Beyond Spilled Milk

Today is National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day, a day set aside to move beyond past disappointments and setbacks.

In its oldest form, the proverb was “No weeping for shed milk,” first coined by James Howell in 1659. While the proverb has evolved, it still retains its original intent: One cannot change what is done and crying over it serves no purpose.

Here are my Go-To quotations whenever I encounter setbacks:

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. Aristotle

When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in. Kristin Armstrong

Life is all about setbacks. A life lived without disappointment is a life lived in a cocoon. People have recovered from far worse setbacks. Tony Clark

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas Edison

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
Martin Luther King

The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire, the size of your dream, and how you handle disappointment along the way. Robert Kiyosaki

What do you do when disappointment comes? When it weighs on you like a rock, you can either let it press you down until you become discouraged, even devastated, or you can use it as a stepping-stone to better things. Joyce Meyer

The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality. Conan O’Brien

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.
Beverly Sills

Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it. Eliza Tabor

Do you have a Go-To quotation? Please share in the comments.

Happy National Cut Your Energy Costs Day!

Today is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, a day set aside to re-examine our daily habits and improve the overall efficiency of our lives.

Here are ten easy-to-implement tips:

1. Use daylight as much as possible. Remember, it’s free, and it doesn’t pollute.

2. Turn off all lights, even if you leave a room for a few minutes.

3. Switch all light bulbs to CFLs—the curly-looking ones. While they are more expensive, they can last up to ten times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs.

4. Turn the heat down one degree in the winter, and set the air conditioner one degree higher in the summer. You probably won’t notice and could easily go up/down an extra degree or two.

5. Use the refrigerator wisely. Decide what you want before you open the door, clean the coils periodically with a vacuum cleaner, don’t set the temperature any colder than necessary, and keep it full.

6. Eliminate vampire power. When televisions, computers, DVD players, microwave ovens, and appliances are turned off, they continue to suck the energy out of the wall and out of your wallet. Where possible, use smart power strips with on/off switches that can be turned off when you are away for an extended period.

7. Unplug the charger as soon as your digital device is charged. When plugged in, a charger continues to draw energy.

8. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth or shaving. On average, a faucet can use anywhere from one to three gallons (four to eight litres) per minute. If you take the dentist-recommended two minutes, twice a day, that could add up to 12 gallons a day—4,380 gallons a year. Note: Newer faucets tend to have lower flow rates than older ones.

9. Fix those leaks. In North America, the average household leaks nearly 10,000 gallons of water each year…a staggering amount of money literally pouring down the drain.

10. Wait until you have a full load of laundry before using the washing machine. Half loads use twice as much water. Consider setting the temperature to warm rather than hot. This cleans just as well and uses half the energy.

Any more tips to share?

Honoring St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas Day is celebrated worldwide on the anniversary of his death, December 6th. Raised as a devout Christian, the third-century saint dedicated his life to serving the sick and suffering.

Later, he became part of the inspiration for the modern-day Santa Claus.

Here are ten interesting facts about St. Nicholas:

1. Born in the village of Patar on the southeastern coast of modern-day Turkey, Nicholas was inspired by the philanthropy of his parents. During their short lifetimes, they were devoted to serving the sick. Nicholas decided to continue their legacy. He began delivering gifts anonymously to needy people.

2. According to legend, three falsely accused men were about to be beheaded when Bishop Nicholas took the sword from the executioner’s hand. He then ordered the men to be freed. Afterward, the city’s ruler came forward and confessed to the crime.

3. Another well-known story…He saved three impoverished sisters from being sold into prostitution by paying their marriage dowries with three bags of gold.

4. During the Middle Ages, a group of French nuns started the tradition of bringing anonymous gifts to needy families on December 5th (St. Nicholas Eve). When the families awoke the following day and inquired about their benefactor, they received the following answer: “It must have been St. Nicholas.”

