Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ten Dinners in Two Hours

So I gave myself a little bit of an unspoken challenge this month.  I figure if I don't say them out loud and they never come to fruition then it's not a true failure right??   Any who, I challenged myself to making my life easier on myself one little bit at a time.  And with that I decided to attempt a feat I saw originally on Pinterest.  A 'making dinner easier for myself' challenge.  There isn't nothing I hate more than having to plan out dinner in the morning when it's the furthest thing on my mind or coming home after 8 hours to decide what to make for dinner (and usually everything is frozen).  That kind of hatred leads to eating in restaurants a lot and with Eric laid off, that's not terribly conducive to our wallet and bank account.

I found an ideal starting place at Mommy's Fabulous Finds.  Ten crock pot recipes prepped in one night to pull out and use over the next week and half.  All of the recipes I used can be found on her blog.  The ten I prepared are listed in the link above, but she has many other crock pot recipes on her site you could try for variance.  It took me about one hour and 45 minutes from taking the food out of the cupboard to putting the freezer bags filled with dinner into the freezer and cost me around $120.00.  Each recipe feeds 3-4 people. Not terribly bad, if you ask me.  I originally went through all the recipes and created an entire list of everything I would need.  Then I started crossing off what I already had in stock and what I was left with was the most detailed grocery list I've ever compiled.

The ten recipes I made tonight are:

Savoury Pepper Steak
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Teriyaki Pork Chops
BBQ Cranberry Chicken
Honey BBQ Chicken
Pork Carnitas
South western Chicken Chili
Sausage and Peppers
Apple BBQ Pork Tenderloin
Pineapple Chicken Burritos

Like I said, all the recipes can be found right HERE!   Thanks to Mommy's Fabulous Finds for doing the majority of the leg work and making this little challenge easier for me.  I'm really looking forward to the pay off for this.

Initial Feature

As most of my readers know, I posted a 'tutorial' of sort on how to make an ornament letter "wreath-like-thing" a few weeks ago.  Well, I was invited to share that posting on a crafting blog for so many others to see!  I'm not sure why validation from 'real crafters' means anything to me, but it sure does.  I still struggle to label myself as a 'real crafter'.  I don't think I've earned it yet.

So my point of this posting is to invite you to check out my feature on Anne's page:  Creative Life Blog. Perhaps you can find some inspiration to create your own initial art work.  Today's my feature day!  But, it's also important for me to thank Anne for thinking my craft was worthy enough to include in her 31 days of Letters, craft ideas.  And if you are here visiting from Anne's page, drop me a message or subscribe and follow.  A party is so much more fun when there are more people attending.

Thanks Anne and thanks to everyone for your kind words about my crafting projects.  They are fun to do and your praise makes them even more rewarding.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It All Comes With Time

I wonder if it's just me or if it's age speaking, but I have gotten to a point in my life where things just don't seem to matter.  Or rather petty, stupid things no longer matter.  I'm creeping up on 40 this year and I'm actually looking forward to it and relishing in how different my life is now.  Different in oh so many good ways.  And while I'm excited for a better chapter of my life I'm saddened that it's taken me almost 40 years to come to these realizations.  I can only presume that by the time I'm 60 I'll have learned even more brilliant stuff.   You know, more insight into how easily the "important stuff" becomes unimportant as we experience life and what it throws at us.

I've been sitting here thinking about how different I am now than when I was a teenager.  Ya, I know science tells me daily but I mean mentally. (I suppose that goes without saying for the most part, but I swear I know people who haven't changed at all through the years and it's a sad stagnant state.)  I've no doubt that when I was a teenager and an adult would tell me these things I've now finally learned, I probably rolled my eyes in exasperation and believed those adults did not have a clue what I was going through and they for sure had no idea where I'd end up!  How dare they offer me advice?!  I mean they probably didn't even remember what it's like to be a teen.   I'm fairly certain that even if I had the ability to hop in the Tardis (it's so much bigger on the inside!) and travel back and converse with my 16 year old self she would still roll her eyes.  Arrogant bitch.

So here's a smidgen of what I know now and some advice to the younger generation .  I don't get the privilege of trying to teach this to my younger self and well...my kids are only slowly coming to terms with the fact that I'm usually always right, but MAYBE (and that's a big maybe in case you couldn't tell) someone else who is still travelling through their younger years will take heed.  Doubt it though.  It's still fun to think about all the stupid shit I'd get hung up on and what I've come to realize through the years.  It's been nice reflecting.

