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Just Tomato Soup

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“What’s for supper”

A text message from my daughter interrupts my work just I’m about to finish up for the day. Annoyed, I ignore it, though I am dying to reply “idk, what are YOU making?” but I let the moment pass since it doesn’t serve either of us. I do ponder yet again why I don’t have the kids make more meals…and why I have kids in the first place.

I’m tired today. Some days, I just want to go home and curl up with a good book and fall asleep at 8. Some days I crave it so badly it brings a tear to my eye when I realize I just can’t today. I let that moment pass too.

I walk home and trip over everyone’s shoes at the front door. Then I grab my other mitts and shovel for the next half hour, listening to my music. I feel the cold air on my exposed face. It feels good to feel my heart pounding and I hear nothing else but my music and the scrape of the shovel. I could get them off their butts to help me. Yes, they should have had it done before I got home. I let them have their space and I greedily take mine. Outside, no one in my head or my ear. Just me and the winter. And the day melts away.

Back inside, I am asked again “What’s for supper?”

“Tomato soup and grilled cheese” I reply.

Yep, just tomato soup. No Facebook-worthy vegetarian gourmet meal. No old family recipe that I’ve been making for ages. Nothing that will find it’s way to a Pinterest board. Just tomato soup.

No Facebook-worthy vegetarian gourmet meal, just tomato soup.

 

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I pull out the relatively expensive box of amazing organic tomato soup that I didn’t make myself but discovered that everyone loves. I start to warm it on the stove. I cut up the delicious Gouda cheese, and a little bit of the jalapeno Havarti. I slather butter on one side of some yummy, soft rye bread I bought yesterday. I grab a few slices of the ham I bought for lunches. I assemble and cook them into toasted, melty goodness and pour the soup into bowls. Cucumber slices circle the plates and I deliver them to children who stop what they are doing to exclaim “Thanks Momma!”

I love it when they are like little kids again. Gleeful, calling me “Momma”, full of excitement and gratefulness for one of their favorite comfort foods. It fills my heart more than the winter air did. We sit together and visit about any little thing that comes to their heads. I crumble exactly 5 perfect plain crackers into my soup. I’ve always done it that way. Exactly 5, gathered together and lovingly crushed and sprinkled into my tomato soup. And I am 13 again too. With my own Momma and brother and sisters, talking about nothing and everything all at once.

I love it when they are like little kids again.

Melty cheese is stuck to her chin and we laugh. I quickly make another for him. Suddenly I realize that he is taller than me and finally I understand why he’s always scrounging for something else to eat! My heart aches a little as I think about how quickly their older brother grew and now makes his own tomato soup in a different house, thankfully, not too far away. But away, just the same. My tomato soup silly evenings are disappearing fast.

I am savoring every moment with them, every simple slurp of their teen lives and the melty bites in between where they allow me to be their “Momma” even for a minute. Hugging me with my head on their shoulders now that they are so much bigger than me. I relish every complaint about the beautiful meals I make them that they like less because someday, I will be eating without them.

I am savoring every moment with them

It doesn’t matter what we eat. It matters HOW we eat. Take in every morsel with exuberance and with attention to who you are with. Put down your damn phone and be with the food. Be with them. Be with yourself for a few minutes. Indulge yourself with the expensive favorite dessert, the steak dinner that he made for you, the bowl of cereal you manage to squeeze into your morning, the apple at your desk.

Feel every single piece of life that it has to offer. No criticism, no guilt, no remorse that it could have been healthier, cheaper, easier, more gourmet. Just eat.

Tomato soup simple. Just tomato soup. Just for today.

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We all struggle with the whole meal planning thing. We’ve worked out some help for you, our free Meal Planning Hat Trick has tons of ideas and free recipes. Sign up below.

What are your biggest struggles with food? We want to help. Let us know in the comments or email us. We are here for you.

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Do You Want to Be a Bad Ass Meal Planner?

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Our goal at Simple Life Celebrations is to do exactly that – help you simplify your life so that you have time to celebrate the important things!

