gratitude

Gratitude

Gratitude is one of those things that takes so little time, but offers huge rewards.  All it takes is a few minutes each day to reflect on the small things in your life you are thankful for.

I’ve practiced gratitude on and off for a few years now, and I’ve learned the more consistent you are the better.  I’ve noticed that I am happier, and good things happen when I am grateful for the little things.  I also roll more easily with the lumps and bumps life can send at you.  When I am lax in my gratitude, my disposition is a bit more ornery,  I am less at ease with disappointments and much more prone to stress.

My experiences aren’t a fluke. Studies have found that being thankful what we have in our lives gives impacts our health in positive ways, letting us weather the storms we face better. Robert Emmons, the father of “positive psychology”, has spent years looking at how gratitude affects our health and well-being.  He found six commonalities between that people who practice gratitude on a regular.

Benefits of Gratitude

Emmons defines gratitude as ones attitude toward themselves and the outside world. Those that practice it are more likely to have a positive attitude and relate more positively to the world around them while recognizing the positives in their own lives. It gives them the ability to weather life’s challenges with a smile rather than a frown. Gratitude forces our attention outside of our own sphere.

Gratitude gives us the opportunity to appreciate what we have in our lives. It’s not always about the material possessions, but how we feel about the material possessions. One study found that billionaires in Japan and the impoverished in India both saw their lives as miserable, illustrating that it’s not what you have but your attitude to what you have that matters.  Finding gratitude in the everyday of our lives let’s us be at peace and find joy.

One of the best ways to practice gratitude is to keep a journal. I spend ten minutes every morning with a cup of coffee, my  journal and my favorite pen.  I try to jot down at least ten things that I am grateful for each day.  Finding ten can be a challenge, so I’ll let myself get bay with five, if I am really pressed.

gratitude

Another trick I’ve used that is really fun, is to write one thing down each night on a pretty piece of scrap paper with the days’ date and toss it into a large glass jar. What you write down can be something you are grateful for or it can be one amazing thing that happened to you that day.  At the end of the year, you can go through the bits and pieces and  reflect on how awesome you year has been.

I challenge you to start adopting an attitude of gratitude. It is humbling, and well worth the effort.

peanut butter cheese cake parfaits

Peanut Butter Cheese Cake Parfaits

I have a sweet tooth and dessert is my favorite meal after breakfast.  Let’s face it though, desserts are a rare treat.  If I bake something sweet every week, I am the one to eat a majority of it. The last thing I need is to make a batch of brownies that will go mostly uneaten, or show up on my hips.  This year I opted to experiment with dessert recipes that are perfect for two.

I found a recipe for a low carb peanut butter cheesecake pie and realized I could adjust it with ease.   If there’s two things that this house loves it’s peanut butter and cheesecake. (we had a cheesecake wedding cake)  This recipe combines both of these making it an a winner .

The best part is its only 5 ingredients.

You will need:

½ cup of creamy peanut butter

4 oz of cream cheese

½ cup cool whip

8 Biscoff cookies crushed.

1 ½ tbsp of sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, sugar and cream cheese.  Fold in the cool whip until it’s well incorporated.

In small dessert cups, layer cookie crumbs, then peanut butter mixture, more crumbs and more peanut butter.  Cover the cups and freeze for up to an hour.  Serve chilled with a dollop of cool whip or fresh whipped cream.

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How we met

Sometimes that perfect first date turns into the last first date you will ever have. That’s exactly what happened to us 24 years ago today.  I quietly pursued him for a month before he got the hint and asked me out to dinner. We were in college and dinner dates then usually meant some chain restaurant, but not this time.

He took me to a five star restaurant, where men wore jackets and ties and women dressed too.  He actually called me a few days before to let me know he would be wearing a jacket, just so I had a heads up to dress up for the evening too.  Call me impressed. Honestly, that was the type of restaurant I was accustom too, and that’s not to say I was or am a snob, it’s just family dinners out were usually five star affairs.

The restaurant was an old house converted to a restaurant and popular with Monday Night Football announcers. We were a few minutes early and waited in the bar. I recall being in awe of how beautiful the place was. Let’s face it, I am a sucker for pretty wallpaper, original wood finishes, and beautiful details. As I stood there taking it all in, he leaned over and kissed me gently on the cheek. It was very sweet and my fondest memory of the evening.

We talked all night, at dinner and back at my dorm room. We just clicked.

Two days later, back in class, things were a tad awkward. Neither of us knew why, though. The next day we went to grab a bite after class and haven’t been apart since.  The strange awkwardness was gone.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I found out he had spotted me in class the day before I met him in another class we had together. He pointed me out to a friend and said, “See that girl in the front, I bet I could date her”.  At our wedding I told that same friend “See that guy over there, I bet I could marry him”.