Lets see... Relationships can be messy.  They really shouldn't be though.  It's natural for humans to gravitate towards each other.  It's also natural for two humans to not meld well together after time.  Don't stew on it.  Don't be bitter and angry.  Don't consider it a waste of time.  That person meant something to you at one point, you both just drifted in different directions or wanted different things and your time together came to an end.  That person, whether you like it or not, contributed (be it good or bad) to who you are becoming and who you will become.   In life you will meet two types of people; the ones that build you up and the ones that tear you down.  In the end, you'll thank both.  Don't resent and hate them.  Wish them well.  Hope for them to find someone that fits with who they are and keep searching for the one that compliments you.  High school is about finding your brides maids, not the groom.

Dance like no one is watching.  Or dance like 50 people are watching.  Either way, just get over yourself and get your ass on the dance floor, odds are no one is watching!  You'll regret being so pretentious that you've already missed several great opportunities.  Shake that money maker, throw your head back with laughter, close your eyes and feel the music. 

Don't be unnecessarily snotty or mean to other people.  It's not nice and it's not becoming.  It makes you ugly.  And it sure doesn't feel nice to be on the receiving end.  The Golden Rule about treating others how you wish to be treated will come largely into play if you immerse yourself into a career in customer service.  Besides, just know if you are mean to others, they'll talk about you behind your back and they won't say nice things.  And that's how you'll forever be remembered, to them, so don't let a bad day reflect who you are. It's better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn't smile back.

One day you'll learn that sometimes you have to break up with family and friends.  Break ups aren't just for your significant other.  Sometimes other relationships that are supposed to be healthy can be toxic to our mental health.  Stop fretting over what others think and do what's right for your mind and soul.  Don't fall into a misguided belief that just because you share a blood line means you or they owe each other something.  Drop that certain family member or friend who constantly drags you down, is a terrible influence on you or makes you feel shitty overall.  Ain't no one got time for that!  And when I say drop them, I mean just that.  Don't waste your time thinking about them, talking about them with others or giving them any more of your energy.  But learn to forgive.  Harbouring feelings of hated is horrible for your well being and it still gives them power over you.  

You can go outside without make up on.  Deep down you know that right?   I promise you, one day, someone you love will tell you they love you more without the face paint.  Oh I get it, I get it real hard.  Putting my make up on used to be my version of a morning coffee and I didn't even wear a lot!  Now, I really only wear it if we are going somewhere 'special' or to work.  Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.

You should also probably study harder.  You actually learn more if you read the material or complete the project.  And if you put any sort of effort into it, you'll probably pull out a top notch grade.   And your parents will be super proud and smile a lot.  And they might take you out for dinner because you're their awesome kid who got a good grade, that really isn't terribly important overall (the grades, not the kid), but gosh they feel good when they see the mark.  And one day, making your parents feel good will be so important to you. 

It is no one's duty to entertain you.  If you're bored, find something to stimulate your mind and body.  Read a book, don't examine it just enjoy it.  Reading a book for leisure is so much more fun than reading it for that English assignment.  Call a friend, they're probably as bored as you are, so do it together.  Go outside.  Fill your lungs with fresh air.  Take on a hobby.  Crafting has turned out to be cathartic for me.  Who'd have thunk it?  Play a sport.  Just know that it's up to you to make life happen.  It's up to you to create and contribute to your own memories.

Make tough and scary decisions.  They usually take you somewhere magnificent.  And if they don't?  Don't knock yourself for trying.  You'll be braver than most others.  Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction tends to be the biggest step of your life.  Tip toe if you must, but ensure you take the step.  Don't live your life with 'what ifs' and regrets.  But what if it doesn't work out you ask?  Ah, but what if it does!

Stop being so negative.  It's not becoming of you and frankly it gets you no where (probably gives you scowl lines too which aren't nearly as endearing as laugh lines).  Focus on finding the silver lining in any situation.  Trust me, it's there.  Sometimes you just have to dig deeper to find it.  Once you find it though, the situation won't seem so negative any more.  This one took me decades to figure out.

Do not compare yourself to others.  You are your own person with different thoughts, beliefs, ideals and opinions.  Don't follow the herd because you  fear rejection.  Stand out from the crowd, one day others will be envious of you or admire you for solely this reason.  The only person worthy enough to compare yourself to is your former self, the person you were before today.  Be your own kind of beautiful. Be a voice, not an echo.

