Friday, February 22, 2013

I Like You For You

Let’s you and me have a talk.

Let’s talk about inspiration.

What exactly is inspiration?

Merriam-Webster defines inspiration as:

a: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation


b: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions


c: the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

So, I'm going to share a few of the things that inspire me...Look out for the challenge
First, I was at work today when this came in on one of my social media sites. I watched it, wiped away the tears and then decided to write this blog post. INSPIRATION!:


This video is beautiful. Gorgeous. Meaningful. This video should be required viewing in schools. This video should be given an Oscar. This video should be shown everywhere. Everyone should have to watch it. Hear the message. Be the message.
I really can't say much more about it. I saw it and knew I had to share it with you. Do me a favor and share it with your friends and children.

And then there is this video:


How cute and right and cute is this kid?
He totally has my vote for President!!!

I highly recommend you check out his other videos. Nashville and I were talking him up at a gathering of our friends from high school and we just can't get enough of him. He makes me giggle and there really aren't enough giggles in the world these days.

He has the right idea and a great delivery.

We should be a party!

We should stop being boring!

We should all be on the same team.

"It’s like that guy Journey said…Don’t Stop Believing... Unless your dream is stupid, and then you should get a better dream."
(Best line ever)
~ Kid President

And then I was also inspired by Mr. Rogers. I grew up watching Mr. Rogers. He taught me (though I didn't know it at the time) that I was special. That I was allowed to have the feelings I had. That all I needed to do was find a way to express them. His Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award Acceptance Speech was a superior example of the beauty of love and humanity, not to mention humbleness.
He really was a beautiful human being and I'm very sad that I never got the opportunity to hug him.
 Something I read this morning had a quote from him in it:

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” 
~ Fred Rogers

It’s the perfect description of love. Exactly how it should be. Love is a struggle. Loving your spouse. Loving your children. Loving the elderly parent you are caring for. Loving your neighbor or co-worker. It’s always a struggle to love someone. But it’s a struggle worth struggling.

It’s even harder I think to love yourself. And you can't really love someone else to the fullest extent possible until you love yourself. Can you?

Do you look in the mirror and love what you see?

Do you accept yourself for yourself?

Do you know how special and worthy you are?

I know I don’t.

I’m being brutally honest here…I don’t like what I see in the mirror.

I don’t know how to accept myself as I am. I always seem to think something about me needs improving (I’m right…but the way I think it isn’t healthy).

I have no idea how special and worthy I am. No clue. Sometimes I get just a glimpse. A glimmer. Like a piece of glitter that is stuck to your nose…sometimes the light catches it and it catches your eye and you go cross eyed trying to see it again. Turning you head this way and that to make it catch the light. But you never seem able to. Until someone else sees the piece of glitter and removes it for you.

So today’s challenge…

Go into this weekend with the plan to find the glitter. Don’t actively look for it, because you won’t find it. Being special isn’t something you can actively do.

Be mindful of your actions.

Be aware of the words you say.

Know that at some point in this weekend you are going to BE special. And then go and enjoy your weekend. OK?

Say it with me…BE SPECIAL!

Because you are. You are special.

Mr. Rogers taught me that.

“I like you for you.”
~ Fred Rogers


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

So You Had A Bad Day

I'm a pretty positive person. The type who likes rainbows and unicorns (actually butterflies but it doesn't sound as good) But I work hard to be that way.
My nature at its very basic is "glass half empty". I think if you understood the way I grew up you'd get why that's my basic nature. However, I'm not a believer in (or I try not to be) basic is best. Your nature is not fixed and can be changed if you're mind is put to it. If you really want to change who you can. But you have to be willing first.

To that end I have worked pretty hard most of my life at being happy, goofy, perky, silly. Any positive emotion you can name I spend a lot of time trying to be it. It's my belief that happiness isn't just going to happen to you. Happiness is a choice. You make a choice every day, whether or not to be happy. I'm not going to go so far as to say that its an easy choice. It's not. Most of the time.

It's work to be happy. To be conscious of your happiness and to really pursue it is a very difficult thing to do. It's definitely much more difficult to be happy than it is to be unhappy. I think this the fundamental problem with humanity but that's a rant for a different time.

Think about easy is it to remember all of the negative things that have happened to you in life?
When you got cut from the basketball team.
When the girl you asked out turned you down.
When the guy you were hoping would ask you to the dance asked your best friend instead.
When you were passed over for the promotion that you know you deserved.
When you got into a car accident.
When you didn't make the big sale. 
When your wife asked you for a divorce.
When someone you love died...

Pretty easy right? I'm willing to bet that at least one of those things I mentioned happened to all of you who are reading this in some way, shape or form.

