Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and the Gratitude Challenge, part 22 of a 22 part series

   Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope that your Thanksgiving is full of good food, family and friends.  As the Gratitude Challenge has come to an end I have thought a lot about this month and what I have learned, and what I hope to take forward from this experience and use in the future.  I hope that from this experience I can be more aware of my blessings and do a better job at expressing my gratitude to others. I want to make sure that my loved ones know how much I do love and appreciate them.  It has been great to have this opportunity to focus on gratitude and I am humbled as it has again reminded me how blessed I am.  2012 has been quite the year and I am confident that 2013 will be a great year.  One of my goals for 2013 is that I will have a spirit of gratitude for the full year and be able to share that with the ones I love.  I hope that all of you are having a happy Thanksgiving, and I hope that this month has been an opportunity for you to focus on the blessings of the season.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gratitude Challenge and Resilience...part 18 of a 22 part series

     Another week has come and gone, it is hard to believe that November is almost over.  Today in church the talks were on so many different things, but one of the common themes was our reaction to trials, and out attitudes while we are being tested.   These talks were on my mind when I read today's task for the Gratitude Challenge, which says to, "write about all of the things that make you so lovable.  Take a moment to appreciate your personal style, talents and charm."

     A talent that I do feel that I possess is that of a kind and giving heart, and that I can spot ways to help and serve others.  I tend to be an empathizer by nature, and I feel it deeply when others are suffering.  I have had numerous medical issues and problems of my own, and I have been lucky that so far (knock on wood!) I have been resilient.  Many times I have fallen down and had to get back up and dust myself off, I know that is part of life.  I am proud of myself that I am not a quitter, and that I never give up on myself or on others.  I don't know that I would describe myself as charming, and I don't know what my personal style would be defined as.  But I can say that I am a kind person who tries her best to help where she can and I do look for opportunities to cheer up others.  I try to live the Golden Rule.  I appreciate that my parents raised me to be a kind, helpful person, and I learned that from their examples, and that today that is what I am grateful for. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Memories and the Gratitude Challenge, part 17 of a 22 part series...

   Day 17 of the Gratitude Challenge, and today's task is to write about something in my life that I feel grateful for today.  There are so many things that I am grateful for, but one in particular happens to be memories.  I am so grateful for that.  Last week as I mentioned I had family in town and it was so nice to visit with them.  we re-lived old memories and created some new memories as well. I love that through memories events and people can live on forever.  I know I have discussed my grandparents numerous times.  I remember so much about them the smells of their home, their laughs and voices, the way it felt when they would squeeze my hand.  I have memories of when we went to Disneyland, a pink bead necklace they gave me when I was five,  I remember all of the stories that they used to tell me and most of all I remember how much they loved each other and they loved me.  I am so grateful that I haven't been stripped or robbed of these precious memories.

The End of an Era....

     I already know that everyone has heard the big news, Hostess Brands Inc. is going out of business, and with that we say farewell to Sno-Balls, Ding-Dongs, Zingers, Wonder Bread, Ho-Hos, Donettes, Hostess Fruit & Pudding Pies & Twinkies, and more.  I know that so many of us have childhood memories associated with these treats.  It is a little crazy to think that a business that has been around since 1930 is closing its doors, it really has been an American institution.  While the grocery stores are now being raided by people eager to stockpile their favorite goodies, I thought I would share a perspective on this development.  I know some people are saying this is a positive development and that it is due to he public desire to abstain from processed or junk food.  While I am all about people eating healthy and I try to myself, I can tell you that this has nothing to do with people's desire to eat healthy.  It it did I can think of several much larger organizations that would be closing down long before Hostess.  It is sad to think of all of the families who find themselves losing a job right before the Holidays, they are definitely in my prayers.  It is sad to think of the factories, stores and jobs that are being so cruelly affected.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lessons learned from The Help & Gratitude Challenge.....part 15 of a 22 part series

     Here we are a week from Thanksgiving, and on day 15 of our Gratitude Challenge.  Today's task was  "to take time to focus on myself & to appreciate and give thanks for my unique personality, skills and talents".  This was an interesting task for me, since I always feel a little odd or uncomfortable or vain if I focus on myself, of the positive things about me, so writing a post about this feels beyond odd, but here we go.  I guess I will start off my saying that I believe I am a good person, I try hard to be the type of person that my family would always be proud of.  Actually I was named after my Grandmother, and I'd like to think I have made her proud and not disgraced her good name.  I try to be kind and giving to others.  I can honestly say I am a loyal person, and that I am a charitable person.  A book (and movie) that I particularly enjoy is The Help,  I love that Abileen stress to baby girl three things to always remember, "You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important."  I actually do believe I am all of these things and I try to be all of these three things.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What I have been reading Wednesday, Royal Edition...

