Brunch… a fun time to be a little “Extra”

Ever go to brunch with friends a feel like your cheating a little and feel good about it. Like maybe you slept in when you would have gotten up early all the other days of the week. Or maybe skipped breakfast so you could endulge in food that your wouldn’t normally eat but it taste simply delicious. I’ve always thought that having brunch is a chance for me to be a bit “extra” and feel great with friends or family. Take a little extra time for my meal, order a little something different and either entertain or be entertained with food, decor, and overall atmosphere.

I wanted to take a moment and share some easy and fun recipes and ideas that you can do at home if felt like hosting a brunch yourself. Fall is upon us, the weather is changing and this is a great opportunity to set up your sun room or open the windows and turn on those fans to let the air flow nicely through your home. Invite some guests over in the late morning. Set a little light jazz or easy listening in the background. Be sure to either light a fresh scented candle or diffuse some essential oils throughout to have a pleasing aroma in your home as well.

Now for the recipe ideas… I love appetizer size portions personally. You can make plenty and it offers a variety to meet the taste preferences of all your guests. My easy suggestions are as follows:

  1. Individual sized fruit and yogurt parfait – These can be super fun to do. Pop by any party store and get small (dessert serving sized) clear dishes. A layer of vanilla yogurt, a layer of strawberries (sliced and fresh), some granola and repeat. drizzle with a bit of honey if you prefer. You can make several flavors by changing the fruit and/or yogurt flavors. This allows for several options. (Peach, Blueberry, Pineapples, etc.)
  1. Muffin Tin Omelettes – These are a cinch to make and again, can have a variety of flavors. Spray your muffin tin with cooking spray, preheat your oven, and get busy with your creations. Ham, cheese, peppers the sky is the limit. One egg per muffin cup. Scramble the egg prior to pouring into the cup and mixture. I highly suggest avoiding adding onions to your omelettes when inviting guests to your social gathering. Onions often times upset sensitive stomachs and can cause people to be concerned about poor breath following a meal.
  1. Biscuits and Jelly – This is a staple! you can serve croissants or muffins or even cornbread, but some type of bread is a must. If you have the time and want to make several bread options that is always fun as well. I like to have various types of jelly available along with butter of course.
  1. Drinks! What brunch is complete without a good beverage. Mimosas are always the go-to for brunches. Depending on what time of year you are hosting your brunch, try to make your drink of choice seasonal. Of course, Coffee, Tea (Both hot and cold for brunch is desirable) and water should be made available.

These are all fun ideas and suggestions. There are so many more out there. Do a little research and plan according to the size of your guest list. The point is, have a veggie (the parfait), have a bread item (it’s breakfast after all), and have a protein (the omelette). Make sure there is variety. Remember to incorporate appropriate serving dishes, place settings and centerpieces that will help facilitate the theme and feel of your brunch. The best ones I have been to use all of the senses to make the guests have the best experience. Sight (presentation), Sound (Music), Smell (essential oils or scented candles), Taste (well prepared food), and Touch (comfortable seating and well maintained temperature). Keep it light, fun and casual. The point of hosting this brunch in your home is so that you and your friends don’t have to “dress” for the occasion. In-home brunches with friends can be Sunday casual. No T-shirts and flip-flops are probably not ideal, but you can set the tone with your invite either verbal or written. The sky is the limit with your planning and preparations.

I hope you plan an amazing event. As the host of your event (vs attending) the satisfaction comes when you sit back once the event is in full swing and you see the smiles on your friends faces, hear the chatter of small talk, and hear the clanking of glasses and your friends toast to each other.

As always my friends, have a happy day (And enjoy your brunch and each other)

Schedule “Me Time”

It happens to the best of us, life gets busy and as our schedules and “to do” lists get longer and busier, the time we take for ourselves tends to disappear.  We feel like if we take time for ourselves we are neglecting our family, acting selfishly, or neglecting our responsibilities.  This could not be further from the truth. Life is noisy.  Life is busy.  Life takes up so much of our energy.  It’s understandable that every individual has different work situations that are unique to their field, but it important to remember that you don’t live to work. Sometimes, putting aside time for yourself may even prove to be the ideal catalyst to liberating yourself from all the struggles that are suffocating you.  

