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Friday, October 31, 2014

Since it is Halloween time our thoughts turn to S-P-O-O-K-Y stories. . .

It was a dark and stormy night. . . when

SUDDENLY Steve stretched skyward – showing startlingly scary symptoms
before sinking to the soggy, squelching sod.

PLAYFUL poltergeists paraded proudly placing putrid pumpkins precariously
around tombstones.

Steve shivered and whispered,

“OUR owlish ornery oddballs obliterate obtuse obituaries.”

Nearby witches stirred their caldron chanting,

“Oooo. ONLY opening oblique obelisks outback
outdoes oozy odorous oysters. Oooo.”

Steve was tempted to give up hope of rescue when suddenly
out of the sinister darkness

KYLE'S Klezmer Kingpins kibitzed spooky kitchen tricks
while kelp knish kabobs kindled in the kiln.

Kilted karate kittens careened kitchenward crying

“YUCK! You Yutzes! Yield your yowling yardage.”

"It’s Halloween! You're all invited to the yellow yoga yurt for yummies."

So Kyle’s Klezmer Kingpins kindly gathered up their kit and kaboodle,
along with the weird chanting witches,
and the playful pumpkin-packing poltergeists
and still scared-stiff Steve
and followed the kilted karate kittens to the yellow yoga yurt
where they enjoyed hearty Haunted Hors D'oeuvres
and sparklingly spooky company.

And they all lived spookily ever after.
The end.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Barb what a great blog. Lov the commentary and the pics.


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ITSMESHE 10/31/2014 11:24AM

    Loved it! It would have been fun to read to my first graders when I was teaching!

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TUBLADY 10/31/2014 9:07AM

    You are amazing. What an imagination.
Just smashing.
Have emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon a fun night of Trick or Treaters.

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STEPBYSTEP1955 10/31/2014 7:28AM

    emoticon blog! Very creative. You've certainly live up to your user name with this piece. I enjoyed reading your spooky story. emoticon
Happy Halloween!

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SUNSHINEGB 10/31/2014 7:10AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JANUT57 10/31/2014 4:48AM

  Good read! emoticon

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

When “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” first came out in the 1960’s I knew I had found my perfect way to celebrate Halloween. Somehow it was easy to identify with Charlie Brown when he finds only rocks in his bag of “treats”.

And Linus, the picture of hope, sitting outside freezing in the pumpkin patch, exuding sincerity, full of anticipation of the arrival of the elusive Great Pumpkin. sigh

Watching this film has become a favorite family tradition. My daughter and I look forward to viewing it again each year. We even join Snoopy in a root beer and sing some pumpkin carols.

"Deck the Patch with orange and black . . ."

Have you ever tasted Pumpkin Chili? It’s our special Halloween Treat. It’s a super, healthy, tasty meal in a bowl.

Here’s our favorite Pumpkin Chili Recipe

8 oz. very lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (or equivalent dried onion flakes)
1 medium sweet (red or yellow) pepper, chopped
1-2 zucchini, chopped or grated
2 cans Trader Joe’s Cuban Style Black Beans
1 can (14 ½ oz.) diced tomatoes
1 jar Trader Joe’s mild salsa verde
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
1-3 tsp. Trader Jose’s dry Taco Seasoning (according to taste)
(extra chili seasoning or salsa as desired)
8 oz. Mexican blend shredded cheese

1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper and zucchini; cook and stir until veggies are tender. (You can use a touch of olive oil if necessary to prevent sticking.)
2. Add beans (don’t drain as they have a nicely flavored sauce) and tomatoes and salsa.
3. Stir in pumpkin puree and seasoning.
4. Lower heat and allow to simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. This should reduce the liquids and leave a nice smooth sauce.
Serves 8. Sprinkle cheese on top
A yummy special treat – this is even better the next day.

May the Great Pumpkin bring you joy and delightful surprises!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CATHYGETSFIT 10/28/2014 1:29AM

    emoticon blog CJ! I love watching that show too. It's been a long time since I've seen it. I wonder if YouTube has it? I'll have to check and see. The recipe sounds good! emoticon for sharing!

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STEPBYSTEP1955 10/26/2014 3:23PM

    emoticon blog! emoticon for sharing. Will try that recipe soon.

