Simple Living

Information, recipes and resources for health and home, body and spirit.


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Spending Time With You

I saw a piece that came through on Buzz Feed entitled 31 Delightful Things To Do By Yourself.  I really enjoyed seeing that piece come around and I really hope that it inspires  younger people to do things solo.  Not just because it’s frugal, but because it’s necessary.  When I was younger I didn’t know how to spend time with myself nor did I want to.  While I love spending time with friends and family, I am finally at a point in my life where I enjoy my own company.  It took me way too long to get here.

After all the years that I spent being an active mother and wife, I realized that I spent my time as the hub in all the activities. I was included with each person individually and as a family, but I never went off on my own adventures even though my husband kept unsuccessfully trying to encourage me to do so.  (Thanks for trying ARV, you were right.)

My daughter moved out and that was a bit of an adjustment.  I think kids are more prepared to leave the house then the parents are to let it happen.  With her gone, it just left me and my husband together (constantly) and that was not good at all. After a few years of that we separated and it left me alone and scared to death.

Here I am two years later, and while I still enjoy my time with others, I’ve really come to value and enjoy my time by myself.  I write, I paint, I craft, I read, and I meditate. I spend time with you and the rest of my online friends.  I enjoy going out to dinner occasionally (when I can afford it LOL) with my kindle.

I like going shopping and just wandering around the stores looking at things, or going for a drive and checking out the landscape. I love listening to music, I read and occasionally I turn on the TV.  And the best part?  I never have to negotiate what I’ll be watching or feeling trapped and wishing I could be doing something else instead.

Spring Dreams2

This is my latest painting, I made it for my niece and her husband. That is their initials and their wedding date on the tree trunk.

As we go through life we find out that we don’t stay the “hub”, as our children become the “hub” of their own families and lives.  We may be married, single (or widowed).  We need to enjoy ourselves and value ourselves as others do.  So take the time to make friends with yourself; take yourself out on dates, spend quality time with yourself and make sure you’re giving yourself the same time out of “family time” that other family members get, you really need it.

What things to you enjoy doing on your own?

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Quick Kitty Bedroom

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Here lately I haven’t been able to put a bag down without Sophie trying to climb in it.  She’s really been in need of a quiet little space of her own, but I haven’t had the extra finances to purchase one of those cute ones at the store.

Then just the other day I watched a life hack video about making a cat “tent” with wire coat hangers and an old t-shirt but it looked too flimsy for Sophie to use.  She tends to be a very antsy, nervous cat, more so the older she has gotten.  She’s now 11.

So today I took an old t-shirt that was ready to go to that “great laundry basket in the sky” (a.k.a. rag pile) and put it over the box, gathered the back up and fastened it with a safety-pin.

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Then I inverted the sleeves to get them out-of-the-way.  I was going to also safety-pin them but they tucked in nicely and it wasn’t necessary.

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I put one of my beach towels in the bottom so she has something to curl up with and I can swap it out with another one so I can wash them periodically.  The neck of the t-shirt gives her ample room to climb in and out, but allows the box to retain the warmth that she needs as an older cat, especially in the wintertime.

2 minutes, a re-purposed t-shirt, a cardboard box and a happy cat!  Your turn!  Share your quick crafts!

{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Cute File Box project

Hi all!

Sorry for the hiatus but I’m slowly getting back to things and wanted to share my latest project with you.  It used to be a box that Bestie received slippers in for the holidays.  I covered it with the material from a leg of a pair of jeans and then lined it with an old bandana!

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A little hot glue and it was done in minutes and looks SO much better on my craft table then a box that talks about slippers!  If I find some white eyelet trim on the cheap I might trim around it to embellish it a little more.

Sure I could have bought a file folder or a magazine holder, but this was completely frugal – it didn’t cost anything but my time.  And that’s less to throw away so it’s green as well as cute!  And it would make a cute gift!

Update:  I found the last piece of the puzzle today…what do you think?

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What great crafts have you made lately?  Share them below!

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Spread the Word, Lend a Hand

** Update**  Christion Isaac-Alexander Shaw  6/20/09 – 12/18/14   Please consider helping with this fundraiser to help with the arrangements and passing on this story of Christion and his life.  Thank you – Maggie **

 

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while.  I have been experiencing many life changes, most positive… a new relationship, new additions to the family with more on the way, a little travelling with a whole lot of visiting, etc.

Today’s post unfortunately is not so upbeat.

Today we’re stepping up to a window into the life of an incredible single mother and her two sons… a one seven-week old named Cameron and the other a five-year old named Christion who has muscular dystrophy.

 

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This is my friend KaShonda and her boys.  Christion is 5 years old and has Nemaline myopathy Muscular Dystrophy.  He’s a great kid.  He laughs and plays and watches TV… loves Handy Manny and was completely enamored with being able to watch PBS Kids on my iPad and snuggling with me while Mom and I got to spend time together.  In many ways Christion is just like any other 5-year-old.

