7/1/10 - 8/1/10

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Why I Love Hotel Rooms: Cleanliness, Order, Beauty, Symmetry..and of course maids!

Do you ever find yourself wishing you lived in a four star hotel room? I have always been fascinated with them! I'm writing right now from the comfort and luxury of a beautifully made bed in my PJ's at a hotel only 30 minutes from home! 

Tim is working at a stylish desk while listening to his favorite classical music on Pandora. (Online radio service.) So he's in heaven too!

We went to see Inception last night and didn't get back until very late, so we slept late, skipped breakfast and are now enjoying the peace and quiet of being 'away' from normal life just for a bit. Tim still has to work but we will take off at four to go play pool at Main Event. (One of our favorite date night activities.)

Being at this modest, but pretty hotel, with its bright, modern, green, white, and orange decor is so pleasant! It's so very like being a little girl at Grandma's house again. Staying at her house was almost the same as staying in a luxurious hotel. :o) I'm sure I fell in love with homemaking because of her and her amazing way of keeping house. 

She was the most stunning housekeeper and homemaker I ever knew. And what made it so special was that she loved everyone in her life and enjoyed having guests to pamper. It was why she did such a good job. She kept her home beautifully so she could use it to bless her family.

Her lovely home exuded order. It was beautifully and tastefully decorated. (Alright..I admit, she didn't have toddlers running around all week!) Her house was sparkling clean. I only vaguely remember her vacuuming but I know she vacuumed every day. The drapes, couches  and paintings along with little quilted covers for the coffee tables were all so so pretty. 

I remember that she made the most wonderful breakfasts and would always ask us if would we like eggs and bacon or oatmeal (and hers was the best I've ever tasted!).(I don't recommend made to order breakfasts every day of course. :o)   We always had juice in quaint little glasses and ate on the most beautifully arranged table I've ever seen. She had a whole dresser devoted to 'linens'. Setting the table was an art form with Grandma!  Everything in the kitchen was bright yellow orange and green (a lot like my hotel room but with more yellow!) It seemed that she brought the sunshine right into the kitchen.

We often went somewhere exciting for the day and  when we returned home, she cook a delicious dinner. It seemed that she always made our favorite dishes. And her desserts were just to die for!  I have so many pictures in my mind of her at the stove dressed in stylish clothes with a crisp clean apron tied around her waist. 

When it was bedtime, we would all watch the Lawrence Welk Show in her beautiful pale green and blue livingroom and then, when it was over, she would say (cheerfully), "Time for a bath and bed girls!" Her bathroom smelled like a powder puff and she had the most luscious bath mat--deep pale blue shag. Even her tiny laundry hamper was so pretty..white wicker with little brass stand and feet. It was NEVER overfilled.

She did laundry every day. I think she only did a couple of loads a day and she always folded the clothes on top of the deep freezer straight from the dryer. She didn't have a 'folding table' so she had made a quilted pad to lay on top of the dryer whenever she folded her clothes. It was the prettiest yellow and orange daisies with white trim.

When we had all been bathed and dried in her fluffy white towels she would let us put powder from her powder bowl with a big fluffy puff. Do you remember those? They had a ribbon strap that went across the back of your hand. I loved the smell of that powder!

Then, it was off to bed...a perfect little guest bedroom with clean fresh white sheets, comfy quilts, thermal cotton blankets, and fluffy pillows. She had our favorite books, The Bobbsey Twins, on the bottom shelf where we could get to them and read a little by a small bedside lamp before we went to bed.

All through the night, I would hear the clock chiming the hour and half hour (Westminister chimes) and know that all was well. And in the morning...we would wake yet again to the smell of bacon..and a cheery greeting.

I loved my grandmother for a million reasons, but that she gave me the vision for what a difference a wonderful woman can make when she gives her focus to making a beautiful home for those she loves, I love her most of all.

Our world would be such a different place, if more women aspired to be the 'queens' of their homes and their hubby's and families' hearts, as Grandma Wood did.  And I think hotels are wonderful, because in many ways, they recreate that feeling of home..and being cared for. Don't you?

Is there a homemaker from your life that you have always admired? I'd love to hear about her!


