August 24, 2015

Sometimes You Just Want a Blast From the Past!

When you think about snacks, sometimes you just want a blast from the past! That has to be true or once you’ve tasted Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cherry Tango SQUARES or dried bing cherries covered in rich dark chocolate, there’d be very little reason to crave a Cherry Mash; once you’ve had a Godiva Butterscotch Walnut Truffle, there’d be no reason to want a box of Sno-Caps even though they both have sprinkles. But that’s just not how it is. Sometimes we all crave something we remember from a long time past.
sno-caps

It doesn’t seem to matter that it’s been 40 years since I had my last Banana Fudgesicle®, I still remember how much I loved the creamy coldness in the summer. I still crave original Doritos. They brought them back briefly when my kids were teens. Prior to that, I could never convince them that there had ever been an unflavored version of the popular brand. I also loved to eat Ritz crackers. My favorite number was 6. I’d pull six of them out of the package to enjoy while I read a book in my father’s recliner.

When I was hungry for a snack, Lance snack crackers were often my vending machine go-to. Of course my gluten-free regimen of late has meant an end to that tradition. Now things have changed! If I decide I just can’t live without the familiar slightly tangy, salty cheese flavor of a Lance cheese cracker, I can again indulge.
crackers

Lance now offers a gluten-free cheddar cheese bite size sandwich cracker. The cracker portion is buttery and flaky just like the original, and the cheddar cheese flavor tastes just like I remember. Sold in a 5 oz box, the crackers have 150 calories per 12 sandwich serving. I haven’t tried it yet, but there’s a peanut butter flavor available as well.

On a regular day, I’d much prefer homemade, fresh food, but sometimes you just crave a blast from the past. On those occasions, I’m glad to know this option exists. How about you? Have you tried these, or what’s your favorite blast from the past?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


http://www.godiva.com/
http://www.ghirardelli.com/
http://www.nestleusa.com/brands/chocolate/sno-caps
http://www.lance.com/

August 17, 2015

A Painfully Slow Process!

For the past two weeks I’ve been sanding and oiling my countertops; it is a painfully slow process! I have beautiful plank style teak countertops. They are finished with hand rubbed tung oil. I add a coat about every 18 months. A couple of years ago, I did some sanding on portions that had been scratched. Unfortunately, when I oiled the sanded portion, I didn’t check the tung oil before applying it. The oil had turned dark so the repairs took on the darker color. Trying to remedy the color variation, I sanded off the dark oil and used a different kind of tung oil that created a good seal, but yet another discoloration. At that point I lost patience and ignored the color issue.

Now, two years later, I’m fighting two battles: 1)Sanding out some new scratches and blending the sanded part with the rest of the top, and 2)Fixing the problem I previously created. The process requires patience and finesse and is tedious to say the least. The tung oil has to dry for 24 hours before I can assess the appropriate next step. In retrospect, it may have been better to take a belt sander and go back to raw wood and start over.
stain
This process is like many situations in life. We take a stab at something. We proceed methodically with patience and persistence and things improve, but they aren’t perfect. Then we feel frustrated. I know I feel frustrated with this project!

When we feel frustrated, it can be tempting to look around and feel annoyed by those who we believe have an easier time of things than we do. We think that if we could just go back and get the same raw materials they got, things would turn out much better for us. While this is a tempting emotional path, it is never productive or uplifting. Like fixing my countertops, undoing such thinking can be a tedious process. Rather than going down that path, it can be helpful to recognize the following:

No matter who you are, how wonderful you are, how smart you are, how beautiful you are, where you live, what family you’re born to, how much wealth you amass, or what country you live in…

…Life will throw you some curve balls along the way.
It may be in the form of a flood, fire, tornado, disease, job loss, disability, violence or abuse, neglect, success too soon, overwhelming loss, discrimination, injury, injustice, cruelty, identity theft, errant children, disloyal associates, cheating spouses, broken contracts, false accusations, embezzling employees, or thousands of other possibilities. No matter who you choose to envy, they have had, or will have, trials and difficulty during their lifetime. No one escapes this reality.