Since then we have had many adventures together.  We packed up our lives in Massachusetts and moved to Florida with nothing lined up but a place to live. We explored Key West, St. Augustine, and Yellowstone. We’ve been camping and white water rafting. We have helped great causes together, and found our shared creative outlets.  We’ve met wonderful people from diverse backgrounds that have enriched our lives.  We’ve had our share of ups and downs but always weathered the storms together.  Every day is an adventure.

Tonight, I am making us a wonderful dinner with a decadent dessert to celebrate 24 years of friendship and love.  Here’s to 24 more…..

edible cookie dough

Edible Cookie Dough

I admit it, I like raw chocolate chip cookie dough. I know, I know, it’s the worst thing in the world to eat raw. The eggs pose a salmonella threat, and there’s a risk of getting violently sick.  Still, sneaking a bite or two is always an inevitability when I make chocolate chip cookies.  So, imagine finding an eggless cookie dough recipe that is meant to be eaten raw and not baked.

At first I was excited and then rather skeptical. The only way to find out if the cookie dough was worth any effort was to try it. So, I set out last night to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised.

It’s a decent substitute for the regular cookie dough, despite a grainy texture.  The grainy texture wasn’t quite as noticeable after it was chilled for a bit.  Overall, it gets two thumbs up from me.

It’s fairly easy to whip up with only a handful of ingredients.

Edible Cookie Dough Recipe

You will need:

1 cup of flour

a pinch of salt

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of butter, softened

1/4 cup of milk

1/4 tsp of vanilla

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Directions:

Start by creaming the sugar and butter in a medium bowl with a hand mixer.  Then add in the vanilla and milk. Next, slowly add the flour and salt. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips.

Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy with a spoon.

This would be a perfect treat for girls night in, or a kids sleep over.  Heck, I would keep it on hand for that sweet treat craving.

The next time I make it, I may try adding unsweet cocoa to it to give it a little more chocolaty goodness.  You could also switch out the chocolate chips for peanut butter morsels, or butterscotch chips.  This is one recipe that can be played with a little and will still be a sweet treat.  Healthy? Absolutely not.

 

 

 

Unveiling of the RH Tampa Gallery

A week or two ago I had the opportunity to attend the unveiling party of the new RH Tampa Gallery. The party was amazing, with hand passed appetizers, a wine bar, Peach Bellinis, and a vintage candy bar. They brought in a great Indi band, Larkin Poe to perform and had a DJ spinning tunes on another floor. Ok, I was impressed with the party, but honestly, I was more impressed with the new 60,000 square foot gallery. OMG…. swoon worthy, inspiration and gorgeous layouts forever.

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As you approach the space you’ll notice the big iron gates framing a courtyard in front of the main entrance. You’re greeted by a very open space with a furniture staged as welcoming living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms. Throughout the first floor they feature what they refer to as Restoration Hardware classic, or their standard transitional collection. Just opposite the entry is a grand staircase that takes you up through the three other floors, where you will see RH Modern, RH Baby & Child, RH Teen and then RH Outdoors. It’s amazing

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The next day I was invited to attend the ribbon cutting and a press round table with their CEO. I had to laugh when their CEO, Gary Friedman, was relating the story of having contractors rip down a ceiling to move a light fixture a mere six inches. Most the crowd seemed to think it was overkill, but when it comes to impeccable design perfection is everything. If a fixture needs to be moved, it needs to be moved. Everything was in place and stunning to look at.

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I didn’t realize that they have 92 different leathers, and over 100 different fabrics. All of it was on display in their new Design Ateliers. Their design service is free, and you can bring your own designer, or work with one of theirs. It struck me though, that their colors all seem to coordinate with each other, as if their overall available scheme is limited to a few neutrals and not a lot of pops of color. RH_leathers

None of their stock is cash and carry. Each piece, from curtains to bedding to small accessories are ordered and shipped to you from the store. For me, if I buy towels I want to walk out of the store with them. Furniture, I understand has to be shipped. It’s a bit bulky unless it’s flat packed like Ikea, but then if that’s what you are looking for you won’t be at RH for it.

The grand staircase is breathtaking. As you stand on the first floor and look up, you’ll notice 23 identical chandeliers hung from the fourth floor down. It’s a sight to see. I tried to capture it, it just doesn’t do it justice though. It’s unfortunately a little blurry. It may have been the three glasses of wine I had before I realized the magnificent touch the chandeliers offer.

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It was quite the experience.  RH Tampa is a great new gem for the city and surrounding areas. It’s nice to know with the housing market rebounding there will be a lot opportunity for RH.  I am sure I will be back there for a dose or two of inspiration…..