Puddle Jumping

I’ve had a rough week. The week involved LOTS of fear, controversy, disappointment, personal issues, and FAR too much drama for my liking. Pair those issues with the stresses of my new job at the hotel and keeping up with my normal school work, and you get an idea of why I spent more of my week in tears of sadness than tears of happiness. I have to be honest…There are times when the storms of life just suck gumballs!

When I was a kid, I used to go out after a heavy rain storm and jump into the puddles of water that were left behind. As I splashed, I felt relaxed and free, with any worries of getting struck by lightning or soaked with water far gone from my mind. Maybe if I buy myself a pair of puddle jumpers like these, it would be a little bit easier for me to deal with the storms, though… TOO CUTE!

Back to my fond memories…After the storms had passed, I remember being ready to enjoy the sunshine again. I loved how green the grass had become, and how if I watched very closely, I could almost see the flowers drinking up the droplets of rain water from their petals and leaves. I even loved the smell that lingered in the air after the rainfall had passed. (Of course, when I was older and I learned that “the wonderful scent” was actually pollutants in the air, I felt a little less enthusiastic about the experience!)

There is something very serene about this visualization for me. I’m trying to keep the happy thoughts and memories in my head right now, because I think they’ll help me to push the “stinkin’ thinkin'” out! As a matter of fact, I’d like to have this picture enlarged, framed, and placed above my bed to remind me that there is always beauty in life…even after a storm!

I think Johnny Nash summed it up best, in his hit song, “I Can See Clearly Now”

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me down
It’s gonna be a bright bright bright bright sun shiny day.

Oh yes I can make it now the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright bright bright bright sun shiny day

Many very intelligent people have said: When life hands you lemons, you can choose to suck on them and pucker your lips in disgust, or you can add some sugar to them and make a batch of something sweet. I’ve received a bushel full of lemons over the past 48 hours, and the sugar I’ve just added to them comes from the knowledge that I am loved and supported by so many wonderful people in my life. I raise my glass and offer a toast of thanks to all of you incredibly special people. In thanks for your support, encouragement, honesty, and love, may God enrich and bless your life in ways that you cannot begin to comprehend. CHEERS!

This week, I’m sharing a recipe that I found on a website called “Optimum Wellness”. I hope that these muffins taste as wonderful as they sound. They’re a healthier option than indulging in chocolate, bacon, or cheese (which are the first, second, and third choices on my “comfort food” list), and the name alone makes me feel better about baking up a batch. Please pass me a plate full of the HAPPY MUFFINS!

Have a fantastically happy week, my friends!



Go for the Goal!

One of my favorite movies is a classic “chick flick”. It’s an awesome love story, with a fantastic soundtrack and the perfect fairytale ending. It features Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Without going further into the description, I’m willing to bet that 99% of you already know the title: PRETTY WOMAN. Who can resist romantic gestures like this?

Or Vivian’s infectious smile?

Anyway, at one point in the movie, Vivian is having a heart-to-heart chat with her friend, Kit De Luca. They talk about the importance of setting and achieving goals. I’ll agree with anyone who argues that there are better outlets for learning important facts of life than a cheesy motion picture, but hey… I believe that the most important thing is that we learn them! Dr. Benjamin E. Mays once said, “It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach.”

At this time last year, I was setting some pretty wild and amazing goals for myself. I was in my first semester of college. I set some serious short and long term goals for the sake of time management, studying, and making it through the term in one piece. Thankfully, I had a desire to accomplish them, and nothing felt better than when I completed my first term…and then my first year of college, with a 3.8 GPA. To be successful in your goal setting (and achieving!), I would recommend these tips for students of any age:

  • Set weekly, monthly, and term-length goals – Make sure to set goals for effectively managing the time needed for classes, studying, family time, and work commitments. Oh, and don’t forget to plan time for some social activity. All work and no play leads to stress and burnout in no time. If you don’t own a day planner or have a calendar program on your computer or Smartphone, now would be a great time to invest in one.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Keep your goals achievable and realistic so that you won’t be disappointed if/when you can’t achieve them.
  • Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal. This doesn’t have to be anything expensive, and probably shouldn’t be…especially for achieving the small, short-term goals. Make it to the finish line of a long-term goal and then go all out with a big reward. For completion of short term goals, rent yourself a favorite movie, spend some extra time in a bubble bath, or take the family out for dinner.

Another major goal that I set a year ago was my plan to quit smoking. I had been a pack-a-day smoker since the age of 22. I had tried unsuccessfully to quit several times over the years, using pills, patches, filters, gum…anything available. Honestly, I think that my failures came due to a lack of desire to be successful. I enjoyed smoking very much. I didn’t care that my breath and clothes smelled horrible…that’s what mouth wash and perfume were for. I didn’t care that I was filling my body with carcinogens. My feeling was that we’re all going to die of SOMETHING eventually anyway. However, last November, I was faced with less income than I had ever had in my adult life and a $3.10 per pack increase in price. I didn’t want to quit smoking, but I decided I’d rather have a roof over my head than to be a chain smoker living out of a cardboard box under the viaduct. So Brian and I made the decision to quit together (he had been smoking twice as much as I had, for a little longer amount of time. We wrote out our “plan of attack”, including LOTS of short term goals to help us get over the hurdles. We nearly strangled each other a few times over the first 2 weeks, until the nicotine had been depleted from our bodies. After that, we worked on setting goals to get us through the psychological struggle and “habit breaking” that we needed. We posted our daily accomplishment on our Facebook pages so that our friends could encourage and cheer us on to make it through another day. Week by week, month by month, we made it through. On November 12th, we will celebrate a whole year free of nicotine.

There’s no turning back now. I have become a goal-achieving machine!

On to the recipe of the week:

Picture credit: Pillsbury.com



1.5 Tablespoons vegetable oil2.5 cups red bell pepper, chopped4.75 cups black beans, drained & rinsed1.25 cups chopped green chiles1.25 cups fresh cilantro, chopped

3.25 cups mild enchilada sauce

2.25 cups reduced fat sour cream

2.5 cups yellow onion, chopped6.25 cups pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve .75 cups juice)2.5 teaspoons salt6 cups shredded low fat cheddar cheese20 whole wheat flour tortillas (8 or 9 in.)

.5 cups fresh cilantro, chopped (garnish) 


  1.  Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 6″ half-pan with cooking spray. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in pineapple, beans, green chiles and salt. Cook and stir until thoroughly heated. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in 1.25 cups cilantro and 4 cups of the cheese.

2.  Spoon and spread 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon about 3/4 cup vegetable mixture over sauce on each. Roll up tortillas; place seam side down in baking dish.


3.  In small bowl, mix reserved .75 cup pineapple juice and remaining enchilada sauce; pour over entire surface of enchiladas in dish. Sprinkle with remaining 2 cups cheese. Spray sheet of foil large enough to cover baking dish with cooking spray; place sprayed side down over baking dish and seal tightly.


4.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes, removing foil during last 5 to 10 minutes of baking, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Top each baked enchilada with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon cilantro.

 I hope that you have a fabulous week and come back to see me again soon!


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