Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Friends. They make our world infinitely better. Like a favorite pair of jeans, they are comfortable and without pretense. They are the twin sails of support as we steer through rough seas. They blanket us with gentle security, like the warm fuzzy blankets of our childhood. They listen, but need no answers. They bring laughter to our hearts and add sparkle to our eyes. They embellish our souls. Friends need no rewards or thanks and without them we are not whole.

#1 – Size Is Relative
A friend sent me this link to a wondrous lesson on perspective, The Scale of the Universe 2. Whether this perspective is 100% accurate or not, is not as important as the contemplation of the big picture of life.

#2 – It’s In The Jar

Source: Good Housekeeping

Ask your friends to start saving jars for you! There are so many ways to re-purpose glass jars. Serving drinks and food in them are very popular trends, but there are also many ways jars can be used to decorate your home and garden. Check out these links for creative ways to use glass jars:

DIY 101 Ways to Upcycle Glass Jars and Bottles
50 Ways to Re-Purpose and Reuse Glass Jars
20 Brilliant Things To Make In A Jar
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Repeat – Mason Jars
10 great Ways to Use Empty Glass Jars and Bottles

#3 – Easy Shopping

Most of the time I’m dressed in old jeans, a tee-shirt, and depending on the time of the year, either a pair of flip flops or Uggs. When I need to dress up, I always look to my friends for advice. Knowing that I’m frantically struggling to pull together a mother-of-the-groom outfit, one of my friends shared this shopping link with me. ShopStyle is like a personal shopper shopping the grandest and largest store in the world for you. It’s been said, “ShopStyle combines fashion, social networking, and shopping, providing readers with the tools to interpret style trends so they can create, share, and shop personalized looks.” Prices for items run from “Not too bad” to “Oh my!”

#4 – Friendly Photos

This series of photos about The True Meaning of Friendship was too cute and poignant to pass up! Enjoy!

#5 – Four For Friends
“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
Jon Katz

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.”
Shel Silverstein

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anaïs Nin

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.”
Robert Brault

Have a great weekend!

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Sitting at the dinner table years ago, my meat-loving youngest son took one bite out of his taco and said, “Where’s the meat?” Trying to cut back on the amount of cholesterol-ladened meat I served my family, I had substituted a spicy Mexican lentil mix for the the ground beef in the taco. It must not have been too bad because he continued to eat his taco that night and many other nights throughout his eighteen years at home!

Being Asian, I’d grown up with little knowledge of lentils. My first exposure was at the home of an elementary school friend who had six or seven siblings and whose parents were both doctors. She’d invited me over for dinner and informed me that they were having lentil stew. The first spoonful of this unfamiliar food brought my senses to attention. The firm texture of the lentils juxtaposed against the softer textures of the carrots and the tomatoes, were battling for a place in my memory against the spicy, yet savory combination of flavors. The lentil stew was delicious and from that moment on I was hooked on lentils.

What my school friend’s parents knew was that lentils were inexpensive, enough so to easily feed their brood of kids, and that lentils were packed with nutrients. The Whole Foods website states, Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein-all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up–not out.

Lentils are also protein rich. They lack only one protein, methionine. Adding grains, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy products, or eggs will provide a complete protein containing the nine essential amino acids. Often times in the fall and winter I pair up a hearty lentil soup with my homemade cornbread to ensure a protein-balanced meal. Making tacos also works because both the cornmeal from the tortillas and the shredded cheddar cheese add complimentary proteins to the lentils.

Here’s an easy recipe for Spicy Mexican Lentils:
2 cups lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
One package dry taco mix

Combine the lentils with the water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. (Note: If you will be using the lentils in a recipe that requires addition cooking time, like a casserole, cook the lentils until they are tender but on the firmer side. Make sure your recipe has enough moisture, like a sauce, so that the lentils do not dry out during baking).

After the lentils are cooked, drain them, making sure to reserve the liquid.

Combine the lentils, taco mix and 1/2 cup of the reserved lentil liquid. Simmer for about 15 minutes. At this point you are ready to use this mixture in any of your favorite Mexican recipes that call for a ground beef base.

Your eyes may say “Where’s the meat?” but your taste buds won’t!

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My mother and I had lunch together the other day. We ate, we laughed, and we had a great time just being together. The only thing that would have been better is if we were in the same room. My mother lives about two-and-a-half hours away from me, so we lunched together via the magic of computers.

About a month ago my sister and I purchased my mother a new iMac. She’s no stranger to computers, but this new one is faster and has more bells and whistles, including a built-in video camera. Using the iChat video conferencing feature, we were able to sit at our desks that day and eat our sandwiches and carry on a face-to-face conversation. Also, by pivoting her computer screen around, the computer camera could scan the room, and show me the new furniture in her office, as well as my dad sitting in his recliner waving to me and watching television.

Despite her lack of formal computer training, my mom’s been an eager student and has become quite adept at Googling information, emailing her friends, working on Excel spreadsheets, and instant messaging and Skyping with family members all around the country. The screen grab above shows a three-way video conference with three generations of us laughing and having a good time. It’s been wonderful to see her empowered by her new knowledge of computer technology and it’s been a blessing for me to be able to spend time with my parents everyday.

Video conferencing could have a huge positive impact on senior citizens in general, but especially so for those who live in senior care facilities. The loneliness of these seniors is palpable. I volunteered in a senior assisted care facility for several years and found it difficult to observe residents who never had visitors. Wouldn’t if be wonderful if these senior facilities had video conferencing capable computers on site so that the residents could stay connected to the world by having video visits with friends and family? Of course, I know that this requires their friends and families also to have these types of computers, but I’m a dreamer and always believe that if there’s a will, there’s a way. Considering there are computers everywhere – surely neighbors, friends, employers all might be willing to share their computers periodically for these priceless visits.

