Groceries: the BIG FUN job

Saturday morning. Quickly-quickly, before it gets to noon…! I’ll have to try prepare these posts in advance, Saturday mornings are the leisure part of our week (before it gets busy again towards noon, which is where I’m heading now…)

We do grocery shopping and laundry and fix things and other house stuff on Saturdays. It’s a good time to do this, I find. During the years, we’ve had one possible activity scheduled for the kids in the afternoon, though we’ve tried to avoid it in the early years as they’re more likely to be invited to birthday parties at this time. Talking about organizing your life so you stay (pretty much) on top of things?

Let’s talk about that grocery list today. Ideally, you’d shop for the whole week. That doesn’t exactly work as fantastic as it sounds in larger families if you don’t have two fridges or a separate freezer – and we don’t. We mostly cook from scratch, and I‘m mostly the one who does the cooking (almost daily; I know, but you get used to it), so I need to first do another list of possible dishes to cook in the following week. I have a friend who’s a dedicated working mother – and when I say “dedicated”, it’s in all respects. She has two altars she constantly dies on: work during the day, home during the night and weekends. To keep up with everything, on Saturdays she cooks for the entire following week. I could NEVER do that, it’s too depressing. But hey, if it works for you, go ahead and try it. I’ve adapted this by having a (tentative) idea of what I’ll be feeding my gang weekly.

My cooking list is usually 8 or 9 items long and it includes the daily dinners for the next six evenings and some loose thoughts on lunches or snacks, depending on the time of the year (school-time or summer vacation). I’ve developed an array of dishes which are easy and quick to make, need only a few ingredients and feed tons of people, plus leftovers for next day lunch bags. True that the bulk of these dishes come from the Romanian cuisine, which I’ve been brought up with and might sound strange to anybody who’s not Eastern European or Mediterranean – but you can always adapt it to the cuisine you know and love best. One of the dishes is necessarily some soup – why? Most complicated thing about it is the chopping – other than that, you just put everything in a pot and let it boil until ready. I’ll continue to post recipes on my Wednesday series.

Here’s a possible cooking list for the week:

Chicken and yellow beans (the Greeks call it fasolakia, same thing)

Fish (oven) + corn and peas (boiled)

Pasta with meat/mushrooms/peppers

Pizza

Chicken soup with vegetables and dumplings

Baked potatoes/ hummus/green salad/tomatoes etc. (vegan)

Munchies, snack bars, deli & cheeses for sandwiches

Banana bread / some kind of sweet pie………

Sometimes, I get ready-made dinners – once a month is no big deal, even for healthy-living crazed people. Or we get take out. Or I feel like trying Turkish recipes or Thai or fancy French ones like coq-au-vin (which is really a variation of a Romanian similar recipe, only we use white wine whereas the French use red). Once you start cooking, you get the hang of it and you can vary stuff. The idea is to get to the point when you don’t worry. You cook with whatever is in the fridge (and a little extra, which might require a trip to the store in the middle of the week). Which brings me to the REALLY fun part of doing the groceries!

My husband insists he does the Saturday shopping. He asks for my list, completes it with one or two things he likes, and then sticks to it almost religiously. Like most men, he has little imagination, (mildly) forgets about replenishing kitchen supplies like salt, oil, napkins and the like, plus he does. not. do. the. cooking. (he insists he cooks as much as I do. Sure.) He’s been annoyed for years that by next Wednesday (or some other aleatory day) I do a second (might I say, light) round of groceries. We disagree, obviously. He constantly bugs me about dropping that habit – and why on earth, why can’t I just stick to the list if I come along shopping with him? (does this resonate with any other women?)

So one time, it was I who got so annoyed with him that I let him cook with whatever he bought. Not just that Saturday night, but FOR SOME TIME afterwards. Guess what happened. That Saturday he did some barbecue, nice, he’s good at that. Sunday afternoon, I had to go out running some errands, and asked before I left the house: “so what’s for dinner tonight, honey?” He looked at me aslant and said: “it’s OK, I got it.” I get back home two hours later to find him cooking lasagna (a favourite of his, I never cook lasagna, his is perfect). “Lasagna?” I say with laughter in my voice. “I don’t recall you getting minced meat yesterday.” “I went to the shop and bought some.” he says, avoiding my gaze. “Oh.” I burst out laughing. “It didn’t last you till Wednesday.” He makes himself busy. Funny, right? Lasagna was great that night and it lasted, you got it, for another night. Surprise, surprise, on Tuesday night there was no more. “And what’s for dinner, darling?” Oops. “Err… we have stuff in the fridge.” Right. Sandwiches. We also had some pasta and cheese three nights later.

