28 April 2017

Energizing The House

After listening to this podcast by Chris Loves Julia on a rainy, cold, gray day I was all energized to re-energize the house. They were referencing this article from House Beautiful. I seem to forget that I have so much control over how my home feels and I can do a lot to make it MORE lovely.

So I took some of their suggestions and pulled our my white sage and lavender smudging bowl and lit it up and walked all around the house letting the smoke wander into every corner of the rooms, closets and garage. It may sound strange and I certainly don't have any idea what the mixture of scents and powers of the universe are at work, but it made the house feel calmer, clearer and more energetic.

Another thing mentioned in this article, I learned when I lived in Denmark. The Danes often open up their windows for 10-30 minutes in the mornings, no matter the time of year, to let in fresh air. Because it's such a humid climate it definitely helps to air out the home but I think it helps just about anywhere. I like to do this in the mornings to refresh the house.

Then I took another suggestion and got a spray bottle and added a little water and some orange oil and shook it up and took it around the house spraying into every room. The scent of orange oil is also supposed to help raise the energy in a space. It does smell wonderful and between the sage and the orange oil the house smelled lovely.

A few other things I want to do is to get more Himalayan Salt Lamps going in the house. They are also supposed to help raise the energy and clear away negative energy in the home. We have a few somewhere and I know I've seen them but I'm going to need to go hunt them down.

We also have Oreck air purifiers in our home and turning them on helps clean the air and gives air in the house a very soft, sweet feeling. It's easier to breath and it does feel like a lot of irritants and dust are gone after they've been turned on for 20-30 minutes. This is something I should have done before I smudged and sprayed the house with orange oil. Doing it after would pretty much negate the effects of both. A good thing to remember, Oreck first then smudge and orange oil!

I have also neglected lighting candles and turning on our twinkle lights. But when I think about it, there's a reason. As Spring has come to fruition, we have already been getting more light in the house and Spring just brings more energy to the home and world. This past week has been rainy, cold, gray and we even had snow on Friday! So with all the dark coldness we are yearning for that light and warmth we've been enjoying the past weeks.

Here's a laugh for you. Some time after Christmas we did a deep clean on our two-sided fireplace. In the living room we have a big open fireplace with a movable screen. On the dining room side is it glass doors that are actually bolted closed, so you can enjoy the fire but can't access the fireplace from that side. Giving it a deep cleaning had not happened since we moved in although it had been cleaned or ashes, etc. multiple times.  The glass on the back side of our two-sided fireplace was covered in black soot.

The Man got the bug to clean out all the ashes and after he did that I vacuumed it all out and then crawled into the fireplace to clean the back glass that faces our dining room. It was a lot of work, and really hard to work in that tight space in crazy angles. I scrubbed that thing down for a long time, over and over again, before it finally started to look clean.

Well since that happened neither The Man nor I have even wanted to light a fire because we don't ever want to clean that fireplace again. We have to break that spell and light a fire or we might was well just tear down that fireplace! Maybe tonight I'll see if we can get one going just to break the spell. We have to do it sometime. I do just dread the idea of that glass getting wrecked again...but seriously we cleaned the fireplace so we could enjoy it. We should be enjoying it.

We've already had temperatures in the 80s this spring so for us to have full winter weather the last week of April is a bit of a shock. We were trying to get the pool open for heaven's sakes. Kiddo has already been swimming at friends' houses who heat their pools. (We don't have a heater on our pool so our pool season is a little shorter than if we did have a heater.) But snow, seriously?! Wow.

But I've heard others north of us are having a cold spell too so maybe this post is perfectly timed for all of us who are so ready for Spring/Summer weather. If the sun is neglecting you, there are lots of other ways to increase the energy of your home environment. I just plugged in the twinkle lights over our kitchen windows and I'm going to light some candles next. Hope you're staying warm this week if you, like us, are having a cold spell.

27 April 2017

A Quick Introduction to Live Love ABQ

I haven't been here much the past two weeks and that is because I've been wrapping up a huge project that I first dreamed up two years ago and have been working hard on for the past several months. Over the past two weeks I've been pushing very hard to complete setting up an online store and yesterday I was able to launch it which was very exciting. I'd like to introduce you to LIVE LOVE ABQ!

