Whimsy and wonderings about everyday life

Archive for the ‘Whimsy’ Category

Christmas Shortbread Bites!

Christmas shortbread bites

These Christmas shortbread bites (foreground) from All Foods, All Drinks, All Love, are festive and tasty – and they’re soooo easy to make..

At our house, at least, it’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas,  with all the baking going on!

Rachel’s pictures at her blog are much prettier than mine, but the results are the same. Her shortbread bites are easy and delicious and very festive.

via Christmas Shortbread Bites!.

The soft cookies in the background are brown sugar cookies. They are also quite good. I used Grandma Brown’s Brown Sugar Drop Cookies recipe from Allrecipes.com for those.

I made these and the peppermint bark below (also from Allrecipes) during a midnight baking and candy making marathon because I had a sick teen in the house and was up anyway. However, they are also kid-friendly. They’d be great for teacher presents, or simply as a way to spend some time with your child or children, having fun.

Merry Christmas!

peppbarkMidnight baking and candy making produced this peppermint bark, some brown sugar cookies, and Christmas shortbread crumbles. The first batch is for teacher gifts, in thanks for the selfless work they do, day in and day out. (We’ll throw some extras in for Dan, the bus driver. Imagine if your job was to drive all the children, kindergarten through 12th grade, on a rural router of 15 miles or so, to their various schools and back every day. Daily pandemonium. I don’t know how he does it.)

Merry Christmas.

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Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!

Well, FitBit badges do make the occasional tedium of exercise more fun. If you live in or around Castle Rock, and you hike the Rock, you, too, might end up with a “75 flights of stairs” badge. (And yes, they misspelled Yippee. And no, they’ve not offered me anything for these last few posts. I just really like the gadget :->).

Last minute gift idea for your fitness fanatic or to help with your own New Year’s resolution – FitBit

I love FitBit. I’ve lost an undisclosable amount of weight with the device, which I have been using since April. Suffice it to say I’ve gone down three to four sizes. The women out there can figure out the math.

I went to the doctor in July, when my fitness regimen of walking with my  buddy was not doing the trick. I told him I thought my metabolism might be at issue. He asked me what I ate on any given day. I told him. He asked me how often I drank wine or beer or any other alcohol. I told him. He said, matter-of-factly, “Your problem is that you eat and drink too much.” And so it was.

I cut out bad carbs and followed something resembling the South Beach Diet through the end of September. I cut out wine entirely for the first rhree months. It was my alcoholic beverage of choice. I easily gave up beer, since I have it two or three times a year at most. Hard liquor only makes an appearance when egg nog rears its ugly-yet-sublimely-tasty head – right about now, as a matter of fact, in December.

By the end of November, I had reached my doctor’s target weight for me. I *might* want to lose some more weight, but we shall see if it continues to come off as easily as it has to date. This is about health ore than vanity (although vanity certainly plays a role.) Here are before and after pictures:

In 2008, before FitBit

In 2008, before FitBit

In 2012, after FitBit

In 2012, after FitBit

Why does FitBit work?

1. It asked me the right questions. How much weight did I want to lose? What was my activity level? By answering these simple questions honestly, I was able to see how many steps I needed to take each day and how many calories I could consume.

2. It set achievable goals. For me? 10,000 steps a day, which i easily achieve (I’m a mom. I have an Australian shepherd and a Jack Russell terrier. 10,000 steps is not difficult.) 10 sets of stairs, which, in hilly Colorado, is also easy. I did notice that, when I visited family in Alabama, those ten sets of stairs were more difficult to come by.

3. It encouraged me in whimsical and frequent ways. FitBit gives you badges for achievements as mundane as walking 5,000 steps. Now I’ve walked over two million. Booyah. I would not know that if not for FitBit. My BMI went from the obese range to 24.5, perfectly normal. I would not have known this if not for FitBit.

4. The upgrades made sense and added value. I bought the Aria scale. It kept me honest by automatically updating my weight wirelessly every time I weighed in. I upgraded to the Pro membership and logged my sleep and food. I get a nutritional report on demand, a personal trainer analysis, a sleep analysis, and an exercise analysis (sedentary, low effort, and high effort.) All of this was useful. I could print out the results and take them to the doctor for my monthly weigh-in, should I so choose. (I never needed to because, after the first month of rapid weight loss, I lost between two and three pounds a week.)

5. The community option was there if I needed it. I’ve been a member of Weight Watchers. It worked for me as a teen. It did not as an adult because, perhaps, I am less vulnerable to peer pressure. For whatever reason, I did not need community support. But I knew I had it if I did.

I highly recommend FitBit.    It is a great product. It has produced results for me. It is accurate, inobtrusive and handy. I  definitely consider myself a FitBit success story.

