Sunday, October 10, 2010

A day left from summer

What a gorgeous day left over from summer, sun is shining, sky is clear blue, everything looks gorgeous.  After a long hiatus due to anane's health, I am back. It was a very challenging time for our family but thank God everything is great now. Anane is healthy, we are healthy and all is wonderful.

I am trying to compile little tips for life to help me, help my gorgeous son and everyone who may need an extra little help in life; whether its organizing- which happens to be my forte, cleaning- again I have trophies in that division, cooking- according to popular view I may modestly say I am good, traveling-which should be my profession, or anything else that is good that can be better.

So in that line of thought, today I want to include my bread pudding recipe which gained an avid following after this week's book club meeting. Here is the very simple recipe for that:

Homemade Bread Pudding:

8 slices of whole wheat or whole grain bread, toasted & cut in to small squares
1/2 cup of sugar or honey
1 cup of milk
2 eggs
2 tsp of vanilla
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup of raisins
Nuts optional

-Preheat oven to 350F
-Melt butter in a pie dish and grease the sides (so the bread does not stick while baking)
-Mix milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, raisins (and nuts if you want) in a bowl
-Add bread to the bowl, coat it well, mix it up
-Pour all of the mix into the pie dish.
-Bake for 30 -45 minutes and eat it warm with whipped cream or icecream.

Lots of love, blessings & hugs...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to Annem, Anane

Mutlu Yillar Annem, 

tomorrow is my mom's birthday, or as she is known "anane" which means grandma, cause she is everyone's grandma. She dishes out her advice to anyone and everyone she meets, solicited or not. I suppose wisdom that comes with age is shared freely. Or at least that is her way of sharing. She is the kind of woman who befriends the construction workers (no not because she wants them to whistle for her) to make them tea or bring them something to eat. In her world, everyone needs a grandma or a mom; cause she has never had either one.

One day, I will write her life story, it will make a great book and probably a better movie. She is filled with wisdom of the old ages, and different, far away, mysterious lands. She has seen and lived through a lot, some with bitter taste, some with laughter. She has overcome all, and she is not just a survivor, she is truly a thriver.

She is opinionated, and funny that makes any comedian laugh out loud while thinking why didn't I say that, she is kind hearted and generous beyond limits that would make Red Cross turn red in embarresment, she has a temper that would make Mt Vesuvius seem like a matchstick, she is organized before Martha Stewart knew how to spell the word, she is a great cook that would make Barefoot Contessa, Rachel Ray, and the entire lot eat their cookbooks for lunch, she is loving in that cool Russian way that makes a hug seem like a military salute, she is humble, friend of the fallen, hungry, sick, always at the bedside of anyone that is in need, always feeding the crowds, and lending a hand or a shoulder to everyone, she is the epitomy of a child who is not fully grown and a mother who is, she is caring in her own way that brings tears to one's eyes whether it is because of laughter or the warmth of her incredible generous spirit, she is love, fun, wisdom, blessing, kindness, generosity, goodness, purity all wrapped in a warm big ball...

Love comes in all forms and shapes, but there is no other like mother's love. It is felt deeply, appreciated better as the years go by, and understood more clearly. Love that is patient, that is kind, and love that endures, love that keeps no record of wrongs. Love that rejoices with the truth, love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love that never fails... That is mother's love, always has been, always will be... All around the world, every mother has the most precious child, which is their own.
Being a mother, is being born as a different woman with that baby; a woman of great depth, great faith, great love. When a child is born, he has his mother's heart forever walking outside her body, enveloping him in that beautiful shining love forever and always.

So, my beautiful annem may you have many happy, healthy, prosperous birthdays for many years to come.
May we share them all with you with love, joy and laughter. May you spread the love in you all around the world with your million dollar smile, and make it shine for all of us everyday...

We love you

Friday, January 15, 2010

45 Simple Lessons for Life by Regina Brett

In life, some things will always change, babies will grow, so will flowers and trees... Some things don't change; love always triumphs, kind is always better than right and the best sound is the giggles of our children. And there are some that always remain the same. Of those, here is a little sample that is oh so beautifully written with wisdom by lovely Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio!

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about..

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

With much love

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A good cup of tea

Small comforts are delightful. Because, usually they are easily obtained; such as crawling into a pair of cozy pajamas, hugging loved ones, watching a good movie wrapped in a blanket, reading a good book in a comfy chair, or having a cup of tea... There are many more of course, but let's focus on that good cup of tea today.

You ask, "why?", well my lovely, I say not only brewing a good cup can be therapuetic, but it is considered a form of art by some (just ask the Chinese, Japanese, English among many). But also a cup of tea can be so comforting, it is simple but delightful... And filled with memories, good chats or quiet times...