The idea behind LIVE LOVE ABQ hatched not long after I moved to Albuquerque, aka ABQ or The Duke City. Not long after I arrived it became clear that due to a variety of factors, Albuquerque had a bit of an image problem, that there were some ABQ residents that felt pretty "meh" about the city and that there were a lot of really amazing things about Albuquerque that just weren't getting the recognition they deserved from locals or beyond.

I remember specifically one conversation with a friend who has lived here for many years now. I mentioned this absolutely beautiful place I had visited that has been here in ABQ since the 1930s. She had never heard of it. It was at that point the idea of  "Living" the city and "Loving" the city came to me.

Living the city to me means enjoying all the fantastic things there are to do, see and experience. It's so easy to get into a routine and just stay in that routine....work, school, local grocery store, same restaurants, fast food chains all in the same neighborhood(s). But living the city to it's fullest means checking out new restaurants, theaters, shops, sights and events. Really taking advantage of all the cool things there are to do in the city. There is no reason to be bored. There are always things to do and online calendars, newspapers and television stations that promote all of these events to locals.

Albuquerque is very unique in it's history, ancient sights, arts community, large number of museums, culture, culinary depth and energy behind large and small business development. I want to help promote all of that and I think a reminder to LIVE the city does just that.

The city also has it share of problems as any city does. LOVE the city to me means we all take part in having responsibility for what happens here and why. We can do so much to help build the community in our own ways if that is as simple as getting to know our neighbors and participating in neighborhood watch programs. We can participate in town meetings, with volunteer organizations or serve on city or civic councils. We can all do something! We can love our cities to a better place! And we can also speak positively about our cities and help build they image of our cities by accentuating the positive instead of focusing on the negative.

So that is where LIVE LOVE ABQ came from and I have had so much fun creating products to promote those ideas including tote bags, mugs, home decor, and more. The goal for now is to create small, handmade items in small batches - so they feel special and unique. Hopefully as things go along I will also add some large run items like sweatshirts, hats and tees. It's been a fun labor of love for my new city that also really feeds my creative and entrepreneurial spirit.

I hope we'll have a chance to work with collaborators to use our tote bags for event swag or wedding guest gift bags. I think a lot of the decor items are great for a home office or workplace for anyone doing business in ABQ! Any of the products would be a fun gift for anyone moving to ABQ or for anyone going off to college or moving from ABQ to remember all that's great about life here.

There are so many applications to helping promote our city and share all that is great about it. I'm excited for the opportunities! Now it's full speed ahead to continue with marketing, networking, product fulfillment and more product design. I seriously have a list of about 100 things I'd like to create as we move forward!

You can find the shop at www.liveloveabq.online -- not .com -- but .online. If you have a moment, I'd love you to check out the shop and let me know what you think. Thank you as always for all your generous support now and over the years here at kalanicut. I adore my readers and treasure the relationships we've built over the years!

24 April 2017

More Meditations For Calm Centeredness

Even though I haven't made it a daily practice, I have really been feeling the benefits of my yoga and meditation work this year. It definitely makes a difference on the days I get it done. I do think I am healthier of mind and body on the days when I start my day that way. I also believe I am more effective on those days when I have taken care of myself first and am more focused and clear minded.

I wanted to share a few new favorites for meditation practice. These are all available online for easy download or at YouTube.

Deepak Chopra The Secret of Attraction Meditation: This one is a little choppy I think it's actually a few bits of different meditations stuck together but I love the things it covers. The section on abundance and being just who you are is fantastic and I really loved the part about judgment and how when we judge others we block our own creative spirit. That is an amazing concept and one that I really believe in.

Taos Winds Five Minutes Chakra Balance: This is a very relaxing way to focus and balance energies. In the video it shows you which chakra point to focus on at each part of the balancing. I try to do this after I have done a 20-minute yoga practice, a morning meditation and then finish up with this. If you want to do longer balancing practices there is also a 15-minute and one-hour version as well.