A Stunning Vacation for Half the Price! Bidding for Hotels, Airfaire, and Cars

There are all kinds of ways to save money while traveling, but the one that has saved us the most is to bid for hotel rooms using Priceline.  A few months ago, I had to get a hotel room for my son and I because we were cleaning my father's home after an estate sale. Not having the time or energy to plan ahead, I simply booked a hotel in the area. The cheapest thing I could find that seemed 'safe' was $89.00 a night! It was a really scrungy place too. How depressing!


I have vowed never to let that happen again! My dear hubby's boss regularly bids for hotel rooms, flights, and cars and sometimes whole vacation packages for himself and the guys in the company. He's on the road 6 months out of the year minimum so he knows what he is doing. He's the one who originally walked us through the process of bidding for hotel rooms using Priceline.

View of San Diego Bay from Humphrey's

The first time we did this, we wanted to fly to San Diego California to watch my oldest son graduate from boot camp. We booked our flight and hotel through Priceline and bid for both.

Our room at Humphrey's

We paid around $60.00 per night to stay three nights in a gorgeous 3 1/2 star historic hotel on the bay.  I will never forget how beautiful it was!  There is nothing quite as amazing as Humphreys Half Moon Inn.

Holiday Inn Airport Lobby, Corpus Christi, Tx.

For Rebekah's spring break trip to Corpus Christi, we got a very nice 3 star hotel about 10 minutes from the beach, near the airport called the Holiday Inn Airport Corpus Christi, Tx.

 Holiday Inn Airport Lobby, Corpus Christi, Tx.

It was stunningly beautiful with a lovely indoor fountain and waterfall! We loved our room and the whole atmosphere. It was in the business part of town so the drive to the beach wasn't the most pleasant. But it was very convenient for our purposes.  I paid $45.00 per night for five nights during SPRING BREAK.

Our bedroom at Holiday Inn Airport,, Corpus Christi, Tx.

Recently, I bid for three nights near Galveston, Tx so we could attend the Texas Round and Square Dance Festival at the convention center.

We wanted something VERY budget, but clean and pleasant. This place was not a fancy hotel..just a La Quinta, but the rooms were very acceptable and they had a free breakfast and great WI-FI. Best of all, we paid only $40.00 a night and were 10 minutes from the beach during peak vacation season.  If we had stayed in Galveston on the beach the price, even with bidding was a minimum of $120.00 per night. We were already paying $50.00 per night in Virginia for Tim and Jacob for the Speech and Debate National tournament, so we couldn't afford to pay more than the bare minimum. 
Atrium and Lobby at the Crowne Plaza Suites, Arlington, Tx.

This week we got the second best deal ever in our bidding history! (Humphrey's was the very best!) We drove to Dallas, to help my mother and sister move into their new home but I needed to stay another night or two to pull out carpet in my dad's house in Grand Prairie, make a work list for repairs and check on the electricity, plus do some cleaning.   We also had to get the hospital bed and dryer out of the house and driven to a local donation center.  I price-lined a hotel in Arlington for $60.00 a night.

The pool at the Crowne Plaza Suites, Arlington, Tx.

Can you believe it was a FOUR-STAR hotel?? The Crowne Plaza Suites! We are really enjoying our evenings here..the pool..the room..the starbucks...the gorgeous atrium! I just typed in my info as I usually do, looking for something NOT in Grand Prairie, where the house is. It's in a very unpleasant location.

Our suite at Crowne Plaza in Arlington

We were given a beautiful suite right off I30 in Arlington.  I always look for the notation "Best Deal". Sometimes that best deal is a 2 1/2 star but usually a three. Who would have dreamed of a 4-star hotel having such a great deal?

The lobby at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Conroe, Tx. 
where Tim and I will celebrate his birthday next weekend.

Our suite at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Conroe, Tx.

I didn't get quite as exciting a deal for my birthday surprise for Hubby because I didn't want us to have to drive into downtown Houston. There were four star hotels going for $75 in the Galleria area!! This would have been super snazzy. But I wanted to stay closer to home.

I love The Woodlands Waterway and Market Street (see photos below)! It's one of the most romantic places, close by, that we can get to. Our hotel is only a few minutes away from all the excitement!

So for $50.00 per night,  I got a 2 1/2 star hotel in Conroe near The Woodlands, Tx. at the Fairfield Inn and Resort.  Not bad for a couple of nights away by ourselves!