 

 

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Then there’s all the special extras that do not surround a typical 5-year-old… oxygen, suction to clear his lungs, a belt that provides air pressure that simulates pounding on his back to loosen the mucus in his lungs, wheelchairs, monitors, pulse oximeters, etc.

While as a country we’re trying to get kids away from the happy meals, Christion has never had one and probably never will.  Christion doesn’t eat, he has a feeding tube directly into his stomach with nutrition that comes in a pouch.

 

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Christion doesn’t have babysitters or daycare, but has home nurses.  In fact KaShonda even went to nursing school just so she could not only be better prepared to take care of her son but so that she would be able to work at home with him.  It doesn’t get anymore incredible than that, truly a devoted mother.

Sadly just a few short weeks ago, Christion’s health once again took a down turn when he developed pneumonia and wound up in the ICU.  Finally improving enough to be moved out of ICU, you can see that spirits were high.

 

Tickle time!

Tickle time!

 

Later this very same day, November 28th, Christion coded.  Medical personnel worked on him extensively to revive him but he was down for 12-13 minutes.    This is Christion right now…

 

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Heartbreaking is the only word that applies and yet that word doesn’t go deep enough.  He is 5 years old and should be writing letters to Santa, not hooked to monitors unresponsive.  His Mom should be trying to sneak in presents to surprise him with, not crying bedside in a hospital room, praying for her son.

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Then there’s Cameron.  For those who would say that thank God the 7 week-old is “normal”, they are incorrect.  While Cameron is quite healthy he is in no way normal.

Seven week-old babies should be in their mothers arms, not bounced around to relatives so his mom can keep her vigil at Children’s Hospital.  Cameron should have a big brother that can teach him to throw a football, intimidate kids who try to bully him, teach him how to date, how to drive and be his best friend.

UPDATE:   While the CT scan and EEG’s looked promising, an MRI has shown that Christion has suffered massive trauma on his whole brain and the prognosis is not positive and family is preparing for the inevitable.   Prayers are still needed for this family, for strength and courage to help them along their difficult journey.  Any donations would help considerably.  Please consider sharing this post or the fundraiser page to help.

Donations for Christion

Donations for research can be made to:

Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Office
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60606
888-HELP-MDA
(888-435-7632)

 

If your children are healthy, give thanks.  Not just once, but every day.  Life is fragile and it can be short.  Please take the time if you can to help a friend or neighbor who may need that extra hand.  Consider donating to research to continue the fight for a cure for this and other diseases and disabilities that hurt children and torment parents.  Even a few dollars a month can do a lot of good.

Have a safe, happy and healthy with your family and please join me in #PrayersforChristion.  Please share this story and allow his story to open hearts and maybe a wallet or two.  We can’t have too many people praying for him or sending positive energy their way.
{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Boycott Thanksgiving Greed

Uncle George

 

I have been a member of the workforce since 1982.  I have worked in retail, restaurants, hotels, gas stations and even a recycling plant.  I’ve even a ran small retail business.

I never had a problem working the holidays when I worked in restaurants and hotels.  Not only was I happy to make holiday pay (not that it’s that big of a difference when you’re a restaurant server) but it’s nice to be able to spend the holiday with people who don’t have anyone else to spend the holiday with.

Police, fire & medical personnel all have to work.  They get no holidays.   They and their families make sacrifices only to be rivaled by military and their families.  But retail, that’s another story.  The fact that we can’t have one 24 hour period of thanks before the onslaught of greed and corporate profits is insane in my opinion.  It also looks like I’m not alone in that opinion.

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I understand that “Black Friday” stimulates the economy.  We’re not talking about Friday though, we’re talking about Thursday which is Thanksgiving;  a national holiday of thanks, reflection, (over-eating) and family.   I understand that we’ve all had to tighten our belts, believe me; I’m looking at the most frugal holiday I’ve had in almost 25 years.

There are plenty of online sales if you truly want to shop on Thursday (which will fill the order on Friday) without having to line up with hundreds of other shoppers at retail locations only for them to have 5 items at the advertised price.  In addition, everyone will have their doors open bright and early on Friday.

Not to mention the behavior of shoppers rivaling those of the annual bridal dress sale at  Filene’s Closet.  If you’re unfamiliar, look it up.  Women will work in teams and brawl like hockey players over these dresses!

Now to be fair, my Mom was one of the ones who would pour over the ads, plan her route by what she wanted to buy vs the door gifts for early bird shoppers.  I remember waiting outside of a retail store at 5am with coffee in hand waiting for doors to open.  For the record, the only reason I agreed to go was because at the time I worked third shift and it was still within the scope of my “normal hours”.

I’m not opposed to sales, making a profit or getting a great deal.  I just think that we should observe one 24 hour period of thanks before the onslaught of greed, materialism and consumerism takes place.