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TXMEMAW6 10/26/2014 11:30AM

    Charlie Brown has always been a favorite of mine. Thanks for the recipe. I'll have to give it a try.

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CDNALTA 10/26/2014 12:33AM

    I love that movie. Thanks for the recipe. Going to have to try making it soon!

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SPEDED2 10/25/2014 11:48PM

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing!

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FORZACHANDMATT 10/25/2014 9:50PM

    Going to make that - sounds delicious and thanks for the reminded about the Peanuts Halloween special

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REDQUEEN2262 10/25/2014 8:48PM

    This is my favorite Charlie Brown special, and the only thing I like about Halloween. I can't wait to try the chili! Thanks for sharing.

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PHOENIX1949 10/25/2014 7:49PM

    Never tire of the annual special. Peanuts fan from the get-go here. Thank you for the recipe that is now in my 'to try' folder.

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GORDON66 10/25/2014 5:21PM

  There's nothing that tastes so good as pumpkin or butternut squash in chili!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon



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TEXASFILLY 10/25/2014 11:56AM

    Awww~ I'm a long~time fan of Peanuts and used to have an entire collection of their cartoon books, which was handed down to a goddaughter. That pumpkin chili looks divine! Here's to the Great Pumpkin! I'll keep an eye peeled for y'all out in the pumpkin patch. HA! emoticon BB~ emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/25/2014 11:57:28 AM

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NPA4LOSS 10/25/2014 11:41AM

    emoticon emoticon Enjoy your Great Pumpkin Holiday!

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NELLJONES 10/25/2014 8:07AM

    I remember watching that show the year it came out when I was in high school. We only had black and white TV back then.

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SUNSHINEGB 10/25/2014 6:59AM

    I like watching that special too! Thank you for reminding us it should be on soon, hope I haven't missed it!!!

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JAROL7 10/25/2014 4:37AM

    I like Charlie too.

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We Wish You a Happy Birthday!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It's your birthday, CJ!

Celebrating YOU is such a treat!

We couldn’t wait to wish you a happy birthday!
We hope your Spark Friends will do the same!
Many Happy Returns!
You-Know-Who & Me-Too!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEXASFILLY 10/25/2014 11:58AM

    Happy belated Birthday, CJ~ emoticon BB~ emoticon

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BIGPAWSUP 9/13/2014 1:59PM

    emoticon a bit late!

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PHOENIX1949 9/12/2014 12:13AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SPEDED2 9/11/2014 8:39PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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STEPBYSTEP1955 9/11/2014 4:55PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
Happy Birthday CJ Wishing you many happy returns. Hope you are having a fantastic day.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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NPA4LOSS 9/11/2014 3:38PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 9/11/2014 2:45PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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HISTOGUY 9/11/2014 9:13AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Have a Wonderful Day!!!

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FLYER99 9/11/2014 8:23AM

and many more!

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SUNSHINEGB 9/11/2014 5:51AM


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GHOSTFLAMES 9/11/2014 4:34AM

    emoticon emoticon

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I'm Celebrating 4 Years with Spark!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Four years ago, I stumbled onto SparkPeople.com and discovered a host of tools to help me become healthier and increase my fitness. New friends shared their stories with me and encouraged me along the way. Spark Trackers helped me set and record my goals. I wanted to build new habits so I decided that my basic strategy would be to focus on small daily steps. I’ve found that there is something about writing it down that helps me follow my plan.

I prefer to celebrate each day – especially the days that I do what I say I will do. I don’t want to have to wait to encourage myself until the numbers on the tape measure or the scale fit a pre-determined level. I want to enjoy the entire journey.

I have definitely worked the program one day and one step at a time. However, my progress has not been straight ahead with no setbacks. Lots of people believe that growth should look like this:

I’m glad they labeled this chart “Not Typical” --
Because MY progress looks a lot more like this:

Lots of turnings along the road, sometimes getting it wrong, several "out-of-left-field" setbacks and many discouragements.

One thing has become apparent during these 4 years of ups and downs --

I looked up what the word “persistence” actually means. Here’s how Mirriam-Webster defines it:
“the quality that allows someone to continue doing something
or trying to do something
even though it is difficult or opposed by other people”.

