Holidays

Working on Staying Motivated

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I feel like a slug. I looked around and knew I need to put up and trim the tree. I am heading into the second weekend of December and my house is not decorated. My enthusiasm for many of the holiday seasonal activities has been replaced with lethargy. I have no idea what I am planning to cook for the Christmas dinner, and I have done little if any Christmas shopping. I’m not gonna and you can’t make me. Let’s face it, I am tired. How do we as adults, with home life, careers, friends and so much more, stay motivated?

I was reading a post by Leo Bubutta on 16 Ways to Stay Motivated. He suggested focusing on one goal, saying it publicly, and thinking about it daily. So, you want me to tell people that I feel like a lazy bum and that I am waiting for the quarter to end so I can spend a week not combing my hair? I like the ideas, but that is not going to do it for me.

Next, I headed over to the Lifehack.org to seek some motivation for my slump. These wisdom warriors say to find the good reasons, take a different approach, recognize your progress and reward yourself. I like the reward myself portion, and now feels some motivation to make some of those cookie brownies.

This wasn’t going to do, I needed to power up my powered down motivation. I needed the master, I needed some Zen. I headed over to Tony Robbins website and for $2595, I could be seated on the first three rows close to Tony, get lunch, course materials and I could change my life. Well that’s not going to happen. I know what is going to happen.

I am going to sit down. I am going to rest. I am going to recharge my soul, my spirit and my zest for life. I don’t need to spend $2595, or have anyone tell me that I need reward myself because I am awesome; I’m just tired. I think the best way for me to stay motivated is to stay away from people who suck, suck the life out of you or those people who are needy. I am needy. I am in needy of some sleepy.

I suddenly feel motivated. I am going to go trim that tree, bake some cookies and afterwards I am going to take a nap. I am motivated to do these things.

Give the Gift Of Flavor

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Flavired Oils and Vinegars

Okay, Okay, I have been yammering on and on about saving money by giving a holiday gift that you can make. I have offered a few links to a few sites but have not really shared with you an idea that anyone can do at any skill level.  Well here it is flavored oils, vinegars and rubs!  You see these in specialty stores all the time and shop owners can charge some hefty prices.  This year, you can give these über chic gifts for just a fraction of the cost.

First things if first, let’s round up those empty wine and beer bottles. Run them through the dishwasher and use some peanut butter to remove the excess gunk from the labels.  Let’s start simple with a basic herb oil, most people will choose a thyme.  I like to use fennel.  I pulled this recipe from Allyou.com.

Ingredients:

Springs of Dried Thyme, 2 teaspoons of peppercorns, 1 1/2 cups oil (vegetable or olive)

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a pot. Warm over medium-low heat.  Using a candy thermometer, check oil until the thermometer reads 165ºF. Allow the oil to cool, then strain; reserving thyme and peppercorns. Pour into bottle. Add thyme and peppercorns. Cork; chill for up to 1 month.

Pretty simple isn’t it?  Now let’s really go poo-poo Chi-Chi with some rubs for steaks and chops.  I usually make my own instead of paying the $4.50 a jar from the shelf brands.  If I make my own I can also monitor the sodium content. Here is a simple recipe.  I also like to use the little jars for preserves. Prep time for this simple gift idea takes about 5 minutes and this recipe only makes about 2 jars.

Ingredients

1/3 cup cumin                          3 tablespoons allspice             4 teaspoons garlic powder

4 teaspoons cinnamon           1  1/2 teaspoons cayenne        1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, mix well and then distribute evenly in jars. Seal jar tightly and add ribbons of cute labels. I found some really regal labels on the Microsoft.com template page.

And last but not least, herbal vinegars.  I picked this little recipe up from Colorado State University.  These require a little more work and know how, but once you learn the technique, this is a gift that can literally keep on giving.

