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May 30, 2009

Easy Peasy & Cheesy "Lasagne"

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Easy Peasy & Cheesy!

If you're a fan of lasagne, you'll love this easy peasy alternative to a lasagne-like dish.


1 lb ground beef
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
grated cheese
egg noodles
sour cream
green onion

Brown ground beef, adding onion if desired, season with S & P - drain
Add pasta sauce to meat.
Boil egg noodles per directions and drain.
Stir in 1/4 cup sour cream...more or less and 2-3 "stalks"diced green onions to drained noodles
1st layer - noodles w/sour cream and onion in a 9 x 13 pan.
2nd layer - meat sauce
3rd layer - grated cheese (mozzarella, Italian blend, whatever you have...)

Bake @350 until bubbly on top.
Even better the 2nd day!

May 26, 2009

A Praising Woman & a Link to Another "praising woman"

Please go here to read the post that brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Thanks, Julie, for sharing this beautiful story of the praise that brought peace.
"A Praising Woman Influences"
(from my Life & Style topic EVEry Woman Influences)

Recently I heard that a woman I am acquainted with lost her teaching job ~ a job she was very good at. (I know because she taught my daughter.)
The news hit her hard and out of the blue, and yet the same day I heard of her loss I marveled at her response. It was a Sunday morning and after hearing the news I watched as she lifted her hands in praise to God. Perhaps it was a sacrifice of praise I witnessed. Nevertheless I was blessed to see her praise God with the same passion week after week. Her passionate response of praise influenced me and I rejoiced with her.
In the midst of a trying time her praise sparked the praise in me. Praise because I have also been in trying times and yet have come out to wide open places with greener pastures. Praise because of the realization that although we cannot see around corners, God sees the end from the beginning. Praise because it is a sure pathway to the throne of God.
This praising woman unreservedly revealed her heart to all who would see. In the lean times or the mean times there is always a meanwhile. What will you do in your meanwhile? Will you offer praise to God? Or will you give Him the silent treatment? A praising woman may never know whose life she influences. But there is always someone watching. So...influence for good!

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May 23, 2009

A No Sugar Brownie & Take the Mom Quiz

It's a holiday and I made a dessert! I found a recipe for a brownie that uses honey instead of sugar. That's a sweet trade-off. And I used 1/2 honey & 1/2 agave nectar. It makes a 9 x 9 pan of cake-like brownies. To make it special, add whipped cream and a cherry on top!

Recipe for No Sugar Brownie:

¼ cup butter
¾ cup Honey (I used 1/2 honey and 1/2 agave nectar and didn't fill it to the top of the 3/4 cup measure.)

1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup flour (I always use self-rising flour so I ommited the baking powder and salt.)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
4 tbsp. Cocoa

1/2 cup chopped nuts if desired (I left these out b/c one son doesn't like them.)

Cream together butter and honey. (Spray the measuring cup and the honey will slide right out. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into greased 9"x9" pan. Bake at 325 F for 20-25 minutes.

I was low on agave nectar or I would have used it in place of the honey altogether.
Want to know more about the health benefits of agave nectar? Go
Last week I was out of the natural peanut butter that I usually put on my whole grain waffle topped with banana slices. So I tried a swirl of agave nectar. It was delicious! I'm going to experiement more with agave nectar and I'll be sure to keep you posted. If you decide to try this recipe, in a few days you can find it on my sidebar.

Do you use agave nectar? If so, how?
Sweetly Yours,

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Bella~Mella with Guitar Girl, TechSon & SkateBoy on Mother's Day

May 21, 2009

Have You Seen This?

As you have already figured out, I like to cook. I also strive for healthy choices when it comes to food. Admittedly however, I don't always cook with health in mind.
(Me + a "bad hair day" = goofy picture)
Sometimes I prepare meals based on what I can put together without a trip to the grocery. This week one of our dinners was bacon, scrambled eggs, refrigerated biscuits and cheese grits. And today for lunch we had fried chicken. (All the kids were home at lunchtime.) I must say that although it was all tasty and all eaten, I felt yucky afterwards.