Let’s take a look at what happens when we don’t take time for ourselves and some suggestions on how to avoid or change this situation:

  1. Mental and Physical Exhaustion: people may experience mental fatigue, insomnia, confusion, poor concentration, depression, anxiety, and increased irritability when they do not take time to take care of themselves. Just like we need sleep, we need time out. 
  2. Resentments and anger build up: 
    The lack of time to yourself can cause you to build up resentments that can harm both you and your relationships. When you spend all your time filling other people’s cups, it’s likely yours will run empty. Sometimes, especially when we’re tired, we may become angry about giving so much. 
  3. Poor self-esteem develops:   
    Self-care and self-love are very much connected.  If we truly love and care about ourselves, we would make the time to care for both our physical health and mental health.  Sometimes a reluctance to make time for self-care can go deeper, to issues of self-worth and self-love.

Here is a quick list of ways to improve your “me time” and take better care of yourself on a daily basis:

  1. Schedule it! – Make a meeting with yourself daily or weekly depending on the content of the meeting.  Do you need a daily reprieve, or do you want to schedule an hour or two for a mani/pedi, exercise, or just to sit by the pool and read?  
  2. Make it count! – Don’t just “schedule” ten minutes a day or quiet time, make it quality time.  Just as you would give your newborn child your undivided attention, you deserve your attention too!
  3. Delegate tasks! – don’t let life get in the way.  Don’t get bogged down with a long list of “to do’s”  
  4. Check your e-mail and social media feeds at delegated times – Are you attached at the hip to your smart phone?  Put it down and schedule times that you will pick it up and review the latest updates.  
  5. Take 5! – Whenever you start to get overwhelmed or feel anxious, take 5 minutes to step outside and take a deep breath.  Walk around your office or work space.  there is no harm in taking 5 minutes to regroup.
  6. Say no with dignity an grace – You do not have to accept every invitation to get together or take on every task given to you.  Do not take on more than you can handle, and really take a long hard look at what you can realistically handle.  Unless you are wearing a cape and tights, I’m pretty sure you are not a super hero.  
  7. Shower time is “your time” – This is one of the few times in your day that you can guarantee peace and quiet.  Take advantage of it.  
    Purchase some aroma therapy products that you love and treat each shower like it is a spa getaway. Take some deep breaths and let the warm water wash away any tension that you were having.
  8. Take the long way home – no matter how you get o and from work or your daily activity, take the scenic route and enjoy a little peace and quiet before switching gears to family and kids and responsibilities.  

Keep in mind that carving out time for yourself is vital for keeping yourself healthy, and that means a happier family and more productive work and school life.

This blog posts was written in honor of my sister.  She takes on the world everyday.  She is strong, beautiful, smart, giving and many times forgets to take care of herself. 

Live happily,   Mrs. Go To Girl

Homemade Apple Cider, great for fall

Nothing says fall like homemade Apple Cider. It is fun to make your own, tastes great and makes your home smell amazing.  Here is a great recipe to try and share.  Alter it to make it your own.  This is a great beverage to have on hand for cool fall and winter evenings, family gatherings, and of course holiday dinners!

Ingredients:

10 Gala Apples – Quartered

3/4 Cup White Sugar

1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon

1 Tablespoon Ground all spice

Note: you can float a few whole cinnamon sticks on top for extra flavor or add them at the end for garnish,  also adding extra spices like cloves or the zest of a lemon will spice up your cider depending on your preference.

Instructions:

Place apples in a large stockpot and add enough water cover by at least 2 inches. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. Cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 hours.

Strain apple mixture though a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Drain cider again though a cheesecloth lined sieve. Refrigerate until cold.

Note: I prefer to serve my cider warm.  If you prefer the same you can always make this in advance and set it on warm in a crock pot.  Add some cinnamon sticks or Star of Anise to the once in the crock pot as a great garnish.

 

First Aid Kits (Home, Travel, Office)

Do you have a first aid kit in your home or car?  When is the last time you opened it?  The aspirin may be expired and the liquid items may be out of date or worse, dried up.  Once a year you should make it a point to update your first aid kits, refresh them, and add any notes about medication changes.  (In Florida or the south, I would suggest doing this in June as that is the start of hurricane season.)

