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Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Year in Review and 2013--What to Expect Now That the World Hasn't Ended

This year has flown by.  It has been filled with many plans that didn't come to fruition--mostly because it seems that time escaped me quickly and quietly.  Plans to have a veggie garden, plans to plant a lovely flower garden, plans to run all year and run a few races this summer; plans to clean up my house and just enjoy life.  

None of that happened.  Why?  I have no idea.  It could be as simple as poor planning on my part--which is probably most of it.  Not juggling finances well enough to do what I wanted to do, not juggling my time efficiently to get in those runs and feel better about myself in the process.

And then October came, and my heart was broken.  All the wind (small as it was) in my sails left abruptly.  Experiencing the loss of my Dad 8 years ago was devastating, but it's something else completely when you lose a sister, and one who had so many years left to live; one who was so alive when she was here.  It makes no sense.  I think to myself, I'm going to be 48, just like Patti, in a few years.  Would I be ready to leave this life?  I feel like I've just begun to know myself, do things that make me happy, and explore so many ways that can make me a better, happier soul while I'm still on this planet.  I'm not anywhere near ready to go.  I am not on the same life plan as Patti was, and I still have a lot to learn. So while I leave this year a bit battered, with a  permanent crack in my heart, I leave it a bit wiser and more aware of my life and what I want it to be.  I leave this year knowing that my sister is on the other side cheering me on, sending me lots of love and support.  She's realized I'm not the strong, tough one, and that her leaving knocked me to my knees.  

But I will get up.  I will enjoy life again, and cherish every last moment I had with my sister--the good ones, and the bad ones.  All those times Patti was such a brat when we were kids, and that last conversation we had that ended with telling each other we loved each other.  She will be with me when I'm out in the sun, running by myself.  She'll be with me when I'm in my yard, planting flowers and thinking of how beautiful nature can be.  And she will be with me someday when Bud and I finally do take those vows.  She'll be with me every time I laugh out loud and all those times I'm sitting quietly, enjoying the peace.

So I start off 2013 with a clean slate.  I have plans to run a half marathon with my sister Michelle in May--her first, and my first in over a year.  Both of us are starting from zero.  It's exciting to think of all the work it will take to get us both in running shape.  But it will be a worthy goal!  And I just bought a juicer--yes, I want to drink lots of healthy juices.  And Bud and I will spend time together riding our bikes and enjoying being together.  And I'll continue to be an Auntie to Patti's kids, and help them when they need me.  I will live a fuller life with Patti in my mind always. She will be there to kick my butt if I whine too much.  

And reading--where would I be without my beloved books?  This year I'm going to take the time to read what I have on my shelves while reading new books.  I'm not going for quantity, but quality.  Enjoying what books I have, and sharing those books with all the groups I talk to during the year.  

So here's to 2013.  I have no idea what the year will bring, and I do not want to even try and guess.  I will wait for it to unfold.  

Everyone have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Bud and I will be taking a bit of a break after Christmas.  Until then, it's work everyday, frantic food prep, and lots of coffee.  And probably a bit of a wee nip on Christmas Eve :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deepak Chopra is My New Friend

I have a wonderful friend and co-worker who I've known since I was a young teen.  I used to babysit her three boys when I was just barely old enough to do it!  Years later, we find ourselves working together at the bookstore and I can only say Deb is as wonderful now as she was then--but now I can appreciate her all the more because I'm an adult (and not babysitting for $1.00/hour).

Deb is always exploring, reading, attending programs and classes on spirituality, yoga, and finding out what sparks our sense of happiness and creativity.  She's very open minded, and that has led me to some wonderful opportunities that I wouldn't have had without her telling me this stuff while we shelve romance and sci-fi books early in the morning.  

Deb introduced me to Deepak Chopra's 21 Day Abundance Meditation Challenge back in early November.  I have tried meditation before, but always find a reason not to do it.  This was free, and about abundance of every kind--so I said "why not try it?" and immediately began listening to each day for the next 21 days.  It was amazing.  I made it a priority first thing in the morning to get up, start the meditation on my computer, and lay down on the couch and listen and be quiet for 15 minutes.  I consciously tried to keep Deepak's simple phrases for each day in my mind as I went about my work and life.  I realized after a week or so that not only was I somehow staying relatively calm during the day, but I was finding all sorts of wonderful instances of abundance all around me.  No, I didn't have a sudden windfall of money, but little things happened that made me become aware of all the things we all do everyday that spread that light of positive energy around.  And my brain was on fire when I was sleeping--very vivid dreams--every night, without fail.  I felt like I was sleeping deeper and better.

I threw caution to the winds, and ordered Deepak's 3 21 Day Meditation Challenges.  The Abundance challenge was the last one, there are two before it--on love and on body/mind/health.  I have been in a bit of a funk since I finished the Abundance meditation, and  was so happy to pick up my box of goodies today at Fedex.  

So, if you're interested, you can get these through Deepak's website  There's a lot of other cd's, meditation, and music on the website--plus other goodies you can order.  I'm fired up to start the abundance meditation again tomorrow morning.  

As I work through the other 21 day  meditations, I'll keep you posted on what happens and how they are helping me stay calm, stay positive, and stay aware.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cooking, I Accept The Challenge! You Weenie

I love to cook.  But, I've never cooked a turkey (always go to someone else's house for Turkey Day), have failed miserably at cooking Chinese at home, and holy crap!  I do not have a tart pan--or even a bundt pan in my kitchen.  

This is going to end.  I was puttering in the kitchen tonight.  Made food that not only was a disappointment to the taste buds, but to my stomach, too.  Uggh.  And I realized that 2013 will be the year of THE NO FEAR COOKING PROJECT.  

