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Holiday Simplicity December 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Life Balance, Special Events.
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56 comments

After reading Simplify Your Life in 1997, we stopped stressing over the holidays.  We do what we enjoy doing, and don’t do stuff that feels like a chore.  We’ve decided Less is More.

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We do not spend hours putting up a BIG tree or untangling lights.

We have a tabletop tree that we store decorated with favorite ornaments ~ many handmade. It’s good to go in about 15 minutes.

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Other decorations collected over the years (Santas, Reindeer, Elves) go from boxes to shelves in about 60 minutes.

When our nieces and nephews were tiny toddlers, I gifted Santas to them (which helped keep our decorations in check).

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Instead of shopping ’til we’re dropping, we send cheery cards and college checks to nieces and nephews, and consumables (food, wine, snacks, books) to family and friends.

BFF and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts with each other. Instead, we spend time creating experiential memories together.

Ignoring the call of the mall leaves us with time and energy to enjoy local Holiday Offerings . . . like the Candy Cane Crawl, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, and PIZZA on Pine Avenue.

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We stopped sending Christmas Cards to everyone we’ve ever known in every place we’ve ever lived or worked (NJ, VA, SC, NC, MD, and here).

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Culling the list from 250+ people we barely remember to those we genuinely care about and want to see again is a HUGE time saver each December.

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Which gives us a chance to enjoy Choirs of Angels in Santa Hats.

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Once they get situated with their hats on straight.

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A new tradition this year ~> collecting and gathering spare change to toss into the big red buckets manned by ubiquitous bell ringers.

Together with our cheery HO~HO~HO!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

What are your favorite traditions? Which ones could you do without?

My Top 5 Tips For Holiday Sanity December 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Special Events.
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43 comments

Janna wrote a post, Holiday Survival Discovery:  They Don’t Call Me Bonnie (And I Don’t Know Clyde).  After sharing her Survival Discovery, Janna asked us to share our secrets to Holiday Sanity:

Do you have any secrets (legal or not) for making it through the holidays?  I love this time of year, so I don’t usually get too stressed… but it doesn’t hurt to keep ideas on hand!

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Holiday Sanity:

1. Live where it’s WARM so you don’t have to maneuver over or around snow banks or worry about icicles lurking overhead.

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2. Steer clear of the mall from Thanksgiving to Christmas . . . unless you just want to wander around and admire the decorations.

3. Buy most/all gifts at the Grocery Store . . . everyone needs to eat.  Focus on the 4 main food groups ~> Salty, Crunchy, Sweet, and C~H~O~C~O~L~A~T~E!

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4. Get plenty of exercise to alleviate stress and maintain balance.

5. Laugh at any insanity that slips into the mix.  It will.  That’s a given.

Aah . . . that’s better!

A Bolt of Lightning December 8, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance.
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88 comments

2014-11-30 13-50-44_0013Joan flipped through sales flyers for the mall, planning her attack for Black Friday.  The front door slammed with insistence.

“M-O-M!  Christmas is ruined!”

“What?”

“The mall exploded!  It got hit by lightning and a generator blew up. It’s closed until January.”

“January?”

“Yes!  Christmas is ruined!”

“Calm down . . . there’s always Cyber Monday.”

“Ugh.  I hate on-line shopping.  No pushing.  No shoving.  No lines.”

Joan smiled at her daughter.  “And worst of all . . . no food court!”

Cathy collapsed into a chair.  “I’m going to go into serious sugar withdrawal without my weekly Cinnabon!”

Tossing the flyers into recycling, Joan stood.  “Don’t worry.  We’ll think of something.”

Joan found her husband tinkering at his workbench. “Paul, the mall has closed in a puff of smoke.”

“So I heard.”

“You did?”

“Yup.  I heard Cathy’s concerns about Christmas and Cinnabons loud and clear.”

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“What are we going to do?”

“About?”

“Are you daft?  Shopping.  Gifts. Christmas.  Ringing any bells?”

Paul caught Joan’s gaze. “Let’s make hand-made gifts.”

