Fall Recipe!


One of my very favorite things to do this time of year is to bake! The smells of fall and the chill in the air make me go searching for my favorite recipes that include apples or pumpkin. One of my very favorites includes apples and butterscotch. How can you go wrong?

If you go apple-picking this weekend (or to the grocery store), be sure to give this recipe a try!

Butterscotch Apple Squares

  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 small apples, pared & chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 (6-oz.) pkg. butterscotch chips
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
  • flaked coconut (approx. 1 1/3 cups), as desired
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, as desired


Preheat oven to 350 (325 for glass dish). In a 13×9 dish, melt the margarine in the oven. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over melted margarine and top with the apples.

In a heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt the chips with the sweetened condensed milk. Pour the butterscotch mixture evenly over the apples. Top with coconut and nuts (as desired); press down firmly.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and chill thoroughly. Refrigerate leftovers.

Super easy and really, really good!







Welcome to Fall!


Get those fall decorations out! It’s that time of year again.

It’s time to slow down a little bit. I know there are still sports, school activities, and other commitments but, for some reason, the fact that it’s now fall just makes me take a deep breath and feel like I can slow down. Summer always makes me feel like I have to do as much as possible to take advantage of the season (can you tell I live in the Midwest?). Fall brings a sense of calmness with it.

Fall just makes me stop, take a deep breath, and embrace the end of summer. We have to enjoy this time before the onslaught of winter takes hold. These next couple of months are glorious! There are no expectations, just the simple enjoyment of weather, beautiful colors, fall sweaters and boots to wear, and fun activities like apple-picking. I can even turn my oven back on and start baking all things pumpkin!

Whatever you choose to do with these next couple of months, enjoy!

Happy First Day of Fall!

National Suicide Prevention Week


It seems as if it was just a couple of months ago that I wrote an article about this; it’s been a year. It made me think about how much has changed over the past year…and how much hasn’t. In fact, I woke up early this morning and, for some reason, started thinking about a loss that I experienced several years ago now. I don’t know why; it wasn’t an anniversary or birthday or any of the normal things that would bring this up. Of course it made me sad thinking about it but, as I was thinking about everything, I also realized that it did more than that. It changed me. It changed who I was when it happened. I’m no longer the person that I used to be prior to my loss. I experienced such strong emotions and feelings that it really threw me for a long time. I honestly think it changed me as a person. I’m a bit more heavy-hearted than I used to be. I am a bit more hesitant in allowing my heart and emotions to be dealt another blow. At the time it happened,  I thought about it, agonized over it, cried about it, got angry about it. I did all the things that grieving people should do, but it certainly didn’t feel normal to me and I didn’t go back to the person that I used to be. And that’s the point.

Each one of us is unique and we each have our own minds and emotions. No two are alike so we really cannot understand what someone else is going through. We also change, so we need to adapt. Sometimes life is just too hard to manage on our own. Sometimes we need help. This is absolutely no different than needing help getting around when you have a broken leg. We have a problem and we need help. It’s really as simple as that.

All of us experience highs and lows. All of us have good things happen and bad things happen to us. It’s life and we have to deal with it. We need to each deal with it the right way FOR US. That’s the thing; there is no right and no wrong in treating illness. Everybody has to learn what works best for them in order to live their best life. It’s not fair for any one of us to judge anybody else by what they do to survive. We are not in their shoes; we do not know what’s going on in their life. What we can do, however, is encourage each other to be the best person that they are capable of being and to support each other in that goal.

This isn’t a technical article with statistics and facts and figures. There are (thankfully) plenty of sites to find that information and I will provide a few of them below. Suffice it to say there are a LOT of us that suffer from some type of mental health issue. It can be an independent diagnosis, it can be due to another illness, it can be temporary or long-term, and it can be mild, severe or anywhere in-between! Like any other illness, there are treatments designed to fit your specific circumstances.

