Grateful for Green Beans (excerpt & recipe)

Happy Thanksgiving!  Are fresh green beans out of stock in your area? I had to go to two stores this morning, and I met a man who had been to three. So I am grateful for green beans! 

Read on for an excerpt from my book Dee’s Dishes and my recipe for Roman Beans.  I hope you and yours enjoy it as much as my family does!

Roman beans

Beans #greenbeans #pinenuts #bacon #gratefulforgreenbeans #deesdishes #thanksgiving

Scandalous! Unpopular Opinion

You know that I am a grateful gal. There are so many blessings in my life.

My husband loves Thanksgiving. It’s his favorite holiday: food, family, football, four-day weekend, and he doesn’t have to go to church or exchange gifts.

I confess: Thanksgiving is NOT my favorite holiday, because of the food.

[Insert needle jumping off vinyl record here.] WHAT?

I realize this is an unpopular opinion, which is why I have kept it secret for 34 years. Alas, I simply cannot stand it any longer. THE TRUTH MUST BE SET FREE!

I like turkey. I like real cranberry sauce. I just think the traditional trimmings with all the fatty starchy carbohydrates, not to mention all the bland mushy similarly boring taste(s) and texture(s), are plain as baby food to me.

One year I was blessed to share Thanksgiving dinner four times within five days. Like I said, I am a grateful gal. Among countless blessings, I am very lucky to have opportunities to visit and dine with three superior hostesses (and not have to cook, myself.). You know, it was one set of parents, and the other, and then said parents’ favorite neighbors, and then the obligatory leftovers. Oh. My. God. Make it stop! (Don’t even get me started on the vat of cornflake cheese potato casserole that someone brought one year.) Break a successful stream of healthy eating habits for this? I just don’t think it’s worth it. I’d much prefer a filet mignon, medium rare in a merlot sauce, baked asparagus with Parmesan cheese, and bruschetta on toasted sourdough followed by a respectable amount of chocolate. And I’d be just as thankful, if not more.

Roman Beans

Adapted from the Good Housekeeping Cookbook.I made this once for Thanksgiving at the in-laws’ and now they ask for it every year. As we say in liturgical music school, if the people like it, it’s a “tradition,” right?

Ingredients:
2 lb. fresh green beans
4 oz. bacon cut crosswise into ½-inch strips
1 tablespoon. olive oil
½ teaspoon. salt
¼ cup pine nuts

Directions:
Toss the pine nuts in the skillet without any additional oil. Using a wooden spoon, toss until they are slightly toasted. Set aside.

In 12-inch skillet (at least 2 inches deep) or 5-quart saucepot over high heat, in one-inch boiling water, heat green beans to boiling.

Reduce heat to low; simmer 5-10 minutes until beans are tender-crisp; drain. Wipe skillet dry.

In same skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until golden, stirring frequently. With slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towels to drain. OR, do this: cook the bacon in the microwave over paper towels. Allow one minute for each strip. The bacon is extra crispy this way, and not fatty. I think it adds a nice texture to the dish.

In same skillet over medium-high heat, in drippings and olive oil, cook green beans with salt, stirring frequently, until beans are lightly browned and tender.

Spoon green beans onto warm large platter; sprinkle with bacon and toasted pine nuts.

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Wednesday Wellness: Plan for Magic

Happy Mid-Week, Friends!  I started writing Wednesday Wellness because I noticed a lot of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my journey to wellness, complete with detours and lucky pennies along the way!

My friends, I started creative planning only a couple of weeks ago, and I have already noticed the magic.

I spent most of my life resisting planners and organizers, preferring the spontaneous creative INFP lifestyle.  But I did learn a few planning tricks in college and in grad school.  Then when I became a mom, I learned how mapping out the weekends got things done.  That’s how I came up with Plan, to Have Fun.

I discovered the crafty/ creative planning community and was delighted.  There are scores of stickers and embellishment products to add to the planner of your choice.  And there are MANY planners to choose from.  I use Leonie Dawson’s Shining Year.  People love their Passion Planners, Happy Planners, Erin Condren planners, Bloom, etc. You can get inexpensive versions at Target and Michaels.   Mochi Things has a nice undated planner that you can start using at any time.  I follow a few planners on instagram, and we post photos of our weekly spreads.  It’s inspiring.  I found a local group on Facebook, and signed up for a Loaded Envelope Swap.  I was so lucky to be partnered with a friend from high school, and we sent each other our #loadedenvelopes of #happymail: tabs, stickers, decorative paper clips and washi tape.

