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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Moment of the Day: A Word of Kindness

Moment of the Day


After finally using my Groupon for a facial today, I drove in a zen-like state to my favorite sandwich shop for a healthy Garden Delight sandwich (with a side of greasy potato chips... yin, yang).  I walked right up to the counter and placed my order.  As I turned around to take a seat, I was shocked to see a line of about 12 people standing behind me.  They all came in at the same time and only two people were working - one at the register and one at the sandwich station.  


As I sat in my zen-like state observing the situation, I became sympathetic to these girls and wanted to jump in and help.  Both of them were efficient and quick which probably helped the attitude of all those waiting in line.  No one seemed to be giving them grief, thank goodness.  But no one was cheering them on either.  They were pretty indifferent.


And here's where I wanted to step in again and suggest to these remarkably patient customers that they pay the girls a compliment on how well they were handling the rush.  I've done my time in the food service industry and I've had my fair share of moments like this, and I gotta tell ya, when a customer notices that you're working your butt off to take care of everyone, and they say something positive to you about it, it makes your day.  It gives you a boost and you somehow find even more energy and motivation to get the job done.  


Moral of the Moment of the Day, the next time you're a patient customer being waited on by a service person who's obviously overwhelmed, just say, "Hey, you're doing a great job."  It'll make their day.  And yours.  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Freedom from Freedom!

I started reading this book oh, about 4 months ago:


Jonathan Franzen's Freedom.

I wanted to love it.  And I did at first.  But about half-way through, I started disliking the characters and stopped caring about what happened to them.  It became extremely difficult to read the rest, hence the months-long trek.  

I suffered through it though, because this book was heralded as the Great American Novel by just about every book reviewer out there and I figured by the time I finished, I'd get it.  (And I must admit, that little cat-fighting session between Franzen & Jodi Picoult intrigued me.)  But I don't get it.  I was elated to say good-bye to the unlikeable Berglund family.

What am I missing?  Did any of you read it and like it?  If so, write me and tell me why.  

Monday, December 27, 2010

Clairemont Library Book Club Book of the Month...

...is The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.


I received a phone call from a Maxine a few days ago passionately requesting that I return to the Clairemont Library's book club because numbers are dwindling and they're trying to keep it alive.


So I'm reading The  Invisible Man.  At first, I was skeptical and didn't think I'd enjoy it, but it's actually a very easy and pleasant read.  The most significant thing about reading this book, though, is the way I'm reading it.  


For the first time ever, I'm reading a book on my computer!  (And no, I don't mean that I have an actual book propped up on my computer, hee hee.)  And it's actually enjoyable!!


I don't have a Kindle or a Nook or an iPad or etc. (hint, hint for future birthday present.. ;) so I'm reading it on Blio which is a pretty cool e-reader for folks like me who haven't bought the latest technology yet.  Blio is a free e-reader program that you can download and install onto your computer and its library of books, both free and non-free, is pretty extensive.  The Invisible Man was a free download.


Here are a couple of (very poor quality... sorry!) screenshots:





 I like how it simulates actual page-turning.

If the commute to the Clairemont Library isn't too far for you, come on and join me on January 5th!  The book club meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 6:00 PM at The Same Old Grind coffee shop on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard (by Keil's).  




Monday, December 13, 2010

Wreaths Across America



On Saturday, a friend and I, along with over 700 others, volunteered to help with "Wreaths Across America", a national event that took place all over the country at 12:00 EST.  We placed wreaths on the headstones of fallen veterans at Fort Rosecrans Cemetery.  Though I've driven by the Cemetery countless times on my way to Cabrillo National Monument and the tide pools, I've never once stopped there for a visit, until Saturday.  It's a beautiful and sad place all at the same time.




As I get older and better understand life and mortality, I find myself becoming more and more in awe of people who voluntarily put their lives at risk for what they judge to be noble causes.  These veterans signed up for a career that they knew full well would put them in harm's way.  And when they went to war, their lives were literally in jeopardy every single day until they returned home.  



Whatever is in their make-up is certainly not in mine and I admire them for it.  I freak out for weeks after seeing a scary movie.  I could not handle being in a war zone, and thankfully, I'll never have to find that out first hand thanks to the brave men and women who do handle it.

Think about your life.  What are you doing right now?  Probably sitting comfortably in your home reading this.  Right now at this moment, someone just like you is in the middle of a war zone, sitting uncomfortably, hoping to make it through the day without getting shot or bombed on, miles away from everyone who cares about them.