We have been working really hard to get you an efficient meal plan because we understand what it can be like trying to juggle jobs, kids, committee work and also try and eat a balanced meal without running to the store every single day! Next week we will be bringing you a meal plan to get you through a months worth of meals. This not only includes the meal list but it also will include your grocery list (print it and go!), your recipes (in a cute and simple printable format), PLUS a pantry staples printable so you can keep track of what you have in your pantry! Sound good? That is not even everything! We also have the recipes (that we have tested and made many a time) rated from Simple to Simpler, to Simplest. There will be ingredients that you can find easily at the grocery store and nothing too tedious to make. And there is always the option of switching meal days to suit your needs!

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Why do we meal plan?

First of all it is a huge time saver! Saweet right?

If we didn’t plan then we would be running to the grocery store daily and frantically trying to figure out what we are going to have to eat (sometimes just knowing what to have is half the battle!) Not only that but then we would not be sale shopping; which I love to do! Who doesn’t like saving some of their hard earned money?!

So what other benefits does meal planning have?

What are the benefits of meal planning?

  • you will eat out less
  • with a plan you will eat less pre-packaged meals
  • you will always have the groceries that you need
  • less food waste because every food on your list will have a purpose
  • you will save money
  • you will eat a good variety of meals
  • you will be eating healthier
  • your family can participate in the meal plan
  • you won’t have the stress of trying to figure out what’s for dinner
  • less time wasted figuring out what to eat and grocery shopping
  • less trips to the store means less impulse shopping and temptations
  • you will have less impulse purchases

Once you get the hang of meal planning and make it habit to set aside time once a week/month to plan your meals then you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier mealtime. 

In just 3 short days we will be providing you with the ideas and taking the stress out of meal time. We really want to help people eat good meals and save some money at the same time!  To us it is much more important spending more time with those that we love than running to the grocery store, spending excessive money and stressing about what to have for supper!

This is where you can find our Bad Ass Meal Plan!

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Enjoy the process, savor the food and live life to the absolute fullest.

Krystal

 

 

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Another Ordinary Day

walk-2021_1920I see you, on the ordinary street. You are wearing ordinary clothes and your hair is ordinary. Your face is ordinary. You walk in an ordinary way going to your ordinary job. If I knew your name, it would be ordinary too.
But you are far from ordinary. And I see that too.
You are more than the alarm clock beside your bed. Grateful to find yourself in a new day, you rise with a smile. You think about the quiet space that awaits you in your little corner of the room. The soft light welcomes you to your comfy chair. Silence surrounds you. With a loving heart, you pause, reflecting on the people you love and the life you are leading. Gentle music lifts your spirits and you listen to your angels as they whisper to you in your space.
In the shower, you let the hot water stream down your shoulders, caressing and warming your skin. You hear applause in the noise of the jet stream and you imagine yourself five years from now in another place, doing other things. Again, you pause in gratitude for where you came from, and where you are but you know that this is not where the story ends. You smile as you hear the applause again.
You let your hands rub the oils on your skin, taking pleasure in the simple joy of allowing yourself this little indulgence made just for you. The clothes you select make you feel good and comfortable, it does not matter to you what name is emblazoned on the tag. It all makes no difference as long as it makes you feel like you are you.
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You are more than the ordinary breakfast you have this morning. You choose that orange carefully. You smell the tangy citrus as you peel it. You notice the tiny spray of orange drops as you pull the peel from the flesh. You taste the bold sweetness as it drips down your chin.
The street is far from ordinary to you. You notice the songs of the birds on your walk. You wonder how soon they will heading south. You catch a glimpse of the growing garden in your neighbor’s yard and you remind yourself how good fresh picked peas taste at this time of year. You notice that there are a few leaves that have changed color and you remember how fleeting summer days are. Your mind recalls all of the adventures you have had so far and you smile at the ones to come today.
Your job is not who you are, but you bring yourself to your job. Each day, you do whatever you can to help someone, even if it’s just one person. Your smile brightens the world of someone who is struggling today in their cubicle. You don’t know this, but you smile anyway. There are days when you struggle too, but you have also witnessed the days when things go right. You choose to accept those tough days as lessons and move on to the next.
You leave your job, there at the office. You know that carrying that burden further into your day serves no one, least of all you. You have done your best with the resources you had control over. You breath and you move on.
You hear their voices long before you see them. Again, you marvel at how much they have grown. She towers over you and on this day, she ventures to hug her ordinary momma. Tomorrow may be different, so you gratefully return the embrace. He barely acknowledges you right now, and that’s ok, you know he hears your love in your questions about the day. It is all he needs for now. Later, he will sit beside you on the couch, feeling safe in the knowledge that he doesn’t have to say a word and you are there for him.
Together, you enjoy an ordinary meal that nourishes more than your body. It nourishes your soul as you share the food with those you love. You reflect on how much you have changed what you choose to eat over the years. You don’t criticize, you just understand that you are learning and growing and becoming more.
Dishes done, the house settling, your ordinary day draws to a close. You welcome the peace and tranquility of your room. You share this room with your true love and you adore this part of the day. The warm, soft blankets, the amber light, the protective arms and kisses that make you feel like so much more than ordinary. Quiet surrounds you as you curl up next to him with your latest book. Both of you make sure that at least a foot or a hand is touching the other as you fall asleep.
And there you breathe; your ordinary breath, at the end of a far from ordinary day.
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This post inspired by the Writing Prompts over at Mama’s Losin’ It and My 500 Words writing challenge from Jeff Goins.
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“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 
― Dr. Seuss