I find that incredibly encouraging because I am definitely want to keep on keeping on.

I am reminded of the ocean. Someone once said, “The power of the ocean is not in the waves, but in its persistence.”

I'm learning persistence. I'm not perfect, but what I am doing is better than what I used to do. It’s better than dieting for a quick fix or punishing my body with exercise that is contrary to my limitations. I'm asking for help and encouragement from Spark Friends who understand.

Building (and persisting in) healthy habits is worth doing because I am worthy of being the best I am able to be.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEXASFILLY 10/25/2014 12:01PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon BB~

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TRAVELGRRL 6/8/2014 8:03PM

    great blog! 4 years and going strong. Love it!!

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DBELLE39 5/27/2014 7:57AM

    Congrats on the 4 year sparkaversary! Look forward to celebrating many more with you!

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JILL313 5/23/2014 1:00AM

    emoticon CJ, I feel like you and being active on SP has enriched my life in so many great ways. . .I've lost a significant amount of weight but wish I could make a good dent on the 50-65 more pounds I want/need to lose. I've also been persistent and hope we'll both move forward on our awesome Journey to WL & better health. I honestly love my Spark time. It's wonderful having you on SP as I remember when you first joined a few months after I did--and you are an inspiration to me. You're an awesome Lady and I'm glad we're friends. Let's both Keep Sparking forever my friend! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Hugs & Love,


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BARBIE176 5/22/2014 11:54PM

    Happy Spark-A-Versary! I loved your blog and, as usual, the pictures really added to it. Persistence and not Perfection is a hard lesson for us to learn, but you are doing emoticon My journey is definitely the circular one too! emoticon emoticon

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AMYBELLES 5/22/2014 10:23PM

    Happy emoticon!!!! Loved, loved, loved your blog and the pictures you added to it made it all the more special! Persistence is definitely the key to having success and I totally agree with you about celebrating each day, not just waiting for a certain number on the scale or tape measure. Enjoying the journey and being present and grateful for things each day is what life should be about! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 5/22/2014 10:24:17 PM

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CATHYGETSFIT 5/22/2014 8:37PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon on your emoticon I'm glad you are learning persistence. Nobody is perfect and it's unrealistic to expect to be perfect. You're spark friends are always here for you and are willing to help in any way we can. emoticon Glad our paths crossed here on SP! May we spend many more years together here on SP helping each other and enjoying each other's friendship!!

emoticon emoticon

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STEPBYSTEP1955 5/22/2014 8:33PM

    emoticon CJ on your 4 years Sparkaversary. This is an awesome and very inspirational blog!

emoticon for sharing.

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    CJ, emoticon ! I celebrated my 5th Spark Annivesary while in the hospital in March. I also find the tools on this site very helpful on my journey.


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SUNSHINEGB 5/22/2014 7:32PM

    Congrats on the 4 years, that's awesome!
emoticon emoticon

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NPA4LOSS 5/22/2014 7:02PM

    emoticon emoticon

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IOWAGRAMMA 5/22/2014 4:16PM

    Awesome! Congrats for your 4years with SP and for being PERSISTENT!!! Hugs, Jeannie

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PHOENIX1949 5/22/2014 2:54PM


Just what I needed to read today.

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LADYVOLSFAN1954 5/22/2014 1:45PM

    emoticon emoticon We've learned a lot through our journeys. We've all had ups and downs but with persistence we can achieve our goals. I think my actual journey is even screwier than the chart you had (lol). emoticon

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CANDOK1260 5/22/2014 12:47PM

    emoticon on your 4 years spark journal

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TUBLADY 5/22/2014 10:56AM

    Congratulations on your staying the course, no matter how many stops or detours along the way.
Change takes time, one step or one move in the right direction at a time.
Continue on your way, enjoy your life.
Stay positive and be strong.
Tisha emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BIGPAWSUP 5/22/2014 10:16AM

    You are awesome. Keep inspiring.

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FLYER99 5/22/2014 8:40AM

    Great blog, and many Congratulations on hitting that milestone!