We lasted like this for about two weeks. The kids started to beg: “moooom, stop this… when are you gonna cook again?” I looked at the love of my life and raised my eyebrows. His lips were pretty tight closed. Ever since, he hasn’t commented much on either the grocery list, my mid-week second round of shopping or my cooking. Getting organized and sticking to a point is working in all respects, trust me. Just find your own way to do it.

Happy Saturday!

Time for a Treat

Thursday morning. Man, it’s the middle of the week. Bad news: work is still there and won’t go away by the weekend (worse than bad news: you don’t have a job; keep reading and hopefully you’ll find some helpful ideas below). Good news: you can take a break any time to recharge your batteries. And what better time than today!

Today you’re gonna GO OUT and have coffee, tea or lunch. With or without a friend. Preferably “with” – a friend who’ll have coffee with you at any time really cares for you and…

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(yes, this is my photo of a sewing kit I bought and I intend to sew this little thing – will post it when ready)

But maybe you are a loner and you don’t have friends (yet! – you’ll make some in due time, plus see picture above). That’s OK, you have a date with your best “friend” then: YOU.

You’re gonna dress nicely for this, even if you go to the cheapest place in town. Why? You respect yourself, you respect your audience, friends, family etc. It all starts with you. Even Jesus Christ gave us the command as such: “Love your neighbour like yourself.” Well, if you don’t love yourself, you can’t really love someone else. Makes sense? That coffee you’re gonna have will make YOU feel good first and foremost, whether you’re helping yourself or others. Get that?

So start with putting on your best comfortable clothes and shoes. Open the door and go straight to that shop and try spot a table by the window or by the fireplace or in a nook. It’s part of treating yourself. Enjoy every sip. This is not the time to start dieting (by the way, any diet sucks – if it’s not attached to a doctor’s prescription or to a healthy and balanced pattern of fasting, don’t inflict it on yourself. I’ll write a separate posting about fasting, promise.)

Talk to your friend or to your self. Take that half an hour or more to focus on positive things. It’s OK if you need to cry and be comforted, just try not leave the table on a sad or angry note. Think of something good for that last sip.

Worst case scenario: you’re totally miserable, you don’t have any friends, you don’t have any money, your best clothes are mostly rags. OK. All it takes is your will power. Do you wanna feel better? Here’s what you do: You put on your best rags. You take a look at that Monday mirror and see that you’re enough the way you are. You get out of your current physical environment and step into a coffee shop and ask for a glass of water and sit by any available window for 10 minutes. Think about the good stuff in your life, anytime, anywhere. There must be something, dig deep into your memory and let the good bits resurface. If a bad memory tries to take over, push it aside gently saying: “I don’t need you right now.” You do this exercise as often as you can (think of), and in a short time you’ll feel better, more confident, richer and more sociable. Stick to it, baby. It’s called the discipline of feeling good.

In any of these instances, appreciate you took the time to dress up and go out because you deserve it.

Happy Thursday!

 

Good Stuff

Wednesday morning. Well, more like lunch time now as I’m posting this, as I was too tired last night to write this and schedule it for posting in the morning. But the timing is good and here’s why: this post is about food!

Remember Monday you took care of your self. Tuesday you walked a bit to exercise your muscles. Now it’s time for some good food and whether you are a cook or not, you are going to try making this from scratch. The only thing you can complain about is it takes 10 minutes to make, otherwise it has only advantages: it’s good and healthy, it doesn’t have any food additives because it tastes excellent on its own, plus you know exactly what’s in it, it’s easy and beautiful to look at, it’s cheaper than processed food. It’s also pure vegan or you can have it as a side dish with meat or eggs or cheeses. You can have it for lunch or serve it at a party as an amuse-bouche (appetizer in English – I like the French term because it is a great description of the function this food fulfills: it amuses the mouth – and the eyes!)

So grab the following:

One pepper of each colour you can think of and/or find it in the store: red, orange, yellow, green should do the trick.

A few types of olives: green, black, mauve, spicy or not, depends on your personal taste.

Some cloves of garlic.