Where Did the Joy of Christmas Go?

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”  ― Dr. Seuss
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss

Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t wait for Christmas day to come? You were literally counting down the sleeps until that special day? Looking back I remember the get-togethers, playing with my cousins, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, the music and mostly the excitement of the big day building up.

So what happens as we grow up? We stop believing in the magic of Christmas perhaps? We forget about the reason behind the season and the true meaning? We end up emptying our bank accounts and then some? It could be a number of reasons. I recently polled some of our Facebook followers to see what it is about the holiday season that really irks them. The answers were: commercialization, financial strain, expense, excessive gift buying, pressure to buy gifts, the drama, and the excessive packaging. One person also resented the fact that stores started decorating and playing music way before December.

I think that all of these are valid reasons for feeling a little Scroogey.

Problem: Let’s first address the holiday in terms of the expense of it all. Who do we buy present for and where do we draw the line? We make our list. We have our immediate family, our parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, friends…Oh! Don’t forget about teachers, bus drivers, the paperboy…let’s not forget about our Dr’s…I mean PULLEASE. Where does it end? No wonder we are broke and have negative feelings towards Christmas!

Solution: Narrow your list to suit your budget. There are other ways to show appreciation. And how many mugs and smelly things can one teacher have?! Do they want a gazillion #1 Teacher ornaments? I am guessing for the most part no. At least not the ones that I have spoken with . How about writing a letter to let them know how much they are appreciated? Believe it or not, not everyone wants to receive gifts. Seriously. Unless you find truly meaningful gifts who is to say that your bus driver wants 25 boxes of chocolates. Don’t buy just for the sake of buying.

Here are some other ways that you can show appreciation:

Three Alternatives To An Expensive Gift

  • Quality Time (My favorite!) In my opinion this is the best way to show someone that you care. It is the chance to spend time together and make memories. I am more likely to remember the day we had together laughing and talking but chances but chances are I won’t remember or think too much about that sweater you got me.
  • Make a Gift. My favorite gifts are the ones that people have spent time making for me. My husband has built things with his tools, my bff made a beautiful quilt for me, my mom has made me afghans. Over the years my hubby has written me poems. These are some of my most treasured things ever! Yes some of these things still cost money but if you already have the materials to make them then you can also save money. Another benefit of making your own gift is that there isn’t all of the excessive packaging that goes with store bought items. It’s a win-win.
  • Offer your services. Offer to take your friend’s children for the day or for a sleep over so that they can have some time to themselves. That can be a real lifesaver when you need a break and don’t have family that is close by. Have your friends over for a nice meal or plan a day trip together. All of these things make for fun experiences.

More great ideas! Here are more alternatives to buying gifts from Leo at Zen Habits.

