taste as though they have been cooked all day. Allow the soup to cool or serve into a bowl and allow it to cool faster separately. 

Additionally, I serve this with Jasmine rice. My mother always made plain white rice, but I prefer the Jasmine rice because of it's texture and supportive flavor. Club crackers add a nice buttery flavor to the vegetable beef broth. 

AB loved this soup and actually asked for more when her soup was finished. My husband picks out pieces of beef to eat.  (He doesn't eat many vegetables, so this is more for me...lucky me!)  I generally have to fend him off so he doesn't eat all of the tender beef that has cooked.

I look forward to the simplicity of making this dish. And within two days, my family had finished it off. Maybe this will be a dish you will enjoy during your cold, winter months.  Hopefully, this will help you find some motivation. I know it always inspires me. 

And When Is That?

I made the effort to organize my card organizer, which sounds redundant. Once opening the box, I had forgotten that I had many types of cards purchased. One that I found was embarrassing: I found my sister's birthday card from last year. Yes. I guess I won't be winning the Best Sister of the Year Award. (She got her gift, but not the card.)

There are a variety of card organizers out there. Anyone could create their own if they wanted very easily. I purchased mine on clearance somewhere and sometime, in this lifetime. This particular one has a floral design with storage on top and a drawer in the bottom for decals and stamps. (Stamps for those people who actually purchase the cards to send.)

There are dividers/folders inside for each month. The dividers in the back are organized according to events, like Thank You and Congratulations, In Sympathy, Weddings, Anniversaries, and Birthdays.


I made sure every card that I kept had a matching envelope and tossed (yes) the ones that didn't have a match.

In an effort to keep this Resolution - (Remember Important Dates and Events), I called a few family members to double check dates and to write them down on the folder of the month.

 I updated a few addresses since a few have relocated to new residences since I last sent a card. Or made the effort...

And that's it.