Non-Recipe Posts

Vacation Simply

Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit someday and things you want to do on a dream vacation? If not, why the heck not? Find a small notepad or start a new note on your phone or in your planner. Got it? Good, let’s dive in!

Everyone reading this has a different situation and circumstances. Some of you may be blessed enough to have the financial means to travel, some may struggle to put together enough money to buy a suitcase. Some of you may have nothing tying you down and are free to vacation while others have jobs and families and obligations galore that may make any personal time seem impossible. Finally, some of you may have the ambition to travel as much as you can and as far as you can go while others may have no desire to leave where they are perfectly happy. Let me tell you right now that this post is for every single one of you!

My husband and I have made it a point to try to get vacations of some kind scheduled regularly. We have done this since very early on in our relationship which means we made it happen when we were two broke college kids, when we had minimal worries in the world, when we both had careers, before and after we added our amazing daughter to our family, etc. Let me explain how. We got in the mindset that a vacation is exactly what you make it. A vacation can be to a local hotel with a cheap nightly rate but a great pool for the kiddo to swim and splash in. A vacation can be a road trip with no destination in mind. A vacation can be an all inclusive week long stay at a resort complete with excursions and transportation. A vacation can be at home with all technology off limits and time spent cooking or playing board games. Better yet, it can be time spent doing absolutely nothing. It can be a day trip or a week long. It’s what you make it and how you want more, no less!

Furthermore, we have found that when committing to a vacation, the most important part is not getting caught up in the little problems but focusing on the overall good. Try not to focus on the inevitable things that go wrong because all it will do it distract you and tarnish the mood for what comes next. I can’t tell you how many times our best intentions ended up getting rained out or rescheduled. It’s incredibly frustrating when the anticipation built up is seemingly ruined and things don’t work out like the perfect picture in your head. Revamp and change course if needed but stay on track with the vacation, you earned it and looked forward to it for a reason!

Speaking of looking forward to it; don’t be afraid to have lofty vacation dreams. Just because you can’t do them right this minute doesn’t mean you won’t be able to at some point. Start that list with some stay-cations to enjoy while saving up money for those lofty goals. Build up that PTO or scheduled time away from work and make plans way in advance. Take that time to research what you’re planning on doing/where you’re going. By the time you end up going, you will have an even better time because you’ll be prepared with knowing exactly what you want to do! When friends, co-workers, family members, or even random strangers get to talking about something they did, somewhere they went, or their own dreams..take note! Literally. Write it down right then and there so you can remember it later.

I can’t tell you how strongly I believe in the power of vacation. There’s a reason employers give vacation time..use it people! Don’t have an employer? No matter how much you love your job or your life, it’s necessary to get a break once in a while and spend some time doing what YOU want to do. Break up your norm and try something new. Take advantage of those people who love you and ask them to take a trip with you or to watch your house or furbaby while you’re away. Look into credit cards that give you miles or cash back for every day purchases, sign up for all your favorite hotel’s and airline’s and rental car’s reward plans and take note of the offers they send. Set aside a tiny part of each paycheck or portion of each side job’s cash. Actually read one of those articles about upcoming events in your area and plan to attend something.

Bottom line, please take time for YOU. No guilt, no worries, just time set aside for something/somewhere you truly enjoy or have an interest in! Vacation simply 🙂

Simply Be Kind

I know I haven’t posted anything other than recipes lately but this subject is one that is very near and dear to my heart and it’s my birth-week so I can post what I want to, right? 😉 I cannot explain to you all just how important of a role kindness has played in my life. It started with me growing up in a small town within a big family where everyone knew and cared about everyone else. I wish I could tell you that, after moving away for college, things stayed all sunshine and roses. But, that move to college coincided with a slow and gradual move into adulthood. We all know that people, as adults, often forget to be kind in lieu of being selfish. I’m here today to call people out on that (myself included). What’s the point of being anything other than kind? Does it make you feel better about yourself? Does it get you ahead in life? Does it set a positive example for those around you/looking up to you? No, no, and no! Face facts people, choosing to be kind means you are choosing to be a better you!

I know I’m bordering on preaching with this post but I want all of us to stop and think before we act. We teach this to our children from an early age but we forget to practice what we teach! What’s the harm in complimenting a stranger on how well they handled something or the clothes they are wearing or their parenting style? Sure, you may not harm them by not saying something nice but you also absolutely won’t help them (or yourself) have a better day. You never know if that stranger you just helped may be having a terrible week at work or struggles with low self esteem or is a single parent. Your kind words or friendly smile may help them make it through the next 10 minutes or hour or day without them wanting to break down and give up. Your kind comment may make them realize they aren’t the only ones struggling and they may pass along a kind gesture of their own to someone else. Compliments feel great coming from anyone, trust me! Have you ever had a “down” day and needed someone, anyone, to notice and care? Of course you have! We are all human! Kindness truly is contagious and we could all stand to catch a kindness bug.