Problem: Consumerism. Consumerism is slapping Christmas in the face and turning it into a retail free for all. Companies are using Christmas as a prime time to market their products. They all claim to have the ‘perfect’ gift amongst all of the plastic and boxes. There are tons of toy commercials on TV this time of year; much to parents chagrin. There needs to be that balance between Christmas and consumerism.

Solution: Don’t buy into it. (Pun intended). Do what you feel comfortable doing. Spend what you are able to spend. There are some things that are out of our control like the commercials, the store’s music, decorations, and advertising. People feel pressured into buying from the ‘get a head start on Christmas’ slogans. You know that though? I cannot stress this enough…people need to start doing what is right for them. If you feel like the true meaning of Christmas is lost then how can you find it again? In a previous post I suggested sitting down with your loved ones and discussing exactly what your goals were for the holiday season. Make your Christmas mission statement. You may be surprised to know that gift buying and giving etc. isn’t what everyone cares about anyways.

Problem: Family Drama. This can be tricky. I feel like this one should be left to the experts. I get that all families have drama. Why does this exasperate at Christmas time? I know that some families have to drive all over God’s green (or white) earth at Christmas time. Some love hangin’ with the fam. while others just want to stay home. I haven’t had these issues because my husband’s family is all overseas, my parents live in the same town as me and my brother isn’t far away.

Also all families have different dynamics and get along or don’t get along for various reasons. Dealing with that when you are all together at Christmas can be tough.

Solution: Let the little things slide and deal with the big issues. In other words there comes a point when you realize that you cannot change people so you either accept them for who they are or move on. Well, with family this is a little more difficult especially at family functions. So the little things that annoy you should just be ignored while the things that are going to make you insane if you have to deal with them one more time should perhaps be dealt with in the form of a reasonable conversation. We hope that our families will act perfectly at all times but we know that this is not realistic so set your expectations a teeny bit lower.

My Christmas wish for you is to have a positively wonderful holiday season. Make the most out of what you have wherever you are. You can do it!!!

Christmas

 

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The Blister

He’s a quiet one, my youngest. So much the opposite of his sister. He’s easily ignored, well, maybe that’s not the right word…overlooked. It’s not that we mean to. It just happens. We get so involved in what she is doing that we miss what he is doing. I’ve noticed that it happens all too often.

My feelings of guilt then take over. I immediately think about compensating with money – we spend a lot on her activities and he gets nothing or very little as far as dollars spent goes. I try to think of ways that I can spend money on him. Money that we don’t really have as “extra”. He doesn’t ask, he doesn’t complain. It’s not something I want to teach him either. I don’t want him to think that he’s less “worthy” or that he’s missing out just because I don’t spend the money on him. It’s not a message I want to send. Their “value” to me is not related in any way to how much I spend on them. I don’t ever want them to feel that.

So…then what do I do? How do I stop overlooking him? He doesn’t speak up, so I need to see it without him saying so. Or, maybe he doesn’t need it as much as I think he does. Here I am, again, projecting how my feelings work onto someone else. Not everyone feels like me! Sheesh! Not everyone needs constant feedback to feel connected. Maybe he’s content! Have I asked? Yes, I have and he says he’s fine. He says he’s happy. He certainly acts happy. So why don’t I believe him? It’s my usual way. I keep thinking that there must be something wrong, even when there isn’t. Always trying to fix things that aren’t broken. 🙂 I’m working on that. A lot…

Last night, I listened. I left the phone in the truck and I stayed in the moment. And I listened to him play.

I ask again. “Do you want me to sit in on your lesson?” He says yes. And so I listen,. I catch myself tearing up as he plays. I had thought he hadn’t been practicing because I never hear it (because I’m always with her). But he has – on his own, in the quiet house. It’s only his third lesson and I can see his concentration. I can hear his practice. I can feel his love for that little guitar I got when I was his age and never learned to play. Now he learns instead. I hear music already. The quiet gentle tones of an acoustic guitar. So much like him. Quiet and gentle. The tear sits in the corner of my eye. This, I can do. I can be here, right here where he wants me to be. Listening to him play.