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REDQUEEN2262 5/22/2014 5:26AM

    emoticon emoticon

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DIDMIS 5/22/2014 4:01AM

    emoticon emoticon

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Summer Plans

Sunday, May 18, 2014

I’ve been trying to write a blog about my summer plans. I started making a list. You know the kind of thing: types of exercise I will do and new recipes to try. (I know better than to set a specific weight-loss goal. I know the direction I want my weight to go = DOWN. But just how many pounds and exact dates is a bit too discouraging. I want to celebrate what actually happens and not over- estimate the possibilities.) Instead, I added books I want to read, places I want to hike and on and on . . .
I kept looking at the list trying to figure out how to fit all this “stuff” into just one blog. And I began to realize that one activity was drifting its way up to the number one spot.

This comes as little surprise to those of you who have noted my username, CJWordplay. I really enjoy writing – which leaves me with a nagging question – what’s keeping me from doing it?

Here is a “short” list of my excuses:
I don't have time,
I ran out of ideas,
The point on my pencil broke,
I can't find a piece of paper,
I broke a fingernail,
My hair is too curly!

So – No more excuses.
I have decided.
This summer –

No THIS summer





Each day.

(Snoopy writes: "It was a bright and sunny summer . . .")

Perhaps no one will care, or read, or even like what I write.
Unlike Snoopy, I have no expectations.

I’m doing this for me.
I’m doing it because it brings me joy.
And that is the best reason I can think of.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JILL313 5/20/2014 8:09PM

    CJ, You write so well plus you enjoy being creative so put that all together & definitely write something each and every day. It's a talent you have so you're going to have no trouble thinking of something you enjoy writing, or maybe actually don't enjoy the subject matter. I'm always impressed how well written, articulate and interesting your blogs are. So don't procrastinate on this anymore and do yourself a favor and buy a nice notebook to write in along with some pretty colored pens. Let your creativeness flow freely on paper.

Hugs & Love,


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PHOENIX1949 5/19/2014 3:36PM

    Write on! (couldn't resist corny pun)

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SPEEDY143 5/19/2014 3:17PM

    emoticon here's a blank page and new fancy pen... Summer is the perfect time emoticon

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STEPBYSTEP1955 5/19/2014 2:08PM

    “Greatness is finding your natural talent, fueling it with passion, planting it in well-nourished soil, and toiling in the garden until it breaks through the earth and reaches for the stars.” ― Janet Autherine,

CJ writing is your natural talent so its a great idea to set it as one of your summer goals. Go for it! I look forward to reading some of your writings. You can do it.

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STARRBRITE 5/18/2014 9:51PM

    I have the same problem. It's hard to write every day, and yet I enjoy it so much when I do. It's the same as exercise. The endorphins don't turn on until the writing or the exercising is almost done. emoticon

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AMYBELLES 5/18/2014 9:43PM

    Sure hope your writing goal for the summer will include lots of blogging! I have always loved reading your blogs, because you are so creative and a truly gifted writer!! emoticon emoticon

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NPA4LOSS 5/18/2014 9:34PM

    emoticon emoticon

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IOWAGRAMMA 5/18/2014 7:00PM

    "It was a dark and stormy night...." LOL!! Go for the gold! Write what you want, when you want! emoticon

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DIDMIS 5/18/2014 6:37PM

    Thank you for your blog. Very interesting and thought provoking.

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BARBIE176 5/18/2014 4:29PM

    What a fabulous blog! I love that you are writing for yourself with no expectations. That was something that Bill did the last couple of years before he became so sick. I hope you will share some of your writings with your spark friends though. Have a fabulous summer being creative! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TUBLADY 5/18/2014 2:35PM

    Very creative. DO IT. WRITE!!!
Hope to hear some fun and interesting things .
Have an excellent ,creative, successful summer.
Tisha emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BIGPAWSUP 5/18/2014 11:54AM

    Sounds wonderful! Enjoy it!

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LADYRH 5/18/2014 4:48AM

    Good plan, go for it.

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CATHYGETSFIT 5/18/2014 2:57AM

    I know how much you love to write. So...Just Do It! ;-) I would like to read some of what you write someday! emoticon

emoticon emoticon

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PRAIRIECROCUS 5/18/2014 2:21AM

    I enjoyed your blog !
Please keep writing !

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