I  love the fun of adding stickers and embellishments, but that is not for everyone.   There’s great magic in just planning with pens! (Hello, Bullet-Journaling! #bu-jo) Writing itself, is a kind of magic.  I do think that organic handwriting is a bit more magical that electronic planning, but that’s me.  I rely on my smartphone for alerts, that’s for sure.  But I am excited to decorate my weekly planner!  I found a cute sticker for  keeping track of how much water I drink daily.  I found sticker kits on etsy with themes of Book Lover Girl, Office Girl, and Stargazer Girl.  I purchased some basic, functional stickers, and I still write with my trusty 4-color pen (pink, sky blue, purple, and  lime green) and gold calligraphy pen, as well.  This Mix Tape Washi Tape is the best, isn’t it? (See pic below.)

Here’s the thing.  Once I started planning creatively, the magic started to happen.  I was accomplishing my tasks and goals. I noted my gratefulness, and set intentions. Visually I could see that everything was possible. Not only that, but I saw that I had room for more.  Did you see that? Room for More.  Room for whatever I want.  Me time: read a book, write another book (!), listen to webinars, plan a vacation, follow more dreams.

During this time I also did some decluttering. I have resisted this forever, too, but once you start, it becomes easier.  I’ve decluttered at work, the kids’ rooms, my car*. (*in progress)  I have a ton yet to do at home, that’s for sure!  Don’t tell me about that Marie Kondo book, I tried reading it, but it didn’t work for me.  I keep things that give me joy.  The trouble is, that all of these things  bring me some amount of joy, or I wouldn’t have them!   Am I right?

I also started reviewing my finances.  I looked hard at what I can lessen or do without.  I  cancelled some monthly and annual subscription/ memberships and updated my credit card so that any auto-renewals won’t happen.  Are you ready for this?  So far, I am collecting over $250 in immediate refunds.  I have to decide about two more subscriptions. Maybe I can find something cheaper than McAfee, for example.  And Shutterfly’s ThisLife may be redundant now that we have Google Photos, right?  I stopped monthly drips to the tune of $173 a month.  Drip Drip Drip.  I decided to increase my 401k contributions, and since less take-home money is being taxed, I’m seeing an increase in my paychecks. Win-Win. (I am NOT a tax advisor- check with a professional if you are considering doing this.)

Here’s an example of my weekly spread before I start planning:blank_week

Here’s my current week:current_week

What magic can you start planning?

Do you use a planner?  Leave a comment and let us know!

 

 

 

Gold

pyrite_header

Who wants to attract abundance? (Who doesn’t?) I have started my own manifesting abundance practice, combining elements from various teachings, and let me tell you, it’s working.  In more ways than I could have imagined.

As my friends and readers know, I have been working on wellness.  I read a ton of personal growth- type articles, books, my own faith community and am developing my own wellness toolkit. What works for me mat not work for you, I’m just sharing because starting the conversation can start somebody else’s journey.

So my kinesiologist suggested to me the crystal Pyrite.  I was intrigued because it’s a bit muted in hue, and it appealed to me. I find 24 karat gold a bit much, and I had even dipped my yellow gold engagement and wedding rings into white gold a few years ago.  But the muted tones I quite like.  I am an introvert, after all.

Admittedly, I have had a block when it comes to wealth and abundance.  I’ve observed persons who became “wealthy” and affluent who cease to function like nice, normal human beings.  So I’ve resisted it. Is it any wonder the universe hasn’t shown me abundance, then?

So to honor this new practice, I placed my pyrite bracelet on my nightstand beside my other crystals, bracelets and Himalayan salt lamp.  Some days I placed it in my clear glass Coventina dedication, with coins. It looks really pretty when I circle the top of the glass with the bracelet.

During this time I started practicing mindfulness- particularly with drinking.  I started drinking lemonade, honey tea, ginger ale, and the like, thinking “Liquid Gold” as I drank. I bought a scarf with sparkling threads, and I started bringing out my yellow gold jewelry again.  Wearing my pyrite bracelet every day and night. Applying my favorite True Gold eyeshadow highlighter. All with the intention of attracting abundance. (A couple years back, I wore orange for a month and sparked my creativity- publishing a book of poetry and recording a CD.)

I had lost my citrine crystal earlier in the year, and every time I passed my crystals I would think fervently, “Doh!  I wish I had my citrine!”  I honestly believe that just having that thought in my head seems to have activated her benefits.  Surprise checks, rebates, and royalties started coming in.   My new book sold more than a few copies each month.  My blog tour and book release party were quite successful, and my one of my guest posts received my most retweets ever!

