Be free-floating, allowing the situation to surround you, and be in it. Take in the full surroundings, including the temperature of the water.
This may bring incredible clarity, presence and focus. This is what is means to be a jellyfish.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday Thought of the Day ~ We Are One Day Closer.........

This great reminder helped me get out of bed yesterday.
A wonderful quote from my hubby, knowing I was grumpy and overwhelmed with life, as has been the Modus Operandi these days. 

I was having a difficult time finding the motivation to get up and start yet another day of stress, worry, uncertainty, and chores. Who wants to get out of bed for that? But he wisely reminded me we have a goal, we have something to look forward to. And we are one day closer to getting there.

Some days, he knows just the right thing to say.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Walking on Wednesday ~ Cooking for Days Ahead - RECIPES!

I always wish I could cook ahead, make several meals to either freeze or put in the fridge to just heat up on the days we are strapped for dinner. I am known for stressing about dinner, so this would make things so much easier on me, and thus everyone. But I rarely have the time or ambition to make more than the meal for that night. Often we eat dinner late because it takes me a long time to find the motivation to cook at all.

Hubby complains that I don't cook all the time, and all I can say is, "Well, you married an American Girl hun. You knew what you were getting into!" But now, this girl is fully embracing her Crock-Pot!

Well, I am proud to say that last week I cooked 3 days meals in one day! Thanks to my Crock-Pot, I was ambitious enough to clean and season chicken enough to throw in there for the next two days. That day, I relied on an updated, clearly fast-cut American style, recipe of Chicken and Noodles. 

It is an "American Busy and Unmotivated Mom" take on an old family recipe of my hubbys family. Their version is made with 'from scratch' noodles, and boiled chicken, with flour or Wondra mixed in to thicken. This version takes about one full day to make! You have to first make the noodles, mixing and then rolling out the dough, then cutting into thin strips, and setting out to dry. The noodles have to sit a while to dry a bit before you can cook them, and it takes quite a while to actually make them. Last time I did try it, it took me all morning (not a late start morning either!) to just make and cut them. Then, chicken has to boil for at least an hour by my estimation, and then you have to let it cool to pull off the meat. Then, you have to cook the noodles, add the chicken, and painstakingly add flour (or Wondra) little by little until the dish is a nice, thick, stew of lovely noodles and moist and tender chicken.  
My Short-Cut Version of Chicken and Noodles
My quick and easy (lazy?) version takes a Rotisserie Chicken, chicken broth, store bought noodles as fat as I can find them, and flour and Wondra(I use Wondra, gives you less lumps!) (sorry no during photos, I was busy making this while prepping the other two so didn't think of snapping photos....) Not quite as rich as the 'made from scratch' version, but still a respectable stew-like dinner. With fresh bread, it is awesome on rainy cool nights.

For the next meal, I decided Chicken Cacciatore would be a hit, with Fettuccini. So easy in the Crock-Pot
The hardest part is cleaning the chicken and cutting up the onions. I used chicken pieces, breast, legs, and thigh, all purchased separately packaged in larger quantities to get a better deal. Add the chicken to the pot with the onions and some canned mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, some garlic and basil and thyme too, and turn on the cooker. All you have to do when you get home from work is heat up water to boil the fettuccine. Easy Peasy.

The next meal was even a little easier. Yes, easier. I know, it's almost too easy. I had prepped the chicken, same pieces as the night before, and put it in a ziplock with some Bar-B-Que sauce. Day of cooking I cut up an onion and sprinkled on top of the chicken in the pot (after adding a bunch more bbq sauce). 

When I got home I cooked up some rice and voila! Dinner was prepared. Perfect for after the long day I had that day. (again, sorry no finished photos, I just served and we ate and it was all gone before I thought of snapping some.)

This week, I have explored some new Crock-Pot recipes, and will share with you after I know they are successful. There is no point to sharing if they aren't good, right? But this is a great, easy start for those of you who haven't used Crock-Pots before, or those of you who like as few ingredients as possible when cooking.

So don't be afraid to plan a few days ahead. You will be so thankful you did. I was. Made my evening so much better, stress free, and able to enjoy my family entirely before and after dinner.

