Some Nights Call For “Easy” Meals

April 20th, 2015

I spent most of the day away today at a meeting in the city- fun, productive and inspiring are the words that I can use to describe the time. But as with most meetings which involved a good ebb and flow of conversation, ideas and brainstorming- the time flies. (Literally to the point that we completely forgot lunch)

By the time I got back into town, and got to the post office to pick up a package that I’d been waiting on, and did a little grocery shopping- it was time for dinner. Browsing through the grocery store, I asked my husband what he’d like to have- and he didn’t have any great ideas that would mean something ‘quick and easy’.

So I suggested we have nachos- and he agreed..

Easy- peasy and ready in less than a half hour..

It’s loosely based on a friends recipe for Taco Dip-

1 can of black or pinto beans (large can) drained and rinsed,
small jar of salsa (hot or mild)
a little ground cumin
grated cheese of your choice-
a little Velveeta or cheez Whiz of your choice and liking,
1/4 cup or so of Greek Yogurt
8 ounces of cream cheese-
Chipotle chili powder (and some rotel if you’d like)
mix it all together and using a submersion blender- zap and blend it all together. Stir in some chopped green onions- and bake until bubbly-

Serve with tortilla chips- and enjoy! (I also topped mine with some more salsa- plus some fresh avocado. Perfect fast meal- and we ate it outside, which made it almost like a picnic. Perfect bliss!

In the Face of Busy

April 8th, 2015

Busy is one of those terms that seems to be over-glorified these days.   I hear it SO much at times- and I, in fact have also been guilty of responding with, “BUSY” when someone asks how I’ve been.    Over the past month, I’ve decided to remove that response as an answer to any question, and the reason being is: Everyone is busy.     Granted, we all have our different levels of busy, but everyone has their routines- their lives, and we are all busy.

I recently have noticed a trend in people who seem to almost be saying “Look at me-   and how busy I am.  My life is so stressful because I don’t have time for anything I want to do, and I hate it. ”

This is actually what gave me pause in my own reactions to busy-  after hearing from someone I’ve known for quite some time glorifying their ‘busy’, and at the same time complaining about it.    This person is also someone who has choices (as do most of us)-  and they don’t like to say no-   so instead- they say yes- and resent it.    (I’ve been that ‘yes’ person and it doesn’t do anything but make one miserable, plus misrepresents yourself to another party.)

During this same time, I also found myself questioning why it is that I don’t seem to have the ‘time’ to write here on a more regular basis- something that brings me a lot of pleasure, and centers me.

My initial response to myself was-   “Because you are running a company and trying to continue its growth, working on a new business venture with a dear friend,  working on home remodels, helping plan a wedding- plus emails- time with friends, and the list goes on..”

The reality-  Because I’m not always the best at prioritizing outside of my business ventures, and there are times when I’d rather a few extra hours of sleep, so I take them.     But I have time, as long as I structure my days.

What I have noticed- is that when we glorify this whole.. ‘busy’ thing-  that we are also not present in our lives-   we can’t focus on right now- because our mind is already fast-forwarding to the next ‘busy’ on the agenda.   The result?   A day full of busy- and also a lot of disenfranchised people who are ‘checked-out’ of their lives..    Auto pilot at its finest..

I know that the first step to change is recognizing a behavior that you know isn’t working for you.  From there a plan can be made that works for you.    Sometimes (like in my case) it requires baby-steps, but regardless of the size of the steps-  forward motion is momentum in the right direction.

My first step?   I stopped rambling on about how busy I am-  and then got ‘real’ with myself on how I could implement changes in my prioritizing to get the most out of my days, PLUS still have time to focus on all the things that bring joy to my life.

What about you?  Are you tired of the glorification of ‘busy’?   Are you guilty of falling into the trappings of that four-letter word?  What do you do to make the change?