FitBit success story

FitBit is a helpful gadget for anyone who wants to lose weight and keep it off!

The doors of hope

  “Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.…It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.”           

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger                                     

Hope


Have you ever seen a child alight with pure hope so powerful, so trusting, you’ll do whatever it takes to make his or her dream come true?

 This is the season of hope for the child within each of us. Perhaps, just for today, you might choose to focus on the ideal of the rebirth each year of the long ago new idea, of perfect, unconditional love. Because if you reject the focus on the imperfect way we play this ideal out, just for today, you might find something of value for yourself  in the truth that remains.

Just think about the ideal of perfect, unconditional love, itself.

But, you say, Christianity was responsible for the deaths of thousands. Millions. Therefore, God must not exist, and perfect, unconditional love is a myth.

Radical Islamists brought down the twin towers in the name of religion. Therefore, God must not exist, and perfect, unconditional love is a myth.

Some fundamentalists spew hate at gays and lesbians and use the Bible to justify their beliefs. Therefore, God must not exist, and perfect, unconditional love is a myth.

Jews…Hindus…Buddhists…everyone has done bad things in the name of their religion. And, by the way, I eat pork, and the Bible says not to do that. Therefore God must not exist. Perfect, unconditional love is a myth.

Bad things happen. People hate other people. Therefore God must not exist. Perfect, unconditional love is a myth.

Isn’t that a bunch of rubbish when we write it out? Or, more pithily, as Scrooge said, “Bah. Humbug.”

Bad things happen. Perfect, unconditional love exists. It is abundant and available in the face of scarcity, of evil, of those bad things. It encourages the abundant, innate goodness in each of us in the face of evil.  It gives us the strength to comfort each other in the face of trouble. To help when bad things happen. To learn, to remember,  and to avert future disaster. To connect with each other. To be one. To heal. To hope.

Perfect, unconditional love encourages and forgives.  Always and everywhere. It is the  purest essence of God.  Perhaps, this year, spend a little time looking into what your concept of God is. Look at the god you don’t believe in. What *do* you believe in?  What have others discovered in the ongoing search, dating back to the beginning of recorded history, for a greater meaning beyond day-to-day, self absorbed survival?

Tap into the ideal this season. Suspend disbelief. Open up. See your life begin to transform, over time, into something fine, made of hope, love and generosity. A happy life, even with the inevitable sorrow and pain that comes with openness. A sacred life. A courageous life. A quite amazing and rewarding life. Not care-free, but cared-for, and surrounded by the certainty of unconditional love – which, is simply perfect.

In celebration of All Saints Day

“All of the places of our lives are sanctuaries; some of them just happen to have steeples. And all of the people in our lives are saints; it is just that some of them have day jobs, and most will never have feast days named for them.”
— Robert Benson in Between the Dreaming and the Coming True

Grandmommy

Do you tend to look for the good in people or more typically try to find the bad in a ceaseless game of one-upsmanship? I think we’re biologically geared toward the latter. If we can find flaws in others, then we are, perhaps, not as woeful as we suspect.

But, like the choice to search for the Divine in life, looking for the good in others is a conscious choice and it takes commitment and perseverance. I find that I cannot see the good in others as clearly when I am driving. Or in Walmart. However, I can see it vividly in a nursing home. In a preschool. In a church service. Whenever I see two people who are tender with each other, for whatever reason. When someone is unexpectedly kind to me. When my son stirs on a lazy weekend morning and sleepily smiles at me –  before he awakened enough to raise the gates of his teenage defenses against the slings and arrows of the surly world.

There are saints around us everywhere, every day. Each of us is one. Each of us responds, when called, with our better nature.  You’ve done it before. I’ve done it before. Maybe next time, I won’t wait to be asked, but just step in and give. How about you?

Awash in vivid autumn colors: hiking in lovely Sedalia, Colorado

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!

Percy Bysshe Shelley

A walk in the woods of Sedalia, Colorado

A walk in the woods of Sedalia, Colorado


Enjoy this tribute to this beautiful autumn season in Colorado. This Rocky Mountain season is entirely too short, but while fall is here, it is glorious.  it’s a riot of colors, each more vivid than the last. The air is as crisp as the apples we use for the cider we sip at night. The days are made for hiking, and we tromp through the leaves, careless of the noise,unless we happen upon a mob of deer or a rafter of turkeys. As heedless as we are, until they see us, that is, they’re just trying to get their last good meals in before winter blankets the greenery and feeding becomes more scarce.

We sit by our evening fire, the flames a welcome novelty after the self-made heat of the recent summer. The winter snow is both a receding memory and something to anticipate anew. Snowshoeing will be fun this year.