Recognizing the power of thought and mindfulness, I amped up my prayers and gratitude. I added the dynamic of fierce, fervent thought.  It is the focus and for lack of a better word- loudness of the thought which seems to give it power.

Some days I awake and fervently thank God, Jesus, Mary, or Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph.  Some days I thank the Goddesses for their energy.  Does it really matter what religion one practices?  Not really.  So long as one is humble and kind to others.

Some days I fall asleep remembering the 80’s power ballad “Gold” by Spandau Ballet.

Nothing left to make me feel small
Luck has left me standing so tall

Gold!
(Gold)
Always believe in your soul
You’ve got the power to know
You’re indestructible, always believe in, ‘cos you are

Gold!
(Gold)
I’m glad that you’re bound to return
There’s something I could have learned
You’re indestructible, always believe in

I admit it’s not much, and I’m certainly not affluent.  I still struggle with rewarding myself with too many little desserts and not enough big major important things like good tennis shoes or a really good bra. But I am aware in a new way.  And one of the things that has turned me off from wealth in the past has been lack of community. So I selected another charity which I have wanted to support, and made a donation.  Felt really good.

It’s not magic. It’s work.  I have to remember to focus. I have to remember to do the work.  I have to sign up for these app companies that give you rebates. I have to connect with readers. All these lucky charms talismans are just things-  it’s the power of your thoughts/faith/belief and ACTIVITY that makes them “work.”

I’m now working on adding to my fervent thoughts of liquid gold- my health and my art-making. What if I applied this gold manifesting to health?  Can you imagine? I’m also working on my new book. I AM READY.

If I were to suddenly found myself extremely wealthy, I’d build two resorts on a tropical island- one for commercial use and one reserved just for my family and friends, and sponsor wellness retreats on site. That, and start a music education cable TV channel.

What would you do?

What’s stopping you?

You are Gold.

  Gold by Spandau Ballet

 

 

Wednesday Wellness: Back to School

My friends, I started writing on wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noted many of my artist and creative type friends struggled with wellness, as do I. 

I have never been a morning person.  In fact, I am a known night owl.  But my firstborn started high school two weeks ago, and he has Zero Period beginning at 7:05am.  So now we wake up at 6:00am.

dreamstimefree_170903

Sunrise (c) Alexander Briel Perez via Dreamstime

 

Waking early with a focus is changing me.  Somehow it is easier to do more extra curricular activities at night, now, too.  I think it is because I am getting to work earlier, so I am also leaving work earlier.  I go to sleep earlier.

But I am also happier.  I am no longer so obsessed with some of those dark, unhappy thoughts.  I am not finding a lot of time to write, read, or watch TV. But I am considering volunteering- both at church and with marching band.

My daughter and I watched her brother’s marching band practice for an hour yesterday.  They’ve got great music and remarkable skill.    I remember my own days in marching band quite fondly. Some of the deepest friendships I have had were born in marching band.    Even today, there is not a day that goes by that I am not in contact with one of my marching band friends, usually in social media and online games.  I just know that my dear son is forming some life-long friendships right now!

As I lay down to sleep last night, I reflected on all that is going on in our lives, and how content I was.  I did some deep breathing and practiced gratitude.  I was so ready to sleep, I was astonished that I didn’t even have any of my anxiety remedies deployed!  (Lavender sleep mask, crystals, hematite worry stone, collagen under-eye treatments…)  I didn’t need them!  I said a prayer for the missing girl from my small town, that she is found and returned safely.

God is great.  Life is good.

Wednesday Wellness: Perspective

Happy Wellness Wednesday, Friends!  I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesdays, as I noticed so many of my writer friends and creatives struggle with balance, as do I.  Join me on my wellness journey and let’s chat!

My superpower is anxiety.  I’ve only recently decided to claim it as my superpower, and just doing so has already changed me.  More on this in a minute.

Recently, I shared a story at a family dinner.  The story included my oldest child, when he was but a baby.  My daughter asked me to tell her more stories about when she was a baby.  So I started rereading my personal blog posts from eight years ago.  Of course I discovered and remembered many delightful stories that I could share with her and my family. But there was more.

As I reviewed my own writings of the past eight years, themes and patterns became obvious.  Some of them painfully so.  Sure, some posts chronicled my agonizing year of regular gall bladder attacks and subsequent surgery to remove the darn thing, and then my “recovery.”  This was during the year of my husband’s job search, so there was anxiety and depression, as well.  Earlier our oldest child had received a diagnosis, actually both children have undergone surgical procedures as well as been hospitalized for days for illnesses. I know after sleeping in the chairs in hospital rooms so often, I have learned to pack my travel neck-pillow. The only reason I can come up with for  all the suffering in the world is because somewhere, somebody learns something from it. Somebody somewhere is going to find the cure for cancer.

