Christmas Traditions

Most people put an angel at the top of their Christmas tree.  Some place a star.  We have a very unique Christmas tree topper.  We top our tree with Pinocchio.  Angels grant wishes and you can wish upon a star, but Pinocchio is proof that if you want something bad enough you can get it.  He’s beautiful Italian glass, but we didn’t go all the way to Italy to get him.  We traveled to Frankenmuth to the magical world of Christmas ornaments at Bronners.  This is one of our holiday traditions.

Another tradition at our house is held on Christmas Eve.  We feast on foods that no other family I’m aware of makes and no one can spell.  There’s the simple turkey mint meatballs and hummus and other dunks for our bread and such.  Then there’s the sauerkraut balls and what we call b-word because although we’ve mastered the recipe it was never put in writing.  Not one member of our family knows how to spell this concoction of tomato, breadcrumbs, and cheese wrapped in the thinnest beef you can find.  We don’t know what we enjoy more eating them or pounding the beef.  Great eats that also relieve holiday stress. Awesome!

Of course there will be a holiday run in the morning so that we can enjoy all of this guilt free.  I know that is more a daily ritual than a holiday tradition, but it is still an important part of Christmas Day.  It makes the Christmas cookies taste sooooo much better.  I think I have a new favorite; pecan tassies.

How will your family celebrate the season?

From Food Frenzie to Skinny Dress Season

Ugh!  Skinny dress season. There is something entirely wrong with putting all of these parties right in the middle of the best holidays for foodies.  All of those delicious treats that we want to indulge on when we know in the back of our minds that next week we have to put on that dress.  How are you going to get into that dress if you eat this?

Here are my skinny dress season tips:
-Run every day.  At least walk.
-Drink lots of water.  Keep a bottle with you.
-Have at least a little bit of that treat you want.  Don’t deprive yourself; it will only cause you to binge and over eat.
-Drink green tea.  It has lot’s of health benefits including weight loss.
-Read labels and watch for sugar content.  You’d be surprised which healthy things (like Vitamin Water) are loaded with sugar.
-Stay away from fruity cocktails.  They may be yummy, but there’s 2 problems.  First, they are highly addictive, and second they have way too much sugar which packs on the pounds.
-Out of sight out of mind.  Don’t have junk food in the house.
-Cook once; eat many times.  Always have extra healthy snacks on hand.  If you are making a salad cut up extra celery and carrot sticks for a snack later.
-If you need dressing find one made with yogurt.  My favorite is Bolthouse Farms ranch @ 45 calories for 2 TBSP you can indulge.

Guys, these work for you too.  Don’t rely on those suspenders.

What are your holiday party tricks?


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!!
Today is the first day in the season with “real” snowcover on the ground.  I don’t know who is more excited; the kids, me, or my 14 1/2 year lab who thinks she is a puppy traipsing around in the snow.  Check out my back yard . . .

Yeah; snow!  That means the first snow run of the season.  I’m pumped!  I can’t wait to get out there.  There is something special about getting out there and doing it when conditions aren’t perfect and there are obstacles.  It’s more exhilarating knowing that not only are you doing something good for yourself, but you are doing it despite adversity.  You are not going to let anything beat you or get in your way.  You will persevere!  Conquering this first thing in the morning means that you will conquer anything that comes your way.  Look out world!
What is getting in your way?
How will you persevere?

Preserve the Legacy

Preserve the legacy; any legacy.  Resist the temptation for below the line behavior on an easy mark,
someone who is no longer here to defend them self, and create the memory that they would want. 

Last night VH1 was playing Michael Jackson’s rehearsals for the tour he was planning before his death.  I was 13 years old when Thriller came out.  I was glued to the TV.  I knew every time the video would be played on MTV and I would watch it as much as I could.  Me and my girlfriends would dance our silly zombie dance and giggle. We couldn’t get enough of Michael.

We wore felt hats to school.  We wore one glove and tried to moonwalk.  Our bedroom walls were plastered with posters, much to our parents displeasure.  Thriller would play back to back for hours on Sunday afternoons.  We were too young to know the Jackson 5, but we loved Michael.  He was a legend.