But how often do you take the time to really sit down and remember your happiest moments?
The first time you rode a bike.
The first time you hit a three point shot.
Your first kiss
(I remember mine very fondly and am in fact still friends with the beautiful man, who I'll call Misfit in honor of a t-shirt he wore on a day that I have a particularly happy memory of, who gave it to me and taught me about love and its beauty. Hey Misfit...Thanks!).
The first time you saw your significant other.
The first time you kissed them.
The day you planned how to propose to her.
The day he proposed to you.
The day you got that promotion you worked so hard toward.
The day your first child was born, your second, third, fourth etc...

Yeah...once I really put my mind to it I can remember those things...and in the remembering....I can count my blessings.

I saw an old friend (we'll call him Nashville) the other day and he said something to me that I don't remember having heard before about myself. Sweet Nashville told me that I have a big heart. 
And hearing it almost made me cry.
I never thought about how big my heart is. I never thought about how much room I have inside it for everyone I know. I never thought about how much love I send out to the world. Its not something I think about. I just do it. I love everyone. But Nashville, showed me, and I'm pretty sure its one of the most beautiful compliments I've ever gotten in my life. Definitely one I'll cherish for the rest of it.

It also made me realize that Nashville is a blessing to me. (You are you know...Just your DrawSomething pics alone are really...I can't tell you how many times they've made me laugh.) Just having known him in high school was enough of a blessing, but to still have his friendship 13 years later and know that he sees me in such a wonderful way is just incredible. I don't know how I got to be so lucky in my friends but I am.
Stopping the

At work I sometimes hear "You sure look like you're having a good day." Most of the time I reply that I am...but really...most of the time I'm not. I'm having a horrible day. But I have a secret that I'm going to share. Its my secret to having a good day...

Are you ready?

You sure?


My secret is...

"Fake it til you make it."

If you aren't happy...pretend to be. Sing a happy song. Tell a goofy joke. Be a light to someone else who is having a bad day. I guarantee you that if you fake it long enough you will eventually make it. It's never not worked for me.

I'm not a naturally happy person. In fact...depression runs pretty deep in my family on both my mother's side and my father's. But I gain joy, warm fuzzies and much pleasure from making others laugh, smile, feel better, feel loved. I especially love making people feel loved. Its one of my favorites. Right up there with smiling. Smiling is my favorite (wink).

I have to work at it. Some days I have to work really hard. I mean REALLY hard. Some days I don't succeed. Some days I fall just a little short. Some days I'm almost too happy to stand it. Sometimes I'm too happy for the people around me to stand it (I'm talking about you Marilyn). Some days I get it just right.

But when I have days like today, where everything was a mess, everyone was complaining, and I discovered that people I thought were my friends really aren't...I have to remind myself of my secret. Today I thought in reminding myself that I could maybe remind you too.

I hope this helps you. I hope you finish reading this post with a smile and that you go write down 10 things that make you happy to just think about. My 10 are below. I hope that you'll work hard at being happier. Make the choice. You have to work for it. You have choose it. You have to really want it. No one is going to hand it to you and if they wouldn't be your happiness.


My Top 10 Happy Things
(in no particular order):
1. Daydreams about Hawaii
(today it was a fantasy about just laying on the warm sand in the dark and listening to the sea, absorbing the warmth of the sun warmed sand, feeling the salt tinged sea breeze and watch the stars and moon. And breathing deeply of the peace I can only find there) 
2. My children's smiles
(cliché I know but they really do make me happy)
3. The Sunshine Song by Jason Mraz
"A little light never hurt nobody. Send out your ray of sunshine."
4. Dancing and singing.
5. Goofy texts from Husband-Man.
6. Kisses from Husband-Man.
7. The smell of the tops of my children's heads
8. Writing
(both writing actual paragraphs of information like blog posts and the actual act of writing. I like to see my hand make my words take shape. Those words belong to me and are shaped by me. Odd I know but it makes sense to me so that's all that matters.)
9. Snuggling into my bed with a good book and being all nice and toasty cozy.
10. Sharing my thoughts, craziness and projects with you. Its so much fun.
That's my list...what's yours? Share it in the comments.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Menu Plan Madness

I'm sorry for the long time between posts but recently all of my computer time has been taken up by something else. Something important. Something exciting!!!
Yep...That's right...I've been menu planning.
You see, my family never eats at home, like...ever. And when we do its usually because we got take out.
McDonalds (I know)
Mangos (locally owned Mexican place...very yum)
That's just a few of the places we ate each week.
Husband-Man ran the numbers and discovered that we were spending close to $800 or more on eating out every month...WHAT?!?!?!