Product Details     Time for What I have been reading Wednesday, royal edition this time!  I'll admit I was actually looking forward to reading this book.  I was one of the millions that watched the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, and saw her sister, Pippa emerge as new style icon, and media darling.  Not to digress from the book, but was that now infamous white dress fabulous on her or what?  When I heard that Ms. Middleton was going to be writing a book on entertaining I was very curious to see how this would turn out, I wasn't sure if the book would turn into a pretentious book of unattainable entertaining for the average person, or a self -serving attempt at continued fame.  I have to say I was very pleased with the result.  Yes, there are some entertainment ideas that may not be things that are familiar with the average American, but after all the woman IS British!  She does a great job at tying in all the elements of entertaining, the decor, the menu, music selections, invitations, really anything that you can think of.  It is a delightful book, the photography is amazing too, and she does share some humorous anecdotes of her life.

A Glad Game, The Gratitude Challenge part 14 of a 22 part series...

     It takes time to change perspective, and to shift attitudes and outlooks on the world.  The Gratitude Challenge has been going on for 2 weeks, and today's task is to write about how my perspective has changed, and the difference this challenge has made thus far in my life.  I'll be honest, I am no where near close to being a new person, and I am still horribly flawed and sometimes selfish and worldly, but what I can say is that I have become much more self-aware and focusing much harder on recognizing the blessings that I have in my life. 

     I am trying to everyday focus on the things to be grateful for and to express that gratitude for others, for the big things and the small things.  I can hardly believe that a week from tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I have loved this challenge this far as it reminds me to slow down my days activities and focus on the good.  One of my favorite movies is Pollyanna, as she plays the glad game.  I know that the glad game sounds saccharin and sappy at times, but really what would happen if for just one day we DID play the glad game, or were grateful for everything?  How would it change our relationships with others?  I am glad that I have been able to participate in this challenge thus far, to be able to focus on the true meaning of Thanksgiving and implementing that into my holiday season.   Are any of you participating in this challenge, and changes that you have noticed thus far?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Through rose-colored glasses, Gratitude Challenge, part 13 of a 22 part series

      We are moving right along with the Gratitude Challenge, today's task was to pick three people in my life and focus on seeing the good in them and their genuineness and desires to do good.  Focus on seeing them through rose-colored glasses, see the good about them and forget the bad.  I picked three very specific people to focus on, and I learned a lot from the experience, whether it be one person who never name calls or criticizes another, or another that makes whomever she is speaking to feel as though they are the most important person in the world to them at that time.  Or a man that selflessly gives to others and looks for ways to build and serve others.  The last person is the person I want to focus on, a person who selflessly gives, never shirks away from that which is hard and makes sure that they are serving and strengthening others. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The glass IS half full! part 12 of a 22 part series...

     I can not believe that we are only 10 days away from Thanksgiving!  So much to get done to be ready for the Holidays!  I have loved participating in the Gratitude Challenge, it is a great daily reminder for me to remember what the Holidays are all about.  Today's task was to "make the effort to live life with a positive outlook. Restrain from criticizing the people around you.  See the glass half full.  Listen more than you speak, give freely of yourself, practice kindness at every opportunity."    

     I found this task to be particularly interesting actually, especially the part to listen more than I speak.  Sometimes for me that is so hard, I have always been a talker, so to sometimes practice restrain is rather hard at times.  A very dear friend of mine once told me to "seek to understand before seeking to be understood."  I love this advice, and I have been trying to implement that in my relationships with others, it is so hard though, I want others to understand me and validate me, it's hard to slow down and wait and try to listen to others first.  I love the idea of random acts of kindness and I need to be so much better at doing them.  I love this challenge is not only helping me to express gratitude in words, but in actions as well.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Blessings & The eyes of a child, part 11 of a 22 part series...

     To say that the past few days have been busy and crazy is an understatement to say the least!  Mr. Love From Scratch & I have had family in town the past few days and its has been lots of fun, but lots of work as well.  My parents and brothers have been in town, and it has been so good to see family.  One of my nephews who is 15 months old has been staying with us and its been fun and eye-opening to have him with us. 

     Today is day 11 of the Gratitude Challenge, and today's task is particularly applicable to my little nephew.  Today's task is " to try to see the world through the eyes of a child.  Think about the things you take for granted on a daily basis  and then express gratitude for everything down to the basic necessities."  With my little nephew he has such wonder and excitement with the smallest and simple things.  He is always exploring and always searching, his giggling and laughing and smiles are beyond infectious.  I wish I looked though the eyes of a child more often, to see the beauty and wonder of things, to be excited at the snowfall or giggle at the dog and clap my hands at my family and smile.  What would it be like to go through a day without worries just absorbing every part of the day with joy.  How amazing would that be?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A week down of the Gratitude Challenge, day 7 of a 22 day series.

