Cleaning Out My China Cabinet

I’m sure you’re wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.

What I can tell you is that it’s very hard to be creative and insightful when life’s abundances happen all at once and it begins raining metaphorically.

Just as I began to “settle in” to our new office at the shop, my real estate business picked up. It’s incredibly gratifying to help my friends and clients make what may be their biggest and most important move of their lives.

I love, love, love my Master Gardener class, which is 3 hours one afternoon a week. And I have homework! GASP!

Of course, there’s volunteer  work to be done.

Then my father-in-law had to be hospitalized, where he received a pacemaker.

I drove my dear friend Sophia to Columbia (Missouri) to see her mother in ICU one day.

We were thrilled that our good friends from Kearney were able to come up last weekend.  My husband was one meat-smoking machine before they arrived! Then there was more smoke, and fire alarms, and calls to Central Dispatch to tell them to please disregard any fire alarms from this address. And Macaroni and Cheese that tasted like Hickory Smoked Mac & Cheese. (But that’s another story).

So, apparently I was amped up from the busy last few weeks of work; last Sunday I had the overwhelming urge to clean out my china cabinet. And it had to be done right now.  I’m sure that happens to everyone. Doesn’t it? Please?  😉

This is my china cabinet. It’s one of my favorite pieces of furniture in our whole house. And versatile. It has served as a bedroom “dresser”, a linen closet, and now a china cabinet. I think I’ll keep it. Who knows what I might morph it into next?

My China Cabinet

It is filled with beautiful things that I almost never use anymore. We live a very casual lifestyle, and I am quite happy with this.

My grandmother’s china and crystal I am saving for our nieces, who haven’t picked it up yet. (Ahem!) 😉

Grandma's China-Before

Grandma’s China-Before

Gifts given to me by beloved friends I will keep and treasure, as well as heirloom pieces that have been in my family for several generations.

However, I have a few pieces that were given to me years ago by people with whom I’ve completely lost track of, as well as things I’ve purchased that I no longer use or like. I have a dear friend who’s daughter is collecting things for her future apartment. Perhaps I can bless her with some of these things.

I have no idea why I somehow felt this particular need to start this project now. After all, it’s not anything that can be done in one day (especially by the time I wash everything I’m keeping!) So this is what my kitchen looked like last Sunday.

My Messy Kitchen

My Messy Kitchen

 

Sometimes I think it must be my version of ‘nesting’. When life gets out of control, it brings me a certain degree of peace and comfort to bring order to what I can control. This would, of course, be my house.

For me, it’s a soul-soothing process to bring order and beauty to something that’s cluttered. It feels so good to open a cabinet door and have the space be pleasing to my eyes. Ahhhhhh.

This also means that my kitchen is a form of chaos until the project is done. But if you aren’t spending that much time there, you really don’t notice.

The Kitchen Counter

The Kitchen Counter

So today I finished washing all the china and putting everything back in. Did you know that you can actually put your china and crystal in the dishwasher? Yep. I loaded up the dishwasher, WITHOUT soap or rinse agent, and set it on the delicate cycle. Perfect!

After

It’s done. Doesn’t it look nice? Ahhhhh… 🙂

It’s Time to Let Go….

My Mom's Bowls

My Mom’s Bowls

Last Saturday, when I was doing everything I could to avoid doing yard work, I had a sudden overwhelming urge to clean out my cabinets. Well, just one, actually.

This happens to me a lot. Both avoiding yard work and cleaning out something, that is.

I was making a dish for an event that night, and I suddenly realized how…unhandy…and unsightly..this overstuffed cabinet really was.

The problem was it was my mother’s serving ware and bowls that was taking up the space. Uh oh. I couldn’t get rid of those! Those were my MOTHER’S!!!!

I sat on the floor and looked at those dishes, wrestling with my conscience.

I examined my feelings.

Did I associate these dishes with any happy memories? No. Did looking at these dishes make me think lovingly of my mom and treasure my time with her? No, again.

This whole thought process took about 90 seconds.

My mom has been gone for almost 3 years, and these dishes have been living quietly in my cabinet.   They were leftover when all my parent’s belongings were distributed among family and friends or donated to charity. I brought them home because they were hers, they were in good shape, and I thought I might use them. I’ve used one of them once. Honestly, I don’t even really like them.

