Happy New Year 2017!!!

Happy New Year 2017!!!

Where exactly did 2016 go? It feels like I wasted an entire year but that surely can’t be the case, right? Am I the only one feeling like this?

I know, for a fact, that I wasted a ‘blog year.’ Meaning that I did not post a single new post for the entire year – and part of 2015 too. Why? No excuses. I just didn’t do it.

Now, it’s January 2017 and I sit here working hard to re-vamp my blog to reflect my changed outlook and interests.  I’m putting together an editorial calendar for consistent posting on a variety of subjects dear to me – content I hope you’ll find interesting and helpful.

This is just a quick update to let my loyal followers know I am, indeed, still alive in the world.

Make it a marvelous day out there!

Advertisements

Friday Frolic #15 – No-Cook Vegan Oatmeal & Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

Friday Frolic #15 – No-Cook Vegan Oatmeal & Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

Good Friday morning, everyone! I hope this post finds each of you well and wending your way successfully through this last day before the long-awaited weekend.

As summer approaches, I find myself bidding a fond farewell to the hot, steamy breakfasts of winter yet needing to maintain my energy level with hearty breakfasts. As I have recently converted to a vegan / nutritarian dietary regimen (February of this year), I must admit to the challenge of remaining ‘full’ between meals sometimes. As I become more accustomed to the regimen, I’m learning different ways to sustain myself without adding steps or the need to ‘graze’ incessantly throughout the day. One of the things I’ve learned is eating a variety of whole grains and protein-laden seeds helps to keep me well-nourished and ‘full’ throughout the day. To that end, I’ve discovered the combination of whole grain oats and chia seeds for breakfast do the trick for me by providing the a long-lasting source of fuel without a complicated preparation process every morning.

This recipe works for non-vegans as well, simply substitute your regular dairy milk for the plant-based milk and you’re good-to-go – you can even add some yogurt if you’d like. I call it a pudding because of the consistency it takes on as it soaks overnight – creamy and delicious!

INGREDIENTS

½ Cup 100% whole grain old-fashioned oats (not quick cook oats)
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
2/3 Cups plant-based milk (soy, almond, cashew – you choose)
Sweetener to taste (honey, agave, raw sugar, maple syrup – you choose, just stay away from refined sugar)
Add-ins (raisins, fresh fruit, nuts, nut butter – you choose)

METHOD

Mix oats, chia seeds and milk in a container with a lid. Place in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, before serving, mix in the sweetener and add-ins of your choice. If you prefer your oatmeal warm, simply pop the opened container into the microwave for a minute before adding the sweetener and add-ins. Enjoy!

This is a terrific breakfast for the whole family because everyone can customize their own breakfast with their personal choice of sweetener and add-ins. It’s never the same breakfast no matter how many times you serve it because of the many variables available depending on what fruit is in season and what kind of milk or sweetener you use. Plus, since you do part of the preparation the night before, it’s quick and easy in the morning. This makes it the perfect weekend or busy weekday breakfast to get the family fueled up and out the door early. In fact, you can even mix in the sweetener and fruit and take it on the road when the need arises. No more excuses for skipping breakfast, the most important meal of the day.

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday Treasured Tidbit – Opening Day at the Marketplace

Tuesday Treasured Tidbit – Opening Day at the Marketplace

My treasured tidbit from last week was opening day at our local open air marketplace.

It’s a cross between a craft fair and a farmer’s market. It’s open from the first weekend in May to the first weekend in October each year. The sights, the smells, the sounds – oh my!!! What a joyful way to spend a fine spring day. The vendors at the market have things one cannot find at the “big box stores”: hand-carved jewelry, furniture from recycled pallets, fused glass jewelry, non-GMO starter plants and seeds for the garden, fresh locally-grown produce, hand-made doll furniture, hand-made soaps and lotions, hand-crocheted baby clothes and kitchen items and the list goes on.

It feels so good knowing that every penny spent supports the local growers, artisans and economy. I encourage everyone to check out your local markets whenever possible – buying local supports your community at its core.

Welcome to May – Setting Goals & Reviewing Results

Welcome to May – Setting Goals & Reviewing Results

Good morning, everyone!

Here we are in the first week of May, ready to review another month gone by (April), and ready to set some goals for the next few weeks. On the first Monday of April, I was happy and proud to post that Team EMGN had met all of our goals for March. In a perfect world, we would do that every month but since it’s not a perfect world we had a few glitches in April.

Without a plan, things don’t happen so the goals for this blog for April were set as follows:

  1. Complete the online class, Writing 101 – Building a Blogging Habit.
  2. Develop a Thursday feature.
  3. Increase followers by 10% to 315.
  4. Continue the basics of reading, writing and updating.

Accountability is tougher when things are times are tougher:

  1. I completed part of the online class, Writing 101 – Building a Blogging Habit.
  2. I did not successfully develop a Thursday feature yet.
  3. Our followers increased by 37% to 392!!!
  4. I continued the basics of reading, writing and updating.

