Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project


Keeping a Grateful Heart
I am finally reading a book that I have been wanting to read for a long time, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s been out since 2009, and it was a New York Times Bestseller. That’s probably why I haven’t read it until now. Most of the books I love, I don’t find on the bestselling lists. I’m a stacker and I love historical fiction, biographies, and anything to do with British History. But, I do enjoy the occasional fluffy book. I love this one. She tackles everything in a year. Wouldn’t that be great! Rubin sets a goal each month to work on her own happiness. So I started reading this book and soon realized I didn’t want this to end, this is some really good advice. Think of what you could have accomplished in the last year just taking it one step each month.
I thought I would share with you her resolution for November: “Keep a Contented Heart”. Here is an excerpt from the book, and I think it is some pretty great advice that most of us could use when thinking about being grateful in the world today.
“Did I have a heart to be contented? Well, no, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please. In some situations this served me well, because it kept me constantly striving to improve my work and achieve my goals. In most areas of my life my critical streak wasn’t helpful.”

So the author began to focus on her attitude instead of her actions. She realized she wasn’t laughing like she used to, so she pursued laughing more. She wanted to be kinder, so she focused on good manners, and she resolved to redirect her thoughts away from things that made her irritated. She also focused on “giving good reviews “. She looked for ways to be sincerely enthusiastic and have an uplifting influence on those she encountered. And she kept a refuge in her mind that was a peaceful place. The surprising thing to her was, she found it made her more joyful. She found she could keep a contented heart.
So, what does this have to do with being thankful? Rubin found that as she made these shifts in perspective that her friends and family responded and that she had more laughter, more joy, and fewer things bothered her. She became more grateful. She learned to appreciate the people who brought joy into her life. Which made me think. What if we all came home from work, putting aside all negativity as we came through the door. What about the waitress or sales clerk that you could give a positive review. Or spouse or child? What if we all came into worship on Sunday with this same focus? What if we focused on a joyful worship? What if we came into meetings with this same attention to being joyful and grateful. What if you let loved ones know just how grateful you are for them.

Rubin also included this sweet little prayer of Saint Augustine of Hippo:
“Tend your sick ones, O Lord Jesus Christ;
rest your weary ones; bless your dying ones;

soothe your suffering ones; pity your afflicted ones;

Shield your joyous ones.

And all for your love’s sake.

Amen

I hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy, love and peace. I am grateful for you.

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Kettlebell at 52

It works, best thing I have done in the last two years. All about form.I have been doing Kettlebell classes with a trainer for the last two years. My husband has joined me in this and we love doing the classes together twice a week. This year we started teaching the classes at our church on Sunday nights. We do a 30 minute workout and then have a devotional. We call it Aldersweight after John Wesley’s heart changing experience at Aldersgate. The transformation both inside and out in this group is amazing. We have 70 and 80 year olds working out with teens. Building up the temple.

Heavenly Mac and Cheese


This is one of those sacred recipes. In fact, I have shared it with only one other person, my niece, so she could make it for her littles. We made it on a family trip to the beach and the littles named it, “Beach Mac and Cheese”. So, if you make it and like it please give it a name from your family, too. I got the recipe from a family friend several years ago after she made it for us when we had a loss in our family. I never follow the directions exactly on anyone else’s recipes. I have to tweak almost everything I cook because of my food allergies. I hope you like this recipe as much as my family and friends do. 

HEAVENLY MAC AND CHEESE

1 bag of Elbow Macaroni 

Tablespoon of olive oil

Water

1 Stick of Butter

4 T of flour

3 Cups of Fairlife Milk

Teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

1 lb Velveeta Queso Blanco cut up into cubes

Salt

Pepper


Fill a large pot with water for cooking the pasta. Add the olive oil to the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the package of elbow macaroni and bring to a boil. Boil about 15 minutes or until macaroni cuts easily. Drain and set to the side.


Cut up stick of butter and melt in a large saucepan. Add flour a Tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly with a whisk. Start adding milk very slowly, using the whisk to break up any lumps that may form. Continue whisking as you add all the milk. Let cook for a few minutes to where milk mixture is warm. 



Now, add in the Velveeta Queso Blanco cubes a few at a time. Using a large spoon stir until all Velveeta is melted. Add in Lawry’s seasoning.


Spray bottom of Crockpot Casserole Dish with cooking spray. Pour in drained macaroni. Stir in cheese mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low for 1-2 hours.


Or:

Spray bottom of a 13x9x2 with cooking spray. Pour in drained macaroni. Stir in cheese mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Enjoy. This is a very special recipe to me, lots of memories at the beach, the holidays, taking it to friends. I hope you do the same.

Tex Mex Soup


This has been a family favorite soup for at least 15 years. It’s Tex-Mex, ya’ll. One of my friends from first grade proclaimed it “the Jesus soup” after I took it to her family when her Daddy had passed away. She called me later that night and said they ate it all, it was the only thing they could eat, how much they loved it, and could she have the recipe please. So here it is:

TEX MEX SOUP

1 lb Ground Beef

1 small Sweet Yellow Onion, diced

Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

1 can Ranch Style Beans, partially rinsed

1 can Tomato Sauce

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1/2 cup Corn

1T Chili Powder

3 cups of Water (or you can do partial chicken broth)

Shredded Cheddar

Tortilla Chips
Brown the ground beef with the diced onion over medium heat in a large frying pan. Drain and place in crockpot. Add one teaspoon of Lawry’s seasoning salt to meat and stir. 

Drain can of Ranch Style Beans and rinse off about half of the sauce left on the beans. Here is a pic of what I am talking about. Add to crockpot and stir. 


Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, corn and chili powder. Stir. I use organic as much as I can, it make a huge difference in the flavor.