Herbal Vinegar

  • 4 cups red wine vinegar
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sage leaves

Thoroughly wash herbs and dip in solution of 1 teaspoon household bleach in 6 cups water. Rinse thoroughly under cool running water and pat dry. Place herbs in sterilized quart jar. Heat the vinegar to just below boiling point (190 F); pour over herbs. Cap tightly and allowing the vinegars to stand in cool, dark place for three to four weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain out herbs. Pour vinegar into clean sterilized bottles with tight fitting covers. Add a fresh sprig of cleaned and sanitized parsley, if desired. Store in the refrigerator.  This recipe makes 1 quart.

Check back with me later in the week as I start to tackle those New Year’s resolutions you have been thinking about and know you are not going to follow.  Hopefully, I can help you plan some new resolutions that are doable.

Tis the Season To Save Big!

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          It is that time of year again. It is the season of giving. It is the time of year when we sing Joy to the World, wish peace on earth and show good will towards men. It is also that time of the year to buy new small appliances and stock up the pantry and linen closet! Yes, that’s right, it’s the time of the year to buy some of the stuff you really want and need to make your life easier!
    I’m not different than my fellow man with the exception that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the major shopping days for me! Yes, I will pick up a little something for Nana, big sisters, my favorite cousin as well, but right now, I am stocking up for me. This is the time of year when stores begin to overstock for the holiday season, but the beauty is they start to slash prices on December 26th as well. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, all the way through the New Year, you can really stock up and save. But before we get to the after Christmas deals, let’s get smart about the items for the holidays.

For example, these cups from QVC.com, you can get the set of six for a mere $25. Think about it, this makes six gifts for your co-workers or team mates. These are also great “extras” for those neighbors or people who drop by with a little something for you, now you have something for them. Now that is music to my ears.
    Speaking of music, this is also the time of year for great deals on DVD’s and CD’s, you can also buy now for birthdays and Easter baskets. Many of your favorite artist realease “Best Of” or live performances this time of year. Great stuffers for stockings, gift bags and baskets are picture frames, tools and bath products. It is also a great time of year to buy storage bins; they may all be in red and green, but what the heck, they are dirt cheap. This handy tub is $2.74 at Lowes and you can buy one and get one free. While in Lowes, every girl should have her own set of tools and for around $10, you can get the lady started.
    Last but not least, one of my favorite ideas, is to stock up the pantry with buy one get one deals. There are great deals on flour, sugar, cooking oils, broths and spices. The http://www.thecoupongodess.com also suggests that if you have room in the freezer, go ahead and buy that turkey or extra ham. I was also reading on mommysavers.com you can buy a set of eight dessert plates with mugs and separate these into sets of fours. Add in some small stocking stuffers like hot cocoa, or Bath and Body Works (5 for $5) products, you are good to go! Also, if you are a Foursquare user, look for the hidden deals and specials when you check in, it can save you a few bucks and often will give you a certain percentage off your purchases.

    Shopping for the holidays are great, but smart and savvy shoppers have loaded up all year and this is season to replenish the coiffures. I even scored a new food chopper and waffle iron for $2.84 on Black Friday at Wal-Mart. Forget the perfect card, here ya go neighbor, for your birthday, a new waffle iron! Now, I always have on hand a cute card or item for a birthday gift and you can too. After all, tis the season!

For These Things I Am Thankful

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I am going on strike. I have been asked by six people what I am planning to cook for Thanksgiving, and each have been shocked when I have responded, “very little.” I have the bird, I have some vegetables and I have stuff to make desserts, but am I cooking for two days to eat left overs for four, heck no! I plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, but not in the traditional way.

I am thankful to be able to have the means in which to purchase the needed items to make such a splendid meal. However, with the cost of food and fuel, I see no reason to spend $200 to make dinner. If I am going to have a $200 dinner, the Chef best come to my table and make sure I enjoyed every savory morsel!

I cook five or six days a week and Tuesdays are my baking day. I bake fresh each week and my friends are all well aware. I am usually asked to share what I make and often do. Today is Tuesday so I have decided to make a pie. I am thankful that I have friends who enjoy my cooking 52 times per year. I do not need them to wait until the final Thursday in November.

