[Coaxing Creativity Tuesday Tip] Are you a pumpkin eater?


I don’t know about you, but all this talk about pumpkins has gotten me very hungry for my favorite kind of pumpkin treat…no, not pie. I love pumpkin bars. You know, the kind with thick cream cheese frosting. So, I went to my battered recipe file, pulled out the Here’s what’s cookin’ index card with my crisp 1973 secretarial handwriting, and looked over the list of ingredients to share the idea with you here.

When I look at my recipe box, it’s like a visit with family and friends. I cherish the pieces of paper with Grandma Emma’s handwritten instructions to make sure the bacon is crisp on her German potato salad. Or, to drain the doughnuts well before you sprinkle them with powdered sugar. I am grateful that I was able to learn so much about baking from her. She was so creative in the way she was always eager to try a new cake or bar recipe and then tweak it a little to make it her own. 

Pumpkin bars:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ICING:
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cream (half ‘n half)


  • In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until well blended. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well (as if you were making a cake). Pour into an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. 
  • Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool completely.
  • For icing, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, butter and vanilla in a small bowl. Add enough cream to achieve spreading consistency. Spread over bars. Store in the refrigerator. 


Welcome November with Grace, Gratitude & Gumption


As we enter November our thoughts may turn to time spent with family and friends gathered for a festive affair, or the first inkling of overwhelm in anticipation of daily To-Do lists to ensure everyone in our life has a wonderful holiday. Now is the time for you to put a new plan into motion to assure that this year will bring you tidings of comfort and joy along with comfy slippers and new PS’s. Ask for grace, express gratitude and show your gumption by taking care of yourself in the midst of all the holiday happenings. When you are making your list remember to include Hot Chocolate breaks on your errand runs, schedule a Christmas classic movie marathon while wrapping gifts, and observe silent nights while watching the evening sky for one special bright shining star.


Writing…in your journal not just on that To Do list…is a great way to diffuse that holiday stress before you come to the end of your fuse.

The act of saying thank you has great power in it, whether it is to the Universe, a Diety, your spouse, sibling, child, friend, co-worker, or writing it in your Gratitude Journal acknowledging what you are grateful for, and blessing everyone and everything involved. This month during our Unleash You! Community gathering you can make your own Gratitude Journal with your own style and flair! 

I founded The Unleashed Homemaker(tm) to create a community where women would feel encouraged to give themselves permission to lavish on themselves the love that they so generously bestow on others. 

I am grateful for the support of all of you like-minded women who are helping me build this community.

Hop over to my Facebook page and tell me what you are grateful for.

Thank you for sharing!

2011 Grace and Gratitude

Looking back on 2011, I am filled with gratitude for the abundance of grace I’ve been fortunate to receive this year. I have grown as an individual who has gifts to share and gained confidence in my ability to deliver those gifts.

My false starts and hesitation have been met with encouragement and persistent faith from you, my dear readers. You inspire me and motivate me to write articles to serve you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your faith and support. Encouraging you to be creative and write your story, as only YOU can, reminds me to do the same. 

Our words have the power to heal. Our words have the power to create a connection so strong it can reach around the world. Our words have the power to change lives.  

Are you reflecting on what 2011 meant to you? Are you at a point where you’d like to change your life? Being able to disconnect for our day-to-day life offers us the power to focus on our priorities, perhaps create plan of action, or simply allow breathing space to gain reserve strength. I am facilitating a 3-day workshop Jan 13-15 where you would have the opportunity to ponder the past year and  ease into the new year with confidence and clarity of purpose. Go to the Seeking My Authentic Self Women’s Retreat page for more information. 







Check your list twice – Coaxing Creativity Tuesday Tip, Dec. 27, 2011

That Jolly Old Elf St. Nick checked his list twice and I think we should do the same. But our list is comprised of celebrations and successes for 2011. Make it as long as you want and include everything from spending time enjoying a sunset, cooking healthy meals, recycling, giving back to the community, exercising, opening a new business, publishing your first book, posting your first blog article, actually taking a vacation, to learning to speak French for your trip to Paris in 2012. Include all your firsts, your lasts, and everything in between.

What made you jump for joy?

What made you sigh in relief?

What fills you with pride?

Before we welcome 2012, give 2011 a round of applause and heartfelt gratitude.

What I’m grateful for – Response 5-minute writing exercise

I’m grateful for my health and the health of my family and friends. So often we take it for granted that when something happens, like we wake up with a sore hip, a tightness in our neck, or a raspy cough, we just take a hot shower and things loosen up. But what if it is worse? We get a red check mark on the mammogram report causing us to have surgery – or surgeries and more treatments. How do you bounce back from that? You concentrate on what is good and are grateful for that. Concentrate on the fact that you can cope with just about anything as long as you have breath in your body. Having friends and family who love and support you is a bonus. I’m grateful for the ability to write this blog. To have the gift of loving to write and express myself. When I think of the populations who do not have the ability to read and write it makes me sad but I also know that they are able to communicate in ways I do not and I want to know more about that. They have gifts of observation and common sense a lot of us could learn from. So I am also grateful for the gift of curiosity. I’m grateful to live in a beautiful part of the world. I’m grateful to be able to walk out of my house with the confidence that I am safe, the air is clean, the water is clear, and the environment is not going to harm me. I am grateful I have the ability to dream and to act on those dreams to be able to make things better for myself and those around me. Finally, I offer this prayer “Thank you!”

