Turn off the TV … Put down the Smart Phone

October is Eat Better, Eat Together Month

It’s a time to bring back that old tradition of sitting down with your family and eating your meals together. And it’s about choosing healthy foods to eat too.

With our fast food, smart phone / facebook / twitter filled, fast paced lifestyles, no one seems to have the time (or more likely, find the time) for this healthy tradition. I challenge you to find that time.

I searched back to my childhood to remember when and how often we sat down as a family to enjoy mom’s or grandma’s cooking. It was regular for us, and we sure did have a lot of great round table discussions during those times. With 3 brothers and 3 sisters, the “players” changed often. Sometimes it was the entire family, sometimes it included aunts, uncles, cousins and many times extended family (friends and neighbors) and sometimes just a couple of us. We would always wait until everyone arrived at the table, while mom fixed plates and cut up the meat, including daddy’s, 🙂 [that’s right ladies] to begin eating. And the meals included “real” food made fresh and from scratch – not “fast” food from a box or McDonalds or Burger King. Most of all, I remember the Sunday meals after church. Now those were the special meals. Even today, mom has certain foods that are just for Sundays (and of course, there are those foods that you never eat on Sundays… like spaghetti or fish – that’s for Fridays). That, however, is one tradition that did not make it into my adulthood. I’ll cook anything regardless of the day if I have the taste for it.

My point is that aside from the healthful benefits, many traditions and family values are shaped around cooking and eating together. For instance, we were not allowed to sing or dance at the meal table. And, I remember as a teenager being responsible for cooking 1 meal a week, much to the chagrin of the rest of the family. But, when it was time to eat, we sat down together. Lucky for most of my brothers and sisters, they had left the house-hold by the time I started cooking and did not have to suffer through my learning experience. While there are more traditions I could share, I would much rather read some of your family meal traditions! Please share.

Now, back to the point. There’s research* that show the effects of eating together is very beneficial, especially where children are concerned. Here are some very good reasons to Eat Better and Eat Together:

  • Meals are more likely to be more nutritious.
  • Children do better in school and have fewer behavior problems.
  • Teenagers are less likely to use alcohol or drugs.
  • Children and teenagers say they actually like having time to talk to the adults in their lives… and that improves communication between them.
  • Children learn and understand their family’s values and traditions.

I believe all of this is absolutely true – especially since it was true for me.  The dinner table was one of the places I was taught, among many things, right from wrong, how to treat others with respect… and to say please and thank you.

When was the last time you sat down and ate a meal with your family? If you can’t remember, turn off the TV, put away the smart phones, stop the texting… Now is a great time to start!

Always with Love! 

*Source: http://nutrition.wsu.edu/ebet/background.html

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Right Now This Second…

My Favorite Thing — Right Now This Second!

Recently I was participating in one of my favorite pastimes — watching the food network, and for the first time ever, I actually tried a couple of the recipes. It’s not unusual for me to say I’m going to try a recipe, and have even gone as far as to print them, but never seemed to get around to actually trying one. Always with the greatest of intention though!

That Green Leafy Thing

Anyway, this particular segment really intrigued me because it included three things that I really love: 1) easy-to-do, 2) snacks; and 3) Kale. Now anyone who knows me knows I me some snacks… but baked kale chips? What? That green leafy thing? The kale I normally cook is something I affectionately call “Bluefield Greens” – cooked with smoked turkey (my momma’s recipe). But, in my quest to find healthier snacks, this sounded like just the ticket. Go on… do tell.

Here’s what I can tell you – I absolutely love them! Right now this second, they are the best thing ever! They are light, crispy and practically melt in your mouth and healthy too (and I hear kids like them). This snack has definitely replaced popcorn for me… for real! And that’s saying a lot!! Only one problem – I can’t seem to make enough. Here’s the recipe.

Baked Kale Chips!

