Are You Smiling Yet? If not- You will be!

No one's looking, it's safe. Go ahead- Smile & have yourself a little giggle as you read about my life and the thoughts that come spilling out of my head. (Watch out for flooding though- my head's not as near as empty as my husband claims it to be!) If my ramblings don't make your day a little brighter nothing will! I promise I won't be offended if you laugh at my expense- I consider it an honor to spread happiness. Besides- if I can laugh at myself you certainly can too!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Kindness Mission

As part of achieving my life goal, lately I have done a lot of self-reflection. I’ve been trying to discover exactly what I want to do with my life, how I can make myself a better person and what changes I need to make within to accomplish my goals. While I know the journey to answer these questions will be a long one, possibly never-ending, I have discovered one thing: I have a strong desire to improve myself and the world & people around me. I want to do more, but don’t because of lack of money & time & organization.

Those are excuses that have stopped me from acting on nice ideas. I’ve decided that I need to stop giving power to the reasons why I can’t do things and simply start DOING what I CAN. Money is not an issue- kindness doesn’t have to cost a thing. Lack of time isn’t a valid excuse- I can spare a few minutes out of my day to spread joy. Organization might be my biggest obstacle, but it’s not something I can’t overcome.

I am taking a step forward to becoming the person I know I can be. I am on a personal Kindness Mission. I am vowing right now to simply DO more. I’m not committing to doing something extraordinary every day, but to simple becoming more aware of ways I can spread the nice revolution in my dad-to-day activities. More often than not what I do won’t be blog worthy, but hopefully they will be smile worthy.

So who will join me? Who will pledge to start living a life of kindness? Don’t let excuses stop you like they did me for so long. Sooo many wonderful people out in this vast world are showing that you can make a difference with the smallest acts of kindness. You don’t need to wait for some huge opportunity to do something nice- sometimes the littlest things count and make the biggest difference. I discovered myself how doing one small thing for someone made their day better and filled me with happiness. Now I can’t wait to see how else I can further my Kindness Mission and what everyone else does.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flowers for a Stranger

I’m subscribed to a few different Kindness blogs and really enjoy the ideas and uplifting experiences I read about through them. I was inspired by a fellow Kindness Blogger to do my first real RAOK (Random Act of Kindness) to a total stranger today. Betsy, from The Kindness of Strangers, has declared the 27th of each month “Give Flowers to a Stranger Day.” She enjoyed it so much when she did it originally on April 27th that she’s done it every month since. So when I seen her reminder post last night in my Google Reader I just knew that I wanted to be a part of it too. :o)

This morning I decided that it would be good to include the kiddos in my RAOK. So my normal Friday solitaire trip running errands turned into a family excursion that hopefully opened my children’s eyes to the magic of kindness. First stop was Kroger's where I was hoping to find a beautiful bouquet of flowers on mark down, because while I love being nice- I am on a budget after all. Unfortunately the only bunches they had were too costly for my wallet. Not to be deterred- I picked up 2 pretty white flowers that were inexpensive. (It’s the thought that counts- not the price, right?)


Back in the van we attached a simple note card that I printed for free here from Frog Prince Paperie. I wrote a message on the back explaining that it was a RAOK and encouraged the recipient to carry on the kindness.


On to Wal-Mart we went, where we was faced with the challenge of finding the stranger to give our flowers too. I didn’t want to bother anyone that was sitting in their cars- I was afraid it would creep them out if a stranger came tapping at their window. I tried to engage the boys in helping me find someone. We decided that it would be best to give the flowers to someone that was leaving Wal-Mart and that a woman would appreciate them more so than a man. With that in mind we moved by the doors and waited outside.

When a mother with her young son in the cart exited I decided she would do just fine. I do have to admit it took a bit of courage to get her attention and give them to her- I had no idea what type of reaction I would get. But I just decided what they heck & to go for it and got her attention. Then I simply told her these were for her and handed them to her. She didn’t ask why or anything and simply said thank you. I didn’t quite know what to do then, so my boys and I continued inside to the store like it was a normal thing to give strangers flowers. I had hoped for a little more of a reaction from my first total RAOK, but when I glanced back as I was walking in and seen the big smile on the little boy’s face as he watched me leave I felt happy. And I realized that it wasn’t about me, wasn’t about personal gratification- it was about giving freely and completely without expectations. And hoping others get even a small fraction of joy I feel from it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Perfect Pancake


