Friday Food: Super, Simple Super Bowl Snacks

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With New Year’s just past and the Super Bowl coming up in a few short weeks (Feb. 2), I thought I’d share some of my family’s easy to prepare foods. For New Year’s this past week, we actually cooked very little. Most of our food was simple, store-bought, easy to prepare, easy to clean up, and best of all, yummy.

1. Dip. We love the dill dip from Marzetti. It can be found in the refrigerated area of your grocery’s produce section. We like to pair it up with a variety of items to dip, including: pretzels, crackers, bread chunks, raw snow peas, raw green beans, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, potato chips. If you want to dress up your table, scoop out the insides of a round bread loaf and put the dip inside. Looks great, no clean up!

2. Hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough. You can buy these premade (we like the Hebrew National ones) or you can make them yourself. I’d recommend cutting the hot dogs in three, and cutting each crescent roll triangle in two. You get twice as many little dogs and it’s not over doughy.

3. Mini quiches or mini potato puffs. Again, you can buy these premade or make them yourself. For either of these, use a mini muffin tin. Put in a puff pastry square and add your ingredients. For quiches: eggs, cheese, onion, bacon. For potato puffs: mashed potatoes, bacon, cheese. Delicious.

4. Cheese and crackers. In addition to cheese cut in chunks, there are also cheese spreads that are very good on crackers. Add pepperoni to the platter for a little extra.

5. Dessert. Break and bake chocolate chip cookies. Brownie bites. Ice cream. Mini cheesecakes are also an excellent option. Use those mini muffin tins again. Put some crushed graham crackers in the bottom, use your favorite cheesecake recipe, add whipped cream when serving.

What is Compound Time and Why Should You Try It?

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For many of these types of posts, I would skim through the article, decide whether or not I thought it was beneficial to share, and then share it. However, after skimming through this one, I realized that I was already doing two and a half of the six hacks they recommended. With that knowledge, I wondered how my time spent was comparable to their other recommendations.

I sat down at my dining room table, cup of tea in hand, Kindle propped up, and read the article carefully, taking a few notes in order to be able to express what it was that I liked about the concept of compound time and why I thought it was worthwhile to share.

Beginning to read this article took minutes for me to convince myself that I wzsn’t wasting time and that it was important for my writing as well as my life. That’s the first conflict for most of us in reading an article like this. Take naps? Seriously? I already waste enough of my day staring into space. But what if that staring into space is something that jump starts a project? Or a thought that takes us to a new idea to work on?

We’re constantly being told that daily rituals are good for our creativity as well as getting us motivated to start our day. For the last couple of years, I’ve read what I call “daily books;” books that are meant to be read a page a day, whether they be devotionals and religious, prayerful or secular, they are something short to read to begin the day; to know that the day has begun, and we can go on.

Some of those past books have been:

Through the Years with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President

Three Hundred Sixty-Five Happiness Boosters by MJ Ryan

Women of the Bible: A Year Long  Devotional Study by Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda

365 Saints: Your Daily Guide to the Wisdom and Wonder of Their Lives by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker

Currently, I am reading G’Morning G’Night: Pep Talks for Me and You by Lin-Manuel Miranda, illustrated by Jonny Sun. Every morning, I read the G’morning passage, and then before bed, I read the corresponding G’night. There aren’t enough to get through the whole year, but the beauty of this book is that I can restart it. The messages are universal, positive, and uplifting.

What is compound time?

Continue reading

Intentions

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​I don’t really  like resolutions. I think we’ve overdone that word. I like the sentiment of trying new things, and being a better person.

Resolutions – I don’t know, they’re almost a joke at this point. Have they always been this way? Or did people actually make a resolution intending to follow through throughout the entire year or at least for the first six months? It seems that whenever I hear someone make them, practically everyone in fact, they’ll state their resolution and then say something to the effect of, why bother or, as if, or I’ve already broken that one!

I rarely see anyone taking them seriously, and I think that has more to do with society than our personal willpower.

Lose weight.

Watch less television.

Less screen time.

Exercise.

Walk more.

Write more.

Go to religious services.

All are valuable, all are important, but I think that when we call it a resolution, we’re automatically setting ourselves up for failure.