He doesn’t ask for much. He doesn’t want an electric guitar or a new acoustic – he is content with what he has. And yet I worry. For no reason. He is good; he is great. He is not the same as her and that’s OK. He is himself and I am so blessed to have him.

He proudly shows me his blister from playing and asks me about blisters. I give him medical mumbo jumbo and I offer to help him put something on it. He thinks about it and then declines. He asks about when his Dad will be home and I let him stay up; knowing that this is the moment he wants to share with his father. The pride of an earned blister. My boy is growing up in his own way, at his own speed. A tear again as I realize this and vow to let him be him. Blisters and all. I love you my little guitar man.

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Doing what I can, when I can, the only way I know how.

That’s all they ask of you. Isn’t it time you allowed it for yourself?

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Lunch Lunacy

I have been ranting a lot with my husband about this topic. My kids are pretty much teens and have begun to flex their independence muscles. This is a good thing, but at times I have been getting extremely frustrated. I know that they are frustrated with me too because I’m constantly throwing it out there at them and I get the eye roll and ignored.

It’s hard not to make a big deal about it. My only excuse is that I’m so passionate about this.

What is it?

It’s eating a decent lunch…

Not a bunch of crackers.

Not just an apple.

Good grief, certainly not the cafeteria food she now has access to and he sometimes does in the “canteen” or whatever they call it.

Not NOTHING for Pete’s sake!

I admit, it’s been quite the journey for them the past couple years. An about face from where we were (eating tons of pre-made meals & take out) to eating raw as much as we can and a lot more healthy homemade foods. We did discuss it – I started it for my own personal journey and they wanted to join me. They were younger and much more eager. They have learned so much about labels and ingredients. They have been teased and bugged about their healthier food options in their lunches. They’ve been in arguments with cousins about what labels mean. They’ve been missing many of the foods we used to eat often and now only have as a “treat”.

There is the answer to why it is difficult lately.

It now becomes a battle of denying them foods they think they want instead of encouraging them to eat the foods that are healthier choices. I help people in the store all the time with that. I share that my personal journey with food turned completely around when I stopped thinking of it as denial and started thinking about all the great, yummy foods I do get to eat! Why have I stopped doing that with my children?

It’s partly because they do contradict me more to flex their muscles, as I mentioned above. But, I also think it stems from a lot of my guilt around feeling like a “less cool” mom when I don’t serve the foods their friends eat. I then do my usual over-compensation for my guilt and let them have the “treats”. And when I tell them it’s a treat, I imply that the other food is not. DUH!  Of course they want the treats more. They are still people! We all want things that we think are “special” (and even a little bit taboo).

It’s also because of their environment/peers. I now get to work in an environment where my “granola” lifestyle is part of my work! They have to go to school everyday and be faced with less than satisfactory choices. They have the knowledge now to know that these foods are not healthy, but I’m sure they must get sick of constantly knowing it’s not as good for them yet it’s everywhere and everyone else eats it. On top of that, they have been actually teased about the weird foods they’ve eaten. Let’s face it, as teens, they are much more influenced by their peers. I would be sick of the constant battle too if I were in that environment, especially as a teen trying to be “accepted”.

I have struggled with the answers for this since the start of the school year. My daughter in particular seems to be eating less healthy food and more “junk” food. She’s got so many more options at her new high school. She’s got a busier schedule. She has her own money to spend from her job. I’m sure she’s under a lot of pressure to “fit in”. Plus, the poor girl has a sweet tooth like her mother. My husband and I have talked about this a lot lately. What should we do, how can we help them? I’ve been buying way too many “compromise” type foods that I’m not happy feeding my children just to get them to take something for lunches. It makes me squirm and have a split personality: the mom who knows what her children need to be eating and the mom who is trying to keep the peace and have things “easier” rather than causing upheaval. I’ve not been true to myself in trying to please the kids and keep things on an even keel.

We had a chance to talk some more when the kids were gone yesterday. It was partly spurred on by our budget chat.