To me they are the perfect breakfast food. I can remember being a kid and my Dad making pancakes every Sunday and they were the BEST! Golden brown, light & fluffy, with that nice crunchy edge along the outside. You put the butter on when it's hot so it melts and then the syrup will just soak in, filling the whole pancake with maple taste. Yum!
Nothing can beat the perfect pancake, but it can be hard to achieve. And that's what I've been trying to do- I am on the hunt for the Perfect Pancake recipe. Before, I always relied on mixes from the store. But that has changed, partially due to a shrinking budget & part due to my desire to eat healthier by not using so much processed foods & mixes. Also, at the beginning of last school year, in an effort to reduce the amount of cold cereal my boys consumed, I declared I would cook breakfast on Mon, Wed & Fri. (Which basically meant at the beginning of the last school year I "cooked" frozen store-bought pancakes, waffles & toaster strudels because I was not used to fully functioning that early!) I am proud to say that now I really do cook breakfast at least 3 times a week, and most of the time from scratch too!
Anyways.......I really want to give my boys the golden-crusted memories of mom's pancakes. But I'm having a hard time finding is just the right pancake recipe to do it with. I'm looking for ease & simplicity to make, but tasty to eat as well. I would love to find a recipe that uses oil instead of melted butter and maybe even dry milk powder too. So far, every one I try is good, but none have totally "Wow-ed" me yet. So, for now I'll share with you the recipe I tried this morning and is my current stand-by and maybe you can share your recipe with me!

From (Formerly Recipezaar)- Pancakes
(My current stand-by recipe)
1 egg
3/4 c milk
2 T margarine, melted
1 c flour
1 T sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Beat egg until fluffy. Add milk and margarine. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Heat a heavy griddle or fry pan which is greased with a little butter on a paper towel. The pan is hot enough when a drop of water breaks into several smaller balls which 'dance' around the pan. Pour a small amount of batter (approx 1/4 cup) into pan and tip to spread out or spread with spoon. When bubbles appear on surface and begin to break, turn over and cook the other side.

I thought I'd also share real quick some things I've learned from my dad, experience & reading.

Tips for making the Perfect Pancake:

  • If your recipe calls for melted butter instead of oil- bring your milk and eggs to room temperature to avoid the butter from setting up. (Ask me why I know this)
  • Sift all dry ingredients together and mix all wet ingredients in a separate bowl before adding to the dry ingredients.
  • Do NOT over mix. Lumps are ok in pancake batter.
  • Let the batter sit for about 10 minutes before cooking
  • If you have a cast iron pan- use it, they make the best pancakes.
  • Preheat your pan & make sure it is the right temperature by flicking a few drops of water on the pan. If they dance around the griddle then it's just right. And note that as you cook your pancakes, the griddle will get hotter and you will have to adjust the temperature.
  • Use oil or butter in the pan instead of cooking spray if you like the crispy ring on the edge.
  • Using a ladle to pour the batter on the pan makes less mess
  • A pancake is ready to be flipped when bubbles appear (and pop) all over the top and the edges seem set. You can lift the edge slightly to check the bottom before flipping if needed, but try not to disturb the pancakes too much. Constant checking & fiddling with them will make a tougher pancake.
  • The last tip- the cook gets the last pancake because that one is always the best of the batch- any "kinks" in cooking have been worked out by then and your final one is truly the Perfect Pancake!
  • Oh- and if you have too much pancake batter you can either make extra pancakes to freeze for a quick breakfast later. (Flash freeze them on a cookie sheet with wax paper between & then seal them in freezer bags. Warm them up in the microwave.) Or what I like to do is I use a funnel and pour the extra batter into an empty clean syrup bottle. Then I store it in the fridge for quick & easy pancakes later. (I usually use it up within a week.) This is also a great no-mess way to squeeze the batter onto the griddle!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pollyanna Principle

My life goal is simple: Be Happy. Generally happy with my life at all times. I don't mean putting on a fake smile for others either. I understand that everyone has times of sorrow and I won’t deny myself the chance to acknowledge such feelings. Emotions like anger, disappointment, sadness and frustration are a necessity in life, for they make us stronger and give us a better appreciation for the good things in our lives. But I will not allow myself to wallow in negativity either. For every sad moment I experience, I want to create a hundred more happy ones. I want to build a well of gladness and peace inside me so that I may draw from it during times of discontent.

When I am faced with a difficult situation I want to be able to find some good, happy thing to take from it. I want to be a person who can find a reason to smile & laugh at any time, no matter what's going on inside my head. I want to be a person who doesn't complain and whine about the misfortunes in my life, but instead comments on what a beautiful rainy day it is. I want to love my life at any given moment, to cherish not only the good things, but the bad as well. For it all makes me the woman I am today and will be tomorrow.