5. In Germany and Austria, children left out a boot for St. Nicholas and received small toys, coins, or candy.

6. After the Reformation, St. Nicholas was largely forgotten in Protestant Europe. Still, his memory was kept alive in Holland as Sinterklaas. On his feast day, St. Nicholas arrives on horseback, dressed in a bishop’s red robe, accompanied by a companion. The two men distributed sweets and gifts to good children and lumps of coal to bad ones.

7. The Dutch brought the tradition of “Sinterklaas” to North America when they founded New Amsterdam on the tip of Manhattan in 1621. English-speaking settlers corrupted the name, which evolved into Santa Claus.

8. After he was buried in a tomb near Myra, water believed to have healing powers formed in his grave. It is called the Manna of St. Nicholas.

9. He is the patron saint of many causes, among them sailors, travelers, clergy, school children, and thieves.

10. St. Nicholas Day traditions can be easily incorporated into the contemporary holiday season. Why not slip a small gift or surprise into a friend’s shoe or boot. Some suggestions: wrapped chocolate, a tree ornament, a stress ball, or a new pair of socks.

Happy National Live Creative Day!

Today is National Live Creative Day, a day set aside to dream, discover, and invent. Consider resurrecting an old hobby, participating in a favorite pastime, or exploring a new passion.

If you’re feeling stuck, here are ten quotes to spark your imagination:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”
Maya Angelou

“What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul.”
Deepak Chopra

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” Erich Fromm

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” Steve Jobs

“The creative adult is the child who survived.” Ursula Leguin

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” Jack London

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” Pablo Picasso

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

This is a day for bibliophiles (and wannabe bibliophiles) to find their favorite reading places, a good book, and time to read the day away.

*Bibliophile – A person who collects or loves books.

Here are ten ways to celebrate:

1. Visit your local library and browse through the latest bestsellers and beloved classics. Take some time to check out the bulletin boards and pick up any pamphlets. Libraries have become hubs of activity, offering everything from author readings to craft sessions to technology workshops.

2. Support your local indie bookstore. Introduce yourself to the owner and connect with fellow bibliophiles.

3. Celebrate your favorite authors. You can follow them on Twitter, join their Facebook group, or snap pictures of their latest releases for Instagram.

4. Spend the day with an audiobook. You can purchase your own through Audible or borrow one from the local library.

5. Start a blog, booktube channel, or bookstagram.

6. Organize your bookshelves. As you tidy up, cull those books that no longer speak to you. You can “gift” them to friends, donate them to a Little Free Library in your area, or drop them off at a second-hand store.

7. Write a review. A few sentences on Amazon or Goodreads will suffice. Share what you loved, what you didn’t love, and what inspired you.

8. Invest in an eReader. Physical books take up a lot of space and aren’t too convenient when traveling. Also, ebooks are often half the price of a physical novel.

9. Participate in a virtual event. During the pandemic, authors and publishers organized online interviews, panels, and in-depth discussions. Visit your favorite author’s website for more details.

10. Use #NationalBookLoversDay to spread the news on social media. Here are four quotations you can share:

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”
Maya Angelou

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” Anne Herbert

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Happy National All or Nothing Day!

Celebrate this day by throwing caution to the wind and going for broke.

Think of one goal you would like to accomplish but feel fearful or hesitant to do so. It could be writing a novel, running a marathon, eschewing sugar, improving your technology skills, learning a new craft, decluttering your home…

Decide to make the necessary changes and then take that first small step.

Here are ten quotations to inspire you:

Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don’t be afraid to take that first step. Mohammed Ali

The most effective way to do it, is to do it. Amelia Earhart

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Anne Frank

Well done is better than well said. Benjamin Franklin

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.
Estée Lauder

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned. Peter Marshall

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. Mark Twain

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great. Zig Ziglar

Happy National Meatball Day!

Today is National Meatball Day, a day set aside to celebrate meatballs in all their incarnations: Spaghetti and meatballs, Swedish Meatballs, Meatball Sub, Meatball Pizza, Turkey Meatballs, Lamb Meatballs, Porcupine Meatballs…

I’m sharing a family-favorite recipe. While I prefer to use lean ground beef, any combination of veal, pork, and regular beef will work. I usually eat the meatballs with pasta, but they can be thrown into a soup or eaten on their own with an accompanying side dish or salad.

