Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Somehow I Doubt That, Robin Morgan!

by M. J. Joachim

I saw this image and quote on Facebook a while ago, and all I could think is, “This is disturbing on so many levels.” Don’t people think anymore? Pride is at the root of it, and in its quest to fulfill the need of vanity, self-loathing (a vile form of false humility, imo) Ms. Morgan slams all of humanity as we know it.

There’s a reason I’m not feminist, and it’s because I believe in people. There’s a reason I’m not racist, and it’s because hatred never served anyone well at all. There’s a reason I’m not black, gay, Jewish, Muslim, male etc. etc. and it’s because I wasn’t born that way and don’t personally identify with those things on an intimate level. That doesn’t mean I’m not good enough anymore than it means anybody who is different from me is less than.

We’re all just people. We are born, we live and we die. There is no fancy formula. Translation, everyone is just as good and just as bad as everyone else. It’s the choices we make that separate the good from the bad, and Robin Morgan here made a very bad choice being so vocal in public with this message. It’s not her white skin or privilege that disgusts me. It’s her big mouth and a message so negative, judgmental and flat out wrong that really makes my blood boil and ticks me off like few things can. I’m a woman, and if this is what the American Women’s Movement is all about, you can be sure I’ll be keeping my distance.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter. I look forward to an interesting discussion with you.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Facebook, public

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pressing the Easy Button in the Kitchen

by M. J. Joachim

The baby is napping again. She seems to really like her room and crib these days. The adjustment of the move is going well for all of us, though that’s not what this post is supposed to be about today. Instead I’m going to share some of my amazing kitchen gadgets with you because, when you have even a little bit of arthritis or any kind of soreness, these tools come in very handy.

The Brand

KitchenAid. Need I say more. I replaced my food processor at least four times before spending the money on my KitchenAid one. Before when I was playing in the kitchen, and now when my projects of slicing, dicing, mixing etc. have become a little larger than they’ve been lately, this thing is everything I need and more for ease, comfort and speed.

We used some of our wedding cash 22 years ago to buy one of those big KitchenAid mixers. Over the years, I’ve been purchasing a few attachments including meat grinder, sausage stuffer and the small pasta maker. A week or so ago I used some Kohl’s cash to get the grater and slicer attachment. I’m saving up and putting the large pasta maker on my Christmas list today, however. I had some Kohl’s cash again, but not the couple hundred dollars required to purchase that attachment. Instead I bought some cute little ramekins that can go from oven to fridge to microwave and even on the stove. I’ve a few tasty recipes I want to make in these little cups.

Still, I’m hoping to get it as soon as I can, because I had some gluten free ravioli in Sedona recently, and I know I can make a beautiful pasta to make my own, especially if I have the right tools.

Playing (I mean, Working) in the Kitchen

As you can probably surmise, cooking is never a chore for me. I’m not a huge fan of eating out except as a treat, and with my dietary requirements, it’s often easier to eat at home anyway. I use the food processor for everything. I use the mixer for almost everything including scrambling my eggs, grating my cheese and mixing my desserts. I don’t use the grater/slicer attachments for veggies or meat at all. It’s much easier to do those in the food processor. But grating cheese in large or small amounts has never been easier for me.

Cooking Ideas

I watch a couple of cooking shows fairly regularly. The Chew comes on during my lunchtime, and it is so much fun to watch. One of the things I learned today was to lightly drizzle salad dressing around the inside edge of the bowl, and then toss your greens into it. This way you never overdress your salad. Genius! They also had a segment on marinading meat - acid and salt marinades tend to cook your meat when it marinades for long periods of time, so you should only marinade meats in this type mix for short periods of time. Olive oil bases can be marinaded overnight.

I also like Chopped and CutThroat Kitchen because the creativity required to cook in these shows is amazing. I love a good coleslaw and after watching these the other day, I made one up with ingredients I had on hand, without even using a recipe. It was really good too!

Of course, tried and true recipes do get really good results when followed correctly. I love my cookbooks and often find all sorts of wonderful dishes in them to serve to my family.