What I have learned to do when my cooking is not the healthiest, is to limit these types of meals to once or twice a week. Being careful about portion sizes is another good way to offset a high fat meal. And if our dinner is not going to be so "healthy," I will prepare it early so we have several hours before bedtime to "burn it off." We sometimes eat dinner before 5:00. We can do this because One Fine Man works from home. Then, as for me, there is no snacking after dinner. The kitchen is closed! Along with my hiatus from sugar and chips, this has worked to keep my weight down. However I am also concerned about my overall health...not just the number on the scale.

That being said, I would like to lose 7 more lbs. In August my "Everyday Life" article will be on the Proverbs 31 website. In it I write about my 16 pound weight loss. You will find out in more detail how I did it. Since cutting out sugar and chips, I've lost another 6. But at my height, I would prefer a little less stuff "here" and "there."

Last week I watched a new show on Lifetime. It is called "Cook Yourself Thin." Three chefs show a guest how to lighten up her favorite recipes in order to drop a dress size. From what I have seen so far, they redo a lunch, a dinner and a dessert. I think this is a great idea for a show. The chefs revisit the guest 6 weeks later to see if she has, indeed, dropped a size. I'm thinking about making this my next cookbook. At any rate, I plan to start "skinny~fying," as opposed to "fat~frying" some of my favorite dishes so I can drop a dress size! I'll let you know how it goes.

I want to try the recipe for "Sesame Peanut Noodles."
Have you seen this new show? Do you own the cookbook? Have you "skinny~fied" any of your favorite recipes?

May 18, 2009

Trying to Give Up Sugar? & A New "Life Lines"

To read "A Woman's Woman" @Life & Style By God's Design, go here.

Way back here I posted on giving up sugar. My initial reason for it was to see if my migraines lessened. Although I have had a couple of episodes, (If you've ever had a migraine, it is an episode!), I have definitely had less headaches.

My thoughts were to limit my sugar intake to birthdays and holidays. I bake a cake of choice for One Fine Man and our 3 kids on their birthdays. Past cake choices have been carrot cake, coconut cake, red velvet cake, chocolate chip cookie cake and spice cake with caramel frosting (ooooh that one's fabulous).

I prefer to make the cakes and frosting/icing from scratch, and "No, that doesn't mean I 'scratch' the box!"

Also, I usually make buttermilk pies for Thanksgiving and either carrot cake or red velvet for Christmas. Bella~Mella's kitchen gets to smellin' good, now! Are you salivating yet?

But seriously, I made the decision to give up sugar for long stretches of time and limit sugar on those "special occasions" for great reasons! My health. My thighs. My head. And the "D" word ~ disciplining my flesh!

Remember this praline cake that One Fine Man ordered for Father's, I mean, Mother's Day?

And this coconut cake I made for Easter?

Yes, I had a piece of each! It was a special occasion after all. But then I gave some away and froze the rest.

Since I posted about "My Sweet Life" in February, I have seen lots of bloggers writing about their sugar addictions so I thought I would post some encouragement for you.

~Bella~Mella's Tips to Outsmart Your Sweet Tooth~

#1 Use your words.
Repeat after me. "I don't eat sugar." When presented with an opportunity to eat sugar, just say these words aloud. You know there is power in your spoken word, right?

See this baby shower cake? When it was cut and ready to be served, one of the ladies brought serving sizes to our table.
I simply said, "No thank you. I don't eat sugar." I greatly admired my friend Natalie's expertise in creating this masterpiece for a baby shower last week but I didn't need to taste it to appreciate it!

(Yes, this is really a cake, even the dress and shoes!)

#2 Win the battle in your mind and flesh over sugar by fasting from it for 4 - 5 days. In my experience that is all it takes to retrain your taste buds and your brain.

#3 Eat fruit like blueberries and strawberries. Freeze a peeled banana, then thaw it until soft enough to "cream." It really is good like ice cream. I like to eat frozen fruit slightly thawed with some real whipped cream. Even though there is a bit of sugar in the cream, it is so minimal that I don't overload on it.

#4 Don't substitute with artificial sweeteners. Research I have read says it doesn't really work to keep you from wanting something sweet. Besides, have you done the research? They are not good for you. Really. On the other hand, stevia is good and good for you. It's herbal. If you need a sweet drink like tea or lemonade, try stevia. Your taste buds will adjust if you are willing to give it a try. Do you like your coffee sweet? Years ago I added splenda and cream to my coffee. Then I decided to give up artificial sweeteners and started using 1 T of 1/2 and 1/2 per cup of coffee. I love it like this now!

