Follow the Wind Friday

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Sunset pictures and boomerang throwing (she’s a lefty too, but throws & surfs like a righty – skateboards goofy, writes and scores soccer goals with the left)

Friday is usually a free day for me. Nothing scheduled. No certain place to be or by a certain time. This doesn’t mean that my day isn’t filled with the obligatory duties of laundry, dishes, and errand running, but I have a little less structure to the day.
I began this journey to find myself around last September, when the school year started. I decided to push the comfort zones even more beginning in 2016. While I love being a mom, I did not set aside time over these past 16 years to discover what I like and seek what hobbies or passions interested me.

 

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I can usually be found behind the camera

I decided to try something new and wanted to give it a little name to make it more exciting. After much thought (yes, I spend way too much time analyzing and pondering these things) I decided on “Follow the Wind Friday”. I opted for this name because I don’t know what each Friday will hold (wherever the wind blows).  I have been admiring a lot of calligraphy work. I decided that I wanted to make an attempt at some beautiful handwriting. In my search I learned that apparently being left-handed makes this task very hard, but not impossible. I watched some YouTube videos, bought some speedball elegant writer pens (I was a little intimidated by a true pen with a nib) and set to work.


Well I just couldn’t get it. I understand the concept, but can’t get the lines to be thin for the life of me. My local A.C. Moore has a pitiful selection, but I went back and bought a beginner calligraphy set. I didn’t opt for the other choice because it said on the package that it was for the right hand. I decided to try the medium point. It still seemed very thick and I couldn’t get the thin line thing. Plus, the pens spread and bled once they touched paper. Even with the paper included in the packet. I tried the fine point nib. The pen was definitely flimsy and wouldn’t really screw together; the ink wasn’t going into the right area either. I finally got it to work and still no successful handwriting. I wrote some fancy cursive because I really just wanted to scream. My husband came home during my fiasco with the fine point nib. I had also purchased a gel pen and a brush pen for fun because they were pretty blue colors that reminded me of the sea. Guess what?! They didn’t work! The chromatix was dry and the other probably was too because no amount of scribbling would make it work.

My husband commented about everything seeming to be stacked against my calligraphy venture. Not to be dissuaded, I went to the internet for more research. I came across this post for “faux” calligraphy and thought I’d give it a whirl with my gel pen.


Now it didn’t come out perfect, but I’m happy enough that I may not just chuck it all out the window and never try again.  My daughter wanted to try the pens and she was impressed by my normal cursive.  Impressed enough that she asked me to write out a quote for her.  So that was success enough!

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Maybe I’ll keep practicing the “faux” version and if I love it enough opt for a better pen. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for more videos and tutorials. And I’ll see “where the wind blows”.

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~Amy

Sweet Potato Meatloaf

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Sweet Potato Meatloaf

I’ve decided that maybe I’ll be Paleo-ish.  Yes, I like this term better.  You might remember that when I decided to go wheat-free, my husband decided to jump on my healthy bandwagon, but he prefers the paleo version of life.  Well, I cook the meals and while I am mostly trying to accommodate (sorry, but beans and rice and chili are my go-to easy meals in this house, and don’t qualify as paleo).  Tonight, I decided to once again try a PaleOMG recipe, savory sweet potato meatloaf.  The recipe can be found here.  I was a little nervous because it is a recipe that calls for raisins (yes, you read that right, raisins).

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Cooking up the bacon.  Oops!  I cooked it all instead of half.
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This is a bloated raisin.  Check out the recipe and you’ll know what I mean.

At first I thought I might leave them out, then I thought I’d put them in only 1 of the 2 loaves.  In the end, I just put it in both loaves (mostly because I was too lazy to separate them out!). I did mess up the recipe (I do that sometimes when I’m not sure on my first go round).  I cooked all the bacon and mixed it into the loaf, instead of half cooked and the other half layering the top.  Maybe it would have been prettier that way, but I don’t think it affected the overall recipe.  I served it with some spinach that I sauteed in the cast iron skillet that was still a little coated in bacon grease ( I am loving using my cast iron pan.  It was a wedding gift….so we’ve had it forever and I’ve used it more in the past year than in the 16 prior).

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Sauteed spinach

Everybody in the house loved it.  I eat mine with mustard, everyone else is a ketchup fan.  My daughter even had seconds. Which if you knew how limited her food selections were, you’d know that it was a rave review for this new recipe.

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Yum!  Definitely a hit!

Let your light shine!

Amy

No school….again

 

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Without great solitude, no serious work is possible -Picasso

This photo is my most recent Instagram post.  We are on our third snow day.  That’s 5 days of kids being at home, people!!  Sometimes it’s just been my own three, which is daunting enough, but other times we have had a load of others.  And yes, sometimes mine have gone off.  Although it has never been at the same time.