Do you Crock-Pot? I would love to hear your recipes. 
(if you have some with no cream or butter, or red meat , that would be excellent!!!Hubby that can't have dairy and won't eat red meat)
Please tell us your faves in the comments!  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Music Monday! I Try

I Try. I try to be fashionable usually, be cool and roll with the punches, but what comes out is mostly soccer mom, middle age comfort clothes. Today, when hubby complained that it is a 'Macy Gray Day', (because he is freezing cold - story below) and I have a short sleeve shirt on with no jacket, I sometimes have to roll my eyes and silently mumble to myself. (By the way, it was in 65 degrees out when he said this. That is cold to him, a Caribbean Guy stuck in the middle of the US.) 

At least it brings back a great memory of why we call cool days Macy Gray Days. 
Macy Gray in a rockin' jacket.
Why do we call it Macy Gray Days? Because of this rocking funky cool jacket Macy Gray is wearing in this picture. 

Sounds crazy, so here is the story.

When we lived in the Caribbean, we once made a trip to Miami in January. We didn't bring any cold weather clothes, after all we were going to be in Miami where it is usually in the neighborhood of 80 degrees fahrenheit, plus we didn't pay attention to the weather forecast.

Well, THAT January, it was 40 degrees! During the day. I was FREEZING. We got off the plane and immediately started shopping for a coats of some kind. I believe I bought the first thing I saw because I was so cold, but I really did love it too. It was not even my style, but really that wasn't the point. We were in Miami, we were there for Art Miami, and we were there without the kids (a rare thing back in those days). We were going to eat at nice restaurants, maybe even go to a club? I stepped out of my 'soccer mom' comfort and bought this fabulous "Macy Gray Sweater Coat", very very similar to the one Macy Gray is wearing in that picture. Macy Gray had this song on the radio at the time. Her music has that great funky blues feel, and she dressed funky too. (wow that was 14 years ago!) 

I tried to step out of my normal world that weekend, to be that funky art type, even tho I dressed more like a soccer mom at the time. We were in Miami and away from the kids, so it was like we were in a whole other world. 

His funky cool boots.
He wears nothing else.
Why not be a more fun, funky artsy type who ate at fancy restaurants, saw high class art shows, strutted around the place with some style with my handsome hubby? (Who was also freezing, by the way.) He bought a very nice and funky blue suede suit jacket, and was wearing his normal funky different biker style goth boots. We entered a great fun world of no kids, fashion, and fabulous art. He even signed an autograph for someone who thought he was a rock star! (true story!) We played the part and had a ball!

My 14 year old (!) sweater coat
I still have the sweater, and still love it. I wear it every time the weather calls for a jacket, as long as it isn't too windy (it is after all a sweater). I wear it a lot, and I still get compliments on it.  It wasn't my style then, but became my style, and still is, 14 years later.

(But I didn't wear it today. It is reached 80 degrees today, sunny and the perfect short sleeve shirt temperature. )

I still try, try to dress cool, be that funky artist type. You are saying, "If you have to try, then you will never be that", and that has some truth. I do resort to that soccer mom comfort when I am home. Actually I resort to scrubby sweatpants and worn tees, and sometimes I actually do go to the store that way. But I DO own a Macy Gray Sweater, and I DO rock it, in my middle aged casually trying to be funky way. And now my kids appreciate that I do try, that I do take care of myself and my look. We still try to have fun, as a family these days, and they are not past playing a part as if we are in a different world as if we are different people, even if we are only at Walmart, going along with the fun, and living life. We haven't had to sign any autographs lately though. 

I love Macy Gray Days. They are days that remind me that I tried, and succeeded, to be comfortable in my style, whether that style is funky cool, or comfy sweats with a funky cool sweater coat. I loved it so much, it became my style, and I was rocking it no matter what. 

Do you have an article of clothing so unlike your normal style, that you love so much it became your normal style? 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Find ~ The Hawk and the Squirrel

Sounds like the title of a story, and very well could be. But today, it is simply the caption of the photo I found the while going through my computer pictures. It was taken from far away, as Red Tailed Hawks are rather skittish around us humans. I honestly didn't even notice the squirrel when I was taking the picture. 
The Hawk and the Squirrel
This photo was taken right in our yard, this view is from the kitchen window. 

