Archive | January 2015

Thankful Thursday – Things That Made Me Smile This Month

Happy Thankful Thursday! Today I’m grateful for things that made me smile this month:

1.  Reading the Frog & Toad book to my 5 yr-old.  I just love the simple quirkiness of these two friends, and I always smile when I read their stories.

2.  I bought some cara cara oranges for the first time ever this month.  One child of mine, who is not a huge fan of many fruits, and who has not wanted to eat the cutie oranges I usually buy, ate the *new* orange and then asked for seconds!  Then said, “can you buy these again?  They are good!” 

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3.  My current calling is in nursery, and I couldn’t help smiling when a small child, initially reluctant to part from her dad, was more willing when I offered to hold her for a bit.  These little ones are so cute and so sweet!

4.  Eating Coconut Curry Chicken after a long day of fasting on Fast Sunday.

5.  A surprise snow day. Here in Virginia, it doesn’t snow a whole lot, so it’s always an event if it does.  And we almost always get out of school for it too.  One morning, as I awoke early in the AM, and groggily set out to get my kids up, I noticed out the window that my car and driveway had a blanket of snow.  I said to my husband, “Did you know it was going to snow?”  He normally keeps a good eye on the weather, but had not heard about this, so it was a surprise to both of us!  Then the phone rang with the message school was out.  So, all of a sudden I was off the hook for my whole (not-so-pleasant) early morning routine of waking kids, helping them with breakfast, packing lunches, and keeping them on track so they don’t miss the bus.  Instead, I got to enjoy some quiet time before they all woke up on their own.  I loved it!  It definitely made me smile.

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6.  And, speaking of being up earlier than everyone, this past Saturday I woke up super early and went grocery shopping while everyone was still in bed.  I don’t get go to the store by myself very often, even though I find it a bit stressful to take people with me.  It was a big shopping trip, I found myself pausing more than once to just enjoy the fact that I was there completely on my own!

7.  The sky, with so many different variations really makes me happy.  I love the different colors in the morning and evening, and the clouds in various shapes and shades.  One day as I was crossing a bridge I could see fog in the distance.  But it was unique, because I could actually see clear sky above it.  Another time I walked outside in the evening to take my kids to their church activities.  It seemed so much darker than normal to me, and then I realized it was because there was complete cloud cover with no moon or stars out.  A different night, we left at the same time with clear skies and it was so much brighter!  (I live in the country, without much man-made light, so I can really notice stuff like this, and I am amazed at how much light the moon and stars actually give).

8.  Pictures my daughter drew.  I just love these pictures (and other similar ones that she draws)!

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9.  Comments and likes on my blog.  I always smile when I see someone has taken the time to comment on or like a post, and it was true this month too.  Thank you!!

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Tiny Goals

When setting my goals for this year, one thing I noticed was that I had very little stress or self-doubt about my ability to complete the “scripture reading goals” that I set.  This is a new feeling for me, because ever since I started recording my goals on my blog, I have had to post time and time again that in the end I did not complete what I set out to do.  So, when setting my goals this year, I definitely felt some hesitation…a sense of will I complete them this time?  But not so with the scripture reading goals.  Instead, with these there was a feeling of excitement and confidence.  So, being analytically-minded as I am, of course I had to think about why.  And I came up with two reasons:

  1. I’m in the habit of reading my scriptures every night.  So, it’s just a matter of what I will read during that time.
  2. I have completed a similar goal in the past (reading the Old Testament along with the Institute Manual) and not only was I successful, but I really enjoyed it.

How My Scripture Reading Habit Got Started

With all of this reflection, my mind wandered back in time to when I first developed the habit of reading my scriptures.  I was just about to have my 12th birthday, and in my church at age 12 children start attending youth classes instead of children’s classes.  As the day approached, my older sister said to me, “when you go to Young Women, you will have to read your scriptures every day.”  And she was right.  The Young Women President had put up a chart and every Sunday we reported how many days we read our scriptures.

In response to this new requirement, every night I picked up my sister’s scriptures and read exactly one verse (I used hers because she had some verses marked).  Then on Sundays I proudly reported that I read my scriptures for 7 days that week.  It wasn’t until later when I spent that night at my friends house and noticed that she read a full chapter a day, that I realized that maybe the amount I was reading was a little small.  After that, I increased my reading to a full chapter per day.  Over time, I studied the scriptures more formally through Seminary, Sunday School, Institute, and on my mission.  I not only learned to understand better what I was reading, but also found that I really enjoy studying them.  But no matter what, I have always kept the habit to make sure that I read something every single day.

My point is this:  It has been more years than I’m willing to say since my 12th birthday.  A major reason that I have stuck with this habit over the years is because I started small…not just small, but tiny.  I never felt over-whelmed by it, or too tired, or even too bored.  No matter what else was going on, I could always find the time and motivation to read a verse.  And the result was consistency that has definitely paid off over the years.

Defining Tiny Goals

So, especially in thinking about my health goals and I how I have been up-and-down, back-and-forth, and all-over-the-place with my eating habits, I’m finally admitting to myself that I’m trying to start too big.  I’m always trying to “make-over” mine (and my family’s) eating habits in one big swoop.  It never works and I always end up feeling like I’m a failure.

This is when I began thinking, how small of a goal could I set that would move me towards the big goal?  And then I thought of the fact that my first goal to read scriptures wasn’t just small, but it was tiny.  And that’s how the idea of “tiny goals” was born.