How to Bid for a Hotel Using Priceline

Priceline offers the usual cheaper fares like Expedia and Travelocity, but once you type in your dates and other info, it pops up a button with an option to chop the fair in half by bidding.

Here are the steps:
1. Type in your dates and information on the main page. Then click on the "Chop Your Fair In Half"...

2. Pick your area. (You don't get to pick the exact hotel--just the area you want to be.)
3. Pick the quality of hotel you want...2,3, or 4 star. (They will label the best deals in your area.)

4. Type in a bid. They will show you winning bids in the area off to the side if you want to get an idea what to bid. Also, they tell you what the retail price is. I usually bid a third of that price first and if it doesn't get accepted I up it closer to half.

4. Type in your credit card info. 
5. If you are afraid you might have something come up, click to pay $5.00 per night for the option to cancel. Otherwise, you can't cancel.
6. Type in your initials after VERY carefully reading the fine print, terms and conditions.

Now,  click the button to submit your bid.

They will show you a bid number and you will have to wait a minute or two for them to process the bid. If they find a hotel that will accept your bid, I think you immediately get charged for the room. But your receipt  will show up with an itinierary you can print right away.

You can call the hotel afterwards to confirm and specify if you want one king versus two beds, or non-smoking versus smoking etc. You can't cancel once you've made the reservation, but I can honestly say we have NEVER been disappointed.  We never pay more than half the best prices you could ever find from Expedia, Travelocity or even Priceline's "pick your hotel' offers.

 We'll catch a movie, stroll the waterway, and take a nice long walk all five minutes from our hotel

The only downside is that you don't pick the hotel--they do. And you can't change your mind unless you pay the $5.00 per night fee.  But we've never regretted a single hotel arrangement we've ever made, and we've done a lot of them!

Dining at The Woodlands' Market Street (five minutes from our hotel!)

So the next time you have to make a trip somewhere and the hotel prices are terrifying you, why not consider bidding for your room? It will save you AT LEAST HALF the going rate of the best offers out there! Won't hubby be so pleased when he finds out I've planned a romantic getaway for $128.00!! If you haven't tried PRICELINE yet..you should!

Who says frugal living can't be fantastic!


Which would you rather clean--a beautiful home or a messy one? The choice is yours!

As I was cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes the other day,

I marveled again at the fact that I was always going to be doing these activities, but the environment that I chose to do them in 
was up to me

If I got the house clean and KEPT it that way, I would still have to do all the things listed above and would probably spend X amount of time doing them all, but I would enjoy getting to work in a lovely environment.  On the other hand, if I let the house fall apart, before doing all those activities, I would spend the same amount of time doing the same activities but all in a messy home which would be MUCH less rewarding. Many of us do the latter and don't get near the enjoyment out of our homemaking activities that we could.  We end up feeling like failures at our 'chosen' professions! Why would anyone want to live like that? And no wonder if we don't feel motivated since there is no clean orderly home when we are done working as a reward for all our efforts.

The most astonishing thing I ever read about homemaking, was that ...

The key to a beautiful and orderly home is maintenance.

I had honestly NEVER thought about it! In the early years of married life, the way I cleaned house was to wait until I couldn't stand it any more and then go on an all out cleaning marathon.  I often wondered why no one 'dropped by' on the day my house was clean. Yipes!  Until I read Denise Schofield's book, Confessions of an Organized Housewife, I never once thought of KEEPING the house clean. I thought everyone let their house fall apart before cleaning it.

I think I had the same perspective that the authors of Sidetracked Home Excutives did. I kept thinking the 'house fairy' was going to drop by and pick everything up for me. I can't tell you how much I wished I could just snap my fingers like Mary Poppins and everything would go back to it's proper place. :o) I wanted to sew, quilt, cross-stitch, and write music--not clean and wash clothes!

Denise said that maintenance was just a necessary fact of life. As she put it, "after all your hair needs combing every few hours, and your stomach gets hungry regularly too. Nothing maintains itself!" That is especially true for housekeeping.  The key to eliminating 'growing' work is to DO IT DAILY!  Things like laundry, dishes, and clutter have to be handled on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

It was a revolutionary idea to me. To KEEP things clean instead of always rescuing them from a state of chaos made so much sense. It required developing a habit of maintaining order rather than allowing things to fall apart.  It was HARD!


