Motivational Monday…Flowers

The earth laughs in flowers….Ralph Waldo Emerson

Where flowers bloom, so does hope…Lady Bird Johnson

(…went to the Carlsbad flower fields yesterday…
GORGEOUS!!…more info & pics on Friday)

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday….Vulnerability

“Vulnerability is not weakness….and that myth is profoundly dangerous. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change!”…Brene Brown

(ps….you should read Brene Brown’s books!)

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Foodie Friday…Machaca Pizza

My friend Courtney’s family owned business, People’s Choice Beef Jerky, makes an array of amazing beef jerky. A while back she gave me some of their machaca to try. Machaca is a flavorful, spicy, dried, shredded beef (or pork)…looks kind of like beef breadcrumbs. At the time I used it in some egg recipes that were so good. The flavor that machaca imparts on whatever it’s paired with is awesome, spicy goodness!

So, about a month ago I wanted more protein based snacks to grab & go and decided to place an order with them. I loved their machaca, so thought I’d include that in my order…along with their artisanal sea salt & pepper beef sticksso good! Courtney had originally given me, what looked like, a medium sized package, so when I went to order I ordered two large, thinking that I could use it in a few different ways. What I didn’t realize was that I ordered 2 pounds of the delicious beef. She texted me later and said, “I can’t wait to see what you do with all that machaca!” Okay, time to be creative!

Weirdly, coincidentally, I realized a few months ago that I was allergic to eggs…which is just wrong! I used to have hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs…you name it…but things seemed to go awry when I ate them. Machaca is probably most known for pairing with eggs…for a yummy brunch dish…but that was not an option now.

As you probably know, I’m a big fan of anything on pizza and I happened to have some dough, mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese and ricotta leftover from  Pizza Monday, so decided to make a kind of pizza/flatbread with all the leftovers.

WOW….is all I can say! I texted Courtney a picture afterwards and the PC beef jerky family has since made their own version in their “test kitchen”.  As Charles Caleb Colton said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!” and I was honored that they liked the idea.

As I said, I already had everything I needed, so the only thing I really had to do was saute the mushrooms, (I reconstituted the machaca in the leftover mushroom/olive oil left in the pan) and assemble everything. Here’s how it came out….(layered… machaca/mushrooms/onions/goat cheese/ricotta…with some TJ’s everything bagel seasoning sprinkled over the top)….


…and I made an appetizer on crostini later in the week using the same ingredients…with many compliments!

Next up, I think it would be so good to use it on any recipe as a substitute for panko breadcrumbs….barbecued machaca shrimp anyone? I’ll let you know how that goes.

Bon Appetit!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday….Control

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t….Steve Maraboli

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Foodie Friday…Irish Soda Bread

I’ll be honest, the only memory I have of Irish soda bread is my grandma making it, with raisins or currants, and it being very dense (not really a “foodie” item…LOL). I’m not a fan of cooked fruit and as a child I don’t remember thinking it was FABULOUS…but it’s St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, so I thought I’d give it a go! I’m game for anything! Unfortunately I don’t have my grandma’s recipe, so I asked my Dublin friend, Gina, to share her recipe. Apparently every family has their version of soda bread. She had two of them…white or brown…and I made the brown one.  I think it’s a must to serve it with Irish butter and I’ll be honest, my memory of it being dense was not a lie…still pretty dense (I might have taken it out too soon?…and need to perfect my timing), but I think it was delish, made my house smell warm & cozy and so easy! Not bad for my first try!

Not only did Gina give me the recipe below, but she also added some important Irish St. Patrick’s Day trivia that you should know…