Olive oil (or any other kind)

Some fresh herbs: Best is rosemary leaves, it also works with marjoram, thyme, sage.

Now chop the peppers and the garlic in big chunks, they’re tastier this way.

Get a pan, heat it up a bit and pour the oil in it. Add the chopped peppers and garlic. Fry for a few minutes until the skin of peppers looks soaked. Add olives and rosemary and fry for another minute or two. Ta-da!! Ready. Add salt or not.

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The trick with cooking is to not be afraid to taste stuff as you make it. That’s how you know what it still needs. Tell me you made it. Tell me I’m helping with turning you into a courageous cook. Or don’t tell me a thing, just do it.

You owe this to yourself. You need good food. Enjoy!

Happy Wednesday!

 

Walk the Talk

Tuesday morning. Time to do some body exercise.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep to a gymnastics schedule. People who know me in real life would be surprised, they will most likely think of me as a disciplined person as I manage to achieve quite a lot throughout the day, month, years. But I’m not exactly disciplined. Even Qi Gong – which I have discovered a few years ago – I do every now and then, when my organs inside hurt. Running for running sake makes no sense, I don’t need to lose calories. So I walk.

You wanna get out of depression, do some mild work out too along with thinking better of your self. I started walking last fall as a means to begin the day on a positive tone. I decided that after I see my little one to the school bus, I could go around a few streets in my neighbourhood before I have breakfast. My walk takes about 25 minutes, it’s always the same route, and I do it as often as I can (talk about strict discipline! but hey, I’m trying, see?) I love my neighbourhood, it reminds me of the one I grew up in, not in the architectural style of the houses but in the friendly atmosphere it exudes.

We live on top of a hill whose streets are lined with postwar small houses built in the mid-sixties. They may not look spectacular to some, but I like the ownership pride they show. They are so well taken care of, it gives you confidence in the solid little details which make a good life.

Some are detached bungalows or two-storeys.

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Other are split houses (the ones which have the living/dining/kitchen combo half-way between two floors making the bedroom-garage wing).

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There are also the undefined ones which look like two storey, when in fact they have an elevated main floor (a sort of Italian piano nobile – no wonder, there are many Italians in the area!) over a lower floor with bedrooms and the garage.

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As I’ve been walking by these houses almost daily, their presence has faded in the background and gave way to the seasonal details of their gardens. And so one split came alive with the flame of its yellow maple tree…

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… another one with an “ever-green” which turned golden too…

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… then you’d have pure fire coming right at you…

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…or burning your feet…

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…or just splashes of colour…

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…and weird reminders that as some die, others are born…

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And so it went, from fall into spring – admittedly, we had a lousy winter this one so I didn’t take many pictures as I wasn’t out much (yep, laziness – no, let’s call it by its nicer name “coziness” made a mess of my discipline). But hey, one Tuesday morning, as I was saying, I got back on the road and here’s what I saw:

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Some people even got their beauties out…

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… and the magnolias were simply irresistible!

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SO… what I want you to do is this: get out of the house. Just do it. If you’re somewhere in the northern hemisphere, right now chances are the weather is cooperating. (I hear it’s nice in the southern hemisphere, never been there – you figure it out and let me know.) It may be sunny or not. Get an umbrella or a jacket if it rains. Or walk out and sing in the rain as you are. Rain boots maybe? They are great ’cause you can jump into puddles – and why wouldn’t you? Be a kid. Have you noticed how happy water makes kids? It’s a miracle. You wouldn’t live three days without water, appreciate it, love it. Go out and enjoy every step, even for 5 minutes. And if it’s sunny, you really don’t have any excuse. Step out, walk, close your eyes and let the rays warm your face and soul.

Then come back inside and make yourself a tea or a coffee. You deserve it.

Happy Tuesday!

Mirror Words

Monday morning. Wake up. Grab a marker, the bigger the tip the better.

Find a mirror. Check bathroom. There must be a mirror there. Or back in the bedroom, or in the wardrobe. Hallway is OK too. Wherever. Just find a mirror. Don’t look into it just yet.

While in front of the mirror, close your eyes and do a mental check for a word which defines your self. Preferably a positive word: kind, beautiful, smart, patient, good, witty, funny… It’s OK if it’s not positive.

Now open your eyes and write this on the mirror: I AM [word]

I am kind.

I am beautiful.

I am smart.

I am patient.

I am good.

I am witty.

I am funny.