Because I cook so often, I have found clever if not unusual means to recycle my leftovers. The roast from Sunday is often cut down to make tacos on Mondays or soups or stews throughout the week. The left over cornbread I made on Sunday is perfect for some cornbread dressing. I am thankful that there is enough leftover and I do not have to make a fresh pan special for Thanksgiving.

I have potatoes, both white and sweet, along with peas and other items bought from local growers. I am going to cook for the week anyway, but this week, I am planning to cook a turkey. Since the bird is mid-sized, it is also perfect for making turkey pot pie, turkey noodle soup and turkey salad. I am thankful that I know how to stretch my food budget.

So often we spend this day of Thanksgiving engorging ourselves with overly rich foods, overspending and annoying the hell out of each other. Again, I am protesting. My modest dinner this Thursday will consist of a bird and two side dishes. I am not heading out on Black Friday to shop for items I don’t need either. I am staying home.

I have been blessed this year with clarity to understand my place on this universe. I have learned in the past year that less is more. I have learned that to be an educator, I must first educate myself. I have learned that in order to be loved, I must, without reservation give it to those who deserve it, as well as those finding their way. I have, most of all, learned that I am still learning.

I do not require a certain day in which to cook a meal to share with my family and friends. I have learned to manage my money so that I do not have to shop like a maniac the day after Thanksgiving. I have learned to be crafty and can make my friends items they will appreciate, so I do not need to spend money. And for these things, I am thankful.

My Favorite Things!

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If Oprah can have a list of her favorite things, then why can’t I? As I was walking through the grocers, I came across the magazine rack and saw the Lady Oprah dancing across the cover of “O.” She looked so pretty I almost bought the magazine that is until I saw the $4.50 price tag. I was bad, I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Personally, her favorite things weren’t really all that awesome. I can see no real use for these Chocolate Bears for $12 plus shipping and handling. For exactly the same twelve dollars, I can buy some of my favorite things, like frozen vegetables at the ten for $10 sale, which mean I have vegetables to eat for at least 10 days.

    I continued to look through some of Ms. O’s favorite things. I did see some items that made me stop and wonder what where she came up with these items.

 http://zappos.com retail $120

Originally $137, now $109 with code OPRAH  DeuxLux.com
$125 | Saks.com

These are really nice items, but really, we are in a recession and I can’t afford these things. What I have learned over the years is how to take the things that I truly love, and make a version of them.

First on my list is Moose Munch made famous by Harry and David, retailing at $29.95. This is Crunch and Munch on steroids. I sometimes will buy it as a treat, but most of the time, I make it myself. Here is a simple recipe.

Second on my list of favorite things are any items that I can make. The holiday season I love placards for my holiday table settings. Oriental Trading Company is always on my holiday shopping list, because I can pick up these easy placards for about $5.00. The kit creates 12 settings, and at this price, I can afford to buy several, even to give them as gifts.

And last but not least, some of my favorite things are bags. Purses, satchels, book bags, shopping bags and anything that I can carry my stuff in. I love to shop on http://Ebags.com. There is everything there for your pockets and your pocketbook. Best of all, the prices are right for your purse.

The whole point to my thought process here is to not over spend or get caught up in the haze of Black Friday and the holiday shopping madness. There is enough retail therapy to go around without breaking the bank and acting like a mad person on a spending frenzy. Out of curiosity, what is on your list of favorite things?

Irony and Stupid T-Shirts

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking the annual bus shopping trip to one of those outlet malls. It is always a blast, but I mainly go to hang out with friends, have a decadent lunch, and not have to drive. After so many hours, you take your cache to the bus, seal it in your labeled garbage bag and go back to empty your bank account. However, this time, the bus was not where it was supposed to be. I found the bus but it was blocked in by some self-promoted rapper named Nap-Boy. Our bus driver is upset, our people are upset and I’m thinking, what is the big deal? I sent a tweet to the address on the side of the van, and then I called the number. Here is the beauty of it all, I went back inside the shopping center, took a seat with my Dipping Dots treat, and watched the people pass by. There were a ridiculous number of people wearing T-shirts with stupid sayings on them. Ironically, the rapper that was boxing in our bus, also had a stupid shirt, and he walked right up to me. He, of course, wanted to sell me one of his CD’s. I made a contribution on the condition that he moves his van.