Did you make resolutions this year? Yeah. Even the way we answer the question is with that Debby Downer voice, setting up the depression of stopping a habit rather than beginning a new focus.

Last year, I discovered two words that I really liked: focus and intention.

What will I focus on this year?

What are my intentions for 2019?

My plan is to use those words and those sentiments and make it part of my writing plan*. That asterisk is for me to explain that for most people they have business plans or school plans. I know that my writing is my business, but the words business plan don’t work for my mindset. As a writer, words are important to me on all levels, so for me my writing plan is my everything, my professional, my getting it done plan. What is your plan?

I’m going to spend the weekend thinking about my intentions, my focus, and my writing plan, and I will fill you in sometime after Sunday.

New Year’s Intentions – Resources

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The Weekly Prayer Project – this is a book that my husband got me for Christmas. I’ve only just started reading it this morning. It’s divided into seven sections, and can be used in order or jumped from one to the other. My intention is to read the week’s pages on a Wednesday, and then contemplate what it’s asking me to journal. I will probably do the journaling before the weekend, and then read what i’ve written in the days before the next Wednesday. I have decided that I will read from each section for seven weeks, and then go back to the first. For example, today I read week 1. Next Wednesday (1/10) I’ll read week 8. On 1/17, I’ll read week 15, and so on. On 2/21, I’ll go back to week 2, and begin the format again.

365 Days to Happiness – These are nice, short blurbs offering suggestions to finding happiness. They are little things to do or not to do. Again, as I keep coming back to this week, choose what works for you. When I skimmed through the first couple of pages, I read on Day 2 to fill in your planner. I laughed because I do that literally at midnight on the first. When yesterday arrived, and I actually read day 2, I discovered that in addition to filliing in my calendar, there was a surprise suggestion that I thought was wonderful, and so I did that yesterday. My point is, even the most mundane, seemingly routine thing can surprise you.

Grace by Max Lucado – another daily prayer book with prayers for both the morning and the evening. The version I have has room for a few lines of journaling. I have such a hard time writing in books that I usually just read this one. It is still filled with inspiration and time for mindfulness.
The Word Among Us – this is a worship aid that my church gives out every month. It lists all the daily prayers, and has a few articles for the cover topic that are usually very interesting. I have had a digital subscription for about three years now, and I enjoy it very  much. Since I would take the paper copy from my church, I thought this was a way to go paperless.

Give Us This Day – Similar to The Word Among Us. This has a daily reflection as well as a daily introduction to a person of faith. There is also an app that can be used to read your subscription. I’m trying out the first thirty days free for this month to see how it fits into my other meditations.

The Writer – This is my professional go-to, and the only writing magazine that I subscribe to. Like the planner below, it has taken me years to figure out what works, and this magazine is the most comprehensive, covering every writing topic imaginable and of use.

Mead Day Planner – this link take you directly to Mead’s website. The photo is similar to the planner that I have and have been using for a couple of years now. I got mine at Target. I use the monthly for whatever needs to be on my calendar, and I use the weekly for writing and blog planning. It’s taken me years to figure out this system and discover that it works for me.

[Editor’s Note: When I’m including links, I usually will use Amazon, mainly because I use them for most of my online shopping. I receive no compensation from them. That is true of all recommendations unless otherwise stated.]

52/52 – Looking Forward to 2018

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​What am I looking for in the new year?

More tea, more candles, more writing. More quiet time for mindfulness.

One of my pet peeves for myself is constantly on the lookout for a new calendar even while I’m already using a new calendar. I am never satisfied with the planner that I have. Except for 2016. That was the first planner that I used for all twelve months. I’m going to try again this year. I’ve got a different design, but the same exact style, size, and binding, so I have high hopes. I use the monthly section for important dates, you know, like a calendar, and I use the weekly pages for planning my website, blog, and writing.

So, that’s first. Next Monday, I will spend most of my day filling in all of the dates that I’ve been listing in a notebook plus birthdays and retreats.

Once again, as I am wont to do, I’m going to add some weekly topics, perhaps a monthly theme tied into a weekly series. I like to find what people find interesting and enjoyable. Or even worthy of discourse. All suggestions welcome. 