…Most often, it is not the fact that bad things have happened to you that create an ongoing problem. The problem it is what you come to believe about yourself because of those events.
It is a common response to feel a sense of responsibility and shame when you are a victim of maltreatment. If you internalize the shame, you come to feel that you are wrong, or defective, or unloveable, or incapable, or undeserving of great things. Trying to move past this shame leaves you feeling exposed. It can feel safer to blame the abuse or an abuser than to open yourself to forgiveness and possibility. With courage you can heal and change those beliefs.

…Those who have learned to take life’s curve balls in stride are making a choice.
Not everyone who handles difficulty with grace has always done so. Many of us recognize slowly over time that we feel better when we accept our circumstances, weigh our options, and make an active choice regarding how we will view the difficulty. Sometimes these choices require great courage. To the outside observer, our choices may make us appear to live a blessed life.

…A life in which we own our choices is a blessed life.
There is nothing more empowering than making a choice and owning it. Through this process, you direct your life rather than it directing you. That does not mean all the choices are easy, fun, painless, obvious, or without emotional cost.

…Fear is inevitable.
If you believe other people have more opportunities than you do because they seem to have less to fear, it may be helpful to know that everyone feels fear sometimes. Fear can lead to empowerment or paralysis. Knowing this gives you the opportunity to choose the one that is most appealing to you.

…There is someone better off than you.
You may have the most money in the world at a given moment, but not have as much love or as many children as you desire. You may have the perfect house, the perfect mate, the perfect job, and the perfect children, but your next door neighbor has all of that and weighs 10 pounds less.

…There is someone less fortunate than you.
You may be homeless and healthy with family who loves you while another person is homeless and ill and alone. You may not have eaten today, but there is a mother somewhere who has gone without food for days in order to feed her children.

…You can prepare for the worst and the worst will turn out to be something you never anticipated.
None of us can absolutely or accurately predict the future. Sometimes we will be prepared and sometimes we will be facing a perceived danger on our left and get hit from the right. The person who you envy may look blessed to have correctly predicted so far, then tomorrow have a child killed by a random bullet or maimed by a bomb at a marathon.

…Expressing gratitude for your difficulties will pave the road for healing.
If you can find a way to express gratitude for the even the smallest of things, through practice you will find a way to remain vulnerable enough to receive joy.

….Healing your body will help heal your mind and your spirit.
Studies that indicate a direct correlation between emotional conditions and gut bacteria or gastrointestinal health are growing. We also know that exercise and mood are related.• If you tend to feel depressed, deprived, down, envious, or angry, regulating your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits can make a huge difference toward a more positive outlook.

Repairing countertops and healing wounded thinking can both go slowly. No matter how frustrating that may seem right now, it all becomes worth it when you can see and feel the results!

countertop

*http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html?_r=0

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression

August 10, 2015

Two Birds With One Stone – Gluten-Free Birds No Less!

During a weekend grocery store run, I inadvertently killed two birds with one stone. I love it when I can use a cliché! And it’s even better when I can use that cliché to refer to serendipitous discoveries that solve two major annoyances of the gluten-free world!

If you often rely on salads as the gluten-free option on restaurant menus, you probably know how it feels to have to resort to oil and vinegar as dressing because you can’t get enough information to determine if the other available dressings are safe. I’m not sure why it seems more difficult to find out about dressing than it does about entrées, but I always feel like it’s a more laborious process.

One local restaurant’s response to an inquiry was to pull out a binder filled with plastic sheets containing handwritten dressing recipes and let me read all of them. Another took me into the kitchen and pulled gallon plastic jugs off the shelf so I could read the ingredient list. My favorite barbecue restaurant has 7 different individually packaged dressings that contain too many questionable ingredients for me feel comfortable eating them. That’s just 3 of the places I frequent. Overall, the dressing dilemma is often cumbersome.
dressing

Carrying dressing with me is also cumbersome or limited to tiny packets. That’s why I was excited to see this silicone Dressing-2-Go container. First, I think it’s cute and the tops come in multiple colors. I also like that it’s soft and has a large opening that makes it easy to fill and easy to dispense without leaving much of the dressing stuck in the container. The packaging indicates this product is BPA free, top rack dishwasher safe, and safe for use in the refrigerator, freezer, and microwave.