It is waaaayyyy cheaper for us to eat healthier. I’ve proven this several times. Those foods cost more money and do very little to actually fuel their bodies & minds. I’m so done with this “compromise” that really doesn’t work for me. It’s going against my beliefs.

However, I need to approach this in a positive way.

There are a lot of healthier options that I know they love to eat. An example: fruit salad (homemade). It takes a little planning and preparation that I simply just haven’t done lately. I haven’t recruited help in this either like I have done. Again, because it’s easier to just do it myself. But….it’s not really easier because this whole thing has been bothering me so much, plus, I have other things to do than do all the work myself.

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SO, the ACTION plan:

  1. Meal planning on Sunday will again include the iPod-lazing-on-the-couch-teens. They actually don’t complain about this when I ask them what they want.
  2. Grocery shopping will include shopping for only those items on the above list.
  3. The word “treat” will be used to describe awesome healthy goodies that we discover. Again, when I empower them to find these, they have fun and come up with some great stuff! Raspberry “ice cream” is a prime example!
  4. I will have some understanding of the pressures that they are under eating around their friends. They know what’s healthy and what’s not, they’ve learned what I’ve learned. I will let them make the decisions at school/among thier friends without giving them a hard time about it. My snarky comments on these choices does not help them make the choices, it only makes them feel worse. And as I say to customers – whatever food you choose to eat, ENJOY it with all your heart. Your body will use it accordingly. I’m nicer to my customers than I am to my kids.
  5. Learn more about ways to encourage teens to eat healthier. Yeah, it was easier when they just did what I told them too. But…on the bright side, now that they’re older, we can have even more awesome conversations and foods that they make!

I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I talk to moms every day about this. I learn a lot from other moms. I know you can too. We are putting on an event where we can all learn more about making healthier lunches for our kids (and ourselves!)

Grab your tickets right now to Healthy Lunch, Happier Bunch (here in Olds at Health Street Tuesday, October 8th 6:30 to 8:30):

 

The Hug

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I was never much of a “hugger” – it just wasn’t something we did growing up. We showed affection in other ways, and I was OK with that. I always felt loved.

Then there was a blind date… We both belonged to a dating service – which, back then, was done for you by interviewers, pages of questions and some big computer in the back somewhere that sent a letter (in the MAIL) to you to invite you to call each other. He called me. I was ready to give up on this dating service thing and I was his first “letter”. After I heard his voice, I had to meet him.

We agreed to meet in a local pub we both knew. He was surprised to find me drinking a beer because he’d never met a woman who drank beer before. That city boy had never met a farm girl before ;P We talked like we were old friends. About everything. All too soon, the evening wore on and I had to leave (I was a single mom and I had to work in the morning!) He walked me to my car…and then it happened….

He HUGGED me.

His height made it perfect for me to “fit” into his chest. His leather jacket smelled so good, with just a hint of cologne somewhere in there. I completely melted into his embrace.

I went to work the next day, exclaiming to all my friends; “He hugged me! He hugged me!” Eyes rolled, especially when they heard that the hug was the only physical contact we had. My nurse friends had been hoping for much more for me! LOL! The older & wiser office manager smiled, knowing that there was much more to the hug than the physical. And she was right….I married that man who became my friend who hugged me first before anything else.

I hug a lot more these days. I hug him all the time. My kids, as many times as I can get them to let me.

These are some hugs I wish for:

  1. My Gramma – I was always in too much of a rush to get going to pause at the door of her welcoming home and give her a hug. She would have let me.  I will see you again
  2. My sisters – because I just don’t see them often enough. Our time together in Mexico was so awesome. Like when we were kids.
  3. My friend Kristi – she needed one yesterday, and I missed it
  4. My best friend Krystal – we are so comfortable with each other, but it’s not something we do. Maybe we should.
  5. My brother-in-law – to show him that he was loved and that there IS hope.
  6. My friend Lindsay – around her big pregnant belly to wish her well as she journeys toward motherhood for the first time
  7. Another friend Stacy – as she struggles to let go of her oldest son as he flies off away from the nest so far away across the country
  8. My aunt – as she bravely faces cancer treatments and a new reality
  9. My friends Lori and Kristen – just because I miss them
  10. My friend Shauna – I got to hug her the other day, but today, especially, I would like to hug her again
  11. That stranger I forgot to smile at – as she wondered if anyone loved her. I should have shown her that I do