I am a person who requires some time alone in my head.  This need for quiet, for moments of silence, a time for decompression, a time for ideas to float around and take root.  My husband understands this about me. My children, I think, know this.  But they do not understand it.  And as much as they think that I am the queen of “no”, the reality is that most of the time I will put aside what I am doing to tend to their needs (or whims, as the case may be). I have gotten used to my hours of silence while they are at school and this forced confinement is beginning to to feel constricting.

I tried to get to my yoga class this morning.  I drove around the gym parking lot three times before finally giving up. By that time the class had already started and I didn’t want to wait in the long line of cars, circling along with me, just to walk a treadmill. We all know how much I enjoy the treadmill.  I think everyone else has cabin fever and is trying to get out, plus half the spots are missing to snow piles.  I came home and tried a couple of times on the pull-up bar.  I am so close that (and I don’t want to get too excited or anything) I think that it may not take an entire year to get it accomplished.  I may have underestimated myself and need to increase the expectations on that goal.

I decided to take some pictures, hence the one above. I am also making headway on my reading challenge. I chose Walden because my journey includes changing my mindset about possessions.

I am a believer in the cluttered home = cluttered mind, which I learned about while applying Feng Shui to my house over the years.  And yet, I have not overcome the clutter.  While watching a video by my niece, Azalea, I learned about the KonMari method.  I was completely intrigued and after talking to her about what she thought of the process, I checked the book out from the library and set to work.  I made it through clothes and books pretty easily.  I am now on paper, paper I have been on for weeks, and on paper will I continue to be.  I am a list maker, an information gatherer, a visual learner, and a scraps of paper collector.  I can’t sit down and go through it all at once.  I do have a life outside of declutterer.  I am having a hard time making forward movements in these trapped days of winter, but I am making forward movement.  I love quotes and randomly came across this quote when I decided to begin a journey of self discovery.  It’s written on my whiteboard in the kitchen. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slowly you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying – Tony Robbins.

I’m off to work on taming the paper monster.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Silence is golden

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In the stark, cold winter
The mighty tree stands bare
Stripped away of all its former glory
Now possessing strength that it didn’t know it had
Able to stand in majestic beauty, cloaked in white.
-Amy Lyon Smith

Silence.  An emptiness of sound.  A quiet hush upon the air.  This is what a fresh blanket of snow means to me.  I grew up in southern Florida, so snow is new to me, but silence is not.  When you think of my hometown, Naples, you think of white, sandy beaches and balmy breezes.  And while this is a magnificent feature of the town, which I relished in as a teen, I grew up farther inland.  A place where you are surrounded by slash pines, palmetto bushes, cypress trees, and flat land as far as the eye can see.  My parents were city kids who fixed up an old school bus into a home, drove it out to some land they had bought in the middle of nowhere and began a life with a three year old (that’s me).  But that story is for another time.  The silence of the country, with only the sounds of the animals in the woods and the stars being the only light surrounding you, brings a feeling of comfort to my soul.

I knew that silence would be what I would get to experience on Saturday morning, after the winter storm finished its work.  I live near a road in my neighborhood, a neighborhood that people use as a cut through, and there are cars that pass by frequently.  I knew that only the occasional snow plow would be passing by and I wanted to relish the silence.  I wanted my footsteps to be the first to walk to apple tree in my front yard.  To experience some kind of one with nature as I walked there.  This apple tree has been there longer than the two years I have spent in this home.  Part of it is dead and will need removed.  The other part produces apples, but not ones that we eat.  Those apples fed the doe who entered my yard everyday and ate from it.  When she stopped returning, I saw a doe and fawn very near my house, in the direction she would always come from. I like to think my apple tree nourished her throughout her pregnancy.

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I also wanted to walk over to the giant tree that sits alone upon the hill across the street. I can see this tree from my kitchen, my back porch, and from my front yard.  I drive past it on my way home.  It is huge, and it calls to me.  I wonder how old it is and what changes it has seen. I cannot begin to estimate it’s age, but I would guess that it would take 3 grown men with a decent wingspan to get their arms around its trunk.  It has been here for longer than I have and I imagine it will be still be standing there long after I am gone.

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I stand there in the silence under its branches.  I have an urge to just sit there and rest my back upon it looking high up into its branches, but there is snow and I have no proper winter clothes.  So I stand there and watch the birds flit here and there, singing in the early morning and I am reminded of a quote I recently read – A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, but because it has a song -Maya Angelou.  I think about the journey that I have been on… a journey with God, a journey with myself… and I still don’t have an answer, but I have a song.  I am growing and I am changing.  I have followed where he has led.  I do not like the winter or the cold, but as I stand there in that silence, in that moment I am thankful for the cold.  I am thankful for snow.  I am thankful for that silence.  I am thankful for this journey.  And I am thankful for this life.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Random musings on a snowy day

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Repurposed surfboard…. now a sled!

