Simple is not Easy

margaritas

margaritas (Photo credit: M. Martin Vicente)

Simple is not easy

Told someone yesterday to be happy ~

To fake it for a while until the feeling was authentic;

They looked at me as if I had fallen off the turnip truck

They could not fathom happiness

It was not within their current vocabulary

They could not grasp the concept.

As I said

Simple is not easy

Happiness sounds simple

It is not easy.

What do you think about happiness? Sounds simplistic—but it is hard work I think.

This post was inspired by Margarita who said this to me in response to my post Let It Be:

Dearest LouAnn, “simple” and “easy” are not synonyms, in my experience. Just because a concept is simple, does not mean it’s easy to execute. Once I released myself from that perception (simple=easy), it was easier to let things be. xoxoM

Published in: on August 24, 2013 at 10:30 am  Comments (38)  
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Crazy Cracker Candy – And You Thought I Forgot That Today was Recipe Saturday

English: Six saltines and a fork on a large plate

Turn these into candy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going to provide you with a bit of an eccentric recipe but one I made a lot when my kids were little. It uses saltines as the base and is super easy. It is a fun recipe to do with kids, because they love to line up the crackers on a cookie sheet and try to leave no gaps.

I was given this recipe during a phone conversation with a friend. I had tried the candy at her house and just loved it. As such, this is a rather “loose” recipe, but it works with just a few ingredients and is super fast to make.

Crazy Cracker Candy

Ingredients:

Saltine crackers; 1/2 cup butter or margarine; 1/2 cup brown sugar; chocolate chips; nuts if you desire

Instructions:

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Line up saltine crackers so there are no gaps or overlapping. Boil 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Spoon over the crackers covering them with the liquid “gold”. Put them in the oven for about a minute in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Take them out of the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and then put back in the oven until the chips melt and spread. When they come out you can sprinkle them with nuts (I never do this). Put them in the fridge for 1/2 hour to cool. Score bars and remove them from cookie sheet. (I usually just break them up).

Seriously, these are so good–and your kids will love them. You will love them. And most of us have these ingredients hanging around our pantry and fridge.

Do you have a recipe that is blissfully easy, but good, and uses really accessible ingredients?

~ A “No Rhyme or Reason” Recipe Because It is Saturday ~

Peggy's Cove

Peggy’s Cove (Photo credit: bouave)

Here is a tried and true recipe that is so good (and need I say it: EASY) as a side to go with your Christmas ham. It is from my messy “No Rhyme or Reason Cookbook” that is really just a red notebook filled to the gills with pasted in, stapled, and taped in recipes, many hand-written.

Some of the recipes are from magazines and newspapers, but most are from family and friends. The cookbook has personality plus. So what if it is coming apart at the seams—that makes it all the more adorable.

This recipe comes from my sister Peggy, thus it is called:

Great Baked Beans à la Peggy

4 – 15 oz. cans of pork and beans (or any derivative thereof)

1 onion

3 tbsp. vinegar

¾ cup of molasses

1 tsp. dry mustard

¼ cup of ketchup (I have used chilli sauce)

Bacon on top

Dice onion and throw all the ingredients into a casserole or if you are so lucky, one of those expensive Le Creuset dishes from France. (I have to stick with my Corningware). Artistically drape the bacon over the beans to create your own Picasso. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees, then 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

The molasses gives these beans a wonderful depth, and of course the bacon is just a cheap trick to make it taste even better. Everything tastes better with bacon!

Everything Tastes Better with Bacon

Everything Tastes Better with Bacon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published in: on December 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm  Comments (46)  
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If It Is Saturday~Must Be Recipe Day Favourite Easy Recipe of All Time

Mixinsg chocolate chips into cookie batter.

Mixing chocolate chips into batter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t be fooled. I have lots of “Favourite Easy Recipes” of all time, because that is just the way I roll. This recipe is from a magazine and was included in a “Teens in the Kitchen” article. I figured if kids could do it, I could do it. And—this is the important part – it is from scratch and uses real flour. I used to have a fear of flour. I have conquered that fear. I still have a fear of yeast.

My youngest son loves these bars and asks for them all the time. That is a good indication that it is a good recipe. He is one very picky eater.

This recipe also meets my all important criteria of not having more than five ingredients so  I do not get confused.

So, without further ado:

TOFFEE BARS

1 ½ cups butter

1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

3 cups of flour

1 cup of chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 F

2. Put butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in large bowl and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes until completely combined. Add flour and mix on low for 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. (This is not for the faint of heart—by now the cookie dough is quite stiff—good for the biceps!)

3. Put dough in an ungreased 15 X 10 inch baking pan (I don’t have one so use a 10 x 13 I think) and press into an even layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool for only 5 minutes then cut into squares. (If you let them cool longer, they will crack when you cut them).

This is a very forgiving recipe as I am a distracted cook—I think I have added the flour with the butter and brown sugar and vanilla, and I usually mix everything on high (remember my brother’s motto—everything is better on high). Sometimes I do not have vanilla. But I always have chocolate chips. This is like a moist brown sugar shortbread with chocolate chips—could there be anything better?

Seriously easy and seriously delicious.

Anyone have suggestions for me on how to get rid of my fear of yeast?

Active dried yeast, a granulated form in which...

~ Genuine ~

Authentic

Authentic (Photo credit: Ara Pehlivanian)

Authentic seems to be the buzz word these days. The advice: “be authentic” is given every day in many ways—in blog posts, magazines, on television. I have never given this piece of advice to my sons, because I have no doubt that they are being authentic.