I kept a number of my mother’s things that do make me think of her.

I’ve kept her military uniform; the promissory note from the house they borrowed money to buy back in 1946; her wallet; and her funky jumpsuits she had made back in the 70’s, which I think I’ll wear for Halloween one day.

I’ve kept the basket that she painted when she was going through a basket-painting phase. It makes a great toy box! (Now if I could just teach them to put their toys away…)

The Toy Box

I kept the really funky fondue or casserole dish that I never remember her using, but I always thought it was really neat. (I know, my photo skills could have been a little better.) But you get the picture. (Pun intended!)

The Funky Casserole Dish

The Funky Casserole Dish

And, I kept the little sticker that she had bought but never used just to remind my husband (or any other fellas who visit the Black Dog Saloon) that we’re glad they are around. 🙂

The Manly Sticker

The Manly Sticker

But all these things have a memory associated with them, or they happen to be really cool or unique or meaningful in some way. And I kept a number of other things too, for one reason or another.

But the Corning Ware? Nah. The other serving bowls? Not really. They are just stuff, taking up space. Space that deserves to be filled with something either beautiful, meaningful, or functional.

So I took the picture above of them to have always and remind myself of what they looked like. I will bless someone else with them who may need them more, because that’s the way the world works.

And now, every time I open the cabinet door, my spirit lifts looking at the organized shelves that are pleasing to the eye. (Although my husband may tell you otherwise, my needs are pretty simple.)

And I hope the next person who ends up with her dishes will nourish her family with the enjoyment my mom did us for all those years. 🙂

Flashback Friday: My First Day of School

Me in First Grade

Me in First Grade

In honor of school starting this week and all the adorable “first day of school” pictures on Facebook, I thought it would be fun to reminisce about my first day of school.

What I learned from this is that I really, really need to work on organizing my pictures better. In other words, I couldn’t find the picture I was looking for, probably because I was looking for it.

This, however, will do. This is my first ever school picture when I started first grade (we didn’t have kindergarten in Elmer when I was a kid.)

I remember my first day of school. My dad took me to school in my brother’s Impala convertible. (It was cream, with red interior.) I might have been scared to death and painfully shy (yes, really), but at least I had a cool ride. 😉

I wore a dark green dress with a white collar and black patent leather shoes with gray plastic buckles. With socks.

My teacher, Mrs. Eitel, remembers it too. We reminisce about it every once in a while at the Moose (Lodge).

“I saw an old man bring you to class, and I thought ‘What’s this old man doing bringing his granddaughter to school?” she says. And we laugh.

It’s very simple: I was an accident. Yes, a bona-fide accident. My mother was convinced she had cancer, and swore she would jump off the bridge if it was anything but.

She was mortified to discover it was me.  They were 40 years old! Their kids were grown! And everyone in town wondered what on earth they were doing having a baby at their age. The slogan for Pepsi at that time was “For People Who Think Young” or something to that effect. I quickly earned the nickname of “The Pepsi-Cola Kid”.

Now, if you knew my parents, you would know that I was anything but unwanted. My parents really enjoyed me, and I like to think I kept them young. I know I enjoyed them. Well, mostly. Except for a brief period during my teen years.  😉

And Mrs. Eitel? We laugh particularly because some years later, she was in the exact same spot: nearly 40 years old and having a baby girl.

And as for my short hair? I would tell my mom I wanted to grow it out. My mom kept telling me, “But you love short hair!”

This always makes me think of the Far Side cartoon where the guy is stuck in quicksand. He shouts to the collie in front of him, “Lassie! Go get help, Lassie! Go get help!”

So ‘Lassie” runs through the forest, swims through the pond, rides the jet plane on her way to get help. Suddenly, about four frames later, she stops.

“Wait a minute!” she says. “My name’s not Lassie!” 😀

How I Lost 30 Pounds

Me and Ekko

Me and Ekko

First, I must tell you that this picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I still have the dog (and isn’t she cute?) and she weighs more than 30 pounds. Especially if you try to pick her up. But I digress.