Nothing can ever replace an in person visit, but sharing time together in any form possible is valuable. Thanks to computer technology, we have at our disposal the ability to stay connected with everyone we care about. With applications like iChat and Skype, which have basic services for free, we have few excuses not to include seniors as part of our connected group. So what about this – buy a relative you’d love to see more often a computer video camera for the upcoming holidays?

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#1 – Spooky Cake My Way!
I have to say that biting into crunchy chocolate bits and creamy pockets of sweetness of the Oreo cookies hidden in this cake, was a spooktacular experience! Even though Maida Heatter’s (Spooky) Oreo Bundt Cake sounded good, I didn’t have all the ingredients for it and I was in a lazy mood. With my sincerest apologies to the great baker Ms. Heatter, I cheated and used a cake mix. Here’s what I did: Preheated oven to 325 degrees. Greased and floured my bundt pan. Took 18 whole Halloween Oreo cookies, broke them into quarters and set them aside. Followed the instructions on the package of Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Yellow cake mix and made the batter. Poured about two cups of plain batter into my bundt pan. Then into the remaining batter, I gently folded in the broken cookies and poured this mixture into the pan. Baked it for 40 minutes and then removed it from the oven to cool. After it cooled, I sprinkled it with a light dusting of powdered sugar and then followed that with a light dusting of cocoa powder. Couldn’t have been easier!

#2 – Reusing Jack
You’re not going to throw away your jack-o’-lantern after Halloween are you? Jack is more than a pretty face! Roast the seeds with your favorite spices and don’t forget that the flesh makes delicious soup or heavenly pies (providing your jack-o’-lantern is still fresh). There are plenty of online sites with recipes for all of the above. After that, the best way to dispose of your pumpkin is by composting. According to Raquel Fagin of Earth911.com, “Both the pumpkin, as well as its seeds, can be composted. In fact, pumpkin seeds themselves are a strong source of nutrients, including zinc, iron and phosphorus. Compost piles rely on a mix of nitrogen-rich greens (which will include pumpkin components) and browns (leaves, paper and other carbon-rich materials). So, Halloween is the perfect time to compost, because you’ll not only have leaves falling before winter, but your pumpkin to also add to the mix.” Or what about this – Give your local zoo a call and check to see if it accepts donations of pumpkins to feed to its animals as a seasonal treat. Give a zoo animal a “Big Jack!”

#3 – OMG – Leggings Are Back!
Here’s what Gill Hart of Suite101.com says, “The fall/winter 2009 trend for belting everything from baggy tops to dresses to cardigans means that leggings are the perfect accessory, no matter what a woman’s age.” He further states, “Metallic-look poly-blend leggings also make an ‘80s-style comeback, along with jeggings and treggings, a strange hybrid, a cross between jeans/trousers and leggings, for those who are not brave enough to go the hole hog”. Say it’s not true, because I thought leggings were hideous in their original incarnations! Maybe it’s just me.

#4 – Flower Vases To Go
When taking flowers to friends or dropping flowers off to a senior home, it’s always nice to have them already arranged in vases for immediate enjoyment. There’s no need to give up one of your own vases or to go out and buy new ones, just look around your pantry. I find that large jars and cans make fabulous vases. You do save empty mayonnaise and spaghetti sauce jars, don’t you? Cover the jar or can with fabric or wrapping paper or even cheesecloth, tie with a ribbon, fill with water, and add flowers. Some cans don’t even need to be covered. An empty can of Le Sueur Sweet Peas makes a cute little flower container all by itself. What to do with the peas? That’s another post!

#5 – A Bit of Mother Teresa Wisdom
It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.

Do something with great love this weekend.

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“I have fifteen friends now!” I shout to my husband and then laughingly add, “You only have four!” Prodded by friends, my husband and I joined the spectator sport of Facebook. I opened an account a few weeks ago and in doing so I found I am Facebook-challenged. I am reluctant to put out personal information on my profile page, but my son tells me, “How are people going to find you, if you don’t tell them who you are?” That is challenge number one for me. Do I want to be found? Am I lost? Do I want aspects of my quiet life open for world viewing?

Challenge number two: The whole idea of adding or removing friends makes me feel like I’m in elementary school again. Who do I ask to be my friends? Are my feelings going to be hurt if someone doesn’t want to be my friend? Is it about having the most friends and being popular?

Challenge number three: Do I really want to know about the crazy things my kids are doing? Not really. For that matter, they don’t want me to know what they are up to, either! Begrudgingly they all accepted me as their Facebook friend. Do I like being a snoop? Maybe just a little!

Challenge number four: Facebook seems like an alter world to me. It’s like a maze with many different pathways, and often times I can’t figure out how I even got to a site. Then there are the cafes, farms, aquariums, roller coasters, tokens, Halloween treats, hearts, and hugs – all of which I’ve not figured out, yet. My kids get calls from me with questions like, “I got a heart today, should I accept it?” or “Somehow dad accidentally set up two Facebook accounts and now he has two walls, but he can only see one wall and people are writing on the other wall . . . !” What have I gotten myself into?

Facebook is like joining a worldwide playground. I still have a lot to learn about its offerings, but in the meantime, I enjoy reading the comments and viewing the photos that my friends and family share. I’ve found delight in establishing contact with friends from long ago. And one of these days, I may even play the World Cafe game, because the food sounds so good and it’s low in calories!

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