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch (or 2) of pepper


  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Remove the leaves from the stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry (salad spinner or paper towel).
  3. Place the kale leaves in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Massage the oil into the leaves.
  4. Arrange kale onto the sheet and sprinkle Salt and Pepper.
  5. Bake until the leaves are crisp to the touch and the edges are brown (but are not burnt) – about 15 minutes. (If they turn too brown, they’re a little bitter). Check at the 12-minute mark, to be sure.
  6. Enjoy!

I’ve now made them three times – and they are definitely a “must make again” snack. Next time, I think I will add some garlic or make them a little spicy! If you’ve got a craving for popcorn or potato chips, try making a big batch of crispy baked kale chips instead… and let me know how they turn out!

 ♥  Baked Kale Chips are My Favorite Thing … right now this second!  

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No Place for Sissies

Today is… National Senior Citizens Day!

In loving Memory of one Very Special Senior - "Mary P" (my grandmother)

Over twenty years ago, President Reagan declared August 21st National Senior Citizens Day.

“For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.” ~ President Ronald Reagan

I am reminded of the special Birthday message my mother received from President Obama and our First Lady, just a few weeks ago. It was one of many highlights of her 80th Birthday celebration!

Senior Citizens day is an opportunity for us to show our gratitude for what seniors have achieved in their lives and their contributions to our communities.

Speaking of Senior Citizens, I recently received my first AARP information in the mail. I quickly, without hesitating (or reading) threw it away. Wait, I left out a part. I first tore it up – then I threw it away! Surely, this mail was meant for my mother and not ME. I know it’s not time for ME to receive such a thing. But alas, yes my friends, it is indeed that time. There have been many signs leading the way to this mailing. All I have to do is look in the mirror and see all the gray hair (which actually started graying when I was in my 20’s).  A big sign? Not so much.  But a sign nonetheless. It has been suggested that I embrace the gray! Hmmmm. I’m still thinking about that one. And let’s not forget about the new aches and pains. And Lord knows, I can’t eat the same things I used to. As my grandmother used to say… “the older you get, the older you get!”  I didn’t quite “get it” at the time, but I have learned no truer words have been spoken!  … But, I digress.

Today, in particular, let’s be sure to spend time with our Very Special Seniors (“VSS”). Visit them in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Get together with your older loved ones and share stories and fondly recount old memories… while you make new ones. 

And if YOU are a VSS, this is YOUR day! Enjoy it doing what ever YOU choose. And don’t forget to take advantage of all those senior citizens discounts and specials. 

Hmmmm, maybe I should have held on to that mail!! Well no, I’m not quite old enough to get the discounts yet! But, I am knocking on 50’s door. One thing I’m sure of though, and it’s that there will be more AARP information forthcoming — Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise. Next time, I’ll be sure to read it… before I throw it away!  Afterall,  Old age is no place for sissies.” ~Bette Davis

Happy Senior Citizens Day… Always with Love!

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Girlfriends R 4ever!

Today is… National Girlfriend’s Day!

What would we do without our sista-girls, confidants, shopping buddies, dinner companions, and traveling girlfriends? 

Today spend time and share laughs, information, updates… with your best girlfriend(s).  And let us be sure to inspire, support and encourage each other!

Even if you can’t get together on this day – go ahead and plan it – don’t wait or procrastinate. Here are a few ways to celebrate:

Get a mani/pedi. Visit your favorite spa or salon together (one of my all time favorite things to do with my girlfriends!).

Go wine tasting. Find out when the local wine shops have a wine tasting or go winery hopping at a few wineries (if you are near Gordonsville, VA, try Horton Winery. I love, love, love! their Blueberry Wine. They are open for tastings 7 Days a Week from 10 am – 5 pm). Hmmm… can you say “Road trip?!”.

Friends are like wine, they get better with age.

Get Artsy. Take an art class together and create a work of art for each other.

Give to your community. Donate your time to a soup kitchen or shelter. Check out Minnie’s Food Pantry — they are doing great things!

Bucket list. Make a list of the 10 things you’ve never done, but always wanted to do (before you “kick the bucket”), and promise each other to do at least one thing on each of your lists together at least every 3-6 months.

