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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Monday Mayhem: Rewrite Your Story!

Well we’ve crossed over the threshold into another year! We often use this flip of the calendar page as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf in our personal story as well. So, what new plot will be worked out this year? What twists and turns are in store? Are there cliffhangers yet to be resolved?

What’s exciting is each of has the power of the pen in our hands. We get to write, or rewrite our story, and with each new year we’re presented with a fresh new page on which to publish whatever twist or turn we think our story needs.

Too often, though, we relinquish that power to others, allowing others to define us. We let others tell us who we are then find ourselves like Alice in Wonderland sailing headlong into someone else’s storybook adventure.

If you’ve been trapped in the vortex of someone else’s story, I invite you to take up the sword, that is your pen, literal and/or metaphorical. Determine what it is that you, the protagonist, want.

Make a plan for how you will move towards that goal or purpose and begin revising your story. It’s a new year, you have a fresh page!

Check back tomorrow for Tanzy Chandler’s New Year’s story!

Happy Monday 2018!

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Monday Mayhem: What You May Have Left off of Your Christmas List!

I visited a rustic bed and breakfast recently—an old cabin in the woods, really, that had been refurbished and renovated with modern furnishings and appliances to suit modern tastes and sensibilities. The idea was to make the old, new—to give guests the feeling of stepping back in time—so that we could cast off the cares of work and busyness—but  without the loss of modern luxuries.  Inside it was warm and cozy.  Old magazines were scattered about on carefully distressed wooden end tables, and here is where I found a copy of the September 1959 issue of Life magazine resting safely inside a plastic sleeve amongst other plastic-covered classic issues.

I had to chuckle at the iconography of Life, literally and figuratively captured in that idyllic space.  Tucked ever so carefully in its plastic sleeve, it presented to me in words and pictures America as it was in 1959. The cover image of “The Astronauts” caught my eye. As I eased the stiff periodical from its plastic penitentiary then gently turned its crinkly pages I was transported to another place and time where advertisers beckoned me with “new” electric appliances and bid me to marvel at wood paneling! (“Go ahead, touch the wood. Weldwood paneling is so beautiful you can’t help running a hand over it.”)

I was transfixed, indeed, by the stories that tracked the training and selection of the first astronaut to be chosen for America’s “man in space” mission and as I stood in that old cabin made new again, I thought about how this old story was made new again last year as Margot Shetterly’s research into NASA’s use of black female mathematicians to fill a labor shortage during World War II unearthed an untold story. Because of her those hidden figures are “hidden no more” and other hidden figures have come to light since then.

Tomorrow I will tell you a “hidden figure” story, but today is Monday Mayhem!

Today I want to talk about the old made new.

Besides that, today we have exactly ONE WEEK! We are literally careening towards Christmas, ready or not!

So, let me bring it home…

Snow covered winter countryside at the sunset in Latvia

As I think about the holidays, I think about that old cabin in the woods—where I stood marveling at the old and the new, marveling at the attempts we so often make to package the old and make it new to suit our sensibilities and make ourselves comfortable. That’s really what Life in America has been all about, hasn’t it? Packaging.

And so, as we careen towards Christmas, and I think about the astronaut story that I read juxtaposed with the Hidden Figures story that was recently revealed, I marvel at all the other packages that will be so carefully wrapped this season and tucked gently under the tree as we paste on plastic smiles for the pictures and pretend that there are no hidden figures to be concerned about.

I don’t mean to sound like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I would just like for us to think about the power that hidden figures represent: reality. What is there whether we like it or not–whether it’s pretty or not? Whether it’s the same color as us, same gender as us, same religion as us, same belief as us–or not?  Whatever the reality is—in our family, in our office, in our neighborhood—in ourselves—we may wish to push it aside for the sake of optics, but what made Hidden Figures so awesome to me is that the real power came when everyone recognized their need for the Other and stopped fighting against what they feared.

As you head out to catch those last-minute Christmas sales, just remember that the best gifts may not be available in stores.

Happy shopping & Happy Monday!


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