Here are a few other resources
Great Meditations From YouTube
Great Meditations From YouTube #2
Great Meditations From YouTube #3

I have a few more up my sleeve to share down the road but I hope you enjoy these or by looking at them find some of the links below that might appeal to you. I've been using these mediations beyond my morning practices when things get a little stressful, when I'm tired and can't seem to settle down to rest, or when I just want to fall asleep quickly. It's always nice to have something I know I can depend on to help me relax! I hope you'll keep these in your "pocket" for days when life gets hard or stressful. If you have any favorite meditations please share them below. Wishing you a calm and peaceful week.

18 April 2017

Revisit & Update: Making Networking Less Stressful

I've come a long way in my courage to network in the past two years. Working in the tourism industry and interacting with local business and civic leaders as well as attending events with other tourism organizations from across the country I had lots of chances to get to know people and make new connections. It's much less intimidating to me now, but it easier when you do it often. It's been a little while since I've attended a lot of business events and I'm starting to do that more again, so I need to sharpen my blade to get out there and network.

I've been signing up for business networking events around town and my goal is to attend at least two a month. Last week I attended a Facebook Boost Your Business event at the convention center here. I think everyone was stunned at how many people showed up. It was a packed house. I learned some great things and met some people. Just what one needs to do when trying to network.

My next event is a business class at the end of this week. I'm going to go learn about making sure product pricing is profitable. It's always a challenge to sign up in advance and then keep the commitment to get there. The closer you get to the event the more one might chicken out. So it's good for me to have a goal and push myself to get there.

Networking whether it's at a child's school, in a new church congregation, at the gym or in business is always a little unnerving. Here's a post I wrote a while back about ways to make networking easier with some tips and how networking can help you get closer to your goals and dreams.

How do you make networking easier? I'd love to hear your tricks and tips in the comments below.

17 April 2017

Impromptu Party Planning

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking it would be great to recreate our California Easter Egg Hunt tradition here in our new town. I talked about it with a friend, we both thought it would be fun and then I kind of forgot about it. Then she reminded me and I quickly pulled together an email and sent it out to a few dozen families.

Having it at a local park made cleaning the house and other advance preparations unnecessary other than just getting our basket of eggs prepped for hiding, making a treat to share and grabbing some Subway sandwiches on our way to the park.

We all arrived, the dads hid the eggs and we sent the kids off to hunt them down. I'm pretty sure there are still a few eggs out in that park but with a couple of dozen kids there, I think they cleaned up pretty good. One tradition we have its to always take a photo at the beginning of the hunt. All the parents get a photo and once we all get chatting we often forget to take more. So it's great to have that one good photo!

The kids combed the park then immediately starting trading eggs and climbing trees and playing on the playground. The grown ups were all hungry so we started eating and kids came and got food as they wanted to.

We decided the party was a huge success because there were never more than a handful of kids anywhere near the grownups and for long periods of time there were no kids in the picnic table area at all. We grownups sat and chatted and munched on fruits, veggies, sandwiches and snacks quite peacefully. The big kids ran around in the big field and climbed trees and the little kids could play on the playground right next to the picnic tables. It was great! Egg Hunt is definitely going to be an annual tradition after this year.

We've decided to try to do this one night a month for the summer and I am really happy about that. It's easy to just bring a treat and some sandwiches and hang out while the kids play. The park we went to is also a great park for kids to ride bikes so we'll encourage bringing bikes and trikes over too. Sounds like a really fun way to spend time with friends over the summer. I find while the kids do need time together we adults need it more! We are going too fast and are too tired and just don't get enough downtime or time with our peers. More grownup playdates please!

This all reminds me that a great event doesn't take a lot of planning or work or decorations or fuss. Just send out a text or email, grab some snacks, bottled water and some chairs or blankets and hit a park with friends. So easy and so much fun and so relaxing. It was fun to hear that everyone had a good time and we need more of that so that's my goal this summer.

13 April 2017

Busy Pursuits

Hi friends! I hope this finds you well. It's been a busy week. I have been working so hard the past few weeks to get two business projects off the ground. Both have required a learning curve that at first didn't seem too daunting and in reality have been pretty challenging. I've been book studying, doing research on the internet, taking a lot of notes and doing quite a bit of work on web sites and creative projects. Whew.