 

Gifts from the Heart

April 8th, 2015

Not to long ago, I was looking through mom’s cedar chest and I came across the ukulele that my brother used to play as a child. Since my brother will be 46 this year- it goes without saying that it’s at least 40 years old, maybe even older. It immediately brought back memories of us playing with it when we were kids, so I took it out and after reading ukulele strings review online, I ordered him some strings so that I can add them, and give it to my brother this year on his birthday. I know he hasn’t thought about that thing in many years (or maybe he has, but hasn’t mentioned it), but I can’t wait to see his face when he opens it in June.

Ode to Learning

March 29th, 2015

IMG_0990

To know me is to know how much I love to learn-   I love the challenge of not only introducing new things to my life-  but also the process of putting techniques to work.

To know me is to also know that last year I decided to start learning how to work with yeast- and make breads after being inspired by two friends.

Part of my year last year was spent learning and actually putting bread baking techniques to use.

When I can share learning experiences with friends-   that doubles the joy- and also, the fun.    Yesterday’s learning experience was shared not with one friend, but seven friends.

I found a brilliant artisan bread baker via Facebook- and we decided to take a workshop with him and learn various techniques.   This is one of the techniques from yesterday-  it’s a lattice covered boule’.

Dinner last night-   was this bread shared with a good friend.   French Compte’ cheese,  alongside a local pumpkin seed cheese, a spicy zucchini spread, tuna salad, toasted walnut and blue cheese spread.    It was a feast.

Today-  I smile when I look at this photo-  as it brings a smile to my face thinking how far I’ve come, and how much excitement I feel in all there is to learn and discover.   Not only in bread baking, but in life-

Three Little Words

March 19th, 2015

bff Have you ever thought about how something so small can make such a HUGE impact?

Yesterday, after four hours of sleep due to a LOT of concern for JJ and a torn ligament in his knee that he got while playing, I woke up in a funk.    Nothing major, but one of those mornings where you feel a little blue.   We all have them-  and I knew exactly what mine was stemming from, so I also knew that like all ‘blue days’ that it would be temporary.

I usually take these days and just let them run their course-  I don’t fight them, because in some ways I feel like that’s saying it isn’t ‘ok’ to feel that way, when it is.   I’m not a big believer in suppressing emotions, but rather more in feeling them and going through what you are feeling.

I was soaking in the tub, when Marcel came in and handed me a yellow envelope and said, “This may add a smile to your face.”    I turned the card over, and saw that it was from my best friend of more than 30 years.     Inside, a few words which expressed in more detail what the outside three words said-  Thinking of You.  Three words, out of the blue that brought a smile to my face, and warmth to my heart on a day that before that felt somewhat gloomy.

It was simple, but yet timed perfect.     When I messaged to thank her-  apparently it had taken longer than usual to arrive, but it arrived at exactly when I needed it the most-  when the special value was raised and the love was felt even more than usual.

I’m grateful, and blessed.

 

A simple gesture can make all the difference in the life of someone else-  let those three little words-  Thinking of You be part of your day.

Wanderlust to Vermont

March 19th, 2015

A Vermont vacation in the Fall- that’s what dreams are made of. For a long as I can remember, Fall is one of my absolute favorite seasons, and spending it in the East- Vermont, Maine, Connecticut is high on my ‘bucket list’.

I have this vision that goes beyond beautiful foliage and breathtaking views, something that is along the lines of a Thomas Kinkade painting- picturesque and yet homey at the same time. I can picture a quaint bed and breakfast with a breathtaking view, sipping steaming hot coffee on a cool morning from a front porch. The ultimate vision of relaxation.

Having friends in neighboring states, I have seen photos that show there is so much to do with every season. Skiing in the winter, beautiful blooming flowers in the Spring, spending Summers on the lakes. Being a coastal Southern girl, I believe the knowledge of having a ‘real’ definition between each season is part of the enticement, along with my never-ending wanderlust and desire to explore new places, experience new things.