I’ve spoken with a number of people who enjoyed or were inspired by my last post, where I shared my fitness testimonial. I’m so glad! 🙂 Good luck! You can do it, you just have to keep showing up!

I don’t believe in failure. I believe that each time you try is one step closer to success.

I’ve studied about healthy living and a variety of diets most of my life. I was never good at ‘dieting’. I have some friends who are doing, through a variety of sources, meal replacement shakes. I wish great success to you, and I’m sorry, but those don’t work for me. I love food. Food is living for me.

I have this evil twin who is the equivalent of a bratty teenager sitting on my shoulder. The minute I say, “I’m going to eat 1300 calories a day” or “I’m going to drink 2 (or 3) shakes per day, (or any other thing where I might deprive myself of something), she throws a tantrum, says “You’re not the boss of ME!” and the next thing you know, I’m running for the donuts. Or French fries. (I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like.) Or some other junky, fatty high-calorie food.

Because I know this about myself, and I also happen to be a strategic planner by nature, I set up a serious of strategies to help me deal with a variety of situations in this new lifestyle (way of living) I wanted to lead.

1. Find an eating plan you can live with. Mine happened to be the Paleo Diet (diet meaning ‘way of eating); I have a friend who’s content and seen great success with Weight Watchers. The common factor for both of us is that neither of us felt deprived. Ever. I don’t feel like I’m dieting. I eat what I want. I work out. The weight comes off. Sure, it comes off slower, but that time would have passed anyway, wouldn’t it?

2. Learn correct portion sizes. I know they make charts and stuff which tell you what a correct portion size is. But thanks to my evil twin, when I read them, it all turns to gobbledy-gook in my head. I can’t comprehend it, and I’m a pretty smart gal. Watch someone eat who’s naturally thin and who’s been naturally thin all their lives. See how big their portions are during a normal meal on a normal day. I can guarantee you restaurant portions are NOT appropriate portion sizes. I can make three meals out of one order of shrimp fajitas! Too small a portion size (e.g. starving your self) is just as bad as not enough. Your portion size should be adequate for your gender and level of activity.

3. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry. In another 15-20 minutes, you’ll probably be comfortably full.

4. If I want it, I eat it. I just don’t do it every day, and I always order the smallest portion. Oreo McFlurry? Sure! Give me the small, please. Hot ham and cheese with fries? The small in both, please. Nachos bel grande? Yes, please, I just had one last week! It only comes in one size, but in this case my spouse helped me eat part of it. And I continue with my normal way of eating at the next meal. I never think, “Well, I’ve blown it today, I may as well junk it up the rest of the day.” THAT is how you gain weight. Moderation in all things…

5. Always carry healthy snacks. I always have something to snack on in case I get too hungry. That’s when you’re the most tempted to eat something that’s not as healthy. Sometimes if I go a little too long, I’ll get a little too hungry. In that case, I’ll play a game with my evil twin: “Okay, let’s eat this (a healthier choice), and if you’re still hungry afterwards, I’ll eat what you want.” (Which is usually not healthy, but most of the time she isn’t hungry later.) 😉

6. Eat a balanced diet. Popcorn is suitable as a snack, but not as a meal replacement. Do you know what my dad fed beef cattle to fatten them up for market? CORN. At every meal, you should be eating a protein, vegetables, more vegetables, and a healthy fat. If you eat carbs, have a carb. You should eat 3 meals a day, and snacks only if you’re hungry. I graze at breakfast, have a mid-morning snack, a balanced lunch and dinner. If I’m hungry in the middle of the afternoon, I’ll have a small snack. The snack could be a slice of ham, some tuna, or a few cashews. Or pecans.

7. Prioritize. If I’m at a buffet, carry-in, or business meeting, I have two goals: to enjoy all my favorites, and not overeat. So I go for the good stuff. If you eat healthy stuff then go for your favorites, you’re either going to eat too much or feel deprived (or at least I would.) So forget the salad and canapés! I eat that stuff all the rest of the time. I go for the yummy stuff, filling my plate only ONCE, and then enjoy a piece of dessert. And I don’t feel one ounce of guilt. If I’m at the Cheesecake Factory, OF COURSE I’m having cheesecake! So I order a healthy appetizer for my meal (Thai Lettuce wraps, anyone?)

