Grateful Heart stays the course.

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Good grief, it takes so little these days to truly MAKE my day. Yesterday I posted the second little blog I’ve done in years. It was with a bit of trepidation, because I am such a perfectionist! (I have a hard time showing anything that I do not deem to be my personal best.) I did it though, because I am attempting to challenge myself in new ways; ONE of which is to relax my standards a bit. (Who am I kidding, that’s really never going to happen the way it sounds! ha ha) It’s probably better to say I am currently challenging myself in all sorts of new, uncomfortable ways.

Anyway, before I hit that “publish” button, I held a silent pep-rally for myself.

“It doesn’t matter-no one is going to see this anyway. It’s just practice. You can share the links later when you are back in the saddle, etc.”.

Soon after I hit that button, I left my home office determined not to think about it again; just happy I could cross, “write something” off my list.

Then last night something happened. I started getting email notifications that people were subscribing to and liking this blog. I nearly cried. It’s such a small thing, but truly, I am so grateful. It’s the little things that count, right? ♥

So with this tiny boost to my heart, I was able to get through last night without veering from my current eating plan. (Protein shake for breakfast; chalky protein shake for lunch; sensible dinner.) Instead of my planned menu, I made perhaps the best meatloaf I’ve ever made in my life (recipe below), steamed broccoli and regular baked potatoes. The plan had been to make naked burgers and sweet potatoes, but I wasn’t feeling it. (Also, long about four PM, I was starting to have food fantasies, so I made a salad of romaine, tomato, artichoke, onion and light Caesar dressing. It hit the spot.)

(Did I fail to mention I’m a foodie? I probably should have said something. Soon you’ll be seeing photos of my creations!

Tonight is the biggest challenge of the week. Wednesdays are always hard as my hubs and I cook the Fellowship meal for a hundred church people each week.  (Of course today, I FORGOT to pack my lunchtime caulk – I mean shake- but that’s not the real challenge.) Wednesday’s we get into the kitchen around 1PM. Dinner is served promptly at 5:15, so it’s a lot of running around in between. (Did I mention it’s four thousand degrees in the kitchen right now?) The challenge comes when we hit the door at home and it’s almost 7PM and we’re tired. The last thing I want to do is eat, but we’re so wired from working, we don’t want to just lie down either. So what do we do? Usually Wednesday night we have a well-deserved, delicious celebratory cocktail. Not tonight.  I made a vow to stick to this program for 2 weeks, so no imbibing for me this evening.

How will I manage? Determination, dedication and prayer and lots of it. This morning before I got out of bed, I had my morning convo with Jesus. Later, when I went downstairs, I got out my prayer journal and wrote for a while. It’s making a huge difference. There is something to be said about keeping prayer in the forefront of your heart. There is something to be said about keeping a journal just for prayers and intentions. For me it feels as though it’s written on my heart as well as in that journal and it helps me STICK to the PLAN!

Tomorrow I will start to include photos of the things I’m talking about in the hopes that you are currently in the midst of a challenge, you might think about the things that are working for me and give them a try! (I even keep the cutest mini journal in my purse for times when I feel I need a boost. Yes, I do jot down notes and prayers to God there. You’d be surprised at how often the answers come in all sorts of ways.)

OH and…ALSO tomorrow, I have to share the coolest thing EVER…one of my new favorite things…a piece of art that someone rescued from a dumpster for me! (perks of working part-time for a church!) Stay tuned!!

If you are following me, THANK YOU! You make my heart smile! If you have a blog, I will be visiting soon!


Best little Meatloaf Ever 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (we had a grass-fed 80/20 on hand so that’s what I used)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I had organic pizza sauce on hand so I used that)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 c. steel cut oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dash or two organic ketchup for the top (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients (except the optional ketchup).
  • Press into a 8″ x 4″ loaf pan, top with a slathering of organic ketchup if you so desire.
  • Bake 45 minutes.

This recipe will serve 4 – 6 people depending on how large you like your slices. Since it’s just my hubs and I, he will have leftovers for a couple of lunches!

PS-I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet.

 

 

Day Two – Resurrecting Kindness.

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I remember when I was growing up it was customary for a neighborhood to welcome a new family with gifts of food. Sometime during the first week of getting unpacked and settled, the front doorbell would ring; and behind it would be standing, a family of smiling faces, bearing a basket of homemade cookies or a pie or a casserole; ready to say, “Hi, we’re the William’s family and we live across the street, in that house over there.  We just wanted to say welcome to the neighborhood and if you need anything, here’s our number.”

