Cooking During Inflation

I’m sure I am not the only one who has been frustrated, and often comes home with high anxiety, every single time I go food shopping. The prices in stores right now are so outrageous we actually shop and talk to ourselves in disbelief. I was once the person who made a list and bought was on my list. Sometimes I compared prices but mostly I would shop and be on my way.

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That’s different now. I read the flyers that I once discarded and am always complaining in disbelief. Instead of just going to my usual supermarket, I now shop online at various outlets like Walmart and Boxed and search for the deals. I almost prefer it that way. You can sit in the comfort of your own home and compare prices instead of shopping in disbelief with missing aisles of items, the prices on the items they have and then, to top it off, the horrible customer service. So now I have to pack my bags or pay for a bag if I left my bags at home. Paying for a bag does not guarantee someone packing it for you. So I get home from shopping exhausted and angry. Not a good way to feel.

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I have tried making different meals around the things I buy. I now do not throw out leftovers. If it can’t be used for another meal, I will freeze it. Pinterest has been so helpful in finding recipes with leftovers. In fact yesterday I made a delicious lamb stew with our leftover Easter lamb. I remember my mother (who grew up in the depression) saying “Waste not, want not” and now I understand where she was coming from. When it is more affordable to have steak at a restaurant offering a special, we have to take a closer look at our world.

Yes, I am tired of everyone blaming this on Covid or the war. They have definitely affected our lives but now people have to choose driving to work over having a decent meal for their family. When will that end. Every week you hear about different shortages and often I worry about others. For example, the shortage this week is on baby formula. Well, what do new mothers do without formula?! And it goes on and on.

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We pay over $6 for a loaf of bread and now we scan the bread aisles and often try new breads that are perhaps not as healthy as our first choice. So are we compromising our health to afford food. It was common knowledge that many overweight people are low income who frequent dollar menus at fast food restaurants to feed their family. Now everyone (except the millionaires) contemplates every meal, every shopping adventure and every day of missing something else in the store.

Some ideas I have for leftovers;

. Make a stew with leftover meat and veggies. Add some spice, some celery and broth and you have another whole meal.

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. Freeze leftover portions in ziplocks to use next time you make that dish and add it to it. I do that with tomato sauce, extra meat I can throw in a sauce and even leftover Italian bread to make into garlic bread.

. Buy family packs of meat when on sale and divide into dinner sizes and freeze.

. Have potluck dinners with friends. Assign each person a part of the dinner. Rotate this so the same person doesn’t get stuck with the main course. It’s affordable and always a fun time!

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We all hope that these inflationary times will go away soon. Hopefully it will make us grateful for what we have and to make the most of what we have. We have had to learn to be less excessive in spending and really think hard about whether or not we need something.

So go on Pinterest to find some new recipes, come up with alternatives to expensive meals and most of all, have fun. Plan some summer fun with friends and share in the cost and prep, so everyone has fun and feels comfortable with spending. We have to be more cognizant of others that are “counting pennies” lately especially those with long commutes.

To better days ahead which we will appreciate even more.

Share some ways you are cooking or shopping differently to get through this inflation crisis…..

As the World Turns

That sounds like an old soap opera that my grandmother used to watch! And now everyday seems like the world is changing, and it seems to be unsettling.

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I was watching a show the other day that depicted New Years Eve 2019, with people showing such hope for the new decade and the year 2020. Little did we know that as that ball dropped, society would never be the same.

So in March 2020, the world shut down because of Covid-19. People started remote work, ordering all their food and supplies to be delivered, and even schools were completely online. The trains were empty, the highways were silent and we just entered a new dimension of life.

Since then we have gone through stimulus checks from the government and people not wanting to go back to work. Lack of employees to provide us service seems to be an everyday occurrence. What happened to all of us? What happened to people striving for dreams and to achieve career goals? Now people just want to get by, pay their bills and enjoy life. Well, I think we should have been enjoying our families prior to the shutdown but we just needed a push to spend more time at home. Now “home is where the heart is” rings true to all of us. I am sure I am not the only one who looks forward to going back home whenever I am out doing something.

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We get through vaccines and boosters, Delta and Omicron variants (and another strain on the way) to only be hit with horrible inflation. Lack of plastic makes cars and other products unobtainable and all of a sudden, detergents can cost you $25. Gas prices are out of control that people are rethinking going back to the office, resigning themselves to carpooling, and cutting back on some necessities just to drive to work. When will it end?!