“You have sawdust for brains.”

“Hear me out.  Instead of poring over flyers, hunting for parking spots, and lugging piles of stuff home, let’s create gifts from the heart.  I’ll make wooden trains, planes, and puzzles for the kids. And a pipe rack for your dad.”

“What about me?”

“Your friends would love your homemade fudge or toffee . . . or one of your famous Grand Marnier cakes. You could make your mom that wreath she’s wanted.”

Warming to the idea, Joan returned to the kitchen and grabbed her recipe file.

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Soon delicious aromas circulated, mingling with carols.  As fragrant cakes baked, Joan created a starfish and sand dollar wreath for her mom, scented candles for her sister, and an afghan for Cathy.

Paul spent hours in his workshop emulating Santa’s elves.  Sawdust flying.

Cathy mastered the art of the Cinnabon.

Instead of waiting for the Big Day, Joan, Paul, and Cathy delivered treats to delighted friends throughout December.

Christmas morning, Cathy served fresh home-baked Cinnabons to her parents and grandparents.

Between bites, Joan grinned at Paul, “Hey, sawdust for brains! That was some bolt of lightning.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Written for Susanna’s 4th Annual Holiday Contest.  Entries accepted through 12/12.  Complete rules and other Merry & Bright Submissions ~> HERE.

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Joan’s famous Grand Marnier Bundt Cake:

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and mix well, about 5 minutes, with an electric mixer or whisk.  Pour into a well-greased and floured fluted Bundt pan (or 10-inch tube pan).  Bake in pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 50 minutes.  

OPTIONAL: Drizzle with Grand Marnier glaze or sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.  NOTE:  Cake Freezes well before topping.

I Am December 7, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Life Balance.
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46 comments

Tom Shadyak, director of Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Evan Almighty, Liar Liar, Patch Adams, and other films sustained a broken arm and a concussion in a biking accident in 2007.

Despondent over the side effects of the concussion, he thought about death and, from there, began to ask what he wanted to share with the world before he died.

From those questions, he chose his next project.

In I AM, Shadyac asks some of today’s most profound thinkers, two questions:

* What’s wrong with our world?
* What can we do about it?

Several interviews touched upon the view that excess consumption and consumerism is a form of mental illness resulting from social conditioning which values competition more than cooperation.

In order to simplify his life, Tom sold his 17,000 square foot mansion and moved to a mobile home park in Malibu.

He rides a bike to work.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Speaking of I Am ~> today I Am over at Lively Twist as part of Timi’s series Did We Do Any Learning [3].

You may also be interested in Learning [1] and/or Learning [2].

Performance Art Open To Interpretation December 5, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Humor, Life Balance, Special Events.
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34 comments

The Ringling Museum invited us to watch Li Wei in action:

Bring your own camera and prepare to be shocked by Li Wei’s unexpected stunning performance! Li Wei is coming to The Ringling Museum to offer a fresh take on his conceptual photography in front of Ca’ d’Zan and behind the Museum of Art Courtyard. Li’s work often features gravity-defying activities mixing performance and installation, with photography. 

We went, expecting to see something like this:

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Instead, we arrived to see this:

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Suspended from steel cables, Chinese Artist Li Wei hung in the air.

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Dragon head in front and kite tail streaming behind.

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The audience watched, wondering why Wei needed an audience.

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The cables and cranes were doing all the heavy lifting. Li Wei was just hanging around, setting off an occasional flare to emit pink dragon smoke into the air.

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Bored, the audience wandered off, in search of acrobatic fare and flair.

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We went with them.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

The Royal Flush November 17, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
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33 comments

zen stonesWhen people blithely say, “Everything happens for a reason,” I don’t necessarily agree.

That said, more often than not, when I look back at “negative” events, I see that some good comes out of almost everything. That makes it easier to deal with the next curve ball or senseless happening.

Hand-rolling-diceOther times, I just shrug my shoulders when asked, “What’s the point?”

Because maybe there is No Point.  Maybe it’s just a crap shoot and it’s up to us to make the most of the cards we’ve been dealt or the next roll of the dice.