What does “being authentic” mean? I have to say that this short phrase has lost its meaning for me because it has been repeated ad nauseam. Does it simply mean “be yourself” or is it deeper? Is it a struggle to be authentic? You would think that it would be easy~ but if it were easy, then it would not be something that drops so eloquently and frequently from the mouths of many of the gurus of the day.

Authentic. Perhaps if we articulate what the word means it will help define exactly what being authentic means. My thesaurus  (embedded magically in my laptop) gives these words as synonyms: true, reliable, dependable, faithful, trustworthy, accurate, genuine, real,  valid, bona fide. Its antonyms are two very negative words:  false and fake. The definition is: “Genuine and original, as opposed to being a fake or a reproduction.” (Encarta dictionary)

I get so tired of buzz words, but the meaning of this word is substantial. It has a right to roam the earth, but not as something that is spouted without context. It is good to be faithful and trustworthy. It is divine to be genuine and real. But sometimes we do adopt the false and fake to hide our authenticity because we are afraid if we let our true or real selves show through, we will be found wanting.

I want to be authentic—but I want to know exactly what that means. I do not want it to be a superficial “handle” to be bandied about at will. Authenticity is the basis of a life well-lived, but it needs support and acceptance. Those who are not authentic have found that being themselves is not “good enough”.

To be authentic we need to be brave, we need to be ourselves, we need to know how to take off the mask without fear. Sometimes it is hard to show your true self. It is much easier to be rejected for something you are not, then for something you are.

Does being “authentic” mean “wearing our heart on our sleeve”? Yes, I think it does.  When we show what is in our heart we are being ourselves. We are being true, valid and bona fide. Or genuine.

Are you tired of being told to “be authentic”. Do you think it is easy?

Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 10:02 am  Comments (54)  
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Eazy, Smeazy

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. S...

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable right now, know that the change taking place in your life is a beginning, not an ending. (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

This article expands on the quote I posted a couple of days ago. This is an excerpt from my weekly newspaper column — it is longer than my usual posts–sorry:

“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.”  So says Robert Allen. He is the co-author of “The One Minute Millionaire”. No, I have not read his book. I just Googled him and that is what his official site says. He is apparently an author and successful. Enough said. It was really just his quote I was interested in—but people always seem to want to know who the person is that you quoted, so I have now done my due diligence. He is not my dry cleaner or the guy who cuts my lawn. Not of course that they wouldn’t have something profound to say—except I do not really have a dry cleaner and the guy who most often cuts my lawn is my eldest son.

So back to the quote. I often wonder why things always have to be difficult—because obviously being outside your comfort zone is going to be, well…..uncomfortable. I have picked up millions (okay hundreds) of books that start out telling you how to do something the easy way, but then, in the end what they are expounding is not easy at all.  For a long time, I was attracted to books that had the word “simple” in their title. My definition of simple involves things that are straightforward and uncomplicated.

Now I do not expect things to necessarily be easy (although that would be nice—it is too much to ask) nor would I want them to be effortless, as that would just take the fun out of everyday life—but why I ask you, do we always have to be ready to climb out of our comfort zone? It is our comfort zone for a reason—we are happy there.

But I guess that is the whole point. We are not always happy in our comfort zone. Things get stale, too workaday, and we find ourselves stuck in a rut without something to leverage us out of it. That is when we need to employ Allen’s theory.

So, taking that into account I have decided to climb out of my comfort zone, which will involve some hard work on my part. Perhaps, I will start out as simply as my feeble mind can conjure up, and work my way up to the bigger things. So here is my tentative list. I call it my “walking on fire” list, even though I never intend to walk on fire—I like the analogy.

Walk on Fire List

1. I will go to the grocery store with a list and follow it religiously. I will shop the outside perimeter of the store (as apparently that is where all the healthy stuff is) and avoid my evil cupcakes, my addiction to non-diet cola drinks (which I have kept under wraps since I found out how much sugar I am consuming), and my propensity for bologna (which I also try to avoid for many reasons—but sometimes I just can’t help myself). But the big thing here is I am going to stick to my list.

2. I am going to learn how to pump gas, as gas is always cheaper at those places where you pump your own gas. This is way out of my comfort zone, but I am determined.

3. I am going to write for my blog every day. (Okay this is not out of my comfort zone as I am already doing that—but I need to succeed at something on this list.)

4. I am going to become a stand-up comedian. Now this is so far out of my comfort zone that it is in someone else’s. First of all I hate memorizing, and I have never seen a stand-up comedian go on stage with notes written on a card. Second, I hate talking in front of people. Seriously, it is like a disease. Ask me my name in front of more than two people and I forget it. Third, I do not take criticism well (though a lot of comedians don’t either—but they just work it into their act.) Fourth, I try to make it a practice not to swear or be off-colour, thus cutting my audience down to about three people who would be interested in anything I would have to say. And fifth—okay this is not sounding too promising, I know—but if you don’t have dreams………..

5. I am going to stop procrastinating, get so organized I will not recognize myself, drive further than 15 miles from my home, and make a million in a minute like Mr. Allen. So there. If you can’t dream big, why dream at all?

(And yes, I know I did not spell easy correctly just in case you were wondering.)

Cover of "The One Minute Millionaire"

Cover of The One Minute Millionaire

Published in: on August 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm  Comments (32)  
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