Granted, I know that I couldn’t go East without a visit to the Big Apple, but I suspect the ‘busyness’ of the city would grow old quickly. I love the solitude of being close to forests I can walk in, small villages and towns that I can explore, filled with quaint shops, and charming shop owners. Small restaurants which offer amazing local cuisine. Doesn’t it make you want to pack your bags NOW? Well, it does me too.

I would love to know what your favorite Vermont establishments are. Everything from restaurants to small boutique shops. What should I ‘not miss’ if I were planning a trip today? Inquiring minds want to know- and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m definitely taking notes so that when that day comes- I’ll know exactly where I want to spend my time. Thanks y’all.

March 12th, 2015

remembering.Today-  as I was getting something out of a drawer, I came across an old calendar from 2007.  Inside of it were various things-  most of which I tossed in the garbage, but amongst them was a worn envelope-  with Happy Mother’s Day Grandma Tanner written in my ‘young’ handwriting.   I would recognize that handwriting anywhere.

I opened the card, and inside was a Mother’s Day greeting card from our family to my grandma.   Also inside was this hand-made card that I’d created for my grandmother.   (see photo to right)

 

I shared this photo, and the thoughts that came pouring to mind on Facebook-   Below is what I shared:

 

There are moments that are preserved in time, that even when they slip from our minds- a simple card, made with love many years ago- can flood the mind with beautiful memories.
(Mother’s Day card I made for my grandmother Tanner- circa late 1970’s. )

It is often said that we rarely recognize those special/ magical moments as they are happening, but instead, as we later (sometimes much later) look back upon them realize their true value.

I wonder if we were able to step outside of the fact that the ‘ordinary’ moments that we take for granted are actually ‘extraordinary’ moments in the making, if we would embrace and enjoy them even more?

Choosing Your Focus 

March 11th, 2015

To know me is to know that I am always thinking about ‘something’- things that challenge me and cause me to pause and evaluate how I can continue to learn and grow as a person.  

Yesterday that thought process led me to the following post I made on Facebook (which I made public), but I also feel led to share it here in hopes it will offer a source of inspiration to another.  

If we focus on the love in our lives, we will see it in even the tiniest of moments- as well as with joy and gratitude.

On the flip side of that coin- if we live and focus on fear, we will become fearful, including in our relationships.  The same can be said with bitterness, negativity and so forth.  

In the garden of life- what we ‘water’ and nurture WILL take seed and grow.  The plus side to this is its up to US what we choose, and it’s never too late to change the seeds we choose to water.  

What seeds are you growing?  Love, Joy, Gratitude, and Abundance- or fear, anger, insecurities and frustration?

Going Through…

March 6th, 2015

Robert Frost once wrote:

“The best way out is always through.”

A simple, seven word sentence, yet filled with much wisdom and truth.

Having been someone who learned the hard way by attempting to avoid painful situations,   I learned that the best (and only) way is to walk through something.

There are times when it may even feel as though we are crawling-  or possibly even sitting and spinning our wheels-  with all vision lost of the path in front of us.  But even then-   in the midst of walking through-   those moments of uncertainty, of raw vulnerability where we realize that occasionally- pause is necessary for a moment.

Sometimes-   it’s a moment of pause that allows us to be silent-  to feel-  to regain our bearings, and while we do- the path before us once again becomes clear, as we move forward, albeit slowly.   There are moments- when we feel we can’t go on, but yet, there is great comfort in knowing that this is not permanent.  After all, What is?

To know me-  is to know that I am a thinker and analyzer by nature.   I’m also someone who has learned that there are no short cuts to living the best life possible.   Life is full of lessons, speed bumps, road blocks, beautiful and awe-inspiring moments.

We can’t keep things from happening-   after all, we are human, and we DO have feelings.   What we can do-  is make the choice how we will deal with things as they occur.  Sometimes that is much easier said than done, but it’s doable.    We often make things harder for ourselves, simply by the way we ‘choose’ to react to them.