I was a little kid when we moved a few times, but I never forgot how nice those little gifts of food were. It wasn’t the food really, it was the kindness that even a wee kid like me, recognized.  Somehow it made me feel “official”, like the move was complete and I was now a “real” part of my new neighborhood.

Fast forward to high school carpool. The year had just started and we had a new person added to our pick-up list.  Their family had moved in over the summer -but on a street not very close to ours. First day in the car, someone asked Clara George (name changed to protect the innocent) how she liked her new house and the neighborhood.  She exclaimed, “Oh I like the house just fine, but this is the most stuck up neighborhood in the world! Do you know not ONE person has come to the door with cookies or ANYTHING!”.  I laughed my head off.

Thirty two years later, I still remember that moment and even where I was sitting in the car and how loudly I snorted. Everyone giggled and told her that she was right, in our neighborhood, this wasn’t a tradition any more. Sad reality. (Even though when we moved in, I do recall neighbors coming by and also a lady from “The Welcome Wagon” who had a whole basket of assorted treats.) What a difference a few years had made.  When we moved in, I was in the 5th grade and when Clara moved in, it was six years later and there was no more “Welcome Wagon”. I wonder why?

When I moved into my first condo it was a snowy January day. We were on the second floor of our building and I was so excited about being on my own. I envisioned being great friends with all of my neighbors and feeling secure having people near by. The second night one of my best friends and I were in the kitchen lining the cabinets when the doorbell rang. I exclaimed to her, “It’s my first neighbor come to welcome me!!”.  Sure enough when I opened the door, there he stood. Nervously, but cheerfully, I introduced myself and he said, “I’m Eric and I live beneath you. I don’t know what you are doing- but you are being too loud.” I explained that I had just moved in and I was only lining my kitchen cabinets. (We weren’t even using a hammer! ha!) I apologized and shut the door feeling utterly deflated. (Thanks for the lovely welcome, Eric.) Sad to say that most of the people in that complex were of similar nature. I didn’t last there long. It hurt my soul.

Three moves later and a little over a year ago, my husband, Charlie, and I moved into our town house. The tradition of neighbors bearing gifts and smiles long forgotten and no longer expected, we introduced ourselves to neighbors in passing. One day there was a knock at the door and there stood our next door neighbor with a beautiful plate of Indian food. (She was from India). I almost cried. She didn’t really say it was to welcome us, but rather she said, “I hope you enjoy.”

It didn’t matter. It was kindness (and it was delicious!)

Sadly, they moved away and not too very long ago, two lovely 24 year old girls moved in.  Charlie and I decided to welcome them with a lasagna dinner, complete with salad and desert. They were floored, but very grateful! They told us that they both teach autistic children and neither of them cook, so a home-cooked meal meant a lot. I floated back into my home so happy! (There is no high so great as the feeling one gets in doing something nice for another.)  So now, we make a habit of sharing our meals with them whenever we make something especially yummy. I like to think that they will always remember this and that perhaps one day, they will do the same for a new neighbor in their next dwelling place. I wonder how many people their age do not even remember a time when this was a tradition?

I know that these days, not everyone can afford to gifts of food for new neighbors. (Honestly, did I just write that statement? Is that really a true statement? Who cannot afford just one cupcake or cookie or even just a card with your phone number in it?) Kindness doesn’t cost much and it goes such a very long way. I know there are people out there who will use the argument that it’s not safe to knock on doors any more or that people won’t trust food made by strangers. I say that is just an excuse based in fear.

We are a people so stuck behind computer screens, immersed in cell phones, attached to video games, etc. that we’ve lost our sense of community. (For the record, Facebook doesn’t count as community!) I think if it’s out of our comfort zone, we don’t make the effort any more and that’s just wrong. I would love to see the tradition of welcoming and caring for one’s neighbors resurrected.

I have so much fun packing up dinner for the girls next door. This morning one of them stopped Charlie and I in the driveway and just went on and on profusely thanking us. She said, “We are 24 and if we are going to eat pasta -it’s coming out of a can or it’s frozen! You have no idea how much we love the food!” She’s told Charlie before that they work crazy hours for little money and that often they are so tired when they get home. So yes, I will continue to feed them when the opportunities present themselves because it makes my heart smile and they are starting to feel like family.

That’s exactly what kindness does. It is so true that in giving we DO receive, OH and also, FOOD IS LOVE!  😉

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020 <—Bobbe’s Lasagna & garlic bread.