What is THE NO FEAR COOKING PROJECT, you may ask?  Hell, I don't know.  I'll find out when you do.  I believe it means there may be a turkey in my oven sometime next year.  I will figure out how to make beef with black bean sauce in my kitchen, by God!  I will make a lovely tart and/or something else that involves using a 9 inch springform pan!  

I will  not be afraid.  I will cook with gusto!  I will slop stuff all around the walls, ceiling, and floor!  I may even wear the one apron I have tucked away in a drawer!  

Poor Bud.  That's all I have to say.  I'd better stock up on pepto.  

But--one thing I have made in the past week that I must share is such a delish little salad that Bud inhaled it on two separate occasions and has requested more.  It's pretty darn simple, and I could eat it most every day:

Take a mixture of baby arugula greens and dump them in bowls ( or one big one--I make two individual salads for Bud and I).

Peel and slice a pear; add to greens.

Add some walnuts or pecans--whichever you like--or leave them out and add sunflower seed kernels.

Crumble up some good bleu cheese and put on greens.

Scatter some pomegranate seeds on the salad and give your salad a couple of grinds of fresh pepper.

I found a dressing I like that compliments this salad nicely:  Briannas Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette

You can get this pretty much anywhere.  

Now--you can eat this without a dressing, or with one.  I would suggest a light, citrus type dressing with a bit of sweet--but not much.  

This has temporarily replaced my favorite cold weather salad of apples, dried cranberries,  bleu cheese, walnuts, bacon, and a maple/orange dressing.  But just for now.  

So!  What are you afraid to cook?  Why?  Wanna join me on my No Fear Cooking Project?  You can.  Unless you're not afraid to cook anything.  Then that's just no fun.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bring on the Alcohol, People!

Oh, the season is upon us.  

I have a few words to say.

Let's be kind to all those people who serve us at the restaurants, make that espresso drink "just so" for you, smile when you scowl cause your feet hurt.

Let's be mindful of those people who work in retail--most of us know what we're doing.  Many of us have years and years of experience and knowledge.  Trust us when we make a suggestion.  Don't pick our minds, then turn around and say "I'll get it somewhere else."  Not cool.  Don't get angry at us when you don't know what to get that special someone, and everything we suggest is not right.  You know that person, we don't.  We're flying blind and taking cues from what you've told us.  All those questions we're asking?  They're helping us narrow the field of possibilities.  They are not designed to annoy you, but to help us find the right gift for you so you leave happy.

  I had a woman say to me yesterday "It must be nice to make a little extra money at this time of year."

To which I replied:

"This is my full time job.  It pays my mortgage."   This is my career.  I've worked hard at it, and just cause I'm behind a register doesn't mean I'm doing this for kicks.  I have a college degree. I've traveled. I'm not a youngster.  I know stuff--not everything, but I know a lot about the place I work and what we sell.  

Everyone wants to get that perfect gift for their loved ones.  But really:  arguing, being sour and angry just put a bad cloud on that gift.  It sticks to it.  Don't do that.  If it's meant to be, it will happen.  You will find that perfect gift--or it will find you.  But it will run far away if you go looking for it with a less than sunny attitude.  

We are all human.  A smile goes a long way.  A thank you goes a long way.  A have a great day goes a long way.  

Oh--and when a salesperson is in a conversation with another customer, please don't interrupt.  It's bad form.  We will help you as soon as we've taken care of this customer.  Everyone deserves all of our undivided attention when we're helping them.  Please be patient.  Your interruption says to both the salesperson and the customer "I am more important than you.  Please focus on me."  Nope.  Not gonna do that.  Please wait your turn.

Ok.  I have expressed my feelings.  I will now pour a lovely glass of red wine, take a hot bath, and relax.  At home.  In the quiet.  With a good book.  

Happy shopping everyone!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Meatloaf the Man Will Eat

I love my Bud.  Love him so much I've not made meatloaf for years because he told me once he doesn't like it.

Then he told me last month that yes, he would in fact eat meatloaf--just not all the time.  Well.  Who makes meatloaf all the time?  There's a time and a place for meatloaf, and every week is not it.  I made a mental note to attempt meatloaf sometime this winter.

Yesterday I was sorting through my sister's recipes, and found a handwritten recipe for cheesy mini-meatloaves.  The recipe looked incredibly easy, and made 8 little meatloaves.  Perfect for two people to divvy up and take for lunch the next day, or put in the freezer for later.  But--somehow Patti left out a binder.  Nada.  Nothing.  I am no cooking guru, but even I realized without some kind of bread crumb situation these meatloaves were going to be sub-par.

So I got on Google, and attempted to find this recipe.  And I found it.  Except it called for oats as a binder.  No wonder Patti left it out.  I read the comments, and what do you know--someone substituted Italian bread crumbs instead.  Bless them.

So I made 'em.  And received an unsolicited "These are really good" comment from Bud.  And he took some to work for lunch today.  And they were ridiculously easy to make.  I did add some garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce to the mix and omitted the onions, 'cause Bud doesn't do onions unless they're deep fried and coated.  Here's the link to the recipe:

Mini Cheesy Meatloaves.  Make them.  They take no time at all, and can be served with potatoes, salad, veggies, or even noodles.  I made extra sauce for Bud and I will say I preferred my meatloaf with less sauce--cause it is sweet.  More mustard for me!  And they're little, so you can put them on a bun the next day for a very easy lunch.  And they're cute.  Yes, cute meatloaves.

I would post a picture of meatloaf, but let's face it:  it may be tasty as all get out, but it doesn't look too appetizing in photos.