Here's a little glimpse of what I've been working on. I'll go live with a little online store to promote loving the Albuquerque life in the next few days. It's been a lot of work between product development, business set up and marketing. Happily I am getting good interest from the community and I hope that the enthusiasm will continue when the shop opens. Fingers crossed.

There are several other irons on the fire right now which I consider a real blessing, but I am scrambling to keep up. It's been a heads down, working day and night kind of week. The best part is that all of it is fun and interesting to me. If only there weren't daily chores and tasks to keep up with. Today I also organized an Easter Egg Hunt for Saturday night. Happily we're having it at a local park so there's no getting the house ready for a crowd. I just need to get a basket of plastic eggs filled and make a treat to share. The plan is that each family will bring 24 filled plastic eggs for each child they bring. Then we'll just hide all the eggs around the park and turn the kids loose. Should be a lot of fun.

We invited a lot of families so it will be interesting to see what kind of crowd turnout we have. Might be huge, might be small, might be somewhere in the middle. No matter what it will be fun to have an egg hunt with the kids and then have time to sit and hang out with friends while the kids run around together and play.

I am trying to be careful about sleeping and resting enough. Workouts have slipped this week, which isn't great. It's been a yoga pants, barely brushed hair couple of days that are starting to run one into each other. Dinners have been a quick and hurried afterthought but thankfully we are eating well still. Tuesday I was feeling sick after going to a meeting and appointments earlier in the day. I slept for a while in the late afternoon and slept in again the next morning. But I'm getting things done and hopefully a little crazy time right now will pay off in the coming weeks and months. Some days, weeks and months are like this and I'm feeling grateful for the work and opportunities. It's been a interesting road to get here. I am excited to get the shop open and start seeing the fruits of goals and efforts I started two years ago.

How are things going in your world? It seems like we often have cyclical periods in the month where even though we're having different experiences we sometimes flow in the same levels of ups and downs. Hope things are well for you!

10 April 2017

DIY: Five Dollar Bandana Scarf

In Denmark during the chillier months scarves are a must and during the times I have lived there I had a few that I really loved. I remember one that was purple that was extra long and I could wrap it around and around my neck. Comfy and cozy.

Fast forward a few years, my awesome friend Sally, who is super creative, gave me a great scarf that was made out of cotton bandanas sewn together. They weren't just any cotton bandanas but super cute floral and polkadot ones in blue, lavender and white. I have worn this scarf a lot and have often looked for bandanas I really loved that I could make a scarf or two out of. I have looked and looked and never found quite the right thing. Some days I would look online and then never finish the order.

Finally last Friday I made a quick run to Hobby Lobby to pick  up a couple of needed items and I happened to be in the same aisle where all the bandanas were and found some that I loved. Perfect colors. So I grabbed five and happily they were on sale for 77 cents each - so I got five for $3.85 plus tax. Great deal for a scarf!

I brought them home and cut off all the tags and then just sewed them together along each edge. I could've made it an infinity scarf if i'd sewn the last two ends together but I like the flexibility of a rectangle scarf -- even makes a good picnic blanket if you need it to. Now I have a super cute, extra-long teal, gray and white scarf for spring. It will be a great pick me up for winter wear too paired with all the dark colors one often wears in the colder months.

Great scarf for a great price. I'm excited to make more of these for myself and they do make fantastic gifts. Would be great for holiday gift giving or birthdays throughout the year. A real savings too when you compare the cost to buying a scarf. A nice 100% cotton scarf usually costs between fifteen and fifty dollars.

06 April 2017

Banana Bread Baking Success

The Man loves a good slice of banana bread. The Man also buys a lot of bananas and invariably there are one or two that get too brown before they get eaten. We finally got smart about peeling them and throwing them in a bag in the freezer. So now we always have a pretty good stash of very ripe bananas to use to make banana bread.

The Man likes his banana bread with banana flavored frosting which I find somewhat reprehensible, lol. But I oblige any time we can keep banana flavoring in the house. Banana flavoring grosses me out because it's artificial and it's just gross. Ha. It can be a little hard to find....darn - not darn. I don't frost the loaf, I just make a little container and he can frost by the slice.