What hugs are you wishing for? What’s stopping you?
We all know someone who needs a hug. Love them through it.
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This post was inspired by the people in my list above and prompted by This Week’s Writing Prompts

Mama’s Losin’ It

Sometimes You Have to Just Go With the Flow!

adventure

 

It was Saturday morning; I had just finished a run. The sun was beating down on this beautiful summers day. I drove to the grocery store to pick up supplies for pickling the 40 pounds of cucumbers that I was to pick up later in the day from the U Pick farm. I was thinking of all of the things that I ‘should’ do this weekend to catch up as summers coming to an end. Then my phone rang. It was Shawna. “I have an idea”, she said. Uh oh, I thought. Usually when she says this it is some amazing plan for the business that also means a lot of work! 😉 It wasn’t about work though. She was heading up north to pick up her kids that had been staying at her sister’s all week and she was wondering if I wanted to come along with my kids. She said we would have a road trip and head to Jasper and do some exploring. Whatever we wanted to do really. My immediate response was I can’t because I have to pick up these cucumbers and get them all done up before they spoil. I have so much to do! I was thinking of  school supplies that I still had to get, yard work etc. She knows me well and said I will give you a few minutes to think about it. She must have sensed the panic in my voice! After several texts and phone calls with her and my hubby, we figured out how to make it work. Hubby encouraged me to not stress and just take one thing at a time. Shawna patiently listened to my concerns of just leaving all of my plans and as always she jumped up and said “I can go get your veggies” (which were out of town) “while you pack and get ready”. Still feeling a little hesitant and excited I started to get us ready. My daughter got her and her brothers stuff. I was still all icky from my run and hadn’t even showered. Anyways as you can tell I don’t do spontaneous or unplanned well. My OCD just doesn’t work that way!

What I wanted to share was that sometimes you have to just go with it. Take a chance or you miss out on things. Don’t wait for the ‘right’ time or to get caught up.

 

This was once instance where if I would have stuck with my plans I would have missed this:

 

How blessed were we to be able to enjoy this beautiful Canadian land?!
How blessed were we to be able to enjoy this beautiful Canadian land?!

 

And this… quality time with my young ‘uns!

 

How lucky were we to be able to enjoy this beautiful Canadian land?!
A great experience to share with my kiddos! 

 

 My favorite stop along the way. Sometimes we get so caught up in getting to our destination that we forget to enjoy the journey along the way. Not this time though. We had plenty of stops to enjoy nature’s beauty. 

 

What is it about waterfalls that is so magical?
What is it about waterfalls that is so magical?

 

And let’s not forget my favorite quote from the entire weekend from my little guy! 

 

A quote from my 7 y.o.
A quote from my 7 y.o.

 

 And I can’t forget our actual destination.

 

From 30 degrees celsius to 8 degrees on the ice. So pretty tho!
From 30 degrees celsius to 8 degrees on the ice. So pretty tho!

 

So… what did I learn from letting go of my schedule and throwing caution to the wind?

  • Not everything needs to have a detailed plan.
  • Sometimes you have to trust your heart and listen beyond your mind.
  • When what you really need slaps you in the face. Go with it. 
  • Adventures can be found anywhere. 
  • We can learn things from children of all ages.
  • When you can’t think clearly at home. It’s time for a get-a-way.

Thanks Shawna for knowing just what I needed and for the memories! And thank YOU  for coming along on my adventure!

 

live

Seven Steps to a Simpler Less Stressful Holiday!