Enjoy the little things, but don't sweat the small stuff.  Learn to relish in all the small things around you that you often take for granted.  We miss so much trying to see the big picture.  But don't fret over trivial happenstance.  Learn to fight the real battles and let the other stuff slide.  Sometimes peace is better than being right.  Life will be too long and painful if everything sets you off.  Nothing good comes from worrying over something we have no control of.  Let what will be, be.

Through the next 20 years or so you'll start to realize that everything you knew was really nothing at all.  That the lessons in life are learned through trial and error, through experience.  You'll figure out that your parents did seem to have a clue what they were talking about and all the stuff that spewed from their mouths was not utter nonsense.  But you won't learn that in high school.  You'll learn that in the school of hard knocks when you are reading "The Story of Life".   But know that who you are now is still vital to who you will become.  To sum it up as Matt Smith did so eloquently in the episode of Dr. Who where he 'dies':

"We all change. When you think about it, we're all different people, all through our lives.   That's okay.  That's good.  You've got to keep moving. So long as you remember all of the people that you used to be."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Five Years

Whoa, somewhere in the hectic-ness of this past week I, or rather we, totally missed our 5 year milestone anniversary.  That's crazy.  Five years already?  Where has the time gone?  So as I sit here on my laptop with him laying beside me asleep I'm grateful that he still makes me laugh and I look forward to coming home and having him around.  I'm pretty lucky to love him.

Someday someone will walk into your life and make you realize why it didn't work out with anyone else.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ornament Letter "Wreaths"

This year I was ahead of my game when it came to Christmas.  A rarity but it was actually quite lovely.  So because I was done all my shopping, decorating and wrapping with about 3 weeks to spare I decided it was a perfect opportunity to create a craft to include with a couple of my gifts.

This year I decided to do Ornament Letters.  My plan was to do one for my mom for her birthday in the first part of December, and one for Eric's mom to include with her gift.  I chose silvers and golds for Jill's as her foyer is brown and earthy.  I chose silver and blues for my mom as her living room is grey with blue accents.
I found these little branch like things at Michaels in different colours so I picked up what I thought I needed with the intent to cut the balls off the branches.  All the other ornaments I looked at were just too large for the wooden letter(s) I'd picked out.  Turns out I needed to make a second trip because I highly underestimated how many of these little suckers I was going to need to make the letter appear full.  Thankfully I managed to score these at 60% off on my first trip and 70% off on my second trip.

I used some wire cutters and spent about an hour cutting each ball off the branch and separating them per initial.  I swear this crafting thing is cathartic, or there's something to be said about snipping one's balls.

So once I had them all removed, I was ready to begin.  It was a simple enough procedure but it still resulted in two 2nd degree burns.  Those damn glue guns can get pretty hot if you leave them to sit too long.  So be careful.  But the jist of this project is basically just to start adhering the balls to the wooden initial.  This proved to be quite the conundrum for my OCD.  You want the balls to fit just perfectly, but alas it just isn't so.  One has to let go of one's issues and let it all come together as it will.

Oh this was a fun old craft.  So fun in fact, that I was only mildly preturbed when my mother, in passing, told me she was changing the accent colour of her living room to red.  She's just 'tired' of the blue.  Groan.  This, unbeknownst to her, AFTER I already finished her lovely blue and silver "R".  So now what?  Well I lovely new neighbours whose last name happens to also start with an "R" got themselves a new Christmas decoration courtesy of their lovely new neighbours!  So back to Michaels I went for a third time for some multi-coloured balls this go around.  Now she can change her colour scheme any old time she wants!  She'll be all matchy matchy.  And this time around, I got 80% off the balls.  Oh this "turns out to be more costly than I'd anticipated gift" just got more costly affordable(?)  I actually really like how they both turned out, but I had originally hesitated doing a multi-coloured one because I thought it would be too much, but I really like it.  

Sorry , no picture of the blue and silver one because I honestly forgot and Roan was in such a hurry to bring it over to them.  So there you go, a fun, cute Christmas decoration (or year round if you will, I won't judge). Thankfully I got the main stuff on sale and I used up a gift card I had so it really wasn't too expensive for me, but I can see how this one could get away from you, cost wise if you didn't get the materials on sale.