Things can become overwhelming. Sometimes we need help to get us through. The most important things that we can do for each other are to learn about it, talk about it, and be there for each other. Awareness is key. Knowing the risk factors and being able to recognize them could help prevent the more than 40,000 deaths every year by suicide. Sometimes we’re capable of asking for or seeking the help that we need. Sometimes we’re not and we need somebody to do it for us. Be that person.

Learn to recognize these signs or symptoms:  (from National Institute of Mental Health)

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
  • Talking about great guilt or shame
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
  • Talking or thinking about death often
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
  • Giving away important possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Putting affairs in order, making a will
What can you do to help someone at risk?
  1. Ask:“Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals  if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
  2. Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
  3. Be there:Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase  suicidal thoughts.
  4. Help them connect:Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.
  5. Stay Connected:Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown  the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.

The bottom line is that we have to be there for each other, look out for each other, and take care of each other. That’s how it’s supposed to work. We all need help sometimes. I’d like to think we do this on a regular basis, but it’s particularly valuable when we need an extra hand to get through a difficult time.

I found this great post with some ideas on how we can do this here: (highly recommended read!) http://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/health-fitness/small-things-help-someone-struggling-depression/

I’m fortunate to have people in my life that are supportive and do some of these things for me. I can say first-hand that it makes a significant difference on days that are more difficult. I hope that they know how much I appreciate them. It doesn’t take much effort to send a text or give somebody a quick call, but it can have a huge impact on their life. I try to do some of these same things for them, as well, just to let them know that I’m thinking of them and that I care about them. Please take a few minutes out of your day to reach out to somebody that needs it. Everybody wants and deserves to feel supported and cared for.

Who Needs a Teddy Bear?


The bear pictured above is MY bear and I’m not going to apologize for him. He’s actually my Reiki bear, but every now and then, I’ll grab him just to touch it and it always makes me feel better when I happen to see him!

As it turns out, almost everybody benefits from having a teddy bear! I think we all know our bear just makes us feel better, but did you also know that there are proven benefits to having a teddy bear?

There are lots of articles written about the positive impact that stuffed animals have on our children. This can also include other special things like blankets, dolls, etc. One of the articles describes how many different ways these objects can affect our child: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-guest-room/201407/more-just-teddy-bears

Most times, this bear or blanket will be the first object that your child experiences that is not mom or dad. It will be there whenever they need it to be. It represents security, it’s familiar, and it makes them feel safe. Surely  there’s nothing wrong with that!

Another great article explains the value of teddy bears to children in so many different ways and why we should encourage them to bond with their bear:  http://blog-en.famosa.es/the-benefits-of-playing-with-teddy-bears/

Most kids end up gravitating toward a stuffed animal, whether it’s a bear or an elephant or something else. They do this because the kids feel like the stuffed animals are their friend. They can talk to them and hug them and the bear listens to them, even when the rest of us are too busy. By playing with stuffed animals, kids are able to express their feelings and emotions even before they can talk!

Your child’s teddy bear can help him through the transition from baby to toddler, to going to new places, and being in unfamiliar situations. His bear can teach him the social skills that he needs to learn like being polite, sharing, and how to speak to others.

As a parent, you can use your child’s bear to show him things as well. You can use it to show him how to treat others, how to communicate, and how to express emotions. You can use him to show your child life skills (like brushing his teeth, getting dressed, etc.) by practicing on his bear.

As proven in so many different studies and written about in so many articles, the teddy bear is good for your child and interaction with the bear (or blanket or whatever else they are attached to) should be encouraged.

Oddly enough, most of the articles that I read were geared toward babies and children. I’m not sure why because I think teddy bears make EVERYBODY feel better! I still can’t go through a store aisle that has bears without touching them, finding one with “just the right face” and holding it before putting it back. Teddy bears just make us feel good and that’s enough reason for me! I don’t care how old you are, go ahead and hug that bear.


