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The Truth Is, I Love To Cook

For me, I like having fewer belongings and not having to clean up a bunch of stuff. My mother is just beginning to explore minimalism.

My mother spent her career working as nurse. She was a pretty busy lady who didn't have much time to cook. Now that my mother is retired, she is trying to simplify her life and hopes to downsize. Or at least get a handle on her belongings.

Through this process of trying to downsize, my mom keeps offering me her belongings. Sometimes this feels more like a threat, she says, "I am going to send you my Great Books of the Western World!"

My fear is coming home to a moving van ready to deliver The Great Books and a bunch of furniture that would take six hunky men to move. (Mom, if you are reading this - I don't want The Great Books -the men can stay! John, if you are reading this I am just joking!). Mom, please send the "The Great Books", A.K.A “The Great Conversation”, A.K.A. “A Bunch of Books” to Ethan!

Ethan is my college-…
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Thinking Of You - Greeting card tips and tricks shared with you

My mom has finally moved off Facebook!
What a relief!  No more gushing over her daughter online! No more excessive “Likes” and reveling embarrassing moments of my childhood.
Whew!
...wait, by not talking to my mom via Facebook, I now have the desire to make greeting cards, so I can send them to her and stay connected with my family and friends.
To make this music-themed card, I cut up pieces of black and white paper to look like piano keys. I chose brown colors to represent the wood typically seen in performance halls.  To dress up the card, I added a black bow to make it a black-tie affair.  The music sheet paper was included to tie the theme together.  This took a lot of glueing, but overall - this card was simple to make.
To inspire you to make cards, I am sharing 3 greeting card sources, with great tips and tricks to you get started.
Melissa, from “A Vegas Girl at Heart” shows what you can do with just a simple circle punch.  She even provided a simple sketch to help you figure o…

One-Pot-Meal: Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Earlier this month, my husband and I flew to New Orleans for the weekend.  We happened to catch the beginning of the Carnival season that officially started on January 6 and continues through Fat Tuesday - marking the last day of the season.
New Orleans is a pleasure-loving city with famed common dishes that are heavily influenced by Spanish and French cuisines.  To put you in the mood for Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), I am sharing my modified version of the classic dish: Jambalaya.
To keep this dish easy, you can use store bought stock.  Since it was the weekend, and I had some extra time, I used a technique I learned from Chef Paul Prudhomme's book "Fork In the Road." 

This cookbook is one of the books I inherited from my mother, and was originally published in 1993.

Chef Prudhomme is a Lousiana chef - known for using fresh ingredients and serving upscale Cajun and Creole dishes.

I had some frozen stock that I made from our smoked Thanksgiving turkey.  I defrosted my sto…

Decision making tip to help prioritize your bullet journal lists

I discovered Bullet Journaling and now I am obsessed.  I have been creating lists of places I want to go, movies I want to watch and things I need to get done!  Now, I want to reorder my list based on what is the most important.

In my career, I have been a Project Manager, Scrum Master, Business Analyst, and Product Owner - all roles that are faced with the challenge to get decisions made and priorities set. I learned this technique called: Pairwise Comparison.

Basically, you create your wish list of all the things you want, in this case my Places That I Want to Visit list.  Ireland has always been a place I want to visit, so it went first on my list.

Then you create a grid where you have to chose one over the other. This forces you to make your choices by comparing them head-to-head.  After you are done, you can clearly see the order of your preference.  In my case, I learned that Cuba is actually the first place I want to visit.



How to make a pairwise comparison chart:
List all your …

Bullet Journaling for Lefties: Achieve Smudge-Free Lists in the New Year!

Happy New Years! This is the time of year, where I try to slow down, reflect and organize my thoughts.  It is also the time of year when I like to make a lot of lists.  I create lists for movies I want to watch (the Oscars are coming), places I want to visit, what I hope to achieve in the new year, restaurants I want to try, and the lists go on.

I heard about Bullet Journal (BuJo for short); which is an "analog system for the digital age" that was created by Ryder Carroll, who is a digital product designer.  I was instantly turned off to this idea.

The idea of going analog and putting down the laptop intrigues me, but being a lefty who can barely read my own writing, the idea of writing things down outright scares me.

Writing makes me nervous. Not the act of expressing myself with words, but physically writing.  I am left-handed, so my handwriting is terrible and I am subject to the lefty smudge. I am the last person to volunteer to be the scribe or write on a chalkboard.
L…

Last Minute Holiday Ideas To Keep Your Season Sane

Need something quick for a Holiday Exchange?  Would you like to stop by the neighbors to say hello and drop off a thoughtful and tasty gift?  Want to offer a small treat to thank your co-workers? In need of a quick host or hostess gift?

Here are some ideas I gathered. Cheers!


Bring Holiday Cheer!
A little booze can be a great ice-breaker for the season. Dress up bottles for a quick gift idea to add something special under the tree or to take to a party.  Please check out my alcohol themed ideas to get the holidays started.
Bark, The Herald Angels Sing! Fa La La La etc...
The trick to making bark is to not make them too thick. They break easier and are less "fudgie" tasting. You also need to watch when you are melting white chocolate, because it melts at a different time and temperature than dark chocolate.  Here is a link about how to melt white chocolate that you can read before trying these recipes that have a bigger bark than their bite.

Quick Ideas for the Host or Hostes…

Thanksgiving Make Ahead Recipe: Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Thanksgiving is coming! I am up early on the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving. My philosophy and strategy regarding Thanksgiving is that it is fun when done in small doses. I try and make as much as I can ahead of time.


This morning, I am making Roasted Acorn Squash Soup.  My plan is to freeze the soup and then defrost it the night before Thanksgiving. The day of, I will throw it in a crockpot, which will allow me to have one more easy vegan dish, to make my vegan and health-conscious guests happy.

Yesterday, my mixed doubles tennis partner said: "If you live in Seattle, you have to know how to cook for vegans."  Another great option in Seattle is to order a vegan take-out for Thanksgiving dinner; which is what he and his wife are doing this year.

Since pureed soup is vegan, it is good soup to freeze and I may save some for myself to bring to work for lunch.


I sliced the acorn squash in half, using a serrated knife.  Then I added olive oil, Kosher salt and pepper and roa…

Laurie's Quick and Easy Spicy Stir-Fry Udon Noodles

My dear friend Laurie shared her stir-fry recipe for thick, chewy, satisfying and slurp-worthy Spicy Stir-Fry Udon Noodles. This is a versatile recipe that can be made for busy weeknights. The sauce is so easy to make, and you can use a variety of vegetables or meat in this stir-fry.



Where to buy Udon Noodles?
Most Asian specialty stores and health food stores sell Udon noodles.  If you live in an area that does not have as many options, you can purchase dried Udon noodles from Amazon.

We are lucky to live in the Seattle area, where we have many Asian and health food grocery stores to choose from.  The largest Asian grocery store in the Pacific Northwest, Uwajimaya, is a landmark here.

Uwajimaya opened in the Seattle area in 1928.  This store is a place for all things Asian and their mission is to educate customers on all aspects of Asian culture.  If you are visiting Seattle, this is a must go to place. Simply put: Uwajimaya is amazing.


Most of the ingredients were already in my pantr…