Baby it’s Cold Outside! Comfort in the CCCCCCCCOLD!!

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Brutally cold but I'm still smiling!

Brutally cold but I’m still smiling!

Yikes it’s cold here in the Midwest! By cold, I mean 8 degrees below zero cold- and that’s not wind chill, that’s actual temperature, my friends. That was the temperature when I awakened this morning, and had to take my dogs out on leash because my little dog runs through the invisible fence. His wee paws froze after about 2 minutes and I had to bring him in to thaw before trying to take him out again so he could do his duty. That kind of cold is beyond description, you just have to experience it to know what I mean.

My backyard right now! Yikes!

My backyard right now! Yikes!

It’s worse because my daughters, sister and niece are currently in Florida experiencing their version of cold- 60 degrees, as I’m shivering here in Indiana. My house is pretty warm and cozy on a regular basis, but in this kind of cold even my house seems drafty and chilly. When it’s so disgustingly frigid out, I need peace more than ever, and I turn to my tried and true, sure fire ways to feel cozy and happy no matter what the temperature. In past posts, I mentioned ways I feel comforted when experiencing stress of any kind, reading my Kindle, listening to music, taking a bath, spending time spiritually, and a good meal/glass of wine. I thought today I’d share ways in which I help myself feel especially contented when it’s warm.

Jac and a light saber!

Jac and a light saber!

1. Watching a good movie– I love to watch movies when it’s cold out, or when I’m sad/stressed. My favorite movies to watch are the Star Wars series, and I admit I’m sort of a Star Wars freak. I have watched the series probably 50 times or more, and I never get tired of watching the movies. Something about the whole good versus evil thing, with good winning out just gets me every time.

Love me some Yoda!

Love me some Yoda!

The good thing is that I’ve infected my family with my Star Wars mania and they love Star Wars too. Jacqueline has a Han Solo frozen in carbonite phone case (watch the series for explanation), and the girls gifted me with a visit to the traveling Star Wars exhibition last year at the Indiana State Museum for Mother’s Day, and they enjoyed it almost as much as I did. My Honey gave me the light saber you see in the picture of Jac for Christmas this year, it is glass, and he chose the colors and sounds for it. What a guy! Anyway, watching any of the six Star Wars movies never fails to make me feel cozy and comforted, so whatever your favorite movies are- watch them with your family and you’ll feel all warm inside!

Cozying up with dogs should never be underrated!

Cozying up with dogs should never be underrated!

2. Dogs (or cats if that’s your preference)- My dogs have always comforted me in times of sadness. They’re also excellent at warming up my toes and lap by laying on me when I’m cold. Whenever my little guy, Chewie, sees a blanket come out on any member of our family, he comes running to share in the cuddle time. I can’t remember a time when they’ve failed to give me warmth and love. They give me so much more than I give them, and I love them so much!

A soft blanket made even better by my children's faces on it!

A soft blanket made even better by my children’s faces on it!

3. A cozy blanket– When my daughters went away to college, I had a blanket made for each of them with different pictures of family and friends on it, hoping that it would comfort them by laying under all of the loving people in their lives. I wanted them to feel like we were all holding them in a warm embrace, even when they were far away from home. They both have told me that it is one of the best things they have at college, and it reminds them they are loved by lots of people. I had them made on Walmart.com and they are relatively inexpensive, $60ish. It’s pretty easy to download the pictures and create the collage of photos. I paid a little extra for the larger blanket with the thicker fleece and felt it was well worth it. Imagine my surprise when my girls had a blanket made for me last year with pictures of the three of us on it, so that I would feel comforted when they both went away to college for the first time last fall! I love my blanket and use it almost every day. When they left to go on their trip to Florida, the first thing I did after coming home from dropping them off at the airport was lay on the couch under my blanket of our faces. It’s soooo cozy and makes me happy to use it. I highly recommend having one made for your loved ones too! And have them make one for you!

Past Disney trip, modified with a few extra faces by my Honey!

Past Disney trip, modified with a few extra faces by my Honey!

4. Looking forward to a warm trip (or looking back fondly on a past one)- Another way I make myself feel better when it’s cold out or when I’m sad, is to either look forward to an upcoming warm trip or reminisce about a past one. I love to look at pictures from past trips we have taken, I can almost feel the sunshine jump out of the pictures and into my body!

Recent family trip to Key West- good times in a beautiful place!

Recent family trip to Key West- good times in a beautiful place!

I also love to plan future family trips to warm places. We are going to Florida over spring break, and it is such fun to spend time working out the details of our sunny trip to a warm location when it is so bleak and cold outside. It makes me feel like I’m there, at least for a short while.

Watching my girls cheer on my Boilers- happiness!

Watching my girls cheer on my Boilers- happiness!

