happy thankgiving!

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the idea of living a life of gratitude and some other things I learned from a friend recently.... so check that post out, too.

But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are a few things I'm thankful for today:
  • the new snow tires on my car, and the having means to get them. 
  • my family who loves me unconditionally, even when I test their patience.
  • all of the new things I've tried this year (so far).
  • my friends, who laugh with me, support me, let me whine, and let me gloat. 
 Happy thanksgiving - what are you thankful for?


living a life of gratitude

It's somewhat by happenstance that I'm posting this around Thanksgiving - but timely, nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, I was able to spend some time with a friend (and colleague) who was visiting Minneapolis. She's awesome... and she has done quite a bit of research on spirituality, positive thinking, meditation, and all that jazz. 

I'll admit that I'm not very familiar with all of that, so may not explain this all very well. Thanks to her, though, I have been thinking about it more. She did an informal "session" for a few of us to teach us about some of the basics. One of the things I really appreciated she wasn't to push or negate any religious beliefs of anyone. She shared some info herself, we listened to a recording, meditated for 5 minutes looking at a candle flame (which actually isn't as strange as it sounds), and did a couple of other activities.

Honestly, I wasn't sure what I'd think about all of this... but I was pleasantly surprised and left with a few take-aways that have kept me thinking since then. Thanks, Tiffany!
  1. Take time for you. Think about it - how much time do you spend thinking about others, doing things for others, working for others? .... Now, compare that to how much you think about yourself and do things for yourself. This is where the idea of meditation comes in - and not necessarily like you may be imagining - sitting cross-legged, saying "ohm...." repeatedly. It's about taking a few minutes to do clear your head and think about you. Sit however you feel comfortable. Take some deep breaths, even for 30 seconds... sit quietly for 5 minutes... spend 30 minutes or an hour clearing your head. And, get really crazy - take a whole day to yourself (gasp!) Who has the time? Right? You do - just take it. It's not selfish. It's necessary.
  2. It's OK to Recommit. It's not uncommon for us to get down on ourselves when we fail at something - and we all fail. I messed up my diet and ate that cookie (or box of cookies); I was late (again); I screwed up on (insert most recent mess-up here). We have a tendency to be really hard on ourselves, beat ourselves up, and not let things go. But, whatever wagon we've recently fallen off of, we need to learn that it's OK to recommit ourselves to our goals and move forward. So what if I ate the (box of) cookies? I'll do better tomorrow and I'll recommit to (insert name of wagon here).
  3. A life of gratitude. This has been what has stuck with me the most. Related to (#1) how we don't take time to reflect and (#2) our tendency to look at the glass half-empty. Thinking about the things we're grateful for can help lead to a life of more positive thinking, and help us to remember that life isn't so bad, or hard, or insane, after all. So, take time for yourself (#1) and think about what you're grateful for (#3). And, if you get sidetracked and stop for a while, it's OK... just recommit (#2) to remembering what we are grateful for.
So, what does it all boil down to? In the past few weeks, I've been trying some little things. And, I'll have to admit that I've had to recommit a couple of times already to #1 and #3 because (surprise) I've been busy and I haven't taken the time. But, I'm trying.

Tonight, I'm taking time for me - sitting down and writing, which is something I enjoy doing for me. And, tonight I am thinking about some things I'm grateful for: 
  • Tiffany for making me pay attention to these things. 
  • vacation days so I can be off until next Monday, because I hardly ever take time off. 
  • a job to take vacation days from.
  • Tiffany for giving us a burned copy of her birthday-mix CD so I haven't had to hear the song I hate the most for weeks!
  • friends who call to tell me random things that make me laugh (I'm looking at you, KVO).
  • family who will love me no matter what.
  • and - you, for humoring me and reading what I write.
What do you think? Is there anything here that made you think?

And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving this week - what are you grateful for?


catching up

It's been a while - no excuses. Life has been busy and ... interesting ... and blah, blah, blah. Since I last posted, I've done some fun stuff, though - I had a birthday, helped some friends pass out Halloween candy, tied for first in our chili cook-off at work (more about that later), saw the Youth Performance Company's show, Mean, for the second time and attended a fundraising breakfast for them -- and another for Clare Housing, an organization that provides housing and support for individuals and families living with aids. I went to a Lion's club waffle breakfast (noteworthy because the waffles were delicious), went on a great 4-wheeler ride with family and friends, helped start a facebook page for church, and learned a little bit about taking time for myself and some ways to live a life of gratitude from a friend (more on that later, too).

Now that we're all caught up, I figured that I would post something kind of timely. This week, we had a potluck at work - the turkey was provided and we needed to fill in the sides, desserts, etc... and it was Thanksgiving themed, so I offered to bring stuffing.

I, of course, called mom because I've never made stuffing before. The call went something like this:
Me: Can you send me your stuffing recipe? I want to make it for a potluck.
Mom: Sure - I'll send you one from one my cookbooks.
Me: From a cookbook?

Mom: Yes. 
Me: Is it sage stuffing?
Mom: Yes. 

Me: I don't want that one. I want your stuffing recipe.
And, why was I so adamant to have Mom's? Because it's awesome. I don't know what to call it, except the "the sweet one with the raisins." (note: I don't even like raisins, except in this, Raisin Bran, and mom's rice pudding - otherwise, no thanks...) Part of the reason I wanted this one, too, was because if the people at work didn't eat all of it, I wanted this as the leftovers over sage stuffing any day. Turns out I didn't have any leftovers, so crisis averted... or perhaps a flaw in the plan?

This recipe was doubled so I had enough for the potluck, so you can easily cut in half - everything can be to taste, so adjust as needed. 

Stuffing - the Sweet One with the Raisins

1 ¾ lg. onion (you could probably use 1 lg. and 1 med.)
5 celery stalks
1 c. butter
1 ¼ c. raisins
6 Tbsp. Brown sugar
2 bags unseasoned stuffing bread
6 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 med. apples, chopped small (I used fireside apples)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Chop onions and celery into small pieces (I used my food processer/chopper). In a med/lg. saucepan, saut̩ butter, onion, celery stalks until soft. Add salt and pepper to taste while they soften. Add brown sugar and stir well until dissolved. Add raisins and simmer for about 10 minutes (I just let it simmer while I peeled the apples and chopped them РI used my food processor for that, too). Let the mixture cool a bit.

Put the stuffing bread in a large bowl and mix in the sauté mixture and the apples. Add chicken broth, 2 cups at a time stirring in between. I added part of the cinnamon with each of the rounds of chicken broth to try to make sure it got mixed in well. I think I used a pinch or so more than a tsp. of cinnamon.

I baked in 3 glass pans for 50 minutes at 350; but my pans were a little small, so you could probably get by with 2. Each pan should be greased well with cooking spray and, on top of the stuffing, I put a few small slivers of butter. Bake until the top is just golden brown and a tiny bit crispy. You can serve it immediately, or put it in a Crockpot, refrigerate, and re-heat the next day.

Or, you can take mom's route and don't bake it at all - she just puts it in a Crockpot for 4 hours – her batch is usually about half of this, so if you make a large batch, it might take a little bit longer but not much. I didn’t have 4 hours to deal with the morning of the potluck, so I baked the night before and re-heated in the Crockpot.

It's delicious. Do it.

Also, we're wondering, now, if this is the recipe that came up in a comment to a previous post that was my great aunt's. Greg - let me know if this sounds like Ruth's stuffing... :)