I drank tea as a child, long before it was "oh so " popular...Long before it became a "latte", or called "chai".
My mom and aunts would gather, and the first thing they would have was tea, it was ceremonial, not stuffy. When I was a little girl, my aunts would come over, or our neighbors, friends; after the greetings, and kisses on the cheeks; and pleasantries; my mom would rush into kitchen to boil the water for tea. Anticipation of the laughter filled conversation to start and hours filled with stories were so looked forward to, as the water bubbled and boiled. My mother would pull out her tea jar filled with good loose black tea.
She would dig in and pull a scoopful of tea, and another; then a bit more for good luck. She would pour the boiling water into the teapot, and set out her delicate tea glasses (yes they are called glasses, not cups as most of the world that are tea drinkers always uses delicate little handmade glasses to drink the amber liquid). Then she would ask me to bring the sugar, as she walked around the room to give her guests tea; I walked behind to offer sugar. And the women would start their stories, of husbands who are indifferent, the price of bread rising, children who are in school, summer vacations, neighbors, in-laws... There was an abundant supply of the wonderful stories, usually marked by bouts of laughter or stern advice giving sessions.

As they emptied their glasses, my mom would pour more tea, and I, more sugar. She would bring out little biscuits, and almost force feed her guests. If they were to be around near mealtime, then they were obligated to stay for dinner/lunch etc. So, the duty of preparing the table was for me under the strict directions of my mother. She is a great cook, and she would make sure everyone knew the taste of her cooking. She has a hugely generous heart, so she never complains about sharing, serving or waiting on her guests. After the meal, if the conversation is too deep, then there would be a second session of tea. More laughter and more stories.
So, tea has been a old friend to me, and I still look forward to sharing a cup with my mom, with you, family, friends.

Now, as it has been so popular, it is at every coffee house, and amazingly even at the local grocer's they have many varieties. Who would have thought? The medical journals are filled with its healing properties, and its bonding power. And, after all this talk, feel that I should write about how I make my perfect cuppa :)))

First feel the kettle with water (cold water works best) and put good tea (bag or loose) in a porcelain pot
Then pour the boiling water into the pot. Let it steep for few minutes.
Then, pick your favorite cup and fill it to top. Add honey, milk, sugar whatever you like, or enjoy it plain...

To many more happy cups of tea, with love ...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Snows of Love

It is white outside, everything is covered in pure sugary, white snow. It has been beckoning me to go play outside and build snow castles, polar bears and army of snowmen. I however, curbed that temptation and continued to work.

When I was little in a faraway land, I waited snow with excitement. All the children would be pouring out on the streets with any piece of cardboard, plastic bag to make his or her own sled. Snowboards were not heard of, neither were snowpants... So this was "the beginning of Simple Tips for Life"... But what fun... Walking in the snow, sticking my tongue out to catch the flakes and sledding down the little hills surrounding our apartment building; it was almost another world away...

I can teach you how to use a cardboard as a sled but that would not be necessary in the US, as any Chinese made sled is under $10. Since my economics professor mentioned that your cost of time should be less than the cost of the item you are making... in that case, head to your nearest Target to pick one up... Sled that is, not the economics professor.  Also, I can teach you how to make a snowman, but I think that comes naturally with the first flake of snow to every kid...

I however wanted to mention the play "Yankee Tavern" that is at our local theatre. What fun, and a fun night to share with my wonderful son, his grandma and dad. Not to mention the delicious Brewery Fish Fry (you by order have to be from Midwest to understand that word "fishfry"). I hope you can remember it, if it is around in the future, check it out again...

I read somewhere that "a grateful heart is a happy heart". Somedays, if may feel difficult to feel grateful or happy; I should know... I could complain about anything and everything.  Then, I started reading about other people whose lives were so much more difficult and challenging. Yet they kept a happy spirit, and they forgave and they journaled!

Keeping all those small & big blessings written may make it easier. So today I want to encourage you to pick a beautiful notebook, and start writing the blessings in your life. It could be from the past memories, or present; it could be as small as a cup of coffee that tasted so delicious to a free upgrade while traveling. It could be a simple saying you saw that spoke to your heart. Or a gorgeous sight that took your breath away. What a lovely way to transform a perceived mundane tasks into opportunities to give thanks and smile.

"Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on, Hold fast, Hold out. Patience is genius."
 Comte Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon

Till next time... with love, laughter and hugs for now and always

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Simple Tip: Ornament Hooks Turned Into Gorgeous Holders

Today beautiful Miss Hannah is here. She is my niece, and one of the most beautiful girls in the world in my biased opinion. Here she is with my incredibly handsome son :))) Well, this picture is taken in April 09, on the shores of Lake Michigan. It just speaks volumes of their wonderful personalities as cousins and kids go.
Chance is teaching Hannah how to skip rocks, always a helpful lesson especially for little girls.

It is so cold here, I think even Penguins went up further south to march around. It is supposed to snow again, about well only 10 inches the everwrong weatherman announced. Chance & Hannah are thrilled at the thought of " a snow day". For their sake, I do too... I think sledding is much more fun than homework. But I won't tell them that. Yet!

Oh another (according to my friends & family) good news is that I finally figured out how to create a facebook page. I am so good at cooking, reading, discussing politics, history and movies; and very modest at times. However when it came to facebook, I was like "why?". Apparently, that was the wrong question.
If you want to be "hip/cool" you may need to get yourself acquainted with a facebook page, (usually kids under 14 are great at helping with these things.) I now have a facebook page and already have 45 friends in 24 hours... Who knew... The number keeps growing... Good Lord. It feels good to be popular :)))

I had to go to Target the other day (well,ok did not have to but really created multiple reasons to go). Such as " how I needed to look at stuff like hangers?" One can never have too many hangers. Plus, I love Target!
I mean who doesn't? It is like a shopping therapy paradise. Great clerks that always smile, orderly, clean spaces filled with things I probably do not need but feel as though I should. And, to make it better, they have sales... Yes!!! When my relatives and friends from overseas visit me, I always make a point to take them to Target. They have all said the following: " I wish we had a Target in our country ". Yes it is retail heaven.

Anyways, while I was walking around, I came across these gorgeous beaded ornament hooks. I do not need hooks for my Christmas tree as I have at last count 1,879. But they looked so adorable, so I thought I will come up with an idea to use them. And I did. Yes you can see the beaded hooks below, and I put them on a hanger to put my scarves (you can put ties, belts etc)...I just love them, I keep opening up the closet door to look at them. Yes, I know I can be such a girl :))) But being a girl is so much fun! Snows of love...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to school, & work simple, delicious dinner

Today was the first day back at work for me, and back to school for my son. Getting up at 5:30am looking outside and seeing that it is pitch black made me want to go back to bed which I immediately did and finally it took all the will power in me to get me up. Ok, I am up.

In the past I used to run around like a chicken with its head cut off to figure out what to wear, it usually went like this every morning:

A) Look in the closet, try an outfit; hate my image in mirror & be horrified at how I allowed that chocolate cake to seduce me last night. Try another, then another outfit to settle with something black and baggy

B) Look in the closet, hesitate on choice, make a cup of tea to collect self & thoughts. Come back choose something black and baggy

C) Look in the closet, grab the black and baggy outfit and sigh seeing all the other outfits waiting for me to return to them... one day.

However, now I would like to say to you, I am well organized in the mornings and fit to wear anything. But I would be lying, instead I do this whole hesitation, outfit debacle at night. So it is ready for me to wear in the morning and I do not get all flustered at 5:42am over an outfit.

Simple Tip: Pick your outfit the night before and lay it out (yes even the socks)...

Tonight, after work I wanted to cook something fast, & simple but of course delicious. I found the "Carrot Rice" at All recipes and altered it. Also made "Oven baked barbecue chicken". It took less than 30 min (prep & cook time)... Perfect work night dinner...

Carrot Rice (very healthy)

1 cup basmati (or brown) rice
2 cups water (or stock)
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
3/4 cup grated carrots

1/4 teaspoon orange zest (you can omit)
1 chicken bouillion (or any stock)
salt to taste
cayenne pepper to taste

1. Combine rice, chicken bouillon and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to steam until tender, about 20 minutes.
2. While rice is cooking,chop nuts in and set aside. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions until golden brown. Stir in ginger, carrots, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to low and cover to steam 5 minutes. Stir in cayenne pepper and peanuts. When rice is done, add it to skillet and stir gently to combine with other ingredients. Garnish with chopped cilantro/parsley if you would like.

Oven Baked Chicken

2 lbs of chicken legs or thighs or breast
Low calorie barbecue sauce
Jalapeno slices

1. Mix all ingredients in a ziploc bag and refrigerate for an hour (or the night before)
2. Bring oven to broil low; line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (so you won't have to clean up mess after cooking)
3. Place chicken on the tray, broil about 8 min each side. Check that it is cooked through.

Serve with Carrot Rice on a beautiful plate... Enjoy...

Another day is over, and house looks so pretty with all the lights on the tree... I have so much to be thankful for and another day for me to share another blessing...

And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.