One of the things that I discover after every major liturgical season is how much I miss the daily devotional books. I’m currently reading the one for Advent and Christmas, and I enjoy the daily thoughts that I can meditate on, whether they affect my prayer life or my writing life; both are really balanced against the other, and interchangeable. Interconnected. Unfortunately, that book will end with the Baptism of the Lord (January 8th).

My husband bought me the best, most thoughtful Christmas present. It is a weekly prayer journal. There is a short reading, a Scripture, and a space to jot down thoughts. I always think that I want to do this daily, but that is usually too overwhelming and forced. This weekly format seems perfect. It’s also a personal test for me since I am always hesitant to write directly into a journal like this – I will usually do the exercises on a separate paper or notebook so the original remains perfect. That is so not the objective, but I’m trying.

I also discovered a book offer in my emails for daily reflecting and exercises. 365 Health and Happiness Boosters Kindle Edition by M.J. Ryan. I’m going into it with a reasonable expectation to only do what I choose to do. I’ll read it daily, and see how it and I feel.

In building my own program of mindfulness or whatever the kids are calling it these days, I am seriously contemplating writing a yearly format book. I know it sounds braggadocios to say, but often I like parts of several books, and can’t find one that works best for me, and think that I could do it better. I know there are others who’ve mentioned this to me as well. That was the feeling I had when I created and published my original travel organizer.

I’d like to get back in the custom of attending the daily 9am mass, barring any weather or work-related conflicts. In doing so, I’d also like to stay for those rosary prayers as well.

Spend less money.

Cook more.

Express myself better, especially politically.

Teach a writing class.

Join a board of education committee.

Stay ahead with a writing schedule and putting together a quarterly editorial calendar. I’ve tried this before, but what I’ve been doing the last few weeks seems on the whole to be working – planning, writing, scheduling those posts and writing others. Keep better track of my published pieces and word counts.

Work on my Wales book.

Outline my House book.

Do good. Be good.

Be kind. Create art.

Give myself a mantra. (Those are already taken.)

Holiday Traditions and Change

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​Everyone has family traditions that they follow throughout the year, but none more than on those special holidays. I’ve written about some of our family’s traditions, some that have come from my family and some from my husband’s family as well as the ones we’ve begun ourselves.

For Thanksgiving, we’ve adopted my family’s sweet potato pie. I don’t always make pie, sometimes I make a casserole. It had already been changed from the original recipe that I received from my friend in New Orleans by eating it as a side dish. My mother could never fathom it as a dessert. She wasn’t much of a pumpkin pie eater either; more coconut custard or cheesecake.

My husband’s mother was born and raised in Northern Ireland. She brought many of her Christmas traditions to her family including a roast dinner for Christmas dinner and the most amazing trifle, which I find impossible to replicate, so I choose not to.

When we began to have Christmas at our own house with our immediate family, my husband was insistent that we follow his familiy’s traditions to the letter. This includes Chinese take-out for Christmas Eve dinner, Dunkin’ Donuts for Christmas breakfast before we open our gifts, and roast beef and mashed for Christmas dinner. Since I had grown up Jewish, we didn’t have any Christmas tradition conflicts. After my conversion, I attend mass and events at my parish, but those are usually not in conflict with what we’re planning at home.

We’ve added our own like the gift of pjs on Christmas Eve night for all the kids, baking cookies for Santa, and watching the Doctor Who Christmas special.

In between all of that, I attend the masses, the Advent reconciliation prayer service, and the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a wonderful musical event that my parish holds every year.

Having every year flow in nearly the same way with only a few differences is comforting. It’s how we build the family and let the kids see what and who is important at the holidays.

Things change as the kids get older and want to spend time with their friends, girl- and boy-friends; they have jobs and have to juggle days off, and the like.

That is our challenge this year. My oldest son is an EMT, and he is working Christmas Day. He is working from 6am until midnight on Christmas Day. After some now-what-panic, i jumped into mom mode, and rearranged all of our days so we will still have our family holidays time, simply by moving everything up by one day. After the regular Vigil Mass on Saturday, we’ll have our Christmas Eve Chinese take-out, and make sure all the gifts are under the tree. We’ll wake up Sunday morning, and open our presents all together. Unfortunately for the kids, Santa doesn’t rearrange his schedule so they’ll have to wait for him to come on Monday morning, which is a bonus for we parents who can make the kids go to sleep early. Sneaky, IO know. Monday morning, my son will see if Santa filled his stocking before he heads out to a full day of work, and I will go to Christmas Day Mass that I usually miss in favor of the Christmas Vigil.

