>February Desktop Freebie!

>It’s almost February, so heeeeeeere’s your freebie! I hope you enjoy it! Happy February and have a great Valentine’s Day. The weather people here are calling for a “doozie of a snow storm” tonight, but I’m going to wait and see. Hopefully the power stays on, so I can tell you all about it! Enjoy your desktop and thanks for stopping by!

Remember, I only assemble the desktops. there are a lot of wonderful designers who are very generous! Read the TOU and make sure t visit them!
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>The Two Pots…and More Life Lessons.

>     I often need a reminder to be more kind to myself. Ok, more than often! I am, according to my husband, more than a little harsh with myself most of the time. I beat myself up a lot, hold myself to extremely high (sometimes unattainable) standards, and am pretty much my Own Worst Enemy. Aren’t we all a little like this? I hope I’m not the only one…but then again, I hope no one else’s own-worst-enemy is as harsh as mine, either.  Because of this, I really seek encouraging, supportive things out. Whether they be friends, websites, books, art, or the like. Well, fellow blogger Fifi Flowers posted the best story the other day, and it was just the reminder I needed. I am always amazed at where and when the universe places these little bits of sunshine in my life.  I was just reading through a few blogs I follow, and there it was, just what I needed…just when I needed it. I had to share it with you! I couldn’t find a place on her post to comment, so I’ll thank her here for posting this story. Thanks Fifi!


The Two Pots
a story


     An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.  
     After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”
     The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
     Each of us has our own unique flaws…we are all cracked pots. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them, and don’t be afraid of your cracks.

     It’s OK. I can admit… I cried a little when I finished reading it, too. How beautiful; the little cracked pot was making the world beautiful and didn’t even realize it! This made me stop and think how grateful I am for the people in my life that accept me, cracks and all. It reminds me to be that sort of friend to myself. I hope I am making a difference, just like the little flawed pot. Make sure you slow down and notice the world around you today. Tomorrow too, because one day, you will realize the little things in life we try to squeeze into our busy schedules are really the big things!  

>A Lesson from a Carrot, an Egg, and a Cup of Coffee

>     I was in search of some quotes last night and remembered Hey! I follow The Twice Remembered Cottage! A beautiful blog full of inspiration, motivation, and…quotes! I was having fun reading through posts when one in particular caught my eye. 
     Now, I have to explain something. I feel like this year is a time of change and metamorphosis for me for some reason, and I have been antsy, almost tortured, by the fact that I don’t let my creativity out to play enough. I know I have a whole galaxy of creative… oomph inside me, and I could be doing more, but fear (among other things) stops me. I like to think I’m strong, but sometimes (and I know we all do this at some point) I just want to throw up my hands, throw in the towel, and give up. I’m not quite there yet, but I’ve been there many times. Right now, I am just…I don’t know. I think the universe is working around me and I just don’t know where it’s taking me right now. I feel fragile right now and in need of some motivation and inspiration to propel my creation. 
     That’s where this post from The Twice Remembered Cottage comes in. I truly believe the universe puts things in front of me when I need it, and this is one of those things. This story is so simple, but it’s essence is wonderful. Well here, let it speak for itself.

Carrot, Egg, and Coffee


A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee…You will never look at a 
cup of coffee the same way again.

     A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
     Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
     In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

    Turning to her daughter, she asks, “Tell me what you see.”
    “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
     Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”
     Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
     “Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”
     Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
     Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a break-up, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
     Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
     May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.
     The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.
     When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.


     Isn’t that beautiful? There are so many things in there that I need to be reminded of and retaught daily. I have been, and probably continue to be, all three from time to time. What this little story was put in my path to tell me was that I should strive to be the coffee. Thank goodness I will never see these three objects in the same way again. From my heart, I repeat these beautiful words: May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong,enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to make you happy. And, may we all be coffee.

Weight Watchers & Homemade Goodness…

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January and 2011 has started out pretty good around here, and that makes me feel…well, awesome! The hubs and I are doing well with our renewed commitment to healthy and long lasting weight loss. Ok, back up a second…I guess I should mention my Christmas gift! All I could think of when Rob asked me what I might want for Christmas was the new kit from Weight Watchers.
This was more difficult than it sounds. Neither of us are members, nor do we have the money to join. (Yeah, yeah. We’d love to, but the whole pay-your-bills thing was more important.) Anywho…we have a few friends at work that are members that we were talking with and were totally willing to pick up a kit for us. Of course, we never got around to coordinating it all. So, I told my hubby all I really wanted was the new PointsPlus kit. I even looked up a local store, but I figured we’d either have to go to a meeting, or have a member get it for us. Those of you who know me know one thing…I don’t do meetings. It’s the whole public speaking/ fear of groups thing, and frankly, it’s a huge problem I’ll talk about at some point. Just not now… So Christmas came and I get the most beautiful card from my hubby promising to commit to being healthy and growing old together. And the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus Kit!