I felt honored to place a wreath on a fallen veteran's grave:



On a lighter note.  Extremely amusing that the wreaths came out of this truck:




Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Simple Pleasures

The campus library had a Holiday Cookbook Sale last week.  I went expecting to shop new books, but duh!  It's a library!  They were selling used cookbooks from their shelves.  I was pleasantly surprised by this, partially because it meant I could buy more.  That's always a good thing.  Here's what I got for $9.00:

Four of the books are by MFK Fisher.  I hear she's one of the best food writers out there, so for $1.00-$2.00 per book, I figured I'd decide that for myself.  I also got Isabel Allende's food book, Aphrodite.  I loved her book, Eva Luna and Aphrodite had been on my to-read list when it came out, but I forgot about it somewhere along the way.  A quarterly food journal and a book called Apples & Man round out my purchases.  I bought Apples & Man for the title alone.  Sounds like an epic battle or something.  APPLES & MAN (read in a serious, doomed voice).

I made croutons tonight:


I don't know why, but I get a supreme sense of satisfaction when I make something that I always used to buy pre-made.  All growing up, I never thought about where my food came from or how it was made.  But now, with my interest in food and cooking  growing with each passing year (pun oh so intended :) I'm discovering how everything is made, from potato chips to ketchup to croutons, and I'm absurdly fascinated by how easy it all is, and how much better it tastes and how much better it is for you.  I think this will be a hobby that I'll never tire of (of which I will never tire?).

Today, I'm thankful...


...for one of my most favorite daily moments:  The moment I walk through my front door after being out all day.  I experience this feeling every Monday through Friday at about 4:35 PM.  If I could capture that feeling in a bottle and rub it on like lotion throughout the day...smiles.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cocopeacans

Today, I'm thankful....


...for this new snack I invented today.


(Yeah, it's blurry, I was kind of in a hurry to eat it!)  A couple of weeks ago, I very wisely decided not to keep anything sugary in the house so when I had a sugar craving earlier this evening, I searched my cupboards in desperation and grabbed three items:  peanut butter, coconut, and pecans.  I took a pecan, swooped it through the peanut butter, then dipped it in the coconut.  It did the trick and saved me from a mad run to the grocery store for sugar cookies.  Bonus:  all three ingredients are healthy and good for you.  Zippadee doo!


What should I call them?  Cocopeacans?  Albino Turtles?  





Sunday, November 14, 2010

Helpful Kitchen Tip of the Day



Today, I'm thankful...
...that for whatever reason, magical or otherwise, running your fingers across a stainless steel surface under running water gets rid of garlic and onion smells.  


This is a trick I learned recently from another blog that I read.  I got my first "real" job when I was 16 at Little Caesars.  If only I had known that trick then.  Oh, the onions I sliced.  Hundreds of them.  Oh, the way my hands always smelled.  (Maybe that's why I always had difficulty hanging on to a boyfriend!)




November
Mini-Goal - Week
Major-Goal - Month


Floss my Teeth
 Meditation/Visualization Exercises
November 8
Done
Done – “Focusing & Performing your Best”
November 9
Done
Done – “Healing & Recovering Quickly”
November 10
Done
-
November 11
Done
-
November 12
Done
-
November 13
Done
Done – “Affirmations”
November  14
Done
Done – “Breathing”

It's the end of week 2 and November goals are sailing smoothly.  I missed a few meditation days, but I'm okay with that.  Since my new expectation is to complete the action more days than not, I'm still on target.  I'm very happy about flossing every day and feel like it's back in my routine as a daily habit.  (I had gotten out of the habit.)  Next week's mini-goal is to exercise every day.  That *definitely* needs to become a habit again.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Home as Sanctuary

I finally did it.  I overcame the fear that I would once again mangle the threading on my poor sewing machine and made a super simple curtain that goes great with my new wall art.  (Basically, just a rectangle of cloth hemmed on all four sides. ;)





Before:


After:

Today, I am thankful for...

...the whole picture.  My little apartment is slowly coming together, piece by piece.  A home should be a sanctuary, a place where you like to be, that makes you feel good and restores you.  If you don't feel good or comfortable in your home, then something might need changing.  Do you need to declutter, redecorate?  


I once read that if something in your home doesn't bring you joy as it did in the past, then get rid of it.  Your home should be filled with things that bring you joy.  If that souvenir you've had on that shelf for years is just collecting dust and doesn't make you smile anymore... recycle it.  This is a good rule of thumb to follow to make sure your home is always a place where you want to be.