This week-   was the five year anniversary of losing someone very dear to me.   She passed away suddenly, and I was almost 5,000 miles away when it happened.   Life waits for no one.    I mourned and grieved the loss that all who knew her felt-  and have long let go of any feelings of quilt that I initially had for not ‘being there’.

But this week, in spite of having really amazing things happening in my life-  I struggled, in a way that I really can’t even explain.

My initial thought was-  “I do not have time to feel like this-  I have this, this, and this to do.”   but the reality was-   I knew that if I chose to ignore my feelings and just bulldoze through life ahead-  that eventually those feelings would show up again.    I knew that I needed to walk THROUGH the feelings I was having, and not try to avoid them.   I knew it would be temporary-  but it is sometimes difficult to walk through anything that confronts us, or makes us feel vulnerable.

But I made a choice-   and I chose to simply ‘be’ with my feelings.  I didn’t try to overthink why, or even try to pinpoint what exactly it was that I was feeling and why-    because deep within, I knew why-   a cocktail of hormones, full-moonitis, and the anniversary of losing someone very precious to many of us.

I kept somewhat to myself for several days-    although I did talk to a few friends, one of which who came over last night to ‘hang out’ when she heard I was struggling.    No deep conversations, just two girlfriends hanging out and sharing life-  along with its ups and downs, just as friendship should be.

This morning-  I woke up, not with tears streaming down my face, but with a smile on my face, and the knowledge that the love and great memories I have with Carol will always live in my heart-  I’ll carry the good times and the life-lessons with me everywhere I go, but for me-   I had walked through the dark forest, and the sunshine on the other side was beautiful.

 

 

At the End of the Day…

February 22nd, 2015

“At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished..it’s about who you have lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” – Denzel Washington

To know me is to know how much I love quotes, and when I find quotes that are in alignment with my thinking process, or which leave me challenged within the core of who I am-  I treasure them.   I also want to share them with others- in hopes that they will feel encouraged, inspired, or maybe even challenged within their own core being.

In a world where so many of us tend to rate our ‘successes’ based on how many ‘likes’ we get on Facebook posts, or the number of dollars in our bank account-   I find myself challenged as to how much that really matters at the end of the day.

This past year- I’ve had people tell me that they were ‘offended’ that I unfriended them on Facebook, even though we don’t communicate on there at all-  nor outside of the virtual world.     I also had someone tell me several years ago that I was ‘unkind’ for that same reason-    while in reality-  neither had anything to do with them, but my desire to simplify and be more focused on real connections and relationships.

I had a close friend message me and tell me that she was putting far too much emphasis on the validation that she received from ‘likes’ on Facebook, while not focusing on those right in front of her, so she decided that Facebook was not a place for her.   This was months ago, and she hasn’t looked back.     She is investing in the relationships and people that are right in front of her, and her life has changed dramatically for the positive.

For years I have tried to take pause and ask myself if I’m part of the solution when various things arise.    Reason being, because I am a firm believer that if we aren’t part of the solution- that we are very much a part of the problem.    I would love to be able to tell you that I handle all things in a manner of grace, perfection and dignity- but by saying so, I’d be lying.     I’m human after all-    So like everyone else-  I rise, I fall, and I rise again, but I never give up.

I also know that life is a series of choices-  and with those choices come circumstances-   some anticipated, some good-  some not as good, but the one constant is that there is always a lesson to be learned if we are open to receive it, and willing to look for it.

Throughout life we ALWAYS have the choice to rise up-  to show up in a big way and encourage another person.    To be genuine and to really want to see them do the best for themselves.    Truth is-  nothing brings me more joy than to see people do well, or to ‘get’ something that they’ve been unable to get in the past.    To play a small part in making the life of someone else a little better-   yeah, that’s what it’s all about.

So as I am challenged to rise and be the best version of me that I can be-  which is a constant learning process-  I also ask and challenge you for the same.    There is enough love for everyone..   so sprinkle a little everywhere you go.   You may make a permanent difference in someone else’s  life-  and that, my friend is what it’s all about..

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