With almost every new movie being released in 3D and the capability of having a 3D television in your own home; it is hard to describe the boundaries that were broken with the Thriller album, especially the video of the title track.  My daughter is 13 years old today.  The only Michael Jackson she knows is the one in the controversial trial.  The recluse with the strange white skin who died at a very early age.  I can change that for her, but only somewhat.  I can show her the videos and describe the era.  I can’t undo the technology that she knows today and give her the sense of awe that we had in 1984, but through my energetic depictions she can sense that this was no ordinary performer. 

I can also teach her to make the most out of every day.  I was reminded of this twice this week.  Michael’s VH1 special and the loss of a co-worker.  Here’s some tips to help you make the most out of your day:
1) Be where you are.  Be engaged in what you are doing and don’t allow distractions or multi-tasking.
2) Don’t try to do too much.  Pick the one thing that you really really really want to do and do it well.
3) Get your heart rate up.  The endorphins released with exercise boost your mood, your immune system, and your sex drive.
4) Reflect on your day.  What went well.  What could have been better.  What is the most important thing you want to do tomorrow.
5) Get a great night’s sleep.  Tomorrow is going to be fantastic.  You want to be ready for it.

Sugared Cranberries

I have the perfect easy family activity for today; sugared cranberries.  Watch out!  They are like potato chips.  I bet you can’t eat just one.

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cups cranberries
sugar to coat

combine 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. DO NOT BOIL!  Add the cranberries and let cool for at least 2 hours.  You can refrigerate overnight.  In batches, roll cranberries in sugar.  Place on wax paper to dry for about an hour.  While they are getting ready go for a family hike and get in those 10,000 steps.  How many different types of leaves can you find?

Super easy.  Super yummy and pretty too.

What else can you do with them?
-use them to top cakes and pies
-add thin strips of lemon peel
-add thin strips of orange peel
-mix with nuts
-use them to top a salad

The Opposite of Remarkable is Very Good

 “The opposite of remarkable is very good.” I  heard this the other day on the car radio.  This certainly caught my attention.  Although they may not be polar opposites they certainly are enemies at times.  Why?  Because, very good isn’t  sticky.  You don’t remember things that are just very good.  And, when we talk about performance, or life, settling for very good keeps you from getting to remarkable.  Very good becomes good enough and we don’t push ourselves to find out what we are capable of.

The difference between very good and remarkable is that you can have one, but you have to make the other.  That requires work; it requires creativity and it makes us stretch beyond our comfort zones.  You can have a very good day or you can make a remarkable day.

Remarkable – worthy of note or attention; extraordinary
It’s the unexpected greatness, or the extra whatever that makes it memorable.  Remarkable has stick power and greater gratification.  When you go out for a nice dinner if it is very good you will have an enjoyable evening.  If it is remarkable then you will tell people about it, you will recommend it,  you will visit the establishment again, and you will think of it often.  If you do a very good job at work you may be thanked for what you have accomplished, but when you do a remarkable job at work you will be addressed with extreme gratitude and looked at for future, possibly larger, projects.

To set out to do the remarkable takes thought.  It usually doesn’t just happen, although, sometimes you may luck out. For anything to be extraordinary it must be deliberate. If you want a fantastic vacation then it must be planned.  If you want an incredible dinner party then it must be planned.  The “WOW” is always in the preparation.

Companies make sure that they are prepared by having a mission statement.  It communicates to their employees how the company wishes to be perceived.  It aids in their business decisions and helps them keep focused on their main initiative.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. 

Here’s Zappo’s:  Our goal is to position Zappos as the online service leader. If we can get customers to associate the Zappos brand with the absolute best service, then we can expand into other product categories beyond shoes.

Having a mission and vision of your own can help you just as they help businesses.  A personal mission statement is an ambitious and inspirational definition of what you want to be or how you want to live.  It’s like having a compass that guides you in the right direction.  You won’t be surprised this far into the article to read that mine is:

to make a extraordinary life
I wrote my first mission statement while taking a Stephen Covey course.  It started by stating that I want to be successful in business and break through glass ceilings, be a super spouse, parent and friend, and ended with having life balance.  Three long paragraphs that I could never remember later it all boiled down to making (doing the hard work) an extraordinary life.  If I remember that my goal is to expect greatness then I will be successful in business and relationships and everything else.
Hopefully, my example makes it easy for you to come up with yours.  Don’t wait!  You don’t want to miss out on something because you forgot to set your compass.

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