     Today's task was a particularly thought provoking one for me.  For this task I was challenge t share a photo or something someone, some place, or some moment that meant a lot to me and share why.  I thought of so many different things that I could share with you, but everything stems from one thing, my belief in Jesus Christ.  That belief and faith helps me to decide every direction in my life.  It is that belief that helps me to have ethics, morals and character.  The desire to be a good Samaritan, or to live by the golden rule.  My faith affects every aspect of my life, and I am so grateful for that.  I am so humbled and grateful for the sacrifice that he made on all of our behalf.  He is the one person that truly understands everything that we go through in life and I am grateful for that, I know that there have been many times where he has carried me through some dark times.  While this task might not have been asking for something  quite of this nature, there is not anything that means more to me,. and He makes everything else I do possible, and sometimes I feel I fail to recognize that so I did want to make sure I vocalize my gratitude for Him and His role in my life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Expressions of Gratitude, The Gratitude Challenge...part 6 of 22 part series

     It has been a crazy day for everyone I know today, and I wonder how many people will even read this with the election results on every one's TV and laptop right now.  Today is day six of The Gratitude Challenge, and today's task was to call someone that I hadn't talked to in awhile and express my gratitude for them.  This was a particularly enjoyable task for me.  I had the opportunity to call someone who I haven't had a chance to talk to for a little while, it was great to catch up and talk about our lives etc, but the highlight was that we picked up talking right where we had left off.  It goes to show that there are some people in life that you will always be bonded to.  I told her how much I valued her friendship and the impact she had in my life, and it was great to vocalize that, sometimes we assume the ones we live "just know" how we feel.   Never forget to vocally express gratitude and appreciation.  So my challenge to you is to find someone and express gratitude and make sure they really know how you feel.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Take 5, Day 5 of the Gratitude Challenge, part 5 of 22 part series

     Today is the 5th day of the Gratitude challenge, and I can tell you that already it is helping me to be more aware of the blessings in my life.  Today's task is to spend 5 minutes writing about the blessings in my life and focusing on what I already have not what I am wanting or feel as though I lack.  It is true that there are lots of things that I would love to have, but I do have so many blessings and I am a very lucky girl.  I have amazing friends and family actually a better family than I ever could have dreamed of, and I don't know that I can adequately express in words how much they mean to me, or my gratitude for them.  So I guess the main thought that has been running through my head today is to be more vocal in expressing thanks to those I love and making sure they realize that I do love them and appreciate them.  The second being to quit voicing what I wish I had, a new goal of mine is to make sure I always express gratitude for something I do have before I wish for that which I do not.  Are any of you participating in a gratitude challenge?  If so, how is in changing your perspective this Thanksgiving season?

Meatless Monday, time for Corn Chowder...

     It's hard to believe it is Monday again!  Seriously, where is the time going?  It feels like there is so much to get done every single week.  With today being Monday, it is time for another Meatless Monday. 

     I have been participating in Meatless Monday for awhile now, I can tell you that there are definite benefits for participating in Meatless Monday.  The risk of heart disease and cancer go down, the carbon footprint goes down, the risk of high cholesterol goes down.  One of other benefits is that many times it saves money and allows you to focus on eating in season.  Whatever the reason you choose, give Meatless Monday a chance, I think you see benefits in a very short time.  With the weather turning colder I have definitely been more and more prone to fixing soups and stews, a warm bowl of soup is the perfect thing on a blustery day.  Add a green salad and some oven fresh rolls and you have a perfect fall feast.  This is a great soup to make ahead, the flavors just meld and get better and better so the leftovers are amazing!  Try this recipe and I am sure it will be a family favorite!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

National Candy Day & Pecan Praline Time!...

     Happy National Candy Day!  Candy making is something that I love to do, but it does take some patience and a lot of attention.  Whenever I make candy I make sure that I have period of time allotted free from any distractions, candy making is not something to try when you are trying to multitask, it needs your undivided attention.  I always make my candy when Mr. Love From Scratch is either out of the house, or at the very out of my kitchen! 

     With the Holidays coming up lots of us will be making candy and goodies for company and gifts.  When I was younger I would help my mom make the "goodie plate" for our neighbors during the Holidays, and everyone always loved those treats.  Now that I have gotten older I make treats of my own, some are the same recipes that my mother made, and some are new recipes that I have developed on my own.  One combination that I have always loved is the sweet/salty combination, especially when you add an element of richness to it.  To me pralines are one of the best candies out there, you have the salty crunchy pecans, and the sweet, rich and creamy caramel.  This particular recipe is amazing, and addictive too!  Also this is a great candy to dip in chocolate for an even more decadent treat.  Make these for the Holidays and it will be sure to please!  What are your favorite candy recipes?