Friday, November 12, 2010

French Toast Baked Tofu - Vegan MoFo Recipe #3

Today, I'm thankful for...


...French Toast Baked Tofu.  I got the recipe from Tina's Carrots 'n Cake blog and made it today.  If you want to see pretty pictures of all the steps, visit her blog.  Warning:  You need a *LOT* of prep time for this.  I had intended for this to be my breakfast, but it turned out to be lunch instead.  Guess I should read through the recipes first before deciding when to make them.  


The ingredients:
a package of extra firm tofu
a cup of vanilla soy milk
1-1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened)

(in lieu of the 3 spices...I used 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)

Press water from tofu for about an hour.  (HUH?  I had to google "press water from tofu for an hour" to figure out how to do this.  If you need to learn like I did, click here.  I used a 5-pound weight.)

Then, cut it into cubes and marinate in a mixture of soy milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg for two hours.  Yep.  Two hours.

When half your day is gone and the tofu is done marinating, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, spoon the cubes out with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl with the coconut and brown sugar.  Toss to coat.  Bake for 15 minutes, then stir, and bake for 15 minutes more.

After it cooled off a bit, I ate it as is.  It was super yummy - the perfect amount of sweetness and the tofu cubes actually did resemble bread a bit.  You could dress it up a little with maple syrup or fruit toppings or something else yummy.

If you make it, I hope you like it.  Let me know...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Today, I am thankful...


...that my dad survived his two tours of Vietnam and was therefore able to reunite with my mom and make our family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weighs and Measures

A friend gave me some great advice regarding my goals.  It's something I already knew, but had forgotten, and am grateful for the reminder.  This thing of setting a goal to do something every single day is expecting perfection from myself.  And we're not perfect.  I'm not even close.  Plus, life happens and sometimes you just can't get to that goal on a particular day.  


As soon as I read that, I felt a weight lifted.  How could I have forgotten that?  I'm setting a new expectation.  I will complete the goals more days than not.  A simple majority.  The whole idea is to make little improvements in my life, and I certainly don't need to do something every single day in order to do that.  Going from meditating 0 days during a month to meditating 20 days during a month, for example, is an improvement.  


I don't have to hit all 30 days in order to be successful.  I'm still going to aim for 100%, there's nothing wrong with that.  But when perfection doesn't happen, I won't feel like I failed.


Thanks, Mitch!


With that said, November Goals Status:

Mini-Goal
Meditate/Visualize

Walk at Lunch

November 1
Done – Bridge/Gilman Route
Done – “Opening the Energy Centers”
November 2
Done – Inside Stairs
Done – “Affirmations”
November 3
Done – Inside Stairs
Done – “Meditation Journey”
November 4
Done – Buildings Tour
Done – “Meditation Journey”
November 5
Done – Bridge/Gilman Route
Done – “Breathing/Meeting with Advisor”
November 6
n/a  - Saturday
Done – “Energizing your Mind & Body”
November 7
n/a - Sunday
Done – “Creating Confidence & Motivation”

Floss my Teeth

November 8
Done
Done – “Focusing & Performing your Best”
November 9
Done
Done – “Healing & Recovering Quickly”
November 10




Today, Yesterday, I was thankful for...
...these cool measuring glasses.  They're so easy to use and I love them.  I use them for every recipe.  You can measure any increment you need in any form... cups, ounces, teaspoons, tablespoons, etc.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Clouds

Yesterday, this was the view from my walk to the car (that's the building where I work).  The clouds and the color of the sky gave quite a show.  This was my moment of gratitude for yesterday.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orange-Scented Quinoa & a little Skype on the Side

It's Sunday and as promised, I made Orange-Scented Quinoa in honor of Vegan MoFo.  Dee-lish!
I resisted the very strong temptation to drink this!

This is another recipe that's really easy to throw together and you can modify it in endless ways to suit your taste.  I got it from one of my favorite food magazines, Clean Eating.  The ingredients:
1-3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup dried cranberries (soaked in hot water for 5 minutes)
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cook the quinoa in vegetable broth with salt and orange juice.  Then just toss everything together & eat.  Tada!  That's it.  

So easy.

I really need to figure out a better organization system for this mess.

Today, I'm thankful for...