8. Exercise every day on vacation. I spent several weeks in Florida, ate and drank whatever I wanted. This is a lifestyle, mind you; I don’t deprive myself, therefore I continue with my lifestyle of mostly healthy eating and the occasional treat. I worked out every day unless it rained. And when I got home, I’d lost a pound and a half. And I ate out often. Like, every day. Seriously!

9. Stay away from trigger foods. ‘Trigger foods’ are foods that once you start, you can’t stop until they are gone. Thin Mints are my trigger food. I open a bag knowing I must consume the whole thing. I’m not content until the box is gone. So this year, my apologies to the Girl Scouts I didn’t buy from.

10. Keep It Simple. I’m a big fan of the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) I don’t count calories. I don’t measure, I don’t weigh, I just eat simple, whole foods without a lot of crap in them. Whatever you choose, keep it simple, easy to remember, and you can do it anywhere.

Now you know most of my secrets. If some of these work for you, great! And if they don’t, that’s fine too. Maybe they’ll inspire you to come up with some strategies of your own. Good luck! 🙂

There’s Always Something Good…

Sunset Behind Daytona Speedway

Sunset Behind Daytona Speedway

Because I’m naturally an optimist and choose happiness most of the time, there’s a large contingent of people out there who think I never get mad. Or am crabby.

I hate to burst your bubble, but that isn’t so. Just ask my husband. 😉

My life has its ups and downs, just like anybody else. I have had days where I  longed to be on a beach with a nice cold drink that looks like a salad and forget about the huge albatross that’s hanging over my head.

Or why I wonder why I ever wanted dogs. Or a house bigger than 900 sq. ft. Or why I ever wanted to leave a job where I didn’t get a paycheck every two weeks.

I’ve been through things that I hope some of the rest of you NEVER have to go through; just as some of you have been through things that make you feel the same way.

I read a book years ago which told me that something good always came out of something bad. Sometimes you just have to look for it.

So I started making a game out of it.

A week and a half ago, after I posted about going to the Leadership Retreat, I came down with a bad case of sinusitis. Like, my face felt like it was going to explode. (I’m sure you’ve been there.)

I missed the whole last weekend of the NEMO Fair and my favorite events. Dang.

I felt tired and draggy for a good part of the week. Dang. It’s hard to be creative when you’re crabby. (See? I told you I was crabby sometimes!)

Every day, I tried to identify something good that came out of it:

I spent lots of quality time at home with my girls, and didn’t have to have someone babysit.

I caught up on all my DVR’d episodes of The Pioneer Woman. (I love the Pioneer Woman.)

I made it most of the way through a large stack of magazines that had piled up during and after our trip to Florida.

I got to spend lots of time at home…and I LOVE being at home.

I’m neurotically organized, so for me…this was great stuff.

It was good that I was able to rest and recover, because I had a really busy week at work. (Which explains why I was a putz and didn’t post the rest of last week.)

I’m not saying that the good things outweigh the bad things. But what I am saying is that usually, there’s something good that happens that might not have happened otherwise.

Sometimes it’s a life lesson that you’ve learned; a relationship rebuilt; a missed event that might have been a blessing in disguise; a loved one who’s suffered terribly may finally be at peace; or a rest that your body needed your schedule wouldn’t allow otherwise.

The old saying “When a door closes, a window opens” really IS true. You just have to look for it.

So try it next time…you might find it changes your outlook just a little.

And what does this picture have to do with anything? We clearly missed watching a beautiful sunset…but look at those colors behind beautiful Daytona. How often does a good opportunity to get a picture like that come along! 🙂

What My Weight Loss Journey Taught Me

Veeve and I

Veeve and I Both Got the Pink Memo!

I’m a putz, I know. I haven’t blogged in over a week. Tomorrow, I’ll blog about being a putz. But today, my mind is on other things. 🙂

So last night was a very inspiring night.

Nate and Veeve of FKS Fitness hosted a Watch Party for a client who was featured on “Extreme Makeover”. If anyone truly deserved success, it was Chantell. She’s lost 159 pounds and literally discovered a whole new person along the way.