Which begs the questions…

What tools to you like best when cooking in the kitchen? Do you have any favorite brands or must have utensils that make your life so much easier and more efficient? Where do you get your cooking ideas, and do you like to play in the kitchen or do you find cooking to be way too much work to deal with, especially when ready made food is so easy to come by?

Thanks so much for stopping by and joining the conversation today. I always look forward to and enjoy your visits.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: KitchenAid, GMHofmann, CCA-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License, Wikicommons

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

From Almost Empty Nest to Full House

by M. J. Joachim

Busy is as busy does, and life keeps happening in between. Flexibility and a positive attitude are the answer if you ask me, that and being mindful of one’s needs, because if we don’t take proper care of ourselves, we certainly can’t take care of others. Nor can we be open to the blessings of others taking care of us too.

I suppose that’s what it’s really all about in this life, taking care of each other and doing our part. We can’t skimp out on the caring part, but we also need to be receptive to being cared for. It’s a balancing act that offers some of the most special moments and greatest gifts life has to offer, family and positive relationships devoted to the entire well being of each other.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Change needs to happen for a variety of reasons. Our job is to foster the change, knowing how necessary and good it is for those we love. Life carves its own path sometimes. After 7 years, living nearly two hours away, my daughter is finally home from college with our new granddaughter. We’re a very close family and you can bet we are thrilled to have them home.

I’ve been busy cleaning and preparing rooms. Since they arrived a few days ago, I’ve been busy cooking, cleaning and helping them unpack, not to mention holding my little granddaughter and loving on her more than I could ever imagine. We have a thing together, and her smiles light up my world!

It’s going to be hit or miss with my blogging and computer time for a while. This house just went from being almost too quiet, to bustling with energy and activity that seems to never stop. This mom just went from figuring out how to spend my days, to not having enough hours in the day to do all the things I need to do. Of course, I turned 50 this month, so that’s not a problem. The only thing that’s really pressing at this point in time is loving my family and enjoying every moment I get to spend with them more than I ever thought possible.

Towels, dishes, floors and windows can wait. Cooking can’t because we all love to eat and I’m having a grand time playing in the kitchen again. And hugs, there are way more than enough to go around.

Wishing you all wonderful moments with your families,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Cala de la Granadella, CCA-SA 4.0 International, Wikicommons - Picture of the day, (for no other reason than that I really liked this when I saw it today)

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Importance of Teenagers

by M. J. Joachim

Teenagers are amazing people. They seem to just overflow with ideas and enthusiasm. They understand right from wrong. Sometimes teenagers challenge authority. It isn't about rebellion, as much as it is an effort to find truth and justice. These individuals make choices that can change the world. Society takes teenagers for granted, often overlooking the good that they do.

As a group, teenagers have a reputation for being defiant, rowdy, and rebellious. Yet, they are some of the hardest working people we meet. Most of them juggle school, work, and entertainment while facing internal dilemmas about who they are and what they will become. Many of them have difficult home lives to add to their plight.

Teenagers face a world of rejection every day. They are stereotyped, judged, and ignored. Some of them act out just to get noticed. It is not easy to prepare for adulthood; young adults need to have interaction with people other than their peers. While many of them push the limits, most of them stop before things get out of control.

Teenagers face serious consequences for pushing the limits if and when they get caught. Not only do they have to answer to the person who caught them, but they also get to chalk one up for adding to the reputation of all teenagers. Everyone seems to get involved. Authorities contact parents. Parents contact teachers. Teachers recommend counselors. Siblings want things the way they used to be. No adult would have to deal with so much scrutiny for an offense that, while not being a very smart choice, didn't cause very much harm in the grand scheme of things.

Teenagers are often taken for granted because they embrace life without being controlled by it. Eventually, they become adults who give into societal norms and expectations. For now though, they will seek to find their place in the world, often wondering if they belong at all. They will follow the rite of passage that allows them to act out, only to be called normal rebellious teens.

Teenagers will pull away from their parents in an effort to become themselves, ever thankful that their parents knew it was just a phase. Then one day, as they make their way through life, they will spread their wings and fly, just like a butterfly coming forth from a cocoon. Suddenly, after a long exhaustive journey, they will emerge anchored by the love that allowed them to become who they are.