If you feel similar, please consider sharing this message.  In addition, someone started a page on Facebook called Keep Black Friday Out of Thanksgiving, please consider visiting their page and showing your support.

Please don’t serve your turkey for breakfast just so you can get in line to support this madness.

{{Hugs}}

Maggie


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The One That Affects Us All

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Today I am immensely saddened by the loss of an amazing man – Robin Williams.  Not only a man of immeasurable talent but immeasurable heart as well.  As a co-founder of Comic Relief, he, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal brought the topic of homelessness into everyone’s consciousness as well as their living rooms.  He was a donor and spokesman for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and spent countless hours with American troops.

Robin Williams crossed many lines in his comedy and his acting, the biggest one to me was the line making stars untouchable.  Robin was the first celebrity that you could picture being at the parent-teacher conferences, at the grocery store or even in your home.  He was the guy that no matter if you agreed with his politics, you would love the opportunity to sit down and have a beer or a cup of coffee with him and just talk.  He was an anybody and an everybody and everything in between.

He not only appealed to our children but to the children in all of  us, letting us know it was okay to just have fun every once in a while. His movies made me cry like no other… The Fisher King was the first one to really put its hooks into me and not let go.  While I’ve been a fan of his ever since his walk on role on Happy Days and his subsequent spin-off of Mork & Mindy making him a household name, The Fisher King was the one that showed me not only the depth of his acting but forced me to see the depth of my own feelings as well.

I don’t think that there’s a single person who watched Dead Poet’s Society who didn’t wish they’d had a teacher like his Mr. Keating or reminded us of our own Mr. Keating.  More importantly he inspired us to be Mr Keating.  That’s really what it’s about isn’t it.  Touching someone with your passion?  That’s what he did, both as himself and as the many characters he portrayed on-screen.

Unfortunately, depression does not discriminate.  It doesn’t matter race, creed, color, age, size of your bank account or the number of accolades on your shelf.  It leaves you alone and in pain.  For those of us who have wrestled those demons, we know what he was going through.. yet something else that he has managed to share with us as well.  Like I said, he was an anybody and an everybody… and anybody can suffer depression and everyone knows someone who has… whether they realize it or not.

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So please, if you’re struggling with depression.. tell people.  Let them know.  Don’t worry that they’ll judge you, what matters is that they know you deal with this horrible burden and that you might need help.  We all need help in that wrestling match and its okay to seek help.  Remember, if you’ve made it this far you’ve got a 100% success rate in battling depression.

To Robin Williams’ family, I wish to offer you my sincerest condolences.  Your loss and pain is the greatest of all.  Suicide not only leaves a trail of grief, but a trail of guilt in its wake as well.   Please know that there was nothing that you could have done.  This was a battle that only he could fight and unfortunately he lost to a formidable foe.  I hope he has found the peace he was so desperately needing and I hope you find it as well.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

 

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


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BBQ Shrimp and Mango Salad

BBQ Shrimp n Mango salad

This was so simple, it literally took a total of 15 minutes including the prep.  It doesn’t get any easier.  So delicious and you can add or incorporate anything your imagination allows.  You’ll find that I’m a cook that doesn’t follow a lot of recipes, I follow flavors and ideas so even as I write this to share with you, I’m thinking of what I can do next time (add bacon).

 

This was a perfect summer dinner for 2 but is easily multiplied for guests.  It doesn’t heat the house, not heavy but yet very satisfying.

 

Perfect for that night when you really don’t want to cook because it is put together in the same or less time than a frozen pizza or {gasp} hot dogs and a box of mac & cheese and is so much healthier!

 

This would also be a great dinner for company because you’re not spending time in the kitchen while everyone else gets to hang out with a glass of wine.

BBQ Shrimp Salad Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp bacon fat or extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 – 12 oz bag of large shrimp, uncooked, with shells and tails off

  • Fresh spinach

  • 1 ripe mango, diced

  • 1 ripe avocado, diced

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin

  • 2 oz barbecue sauce, homemade or your favorite bottle**

  • 3-4 oz water, chicken stock or white wine

** This recipe will be gluten free if you need it to be just by watching your BBQ sauce label or making your own.

Shrimp saute

Over medium high heat in a non-stick saute pan, add the bacon fat.  Once it’s hot, add the shrimp.

Toss or stir with a wood spoon to keep from sticking and to cook evenly.

Salad prep

Plate your spinach and as you prep the onion, avocado and mango put them on top of the spinach.

Shrimp add BBQ

Add your BBQ sauce and toss to coat

Shrimp in BBQ

Add your liquid and let it cook for another 2 minutes to cook out any liquor and reduce slightly.  It will be nice and thick.  Divide the shrimp between the two plates, making sure to use a spatula to get every last drop of that sauce out of the pan and drizzle over the shrimp.

Serve and enjoy!  And you thought I was joking when I said this was easy!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Tell me what you think!

Maggie

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