Yup, maybe it’s all a crap shoot, and some just get The Royal Flush.

Aah . . . that’s better!

“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” ~ Forest Gump

Related posts:  When Life Goes Awry

Until The Worm Turns November 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Humor, Life Balance, Nature.
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25 comments

Weather and its aberrations, permutations, and precipitations formed part and parcel of many of my grandfather’s missives:

Mickey-Lounging

* 12/29/57 ~  “There is still a world without snow up here.  So mild it almost spoils going to Florida.”

* 7/20/58 ~ “We expect Frank and Margaret to come today and Webb and Pete. It was to be a picnic at Summers Falls but it is so cool I wonder if we may not eat here at the house. It is cold much of the time. We almost needed a fire today.”

* 1/16/59 ~ “It is icy today on the roads.  The cream truck rolled over on Clifford Best’s hill.  School did not keep because of the roads.”

* 2/19/59 ~  “This is our coldest morning.  It was 60 degrees in our rooms this morning and the windows are well frosted.  It must be 30 below.  I’d rather be in Florida.”

* 12/29/63 ~ “It is cold tonight.  Down to ZERO at 4:30 P.M. by the new thermometer.  I was out just now and decided it wasn’t lying.

* 5/7/67 ~ “It was 29 degrees this morning with a white frost showing when we got up.  I find time to run up to Hanover to see how stocks are doing. The blue chips are doing better, so, so am I.  I mowed the front part of the lawn just now.  It is cold though and I needed mittens. Some lawn weather!

Goofy-Under-An-Umbrella* 5/26/67 ~ “I still have some gardening to do here and at Rae’s.  It is a very late Spring.  It is a gloomy day today with rain.  Yesterday there was 5 inches of snow in Montpelier ~ none in Hartland.  Just rain and cold rain.

It should warm up sometime.

And it did . . . 3 weeks later:

Mickey-In-Hammock* 6/17/67 ~ “We are in the midst of a hot spell, 85 and 90, on the outside in the shade.  We almost went to the Cape this weekend but Margaret thought it was too hot to go so here we are.

We have talked some of a trip to the Expo 67 but that is still on ice.  I have picked 1 berry.  They are very late.”

* 4/18/73 ~ “We have been having bare ground for some time but today the worm turned. It gave us a snow and blow. Only 5 inches but a nasty day.”

* 1/19/75 ~ “There was a foot of snow in the drive. It was heavy and took about an hour to clear. It is all done and I am resting while the coal makes dust and the wood snaps in the kitchen stove.

Mickey-Surfer* 4/1/76 ~ “The brook!  It is 50 ft. wide under the kitchen window and probably 3 feet deep.  Quite a river.  The cat is well!  He chases wind blown leaves and is real frisky.  Rae is 93, April 26.  We got up at 6 o’clock yesterday and today.  No time to waste.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

 

A Change Would Do You Good November 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Music & Dance.
Tags: , , ,
46 comments

Take a minute to look around your life.

What’s working?  What needs fine tuning?  What would benefit from a complete overhaul?

* Maybe you have the perfect job, but your finances or relationships are in shambles.

* Maybe you have hobbies you enjoy, but you never find time to enjoy them.

* Maybe your life is picture perfect, except for a job that is sucking the life out of you week after week.

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. ~ J. Pierpont Morgan

Once you know where you are, think about where you want to go.  List a few tweaks and fixes needed to move you closer to living the life of your dreams:

* Get finances in order
* Have More FUN!!!!
* Find a new job in an inspiring field
* Learn to cook healthier meals

Once you’ve identified a few items in need of fine tuning, create an action plan for making the transformation from where you are to where you want to be.

* If you choose to focus on your finances, some actions steps might be:  calculate net worth, record every expenditure for a month, set up a budget, balance the checkbook, cut up credit cards, stop buying shoes, bring lunch to work, no more take out coffee, research tips on money management, open up a savings account, start an IRA, etc.