Russia is at war with Ukraine and we are holding our breath fearing for a World War III outbreak. People are dying in Ukraine, their country is being destroyed and the world is now terrified again. When will this end?

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I often think of my children, in their 30s, who have seen life so differently than I did growing up. First with the World Trade Center attacks in 2001 and continuing on to all these disasters, one after another. And I have not mentioned fires, tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes that continue to harm all in their path. I am frightened for my children and my grandchildren. Has this world of technology led to life without simple pleasures like jump rope, hide and seek, and just “hanging out with friends”. I truly feel sad for them. Each day I start praying for all of our children and the world we are creating, one day at a time.

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I know you are ready to say, enough of this doom, let’s think of positive things. Well, here it is. In light of all the tragedy that has engulfed our lives since 2020, let us start to appreciate the smaller things in life (which are really the big things after all). The hugs and kisses, seeing our families and friends together, enjoying a walk in the park or on the beach, and just taking a deep breath to inhale the beauty around us, is so important in this everyday scheme of life. Yes, we are terrified we will get a strain of Covid or be in a World War, but in the meantime, love harder, give willingly and enjoy the simplicities of life.

Please share your stories of how the past two years has changed you. I would love to hear them……

When Will It Stop

The past two years have been very unpredictable. It started with a shutdown of society due to Covid-19 almost two years ago (March 15, 2020 – my birthday lol). Since then people have become more content to stay home, jobs have become remote (and some will continue to be remote) and the whole essence of our lives is different.

We never thought twice about going shopping, to a movie, a concert or a big family party. Now we need to know if people are vaccinated, how many people will be there and so on.

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And to top it off, we have a new world of shopping, inflation and availability of products. Last year, I went to ten dealerships to lease a car. Some just told me there weren’t any. I eventually found my car but continue to hear stories from friends who cannot find a car or who have to wait months for one.

Then, the ultimate screwing is the inflation going on right now. Who gives a company the right to almost double the cost of their products? With the high unemployment rates we are looking at more people going hungry. I was never a conservative shopper but find myself coming home from food shopping in an angry mood. Recently retired and on a fixed income, I cannot justify spending the prices they are asking for. Not only food but laundry detergent, hair care products, and the list goes on and on. I pray that this will end soon.

Yes, people are benefitting from the crazy real estate market but what about everyone else? What about families on a budget, trying to make ends meet and fee their families? Will they be reduced to buying less healthy products for their families because of the crazy inflated prices we are seeing.

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This cannot continue. Our leaders gave people stimulus money and then basically took double and triple back. What kind of a society do we live in? A society that is run by people who don’t care about the people living in this society. Well, it will cause the people in this society to not respect their government, people who run it and this will cause many unsettling problems.

I am thankful that the pandemic is calming down and less people are dying. I am grateful that people are able to work from home and be with their families. But I am not grateful for the people running our lives and making it difficult to do even the simple things like buy food, household supplies and even enjoy life. Gas prices are through the roof so even an Uber has tripled in cost. Will it ever end?

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Please share your thoughts on what’s happening now and how it affecting people you love. God bless us all!

What is Perfect?

We go through life wanting everything to be perfect. The perfect dinner, the perfect date, the perfect birthday, the perfect holiday…. when does it end?

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Now that we started a New Year, and especially with all that has happened over the last two years, we should alter our perception of perfect. Yes, we enjoy planning the perfect holiday meal or decorations. We want to make sure we get the perfect gift. But at the end of the day, it is more important to be with people we love and share the special occasion. So, if the walls are freshly painted and you don’t have enough on your Christmas tree, don’t worry. Sit back and enjoy the beautiful memories with those you love. Hopefully you have created lingering memories this Christmas season that will stay with you for a long while.

Often, we strive toward being perfect to compensate for a sense of inadequacy. People who want to be perfect usually have an exaggerated sense of their own shortcomings. They typically received messages earlier in life that they weren’t good enough. So, they decided that only by being perfect would they be beyond reproach.

Not being perfect can be exciting because it means that you have space to change, learn and live life with the wind in your hair, as they say. Or the thrill of your heart beating just a little faster. Sometimes imperfection can become the perfect place to be because it gives you choices. How can we strive to accept the imperfections as the “perfect” way to be?

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Attaining perfection is definitely hard work. And while we are trying to get there, we often don’t enjoy the simple joys of everyday life. I think it has to do with the fact that being wrong and failing is frowned upon in large parts of our society today. It causes us tons of problems. It’s often the case that we want others to be perfect. The waiter is not allowed to forget an order, a software developer should not have bugs in their software from the get go, the creative team has to come up with a new idea every day.