As my friends and readers know, I am a writer and a reader.  I love patterns in fiction and in music.  I am a believer in the hero’s journey and a sucker for the sonata form.  I can’t even take a personality quiz anymore, because I find the pattern and skew the results to what I want.  (Does anybody else do this?) Even still, I was kind of surprised to see patterns before me in black and white.

In my never-ending pseudo-dieting, it sure seemed that once I did a cleanse, I was on my way to that weight loss.  I’d find prompt results and relish in my “success” for a little while. Eventually, I’d cheat and then stop altogether.  Many times this cycle repeated.  Wow. It was almost kind of depressing reading this.

But also it was enlightening, seeing what worked. Here’s what worked for me.

Cleansing as a jump-start to eating well.  Doing a cleanse is a supercommittment and opportunity to focus.  It’s not easy, but it works.

Tracking calories using an app on my phone.  Pretty much when I stop tracking, is when I start cheating.

Practicing Gratefulness.  When I journal and write and speak of my gratefulness, it is underscored.

Practicing Yoga. Reading about how good it made me feel, made me wonder why I’d stopped.  Even if I don’t do a DVD, just taking the time to remember my favorite positions is wonderful.

Visualizing.  Envisioning positive results from whatever my struggle du jour may be. Also, breathing loving energy directly to parts of my body helps the aches and pains.

Creating Art.  After my first essay was published, I got the bug.  Writing and self-publishing my poetry collection  A Maze in Grace was a journey in itself.  But also, taking the time to collage journal and color with my children. Singing in the car.  I recorded a Christmas album and shared it with my friends and family. (Would you like an mp3?  Send me your email addy!)

Writing. Personal journal entries and blog posts.  Poems and lists.  Ideas for my breakout novel. And jukebox musical. Hey- it could happen!

Perhaps it is my writer/ reader connection with the hero’s journey that allowed me to finally accept my anxiety for what it is.  Years ago I attended a Marianne Williamson lecture in San Francisco, and she stated plainly that AIDS was a call to compassion.  I get it now. Anxiety is the Catalyst.  In the Hero’s Journey, something happens to the main character which changes everything.  It is the Call to Adventure: when Luke goes with Obi-wan to Mos Eisley, when Harry Potter gets on the Hogwarts Express.

And so I have changed my perspective on my anxiety.  How lucky am I that I have a prompt to get me back on track.  It’s like my secret superpower.

What’s yours?

ww

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wellness – Scheduled Maintenance

Hello Wednesday!

Today I lamented a bit, I admit, as I didn’t have a fresh, new wellness topic to share with you all.  I went on with my day and reviewed how I was doing so far.  I guess you could say it was a Maintenance day.

Today I paroused through my lovely Bloom calendar, which I’d neglected to complete for a bit.  At this point it becomes more of a journal of What I Did, vs. a plan of what To Do. That’s okay.  It gives me an opportunity to be grateful. I rather enjoyed writing “Finished Reading Harry Potter Book #4 with Dear Son!” because that was a special, memorable milestone in itself.

I also reviewed my personal finances. After last week’s money manifesting, reselling of items and canceling of subscriptions/ services, I now have to follow up with these companies- as I am not seeing the refunds credited to my accounts just yet.    (Item #10 from last week was: Claim What’s Mine!) And now I can go back to Half Price Books to trade in my Goblet of Fire cassettes for cash.

It was a good time to revisit my goals and set my intentions.  I want to review my mantras and uncover what I am really saying to myself.  What goals are left over from last year?   What can I do about them?  What new goals have found me?

I didn’t complete my Guam novel last year, but I did visit the island, made connections,  and developed more ideas.   I got a new idea for another creative nonfiction book: short stories with recipes (very do-able!).  Also, I flirted with writing a jukebox musical.  This one intimidates me, I admit, but honestly I have so many ideas here, it’s time to just do it.  (Hello, three day weekend!)  Something that I really enjoyed last year was an online course.  I love learning.  It’s like school, in the privacy of my own home, under a blanket! I am considering one or two courses that I can take in 2016.

I reached out to my friends and family.  Connecting is so important.  Chatting with my Bestie and my sister keeps me grounded.  Chatting with my new writer & reader friends is so fun and exciting.  I found a new Twitter thread to follow and even participate in.  I have identified a photo to contribute in a future Monochrome Madness photo call. I scheduled the next few guests for my Friday Friends series.

What can YOU do to make yourself more balanced?