  • “If you want to be truly Irish about St Patrick’s Day: It’s NEVER called Patty’s Day for short here in Ireland. Patty is a woman’s name. It’s called Paddy’s Day!
    (no ‘St’ used) Or we say, colloquially, just one word: ‘Paddy’s’ …eg – “we’re off school for Paddy’s” “What are your plans for Paddy’s?” “I’ll be in ?? on Paddy’s” (the word night is implied there, & some venue / house)
  •  And NOBODY but NOBODY eats corned beef here on St Patrick’s Day. We barely eat it at any other time of the year either!! Ham or bacon is traditional. Beef was expensive, and the landlords would have had that. Not the rest of us!
  • Btw, don’t forget to add onto your post that Ireland will be playing England in rugby on St Patrick’s Day! (my side-note: looks like you can possibly stream it on BBC sports…or just go to an Irish pub somewhere) Every single heart will be in every single mouth – we’ve already won the 6 Nations championship last weekend (beat Scotland, Wales, France, Italy) because England is so behind in points. But on Saturday we’re playing England to win the Triple Crown (beat Scot, Wales, ,Eng) AND the Grand Slam (win the 6 Nations + Triple Crown)”

Thanks Gina!!

Brown Soda Bread (hers was in lbs/grams/liters..I’ve converted as best I could)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2 cups plain flour
1-3/4 to 2 cups whole wheat flour (called wholemeal in Ireland/Europe)
(….side-note: Her recipe is 1 lb of each flour and with the conversion I started with 2 cups and had to add a bit more buttermilk, so I’d say start with 1-3/4 cups and increase if needed)
1 level teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine baking sugar (called caster sugar in Ireland/Europe)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups buttermilk (Gina said full fat, no reduced fat here…but I went to three stores and apparently we only have reduced fat…what???…sorry Gina)

Mix the dry ingredients. Gradually mix in the buttermilk to form a moist enough dough.  Shape it into a round mound on a floured tin and cut a cross on top (this blesses the bread).

Bake @ 45 minutes…should sound hollow when tapped.


You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Make your bed…and other things that lead to happiness!

I’ve been listening to Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation podcasts and I find them so inspirational. I’ve gleaned some positive, interesting things from each of the episodes I’ve listened to, but I loved the one I listened to yesterday on my morning walk…..a conversation with Gretchen Rubin (click to see the whole episode, if you’re not into podcasts). Gretchen is the bestselling author of numerous books, but this talk is about her book, The Happiness Project. It’s worth reading and embarking on your own happiness project…and listening to this podcast/show….but I thought I’d share some bullet points to a happier life.

First of all, you don’t have to be unhappy to do this, sometimes we take things for granted and, even if your happy, it will help you sit up and pay attention.

  • Be Yourself…don’t try to be or do for someone else
  • Let “shit” go (she doesn’t use that word)….anger, resentment, grudges
  • ACT the way you want to FEEL…or in other words “fake it till you make it” It’s remarkable how this works!
  • Be polite & be fair…it’ll come back to you
  • Enjoy the process (of anything)…if you enjoy the process, it doesn’t necessarily matter if the outcome doesn’t go the way you planned.
  • Don’t keep score…tit for tat never works out in the end
  • There is only love…don’t live in a place of negative energy & gossip
cultivate happiness

So those are some of the ground rules. Now, here are couple more points she made that I thought were interesting and helpful.

  • Sing in the morning! I, personally, would add “dance” to that too. It just starts you day off with some positive, fun energy!
  • It’s okay to ask for help
  • Make your bed. The was-band and I never used to make our bed and I never really cared if my kids did either…unless we were having guests over. I have to say that since I’ve been single I do make my bed more, not every day, but way more. Part of it started out of necessity because my places were so small I needed some sense of calm and orderliness, but even now that I’m in my bigger house, I do love how it makes me feel when  my room looks neat, calm and serene when my bed is made. Here’s an article of some other daily rituals that make you happy.
  • Get rid of the clutter…just check out this blog post to see what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a “thing” is very sentimental and you can’t part with it…then don’t! I have the “Pizza Monday Chicken” that the kids and their friends initialed and drew on when they were growing up and it represents such great memories that I’ve kept it in all my moves and love looking at it
  • Make lists to get stuff off your mind and set aside a time each week to check off at least a few of the items on that list.
  • Lastly…you can only change yourself, so don’t try to change others.

So, 50% of people are genetically happier than others (I think that’s definitely where I get my innate positive outlook), 10-20% is circumstances like health, age, etc… BUT that leaves 30-40% room for you to determine the extent of your happiness through conscious thoughts and deeds.