There are a lot of people that put a lot of pressure on others to not make mistakes so we feel that we need to live up to that. Failure is not accepted and perceived as weak. Flaws are frowned upon. Making mistakes is human though and we need to allow ourselves and others to not be perfect. Learning and making mistakes are inseparable. That doesn’t mean we have to go the other way and accept subpar services and goods either though. It’s all about getting better, not about becoming perfect.

I often find myself caught up in making everything right. I get frustrated if I don’t have everything done in a day, And I often stay up at night thinking of all the things I didn’t do or what I need to do again, but better. Even when picking out a gift for someone, we often don’t realize that people are happy to be thought of and if you buy a gift that is something that person loves to do or associates with, it will be a much better gift than just buying the most expensive gift.

Lately, I have been watching Hallmark Christmas movies and I always love the perfect villages, the tree lightings and the way everything turns out “perfect” at the end. Well, we know that this is not real life. Instead, we need to look further into these movies, and notice the little traditions and feelings of caring and sharing that come through most of all.

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So next time you think you are not perfect, remember that you are not. None of us are. But when you genuinely try your very best to be kind, sincere and loving, you have in fact reached a perfection that is the best kind of all. So yes, we make mistakes, but at the end of the day when our families and friends know how genuine we are, they see us for the true “imperfections” we are.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share on your social media or share with a friend who you think may enjoy it. Also, feel free to comment below on your feelings about “being perfect”………

Let’s Wake Up

Does anyone remember how different our lives were before March 2020 when the world locked down because of Covid-19?!

I am trying hard to remember….. Unfortunately, it gets harder every day. We are bombarded with constant news about vaccines, vaccine updates and boosters and just overall news of doom if we don’t follow the government’s orders.

And now they are talking about another toilet paper shortage? A shortage of toys for Christmas? And the list continues…..

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The government is handing out money left and right (not to me unfortunately). Where is it being printed?! I was watching an episode of Riverdale the other night and they were printing new money to save their town. Well, how are we going to save our country. We have had a new president that in 10 short months has destroyed the essence of our wonderful country.

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Will we ever get it back? Or do we continue to live in fear that if we don’t follow directions the government issues that we will be left impoverished?! I don’t know about you but I am getting a bit nervous.

The news is repetitive. It continues to provoke people to become robots of a new society that wants to control our every move. We no longer celebrate our history because all of a sudden everyone is insulted….

Wake up people and lets get our country back. Land of the free and home of the brave. Let’s feel proud of our history (even if it was not always a good one) and move on from here. We cannot erase our personal history so what makes you so sure that you can erase America’s history. And why? Isn’t studying a history a way for us to look at our mistakes and move forward in a more positive light? Well, if we stop teaching what is and always will be our American history, then we cease to exist.

Wake up people!

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It’s All Just “Stuff”

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We take for granted that we have our stuff around us all the time. When the time arises that we must “make do” with less, we realize just how little we need of the stuff around us.

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For example, just the past week we started painting our house and had to move into the basement. Thankfully, we have a partial kitchen, living room area, bedroom and bath down there to hang out while the work is being done. But when thrown into this situation in just minutes, we scrambled to get some stuff we thought we would need downstairs. Food wasn’t even a priority as we could always pick up meals or eat whatever we could fit it our small refrigerator downstairs. So quickly, not knowing when I could go upstairs, I put the following into two shopping bags:

. a change of clothes

. a shower caddy with toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, etc.

. dog food and treats (Oh I forgot to mention she had to stay with us too!), a leash and poop bags

. electronics and chargers

. some towels

I’m sure we needed other stuff and, if need be, we could sneak upstairs and get it.

This reminds me of packing for a trip. Most people tend to overpack because we are afraid of being without something. So we take everything in reaching distance and hope that this time we will actually use most of it. Does it make you wonder if we are all spoiled?! What about people who live in a place as big as a closet with not much around them. Do you think they are thinking about their I pad, or if their Amazon Music is updated. No, they are not thinking about this at all.

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In retrospect we need to get a grip on the amount of stuff we have in our lives. Next time you decide to declutter, decide if someone wants this when you are dead or if you would grab it if you had to run out in an emergency. If it doesn’t make either of those, then you should think about decluttering and leaving less for the garbage down the road. So next time you are sitting there deciding whether to throw something out or not, think:

. Do I ever really use this?

. Would I take it in an emergency?

. Will anyone in my family find use for it?