So I thought I would share our Go To recipe for Flour's Famous Banana Bread. Since it's not a recipe I created I don't want to reprint it here but I'm linking you above to the original post on the Food Network website. As you can see when you go over to the recipe it had a good strong 5-star rating from a few hundred people. I definitely give it a thumbs up.

Here are a few of things that I think have helped me make this our favorite recipe.

1) Per the recipe, cutting parchment paper to line the bottom of the bread pan is a life changer. It makes it so easy to get out of the pan. This is a very moist loaf so getting it out of the pan without it coming apart is a challenge without the parchment paper. Once I let it cool for a while, I just slide a knife around the edges of the loaf and then turn it upside down to remove the loaf. This keeps the loaf looking so beautiful and if you want to give a loaf away, a pretty loaf is a must for one's self esteem, right? This seriously makes a difference and makes washing up the pans afterwards a breeze.

2) Historically, in my experience, Banana Bread gets dark brown on top quickly but the center takes forever to cook through so there is always a battle between the top being too brown (or burned) and the inside still being runny. So the past couple of times I've made this recipe I've put a piece of tin foil over the tops of the loaves for the last 15 minutes or so of baking. I just cut it to size and lightly bend it so it covers the top. I don't really even press it down over the pan, just lay it on top and curve the sides down a little bit to fit the curve of the loaf top. This has been a game changer too. Perfectly baked loaves with solid centers and the tops are perfectly browned without any edges getting too crispy, dark or shriveled from overcooking. Loved figuring out this simple trick.

3) I usually double this recipe and end up with three loaves. I make it in my KitchenAid Professional mixer and the bowl is as full as you'd want it to get once I get all the ingredients in there. Hopefully that gives you some idea about how much this recipe makes and how to handle making more loaves at one time. The bread freezes well in an airtight freezer bag...but I have to say we don't ever had it last more than two weeks or so. So it's not like I ever have loaves in the freezer for any extended amount of time. If The Man knows there's Banana Bread in the house, he pretty much can't ignore that fact until it's gone.

4) Oh, one last thing. I don't use oil. I just melt a stick of butter in the microwave for this recipe. I don't use vegetable oil much anymore. I just use butter in all my baking. Long story short.

If you try out this recipe I'd love to hear how it goes. Do you have any hot tips on Banana Bread baking you want to share? I'd love to hear how you like your Banana Bread!

04 April 2017

Pin Test #27: Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake

Well this is almost a silly Pin Test because when, ever, has The Pioneer Woman shared a recipe that people didn't love. How can you go wrong with a chocolate sheet cake, especially when she calls it "Best Ever". Let's just say I made it and it got devoured.

The one thing that is a little nuts about this recipe, har-har, is that there are 3 3/4 cubes of butter between the cake recipe and the frosting, so it's definitely not fat-free. Ha. Zoinks! I think if you make this cake you want to have a crowd on hand because it's a big cake to have sitting in your kitchen calling you to have one more little sliver of a slice....all...day...long.

The recipe was easy to follow and you can whip up the frosting while the cake bakes. Because it's a sheet cake it bakes up in less than 20 minutes. It is moist and delicious and stays moist even after a day or two on the kitchen counter. The frosting is easy to make and you just pour it over the top and maybe guide it a little bit with a spatula to get the entire cake covered. But if you pour it around the top of the cake it will flow across the top of the warm cake and spread pretty well on it's own.

Once the cake was done and we'd tasted it a few hours later, I immediately put together a plate to take to the neighbors because it was just too dangerous to have that entire cake sitting in our house. I will say this is a good cake if you want to have something on hand for desserts for a few days. As I mentioned it stays moist. You probably want to only lightly cover it with some foil because otherwise the frosting will get stuck to whatever you cover it with. I wouldn't use plastic wrap. But a piece of foil big enough to wrap over the edges of the pan while leaving some space between it and the top of the cake worked well for us.

This cake reminded me of a sheet cake recipe my mom has that incorporates marshmallows across the top of the cake before you pour the warm, cooked frosting on. I asked her for her recipe not long after I made this cake so we could do a taste comparison.