First aid kits come in many shapes and sizes. You can purchase one from the Red Cross Store or your local American Red Cross chapter. Your local drug store may sell them. You can also make your own. Some kits are designed for specific activities, such as hiking, camping or boating.I would suggest having a kit for your home, your office and your car.  You never know when or where an tiny emergency will pop up and you will need some sort of medical supply.  Below are some suggestions to customize your kit to your family or needs:

What a kit should include:

 

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket) 
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches) 
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers

Additional items to think about:  Include a list of current medications or allergies for each member of your family.  This should be updated annually.  Keep your first aid kit in a known location in your home and car.  Add any emergency equipment that may be required by your family (i.e., epi-pens, etc.)

First Aid Kit Review:

  1. Include personal items such as medications and emergency phone number or other items your doctor may suggest.
  2. Check your kit regularly
  3. Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date items.
  4. Store your kits in a place that is out of reach of children, but easily accessible by adults

Ouch! Paper-cut! Simple solutions for small boo-boos

It’s summer and many of us have kids (or grandkids) running around and getting into all sorts of things.  Little “boo-boos” happen all the time.  Here is a great list of home remedies for the little ones in your life.  Always first assess the situation of a boo-boo.  If your child has a cut or sever pain, medical attention from a professional may be required.

Sunburns – Use Aloe Vera to soothe sunburns. It contains compounds that reduce pain and inflammation. In fact, it’s earned the name “burn plant” for being the perfect natural remedy for sunburn. Additionally, it’s a refreshing way to cool and moisturize skin during those hot summer days. SIDE NOTE: Get an ice cube tray from the dollar store and fill each cube with aloe vera gel.  When you need it, you will have the perfectly portion size for little hands.  It will melt and the coldness will help in addition to the aloe’s healing qualities. NOTE ABOUT BURNS IN GENERAL: Don’t apply butter or other oily substances to the burned area, and if blisters form, don’t break them- both of these things can cause further damage to the sensitive area. Encourage kids not to peel skin resulting from the burn to reduce scarring.

Insect Bites – A baking soda paste can soothe the pain from bee stings and itchiness from insect bites. Baking soda neutralizes the acidic venom from the sting. Mix up a baking soda paste by using baking soda and water. Remove the stinger and leave the paste on the sting or bite for at least 15 minutes. ADDITIONAL REMEDY: Rub toothpaste onto your child’s bug bites to stop the itching

Bee Sting – chop up a white onion and rub one of the raw pieces on the sting site for 5 minutes. This will help to prevent infection, while also reducing pain, as it draws the poison away from the sting.

Bumps and Bruises – Epsom salt has been used for centuries as a home remedy for all sorts of minor muscle and skin pains. Epsom salt relaxes the muscles and relieves the pain from bruises.  Add 1 cup of Epsom salts to a bowl of warm water. Soak a clean towel in the water and wring it out so there is no dripping. Place the warm, moist towel on your child’s sore area. To maintain its warmth, place a hot water bottle on top of the towel. The warmth boosts the magnesium content in the body which leads to a reduction in swelling. ADDITIONAL REMEDY: Rub some vanilla extract onto a bump and your child should stay bruise-free.

Cuts and Scrapes – Apple cider vinegar contains proteins, enzymes, and germ-killing bacteria that can help fight infection. To help heal and soothe your kid’s minor cuts and scrapes, add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath. It’s also good for rashes that your kid may be prone to during the hot summer months. They may not be happy about the smell, but they’ll be happy to feel some relief.

Hives, Eczema, or just itchy skin – give your child an oatmeal bath. Grind oatmeal into a fine powder and pour into the warm running water as it fills up a bath. Let your child soak in the tub to alleviate the itching associated with these skin afflictions.

As always, have a happy day.  Stay safe this summer and have fun!

 

Chore Charts – They work wonders!

I grew up with two sisters in my mother’s home.  We were all close in age and all very very different.  There were rules to follow of course, but my mom gave us chore charts.  She did this when I was little and again when my sisters and I were teens.  They were very different as they were age appropriate, but looking back they taught us to do our fair share and to take responsibility for ourselves.