If you have answered mostly “no’s”, you know what I am going to say. Let’s start to enjoy the daily parts of life that are important (love, family, friends) and place less importance on the “stuff” we will end up leaving behind.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this.

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Meet Me In Calabash

A Visit to Calabash, NC…..

Welcome to Calabash, NC

We recently had the opportunity to visit friends in Calabash, North Carolina. I had never heard of it before and was thrilled to discover this wonderful, quaint town in North Carolina minutes from North Myrtle Beach.

Sunset Beach…..

We flew into Myrtle Beach in just short of two hours. A quick flight is always the best way to start a vacation. And then the fun began.

We stayed in Brunswick Plantation, a manicured golf-course gated community with condos, sprawling greens and new houses being built every day. There are pools surrounded by the lakes there and the views are outstanding. It was just a comfortable, restful place to be.

The first day seemed to be the best possible weather of the week so that was the day we visited Sunset Beach. I was the most excited to go to the beach and was even happier that my husband and friends enjoyed it as well. Not only did you have a beautiful beach with clean sand and ocean sounds, but you can sit under the pier and not be in the sun if you chose. I loved running my toes through the water and breathing in the fragrant ocean breeze.

Besides the beach, we visited many wonderful restaurants in Calabash and North Myrtle Beach. Some that I would highly recommend are:

I am a seafood aficionado and I had to try all the seafood I could for most meals. I had grouper, shrimp, stuffed flounder, fried clams and awesome clam dip. We started the week at Abuelos for delicious Mexican food and ended it at Grumpy Monks with delicious hamburgers.

            . Abuelos

            . Boundary House

            . Clarks

            . Fillet’s

            . Grumpy Monk

            . Flying Fish

At Fillet’s we sat outside and watched the boats go in and out of the moving pier. We watched the sunset and enjoyed a feast of stuffed flounder, triggerfish ( a new fish I had never tried, almost like a filet of sole), tuna and so much more. We definitely over-ordered but what a memorable meal!

Sunset from deck of Fillets

Besides eating, we enjoyed ice cream at Molly’s Creamery a few times during our visit. We visited Barefoot Landing and Broadway at the Beach boardwalks during the week. Each of these boardwalks had their unique style and definitely a Carolina flavor to it. There was so much to see and do that it will require another visit.

Barefoot Landing:

Barefoot Landing is a large shopping complex located in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It consists of several divided sections of stores and attractions located on filled land over top of Louis Lake, next to the Intracoastal Waterway. Barefoot Landing was previously known as the Village of the Barefoot Traders which was a collection of 15 unusual gift shops that was located on 3½ acres along a natural marsh and in 1988 was rebuilt and opened as Barefoot Landing. The complex, a popular tourist attraction, has over 100 stores and restaurants, on all sides of a small lake, plus it has adjoining areas with Alabama TheatreHouse of Blues and Alligator Adventure.

We ate at the Flying Fish, which has the fish of the day, and many choices of seafood specials. There I tried my absolute favorite fish, grouper, This was the first time I had it fried and it was definitely different and very enjoyable.

There were so many fun sites to see, games to play and a great place for all ages. When we left, we drove around and admired the real estate available near Barefoot Landing and the surrounding areas.

Broadway at the Beach

Broadway at the Beach is located off Highway 17, Broadway at the Beach is a must-see for Grand Strand visitors. There are over 100 specialty shops that sell everything from T-shirts and sunglasses to fine jewelry and high-end shoes. Also, there are more than 20 restaurants that feature all kinds of food, from hamburgers to great local specialties. Broadway at the Beach also contains a 23-acre lake surrounded by boardwalk, making it a great place to stroll on a sunny day or balmy night. During the summer, the boardwalk has live music and other events. There are so many fun activities to try including zip-lining for the adventurous, and Paula Dean’s restaurant and store for those who love browsing. You can never do it all in one visit. We ended our visit with lunch at the Grumpy Monk—one of the biggest burgers I have ever had.

It makes your mouth water….

I can’t wait to visit Calabash again and discover all the other secrets it has to offer. Please share any of your experiences from Calabash or North Myrtle Beach…..

The Beach: Relax and Destress

Whether it’s digging your toes in the sand, or collecting seashells while dodging small, coastline waves, nothing compares to the serenity you feel when you go to the beach. The salt air smell and the calmness of watching the waves, can make all the stress leave your body.

Why do people love the beach?

People are willing to pack up their car for a day of sun and fun at the beach with food, drink, towels and chairs. Sometimes they even have a radio with them (now replaced by music on a phone) which means you only have to add some ear buds to your packing. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen.