Ingredients

1 kilogram lean ground beef
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 cup Romano cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 onion, finely chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Grease two large baking sheets with canola oil.

3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

4. If the mixture is too soft, add more bread crumbs.

5. If the mixture is too hard, add more milk.

6. Form into balls and place 1″ apart on the baking sheet.

7. Bake for 10 minutes on each side.

Yield: Makes 35 to 40 meatballs.

Buon appetito!

Warming Up with Avgolemeno

Today is National Homemade Soup Day, a day devoted to celebrating those warm bowls of comfort that nourish our bodies and souls. Take some time to make your favorite soup or experiment with a new recipe.

If you’re open to experimenting, try Avgolemeno, a Greek lemon chicken soup that releases endorphins while warming up our insides. Packed with protein and Vitamin C, this soup is a staple in many Greek homes throughout the winter months. (Pronunciation Guide for Avgolemeno here)

You don’t have to limit yourself to one season. Avgolemono is a great go-to dish whenever you are feeling under the weather and need a quick pick-me-upper.

Here’s a tried-and-true recipe from my mother’s kitchen:

Ingredients

5 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup Italian arborio rice*
1 lemon, juiced
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste

* Feel free to substitute orzo or any small shaped pasta.

Directions

1. Pour the chicken broth into a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

2. Add the rice and cook until chewy, but soft. Italian arborio rice will take about 20 minutes.

3. Take the saucepan off the heat and set aside. Let it sit for five minutes. If the rice mixture is too hot, it will curdle the eggs.

4.In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until frothy and then add the lemon juice.

5. Add the rice mixture, a spoonful at a time, to the egg mixture. Stir well.

6. Season with salt and pepper.

Servings: 3-4

More Soup Recipes…

Broccoli | Celery | Asparagus | Lazy Woman’s Soup | Vegetable Quinoa | Watercress | Zucchini and Watercress

Happy National Homemade Soup Day!

A piping hot bowl of soup is my favorite way to incorporate vegetables into my diet. I especially like puréed, low-starch vegetable soups that are quick and easy-to prepare.

Today, I’m sharing my recipe for Zucchini and Watercress Soup.

Diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2006, I make every effort to incorporate thyroid-nourishing foods into my diet. I enjoy eating most of the iodine-rich foods, but I struggle with watercress. Its pungency doesn’t sit well with my fussy taste buds. While experimenting, I discovered that adding zucchini and almond butter to watercress results in a creamy alternative that hits my sweet spot.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups chopped carrots
1½ cups chopped celery
4 cups of zucchini, diced
4 cups of vegetable broth
¼ cup unsweetened almond butter
2 cups watercress, chopped
Handful of parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Heat the vegetable oil and sauté the onion and garlic in a large soup pot.

2. Add the celery and cook until translucent.

3. Add the carrots and zucchini and sauté for three to five minutes.

4. Add the vegetable broth and stir in the almond butter until well combined.

5. Increase the heat and bring to a boil.

6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the zucchini is tender.

7. Add the watercress and parsley. Simmer for about five minutes.

8. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool.

9. Stir in the lemon juice.

10. Remove from heat and purée the soup in batches using a hand or immersion blender.

Makes 6 servings, about one cup each.

More Soup Recipes…

Broccoli | Celery | Asparagus | Lazy Woman’s Soup | Easy Avgolemeno | Vegetable Quinoa

Happy National Humor Month!

In 1976, comedian and author Larry Wilde founded National Humor Month. His intention: Share the therapeutic benefits of humor with the world.

Humor plays an essential role in our overall health. Everything from a giggle to a deep-rooted belly laugh can improve the quality of our lives. The benefits include lowering blood pressure, reducing stress hormone levels, triggering the release of endorphins, and improving cardiac health.

One study conducted by Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University in California suggests that laughter can even help tone our abs. When we are laughing, the muscles in our stomachs expand and contract, similar to when we intentionally exercise our abs.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.