This is how I define Tiny Goals:

  1. Achieving it moves me in a concrete way towards the bigger goal.
  2. It is simple and clear.
  3. I have very little resistance to doing it.

Setting My Tiny Goals

As a result, I have set several Tiny Goals, so that I can work on all 2015 goals at once.  Here they are:

  • Eat at least one fruit or vegetable with breakfast and lunch (serving-amount doesn’t matter)
  • Eat at least two fruits and/or vegetables with dinner (serving-amount doesn’t matter)
  • Do some exercise everyday (amount or length of time doesn’t matter)
  • Complete one reading lesson with my 5-yr old every day (except Sundays)
  • Get rid of or put away 3 things from my bedroom every day (except Sundays)
  • Study some Spanish vocabulary every day (except Sundays)
  • Read something from the New Testament, Isaiah, General Conference, or Ezra T. Benson book every day

Aren’t they tiny?  I actually started these goals on Jan 5, and I’m amazed at how well I have done with them.  Not 100%, but I’m really satisfied!  And I’ve noticed that some days all I can do is the bare minimum, while other days I find myself doing much more.

So, I’m really excited and very hopeful that I can make some progress.

When have you had success with setting small (or tiny) goals?

Recipe: Coconut-Curry Chicken

I made this Coconut Curry Chicken on Sunday for my family and it really hit the spot!  The recipe comes from my sister-in-law who is a great cook.  She has enjoyed eating a dish called “Chicken Panang” at a Thai Restaurant, and was determined to learn how to make it at home.  So after a little research she found this recipe from “Real Simple Magazine.”

Ever since my college days I have loved curry, and when she first shared this recipe with me, I wondered what adding coconut milk would do to the flavor.  Well, I found out that it doesn’t taste *coconutty* at all, but instead it just lightens up the curry flavor, making it better.  I still love regular curry too, but I really love this dish!

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Coconut Curry Chicken

For the sauce:

  • 1 can coconut milk (light or regular)
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Combine above ingredients in a small bowl.

Then, in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat, add:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (heat for 30 seconds)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like spicy, up to 1 tsp)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
    • Stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds

Add the coconut-milk mixture and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and cook until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1-1/2 minutes.  If you prefer, you may make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the dish.

For the Rice and Stir-Fry:

  • 3 cups uncooked Jasmine rice (or your favorite rice)
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, cut into circles (optional – not part of the original recipe, but I like adding them)

Prepare rice as directed.

Stir-fry chicken in a little olive oil over medium high heat until cooked through.  Remove from pan.

Stir-fry the carrot slices for about 2 minutes.  Add the bell pepper slices and stir-fry until tender-crisp.

Return chicken to pan and add sauce.

Heat through and serve over rice.

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If you like curry there is a good chance you will like this dish. It is one of my favorites!

note:  I have made a few minor changes to the original recipe. 

My 2015 Goals

I have actually been spending the past couple of months in a great debate within my own mind.  The debate being, “do I want to keep blogging?” and “do I like sharing my goals and my experiences so openly?”  So, what I decided to do is to finish what I started for 2014, and then make a new decision for the New Year.

And now, here I am in a new year, with new goals, and I’m still feeling some *blogging hesitancy*, but I’ve decided to just continue on.  I do like blogging…it’s different than writing in a personal journal.  For one thing, there is an actual audience to write to, even though I never know from one post to another exactly who the audience will be.  This is definitely helpful in my efforts to write well, and to be clear about what I want to accomplish.

I also love the interaction of blogging…reading other blogs, and getting to know a little bit about other people.  In doing this I like knowing that they can come to my blog and know something about me as well.  I could still read my favorite blogs without my own, of course, but I think I like it better this way.  So for now, I’m going to continue on with what I’m doing and see what 2015 brings!

Now – onto my goals.  I’m doing it a bit differently this year.  In addition to 3 personal goals, I’ve set some in a few other areas of my life as well.

Personal Goals:

  1. Take better care of my health (yep – a repeat from last year!!)
  2. Declutter my house (starting with my own bedroom)
  3. Improve my Spanish speaking and comprehension skills

Blogging Goals:

  1. Write a “Thankful Thursday” post once per month
  2. Include at least 8 of my favorite recipes (with pictures, of course!)
  3. Write about each of my “Personal Goals” at least once a quarter, and other goals listed on this page occasionally

Scripture Reading Goals:

(You can see that I’m breaking the “rule of 3” here.  But I’m confident that I can do this, and I really want to.)

  1. Read the entire New Testament (and some commentary from the Institute Manuals, and other resources)
  2. Read all of the talks from the previous General Conference before the next one
  3. Read the entire manual for Relief Society (Presidents of the Church – Ezra Taft Benson) before the end of the year (I have always read some lessons, but have never actually read every single one!)
  4. Read the book of Isaiah from the Old Testament along with additional commentary about it

Other Goals:

I have also set some family-type goals.  I decided these should be kept private, except for one:  I want to teach my youngest daughter to read using this book by the end of April.  She will start school in September, but she’s already 5 so I think she can do it.  And I feel like it will be good for her moral to be able to read a bit on her own.

“Set high goals for yourself, and be willing to work hard to achieve them.” –from: For the Strength of Youth, 2011 {click picture to view source}

I’m really excited about the fresh focus these {mostly} new goals bring.  I can’t wait to share what I’m doing and learning, and to hear what others are doing and learning as well 🙂 !