As a little girl, my chore chart had the days of the week (I was learning those), and the chores that I was responsible for and capable of doing. (i.e., making my bed, picking up my room, putting my clothes in the dirty laundry hamper, etc.)  My sister and I shared the responsibility of laundry, cleaning our bathroom, dusting and vacuuming as we got older.  The chore chart faded away as the things we did became a habit and generally just expected.

As a teen, the chart came back into effect for dividing up chores and keeping us each accountable as individuals.  We had a calendar hanging in the kitchen with our initials on the days and order.  1, 2, 3, and repeat.  This was our dishes calendar.  If our name fell on the day, then we were responsible for doing dishes that night. (no question or hassle, it was there in black and white). NOTE: If our name fell on a day where we had a pre-planned social activity that kept us away at dinner time, the task of dishes fell to my mom, so she had her fair share of dishes nights too.)

As a young child, there were rewards for accomplishing all of my chores and doing them well.  Gold stars placed on my chart, a prize at the end of the week (this was either being able to stay up 30 minutes past my bedtime, or maybe watching a movie of my choice, or being able to have a friend over).  The consequences for not doing my chores were just as clear (i.e., no TV, no friends coming over, etc.)

These chores taught me to keep my home clean, to respect my property and that of others,  to be responsible for myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I did not have a difficult or challenging childhood, but my parents had rules and they had good reason for them.  Looking back I am so grateful they did.  I am the woman I am today because of them.  Things like washing the towels and sheets on your bed, vacuuming AND dusting, cleaning out your closet occasionally, are all random things we take for granted as an adult but should thank our parents for teaching them to us when we were young.  After all, they taught us to use a spoon, wipe our own tushes, and hopefully to take care of ourselves overall as were grew into successful independent adults.

If you have a little kiddo in your home, I hope you are teaching them to grow into fabulous independent adults.  The joy is equal in succeeding as an individual as it is to watching your child succeed, knowing you did a good job.

SIDE NOTE: I was an argumentative child at times.  I hated to be told no.  I would accept a choice or a reason, but the word “no” sent me through the roof many times.  These chore charts outlined exactly what was expected of me and decreased the arguments over all.  As I grew older I appreciated conversations with reasons and purpose rather than being “told what to do”.  Today as a result, I have a pretty solid foundation and open line of communication between myself and all of my parents.  (As I mentioned before, I have two step-parents that also raised me and I respect them as much as I respect my biological parents.)

Happy Fourth of July, Celebrate safely

Happy Fourth of July! As we gather our families and friends to celebrate our nation’s holiday let’s remember to use caution and be safe. Below are some easy safety tips to follow and share.

  1. Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks. Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  2. A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
  3. Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  4. Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  5. Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles. Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water. Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  6. Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  7. Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
  8. Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.

And let’s not forget the safety of our pets!

  1. Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
  2. If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
  3. Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
  4. Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.

Extra tip for pet owners: I personally have two very very small dogs and loud bursts of sound terrify them. During holidays and celebrations that include fireworks, we like to leave the tv or radio on a little louder than normal close to their sleeping quarters. This provides for constant sound, drowns out some of the noise from fireworks, and helps to reduce the stress of the random bursts of noise.

Let the grass grow under you, let your roots sink in

I have lived my life with a bit of a “gypsy” flair and let the wind take me where it will for so many years.  That’s right, I have never actually put roots down anywhere longer than a year or two.  To be very clear, the longest I have ever lived in one place is between 2009 and 2012.  I was renting an apartment on the beach.  That’s right, just barely three years is the longest I have ever stayed in one place until now (and I am 40!).   My husband and I are in the process of purchasing a house and the word process is an understatement!

I have been so fortunate in my life to be able to move from here to there and just pack up and go wherever the wind blows.  I have had so many wonderful experiences and some not so wonderful.  If I am being honest, part of not settling down was probably due to fear of getting older, fear of responsibility, fear of losing my “free-spirit”.  I am here to tell you, there is also something wonderful about this part of life.  I feel very stressed, this is true, but I also feel very proud of myself and of my husband.  I feel like we will now have a home-base and a foundation.  I may not be communicating this feeling very well, but if you have that free-spirit in you as I do, then maybe you can understand where I am coming from.