...Skype.  This is a picture of my Uncle Terry, my mom's twin brother (not the cute blonde kid, the old man ;).  I cropped this picture from this one:
I think I'm related to all these people, but I've never met any of them in person.  My mom was from Australia where my dad met her, proceeded to court her, and then whisked her romantically away to live in the far-off land of America.  I've never been to Australia, but I've kept in touch here and there with some of my mom's family over the years .  I bow down to Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook for making it possible to connect with my Australian family in a way that wasn't possible before.  Tonight, I went a step further and video chatted with my Uncle Terry via Skype for the very first time.  It was pretty incredible.


November Goals Status Update:


Mini-Goal
Meditate/Visualize

Walk at Lunch

November 1
Done – Bridge/Gilman Route
Done – “Opening the Energy Centers”
November 2
Done – Inside Stairs
Done – “Affirmations”
November 3
Done – Inside Stairs
Done – “Meditation Journey”
November 4
Done – Buildings Tour
Done – “Meditation Journey”
November 5
Done – Bridge/Gilman Route
Done – “Breathing/Meeting with Advisor”
November 6
n/a  - Saturday
Done – “Energizing your Mind & Body”
November 7
n/a - Sunday
Done – “Creating Confidence & Motivation”




Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bean Dip and Wall Art

Just look at all those good, healthy ingredients.  Mmmmmmmm.

Tonight, as promised, I made one of my favorite standy-bys which qualifies as vegan -   White Bean Dip with Pita Chips.  I got the recipe from the Food Network's web site, but of course, modified it to my taste.  It's super quick & easy to make.  All you do is throw these things in a food processor & pulse until smooth:

can of white beans (rinsed & drained)
some garlic
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup Italian-style parsley

before
after

Tasty Magic

You can buy pita chips to go with it, or, if you're like me and enjoy being the maker of your food, you can bake your own.  Just cut as many pita breads as you want into any size, shape you want, put them into a big bowl & drizzle with olive oil; add salt, pepper and whatever other seasoning you like and mix it all around until the pita breads are good and covered with everything.  Bake at 400 degrees until desired crispness... about 8-12 minutes.


Eat together.


Today, I'm thankful for...

...Wall Art.  After living here for about 4 years, I finally found the perfect wall art to hang above my couch.  Yay!!!  I want to hang them up right now, but I don't want to give the nice old lady next door a heart attack from the noise.  She might be in bed already.  I'll have to wait until tomorrow.  Here's a close-up:

I LOVE it!

Seabreeze Organic Farm Farm Visit - San Diego Local Farm Fans (San Diego, CA) - Meetup

Seabreeze Organic Farm Farm Visit - San Diego Local Farm Fans (San Diego, CA) - Meetup

I just signed up for this. Looking forward to it and I'll definitely write all about it here.

Small Victories

Friday was tough.  My motivation to do anything always seems to be the lowest on Fridays.  I almost rationalized my way out of the lunch walk & didn't do the meditation until about 9:00 last night, and truth be told, I think I slept most of the way through it.  ;)  But I did manage to actually do both, so I'm still at 100% for November.  That makes me happy.



I have to confess something here.  People who know me well know that I'm always setting goals, I always have these grand plans of change, and I usually stick with them for a while, but inevitably, I always seem to quit.  It's one of my biggest flaws & ranks up there in the top three that I dislike about myself.  


I try to cut the negative self-talk, I try to avoid thinking of myself as weak-willed or a quitter, but after repeating this behavior over and over, it's sometimes hard to resist feeling that way.  So, any little victory is enormous to me.  I purposely set my November goals pretty low on the difficulty scale.  I'm hoping that by starting small, I can build a foundation of successfully achieving goals that will help me when I get to the big ones:






Friday, I was thankful for...  


Mini-Goal
Meditate/Visualize

Walk at Lunch

November 1
Done – Bridge/Gilman Route
Done – “Opening the Energy Centers”
November 2
Done – Inside Stairs
Done – “Affirmations”
November 3
Done – Inside Stairs
Done – “Meditation Journey”
November 4
Done – Buildings Tour
Done – “Meditation Journey”
November 5
Done – Bridge/Gilman Route
Done – “Breathing/Meeting with Advisor”
November 6



...acting in my best interest even though I didn't want to.  Plus, it was finally "cool" enough to walk outside again (83 degrees).  


Vegan MoFo'ing for the Weekend
This weekend, in honor of Vegan MoFo, I'm going to make and share two of my favorite vegan recipes:  White Bean Deap with Pita Chips and Orange-Scented Quinoa.  Yum!