Plan a girlfriend get-away. Check out Tyland Travel — the go-to lady for group/event based travel! — and plan a mini-break to take together… but just don’t plan it, do it!

Couch potatoes for a Day. Rent the entire series of your favorite TV series and watch back to back episodes of it.  Be sure to have popcorn handy, order pizza or from your favorite “takeout for dinner place”… and don’t forget dessert!

Calories don’t count when you are having dinner with your girlfriends.

Have a heart-to-heart. Maintain a strong friendship by having a necessary, but put off heart-to-heart talk to work through any problems you may have in your relationship. Keep it strong!

A good long talk can cure almost anything!

Donate your clothing. Go through your closets together and set aside anything that doesn’t fit or look good on you anymore (your girlfriends will tell you the truth!). Donate the clothes, shoes, jewelery to your local organizations that accept used clothes, etc.

Sweat together. Go for a run or bike through your local park or hit the gym or the local YMCA/YWCA.

Muse at a museum. Visit one or two art museums and talk about the paintings, prints and sculptures that inspire you.

But wait…there’s more?  Check out Girlfriend Getaways for all kinds of Girl Time ideas!


and Happy Happy Birthday to my very best girlfriend in the whole wide world… My Mom!  HAPPY 80TH !!

Always with Love for you Mom!!

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It’s Hotter than July!

When it’s too hot to think, what else is there to say but, Is it hot enough for ya?Yep… a store clerk sure nuff said that to me today — making idle conversation as she “rang up” (I mean scanned) my items. My response… “Yep, sure is!”

It looks as though “Is it hot enough for ya day” has come a tad bit early. Believe it or not, IS IT HOT ENOUGH FOR YA day is celebrated on July 23rd every year. But this year we’ve been “celebrating” all week! The temperature has climbed into the 90’s across most of the country.  And the forecast: Hotter than yesterday, not as hot as tomorrow!

So when you’re out and about today, tomorrow, and especially on July 23rd, go ahead… You know you want to say it! Is it Hot Enough For Ya?

And Now… for your amusement, You know it’s hot outside when…

It it Hot Enough For You?

  • It only takes two fingers to drive your car.
  • You ask your boss for extra work in order to stay in the air conditioning.
  • Water comes out of the cold water tap hotter than the hot water tap.
  • You’re getting hot flashes… and you’re a man.
  • Politicians take their hands out of your pocket long enough to fan themselves.
  • You’re sitting inside reading these jokes.
  • A good friend shares a cartoon like this one and it’s the funniest thing ever!

On a day like today, you gotta laugh.
Got A Joke? Share A Joke!
How hot is it!?

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The older I get, The more I want…

… simplicity and clarity that is. I don’t want more STUFF.

Today we celebrate Simplicity Day and the birthday of
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

 who advised us to:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

I don’t want complicated STUFF in my life, in my relationships, or even in the technology that I use (and I technology). If it’s not straightforward and clear I don’t want it. I hope that I am.

There is one thing that’s definitely clear. Moving can really bring into focus how much stuff we accumulate in our lives. It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around how much stuff I have gained in just 6 months, notwithstanding the years and years of stuff I have acquired. I have moved so many times that I can’t even count them on my fingers OR my toes. I’ve moved within the same city, to a different city, to a different state and back again… full circle. I always say “change is good, even if it’s a nickel” and I enjoy the excitement of starting something fresh and new each time, but this moving thing (packing, unpacking, repacking all this stuff and living out of suitcases and boxes) is for the birds! It’s just TOO MUCH STUFF!! It’s time downsize and apply the K.I.S.S. and make it a better rule (Keep it Simple Simon) to every aspect of my life.

Where to start? I’ve only got 2 things on my list. (1) Identify what’s most important to me; and (2) Eliminate everything else. It ain’t gonna be easy, but I am working towards getting rid of that clutter that’s blinding my way… getting in the way of me living my imagined life.

Today I will spend my time doing the things I love, and being with the people I love, (both near and far), Always with Love.