I wanted to share with you a bit about the home-buying process from someone who has never done it before and is doing it at a bit of and older age.  First of all, I am an extremely organized person.  I have gone so far as to create a spreadsheet for all tasks to be completed as far as paperwork to be signed, deadlines, inspections, etc.  I am treating this as though I am the project manager and this is any other work related entity that has a beginning, middle, and end.  I have found it is the best way to stay on top of the vast amount of documents, uploads, and e-mails that seem to occur almost daily!

Between my husband and I, we have one point of contact for the lender, realtor, title agency, and any other contact and that is my husband.  I do the paperwork, he does the talking.  It works best for our schedules and cuts down on the “he said, she said”.  That way, at the end of the day when he and I come together we can have a pow-wow on my progress and his and meet in the middle.

We close on our home April 10th if all things go well and the stars align.  (I say that because I have learned that until you sign on the dotted line, there is always room for something to go wrong).  I am usually a glass half full kind of gal, but with the home-buying process, this is one place where you can never afford to put the cart before the horse.  It can literally leave you homeless!  Yikes!

We all know I love a good list, so in following with all of my other blogs, here is a list of the top ten things I’ve learned so far in the home-buying process.

  1. If at first you don’t succeed, try about 100 more times! (We have had to put offers in on several homes.  Just because we fell in love with a home didn’t mean the seller fell in love with our terms or our offer price or our conditions or maybe a higher offer came in, there were a multitude of reasons!)
  2. Be patient. (The whole world is not on our time schedule and that has to be alright, but it is also ok to be on top of things and follow-up if inspections or appraisals are not happening in a timely manner. This is a fine line.  Be polite, but not a doormat)
  3. Over-budget! (This is the time where you should not be spending money on anything extra and you should be planning on money to be needed in areas you never considered! Binder Check, Inspection, WDO, Appraisal, and the list goes on all the way to closing and beyond!  Don’t forget about moving costs, cleaning your current home, packing supplies!)
  4. Think long term (if you are like me and have been renting you place(s) forever than it is time to think long term. Do you LOVE the house, can you see changes you want to make, and can you see your family growing here? If you don’t love it than this isn’t the place)
  5. Life Insurance (Once you purchase your home, it’s time to think longer life planning. Make sure you have insurance in place should something happen to yourself or your significant other you will still be able to afford your new home).
  6. Schedule the best you can! (This isn’t always easy to do if you are selling a home and buying one at the same time, but if you are renting like us, it is a little easier to manage. Make sure you don’t leave yourself without a place to stay.  Schedule your closing on your new home BEFORE you have to be out of your current home.  If this is not an option, you may need to utilize storage PODS for your moving expedition or get creative and hopefully have friends you can stay with).
  7. Once you close, clean! (Before you move in and get boxes in the new home, you have a blank slate in front of you.  Take a few days to paint, clean, make alterations to the home prior to having boxes and furniture in your way.)
  8. Keep good records. (You will sign tons of documents and have a ton of papers at the end of your home-buying experience.  Create a file for your new home and put all of those papers neatly into your file cabinet.  You will need to address your home purchase when you do taxes, should there be an emergency, should there be an insurance claim, etc.  Stay organized.)
  9. Make a contacts list (Through this process you will have gained a lender, a realtor, a title agency, an insurance agent, security system, company, and many more contacts. Generate a contact sheet that is a quick reference guide for your home.  My husband and I live in Florida and this past year experienced a very difficult storm season.  We have an “important papers” file that we use during evacuations and keep handy during any emergency situation.  This contact sheet should be included in that file in case any damage is done to your home.)
  10. Have fun! (This is the most important part of the whole list. I can tell you that my husband and I have bickered and gotten on each other’s nerves from time to time during this process but at the end of the day, we have enjoyed finding our dream home together and planning our future together.  Day-dreaming about each room and how we will decorate and what we want for years to come.  These are memories we are making together and this is how our house will become a home.)

If you are like me, than letting the grass grow beneath your feet is a very big step to take and I can tell you, there is no one in the world I would rather take it with than my fabulous husband.  When you find the right one, you just know.  The world becomes a brighter place and troubles become less.  If you are bold enough to buy a home on your own, than you have my greatest admiration as well.  No matter how you find yourself letting roots sink into the ground, just make sure they are solid and in the right place.  I hope this list helps someone on the same path or made someone feel like they are normal for having the same stress level as we have.  As always my friends, have a happy day.

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