After the show, we Skyped with her and had a chance to offer our congratulations. It was obvious she is truly a beautiful person inside and out.

During one of the commercial breaks, Veeve asked me to share my testimony with the group, which on the heels of the show, inspired today’s post.

I teared up last night when I talked about how different I am today. There were some things I expected to achieve: losing weight, finding muscle, feeling better. Having more stamina. Less muscle pain. More energy. Sleeping better.

What I really never expected was how the confidence in myself that I built through my journey to fitness would bleed into other areas of my life.

In December of 2011, several months before my 50th birthday, I began to think about where I was at physically and where I wanted to be.  I wasn’t happy with myself,  and I worried about remaining healthy as I aged. My philosophy was that I could either spend money on a personal trainer and enjoy the benefits of looking and feeling fabulous, or I could wait and spend money on medical treatments.

I pictured how I would feel lying in a hospital bed waiting for a cath or heart surgery. Hmmm. This sounded, by far, like the lesser of two evils. I knew, at this time in my life, I had a choice.

That choice led me to FKS, where Veeve tailored a program for my goals and needs.  I kept telling myself that the first two weeks of training would be the hardest. I just needed to keep showing up. In mid-January, I departed for Florida, carrying with me a list of workouts to do while I was gone, courtesy of my trainer. I worked out consistently in Florida, ate my normal diet, enjoyed cocktails, and was rewarded with a loss of 2 pounds when I got home 6 weeks later.

And I’m still doing it. I told Veeve I think she’s stuck with me. 😉

Since then, I’ve lost 30 pounds through a lifestyle change. I’m not done yet. I still have 20 to go. But I know now I can do it. It’s just a matter of time.

Veeve pushed me farther than I would have ever pushed myself. We do all kinds of activities, from lifting to walking to jumping to Pilates to stretching. Indoors, outdoors, every day I do something different.

I’m not going to kid you: it was hard. Some days it still is.  There have been days I know if Veeve wasn’t there waiting on me, I wouldn’t have gotten up off the couch. Once in a while I still have those days.  I sweated a lot. (I still do!) I had sore muscles, but sore in a good way. (You see, exercising done properly shouldn’t cause pain). Well, except for feeling the muscle burn. HA

I learned how important, and what a difference breathing makes. I discovered “the zone” that I’ve only heard about (not that I get to spend much time there, mind you…we’re too busy mixin’ it up so I keep improving!)

Most of all, I discovered how much potential I really had inside me. I developed ‘body confidence’…because I realized my body was an incredible machine capable of great things.

I remember my “AHA” moment, just like yesterday. I was on a trip to Florida last November, out for my morning workout. In the beginning, to run 30 seconds made my lungs feel like they were going to explode. During a 30-minute interval training workout, I ran for 7 minutes straight. I couldn’t believe it. I felt powerful! And exhilarated. YES! This is living!

I believe God has an amazingly perfect system in place. Those who work hard and do the right things reap the most rewards.

I believed it before, but now I KNOW I can do anything I put my mind to. Suddenly, the rest of my life began to fall into place, just as it should be.

Fitness isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition; it’s a process. Any activity, done in proper form that gets your heart rate up is good for you. Even if your budget can’t afford working out consistently with a trainer, a basic package will help you learn what to do and how to do it…safely. I’ve learned how incredibly important form is, not only preventing injury but helping you target the correct muscle. The slightest shift in movement can make the biggest difference.

And I also learned that fitness is not something you do, check off your ‘to do’ list, and then you’re done with. Fitness, like life, is a journey.

It’s taught me patience. And persistence. And fearlessness. And an appreciation for my Powerful Self. 🙂

Reflections on My Leadership Retreat

Class of 2013

Class of 2013

Today’s regularly scheduled “Funny Friday” post has been postponed until tomorrow. I just got back from my Leadership Retreat, and my head is buzzing with other stuff. So come back tomorrow for regularly scheduled programming!

The last couple of days, the Missouri Association of Realtors’ Leadership Academy Class of 2013 spent “retreating” at the Stoney Creek Inn in Columbia. This was our 4th retreat, so we’ve gotten to know one another pretty well by now.

We’ve become a family.