Their journey will take everyone around them on an amazing adventure. When people take time to listen to teenagers, they will often be amazed at what is said. Teenagers dream of making the world a better place. They question faith and rules that don't make sense to them in a genuine effort to understand. Sometimes their questions lead the rest of the world to stop and take pause.

Without simple reflection on why we believe, or how we can improve society, we become caught up in achieving success. Too often we ignore the process it takes to achieve our goals, without checking our work along the way. That's when teenagers become invaluable. Certainly society could never live without people who not only make sure we do the right thing, but that we are doing it for the right motives as well. On that note, I hope you hug your favorite teen today. I know I will!

Thanks for visiting Effectively Human today.

M. J. Joachim

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: The Two Paths, B.G. Jefferis and J.L. Nichols, PD-US

Friday, January 30, 2015

Inspire Your Heart with Art Day - January 31, 2015

by M. J. Joachim

Tomorrow is the annual Inspire Your Heart with Art Day 2015 celebration. I discovered this day through the Patience Brewster Company. The idea behind the event is to get people to celebrate art. How one decides to celebrate art doesn’t really matter, though one of the goals is to fill art museums and craft shops with lots of visitors. However, being creative and making arts and crafts projects, along with blogging about art is also perfectly acceptable, as is attending the theater and concerts.

Art is all around us. I see it everywhere I look and create it in many of my activities during the day. Writing and blogging are art based for me. I paint pictures with words, design blog posts on five blogs and delve into the art world every day. I also garden on the open canvas of my back and front yard. Plus, I cook, making every attempt to make my dishes as beautiful as they are tasty. Presentation truly makes a difference and often makes a home much more welcoming and comfortable.

Crochet is one of my obvious art forms. Lately photography and video too. My daughter called me and encouraged me with my nature videos last night. She thinks they are pretty cool. You know what I think is cool? The awe-inspiring nature that made them possible. I was just the one with the cell phone taking the pictures, photos that might never be seen, without the help of something much beyond my comprehension taking place somewhere, out there.

So it is with art. We become inspired and use tools at our disposal to make new and interesting things. Someone once told me, we either create or destroy things in this life. To a certain extent, I agree. The rest of the time, we just move things around and change things up a bit. It’s one of the reasons I’m happy to participate in Inspire Your Heart with Art Day this year, because for as much as we create and destroy, sometimes it’s truly inspirational to reflect on the process that makes it possible to see beauty all around us.

Please consider this your invitation to participate in Inspire Your Heart with Art Day 2015. Leave a note in the comments if you plan to participate, and I’ll be sure to stop by and visit your blog.

All the best to you and yours! Have a safe and wonderful weekend and enjoy the Super Bowl this Sunday.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Patience Brewster, Valentine Heart Girl Card, ©2015 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 29, 2015

House Cleaning Exercises

by M. J. Joachim

If only there was a miracle cure to shed those unwanted pounds. You work all day, don't have energy to go to the gym, and then come home to a messy house that you don't have time to clean. There must be a solution, but what? How could you possibly find time to go to work all day, exercise, and clean your house, especially when you have far too many social engagements planned for the weekend?

It's time to reevaluate your situation and change your attitude about all the things you have to do. You can find time to exercise and clean your home if you combine the two activities. You will also benefit from gaining extra energy as you get in better shape. All it takes is a little creativity, and a whole lot of determination.

The following chore exercise program will help you combine getting in shape and losing weight while keeping your home clean and tidy with ease. Please sit back and enjoy this article for a few minutes, because by the time you are done reading it, you'll be ready for an awesome new workout plan that leaves your home spic and span.

*Spotless floor stretches: This activity incorporates limited yoga poses with cleaning your linoleum or tile floor. You will need 1 small bath towel, 1 large beach towel, soapy water, some energetic music, and a smile. Now, soak the small bath towel in water. Get down on your hands and knees and wash the floor, leaving it fairly wet. As you scrub the floor, crouch down and then stretch your arms out as far as you can reach to get the dirt from the corners. Once your floor is clean, stand up and throw your beach towel on it. Stand on the towel, and using your hips, swing back and forth across the wet floor to dry it. Dance with the music if you can, and have fun working out while you make your floor shine.

