Monday, March 3, 2014
join us on Facebook and get all the news, articles, and suggestions as well as contribute some of your own. Weekly small change challenges Week 1 - use your turn signal. Yes, I know - there are areas where using your turn signal is just begging to be treated like crap on the road. And that is precisely what we are trying to overturn here. Many accidents take place every year because someone failed to communicate which way they were going. Many more are just barely averted, because another driver has split-second reaction and really good anti-lock breaks. I have no idea, how using your turn signal suddenly became uncool or weak, and why doing so means having a harder time making lane changes or being allowed into a parking spot. In the spirit of big change by way of small change, let us all start using our turn signals. The more of us do so, the more people will take notice and start doing the same. Week 2 - pretend you are on vacation. This is equally tough for those of us who work at the office and those who work from home. We get bogged down in a daily routine, where everything takes place the same way, day after day, week after week. We yearn for something different, but there is no time to break away - SERIOUSLY break away. So fake it. Working from home and being the primary person responsible for most household duties, I rarely go anywhere, and believe me - it does get old, even living in a beautiful house in the middle of lovely woods. So, when I go to the post office, or to the grocery store, or to run some other errand, I pretend like I am on a mini-vacation. I purposely take a slightly longer route to get there, crank up my most upbeat music, and let my mind roam free. Sometimes it's only a 20-30 minute trip, but it's a great way to re-set and re-focus. Week 3 - slow is smooth, smooth is fast. I was first introduced to this concept when training in aikido. Many of us, martial arts students, were tempted to attack our techniques at full speed. However, the true skill and smoothness of movement came from slow, painstaking practice, until it finally became possible to go faster and still preserve good form and efficiency. The same applies to our daily life, if you think about it. When are we at our clumsiest? When we are in a hurry. Suddenly, our furniture grows extra corners for us to bump into, every object we pick up becomes extra-heavy or extra-slippery - just waiting to be dropped, and our elbows and knees seem to add at least ten inches to their size because they seem to run into EVERYTHING. Slow. Down. Take a breath. Even if you are running late - trying to do everything at a frantic pace will only make things worse. So, take a deep breath, and slow down. Go through your tasks at a more sedate pace. Before you know it, the furniture will shrink to its normal size, as will your elbows. The household objects and articles of clothing will stop trying to be juggling balls and fly out of your hands. By slowing down, you will be able to do what you need to do smoother, and the pace will pick up without your noticing. Even if you start behind schedule, going slower might actually help you get back on time. Pretty cool, no? Member contributions CoCoRaHS sister project - observing plants in addition to observing weather to contribute to better understanding of the global climate change. Some common snacks with healthy alternatives. I like stuff like that a lot. When it doesn't just say, "Don't eat that!" but says, "Ok, this is not very good for you - but here is something else that tastes as good and is much better." We don't have as big a selection in the drinks aisle as some bigger stores, but we do get Canada Dry. They offer their single-serve drinks, like tonic, club soda, and ginger ale, in small glass bottles. I am saving ours to use later for home-made syrups and infused oils. They would probably also work well if you wanted to buy a large container of juice and take a smaller portion to work with your lunch. Because why wouldn't you want a bicycle sink? Seriously, I wouldn't do all of these, but great ideas. Our words have power--and with the cabin fever season--people are breaking down at the library regularly, so the weight of words is drowning me. Here's an illustrative article proving it is better to keep quiet and be thought an idiot, than open your mouth and prove it. And, so much more: “My advice to them is, leave your offenders speechless” Public service announcements 9 ways to detox your home. Hilarious and brilliant - the happy secret for better work from Shawn Achor. Something for Moms and Dads out there to discuss with their daughters.