If your word is not exactly positive and inspiring, write it on the mirror anyway, then cross it with a line and write instead: who I am.

Such as:

I am dumb who I am

I am angry who I am

I am fat who I am

I am lazy who I am

I am anxiety-full who I am

I am unlovable who I am
Under this first sentence write the second: I am enough.

And then the third: I am loved.

Now go start your day.  Next time you look yourself in the mirror, you’ll see a human being with qualities and flaws and courage to keep going. Each time you’ll see that human being, your good beautiful kind smart part will conquer ground. We all need that throughout the week, which is why this is a good exercise for Monday.

You really are beautiful the way you are, in every cell. Believe it and you’ll win the hardest game there is: that of changing your self for the better.

Happy Monday!

For you

I love you.

Don’t jump so, I know you don’t believe me. You’ve been beaten and terrorized and told you’re no good, why would you believe anybody telling or treating you differently?

Whatever you did, it was not enough, it was never enough. And you persisted to carry on, to live, to hope, to get… where? Here. Now. Not much, not perfect. Does it matter? Whatever.

You want to die. I get it. Been there, done that. I still do it occasionally. They say you can only die once – well, that may be true physically, but man, the spirit dies and dies and dies. Sometime it feels it will never end. That’s called hell. Wanna go on like that? You know very well it is quite possible. You need to find a way to stop it.

Would you please start believe? I’m not talking about perfect belief, there’s no such thing. We hear about this everyday. There is no perfection, although the ads and shows insist there is and people still buy into it. What the fuck. It’s a maddening merry-go-round, right? The darling social media of our New Age is full of gurus who tell us there’s no perfection, and they advise on how to do this and how to do that. They have their role, you know. They keep you going. You read their little article, and it makes you feel good for a moment or two. It gives you hope. You might even tell yourself: I’ll start do that to feel better. You do it for a day or two, and then you relapse, it’s even worse than before. Sure you are addicted, haven’t you figured that one out? My, and you thought you were clever. You’re addicted to the “lack-of-belief” syndrome. It’s very common, you know – it is precisely because of that, that we have so many “apparently-no-reason-for” depressed people, especially young ones. Too bad there are no rehab places for ordinary people.

There used to be a place, it was called church. It’s not what it used to be nowadays, though to tell you the truth, it’s never been perfect. It was a bit better in the beginning, aren’t all beginnings like that? Hopeful, loving, caring… But then life happened. So the church became too earthly powerful at some point and that spoiled its game, naturally. It started itself to believe it can literally offer heaven on earth, though the papers said differently. In other cases, it was so beaten up and twisted to suit the political system, it nearly succumbed. Very often now, it does not believe in its mission anymore and it doesn’t fight. Blurry, blurry, lots of grays, lots of interpretations, loads of guilt. Well, guess what, this church, this “heaven” was run by people. The vertical ones were slashed. Some of them hid themselves in the woods, the pressure is too much to bear, they can barely take care of themselves, never mind others. The church is a wreck, good morning! It’s hard to find a priest who listens to God these days.

So who am I to tell you differently, again? I am not a priest, I am not even a man. I’m not me here (hint: it’s Him.) I’m not much good myself. I wake up many mornings and am not grateful to be offered another day, not even to myself. I should. Hey, I didn’t kill myself yesterday, you know? I gave myself another chance. For what? To live another day like yesterday? Shit. Why do I believe something is gonna change today that didn’t yesterday? Why do I believe that someone will tell me how good enough I am? Maybe ’cause I haven’t yet totally stopped believing it’s possible.

So here, I’m telling you this, courtesy not of an Internet guru, but of the very Holy Spirit: I love you. You’re worth it. You have gifts that no one else has. That being unique stuff is really true. There is no one like you and you are a gem. You would not have been born otherwise. You are not a mistake. You are here because somebody bigger than anything anyone can possibly imagine created you after His image and His likeness. You can be like God – just not on your own. Drop that bit, it keeps you from seeing the big picture. That little pride thing in your mind is the hardest to leave aside. You know, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone lately saying you believe with your heart (actually, I did: it’s one of the slashed vertical monks, he’s had his share of earthly shit).  We live in a rational world, Descartes is still the biggest guru – which is why, rational and organized as I am, I dislike him profoundly. He declared “Dubito ergo cogito. Cogito ergo sum.” – and a huge bunch of stupid guys actually fell for it. They still do! (You’d think they actually think when they keep repeating it. Well, duh… No.) The first part is certainly true: I doubt therefore I think – yes, the mind balances right and wrong, makes decisions. But the second part is such a TRICK! I exist because I think?? So where does that leave all the mentally handicapped? The suicidal guys like you and me? The imperfect, the bullied, the homeless? In the sewer, of course. That is what we cannot reconcile! If I don’t think this way, I must be broken. If my mind cannot make sense, I’m unworthy, not good enough to figure it out.