At work a few years ago, I started a random habit of printing out simple little notes with a ‘pay it forward’ saying. When I went to purchase a pop or walked by the vending machines, I would put one of those notes with some change on top. The next person who comes to get something likely brought their own money but will see the note and maybe think to leave their own change for the next person. It’s not always about giving to people in need, it’s about the kind gesture and feeling of goodwill. Do you know how many coworkers have casually mentioned that someone left money for their afternoon snack? Imagine if they called their friend or told their significant other about it after work that night and that person then did the same action when they went to their own work the following day. Honestly people, it’s a couple quarters a couple times a month but it makes me feel so happy knowing that I maybe brought a smile to a couple peoples’ days!

Another thing that started a while back with my former boss (who is, hands down, one of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever come across) is taking time to recognize another coworker by contacting their manager. Take two extra minutes after a great experience with someone and email their manager to say how impressed you are with their employee. When that manager inevitably praises their employee it will make their day and all that took was a couple minutes of your time. I’ve learned to do this outside of work as well and it’s equally rewarding. Check into a hotel and the front desk clerk is helpful? Ask to speak with their manager (watch panic cross their face momentarily and reassure them with a smile) then proceed to take amongst to tell the manager how the employee started your stay off on a positive foot! See a comment box in a store? Take a minute to stop and write down a great experience you had! You don’t have to make it eloquent or long winded, just a quick note mentioning an employee by name will come back to them and cost nothing to you.

Obviously this is a topic I could write about for days but I will leave it at this. Compliment someone, recognize someone, help someone, smile at someone, be a kind person. Doesn’t matter if you see the person every day or have never seen them in your life, kindness is a language we all speak and one that should never be forgotten!

Simply Real

Today I wanted to write about something near and dear to my heart that’s slightly off my beaten path. When I started this blog I had so many ideas of topics I wanted to cover and I realize I am still very new to this but I truly love writing and letting words be heard to whoever has an interest in reading them. I don’t know that this blog will ever have one true theme besides my thoughts-of-the-moment but I’m ok with that. To those of you reading this and nodding your head in understanding of my randomness…all I have to say that I truly thank you for appreciating me as I really am.

I want to take a moment to talk about how difficult it has become to be a real person in today’s increasingly fake society. As an adult trying to balance a career and family and circle of friends, I can say that I often get caught up in pretenses and forget to be real. That being said, I make a valiant effort to stay true to myself and have found that the more I do that, the simpler it becomes. Although it’s hard to be a mom, wife, daughter, co-worker, sister, friend, and every other role in my life, I have found it’s way simpler to be ME despite which role it is that I’m currently in. Having all those roles is certainly less overwhelming when, at the end of the day, I’m still myself.

How often do you pretend something was “no biggie” and shrug it off when it is a really big deal? When was the last time you gave a complete stranger a heartfelt compliment…or anyone for that matter? Is your attitude your own or one you have adapted from people around you? How long has it been since you shared a story at work or with friends that was 100% honest and you didn’t gloss over any unsavory details? How long do you spend debating on what outfit to wear depending on who you will see that day? Let’s be real here folks, we all could use some work towards being really real.

The internet was an honest to goodness life changing invention. It has brought about incredible communication improvements but it also has brought about incredible communication issues. Literally everything is at our fingertips now so we can be “in the know” on people’s lives, see their pictures, get updates when they have milestones, etc. But it also drives us all, in some subconscious way or another, to be constantly checking on things and comparing ourselves and every facet of our lives to others. It’s no wonder we have grown increasingly more fake when things are increasingly more transparent. It’s also not surprising that we forget to act like ourselves when it appears so much better to act like someone else…someone more successful, someone skinnier, someone who is the perfect mom or wife or kid.

My challenge to all of you is to recognize this in yourselves and in those people closest to you. Once you start realizing it and focusing on it, you will be prompted to do something about it. What are we gaining from being anything other than our true selves? Imagine how much happier you would be and how much less stress would be a part of your daily life if you became yourself..the real and honest you! No more constant judging of yourself and finding something lacking. No more worrying about what anyone else may think of you but, instead, improving your own thoughts of yourself.

Ok, ok I know this sounds like a cheesy self-help book at this point and I know this won’t be anywhere near my most popular post but it’s something I have enjoyed writing because it’s something on my mind often. Please please please show yourself some love and be true to who you are, regardless of who you are expected to be!

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