mid-week meditation #6

Hi everyone! Hope you are having a great first official week of summer! 🙂

This week I am teaching a reading and public speaking summer camp for kindergarteners, and it is rewarding but absolutely EXHAUSTING. However, the kids are adorable, eager to learn and wide-eyed with curiosity, and I am trying my best to enjoy each moment. Here is a meditation based on that desire:

you're gonna miss this.jpg

Here’s to savoring the little moments!

Question of the day:

  • What do you love about today?

crock-pot chicken & veggie stew

Confession: I used to be afraid of crock pots.

It sounds silly, I know. I guess crock pots just sounded too good to be true! Throw a bunch of food in a crock pot, turn it on, go to work all day, then come home and dinner is ready? Are you sure there isn’t a catch?

I was worried about leaving something on all day in the kitchen without anyone being home. Isn’t that dangerous?

“No,” my mother told me. No, said the blogs and resources I scoured online.

“Why don’t you try it?” Mike encouraged me. He could tell I was wanting to make the leap into crock-pot cooking ever since I glimpsed the beautiful 4-quart brand-new crock pot his mom had bought him that he’d never taken out of the box.

A new era has dawned in our tiny apartment kitchen. Today I took that baby out of the box, rinsed the pot and lid with soap and water, and plugged it in. For my first crock-pot attempt, I tried something simple: chicken & veggie stew.

This recipe could not be easier or quicker. It took me ten minutes to prepare as I rushed to get ready and out the door for school this morning. Here is the recipe I used; you could easily substitute other veggies based on your preferences or what happens to be in your pantry.

crock-pot chicken & veggie stew

– 3 or 4 chicken breasts
– 1 medium-sized sweet potato
– 2 carrots
– 2 celery stalks
– 1 can corn, drained
– 1 can peas, drained
– 1 can green beans, drained
– 1 can chicken broth
– 1 tbsp garlic or onion powder
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tbsp parsley

1. Dice the potato. Peel and slice the carrots and slice the celery.

2. Dump veggies into the crock pot.

3. Add chicken breasts on top.

4. Pour chicken broth over everything.

5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

6. 30 minutes before serving, sprinkle chicken with garlic/onion powder, chili powder, and parsley.

All day long, I thought about dinner simmering at home in the crock pot. Whenever I worried about something catching fire and the apartment burning down, Mike reassured me it would all be okay. {If you haven’t guessed by now, I can be a bit of a worry-wort sometimes!}

When we returned home this evening and opened the front door, a delicious aroma greeted us. The stew turned out fantastic! Yummy, warm, healthy, hearty … and ready to eat as soon as we stepped inside. What a treat to have a homemade dinner waiting for us on the kitchen counter!

It’s official: I am a crock-pot convert. I can’t wait to try all sorts of new slow-cooker recipes and share them with you on this blog. Please chime in below if you have any recipes or links to share!

Here are some helpful slow-cooker tips that recently were shared on one of my favorite blogs, I’m an Organizing Junkie:

Do you use a slow cooker to prepare meals? What are some of your favorite crock-pot recipes? How do you save time when making dinner on a busy weeknight?

Have a wonderful day!
-Dallas

marvelous monday: find happiness through freewriting

Where did the summer go?? I just can’t believe it’s already August. The fall semester starts up for me again in just two weeks. It seems like I can close my eyes and it is the beginning of summer again, when the fireflies were just starting to appear and a long path of sunny days stretched out before me. What happened?? Where did it all go?

Do you ever get those same feelings? It floors me how quickly time passes! Sometimes it feels like time is a river rushing past me so fast and I’m sitting there in a little boat, struggling to get a grip on the oars, not even enjoying the beautiful scenery flowing past. It makes me feel overwhelmed and frustrated, like I’m wasting or not appreciating enough the most precious commodity we all are gifted with: time.

I am also guilty of something I’ve come to think of in myself as productivititus: trying to fit waaaaaay to much into my daily to-do list, and then feeling like a failure when I don’t accomplish everything I’ve set out to do. This is not a good habit because I don’t want my summer, or my life, to be nothing but a giant to-do list of tasks I’m checking off. As my idol John Wooden often said, the most important words in the English language are love and balance. Work is important, but so is time for play! Balance, balance, balance is so crucial.

Something that is helpful to me when I am feeling off-balance, especially by the incredibly fast-flowing river of time, is to go to a  quiet corner of the room and spend a few minutes freewriting.

I always use freewriting in the creative writing courses I teach to help students break through writer’s block. However, I think freewriting is something that can benefit everyone! It is such a great tool for not just writing, but also your mental health, sense of empowerment, and overall happiness.

Here’s how freewriting works: set a timer for a certain amount of time — I’ve found 8 minutes works well because it’s not too long or too short — and start writing. The only rule is that you cannot stop until the timer dings! It is a tool to keep you from self-editing or second-guessing or worrying that what you are writing is not “good” enough. Instead, just let the writing pour out of you. You will find yourself tapping into your subconscious, which can help you unlock all sorts of dreams and ideas and even solve problems that are nagging you. For me, freewriting is a way to re-find my center of balance. It unclutters my mind and makes me feel at peace.

You don’t need a fancy journal or expensive pen to freewrite. All you need is a blank piece of paper — even scrap paper works! Some people like to freewrite on the computer, which is certainly all right. I personally enjoy using a pen and paper because it makes the writing feel more open and less intimidating somehow — more unharnessed. Something that is just for me.

Here are some freewriting topics I’ve been using lately as jumping-off points:

– My favorite memory I made this summer was …
– Three things I am grateful for in this moment are …
– I will wring out every last drop of fun from my last couple weeks of summer by …

I’ll be sharing more freewriting topics as the year goes on … I’ve even created a new “freewriting” category that you can see in the list of categories to the right.

What are your plans for these final weeks of summer? Does anyone else use freewriting as a way to alleviate stress and find balance? Any other tips or suggestions for slowing down the pace of life and savoring the time we are blessed with?

Best wishes for a marvelous week!
-Dallas