As we’ve gotten to know and be more comfortable with one another, each retreat has been more enriching…and more profound.

The Leadership Academy teaches us not only how to be better at what we do, but to be better leaders in our communities, in our workplace, on our local boards, and at the state level if that’s what we choose to do. Each retreat is filled with incredibly dynamic speakers on a variety of subjects, group activities, team building exercises, and fun…all in interesting places around the state that I might not have visited in the first place.

These are all things that I expected to learn. I expected to have a blast. I expected to enjoy my classmates, and to enjoy the whole process.  I did not expect it to be life changing.

Here’s a few of the things I pondered on the way home today:

1. Leaders are made, not born. Some people may have natural leadership skills, but the best leaders are constantly learning and trying to become even better at what they do.

2. If you think you know all there is about leadership, you probably don’t.

3. Leadership is about listening: keeping your mind open, and hearing what others are saying. I assumed I would learn something from the people around me…I just didn’t realize how much. And from how many. And how meaningful it would be. I realized that if you always have to be right or to “win”, you’re missing an opportunity to learn from those around you.

4. When you have a group of people working together, what everyone has to say is important, and has merit. Everyone contributes to the whole. While the final product won’t have everything you wanted, it will have some of what you wanted. Because great leaders know that when we work toward compromise and helping others win – we all win.

5. And, sometimes the best course of action is to simply change course altogether.

6. Leadership has costs. Whether it’s financial, time away from your family, stress, fewer friendships, less social time…there are costs involved. “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” [Thanks to my dad for patiently paying for me to get through college on the 12-Year-Plan and only to remember 3 things…and that’s one of them.]

7. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table: a different style, personality, attitude, sense of humor, whatever. But that’s what makes you authentically you, and makes you effective. And genuine. And believable.

It’s an amazing process to take 12 diverse, opinionated people with various backgrounds, experiences, personalities, and ages and somehow transform them into a unified whole.

I like to think of it in terms of each of us being a piece of a pie: each slice has a slightly different appearance, and the filling components vary, but each is full of flavor and contributes equally to the whole.

So I’m just sayin’…if we were a pie, I think we’re a hot, wonderfully delicious, all-American – baseball and everything – Apple Pie. Only with nuts. 😀

Creating an Open Floor Plan

Before Wall Demolition

Before Wall Demolition

I love houses. I love everything about them. I love organizing them. I love decorating or staging them (I’ll explain the difference between the two in a later post.) I love making them feel like home.

Most of all, I love BEING at home in my own! But that’s the way it should be.

If you aren’t loving being at home, then there’s some tweaking that needs to be done somewhere.

A friend of mine contacted me recently; she and her husband loved their home, but wanted to give it an updated look. They had several things they wanted to accomplish with this remodel.

My mission: to create a fresh, timeless update that my overwhelmed friend would love, her husband who hated change could be on board with, and would suit their lifestyle and their expanding family for years to come.

This was the perfect project for the new Stanton Contracting Design/Build Division; our partner, Reid Yardley and I collaborated on their remodel. (Reid always makes my ideas even better.)

I promise I will post the complete series of Before and After pictures when it’s complete. In the meantime, the remodel is a surprise for a family member, so I can’t tell you who the client is. Yet. 🙂

One of the things the homeowner wanted to accomplish was creating a more open space between their kitchen and family room.  While open floor plans are pretty much the standard in most new construction and remains in demand by buyers, often you can re-create the feel in an older home.

Simply knocking out a wall and leaving a half-wall opens up and makes for a ‘friendlier’ space. The impact of a wall demolition in a room can really give you a lot of ‘bang’ for your buck!

In the Before picture, the wall divided the kitchen and the family room. The pillars, which were original to the house, make the room look dated.

After Wall Demolition

After Wall Demolition

The After picture was taken shortly after the wall was removed. Clearly, there’s work to be done. But look at the difference!

Reid will be installing a countertop on the half wall, and the kitchen will now have a little ‘nook’ in which to sit down and have a snack. It’s very on-trend right now to have countertops that coordinate but don’t exactly match if you have a kitchen island or bar.

The half-wall will still allow the homeowner to utilize that space for furniture, a necessity when the room’s dimensions are smaller and you need the wall space.