Friday, February 21, 2014
The gift that keeps on giving Amazing bakes continue to be my cooking staple - especially when dining alone - and a venue for experimentation. The latest versions I tried out successfully: - Chicken legs, soaked in whiskey, prepared with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and capellini pasta, topped with shredded cheese. - Fish filets, prepared with sauteed garlic, lemongrass, and wild rice with a splash of balsamic vinegar. - Sausage with cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers, with couscous. All of the above were served with some sort of additional vegetable or salad on the side. Magical substance It is not uncommon for my husband and me to give each other presents that are sort of for both of us. Usually, they come from the area of home improvement, organization, or cooking. Last Christmas, one such gift was a bottle of Roasted Rice Vinegar I bought. This fantastic, tangy vinegar with a touch of smoky flavor exceeded all our expectations. We've made everything with it - salads, soups, chicken, pork, fish, pasta, rice. It was fantastic with everything. As it has a fairly strong flavor, a little goes a long way, so one bottle is bound to last several months. Definitely try it! Something new In the past, I cooked Brussels sprouts whole - steamed them first, then scorched them a little with browned butter and salt. Recently, I decided to try them as I would ordinary cabbage. I chopped them up, sauteed them with onions, bell peppers, and sliced-up Hebrew National beef franks, and served under sour cream-cheddar sauce. It came out very well - I was pleased. And the dish is easily adjusted to go with seafood or meatless. Delicious and nutritious!
Monday, February 3, 2014
battling the winter blues. Discovered two helpful strategies to not go nuts while out of power in the biting cold. 1) While still at home today, working off the laptop and hotspot battery, was posting my Hootsuite promos for the next week. The animals and I were all collectively huddled around the woodburning stove at the time. As I scheduled each promo - the day from now, three days, five days, a week - I kept reminding myself that when these promos actually go out, I will remember this as just a fun wintry adventure, nothing more. The power will get fixed, we will get through this with plenty of blankets and our trusty woodburning stove. 2) Brought my ultra-mega power strip with six outlets to Ingles with me in order to charge EVERYTHING while I worked. Someone else came in - also without power and trying to stay warm, saw my set up, asked if he could plug in his phone and his Kindle to charge. Before you know it, I am an official Henderson County charging station, and people are walking away relieved - they now have their phones and their reading devices to last another day. One of those things that are simple, awesome, and life-changing for many. A little late, but if you still have your tree out there, some great ideas there. We should all have a football team who loves and defends our choices. This group of boys is a class act! When we can, we do. For my husband's birthday, we went to have dinner and stay at the lovely Pine Crest Inn. It's a wonderful bed-and-breakfast in Tryon, NC, with the second best wine cellar in North Carolina and an amazing restaurant. While we were at dinner, two older ladies took a table next to ours. They ordered steaks. My husband also ordered a steak, which was perfectly prepared and delicious. As soon as one of the ladies started cutting her steaks, she started complaining very loudly, "This is horrible! Completely overcooked. This is inedible." First of all, like I said the restaurant there is superb - I can understand how the chef may have messed up a little bit, but I am having trouble believing it was "inedible". Second, I think when these things happen, most of us would wait for the waiter, discreetly hail him and say, "Hey, I am not sure what happened, but this is not very good, could I get this replaced or order something else?" Most restaurants, and particularly a place like Pinecrest would be happy to oblige at no cost. And it's steak - it takes just minutes to make - so the substitution could have been done very quickly. Then this woman proceeded to get up, go into the kitchen area, all the while yelling, "Hello! Hey! Man! Dude! Waiter!" When the waiter came out, she kept saying, "This is horrible. I can't eat this. My dinner has been ruined." She then demanded to see the manager and owner - with the same message, and finally demanded another double scotch (another - I wonder how many she had before dinner and whether it affected her behavior), and went to her room. Her friend looked embarrassed, but didn't say anything. We called the waiter over, told him that we felt really bad for him and gave him an enormous tip - since he obviously didn't get any from the rude woman. We also went over to the owner and told him that it absolutely was not the waiter's fault, and that the woman's behavior was inexcusable. It was really great to be in position to set something right for someone. Public service announcements Never too early to do a little spring planting research - heirloom seed suppliers. Some really great ideas when you are strapped for space, in which to grow stuff. Soldiers spend a lot of time waiting and even more - feeling isolated and forgotten. Authors Supporting Our Troops is a grassroots project to supply the troops with new books.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