Winter storm Jonas has descended upon us here in Virginia.  Being the Florida transplants that we are, my daughter decided to turn the old soft top surfboard (which has rotated out of use) into a sled.  Friday was a snow day and my kids fully embraced that.  I, however, was fully awake at 6:30 A.M.  What’s that about?!  I don’t even wake up that early on school days.  Before I crawl out of my cozy bed, I usually push the “I’m awake” button on my Fitbit app.  I noticed that it said I only got in 9,999 steps last night.  I’m quite irritated because I was so close at the end of the night that I paced around until it vibrated and jumped into bed (Note to self: walk 5 extra steps after it vibrates or verify it on the app).  Not that it completely matters since I’m only in a competition with myself, but I wanted the dang thing to turn green!!

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Seriously?! 1 step!  A step that I took!  I don’t care about the calorie thing turning green.  I don’t even know how they track it and I don’t log food.

 

My boys were in and out of the neighborhood with friends.  My daughter was mostly nearby so I used her as my photography muse.  I also was sure to get in my steps and stair around the house.  When I’m cold, I have a tendency to just want to sit around.  I also wanted to see if I could do some push-ups and was excited by the 4 that I cranked out.  My middle child told me that I had good form.  This made me smile really big on the inside.  He does not hand out compliments on a regular basis.  Of course, later I had to show my husband that I could do them and managed 3 more.

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My muse sledding and snowboarding on a surfboard and boogie board.
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My instagram posts.  I know, I know… one post a day.  I was snowed in.  Plus, I can always just blame it on being old  (not that I consider myself old)

 

We also practiced some yoga poses.  It was a lot of fun to have the 2 kids that were home try them with me.  I am also getting a little higher on my pull-up journey.

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Excited that my arms are finally strong enough for Crow Pose (or Bakasana)

I did a little reading for a reading challenge that I’m doing.  I got a little sidetracked as I tend to do and was very amused with myself (but that’s for a later post).

We watched Sharknado (we are behind the times and figured we should catch up seeing how it’s a cult classic).  The snow continued well into the night and we woke up to a blanket of white.

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You can hardly tell that a seasonal creek runs in front of that swing.

Until next time….

Let your light shine!

Amy

Paleo…Round 2

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Voila!!

Last night I made buffalo chicken casserole.  If you are looking for some good recipes you should check out Juli Bauer at Paleomg

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This is what spaghetti squash looks like…..like spaghetti

 

She gives the recipe there in a sneak peek at her cookbook.  I’ll be honest, even though I’d heard of a spaghetti squash, I had no idea what one was before this meal.   The meal ended up with mixed reviews in the house.  My daughter didn’t try it (which I planned for ahead of time) because it was too spicy for her taste.  One son ate it because it was dinner and the other son liked it.  My boys did eat it as more of a dip style using Frito’s corn chips.  I tried it with the corn chips and it did change the taste, mostly by reducing the amount of heat in my mouth. My husband loved it, eating to his heart’s content.  It was definitely a meal that I would make again.

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Real life at its finest.  I don’t have a shiny oven.

I had some of the leftovers for lunch today.  I melted shredded sharp cheddar cheese on the top.  Why? Because I’m total cheese addict!  But it was so good!

We are getting prepared for a big snow here in the Blue Ridge mountains.  School has already been cancelled for tomorrow so I will be practicing my yogic deep breathing to maintain my sanity!

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Oh, and this will help too!

Let your light shine!

Amy

Breakfast smoothie on the go

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My day started early taking my son to his mountain biking trail.  It was 14 degrees!!  I’m glad there was sunshine!

Most days for breakfast I am an eggs and bacon kind of girl.  Then there are the days that I have somewhere to be and need something quick.  I have a ninja blender and just throw the following ingredients into one of the single cups and blend away:

  • Ice
  • Almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1 banana (I like to eat them with a little green on top, so this is a perfect use for them when they start to turn)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
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Smoothie with ingredients
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About 1 cup of ice, but they are mini cubes

I don’t actually measure the ice and almond milk, but it’s about 1 cup of the small ice cubes my fridge produces and 1/2-3/4 cup of almond milk, depending on how you like the consistency.  I add them in the order listed so that they don’t stick to the bottom.  The smoothie has some grainy texture due to the flaxseed and chia seed, but this doesn’t bother me and I think it tastes great!

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I had to put my glasses to use somewhere now that I don’t drink beer!

Let your light shine!

Amy