I often get lost on pictures. I enjoy reminiscing, I wonder why the time goes by so fast when I see pictures of the kids past birthdays, and wonder WHY I took some pictures.....
I am not sure why I took this picture.....
 and then congratulate myself on some great shots! 
The Praying Mantis in a Jar 1.
(great shot 1)

The Praying Mantis in a Jar 2.
(great shot 2)
I should have been working, updating spreadsheets, but instead I got lost on photos. It is a nice vacation from the present sometimes. It is a nice thought of the time I used to have to take pictures like this.

My goal is to get back to taking more pictures, not with my phone. To see the small things and make them bigger than they are in our normal everyday life. To honor nature, interesting compilations for no apparent reason, to view and inspect this world with that sense of wonder that I somehow have no time for now. 
It was a wonder that they each put up with each other
for those very few minutes they found each other
wanting the same spot.
To showcase the simple things in life, for it is the simple things that make life great. The usually unnoticed, uncomplicated stories of the hawk and the squirrel, the rocks, the praying mantis, and the dog and cat. 

As rough and tough as the world is, don't forget to see the beauty in the simple things.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Thought of the Day ~ Heart, Opportunity, Reason

Listen to the whispers of your heart.......

There are opportunities where you least expect them to be.......
All you need is one reason.........

Monday, August 19, 2013

Music Monday! If You Want to Sing Out......There's A Million Ways To Go

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
you see ah ah ah
its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know

Well if you want to say yes, say yes
And if you want to say no, say no
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
'Cause there's a million things to do
You know that there are


Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are

It is up to us, to decide what we want to be, 'cause there's a million things to be, a million ways to go, and it's up to you, to be it, to go your way. 

(I had forgotten about this song, until it was on a show we watched last night. The father was singing it to his daughter. I remembered hearing this on the radio when I was a kid and thinking it was a fun song. Yesterday when I heard it, all I could think was this is a great message for anyone, any age, any time. Perfect for when we are dealing with uncertainty, perfect for reminding us to just sing out, and be.....)

The opportunity's on, if you find a new way you can do it today. Decide, and go be it. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Walking on Wednesday ~ Changing It Up and Back to Basics

One benefit of a new walking path.
It has been a long several months without my walking or running. I got bogged down with stress, and found getting out to do my morning runs, or even just walks, to be completely stressful. That isn't what they started out as, and not at all what they should be, so I stopped. Completely stopped. Running and walking was stressing me out, the totally wrong way to go about it, so I stopped. I knew that doing things that were causing more stress, rather than helping, meant it was time for a change. 

It makes sense and seems logical, but in reality it is quite difficult to make such a sudden change when it is something that started off so good, so right, and then over time turns into not so good, and so not right. It happens slowly, yet the change we need must happen immediately.

Another benefit of the new path.
After some time off, and still feeling the stresses of the rest of my life, I decided one day, after a days work, to go out in the late afternoon for just a nice walk. No pressure, no agenda. Just to walk. I had put in my days work and thought it may be a great way to unwind from a day of stress. I also decided to take a different route. A place I don't normally go for walks or runs because this is a more crowded route, often with other dogs, so I thought my runs would be interrupted with having to greet other dogs and people. But this time,I didn't let that deter me. I needed a change, and changing the route would make the change complete. I needed to get back to the basic reasons I started walking in the first place. To enjoy nature, to get some exercise, to improve my health, not run, go a certain distance, and do it all before I started the rest of my day. I needed the simple reasons again, back to the basics.

This approach was uncomfortable at first, late afternoon early evening walks on a completely different route, potentially having to deal with other dogs, people, lots of ducks.... After I got out there, I found it worked very well. Most of my walks now are in the afternoon, along this route around Lake Louise. 

Lone duckie, but one of many along my new route.
The new scenes, the ducks and geese, (many many more than the lone one in this picture to the right, and the dog just loves this little fact), plus the beautiful water features (a fountain and a waterfall!) are so much better than Main Street and sidewalks all the time. 

My walks are now a pleasant way to process the day, and unwind to a nice relaxing evening. I even started walking with a someone, either a friend or my daughter, most of the time, and only sometimes alone. I used to be a loner because I didn't want to slow someone down, or slow down for anyone (pressure I didn't even realize I was putting on me or others). But it is much more meaningful to be doing it with someone else, something I never would have found out if I didn't change it up!

Back to the basics, a walk just to walk and enjoy, maybe run if I feel like it. Changing the time of day to later adds something I never thought would fit into my life - the real possibility to enjoy because I don't have to hurry back and rush off to start my day, I can just go home and let my experience sink in. 