5. Watching my favorite team (and my favorite cheerleaders)- Even before my daughters were cheerleaders I loved to watch my Boilers. We had season tickets to Purdue football for years when the girls were little, and went to many basketball games. We also liked watching the games on television when we couldn’t attend them. Now, it’s so much better when I can not only watch my Boilers, but I can watch my beloved daughters cheer for them too. It’s a definite win-win for me! I particularly love watching the NCAA basketball tournament in March. March Madness is so infectious, and jumping up and down to cheer on my team warms me up too! Go team go!

Well, that’s all I have time for today, Folks, but there are so many other things I love and that bring me comfort. They are dark chocolate, cooking, exercise, popcorn, cookbooks, coffee, spicy food, and writing my blog! I couldn’t live without these, along with all the others I mentioned above. They get me through bleak and cold times in my life, both outside and inside as well. I hope my list of favorites helps you and inspires you to surround yourself with love and serenity. You deserve it, my wonderful readers. It will help you lead a life of vitality- with Valerie!

New Year’s Resolution? Nah, just be good to you!

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My daughters jumping for joy! This is how I feel at the start of a new year!

 

This is EXACTLY the way I feel at the beginning of a new year. I am always very energized by the start of something new. There is so much hope looking forward to the unknown. It can be a little scary too, so for me, though I’m excited I am also in need of comfort. Especially after the end of the holidays which are so HECTIC and crazy, I’m definitely in need of some ME TIME. Let me tell you though that about five years ago, I was so stressed out and burned out that I sat down to make a list of the things I enjoyed and that give me comfort BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN SO LONG THAT I’D DONE ANYTHING FOR MYSELF THAT I HAD TO MAKE A LIST TO REMIND MYSELF OF WHAT I LIKED TO DO!.I don’t want that for any of you, so I’m going to share my list with you now. However, I urge you to make your own list, I’m just giving you a jump start with mine! As we begin a new year and a new chapter in our lives, I wish you a cozy new year! Here we go!

One of my favorite things- my Bose Bluetooth speaker!

One of my favorite things- my Bose Bluetooth speaker!

1. Music- My sister and I were talking on the phone this morning and she was mentioning how important music is to her, and she suggested I write about how HEALTHY music can be for you. Now you might think, “How is music healthy for you?”, but it really is. I always say that music soothes the savage beast in me, and I believe it to be true. There have been MANY days when I’m sad or upset, I turn on my music and feel SO much better. My Honey bought me my Bose Bluetooth speaker, which goes wherever I do because it’s cordless, and I link it to all the songs on my phone (over 2,000 at current count), and I have instant uplifting music. I make different song lists and depending on my mood I can “Pump Up”, listen to my “Faves”, or be inspired by my “Inspirational” list. I always say that I don’t collect things, that’s my Mama’s passion, not mine, but I do collect songs!

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Another thing I really like to do associated with music is to attend concerts of my favorite singers/bands, and I’ve seen quite a few of them. As much as I enjoy listening to my music at home, I love hearing live music a hundred times more. There is an energy and electric feeling at a live music show, and it is awesome for me. Besides seeing famous bands, I also like to see local bands and musicians around Indy. My Honey and I share a love of classic rock music, and have spent many fun evenings rocking out near home. It’s great couple time too!

 

Jacsy loves her bath time!

Jacsy loves her bath time!

2. Baths- This is a newly acquired love for me. I’ve always been a showerer- you know, get in quickly, get out quickly. My older daughter, Jacqueline, loves to bathe and her enjoyment is so infectious that I was inspired to try it. I downloaded some classical music to my phone, lit some candles, put in some wonderful bath products and soaked. I LOVED IT! It was so relaxing and soothing!

Lush bath products are environmentally sound and wonderfully luxurious!

Lush bath products are environmentally sound and wonderfully luxurious!

Jac loves Lush bath products and when I got some for Christmas for her I also tried them myself. The bath bombs rule! You drop them into your bath and they sparkle and fizz. They are all natural and have different aromas too. They make bathing even more fun! I highly recommend them!

 

Love my Kindle and my doggie!

Love my Kindle and my doggie!

3. My Kindle- I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember. I don’t ever recall a time in my life in which I didn’t have a book in my hand. Reading gives me comfort, a sense of peace, and a satisfaction I don’t get from any other past time. Something else I collect besides songs are books on my Kindle. I got a Kindle about five years ago, after being VERY resistant to the idea of reading on an e-reader type device. I’m an avid reader, and rarely does a day go by that I don’t read something. I also read my morning mass readings and devotions each day. So when going out of town I’d be dragging around tons of books. That’s what convinced me to get a Kindle, for the ease and convenience of transporting and reading books. I read some pretty big books and instead of holding up a weighty book, I am using my very light Kindle.