* If you desire to have more fun, some action steps might be:  call a friend and invite them for dinner, buy a book you’ve always wanted to read, check out the paper for current shows and exhibits, sign up for a pottery class at the local community college, spend 30 minutes a day pursuing a favorite hobby, audition for the local play, go to the park and swing on the swings, limit TV time, etc.

* If you decide to focus on switching careers, some action steps might be: do an on-line search of jobs in fields of interest, update resume, attend a job fair, contact alumni services about placement assistance, etc.

IMGP3562b* If you want to learn to cook healthier meals, some action steps might be:  search recipes on line, find a cooking blog to follow, look through cookbooks for healthier recipes, research nutritional guidelines, visit a farmer’s market, create menus featuring fruits and veggies, ask friends for favorite recipes, etc.

Now that you’ve got some action steps identified, pick one and do it.  Don’t worry about which one to pick first.  Just pick one and do it.

Then pick another action step and do it.  Then another.  And another.

As you start moving from where you are to where you want to be, keep your eyes and ears open to winks, whispers, and nudges from the Universe.  If something appears on your radar screen, add it to your list of action steps:

* Call Sally and ask her for the recipe for stuffed zucchini.
* Ask George how he paid off his credit card debt.
* Call last employer and see if he’ll act as a reference.

As you focus on where you are and where you want to be, don’t worry about what you wanted out of life 20 years ago.

What do you want right NOW?

And don’t worry about what others want you to do.  What do YOU want to do?

The more we look within for guidance about what we want, the more clarity we gain about who we are.

And once we know who we are TODAY, we no longer need to analyze who we were YESTERDAY.

Step by step, the  past loosens its hold on us.

By embracing this moment, we find that we no longer need to rewrite or overcome the past to move forward in life.

All we have to do is let it go.

Aah . . . that’s better!

If you’re not actively involved in getting what you want, you don’t really want it.

Action is the antidote to dis-ease.

Why You May Never See Me Cry November 11, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness, People.
Tags: , , , ,
52 comments

I do not like crying in front of other people . . .

It’s not because I’m afraid of what THEY might think of me.

It’s because I don’t want to have to deal with THEM and THEIR reaction to my tears.

I just want to cry in peace.  To be alone with my sadness.

I do not like crying in front of other people . . .

It’s not because I’m afraid to reveal the real me.

NOT crying in front of them is the REAL ME being the REAL ME.

It’s part of who I am at the core.

Aah . . . that’s better!

“When someone is crying, of course, the noble thing to do is to comfort them. But if someone is trying to hide their tears, it may also be noble to pretend you do not notice them.” ~ Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

“Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” ~ Carl Sandburg

Quaint Colloquialisms November 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Humor, Life Balance, Life Lessons, Word Play.
Tags: , , ,
33 comments

Pooh-With-MailbagAs I read through my grandfather’s letters, his occasional turn of phrase made me grin.

For example, instead of calling someone a jerk (or worse), you might point out that they are “trying to be a bit odd” . . .

* 12/4/55 ~ Following his retirement from post office after 30+ years of service, my grandfather shared:

I am having some little fuss over the records but feel it can be cleaned up. Both Tim and Armond are trying to be a bit odd.

I bought a 160# quarter of beef. Have it hanging down stairs. I hope we continue to eat anyway.

As a pragmatist, my grandfather obviously felt that if you didn’t starve, you were doing alright.  Here’s another example along the same lines:

* 1/1/57 ~ “I read The Bible As History and a notorious new book with a local background across the river from White River ~ Peyton Place.  The author’s husband lost his teaching job in a N.H. High School over the book.  He got another job and did not starve.”

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And he dished up some good dope:

* 9/14/57 ~ “About the weekend of 25-26: I want to give you some dope on that.

* 11/26/61 ~ “So life goes on and it is foolish to brood over the mistakes we made.”

* 9/20/62 ~ “Don’t work too hard. I don’t if I can dodge it.”

He was happy to be needed . . . or not:

* 7/22/66 ~ “Margaret has gone slumming.  An Art Exhibit in Hanover and some shopping.  I did not seem necessary ~ happily.

Aah . . . that’s better!

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