Sunday Blessings and The Gratitude Challenge, part 4 of a 22 day series...

     Today's task for the Gratitude Challenge is to write a note of thanks for the trials in my life.  So many times it is hard to be grateful for the trials of life, because so many times we just want the trials do disappear as soon as possible.  Today in Church we talked about trials and how they do strengthen you, and the we have the decision on how we react to those trials.  I'll be honest, I absolutely hate it when I go through my trials, but I would rather have my trials than that of so many other people that I know.  I have had several trials in life, and I have learned so much from them.  It has taught me about the importance of family and friends and that sometimes it is okay if others have to help carry you for awhile.  Sometimes we really can't make it alone, and that's okay.  During my times of trial it also reminds me of the scripture in Proverbs, which admonishes us to "trust in the Lord."  Yes that is so much easier said than done, but it is true that He will direct our paths and that He is mindful of each and every one of us.  Trials are an inevitable part of life, but I am grateful that through trials I have learned more about myself, and more about the goodness of others. I hope that you too may be comforted during times of trial.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

National Sandwich Day & a bit of History...

     Happy National Sandwich Day!  Yes another random food holiday, but this one has always been one of my favorites because of the story behind the sandwich.  The story goes that John Montague, otherwise known as the Earl of Sandwich had a penchant for card games and gambling.  This penchant was so so strong that he is said to have invented the sandwich as a quick meal that he could eat that would not disrupt the game that he was playing.  I have always loved this story because I can see the human element in that.  As the sister to brothers I could so see them coming up with an idea like that, so many times they would have an ongoing game of RISK, or something of a similar nature that they didn't want disturbed.  From the Earl of Sandwich the staple for school lunches was born.  So children everywhere can thank (or blame) the Earl of Sandwich.

Family, it is what life is all about...part 3 of a 22 day series

     Day 3 of the Gratitude Challenge has arrived, and today's task is, "to write about something you feel grateful for in your life today."  There are so many things that I am grateful for in my life, but one of the greatest blessings in my life is my family.  They are the absolute best.  Growing up with all brothers I always hoped that someday I would get a sister, while I still do not have any biological sisters, but I do have sister in laws and that is something I really enjoy.  To be honest though, one of my absolute favorite roles in life is that of being an Aunt.  I adore my nieces and nephews, they are adorable (yes I realize I am biased, but they really are!)  I love those kids, and I love to watch them as they grow, but one of my favorite parts of having nieces and nephews is to see my brothers as fathers.  It is incredibly heartwarming to see my brothers as they try to teach their kids and watch the fumble with bows and ribbons.  They are great fathers and I do love to watch them in action.  Being the only of my siblings without children I love that fact that I am able to pay complete attention to my nieces and nephews at family gatherings.  I can play laugh and talk with them the whole time and I LOVE it! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The ABCs of Gratitude...part 2 of 22 part series

     Well here we are day two of the Gratitude Challenge, and today's task is " to use the alphabet as a fun and quick format for making a list of things for which you feel grateful.  Share this list with your social network though email, a blog post or a Facebook or MySpace page."  So it looks like today we are focusing on the ABCs of gratitude, here we go!

A- Art
B- Brothers
C- Chloe (my dog)
D- Dad
E- Eternal Families
F- Family and Friends
G- Grandparents
H- Home

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's Makeover Time & Blasts from the Past!

     As many of you know, Love From Scratch underwent a makeover this past week, new template, new layout, new graphic, the works!  I hope that all of you are enjoying the new look, I would certainly love your opinions on my blog makeover.  Here in the Love From Scratch home I think that we are going to be undergoing lots of makeovers, trying to organize the home, I am going to reorganize my kitchen, and there will be a bit of personal makeover as well, planning new healthy recipes and exercise programs.

A New Month, A New Challenge, A New Mindset... part 1 of a 21 day series

  I love the fall, always have, always will, but my favorite month of the year has always been November.  Ever since I can remember November was the month for me.  There are so many reasons for that, one being that my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, another could be that my parents were married in November and I have always looked up to their marriage and the life they created together, another is that I took my parent's cue, and got married in November myself.  Actually I can hardly believe that I am almost at my one year anniversary.  I love that in November we try to focus on our blessings and what we have instead of what we don't have or wish that we had.  I have always felt that it was important to express gratitude and appreciation for what I have.  My parents instilled in me that we always needed to be grateful for all of the wonderful blessings that we have in our lives.