This is from my new Kindle Paperwhite!

This is from my new Kindle Paperwhite!

This Christmas my Mama got me a new Kindle Paperwhite with the built in light and I LOVE IT even more than my old one. I can store tons of books on it and the battery lasts forever! I currently have around 120 books on my Kindle waiting to be read, and probably 300 in the archives that I’ve already read. I told you I collect books! I also save inspirational phrases and things that move me in some way by taking a picture and storing them on my phone like the two pictures above. Reading is life!

So, these are a few of my favorite things, and I’m going to share some more with you in the next few posts. I challenge you to think of some of your favorite things, and ENJOY THEM EVERY DAY! Life is too short to wait for time to do the things that comfort you and bring you peace. I’m going to be reading, listening to music, and taking baths because these things make me feel cozy and comforted. Try these things and you’ll be living a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Being Thankful is GOOD for your Health! And Turkey Leftovers Part 2!

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I'm so thankful for these two!! xoxo

I’m so thankful for these two!! xoxo

Since the holiday centered around thankfulness is tomorrow I started thinking about being thankful. I did some research and did you know that being thankful is actually good for your health? Yes, it’s true! People who have social connections- through family, friends or even companion animals- have longevity, survive serious diseases, and have better health than those who have no social connections. Also, the act of “being grateful” is associated with better physical and emotional health, which makes sense, doesn’t it?! People who have social support are found to have more of the immune system natural killer cell activity, and even people who care for companion animals get sick less and recover faster than those who don’t have animals. It makes me doubly thankful for my family, friends and animals this Thanksgiving! I’m also thankful for my love of cooking which comes in handy during this food centered holiday! Tomorrow I’ll be cooking turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts, cranberries and asparagus for my family and though it’s exhausting I’ll enjoy every minute of it.

A long ago Thanksgiving- I'm so thankful for my family!

A long ago Thanksgiving- I’m so thankful for my family!

So you’re done with all the cooking and you’re left with a mountain of turkey meat, what do you do with it all? My family will eat turkey in the traditional Thanksgiving way for maybe one more meal after that before they are sick of it and I’m forced to be creative. In my last post “Leftovers you’ll love, what to do with all that turkey part 1”, I shared a recipe for leftover turkey (or any kind of meat) enchiladas which I hope you enjoyed reading about. Today, I’m going to share with you a recipe for turkey hash that is delicious, easy, and will get rid of more of that turkey in a different way.

Ingredients gathered and ready to go!

Ingredients gathered and ready to go!

Leftover Turkey Hash– ingredients, 2 cups of leftover turkey (or any) meat, 6 small potatoes, minced garlic, one small onion, 5 small red, orange and yellow peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Nuke the potatoes first!

Nuke the potatoes first!

1. Microwave 6 small potatoes for 5 minutes or until slightly soft. I like to microwave my potatoes first so that they will mostly cook before I put them in the pot. It saves a little time for me, which is always a good thing.

Chop your veg next!

Chop your veg next!

2. Prep your veggies next by chopping them so they’re ready to go in the pan.

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3. Heat your pan, add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, and toss your veggies in until they’re softened. Then, add a teaspoon of minced garlic.

Chop potatoes when they come out of the microwave!

Chop potatoes when they come out of the microwave!

4. After the potatoes come out of the microwave, cut them in half to let them cool for a minute or two, then chop them into small pieces and add them to the pot with the other vegetables. Also, at this time add a teaspoon each of chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste at this time as well.

Everything happily cooking in the pot!

Everything happily cooking in the pot!

5. Add two cups of turkey meat next. In this case I was using a ham I had made the previous night for my hash. I’ll be using turkey after tomorrow!

Time for the eggs!

Time for the eggs!

6. Now is the time to make your fried eggs because hash is best when it’s covered with a delicious egg. All that gooey yolk runs over the hash to add a level of unctuousness to it! I just add a bit of butter to a fry pan, crack my eggs in, and cook them until the white is solid. The secret to delicious fried eggs is to cook them low and slow- slowly over a low heat- in order to keep them tender.

Yummmmm!!

Yummmmm!!

The only thing left to do at this point is to plate the hash, add the egg to the top of it, and eat! Add a few drops of hot sauce if you want a little extra kick, like I do. This meal can be eaten any time of the day or night because in my opinion eggs and hash are not just for breakfast. The picture at the beginning of this post shows my daughters digging in to this meal yesterday afternoon and they thought it was really great! So that’s it for today, and I hope you will try this recipe because it really is easy and delicious. I just want to say that I soooooo appreciate all of my readers, and know that when I count my blessings, you are one of them! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading and sharing my blog, it has been a life changing experience for me in every way! As I said earlier, being thankful is good for your health so take some time in the next few days to count your blessings as I will be. Being thankful will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!