I discovered that I didn't like the discipline of putting things away when I was through with a project...

or washing dishes right after a meal and washing clothes as soon as I had enough to make a load.  I enjoyed the relaxing and luxurious feeling of leaving things out. But I didn't enjoy the hassle and time required to get it all back in order.  If the plain truth be told,

I definitely didn't like living in chaos!

So I worked very hard to develop the habit of cleaning up after myself and making the kids do the same thing.
And guess what? I discovered that I  LOVED living and working in a beautiful home! It took me a good solid week to get everything in a fairly orderly state the first time, but keeping it in order had the hidden reward of living 'all day long' in a beautiful home. I felt so special...even pampered. The kids seemed amazed and even told me "I love our house now, Mommy!".  And Tim, my dear hubby, was the most appreciative of all. I think he thought he had died and gone to heaven!

I discovered that it was so nice to not live in a state of crisis!

I could have company without scrambling or getting stressed out. I was much more likely to tell the kids that they could have their friends over. When the family got the flu, we could handle the crisis with so much more ease. And when we had to make an unexpected trip, it was so easy to get ready!  It was hard to be disciplined  on a daily basis, but the rest of life was incredibly easier to handle. There were always clean clothes, towels, food in the fridge, and a semblance of order to outweigh the stresses of daily life.

This was the vision I had of a Happy Homemaker when I first started my career....dressed in my 1950's dress with pearls around my neck and happily pushing a vacuum across a floor that didn't look terribly dirty. :o)  

If you think about, if Wal-mart didn't clean their stores until they were dirty, no one would shop there! And really, the same goes for hotels.

Why should we work in a less pleasant environment than your average maid in a high class hotel? I decided that I deserved better and so did my family.

I like being a 'classy' homemaker. I vowed to clean, cook, do laundry, and teach my children in a beautiful orderly home, instead of a messy one. It's worth all the effort I can muster to function ahead of the game instead of living life 'behind the 8 ball'!

This week, let's take on the challenge of  getting the house as orderly as we can, and then keeping it that way. See if you and your family enjoy working in an orderly and beautiful environment instead of a messy one. I think you will feel so much better about your work and your abilities as a homemaker. Yes, picking up and cleaning as you go, takes a little more time, but not a LOT more! And the results...are lovely!

Happy Homemaking!

Tired of Birthday Cake? How about a giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake instead?

My cookie straight out of the oven on a X-Large Pizza Pan

We have so many birthdays in October that our family gets just plain sick of cake. We have found ways to make a traditional cake taste a lot better which you can read about here. But I was pretty sure that Jacob's friends had had enough cake in the last month that they wouldn't particularly be in the mood for cake at his party. (Graduations, weddings..etc.)  So when they all came over to celebrate Jacob and Paul (his friend)'s birthdays, I knew I wanted to whip up something different.

My first thought, was to make a giant chocolate chip cookie and decorate it. I'd seen them in the store, but of course, they cost way too much money. I was pretty certain that I needed a different recipe than just the usual one for chocolate chip cookies, especially since the baking temperature and time, surely, would be different.

So I hunted online and came up with this recipe. It turned out perfect!  Everyone loved the taste and the texture. It turned out farely crispy and tasted just as good as any cookie ever does.

There are all kinds of ways you can decorate...whipped cream, canned frosting etc. You could even make it look like 'dessert' pizza!

And you can stir in whatever you like--chocolate chips, chopped nuts, m&m's etc.

We took the leftover cookie slices to the square dance which was the final event of the party and they got eaten up as quick as anything!

The next time we want to take a batch of cookies...I think I'll save the time and trouble of making individual cookies and just mix up the dough, spread it in a pizza pan, and bake! Talk about EASY!

Here's the recipe...

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

By: Barb 
"A giant chocolate chip cookie, baked in a pizza pan."

Servings 16 

Original Recipe Yield 1 (14") cookie


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
  2. Gradually add flour, salt, and baking soda, beating until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Spread in greased 14 inch round pizza pan. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes. Cool cookie in pan on a cooling rack. Decorate as desired.


“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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