We all have our holiday challenges. This is a good reminder to everyone that as long as you’re with the ones you love, it will all work out in the end. It isn’t just the thought that counts; it’s the people.

Yr Hen Galan

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I mentioned yesterday about the plethora of New Years that I observed and set goals for in the past few months with the Chinese New Year coming in just a couple of more weeks.

Little did I know that I was forgetting one: the Welsh New Year or Hen Galan.

I discovered on Facebook that it began with the switch to the Gregorian calendar and it was yesterday! As I wrote and posted, I had no idea that I’d missed one!

Some more reading: New Year’s Traditions in  Wales

If we keep our eyes and ears open, we learn something new each day.

New Year, New You?

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​It’s not just about breaking bad habits or starting an exercise regiment. Don’t forget to nourish your soul and your spirit. That can mean spiritually, which can refer to a deeper religious mindfulness or it can be secular – something to keep your mind and body in balance as you tackle new things this new year.

For all of us, this will be a challenging year because of the new US presidential administration, regardless of who you voted for. This post is not meant to be political, but it is certainly a factor in many people’s lives. I would recommend to everyone reading this to get on your cable or dish network’s version of On Demand and watch the most recent black-ish episode entitled Lemons. It really does give a good look into what people of all backgrounds are feeling, and may help some of us who don’t understand the anxiety and fright to understand it a little bit better. It’s not even about changing minds; it’s about empathy and continued discussion.

For some of us, this is also our third new year since summer ended. Back in September and October was the Jewish New Year, and at the end of November when Advent began was the Catholic New Year and the beginning of the liturgical calendar and of course, we’ve just celebrated a global new year on January 1st. Coming up on January 28th is the Chinese New Year, celebrated by many Asian countries as well as in places like the US, Canada, and the UK where Asians live in greater numbers.

I’ve actually used each of the three previous new years to set goals and then reevaluate them when the next new year approaches. I find that setting three or six month goals, or a combination of both is a good way to not only stay on track, but also a good way to not burn myself out with too much new activity and change all at once. Another good reason is instead of just giving up on resolutions that didn’t work out too well or were to much at the start, we can reflect on what went wrong, what went right, and how do we continue down the path of change or sameness and adjust our goals accordingly.

Some suggestions that I’ve used in the past (or have been recently suggested):

1. JournalingWords, Art or both. Simple journaling can be a list of what you’ve done for the day, a list of goals and how they worked out, bullet journaling for those of us that are not into lengthy writing.

2. Jars to keep track of the good things throughout the year. I did this one year, and I loved reading all the good from the year before on New Year’s Eve.

3. Wish Jar. What are some of the things you want this year? Did you get them done?

4. Prompt jar. This is great for writers or artists who sometimes need a pick me up. It’s a good idea to drop some of our extra ideas into this jar for those dry times. We all know feast or famine.

5. Surprise Me Jar. Take a walk. Go out for coffee or tea. Go to the park with your camera. We all need spontaneity, but not all of us are spontaneous. This can often help.

6. Quotation Jar or Pouch. When you see or hear a good quotation or get a good fortune cookie, drop it into the jar or pouch and when you’re not in a good space or need a little motivating help, choose one randomly and read it. You can also use this opportunity to write about it, Instagram it, draw it, or photograph it. I was wary of Instagram, but I find that I enjoy its central visuality a lot more than I expected to. I use it nearly every day and then find a way to share those visuals here.

7. Once-a-Months. Once a month, randomly or scheduled, do something you normally don’t do. My family reads comic books, but I don’t. A few months ago, I picked up The Rough Riders. It was something different, and I enjoyed it. If you’re not an outdoors person, try a nature walk or go to a local park that’s still close to civilization. A third suggestion would be for the church-goers. If you only worship in a formal setting, look up local shrines or other religious places in your area that you’ve never been to and sit quietly, meditate, pray a rosary or something that fits into your life.

Last year, my husband proclaimed TSNTry Something New, and he and we did. It was different and we kept open minds about each other’s hobbies and interests.

TSN.