We pack with such gusto even though we know our car will be full of sand on our return. The benefit of this is that we can smell the beach for days to come, until we decide to visit that car wash. We sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic to feel the sand between our toes and breathe that special salt air.

Relaxing and Renewal at the Shore

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There are no words to describe the feeling you get when you hear the crashing of the waves on the beach, coupled with children and families laughing together, forgetting the weight of the world. Collecting seashells becomes the priority of the day and phones become a part of our other world. A release from real life in a place that we feel at home and together with the earth.

Sometimes when I go to the beach, I close my eyes, breathe in the smells and listen to the world around me. This replaces the everyday noises of trucks, buses and interrupting texts and phone calls that boggle our lives. It is a time to release our anxiety and feel happy throughout our souls. Putting your phone on silent is the most rewarding part of getting away for the dayMost people have a favorite beach close to home that they visit to get away from it all and to reconnect with nature and their inner calmness. This beach is much different than the one we visit on vacation where we sign up for all the activities, we can fit into our days of being away from home. This beach is where we can do some critical thinking, re-evaluate our lives and feel total renewal before going back to our “normal, everyday life”. Some compare it to the feeling you get after a good workout – relieve stress, feel renewed.

The beach can pick you up out of a deep rut or sadness, and make you feel part of the earth. Somehow problems seem to be less intense when sitting on the sand and listening to the sounds of the ocean and people relaxing and leaving their troubles behind. If you are able to take a nap, you will be lulled asleep by the sounds of the crackling waves, the birds flying around and children laughing. If this doesn’t make you feel better, nothing will.

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I love collecting seashells and then cleaning them in a bucket. When I go home, I sort through and find the ones I will keep in my treasured display. I rewash them and have them dry so I am ready to add another beach day to my collection. My seashell collection varies from one shell designs to coral looking shapes that I can display on my tables. These fancier shells are ones I found in Florida and Delaware beaches. The beaches I visit in New York contain mostly the one shell looking design. These simple shells add to my big bowl collection as a fill-in around those other more grandiose looking shells which can tell their own story. I often wonder how far these shells have traveled, what other beach goers have admired them, and how long they have been in existence. My day of visiting the beach continues as I admire my shells for weeks to come.

Whether you have a good book or a refreshing drink, the day of fun and relaxation in the sun is like no other…….

Please take a look at my other stories on Vocal Media.

Getting Back to Normal

So now that Covid restrictions are being lifted one at a time, people are getting back into the world. Each step back into a “new normal” feels wonderful and different. We were stuck without our loved ones, our routines, our fun nights out for so long that we are just staring in anticipation at what we hope will be a great summer to make up for last year’s debacle.

Time to enjoy every bit of nature…..Photo by kira schwarz on Pexels.com

Last week was the first time I drove back to my gym for a class. For the last 15 months I have been taking virtual classes. It felt so weird driving there, almost as if I was breaking a law. It will probably become a routine again after I go a few times a week. But what has changed? Well, now I don’t have to drive there everyday as I can still take virtual classes. This allows me to mix it up and to also not miss a workout if driving doesn’t fit into the schedule. I will use those virtual workouts when I am busy on a project or traveling, but overall am looking forward to seeing people on a daily basis. I also think that you work harder during an in-person workout than on Zoom. I often caught myself going to do other things in the middle of a workout. Can’t do that at the gym so I will be making the gym more of a priority.

Relax and enjoy the world around you… Photo by Dainis Graveris on Pexels.com

The other change is getting together with people. I looked at my weekly calendar this morning and was excited to see that I had lots of things planned. In fact, on Friday, I have two events. That’s a big deal after not having any at all. People are anxious to see each other, to truly renew friendships and to enjoy the little things in life that perhaps some of us took for granted.

In fact, this week I plan to visit my school which I retired teaching from during the pandemic. I hope to see some of my students and give them an official goodbye. I was lucky enough to see some of my colleagues at our first in-person book club meeting since Covid. It was a wonderful time to reconnect and honestly, we didn’t even discuss the book this time as people were so excited to be together in a fun setting in person and not on Zoom.

So I wish all of you a Happy Summer and hope that you fill it with days that are complete and fun and full of everything important to you that you missed during our “over a year pause of life”. It is time to make those memories , always cherishing each other and realizing that fragility of life as we know it can be taken away in a moment’s notice. So love more, hug longer and reach out to those you have missed these past 15 months.

How are you celebrating returning to real life? I would love to hear your stories.