You can purchase the book on Gretchen’s website…and she also has journals, calendars and other tools to get your own happiness project started!

When will you begin?!

…..and I just love this! Watch it!

The subject of happiness make me happier!! I love writing about it and spreading happiness! You deserve it in your life and it’s not that far out of your reach if you take the time to work at it.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…Irish edition

St Patrick’s day is Saturday…a few quotes and some of my favorite photos from my trip to the homeland a few years back.

May the dreams you hold dearest be those that come true,
And the kindness you spread keep returning to you.

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you’ll make one….Irish blessing

You know you were brought up by Irish parents if….in any crisis, large or small, the first thing to say is “Jesus, Mary & Joseph!” This one totally reminds me of my grandma, whose Irish brogue made it that much better!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday….Future Fear

You cannot spend your life preparing for future losses. It disrespects the blessings of the here and now….Joseph Lovett (via Frank Bruni’s interesting NY Times article)

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

2018 Oscar Party Time

Yup…it’s that time again! The Oscars are this Sunday. Casey Affleck will not be presenting, there’s sure to be political commentary by some and will the attendees wear black? I would love to see everyone with a #metoo or #timesup pin, but I’d also love to see some fun color on that red carpet. It’s always fun to be a fashion critic when watching and it’s kind of hard when everyone is wearing black….but that’s just me!

It’s always a fun party at my younger sister’s home…from the great food to the great company and who has the most wins on the ballot. Click here for a printable ballot.

Here’s my two cents on some of the films…click on name for trailers…

Call Me By Your Name… A lovely story, but could have been MUCH shorter. The middle dragged a bit. I thought Timothee Chalamet was great. The best part of the movie was the last 15 minutes & dad’s soliloquy.

The Post…  I went into it thinking it was all about the Watergate scandal and how The Washington Post and Katharine Graham were involved. It’s not about that at all. It’s about the Pentagon papers and how Graham handled it in a male dominated industry. Her husband had died and some of the men were very condescending to her. In the end she made the important decisions to keep the Post going successfully. Good movie, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are good, but I just thought it was okay.

The Shape of Water…I loved it! I didn’t really know anything about it, but it reminded me a little bit of the movie Her about falling in love with an operating system. At first, seemed totally stupid and then the love story just grew on me. Oh…and visually it was beautiful…greens and blues and the cinematography was amazing.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri…One of my favorites. It’s depressing, but the story kept moving. Frances McDormand was great and I predict she’ll win for best actress…and Woody Harrelson was also really good, but probably won’t win best actor.

Phantom Thread…I loved this movie!! Beautiful  cinematography, a twisted love story, sometimes just reminded me of a painting by Vermeer…just gorgeous! It’s quite a departure for Paul Thomas Anderson (director) from his other movies like Boogie Nights. (funny side note…my sister and I used to babysit him…our families were close friends)

The Darkest Hour…Interesting movie, although I thought a bit too long, considering we knew the outcome. Gary Oldman is great and I think will probably win in the best actor category.

Dunkirk…I’m sure it’s an amazing movie…it’s up for best picture…but I just wasn’t in the mood to watch another war movie….so I didn’t stay til the end.

Get Out…WOW, WOW, WOW! This movie is not for the faint of heart. It makes you uncomfortable, it’s suspenseful and, weirdly, there are funny parts. Very well done and should win best original screenplay, in my humble opinion…although 3 Billboards won the BAFTA for screenplay.

Lady Bird…I think I’d heard too much before I saw it. I really liked it, but wasn’t blown away by it. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are great…but it just kind of reminded me of my Catholic School girl days…without the mean mom. It made me a bit nostalgic, which was fun.

The Greatest Showman…Well, I’m a sucker for musicals. They hardly ever get the good reviews by the critics, but are liked by audiences….go figure. Anyway, I LOVED this musical and I’m really hoping the song “This is Me” wins best song.

…now what sort of clever food ideas can I come up with to go with these movie themes…English themed food for Dunkirk or The Last Hour, Ladybird Chicken, anything with a Phantom Thread running through it?????

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!