Our design calls for an archway with pillars on either side over this space, which will make a nice visual transition between the two rooms.

Today marks the transition for the homeowner from the ‘demolition and removal’ phase to the ‘reconstruction’ phase. This is the fun part! Each day when the homeowner comes home from work, there will be something new to see.

I can’t wait to see the finished project! 🙂

Funny Friday: “I Have WHAT in My Tree?!”

Trees at Knight's Key

Trees at Knight’s Key

Okay, first I have to tell you that this picture has nothing at all to do with this story. I just liked the picture, and it has trees in it. So now you know. 😉

15 years ago this fall, I moved back to Missouri to be with my beloved, now my husband. He had a cute little house, and had done a nice job making some improvements. It just needed to be…”girly-fied.”

One particular Saturday I was at the Wally World picking up some things to do just that.

You know how it is there…you end up going back and forth throughout the store. You forget things, they move things, you search for things…

One of the things I had on my list was a ficus tree. We had one corner of the living room that really needed some color, and at that time, silk plants were all the rage, and you could get them at the Wally World.

Toward the end of the excursion, I was browsing the greeting card aisle, deciding on which card or cards I was going to buy. Another lady who’d came behind me stepped up close and spoke to me.

“Excuse me ma’am,” she said politely. “Did you know you have underwear in your tree?”

I’m sure my eyes were as big as saucers. “No!” I told her. Shocked, I stepped around to the front of the cart where the ficus tree was hanging over the edge.

There, in front of God and everybody, were two pairs of brightly-colored men’s Speedo-type bikini underwear.

On hangers. Swinging merrily as I moved the cart. Probably waiving at everyone I passed.

I was mortified, at the time. I thanked her profusely, and promptly removed them from my tree, glancing around me to see if anyone else noticed. (Can you imagine watching this on a security camera?)

The moral of the story is: whatever mortifies you today may become favorite cocktail party conversation later! 😀

Recipe by Request: Turkey Burgers

Flavorful Turkey Burger

Flavorful Turkey Burger

My friend Beth and I were sitting on her front porch one evening talking about World Peace and other such important matters when the conversation naturally came around to food.

Like me, she is trying to work a variety of foods into her family’s diet, rather than eat the same old things. It is SO easy to get into a cooking rut. Trust me: I know.

At her request, I’m sharing this delicious recipe here so all of you have an opportunity to try it. 🙂

This is from my Food Lover’s Make It Paleo cookbook. If you have no idea what the Paleo diet is, just know that Paleo recipes are almost always very flavorful, and made from natural, whole-food products. They are usually also without sugar or grains.

If you like lots of flavor, you’ll like this recipe…and the simplicity of it! You can also use ground beef with this recipe. In the cookbook, it was served as an open-faced sandwich on a Portobello mushroom in the place of bread.

TURKEY BURGERS

1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef

Seasoning:

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. salt (I always use kosher salt in my recipes)

1 tsp. pepper

Mix together seasonings, and pour over ground turkey.

NOTE: If you’ve ever worked with ground turkey, you know it can be somewhat sticky. Just before I dive my hands into the meat to mix, I wash them and spray them with oil. This will make it much easier to make patties without half the meat sticking to your hands.

Form the meat into four equal-sized patties.

I also spray my grill grates before grilling any kind of meat; I even spray my spatula when working with turkey. Pam makes a spray oil just for grilling; your oil just needs to be able to endure high heat.

The recipe says: Grill turkey patties on high for about 5 minutes per side, flipping once.

If you know your grill, you know how much heat works best and where your “hot spot” is. I heat up the grill to about 300, and turn the heat to low, grilling them until the outside edges start to look a little white and there are grate marks clearly visible (which is about 5 minutes). Then, I turn them, watching them closely until there are visible grate marks and they look “done”.

If you cook them too long, they are still flavorful, just dry. It works best if you check them frequently and pull them just at the point they are done.

I can’t roller skate and chew gum at the same time, I don’t know why I ever thought I could multi-task while I was cooking. 😀 Enjoy!

Mine are served here with grilled zucchini and a lettuce wedge with homemade ranch dressing. YUM!