Because of the snap shut top, I would not throw this into my purse without first putting it in a plastic bag. With all the heavy stuff I carry, I can see it bumping against an obstacle that could press on the silicone and cause the top to leak and I’d rather be safe than sorry. Nonetheless, my salad dressing options have just increased and that is a good thing! One bird down.

The same grocery shopping trip resulted in my discovery of these .32 oz packets of xanthan gum from Hodgson Mill. Even this small packet contains about 8 servings. I hardly ever use xanthan gum in a recipe so I’ve always been annoyed at the 6 and 8 oz containers that are generally available. I don’t really know the shelf life of xanthan gum, but I’ve had about 7.5 oz of an 8 oz bag sitting in my pantry for 5 years. It’s probably time to throw it away – especially now that I have this tiny packet on hand if I should encounter a xanthan gum crisis. Old xanthan gum thrown in the trash! Two birds down.
xg packet
I think that’s enough birds for today. I’m grateful for my new discoveries, the delicious salad I had for lunch, my single working air conditioner, a 95º rather than 102º day, and the beautiful begonias blooming on my porch. I hope your day is filled with fun discoveries too!

Product websites:
http://www.evriholder.com/categories/kitchen/600-dressing-2-go
http://www.hodgsonmill.com/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

August 4, 2015

An Eye Opening Cold Shower

I took a cold shower this morning, literally, an eye opening COLD shower.
shower

Okay, for those of you who must go there…no, not for that reason. My air conditioners aren’t working. Two air conditioners, both less than 3 years old, two…not working…AT THE SAME TIME! It’s 99º outside, feels like 106, and who knows inside? My thermostat only registers 90º and it’s been maxed for two days straight. I’m in line for a repair, but the line is LONG. I’ve now left for a coffee house with free wifi so I can hopefully smell better and think straight.

As with all unexpected, and even unwelcome, obstacles, having to do things differently lets me see things differently. Each and every time, I learn all over again that some of my assumptions are just wrong.

I live in an old two story house with the master bedroom upstairs and guest bedroom downstairs. I would assume that it would be cooler to sleep downstairs under the ceiling fan, but for some odd reason, it’s not. Without the air on, downstairs is staying hotter than upstairs once the sun retreats.

So, if downstairs under the ceiling fan is not the coolest sleeping environment, it stands to reason that between the open windows on either side of the upstairs would be my next best choice, right? Last night, I opened the windows and with a pillow, sheet, & cold wash cloth in hand gave sleeping on the padded bench by the window a try.
window
I was sweaty, uncomfortable, and aware of every loud rap song that streamed out of the windows of passing cars. I was NOT asleep. I finally decided that being right by the window was doing me no favors and slipped into my bed hoping exhaustion from the heat would keep me from tossing and turning the night away.

This morning, it was cool outside when I grabbed the paper off the porch. Cruelly, cool. Ironically cool. Relaxing cool that had failed to permeate the wide open windows upstairs where I slept. I should have slept in a tent in the back yard. Or, as I discovered when I grabbed my clothes after that cold shower, in the closet. My closet was cool – inexplicably cool. The coolest place in my house. How can this be? It’s directly under the roof. It’s enclosed so no air moves around, and yet it is cooler than my cross-ventilated bedroom.
closet

The air repair won’t happen until tomorrow at the earliest. Tonight, as is the case with all unfortunate circumstances, I will have the chance to make a different choice based on the new information that has been forced upon me. I didn’t ask for this. When I was literally wilting at my computer yesterday, I didn’t exactly welcome the opportunity to learn any of these facts, but today I recognize that I really only have two choices: 1)Do the same thing and be miserably hot, or 2)Take what I’ve learned and make a more informed, and hopefully more comfortable, decision.

That makes it an easy decision! I’ll be a quick learner. Does that mean I’ll sleep in the closet? Maaaaybe.

Here’s what I’m taking from this situation: When you find yourself in an unfortunate circumstance, the things you have the opportunity to learn can change your day or your life if you show up with an open heart, an open mind, and a willingness to let go of your assumptions. And you may not even have to take a cold shower to see the possibilities!