I fix fresh lemonade by the glass.
Juice one lemon. Press and roll it on the counter so it will release its juice.
I use a 12 oz Tervis and fill 1/2 way with ice. Add 1/2 a glass of filtered water (a necessity if you live in Florida), and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. I add a packet of stevia and mix. This is really delicious and no guilt involved. The fresh lemon juice is good for you and so is the herbal sweetener. Lemons are inexpensive at Sam's Club.

I am 6 lbs. thinner since my post in February!

Do you have any tips for cutting out or at least cutting down on sugar? Do Tell!

Coming soon: There is a cool new TV show I just saw for the first time last week. It has to do with cooking. I'll be posting on it soon!


Interested in reading the latest "Style File" by Alisa Lucas Brown from Life & Style By God's Design? Go here!

May 15, 2009

Life Lines Here & Friday Faves

Click on the flowers for more faves!

I love to see women expressing themselves in a creative way. My friend, Cheryl, put together a beautiful Aloha Tablescape at the school where I teach. It was Teacher Appreciation week. Cheryl is on the left in the short sleeves. Her sweet daughter is the young girl in turquoise. Thanks, Cheryl, for a feast for the eyes as well as the stomache! I had a bagel & fruit on a skewer!


Two Of Cheryl's Baby Shower Creations

It's a diaper bag. It's a baby dress & shoes.

It's a CAKE!
Complete with "diapers" and an extra set of clothing...

My friend Natalie, cake decorator extraordinaire, created this beautiful cake. Even the "dress" and "shoes" are the cake!

Creative women everywhere...I admire you. I appreciate you. I am your friend!

The gorgeous evening sky I beheld last night as I left our church, site of the baby shower.

My God and my Creator...I am in awe of You & Your Creation!

To read the latest Life Lines, go here.

May 13, 2009

Do You Salsa?

Grilled Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Really, really delicious Mango & Roasted Red Pepper Salsa from Sam's Club

Zatarain's Shrimp & Crab Boil...the best for boiling shrimp!
Boiling shrimp at home is so easy and so delicious especially if you like them on the spicier side...which you know I do. I use at least twice the amount of shrimp boil called for and if there are any leftover shrimp, I make shrimp salad.

Do you like seafood at home? How do you like to prepare it?

May 11, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

I love being a wife, mother and Bible teacher!

Yesterday morning I woke up next to the man I love in the house we share with our children.

Then I had the privilege of teaching a room full of women in a Life Group and sharing insight from God's Word.
Thank you, Father, for so many blessings!

After church ~ Melanie & Audra

Our Children & Pup

Mother's Day with my 3 biggest blessings

Praline Cake One Fine Man ordered from Savannah Candy Co.

May 8, 2009

Friday's Fave Five ~ TGIF!

Fridays are my day off from teaching high school classes. I get to catch up on housework and usually schedule my 6 week haircuts for Friday mornings. Although Fridays are not a total day off because I homeschool SkateBoy, still it is slower paced.

Today I am simply posting some things I have enjoyed this week and especially today.

Pretty Purple Flowers on My PorchMy newly painted wicker sofa that SkateBoy spraypainted in "espresso." Yesterday One Fine Man and I sat here in the late afternoon and just enjoyed being together on a beautiful Florida day on our own little patch of bliss.
The wicker was originally a teal green. I had thought of painting it black but my BFF suggested brown. I love it! For now I have tossed some throw pillows on it but I'm on a search for affordable cushions. I'm looking for some in espresso and pear green.

Bird & Nest Under Cloche
This rests atop my best thrift store find: a marble topped end table for $20!
Platter with Shells
I have several shell vignettes in my home. Birds and shells keep calling my name!

I love haircut day!

My fabulous hairdresser, Susan, only charges $16 for a wash, cut and style! Now you know why I'm smiling!

Oh and the "salon" is a real beauty shop like your mama used to go to. (Well, like mine went to anyway.) I love to see the elderly women, many accompanied by their husbands, coming in for their weekly "set." Susan and the other stylists are so sweet and patient with them.

Have a beautiful weekend and Happy Mother's Day!

May 4, 2009

Before & After

It could have been a sad day when my boy got a haircut. But since it was his idea the "sad puppy dog" face is just for show! My Skateboy decided his hair had gotten too hot and too annoying! It was his idea to cut it.
(Before - top pic)

That's my boy!