Happy Thanksgiving!

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving day is a national annual holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, marked by religious services and a traditional meal including a turkey or ham. Of course each family is different, some may not attend religious services and some may not eat turkey or ham, but that’s not the point. I’ve always felt the main focus is to be together with the people you love and eat a meal together, thankful for all you have.

After all the definition of the word Thanksgiving is the expression of gratitude.

This is a special day where we all express our love and gratitude for the special people, circumstances and objects of our lives. A lot of people, including myself, lose sight of how wonderful aspects of our life really are.

I’ve created a list (in no particular order) of the things I am thankful for in my life right now and I hope that I can remember, on more than just this day, what makes my life special.

I am thankful…

  • That I am alive.
  • That I am in good health.
  • That I have shelter.
  • That I have food and water.
  • That I have a husband who loves me.
  • That I have a family who loves me.
  • That I have two lovable cats.
  • That I have a job.

I am thankful for so much more, but I will stop there. Just remember that there is always something to be thankful for in your life, even if you have to bring it down to the basics.

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Show your Host or Hostess some love

HostorHostessGifts

Does anyone out there ever bring gifts for their host or hostess anymore?

I will admit I have been very neglectful of this when I attend gatherings at friends and families homes, but I think it’s time to turn over a new leaf, bring the classy back, and start showing our gratitude to those who go through the effort of hosting us for the day, evening or longer.

If you are feeling like you would like to get your host(ess) a gift there are a variety of gifts you can try, gifts like:

  • Beverages (Beer, cider, tea, wine, etc.)
  • Candles
  • Card or Board Games
  • Flowers (Cut bouquets or potted plants)
  • Gift Cards
  • Hosting accessories (Decorations (decor), kitchenware etc.)
  • Treats (Savory or Sweet)

Whatever you choose to give, you will be spreading warmth and cheer back to your host/hostess, who in turn will spread warmth and cheer to you and their other guests.

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipe (No Oil)

Pumpkin Seeds

I love snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds! So delicious, easy to eat and prepare, and with numerous health benefits, who could say no? Traditionally I make large batches every year after we carve our Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns and snack on them for weeks!

I do not use oil in this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Salt
  • Seasoned salt (optional)
  • Water

Directions:

As you carve your pumpkins, keep all the seeds in a bowl. I find it easier to separate the seeds and pulp into two separate bowls as I go, rather than sort that mess out later.

Throw the seeds into a colander and rinse under cold water, stirring with your hands to make sure all the seeds are all rinsed thoroughly.

Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt for each half cup of seeds.

Bring the saltwater and seeds to a boil for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Coat a baking sheet with whichever nonstick cooking spray you prefer and spread the drained seeds out in a single layer.

I took this opportunity to sprinkle seasoned salt over the damp seeds. You are welcome to leave them with just the salt that was boiled into them, or add any variety of other toppings depending on your taste.

Cook the seeds until dry and crispy, this could take an hour or more. Remember to stir occasionally so the seeds get baked evenly.

Let them cool for a few minutes…then let the snacking begin!

Welcome back Autumn!

Okami Fall Wallpaper

Welcome back Autumn! Every year I look forward to the Fall and the warmth it generates inside my home and soul. Where I live, September and October are still rather warm on some days, and turn wet and cold as the months progress toward Winter.  I cannot get enough of the rain this time of year. The cold, wet weather begins to take over outside, driving us all inside to be together and warm. There’s nothing like cuddling up with people you love, reading a good book, watching a movie or playing a video game while the weather misbehaves outside.

I intend to fully enjoy myself this season and invite you to join me. I will be doing a lot of cooking, crafting, book reading and game playing; among other things. Follow along and try some of these activities for yourself, this is a time we should all enjoy!

I intend on:

  • Decorating for Halloween.
  • Watching Halloween mood movies.
  • Assembling a Halloween costume.
  • Hosting a Halloween dinner party.
  • Carving pumpkins.
  • Roasting pumpkin seeds.
  • Making candy/caramel apples.
  • Cooking a dish for Thanksgiving.
  • Creating and sending Christmas cards.
  • Creating and hanging Christmas ornaments.
  • Decorating for Christmas.
  • Baking Christmas cookies/cake.
  • Watching Christmas mood movies/specials.
  • Visiting local Christmas festivals.
  • Visiting Christmas Disneyland.
  • Hosting a Christmas dinner party.
  • Baking Christmas Cookies.

There will be other activities I do, but these are the core basics I try to do every year.

Dialing down Caffeine

Caffeine_small

Nearly a year ago I wrote this:

Growing up, I remember when fast food was a treat we were bought every other week or so and I remember when I wasn’t allowed to drink any soda with caffeine in it, not to mention energy drinks. If I was allowed soda at all, it had to be something caffeine free.

As I grew up I was given more allowances and I was allowed to start making my own decisions. I was introduced to caffeinated soda and still maintained a healthy distance.

As an adult I’ve started an office job that is relatively stressful, but not painfully so. I started buying caffeinated sodas and eventually graduated to energy drinks to “treat” or “reward” myself during the work day, but it’s become too frequent. I can feel the negative effects of the sugar and caffeine in these drinks on my mind and body, but I still crave them anyway! As we plan on starting a family I think it’s time to find some healthier “treat”  or “reward” options and get back to my healthier habits. As of last Friday, I’ve stopped drinking sodas and energy drinks. It’s definitely rough while my body is figuring out how to cope without all the sugar and caffeine, but it’ll pass!

This didn’t last long, and before I knew it I was up to consuming one sugar filled energy drink or soda every day. I’m not kidding, every day. I knew they were bad for me, I’ve known it for a long time (hence my writing of the post above), but I wouldn’t break the habit; I needed my sweet treat.

The 10 day smoothie cleanse I imposed on myself last month really helped snap me out of those bad habits and carried me through the withdrawal period. I won’t say I will never have an energy drink or soda again, that would be a bald-faced lie, but I feel like I have a better handle on my willpower than I ever did before.

Lesson learned: There is no magic trick to make you stop drinking or eating the things that are bad for you. You need to decide when enough is enough and have the willpower to steer yourself away from that vice. If you need to use a 10 day cleanse to get you started, then use it, but you are the ultimate factor.