    I know I took the long way around on this one, but here’s the point. Out of thousands of people in the shopping outlet in Charlotte, I was able to find one person. Why, because he was wearing a stupid shirt; luckily his shirt matched his van.

He wasn’t the only adult wearing one of those silly shirts. As I sat there, I saw a beer bellied fella pass by in this gem.
I was really tempted to ask what his daughter looked like, to see if it was actually a concern. His daughter showed up. Sadly, Daddy, you can put the gun away. She will be home with you on prom night. I know it’s mean, but I started to chuckle.

Our next wonderful shirt was worn by a Goth kid with green hair. He was also wearing piercings in is eyebrows, his nose, his lip, his jaw, and those big tribal ear circles in his lobes. I laughed when I saw the shirt. The irony, people probably beat the crap out of him his whole life; especially looking as he did. He probably became a Goth when his parents stopped paying for his self-defense classes.

This t-shirt was worn by a young black man who was sporting this shirt in green. He also had on green shoes, a plaid green outer shirt and some green underpants. I saw the underpants because his pants were well below his butt. The young lady at his side walked along with pride that this gem wearing fashion risk was her man. Question, was she one of the wayward ho’s?

The more I sat there, the more people I saw wearing tees with sometimes inappropriate if not downright offensive imprints.

as

After about a half hour, I had to get up and move, because people were starting to wonder why I was laughing. I could not snap photos, but I did find most of the shirts on a website. I became more tickled as my friend joined me and she saw one that made her laugh even harder. It was a T shirt of the Ass Family and each of the family members also had on the same shirt. Who was the Smart Ass who came up with the idea to wear these out in public?

The irony of it all was wasted on the wearers. Individuals who wear these shirts are probably doing so to get noticed or get some attention. The attention you are getting is not for the funny sayings on your shirt, it is because the reader is processing the whole thought. The thought adorning your boobies, beer belly and bird chest is only the beginning.

One lady stopped and asked why we were laughing. I told her honestly, if you only knew what I was just thinking…..

Did you just unfriend me?

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Today I was just given a shock. I was checking my Facebook page and hubby made the comment that our son had something funny on his wall. I went to check and found that my own child had unfriended me! The nerve!

Here is the beauty of this; he is not able to see my post because he is not my friend. Therefore I can talk about him and he not know.

What does it really mean in Americanspeak when someone unfriends you on a social network? It means that you have been deemed unimportant in their daily lives. It means they do not care to know what you are doing on a daily basis and you are not privy to their information. In other words, you have been ruled as obsolete.

I know, it hurts. It hurts me too. I unfriended by brother-in-law and his insipid wife. I unfriended that guy from high school that I never really spoke to 30 years ago and I don’t really want to know about his daily life. I unfriended that drunk girl from college, who claimed she was allergic to alcohol, but found a way to guzzle it every weekend. I unfriended an Army buddy who found religion. She did not necessarily find God, because she is always judging how someone else is living their lives. I unfriended that former co-worker who I remembered tried to get me fired. Witch!

I blocked Mafia Wars, My Little Pony, I have a Butt Rash, Hearts, Rabbits and other irrelevant applications that drained my phone’s battery. I stopped following and unliking artist who made sucky movies. I stopped liking artist who sold out and added rap music to beautiful R & B ballads. I stopped responding to events that I would never, ever attend, by groups, I don’t want to be associated with anyway.

I took a cue from my son.

I started to update my pages as well and began to remove people that I really didn’t deal with on a regular basis.

I am okay with it.

I just hope some my acquaintances are as well, my sister in law, I don’t really care about.

Unfriending someone is not an insult. I see it as a separation of church and state. I don’t need to see everything that is going on in my son’s life and he does not need to see what I am posting. Not that either of us are saying anything offensive.

I am glad I have a chance to now ask him how was his day, versus sharing his life vicariously through his daily updates. I, now get to talk to him in person. Unfriending me, may just save our relationship.