brand new anthology currently sizzling up Amazon. On the other hand, there is her wise and humorous alter ego Junie Swan - a children's and motivational writer. A woman with such personality range cannot help but be fascinating, and so we sat down with her (virtually) to pick her mind. =================================== What is your favorite virtue? Well, it is definitely not patience. I have to say temperance would be my favorite. Practicing moderation and self-restraint is most admirable, and avoiding excessive behavior is quite healthy for one’s mind, body and spirit. Your favorite qualities in a man. For me, it is imperative that a man possess these seven qualities: faithfulness, honesty, reliability, compassion, assertiveness, optimism, and a kick-ass sense of humor. Your favorite qualities in a woman. The same list pretty much applies to a woman. I would expect no less from the fairer sex. Your chief characteristic. Consistency. No matter what’s going on in my life, my nature and fundamental character stays the same. Whatever comes my way, I approach it with humor and resolve, believing that it will somehow turn out as it should. What do you appreciate the most about your friends? Their unwavering emotional support—everyone needs someone that they can count on to bolster and encourage them when things get rough. Likewise, it is just as beneficial to have someone to celebrate and share the good times with. Your main fault. It will sound cliché but I give too much. Whether it is due to internal or external factors, I tend to be a people pleaser. More often than not I give to the point of it being detrimental. Your favorite occupation. Of the occupations I have tried and there have been many, writing is my favorite. Acting is a close second—perhaps in some ways they are one in the same. After all, in my imagination I do act out every thought and feeling of the characters I create. Your idea of happiness. My idea of happiness is the absence of illness. If I have my health then there is no valid reason to be unhappy. Your idea of misery. Sickness, grief, being separated from someone you love in my mind is pure misery. If not yourself, who would you be? My first impulse is to say Dolly Parton. She came from nothing and scratched and clawed her way to the top. She is kind and generous. She has written some of the prettiest songs I have ever heard. She has the best laugh and wears the coolest wigs. She has huge boobs, a tiny waist and dimples that flash when she smiles. Dolly has more money than God and she’s had her tongue down Burt Reynolds’s throat. She is a creative genius and one helluva of an entrepreneur. Your favorite heroes in fiction. Edward Fairfax Rochester (Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre),Rhett Butler, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Dorian Gray, Jane Eyre, Lolita and Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables). Your favorite heroes in real life. These days the word hero is overused and oftentimes plastered on undeserving candidates. However, my Uncle Kenneth is my real-life hero. Like all veterans he is to be commended for serving his country. He fought in the Vietnam War and received the Purple Heart for saving his entire platoon. When he returned home after suffering from malaria and scarlet fever, he was nearly beaten to death at a bus stop by a gang of war protestors. Many years later he saved my life by staunching the flow of blood from my body after a freak accident. There are many men and women who are heralded for their heroic contributions to our world, but none of them used their hands as a human tourniquet to spare my life. Although I am grateful for their existence and their accomplishments, my personal hero is my uncle. Your favorite food and drink. Pretty much all Italian dishes especially Chicken Parmesan and seltzer water. What is your present state of mind? Anticipatory. Your personal motto. My personal motto is to never say I can’t until I’ve tried. When I was a little girl my grandmother used to tell me, “can’t never could until she tried.” She taught me not to have a defeatist attitude. So often in life the impulse is to say or feel that we can’t accomplish something before we even attempt it. If I had not adhered to this motto, I would not have had the courage to write a single word.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Saying that this is a writer interview is a bit of a misnomer, because, really, Andrea Owen is much more than that. She is a life coach, a writer, and a mom extraordinaire with a brand new book out on the shelves - all in all, a self-made woman in every way. Here is your chance to take a peek into her fantastically active and inventive mind. =============================================================== What is your favorite virtue? Just one? It would have to be decency. To me it just defines being a good person. Your favorite qualities in a man. Integrity. It encompasses so much. Your favorite qualities in a woman. Self-confidence. We need more of it as women. Your chief characteristic. Transparency. I can't keep my mouth closed. What do you appreciate the most about your friends? Humor. Your main fault. Transparency, ha! Sometimes my delivery could be softer. Your favorite occupation. School teachers. I had some amazing ones. Your idea of happiness. Presence. No matter what's going on. Your idea of misery. Conforming to be someone I'm not in order to make others happy (or what I make up will make them happy). If not yourself, who would you be? A house cat. Preferably one of my mom's. Totally spoiled in every way. Your favorite heroes in fiction. Badass women like the leads in Charlie's Angels, Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. Your favorite heroes in real life. All the women that have influenced me to speak up, embrace ALL of me, and pass it on. Your favorite food and drink. I love any kind of pasta. Rich, delicious, pasta. And coffee. What is your present state of mind? Content. Fulfilled in every way. Your personal motto. "Life's too short for it to not kick ass" Has been for years! Read more about Andrea at her web site and do get a copy of her book - it's bound to be a fantastic journey.