New goals for May include:

  1. Complete the assignments from the online class, Writing 101 – Building a Blogging Habit.
  2. Increase followers by 10% to 430.
  3. Continue the basics of reading, writing and updating.

Thank you for sticking with me on this continuing journey of growth and enlightenment.

“Part of success is preparation on purpose.” –Jim Rohn

Friday Frolics – Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crispies

Friday Frolics – Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crispies

Happy Friday! Just in time for the warm weather to roll in, here’s a no-bake cookie-like treat the kids can help make.

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups creamy peanut butter
3 Cups crisped rice cereal
3 Cups powdered sugar
¼ Cup melted butter
2-3 12 oz. pkgs chocolate chips (or a variety of flavors if you want to mix it up)
Parchment paper covered cookie sheets

METHOD

Mix together the peanut butter, cereal, powdered sugar and melted butter.
Form the mixture into balls – size of your choice, but I make mine the size of small meatballs.
Melt chocolate chips one package at a time in the microwave.
Dip the crispy balls in the melted chocolate to coat.
Place the coated crispies on parchment paper covered cookie sheets to harden in the refrigerator.

Baking chips come in a variety of flavors such as milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, and mint chocolate so it’s easy to have a variety that everyone will love. Try mixing up what type of nut butter you use – try almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter to see what happens.

Enjoy your weekend!

Writing101 – Death to Adverbs

Writing101 – Death to Adverbs

This assignment was to write a piece inspired by something I saw in a public place –  without using adverbs.

“What a beautiful family,” I thought, as I glanced at the man, woman and child seated at the next table.

The longer I sat at the table, looking at the menu, enjoying the ambience of springtime outdoor dining, the more I didn’t like what I saw.

The red-rimmed eyes of the woman were tell-tale. The rigid posture of the child was unnatural. All the while, the man was too casual, too jovial in comparison. “Sure, I’ll have another,” he says to the waiter, as he holds the beer bottle in the air. The woman’s eyes and face get redder. The child cowers closer to her mother. The woman reaches for something on the table but the man tries to snatch it away only to knock it on the floor – a ring of keys.

The waiter returns with an apology – there will be no more beer for him tonight. “We can, however, call a cab if your companion can’t drive you home,” he says.

Grumbling, the man slings the keys at the woman and stumbles toward the door leaving her to gather up the child and pay the bill. She scurries after him with the child in tow, her head bowed, shamed – fear showing in every line of her body.

In the pit of my stomach, I fear what awaits them at home and say a prayer for the woman and the child.

Friday Frolic Post #13 – ‘Stained Glass’ Cake Plate

Friday Frolic Post #13 – ‘Stained Glass’ Cake Plate

Welcome to Friday Frolics on a rainy Friday in New Mexico!

This little project is fun and easy with delightful results using things available from the local discount store’s craft department. Cake plates have almost become part of a by-gone era but I challenge you to find uses for this little beauty in your everyday routine.

Supplies

2 Tubs Clear Multi-Color Plastic ‘pony’ beads (1500 per tub)
1 – 12” round cake or pizza pan (with lip)
1 – 3-6” glass candlestick
E6000 glue

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Pour beads into pan – spread out evenly. Make a design with the colors, if desired.
Bake beads for 30-40 minutes until they’re all melted.
Carefully remove the pan to a cooling rack – allow beads to cool in the pan (20-30 minutes).
Turn pan over to pop out the cooled disk.
Glue the candlestick to the center of the disk using the E6000 glue. Allow to ‘set up’ for 24 hours before use.

Enjoy your new cake plate this weekend!

Tuesday Treasured Tidbit #10 – Greenhouse Plenty

Tuesday Treasured Tidbit #10 – Greenhouse Plenty

Last weekend I checked in at my greenhouse to see how the seedlings were doing and the news is great! The greenhouse helps remind me of the joyful renewal of nature every spring – sweet anticipation, even sweeter rewards.

About 75% of the seeds have sprouted so I’m very hopeful for this season’s garden. About 75% of the seeds used in the greenhouse each year are from the previous year’s crops – it’s a great way to save money and increase the sustainability of the garden. Since our seeds come from our harvest, we know these varieties are successful in our area rather than guessing each year what will grow or not.

Friday Frolics #12

Friday Frolics #12

What a beautiful Friday here in New Mexico – the sun is shining, the wind hasn’t picked up yet and it’s time for a quick Friday Frolic!