I know right!? I was kinda shocked too. And we've been doing that for close to ten years. Scary stuff that. I mean...that's a house'm so mad at us.
So after hearing that and also getting tired of hearing, "What are we having for dinner?" and "I don't know. What are you in the mood for?" then, "I don't know. You?" and then sitting there staring into space trying to come up with a plan like the two vultures from The Jungle Book, I decided to do something about it.
Neither Husband-Man nor I grew up in families that did anything close to menu planning. We knew nothing about the secrets of cooking on a budget. We knew even less about actually planning a menu. So I did what any self-respecting not-so-know-it-all should do...I researched.
I used Pinterest. I used my social network. I talked to my co-workers.
Everyone had advice. Everyone had a different way of doing it. Some people did a monthly plan and shopped once a month. Some people had a monthly plan and shopped twice a month. Some people had a weekly plan and shopped on Sundays and some people just had a stocked pantry and created a menu as they went "I feel like having chicken pot pie tomorrow so I'm going to thaw out a couple chicken breasts and cook it... Sound good dear?"
I'm so not capable of that. I have to be strict with myself. I need a plan. I have to be organized. I have to have everything planned out and have a plan B for each plan A. Sometimes I hate being me. You should be glad you can't see inside my brain...I'm sure it's scary.
What I finally came up with was this...
I put a binder together.

Isn't it pretty
Inside this binder is a section with calendars, a section for recipes, a section for recipes we like, and  sections for further categorizations.

My calendar and tabs
I also have a Microsoft OneNote (Best program ever!!!) notebook filled with recipes, and ways to categorize my shopping lists. One co-worker, I'll call her Marilyn because of her love of Marilyn Manson, recommended the phone application Out Of Milk  and it is awesome.
It allows you to scan barcodes and keep track of what you have in your pantry as well as what you need to purchase at the store. Since I always have my phone with me if I find that I need something to go on the shopping list it goes on there immediately. And even cooler is that I can sync Husband-Man's phone and my phone (by signing both accounts into the same account) and if he is the one shopping and I need to add something to the list I can do so and be sure he got it without having to call him. Seriously big thanks to Marilyn for that tip!
So once I was organized and knew where I was going with this all I had to do was compile my recipes and plug them in to the calendar. Easy peasy right? Not really. 
Compiling the recipes turned into a problem. All of the advice I had been given said to compile a list of recipes that my family already liked first...I did that and came up with seven. Not Shameful isn't it?
But then I decided this would be a good thing. It could be a way of trying recipes I find from all different sources (including Pinterest) and having my family try new things. The benefit of course being that as I go I can find things that the family definitely likes which will eventually pay off in that I'll have enough recipes to be able to fill a menu with ease and only have to look for a new recipe for once a week (more or less if I choose).
The difficulty in this was finding enough recipes to fill my three weeks. It took me days. Literally days. I searched Pinterest, cookbooks, asked friends to email their favorites. I categorized as much as possible (or tried to) on Pinterest. Soup. Entrees. Side dishes. Deserts. I never realized how many of the recipe pins on Pinterest were deserts. So not fair...
But after a few days I finally had a full calendar.
Then I moved on to figuring out what I needed from the store and what I already had. I barely had anything.
My first week's menu was:
Sunday: Chili
Monday: Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia (I actually had these in the freezer from a trip to SAMS. Yay me!!!)
Tuesday: Frozen Pizza
Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie
Friday: Designated as a Fish Fry day since we go to our lodges Fish Fry every Friday. (Good fish and the money goes to a good cause. Plus once a month Husband-Man and I work one and we eat free that day. BONUS!!!)
Once that was done all I had to do was assign myself a budget and go shopping. I love shopping. I don't love budgets. Obviously. SMH. I'm working on it. *shrugs*

I input my shopping list into Out Of Milk and off I went. I set myself a budget of $100 for the first weeks needs and I did pretty well at $120. I did go a little off list though for a few things that I wanted to have in the house. So I probably did stay on budget if it hadn't been for those things.

I got everything home and put away and prepared for the fun of following the menu.

One thing I'd recommend is doing a them night a few nights of the week. That makes it easier to set the menu. Tuesdays I plan to make Italian night. At least for this month. I may decide to change that next month. Italian night started with frozen pizza and will include spaghetti, baked ravioli and fettuccini alfredo. 
I'm only up to Wednesday but so far so good. The Pot Roast was awesome...though I recommend seasoning it a bit more. I used the gravy mix and the Ranch dressing seasoning and it wasn't very flavored. Next time I'll add the Italian mix and see if that makes a difference. I didn't add it this time because I was worried it would be too salty. I was wrong but it was still very good. Nice and tender.
In the Crock Pot

 In the bowl
Next project is going to be to replace my dishes. I hate them. I think they are the ugliest things known to man. But for some reason Husband-Man is unreasonably attached to them. Not for long (insert evil laugh)...
I hope you've been inspired by this really long post. I plan to share the results of each recipe I use from least I hope to.
In the you have any tips? Tricks? Recipes you'd like to share? If to me in the comments.