I will definitely make this recipe again and I think it would be perfect for a dinner party or potluck. It will serve a lot of people. A scoop of ice cream is a great addition too, either while the cake is still warm...or any time...it's going to be delicious. The Pioneer Woman's Best Ever Chocolate Sheet Cake Recipe is a winner for sure. Here's the link to this "Thumbs Up" recipe.

*A quick update to this recipe. The first time I made it I baked it for 18 minutes because our oven seems to bake a little hot. The cake turned out super moist almost to the point that I thought it may have been a tad undercooked. Now having made it again I think 18 minutes was the right way to go and it did make for a delicious, moist cake. It was perfect I just didn't know it.

I made this recipe again last weekend and baked it for 20 minutes. It did not turn out as well as it did the first time. I recognize now that when I cooked it longer it was drier, the texture was not as smooth, and the cake slices stuck to the pan and seemed to split in half horizontally. It didn't taste as good either. I don't think I did anything else to make the cake differently, so I think I would definitely only cook it for the 18 minutes in my oven in the future. You may want to experiment and see what works best for you but from experience now I would say that overbaking even by a couple of little minutes is not a good way to go.

Here are a some other Pin Test recipes you might like. Have a great day!
Olive Garden Style Minestrone
Rosemary Lemon Crockpot Chicken
No-bake Peanut Butter Bars

03 April 2017

Two Things That May Make Kids Feel Unloved

I've been thinking about this for a bit and more importantly looking at ways I can NOT be doing these two things that I believe make kids feel uncared for. The first is Busyness and the second is Tiredness. A big facet of both of these is stress.

These two words seem to be somewhat synonymous with parenting, but I think we have to be very careful that those words do not become more a part of our household than feelings of warmth, welcomeness, love, peace, caring and togetherness. We grown ups seem to get very carried away with talking about our tiredness and our busyness and I think that rubs off on kids which makes them more distant and gives them a sense that they should not bother us which the believe will only cause us to be more tired and more busy - and possibly more grumpy and more unpleasant to be around.

When kids feel their parents are too busy and too tired they are less likely to choose to talk to them about things they are struggling with, that make them sad or that even make them happy and excited. They are more likely to retreat to far spaces in the house to be away from the busyness and tiredness (aka STRESS) and get involved in activities that are not that beneficial to them like long hours of gaming, texting, etc. They are likely not cleaning their rooms, reading, eating healthy food, and being otherwise productive as they might with more parental involvement.

This is a bad cycle to get into! I wonder how often we are actually pushing our kids away and not realizing it. Another big parent distraction that likely all parents will admit to shamefully is time on what my husband calls "fidget devices" - phones and computers. There is likely no parent alive who hasn't let a child walk away feeling a little uncared for when preoccupied on the phone or computer. I know when I am working at the computer, even on worthwhile activities, I can lose track of time and kid and that is not a good thing.

I think for me the goal I have to keep this from being a problem in our home is to avoid busyness and the very appearance of it. I have to keep paring down and cutting back and getting rid of activities that are not my top priorities, even if I love to do them. I have to prioritize what is best for the family and for me -- a mix of those things, but I have to have a very few items that make that list.

Next is self care. I've written about that here many, many times. If I'm not well I can't do my best with other people or myself. That means taking time to unwind, taking care of eating well, getting exercise and doing things that feed our souls. This  year I have been sleeping much more than I have historically and it has been a big difference. I have gone from 4-6 hours of sleep a night to 8-10 hours many nights. The difference in my abilities and functionality is a little big frightening. My physical health has improved a great deal too and gosh darn it, it feels good to actually feel good!

Lastly I think I want to be very cautious about how we talk around our kiddo. I want to take "I'm so busy" and "I'm tired" out of our vocabulary and incorporate the feelings and words that say "I have time for you.", "How can I help  you today?" and "Can we spend some time together?" into our every day. I want to open up the opportunities and dialogues that build stronger relationships, especially as we head into the teen years.

So even if I do feel a little "stressed", "busy" or "tired", I'm not going to put that on my Kiddo. She needs to know I'm "available", "looking for hugs" and am full of love, time and energy for her.
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