When you think about it- it's not such an easy goal to accomplish as it would seem. Life has lots of ups & downs, twists & turns and black tunnels it takes you through. Sure- it's easy to be happy when you're at the top and life's all sunshine & rainbows, but what about when you find out you're standing on a trap door & you unexpectedly plummet to the bottom? What about when you look up and the rays of the sun can't reach you because of the suffocating shadows surrounding you? What about when you realize that you've fallen so far down you can't see a way out and all you want to do is cry? What then?

It would be easy to shut your eyes and succumb to the dark pit of despair and not fight to live anymore. It would be easy to let your weeping heart close itself off, giving up on your dream. It would be easy to forget how to laugh in such bleak times. It would be easy to let your wounded soul lash out in frightened fury and vow never again to trust.

It is much harder to believe in the light when you're shrouded in blackness. It is much harder to open yourself up and have faith that you will escape the dark clutches that hold you so tight. It is much harder to remember to keep love in your heart when you are being smothered by shadows. It is much harder to have hope when there is none to be seen. But these are all key components to finding true contentment and happiness within yourself.

So the question is- will you take the easy route and let life beat you down, complain about your misfortunes and only see the bad things? Or will you take the hard route and keep a smile & laughter handy, share the things your thankful for and find the silver lining in the dark clouds?

I know what my choice is- I’m choosing to be a better, stronger person by not letting things keep me down and I’ll make the best of any situation I’m faced with. I’m going to live my life with what I call the Pollyanna Principle- an optimistic, positive & grateful outlook on life. With such a sunshiny perspective I know I’ll accomplish my life goal of being happy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blog Intentions

I have spent quite a bit of time pondering what I want my blog to become. I'm not looking to be a big-time traffic-stopping blogger. My intent is to simply have a place to share the things that I enjoy & make me happy. I’ve figured out that these are the reasons I want to blog:

  1. I want some place to share my crafty endeavours, recipes, my cake-decorating experiences and any other thing I attempt to create. 
  2. I want to make people happy & maybe even inspire them.
  3. I think having a blog will nudge me to actually start making all the things on my growing “To Craft”  & “To Bake” lists.
  4. I hope my blog will hold me accountable to finish all the things I start.
  5. I would love to make some new friends- even if they are just virtual ones!

So my blogging direction will lean mostly towards crafts and food, with a few pictures, a few “life moments & revelations” & other random nice things sprinkled in between. It’ll be like my own personal progress report of the crafty things I’ve attempted & accomplished in my life.

If once a week someone actually stops by my blog & gleans something useful to them- that’ll be enough to make me happy. And if on any given day I give someone a reason to smile- that will be a big success in my eyes.  Any comments left will be like sprinkles on a cupcake- extra goodness on an already sweet thing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Gappy Grin

August 5th 2010
Posted by Picasa

Flitter, Flutter- I'm back again!

Wow- I am truly like the butterflies I love so much. I flutter about landing on this & that, then take off again without looking back. Like this blog- I started it over 2 years ago, made a handful of posts & then got obsessed with something else and forgot all about it. Until now- when I'm interested in sharing  little pieces of myself with the world. So I’ve decided to totally overhaul my forgotten blog and hopefully restart it in a better direction so it flourishes. I know now that blogging is not as simple as it seems and it takes quite a bit of time and dedication, but it can be very rewarding as well. I think by committing to being a successful blogger it will also help me accomplish some of my personal goals! Only time will tell! Wish me luck!

Smile, Laugh & Love- Again

This is a resurrection of my very first ever blog post- from when I knew I wanted to have a blog, but had no idea what to do with it. (Now that I think about it- not too much has changed since then!) I’m giving this blog a much needed overhaul, but wanted to preserve my first post so I can come back and remind myself of why I started this blog in the first place- because I believe everyone should experience the kind of simple happiness I feel every day.

Well, I guess I'm officially a member of the elite bloggers group. LOL I have no idea how this all works, so I'm sure there'll be a lot of laughs along the way. But that's what makes life fun! I can only imagine the mish-mash of things I will post. Tidbits from my life, rants about kids, quips relating to my hubby & a variety of stuff I find when I explore the net. Funny jokes, inspiring quotes, breathtaking pictures & fun tips. Yeah- this is going to be interesting. Hopefully I don't scare (or bore) you all away!

BTW- Do you like my title & url? I tried to come up with something that reflects how I view life. I try to live by the philosophy that life's too short too waste on negative things. A smile always makes things better, a laugh will brighten any mood and love is what turns a rainy day into a bright & sunny one. I sound like a Hallmark card, don't I? Well that's ok with me.