*Dustless weight lifting: This activity builds and tones your muscles. You will need a dust cloth, your favorite dusting polish, a few boxes, some Rocky music, and a large bottle of water. You will need to empty out your book or movie case, putting everything into your boxes. Now bend down and take those boxes into the next room. Go back and thoroughly dust the cabinet that held your items. Walk into the next room, bend down and pick up your boxes one by one, taking them back to their shelf and putting them away; dust each one as you do. Make sure to drink plenty of water as needed.

*Laundry aerobics: This activity speeds up your heart rate and makes doing the laundry a little more interesting. You will need a washer/dryer, laundry soap, dirty laundry, and music. Instead of using a basket to carry your dirty laundry to the laundry room, pile it in your arms and carry it yourself. Make as many trips as you can while racing to and from the washing machine. When the laundry has finished drying, fold and iron it quickly, using swift, easy motions. Then make several short trips to run and put everything away. You'd be surprised at how many calories you can burn just by running back and forth in your own home.

Cleaning the house and losing weight are two pretty tough activities. By combining them, and adding a little fun to the mix, you will shed pounds, enjoy a cleaner home, and definitely have more to smile about. That is until you look inside your refrigerator and see all those wonderful temptations. Ah, no bother, simply use squats to throw out all the forbidden food, and practice weightlifting to replace it with the good stuff!

I’m still working on losing those extra pounds from the holidays and thought this might energize me a bit. Of course, sharing with others who might offer encouragement is always a bonus.  Not into housework, no problem. I also make great use of exercising in the garden, especially this time of year.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting Effectively Human today.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit:  Stride cross trainer, vatic, Public Domain

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Balancing Act, January 2015

by M. J. Joachim

Christmas came and went, literally THAT FAST!

2015 came in with fireworks, rain and snowflakes here in sunny Arizona. I missed it. We thought it was rain, didn’t bother to step outside to check it out or anything. In the shadow of the streetlamp, it really did look just like rain. We woke to the surrounding mountains covered in a light dusting of snow. No real bang to speak of in our neck of the woods, though I did win $100 at a local casino we’d never been to before and took my husband out to lunch.

I was diagnosed with Celiac just before Christmas. Having gone gluten free on my own a year and a half ago, it made me glad I made conscious choices that make me feel better, and they weren’t based on psychosomatic whims or preferences. We really do know what’s best for us sometimes, and more often than not, it is not all in our heads. Though I do think stress plays a powerful role in how we eat, sleep and physically feel per se.

Life has been taking me by storm since the new year started. I mean that. It’s been raining for a couple of days now. The neighbors leaves are falling off her deciduous tree like they do every January, to leave a maze of exposed branches willowing in the wind until spring. I’ve been so good about picking up the leaves (and dog messes) every day lately. Sure beats letting the backyard explode and taking care of it for hours at a time toward the end of the month, like I normally do.

My kids are preparing to go their own way soon. I knew it was coming this year, just thought it would be in the latter half of it. Turns out it will be much sooner than I thought, (Mom writes as she thinks of all the boxes she packed with kitchen items she doesn’t need duplicates of anymore.) Yea, mixed emotions on that one. Thankfully, it’s all on good terms and a perfectly natural transition into adulthood. Happy fireworks once again, maybe a loving tear here and there too.

Habits and cycles are easy. We all get into them, become familiar with the norm, how things are and how they should be. Then one day, they aren’t suppose to be that way anymore, so we make changes - big, small, whatever seems best at the time, hoping to find a new pattern that will lend itself easily to a habit or cycle we can live with, because if not, we will inevitably need to make more changes. I’m okay with that. Living isn’t supposed to be hard. That’s not to imply it won’t ever take us by storm and test our stamina. Of course it will, and when it does, we will be happier if we respectfully embrace the wind that whirls us, and dance in the rain that promises renewal and energy to keep us healthy and happy for years to come.

This is M. J. checking in to say, “I haven’t fallen off the planet yet. It’s just been a dizzy start to a wonderful new year, and I’m trying to catch my balance before I slip, fall down or accidentally hurt myself.”

Wishing you rainbows with your rain,

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: M. J. Joachim, January 2015 - Snow in Mesa, AZ, ©2015 All Rights Reserved