What are you grateful for? Friday 5-minute writing prompt from Your Writing Mentor

Here we are less than a week away from Thanksgiving so it seems appropriate to write about gratitude. Get out a fresh sheet of paper, or open a word document and set the timer for five minutes. Now write for five minutes without editing, stopping to correct your spelling, or pause to reflect to see if that really is how you feel. Just free write for five minutes and I’ll meet you back here tomorrow to share what came up when I did the same exercise. 

Express gratitude for your body – Coaxing Creativity Tuesday Tip Oct. 19, 2010

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and as someone who has been tapped on the shoulder by DSC01359this disease twice, I urge everyone to take a moment to pause and express gratitude for your body right now. Whatever the body shape (or lack thereof), now is the time to take a deep breath, exhale slowly and whisper a little message to heaven – thank you ... If  you’ve gotten your annual mammogram – good job! If you are putting it off for whatever reason, make an appointment today and keep it! The life you save may be your own.

Creating our own luck on Fri. 13th

Linda Joy Myers and Mary E. Knippel discuss NAMW teleseminar.

Linda Joy Myers and Mary E. Knippel discuss NAMW teleseminar.

I think I’m pretty lucky because today is a first for me. I’m celebrating today because the Natl Assn of Memoir Writers invited me to be interviewed as their featured guest on the monthly teleseimar. It was an exhilarating experience and I want to thank everyone who joined in on the call, expecially Linda Joy Myers, president and founder of NAMW, where we talked about tapping into your creativity.

Today is a day many people dread because of superstitions, black cats and supernatural phenomena. I choose to believe in creating my own luck by subscribing to the philosophy that synchronicity is always at work when to the casual observer it appears to be random chance, coincidence, or dumb luck.

We can create our own luck by saying yes to ourselves and no to our fears. Showing up, doing the work, being consistent and persistent, being willing to fail in order to learn from our mistakes, then try again. Also, being open to be flexible to accept an outcome not of your own design or making. Those can be the sweetest rewards because you had no inkling of the spectacular outcome.

As memoir writers, we use our life as the material for our writing. It gives us a chance to go back and understand our own history. What a unique gift that the distance of time helps us heal, cope and continue.

Who would have thought I’d be grateful to have been diagnosed with breast cancer  – twice?

Who would have thought I’d be grateful my husband had to find a different job and we moved across several state lines – twice?

It’s starting with what we have, building on the strength of what we know, and moving forward with grace and gratitude.

Is this your lucky day?

Creating a family

Adoption Prayer

“Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone,

But still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,

You didn’t grow under my heart – but in it.”
— Fleur Conkling Heylinger


 Grace, Gratitude and Gumption – and National Adoption Month. November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving; everyone understands the connection with gratitude. Grace and gumption call to mind kindness, determination and grit.  I needed all those ingredients in large quantities when my husband and I embarked on our journey to parenthood almost 30 years ago. As a little girl I changed Baby Tears diapers and dreamed of having a real baby of my own some day. I never could have imagined how our quest to have a normal family led to so many unanswered questions. The why was replaced with how (adoption interviews and reams of paperwork). Ultimately, we were introduced to our who, a 6-week-old bundle of joy with sparkling blue eyes and blond fuzz. I believe we are matched, parents and children, with who is destined to become our family. True, social workers had more to do with our “match” than DNA when it came to the agency’s process of creating our family. My daughter and I have a mole in the exact same spot on our left arms, a fact that has always been the proof to me of our special bond. Spooky coincidence? No, serendipity I think.

Whether you argue Nature vs. Nurture, grace, gratitude and gumption in generous proportions determines the love, compassion and empathy necessary to create a strong family bond. I’m forever grateful that we have been given the opportunity to become a family. After all is said and done, family holds our hearts and helps us cope with whatever comes tomorrow.

Living a Simple Abundant Life – October 2009 – Creating life anew!

October always signals the beginning of change for me with life’s routines resuming after summer’s varied schedules and crisp autumn days. The gold tones of the leaves strewn everywhere create a path of royal splendor for me – even if I’m just walking to the mail box.

October is my birthday month. It’s permission to indulgence in pretty much every aspect of my life: food (my daughter made me the most delightful pumpkin spice cake this year), wine (had a lovely glass of Riesling with our celebratory dinner) and shopping with my daughter on my birthday was great fun (found several goodies in Carmel). I am also so very grateful for the fact that my early breast cancer detection made it possible for me to be around to enjoy all these indulgences.

Shortly after my 51st birthday, I went for my annual mammogram. Later, I received a form letter in the mail with a big red X next to the line that said: an abnormality has been found on your mammogram. Two weeks later, I had my first breast cancer surgery. Three and a half years later I had my second breast cancer surgery, after a “routine” mammogram and receiving another form letter. I’ve been cancer free for five years. Needless to say, every day is cause for gratitude and celebration.

As strange as it may seem, I’ve come to view my breast cancer diagnosis as a gift. It has brought me clarity and courage. The clarity to recognize what is really important in my life (like birthday cake with the family, observing the change of seasons, and friends calling to sing birthday wishes). The courage to step out of my comfort zone to pursue dreams I have long harbored in my journals and imagination. Simple shifts in attitude have created significant changes in how I’m creating and living my hand-crafted life.

My birthday wish for all those reading this message is that you start today to nurture yourself daily. Indulge in 15 minutes of quiet time to get to know what gives you joy. (If you answered chocolate – remember this time of year lots of treats come in bite-size so you can have your treat and not feel too guilty about it. If you answered 15-minutes to myself, I’m confident you can accomplish that too!)

Be well,
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