I can’t escape this hell. I belong in the sewer.

No, you don’t. You do NOT belong in the sewer.

You belong in heaven.

You’re real. You’re a fighter – Yes, you don’t want to fight anymore, you’re tired. I get it. But hear this: you’re one of the best soldiers. You did not choose that gift – who in their right mind would choose to constantly pick up the sword on an invisible battle field? This gift was given to you. It’s an out-of-this-world honour, don’t you dare throw it away. You’re one of the vertical ones. You’re worthy precisely because you cannot sweep the truth under the carpet.  The light can only brighten up the room when on the table, not under the bed. Believe in your light, you know it’s still there. It was there this morning when you woke up. Take it from under the bed and put it on the table, that’s all you must do. What? You can’t find it? Naturally you can’t, stupid! It’s invisible, it’s not from this world. It is not the literal light, come on, even your lousy mind can get that. It’s the light of your life. It’s the love of your life. It’s right there, in the middle of your heart. Now pick it up gently and look straight into it. Can you see how beautiful you are? As beautiful as God. And you’re not alone. He has your back.

I love you.

Figure Out What Your Purpose Is

I’m done with exploring the problems in my life. I’m reading books on serious motivation now and I aim high! And because I’ve always wanted it all (despite the naysayers’ ‘advice’… “oh, but you really can’t have it all”), I’ve made up my mind to beat the doubt and reach for the sky. So I’m highly recommending this book by Grant Cardone – “Be Obsessed or Be Average”. Did you guess, Cardone is crazily successful. Here’s a list the author draws, which helps in figuring out what your purpose is. Write your answers down, I did!

Personal Interests

What excites me now?

What is so exciting to me that I would do anything to accomplish it?

What bores me?

What is the thing or things I have always wanted to do?

What don’t I want to do, no matter the payoff?

What do I do that causes me to forget to eat?

What have I been interested in since childhood?

 

Money Motivation

What am I willing to do for no money?

What would I like to do for a lot of money?

If money had nothing to do with my life, what would I do with my time?

What amount of money would give me the security I need?

What amount of money would I need to have choices?

What amount of money would I need to have financial freedom?

What amount of money would I need to really make a difference for the better?

 

Skills and Talents

What can I do better than anyone?

What are some of my native skills?

What have I always been good at?

What have I always been bad at?

What skills or talents do I have that I ignore?

What am I terrible at and should not be doing at all?

What do I do that is a complete waste of my time and talent?

In what areas do others think more or my abilities than I do?

What are the skills I need to develop?

 

Market Research

What is a product or service that I have complained about repeatedly?

What great idea have I had for starting a company or inventing something that I haven’t followed through on?

 

Legacy

What do I want to be remembered for?

What contributions can I make to society that I would be most proud of?

What do I want to make sure people never say about me?

 

Inspiring People

Who are five successful people I admire?

What are those people doing that I admire?

What do those I admire have in common with one another?

What quality do I wish I shared with those people?

What do I have in common with that list of people?

If I could meet anyone, who would it be?

Who is the most supportive person in my life?

 

Lifestyle

What makes me feel good?

What gives me energy?

What activity bores me and doesn’t make me feel good?

What things am I doing that I regret later?

What bad habits do I need to stop?

What good habits do I need to start?

What do I need to do more of that would make me feel better about myself?

 

What if…

If I were going to write a book, what would it be about? What inspirational lessons would I draw from my life?

If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?

If I could be known for one great thing, what would I want it to be?


THAT’S IT!

Now go ahead and WRITE YOUR ANSWERS DOWN! Cardone says: “Then, at the same time tomorrow, do it again. And then do it again the next day and the day after that. Over time you may notice that you come up with new answers or that the same answers keep coming up. You may see surprising patterns or be reminded of a dream that was buried long ago.”

Whatever it is, do not give up! You are here for a purpose and if you haven’t found it yet, NOW is the high-time to find it.