April is the quintessential springtime month and, as such, a perfect time for our minds and hearts to turn to thoughts of spring cleaning. Personally, I think if I’m moving everything around to clean around it, I might as well re-think my organizational plan as well so I get a fresh start every spring. Doing this each year helps re-energize my home and me for another year with a fresh outlook and helps keep clutter at bay. This is no small task for someone who is, at heart, a hoarder. Many of these ideas ultimately came from my mother but didn’t sink in until I had a family of my own – others came to me as a result of struggling for solutions through the years. I struggle with the clutter monster daily so a yearly fresh start is a must. Being organized is critical whether you’re juggling a busy career with family life or just trying to achieve a sense of normalcy while living with the limitations of a chronic illness – a sense of balance and harmony can be healing. Let’s get started:

To-Do Lists. I love lists. Long-term Goals, Short-term Goals and To-Do Lists separated by Tasks related to those Goals are a must. Keep it all in your planner so you work from one central information clearinghouse – paper or electronic, it’s up to you and your personal style. There’s a particular sense of satisfaction when one marks off completed tasks, knowing the goal is one step closer.

Clean as you go. Gather the supplies/materials needed for the task at hand before you start and clean up after yourself as you complete various stages of the task. The relief at the end when you realize the task is complete and there’s no big clean up waiting is so empowering the next task on the list is not so intimidating.

Sort as you go. Inevitably, as you clear an area for cleaning, you find yourself sorting through excess things – clutter, if you will. Designate four categories and set up a box or bag for each: Keep, Toss, Donate, and Undecided. The Keep pile is for items that are currently in use and valid in your life. The Toss pile is for items that are trash – no good to anyone and need to disappear. The Donate pile is for items that need to be loved by someone else now. The Undecided pile are for those things that are still friendly but not so current that they need to take up valuable real estate – they go in a box with the current date on the outside. If you haven’t opened the box within six months – it moves to Donate status without ever being re-opened. If you do open the box within six months, put the new date on the outside – once six months has passed without opening the box, it gets donated.

What does it mean to you? As you sort, clean and designate categories for your belongings, be mindful of what each possession means to you. Keep what you love – re-home the rest. If you don’t love it anymore, it’s either time to toss it or time to give someone else an opportunity to enjoy it.

Like with like. Remember the old saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place?” As you return your belongings to their appropriate places think, ‘like with like.’ You probably already do this with many things, T-shirts with T-shirts, socks with socks, etc. Can you take it a step further and put all the white T-shirts together, then the yellow, green, blue, etc.? All the summer clothes grouped together, by color, followed by winter, by color. Better yet, if you have a spare closet, split the seasons so you have only one season of clothing in your closet at a time. Then, sort by color and keep the accessories (think purses, shoes, etc.), by color, on the shelves above each color grouping. It may sound trivial at the moment, but the time and stress it saves in a busy morning, allowing you to get out the door looking pulled together and serene is immeasurable.

Expose everything. In the dresser drawers, that is. Most of us stack our T-shirts, shorts, pajamas, or whatever is in the drawers so what we see is just what is on top, and that’s what we wear most often. Try rolling these items and lining them up like logs instead. You will see everything you have in each drawer resulting in more items being worn more regularly plus, the items wrinkle less when they’re rolled versus being folded. Of course, as you’re rolling and re-filling the dresser drawers, you might as well sort by color. I also take this opportunity to check for stains, wear and tear, etc., to make sure what goes in the drawer is wearable.

Keep workspace clean. Moving on to the office area, keeping your workspace clean and clutter free is key to increased productivity. Using the same rules as the household (only keep it, if you love it or it serves a real purpose), clear the desktop as much as possible. Keep the current projects in a vertical file on the desktop or credenza close at hand – other projects go in a file drawer.

Streamline files. Current projects close at hand – in a vertical file or top file drawer of desk. Research needed within a month or two – bottom drawer of desk or top drawers of file cabinet that’s close by. Completed or legal files – file room or bottom drawers of file cabinets. If original documents aren’t needed, consider scanning for digital long-term storage and disposing of originals.

Cleaning products. I give this category a paragraph of its own because I veer off from the ‘like with like’ philosophy on this point. I keep cleaning products in the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms so I don’t have to drag them throughout the house as I’m cleaning or every time there’s a spot mess to address. This has become even more important through the years of dealing with a chronic illness – fatigue is an issue that requires streamlining everything. The bathrooms have ‘scrubbing bubbles’ for the tub and toilet as well as mirror cleaner while the kitchen has grease-cutting spray cleaner as well as appliance cleaner and dish detergent. The hardcore cleaning products for the floors and furniture polish are kept in the laundry room. Additionally, I have the swift duster things strategically stashed throughout the house for quick touchups. Obviously, if you still have children in the house, you need the cabinet locks to keep these things out of the hands of the little ones, as did I. The minutes saved and the ability to do spot clean ups without the extra steps is invaluable. Keeping up with the cleaning as you go through the week virtually eliminates having to spend an entire day on the weekend catching up with chores – spend the day with your family instead.

Hopefully, these ideas give you a starting point for your own foray into spring cleaning. It can be a formidable task so take it one room at a time and before you know it, you’re done!

Enjoy your weekend!