The change wasn't easy. It took me 4 months to get back to exercising. It was hard to go in the afternoon, especially hard to let myself take it easy and just walk, taking pictures, enjoying the new scenery, enjoying the company. It all was uncomfortable at first, I was so conditioned before! But change I did, and finally I am back to exercising. I wouldn't be doing it at all if I didn't change it. Better scenery too, and I am now much more open to trying different routes and areas.
Reflections on the lake, on my new walking route.
Change is difficult. Change can be very uncomfortable. Sometimes the hardest part is knowing we need a change. But change to get back to the basics is often the jump start we need to move on and go forward. Now that I am back to basics in my exercise, I am itching to make changes in other areas of my life. Changes that four months ago I would not even consider! Without making that one change, the acceptance of knowing when to change, and seeing the great benefits, who knows if I would be considering others.....

Do you find change difficult, or embrace the changes as they appear?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Music Monday! Far Behind

It is tough when you start the week already behind.
Story of my life these today this song popped in my head.
Listening to good music always helps me get through when I am working with stressful things.

I did have some inspiration from a great new radio station here. They play some great rock-n-roll that I haven't heard on the radio since we moved here. I have been hearing Candlebox, Collective Soul, and some great old G-n-R, to mention just a few. 

So even though I have already started the week far behind, at least I have great music to enjoy while I stress. It does help take my mind off of it a little. It reminds me of enjoyment, beautiful things, good times. It sometimes reminds me of easier times, and reminds me that things will get better. This stress won't last forever, we will find a better way. We have done it before, and we can do it again. 

Good music always help shift our mindset. I need to listen to more of it!

Do you listen to music when you are working? Does it help you?? Let's hear your thoughts on how music affects how you think and work.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Friday Find ~ Finding Hidden Talent - Glass Creations

Handblown glass has always intrigued me, the process being one that looks incredibly difficult to me. Not to mention the heat and danger associated with this art form. Even calling it an artform can be a cause for debate, because of it's functional capabilities and scientific knowledge that is necessary to make even the simplest and most functional pieces. But creativity has a major role in it as well and that cannot be discredited in the final piece. 

Without going into too much history, debate, or critiques, I want to share some of the very beautiful creations my daughter got the chance to make as part of her senior project needed for graduation this upcoming year. 

The snake (in the front above is a zig zag of glass with a curious head) is what they start with, in the torch class, to get a hang of working with glass. Then the pendant, just above the snake here, where she got to add color. All work done in this class was done with a torch.

The Hot Shop class was next, where they got to work with the large furnaces and blow the glass through the rods. They also got to add brilliant colors and play with different shapes. The glass (here) shows how brilliant red can be in glass, and you can see where she had a lot of fun with the white 'bubbles'. 

The paperweight (below with the snake again) was done in the Hot Shop Class also, and incorporates different colors and see how difficult it is to make an entirely round object. Difficult because gravity play havoc with keeping a molten piece of glass round.

Then she took another Hot Shop class, where she got to make another paperweight, and a vase. She added different colors and explored different shapes. 

Egg Shaped Paperweight with a light purple. Of course, I love it.

The vase is stunning. The shape and the color pattern are really incredible for a beginner, in my humble opinion. 

Of course, I may be a little biased, after all she is my daughter. But she has a real talent for creative things. Even the teachers said she picked up the technique very quickly.
Thanks to the Asheville Glass Center for giving her the chance to explore a new medium, use color in a way she never had before, and teach her about teamwork. 

She found a talent she didn't know she had. She was nervous at first, knowing that she didn't know anything about creating glass works, but she didn't let her fear keep her from doing it. She plowed ahead, and found she is very good at something entirely new. I hope she is always discovering hidden talents. 

We all must allow ourselves the opportunities to explore unknowns, to get through our fears, and find our hidden talents. 
Have you ever surprised yourself and found a hidden talent?Stepped past your fears and found you have a talent you didn't know you had? I would love to hear how you achieved something incredible, even if it is simply making a paper weight and vase.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday Thought of the Day

I have on our message board on the fridge Thankful Thursday, to remind us we need to be thankful. Sometimes, when we remind ourselves that there is so much to be thankful for, the stresses and difficult times are just a little easier to get through.