Add 3 cups of water to mixture and stir. Sometimes I will do chicken broth instead, it is up to your taste. Stir up mixture and cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Add water as needed if your cooker runs hot.

To serve, crumble up tortilla chips and place in bottom of a soup bowl. Top with the shredded cheddar. Pour soup on top. Top with salsa, if you want more heat. Enjoy.


TEX MEX SOUP

1 lb Ground Beef

1 small Sweet Yellow Onion, diced

Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

1 can Ranch Style Beans, partially rinsed

1 can Tomato Sauce

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1/2 cup Corn

1T Chili Powder

3 cups of Water (or you can do partial chicken broth)

Shredded Cheddar

Tortilla Chips
Brown the ground beef with the diced onion over medium heat in a large frying pan. Drain and place in crockpot. Add one teaspoon of Lawry’s seasoning salt to meat and stir. 

Drain can of Ranch Style Beans and rinse off about half of the sauce left on the beans. Add to crockpot and stir. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, corn and chili powder. Stir.

Add 3 cups of water to mixture and stir. Sometimes I will do chicken broth instead, it is up to your taste. Stir up mixture and cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours. Add water as needed if your cooker runs hot.
To serve, crumble up tortilla chips and place in bottom of a soup bowl. Top with the shredded cheddar. Pour soup on top. Enjoy

Estée Lauder Double Wear Nude Makeup Review 

Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation has been my favorite makeup for many years. I have tried others, but I always go back to it. As I am aging I have wondered if I didn’t need something with a little bit more moisture to it during the cooler times of the year. The girls at the department store counters usually follow the company sales pitch about aging skin. But, all I get is pimples to go with my wrinkles with every new moisturizing creation. I don’t need more moisture. What I need is a tight pony tail like Cher wore back in the day. I’m definitely doing the Goldie Hawn bangs, too. Bangs not Botox for me.

Estée Lauder launched a new version this year of my beloved Double Wear, they call it Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick Radiant Makeup. It is their foray into the popular sponge makeup that all the beauty brands are scrambling to promote. Lancôme and Clinique have their versions of sponge makeup, too. With summer ending our temps are dropping into the eighties now. Which means the heat and humidity will not be melting my look as much. So it is a good time to give something a fair trial run. The regular Double Wear is my mainstay because it can withstand the Texas heat and the Florida humidity.

I decided to try the new Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick Radiant Makeup. (C’mom please make me look thirty.) I met a wonderful lady at the department store counter who was very no nonsense. My previous makeup girl had wigged out on me years ago when she left the counter and her husband to go after a shoe salesman. I miss her. I have spent years trying to find someone who would be real with me and could choose colors. Finally, I met Rita. She is the cool, stylish woman you want to be when you can wear silver hair. She used a little hand held digital device to read my skin color and it turned out I had been wearing the correct color all these years. Rita is a caring, beautiful lady and she mothered me that day at the counter. Mothered not smothered. It was what I needed. I left with my new Double Wear Nude sponge makeup and several other goodies and samples. I shall be very loyal to Rita.

First, the makeup is in a tube that you twist to get some foundation onto the sponge. You are to press it all over your face and then blend and buff it. After wearing the foundation for a month now, I found a pattern on my forehead and cheeks was the best placement and then blend out from there. A little goes a long way. When it first touches the skin it may seem a shade too light, but blending it into the skin with my fingers is what gives it a nice finish. It goes on fairly easy. Rita did a great job demonstrating it to me at the counter. As foundations go, it is lighter than regular Double Wear. So, if you have found it too heavy, Double Wear Nude may be the answer. It does feel soft to the touch on my skin. Some does come off on the phone when I can’t use speakerphone. That’s always one of the biggest tests to me. Another test is how does it look around 5 o’clock. It did last past dinner time on my skin. And finally, does it last through Zumba or Kettlebell? Happy to report I had a nice glow after Zumba class, actually kind of radiant.

Wine With Friends – Apothic Inferno

In the last week, two different people told me “you have got to try this new Apothic wine!” The first one, a dear friend from first grade, is a whiskey drinker. Maker’s Mark to be exact. The second, one of my favorite waitresses who knows I like the big flavored reds. They both also told me it was not so readily available and to go to Sprouts. So I went to Sprouts.

That afternoon I texted my girlfriend from high school drill team to ascertain if she would like to test it out with me. ” Sure” was her quick answer. Don’t you love those friends that you can text and say hey, you want to….and 90% of the time it’s a go! I am blessed to have several of these friends and I think it is one of the great pieces in the puzzle of happiness. 

Wine is another piece of the puzzle of happiness. I love finding a new Cabernet that’s full of great flavors. My friend arrived at wine-thirty and I grabbed two big glasses and did the first pour. Wow. Drill team friend giggled as she cleared her throat and her eyes grew wide. “Kind of burns a little”, she laughed. It had a bite to it! Then she looked at the bottle and spotted it was 15.9% alcohol. Wow.

The Apothic Inferno label says it has flavors of “red and dark fruit, maple and spice”. We agreed we could feel the maple and the spice. Inferno is a small batch, limited release, 2014 red blend that is aged for 60 days in whiskey barrels. Was it smooth? I think my Whiskey Drinker friend thinks so. It was a bit strong for the two old Drill Team Girls. But, I enjoyed it for the unique flavors. I had to drink water to clear my head so I could finish dinner. In the end, my twenty three year old came in, took a sip, took another sip and walked away with the rest of the glass. “That’s pretty good, I can definitely taste the alcohol “, he said.

I would suggest this wine as a gift to your whiskey drinking friends. It appeals to those who like a stronger flavor and could maybe turn someone into a wine drinker.  Remember it is a limited release so get it while you can, it would make a great Christmas gift.