I see many people fluttering about at Christmas time. People that are looking for the perfect presents. People wondering if they have bought enough for everyone on their very long list. There are those that feel that if they don’t have dozens of ornate cookies for Christmas then they have failed in some way. Let’s not forget about all of those holiday parties that we are supposed to attend. Before we know it all of our days are booked up and we haven’t done anything that WE really wanted to do. <Insert sigh>

Maybe I think a little less conventional, but isn’t Christmas supposed to be about the meaning and not the stuff? Don’t you want to spend time with the people that you care about most? Those that make you happy? Is anyone going to care, let alone remember that you spent a little less money this year? The most precious gifts that I have received have been kind words, hugs, time made for me, and beautiful hand made gifts that I will hold on to my whole life. These gifts bring me joy every time I think about them. All of these things have a memory and a story behind them. They are special.

How can we get away from the nagging thoughts that if we don’t have a Martha Stewart perfect (ugh I hate that word) holiday then we are a failure? I want to let you know that you can. Rebel with me friends! Here is how we can have a holiday cleanse. Lets’s ditch the guilt once again and get on with living. Let’s start REALLY living our lives the way that we want to with those that we care about.

Simple Step 1:

Be grateful for all that you have. If I were to choose three things right this minute they would be; 1) health 2) the people in my life 3) the opportunity to live somewhere where I can freely voice my opinion. Once we reflect on all that we have we will desire less. Our cupeth really is quite full. There is always something to be grateful for, even in our darkest moments.

Simple Step 2:

When it comes to gift giving let’s simplify our list. Very few of our childhood memories revolve around gifts that we have received. I have always remembered kind words, handmade items prepared lovingly for me, and of course the gift of time. In today’s society time is the most precious gift that we can give each other. Spending time together gives us invaluable memories that we can hold forever.

Some of my most favorite gifts:

~a surprise weekend away that my hubby planned from start to finish. He gave me the gift of quality, romantic time just the two of us!

~my blankets that my mom made (I appreciate the time, effort, and love that went into each stitch.)

~my quilt made from Shawna. (Again there was a ton of time that went into it and it’s beautiful.) I display it in my living room so that I can see and use it every day!

~last year Shawna gave me a tin of inspirational quotes (so creative!) and made us a certificate for a lovely meal at her home. Little does she know that one of these days I will take her up on that!

~I also love the Christmas messages and letters. They are rare but I have a couple of friends that send a neat snapshot of their year!

~Friends/family have taken our kidlings so that hubby and I could have a date or a night away. This is such a precious gift. The gift to reconnect to your spouse is priceless because when our marriage is running tickety boo then everything else seems to fall in place.

Joshua Becker reminds us about what those precious gifts are. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on physical items here are 35 gift ideas that won’t easily be forgotten.

*And seeing as I am on the topic I also think that it is a good idea to explore gently used options. Shopping locally will also help keep those unique stores alive. Both will leave less of a mark on our earth.

Simple Step 3:

Just say no! You do NOT have to attend every party, every Santa Claus appearance, every cookie exchange. Do the things that bring you joy. Isn’t that what the season is supposed to be about anyways?

Simple Step 4:

Plan. Plan. Plan. A clear, concise plan will keep you on track for getting what you really want out of the holiday season. Make a list of everything that you want and make it happen. If you have a family how about discussing it over a nice meal? Take everyone’s suggestions into account and then decide from there what you can do. I guarantee everyone will be happy to have some input.

Simple Step 5:

Lists. I just LOVE lists. 😉 I even got an excellent app for my phone this year to keep track of the gifts that I wanted to get for everyone. It is called Better Christmas List. It was $1.99 and my favorite features are  it creates separate groups for family, friends, work etc. and it sets and tracks budgets for groups or people! Cool beans! By making a list it will help you stay on track for what you want to get people and save the bank by letting you know where you are at with your budget.

Simple Step 6:

Budget. This is important. Christmas spending can easily get out of hand. Shop within your means. If you are on a tight budget then give a homemade certificate. How about invite your friends over for a nice meal, offer babysitting so they can go on a date, girls day out? The possibilities are endless and what a great way to make memories together!

Simple Step 7:

Declutter. When we get rid of the extra ‘things’ we save time from not having to move them, clean them or think about them. Get rid of the broken items, the duplicates, things that no longer have a use and that you don’t love. Clear away space wasting items to get ready for the festivities!

May you all have a joyous, safe and healthy Christmas. Cheers. Xxxxx