Whatever Works for You!

Happy Birthday, Mr. D!
Happy Birthday, Mr. D!

Today, we are celebrating my husband’s birthday. I have printed out a photo of the bicycling helmet he wants rather than buying it because I want him to get the right size. Our daughter & I have been busy so, before we head to a local restaurant for dinner, we are stopping at one of my hubby’s favorite stores to pick up one of his favorite libations. Our daughter, Katy enjoys picking out a different beer for her dad each special occasion. She know nothing about beer. Neither do I. I told her I pick the one with the best label. So far, this approach has never failed me!

Then, on to dinner. Nothing fancy. Just a local restaurant that we enjoy. We like to sit in the lounge, The Tiki Room. I haven’t baked a cake although I might pick up some cupcakes when we stop at the store on the way home.

Some of you may be shocked by our casual attitude towards birthdays. Yes, birthdays for this is the way we celebrate all three of our birthdays. Working in a church for so many years, a church that had a huge production (as in play) during Christmas & Easter made it tough for us to do much more than that. My birthday is 3 days after Christmas, Mr. D’s birthday is today & Katy’s is the beginning of April. All three more likely than not, fell during the run of the plays. And over the years, we just went with it.

Sure, there was a time when I tried to make birthdays big & elaborate because everyone said that’s what you were supposed to do. Well, I was only stressing myself out when I did that. And I learned quickly when I was stress, no one had a good time. I also found that all those people that wanted to tell me how things were “supposed” to be done never pitched in to help prepare or pay for those elaborate plans. So if I had to do the work & we had to foot the bill, we were going to do things the way we liked!

Do you feel pressured to celebrate special occasions & holidays a specific way, a way that causes you stress & costs you WAY too much money? Are you afraid to have a simple celebration, a celebration that allows YOU to enjoy yourself which in turn allows the whole family to enjoy themselves? I gave up worrying what people would think a long time ago. I gave it up right after I realized they were going to think whatever they wanted no matter what I did! Instead, I decided to do what works well for me & my family!

What works for you? Sometimes, we don’t even celebrate a birthday on the actual day! If everyone is busy, we spread the celebration out over several days. When it’s my birthday, I want the celebration to go on for days. Another good reason to keep it so simple it expectations. In the past, when I tried to create the “perfect” event, it never seemed to live up to my expectations. I always ended up disappointed. Tonight, I know our family is going to have a blast! And in a few weeks, we do it again for Katy’s birthday. And we’re going to have a blast then.

Next special event, give yourself a gift by keeping things simple enough that you can enjoy yourself. And if anyone complains, have them host the next special occasion! I find that quiets them down real fast!

Home Sweet Home


I LOVE my home! We live in a Craftsman cottage that just turned 100. It is small but with high ceilings so it doesn’t feel small. It is cozy with many fun aspects, like the built-in china cabinet. The kitchen is big, big enough for a traditional kitchen table if we wanted. Instead, we have an island. I have added many whimsical touches with more to come.

I want our home to be a sanctuary, a retreat where my family can come at the end of the day to relax & renew. I believe too many families treat their home like it’s the Motel 6 & they are on vacation. They seem their dwelling as a place to eat, shower, sleep & change clothes before heading out for another stress filled day!

Every family needs a home where they can escape the stress & pressure of the outside world at the end of the day. A home should be decorated so family members can relax & enjoy one another’s company. A home should be filled with love, laughter, friends & family.

Find small ways to begin create a retreat in your home. Enjoy spending time there with your family. Learn to relax at home. Begin living your life of Simple Joy in your home with the people you love!

Time to check out of that motel!

White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

White chocolate chip chocolate cake mix cookies
White chocolate chip chocolate cake mix cookies


I love the traditional chocolate chip cake mix cookies. In fact, I love ALL the cake mix cookies I have been making.I study all the different flavors of cake mix & then study all the different chips, nuts, fruit, etc. that I can add to them. The list is endless! Today’s cookie is a reverse chocolate chip cookie. I use chocolate cake mix (the darker, the better) & white chocolate chips. They are yummy! I prefer using Duncan Hines cake mix for most of my cookies but Pillsbury & Betty Crocker work great too. Each brand makes the same cookie just a bit differently. Experiment to discover which you prefer.

White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. Pour oil into mixing bowl. Crack eggs separately into a  small bowl & add them to the oil. Mix thoroughly. Add cake mix & blend thoroughly. Stir in chips. You can use the entire bag or any part of it. Spoon onto parchment covered cookie sheet. You can get 12 on sheet if small cookies, 9 if large. Bake in 350 oven for 10-12 minutes. Adjust cooking time as needed. Cool & enjoy!

When It Rains….

It's Pouring!
It’s Pouring!


It rained in my neighborhood last week. I know most of you are thinking, “Big Deal!” Sure, if you are buried under a few feet of snow & have rain on a regular basis, this may seem like a big nothing. Here in SoCal, it’s a really big deal. We have had less than an inch of rain in our area since last July! LESS THAN AN INCH!!! Not good.

I also know most of you in the rest of the country make fun of us out here in sunny SoCal & our reaction when it rains. The weather is all they talk about on all the local newscasts. Traffic becomes even more of a mess. People act like the sky is falling. I’m glad we are able to put on a good show for the rest of the nation. Stop & think about it though: when a rare weather pattern occurs in a part of the nation, like snow in Florida. this may be a common occurrence for you but it is a rare (these days VERY rare) happening out here.

Which leads me to today’s lesson! 🙂 Some people experience problems throughout their lives. While this may be a pain, it often strengthen them for the next struggle, big or small. It might not be pleasant going through problems however, people that regularly experience difficulties seem better able to prepare for the next problem &, when it comes along, ready to handle it.

Then there are people that never seem to have problems. Sure, it would be great to lead such a blessed life but, as the saying goes, a little bit of rain falls into everyone’s life sometime. If you have never struggled, you may not have the strength to face a challenge. Consider the parable about the 2 people building their houses beside a river. One, not knowing any better, wanted waterfront property so she decided to build her house right alongside the river, on very sandy soil. The second woman has experience with rivers (at least in MY version of this story!) She built her house farther back from the water on a solid rock. When bad weather came, the river rose causing the sandy soil to shift & the waterfront house to fall to pieces. The house built on the rock remained strong no matter how bad the weather got to be!

Whether it rains often in your area or rarely, the key to coming through it with your house dry, you must prepare. Sometimes, you must fortify your house, like the people that put sandbags around their homes last week. In life, we prepare ourselves for problems the same way. We build a network of friends that can advise & support us when things get tough. We read the Bible. No matter what you are experiencing, that story is in the Bible! We pray. And when things get really bad, like floods, we fortify our lives by asking others to pray for us.

Stress stinks! Prepare for the rain in your life. Build your life on a rock of faith & keep it strong. That gives you a Live of Simple Joy even in a downpour!