A Couple of Words on Texas

Like everybody else, I’ve been watching events unfold throughout Texas. The impact of the hurricane continues to affect the state in horrific ways. The pictures coming across our TV screens make me feel so helpless. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of having to endure what some of these people have, both the people being rescued and those rescuing them. I can’t imagine having to leave my home and my security, even having to leave behind basic essentials like medication, diapers and food for babies. Having to watch the water overtake your home and knowing that you have to leave it to stay safe is frightening. Having to venture out into the floodwaters to escape the rising water would be horrifying! You have no idea what will happen and you don’t know where that will lead.

God Bless those people and agencies that stepped in to both rescue people and to provide them with the basic needs of survival. Obviously those in positions of authority and service are out there and I know that we all sincerely appreciate them, but others have stepped up as well. To those individuals who offered up their own boats, their time, and their safety, you are incredible! To the people who have opened their homes, stores, and other venues for people to seek shelter, your hospitality and kindness is amazing.

I understand that over 5 million meals have been provided and over 30,000 people have been forced into shelters. This doesn’t even begin to include those that have been placed elsewhere, have left the area entirely, or were able to move other places with family. This nightmare is not yet over, either. The floodwaters continue to rise in different places throughout the state and will continue to affect many more thousands of people.

Despite all the devastation that we’re witnessing, the one resounding theme that we’re seeing is that the best of humanity is on display. We’re seeing people risking their own lives to save strangers’ lives. We’re seeing dozens of people lashing themselves together to rescue somebody. I’m watching elderly people being loaded into boats by men that are kind and considerate to them. I’m simply overwhelmed by the kindness of people that we’re seeing. I think, over the past several months, I’ve lost sight of the goodness that we’re capable of. It seems as if we’ve been exposed to the negative so frequently and in such large doses that we tend to forget how nice we can actually be.

As bad as this situation is, it has restored my faith in humanity. My hope is that this can be sustained. I know that the immediate urgency of this situation is going to turn into a long-term and ongoing operation. This isn’t going to end next week. People are going to be tired and first responders are going to have to get back to their own lives and situations that require their attention. At that point, tens of thousands of people are still going to need assistance. My wish is that there will still be people willing to help and that this show of humanity can be maintained over time. This is what we need to happen both in Texas and in our world. Now is the time to think about what we, as individuals, no matter where we are, can do to help out in times of need, both in Texas now and going forward. What kind of people do we want to be? What can we offer to improve the lives of those around us?

I know that all of us throughout the world are wishing the people of Texas all the best; that they remain safe and get through this as fast and as safely as possible. For those of us that cannot be there in person, we can each do whatever we’re able to do.

Sending all of our love and prayers. Be safe.

Keep Looking UP!

keep looking up!

Even though the eclipse is over, keep looking up! Look around you!

Stop looking down at your phone, stop looking at the t.v., stop looking at your computer. Look around you instead. Look at the people who you pass on your way to work. Look at the people in the office that you’re walking past and say hello instead of rushing by. Really look at the person at the coffee shop that is giving you your order.

Sometimes that person that you’re used to looking past can become an important part of your life. You’ll never know if you’re busy looking at your phone. I think we’re all so used to rushing that it’s sometimes difficult to just stop and look around us. We might see some unexpected things that are right in front of our face if we just take a minute.

Maybe that coworker is going through some difficulties and you could make them feel better. Maybe that person waiting on you has just had something happen that is making her sad or angry. You can change that person’s day by being kind. Conversely, being kind or thoughtful to other people can change YOUR day and make you feel better too. It’s part of our humanity to reach out to people, to be kind to each other, not just ignore each other.

Looking up can also mean putting down your phone when you’re with other people. It lets them know that you care about what they’re saying and that you care enough to give them your undivided attention. It’s a sign of respect that’s too often overlooked.

Sometimes we need to look around us just to take a breather. Being in nature, surrounding yourself with the sounds and sights of the trees, the wind, the animals, can make you feel better. Take some time to look around at the world, not just rush through it. Look up at the sky, at the birds, and just enjoy the peace and quiet.

No matter how you choose to enjoy looking up or looking around, just keep doing it! Make it a habit and not an exception. You will be happy that you did.