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We officially started our journey on New Year’s Day, and I have to say it’s great! It was easy the first time, but I tended to crave things. This time around, I have to remind myself to eat! I think my favorite part if that fruit is now “free”. I’m much more likely to reach for a banana or grapes as a snack now instead of a granola bar. The wonderful thing is, this new program helps me to manage my protein to carbs ratio and I feel so much better! The first week’s weigh in was January 8th and I’d lost nearly 3 pounds, and Rob lost 7.2 pounds. Needless to say, we are two pretty happy campers.
Because it’s easier, and more affordable, to eat at home, I’ve been cooking even more, so I’ve been a recipe hound. Also, I’m a sucker for homemade anything! Well, I found this recipe posted on Weight Watcher’s Facebook page and stopped cold.
I love chicken pot pie. No, seriously… I LOVE it. Alas, most all of them are so loaded with fat and calories that they are a huge no no. I was skeptical…Weight Watchers or not, is a light pot pie recipe worth the trouble? Well, I’m here to tell you it absolutely is! I was so excited, I decided to document making it, so get your napkin, it’s time for tempting to begin! Here’s the recipe link, but I’ll list it here for you too. Complete with my advice of course!

The result…I can’t tell you how happy I am. That’s one more photogenic pot pie!
Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
from Weight Watchers

Cooking Spray (I like Pam)

1 tsp butter

1 small onion chopped

2 cups mushrooms, sliced (I cut this…not too big on mushrooms)

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

2 cups frozen mixed veggies

1 cup chicken broth (I like Swanson’s)

3 cups roasted chicken, chopped (again, I used Swanson’s White Meat canned chicken)

2 TBsp all purpose flour

1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk, divided

4 reduced fat crescent rolls (8 come in a can, I used 6…more on this later)

 

  • Preheat your oven to 375° and find a 9 to 10″ pie plate. The recipe calls for a 10″ but I used a 9″ and it came out just find. Spray the pie plate with your cooking spray and set it aside.
  • In a large sauce pot, melt your butter over medium heat then add your onion and mushrooms. Sauté  for about 5 minutes, or until tender.
  • Stir in your spices, veggies, broth, and chicken. Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup evaporated milk and your 2 TBsp flour in a small bowl. Pour into your sauce pot and mix over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. ( about 2 minutes)
  • Stir in remaining evaporated milk and cook to slightly thickened. (2 or 3 minutes more)
  • Remove from heat and pour into your prepared pie plate.
  • Unroll the crescent rolls and arrange on top (I put four around the edge, corners touching, then covered the hole with two more. That makes six.)
  • Brush top lightly with a small amount of egg white. (I used a teaspoon or so of Egg Beaters)
  • Bake in your preheated oven until the crescents are golden brown, and filling is bubbly. Enjoy!

 

This recipe makes six servings, and they are huge. Huge! Seriously, it’s not a skimpy portion at all, and it is totally worth the Points! Just to put it in perspective…my favorite store bought pie is something like 18 Points…for half the small pie. It’s a measly amount of food for the Points, believe me. I get 29 daily Points total. This recipe is 6 Points per serving as they posted it. Adding the two extra crescent squares makes each serving 8 Points, according to some of the comments on their website. Yeah, I was super excited about that…Chicken Pot Pie is my favorite comfort food! I must say, I had one happy hubby on my hands as well, which is always a bonus.
As you can tell, I love this recipe and I will definitely be making it regularly. I can’t wait to try different takes on it, and play around with it a little. I think this would be amazing as a beef dish…I’ll let you know when that happens! I’d love to know if you take this recipe for a test drive, too! I’m all about sharing a good thing! For now though, I need to put the leftovers away….in the fridge.

A New Year, a New Freebie!

       Hello everyone! I hope your Christmas season was amazing! Our sure was…I was so busy I didn’t write anything all month! Well, I’m resolving to get back to writing in this new year. My husband and I also resolved to get back to our healthy habits. When we were planning our wedding in 2008, we followed the Weight Watchers plan and had success. As life will do, we got busy, moved, rushed, and lost track of our good habits, but no more! My sweet husband got the brand new PointsPlus Weight Watchers program for us this Christmas and we are heading back to our healthy habits for good. Sure, there will be bumps, but I just know this time we will make sure to live the healthy life and not get off track. You can even follow his weight loss journey over on his blog, Just Your Average Rob! He’ll tell you himself, he has more to lose than me. But that doesn’t matter, because we will be doing it together! I couldn’t be more proud of him, and I can’t wait to update as we go.
     But now, for what most of you came here looking for…your January 2011 Desktop Freebie!! I made it just in time for the first day of the year! Guess I should also resolve to plan ahead more as well, huh? Anyway, here it is squeaking in at the last minute. As always, there are two popular sizes I hope fit your needs. I hope you enjoy it and that your 2011 is the best year yet! Happy New Year everyone! Love and light to you all!


As always, I just made the desktop, not the elements or papers, so please visit these amazingly generous designers, OK!
template: Lauren Grierpapers: Allison Kimball, Friendly scrap Designs, Alana Designs, FarFar Hill DesignsCalendar and Month text: BiograffitiPine: Raspberry Road Designstag: 3 Paper Peoniessnowflakes, brads, and frame: Delicious ScrapsRibbons: LilliMou Designs, Elo Designs, Ali Edwards, and Corina Neilson