But we also need to realize when we are hanging on to something that is holding us back, we need to let it go. So let go of the stresses, uncertainty, the things that keep us stagnant. It is no fun to be dragged, that is not the way to move forward.
Do you have something that you are hanging on to? Will you be able to move forward if you let it go? 

Walking on Wednesday ~ Roller Coasters

I LOVE roller coasters. 

Well, perhaps I should say I used to love roller coasters. I haven't actually been on a real one in years. I loved the excitement, the expectations of that giddy feeling in your stomach, then the thrill of the motion. A wild ride, a few minutes of actual real fun. Then the ride slows to a halt, you find you legs and step off onto solid ground and venture off to find the next bit of fun. 

This was what amusement park rides normally are like for me, well except for the ones that spin in two different directions and then around and around. THOSE make me feel like if I don't get off RIGHT NOW I am going to get so sick and perhaps die. I downright panic that I can't get off, and that makes it even worse, because the ride still no doubt has several, very long drawn out minutes left.

No wonder people associate life with roller coasters. We can find our timeline of life events (not to use FB lingo, but what other way is there to say it?) filled with expectations, excitement, thrills of new things and people, and then as our lives change, one event slows and we step off to find the next ride in our lives. We experience a roller coaster of emotions, some that give you that giddy feeling in your stomach, and some that give you that sick feeling in your stomach, and then some that do both.

Lately, I feel like I am on a ride and is giving me that 'makes me want to throw up' feeling. I know that most if it is self-imposed. Events and stresses that I shouldn't let take a toll on me, well they are. I want to get off this metaphorical ride, it is no fun anymore, at all. It is one ride that I have had quite enough of.

Once I recover, I will be more than ready to climb on another, however. Perhaps one with a less steep incline, perhaps one that doesn't have a drop like you jumped (or were pushed) off a cliff. A nice, easy, rip-roaring fun one. One that I can fit everything I really want on it. Sure, it may have to be more like a kiddy ride compared to some of the other ones I have been on, but after one that makes me panic and want to get off 5 minutes ago, I could use a kiddy ride. 

And maybe a Merry-go-round ride too. And a beef-on-weck sandwich (had every time we went to the Erie County Fair as a kid) and of course some ice cream and cotton candy. 

Then, after digesting well, I will step in line for that awesome beautiful excitingly fun ride that takes my breath away and leaves me smiling and refreshed afterwards, wanting another run. 

After all, they do say 'life is like a roller coaster. It has it's ups and downs. It's your choice to scream or enjoy the ride.'  I might be on one of the down parts, but I do have plenty of rides left, hopefully with many ups, and all with a beautiful view. 

What was, and is, your favorite amusement park ride? Can you relate your life to any?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Sunday of The Simple Pleasures

Though I didn't get to blogging during the week, it was one full of recovering (working over 30 hrs in 3 days with the Bele Chere Festival going on), planning, month end close and working. Today it occurred to me that I really should take at least one day, or even just part of the day, to enjoy the simple pleasures. Although life changes, and there are difficult times, it is these simple pleasure that remind us what is important. 

Yes, I have mentioned before enjoying the small things, taking notice of the beautiful life around us. 
But today it occurred to me, as I am working and planning some more, that I really need to enjoy the simple pleasures much more than I have been. The stresses have taken a much larger part of my existence, and the pleasures have been too few and too far between.

It is easy to let these things fall by the wayside. We are busy, we are stressed, we have deadlines, bills to pay, work to do, kids to worry about, house to clean. The days go by so fast. 

But without enjoying the simple pleasure, what is the point? And really, how much time will it really take from your day? The reality is that it will ADD to you day, not take away at all. It will make all those chores just that much sweeter.

For instance, I did the whole lot of yesterday's dishes this morning because I wanted to come home from work and make a nice dinner (what I neglected to do yesterday), in a clean kitchen, just so the whole family could sit together and enjoy a wonderful meal. A simple pleasure. It took a whopping 20 minutes to clean the kitchen. A small price to pay for a simple pleasure later today.

And this simple pleasure won't be easy to come by in the next few weeks, when our oldest is back at college and the other kids are starting school. Life will change again, and having the simple pleasure of the whole family together will be few and far between. 

We must take the simple pleasures, take them and ADD them to our days, whatever they may be. Because we will find out later that they really were the big things.

What is one of the simple pleasures YOU enjoy?