Monday Mayhem: Enjoy the simple things

So, I haven’t shared a recipe or workout in a while,  but it’s January, so while you’re still gungho about working out, let me share a quick routine–ready?


First, turn on your TV or radio–might as well have some background noise, then grab some hand weights (or a small child, canned goods–anything with some weight to it that you can hold for 5 minutes)

Now,  set your timer to 5 minutes and march up and down your stairs!  Don’t have stairs? March around your house, apartment, bedroom, dormroom…whatever! Just get those knees up!

If you’re holding something that has a reasonable amount of weight and you’re moving, I guarantee you’ll feel something! If not, move your arms up and down as you march or pick up something heavier.

Catch your breath after 5 minutes, then repeat as many cycles as you have time for. If marching is too tame for you, then pick up the pace! Lift your knees higher and go as fast as you can. (See my post on Tabatas.)

Then, when the workout is done, it’s time for your reward:

So, I made the most AMAZING grilled cheese sandwich ever in my new air fryer–have you seen these things? They are fantastic! You can “fry” without frying and have dinner on the table in minutes.

I also happened to have some of my holiday wassail left over from Christmas and decided to settle down with my delux GrilledCheese and a cup of this deliciousness and I must tell you it was quite a treat!

Okay, so the theme for today is–enjoy the simple things.  What’s so great about grilled cheese you may ask? Nothing, until you add a dash of herbs and a slice of tomato. Then your basic grilled cheese goes to the next level. Trust me!  (Even if you don’t have the air fryer yet, you can still use low fat margarine instead of butter and prepare on the stove as you normally would.)

And for those who’ve never heard of wassail, well, there’s an entire tradition behind this holiday beverage that goes back to the Middle Ages, showing up in English literature, in fact, which was a happy discovery for me!  According to Robert Doares, the word comes from “the Old Norse ves heil and the Old English was hál…meaning ‘be in good health’ or ‘be fortunate.’ The phrase was first a simple greeting, but eventually the reply “drink hail” was joined with it to create one word and one meaning: to be in good health. Basically, to have good fortune was to enjoy a meal and drink with friends and loved ones!

Ironically, traditional wassail was also consumed with crusty bread or toast which explains why we raise a glass and “toast” one another today as we offer health and good fortune to those we love.

So, I think it’s quite appropriate for me to offer you this lovely combination, don’t you? This perfect GrilledCheese with crusty bread and my own version of wassail as I extend to you good health and good fortune!


My wassail recipe is also quite simple–I told you, it’s the theme for today. Here are the ingredients I use (amounts are approximate):

  • 2 liter apple juice
  • 1 can frozen orange juice
  • 2 liter cranberry juice
  • 1/4 cup whole cloves
  • 10 cinnoman sticks
  • 2-3 slices of fresh peeled ginger
  • 1/4-1/2 cup whole cranberries
  • add orange slices 1/2 hour before serving to preserve color
  • add 1/2 cup sugar if more sweetness is preferred

Just pour everything into a crock pot or a large pot on the stove–put the burner on low and let it simmer for at least an hour. Your house will be filled with a wonderfully sweet aroma and there’s nothing better than the delicate balance of sweet and spice which you control by the amounts that you choose to add.  When served, the ingredients can be strained, but they look pretty in the glass, don’t they?  This will keep well in the frig for 4-6 weeks.

Voila! Instant comfort food on a chilly January afternoon. Can you picture it? Cozy blanket. Grilled cheese. Warm, spiced cider…ahhh…wassail!

Happy Monday!



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Release the Shame, Reclaim the Power!

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers and many of his stories have been made into wildly popular movies and television series. If anyone is familiar with success, it’s Stephen King! Yet, “Stevie” King was also the child of a single mom who worked for less than minimum wages just to make ends meet.  By his senior year of high school he was bagging loose fabric at a factory everyday after school and eating cereal for dinner every night. He also had a high school teacher who condemned his work. King says she made him feel ashamed and shame was a feeling with which he became most familiar:

I have spent a good many years…being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing,  I suppose), someone will try to make you fee lousy about it.

This strikes me as so incredibly shocking that I am nearly speechless! A man who has experienced the level of success that Stephen King has expressing shame–not just when he was a kid being chastised by a teacher, but even years later after his work has been hailed by worldwide audiences! That speaks volumes about the extent to which we let others write our stories.

By the way, I am not a Stephen King fan–not in the sense that I read his books or watch his films. Horror is not my preferred genre, but I respect him as a writer and recognize his skill and mastery as an artist. I don’t have to enjoy his particular genre in order to recognize his talent.

But, isn’t that the point?  On Monday, I proposed that we resist those who impose their narratives upon us, and yesterday Tanzy shared how her life was altered by others’ perceptions of her. Trouble comes when people who don’t prefer something about us try to change us to suit their preferences rather than recognize what makes us special and simply appreciate it.

It is clear that this is not an isolated  issue. Whether rich and famous or just regular folks, we all strive to articulate what it means to be us while constantly speaking back to those who are telling us otherwise.  Yet, why should we be ashamed?  Why should we hide our gifts because they don’t align with the mainstream? Why should we apologize if our dreams don’t fit neatly into their little boxes? Or if our stories don’t suit their refined tastes?

Perhaps it’s not our stories that need to change.

Chrystal Evans Hurst says “it is your job in this life to know and value what makes you you.”  In order to do that you have to release the shame and reclaim the power of the pen. Be bold enough to value who you are, whatever you are–an artist, a dancer, a poet, or a writer. This is your year to reclaim your power and reclaim yourself!

May the force be with you.



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