And in the words of Henry David Thoreau… “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”

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My Life’s Just Fine

Today is Compliment Your Mirror Day!

When I heard about this day, I immediately thought about Mary J. Blige’s song, Just Fine. It’s one of those “make you feel good about you” songs. And every time I hear it, no matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing, it makes me smile and I have to move to the beat. And you know what my favorite part of the song is right?  ♪ … So I like what I see when I’m looking at me when I’m walking past the mirror ♫ …  I sing that part real loud and strong!  BTW, Mary J. is jamming in this video (note the Michael Jackson moves). Her dancing seems to express exactly how I feel when I hear this song and see the video. Visualize, if you will, me doin’ the wop in my mirror right now this second. Enjoy the video!!

… and when you walk past your mirror today, don’t forget to compliment it!  Does it smile back after the compliment? 

Sing it with me y’all… Always with Love!

Feels so good, when you’re doing all the things that you want to do
Get the best out of life, treat yourself to something new

Keep your head up high
In yourself, believe in you, believe in me
Having a really good time, I’m not complaining
And I’m a still wear a smile if it raining
I got to enjoy myself regardless
I appreciate life, I’m so glad I got mine
So I like what I see when I’m looking at me
When I’m walking past the mirror…

YouTube Preview Image

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The Halfway Point

Today is Halfway Point Day!

At noon on July 1st, there will be exactly 182-1/2 days left before it’s 2012. It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year and some of us were making resolutions. And here we are already – at the halfway point!

Are you happy with the progress you’ve made so far? Are you where you want to be? Are you content? For questions 1 and 2, I can definitely say “kinda/sorta”. Question 3… absolutely “nope!”… But, I’ve always been the type of person who’s not looking for, or wanting contentment. There’s a saying that goes “When I get to where I can enjoy just lying on the rug picking up lint balls, I will no longer be too ambitious.” ~Hugh Prather… I will never enjoy picking up lint balls!! … but that’s just me.

Right now this second, is the time to get serious. Right now is the time to look at goals that have been set and take steps towards getting there. Now is time to stop procrastinating all the stuff you’ve been putting off! And do something that will move your life forward.

Often times, it helps to enlist the assistance from people around you.  Those who will encourage (totally and openly), the habits you want – and discourage the habits you don’t want, or wish to be rid of. You know… those who will give you some of that good ol’ tough sand paper rubbing type of love!

In my own quest to find answers and get “kick-started”… again, I came across this website: Barbara Sher: How to Get What You Really Want and thought I would pass it on. Barbara encourages us to start a “Buddy Meeting” system. You and a friend/colleague meet once a week and work towards both of your “individual” goals. You team up and exchange support and resources. Check it out! There’s a plethora (I love that word) of information on making effective changes in your life on her website.

Are you with me? Let’s get going – 2012 will be here before we know it!


What Today will Tomorrow Be?
Check it out on the right under the heading
Every Day’s a Reason to Celebrate … AWL!


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Quiet Lessons… ~ by Cathi Young

Welcome Guest Blogger Cathi Young to “Blogs Always with Love”!

The Quiet Lessons of My Father (a/k/a “My Papa”)
~ by Cathi Young

My father was a man of few words. But, oh God, he taught a lot of silent lessons. Maybe it was in the way he looked, maybe it was in the way he walked, or just maybe it was in the way he quietly smiled. My first quiet lesson came when I was little girl, around two. I cried and cried to go home with one of my big brothers. My Papa took me to his knee, my very first quiet lesson. In this lesson I learned that no is no, it wasn’t about what I wanted.

The next vital silent lesson came when my girlfriends and I took our very first college road trip. We were Carbondale bound to sing at SIU with our choral group. Of course, it was Kappa Carnival weekend (big party time too). My father let me take the car for the whole weekend [this was a miracle]. We pulled up into the parking lot of the Ramada Inn upon arrival, excited, too excited! We began removing our luggage from the trunk. Lo and behold, in my excitement I laid the keys on the trunk floor and closed the trunk. I had to call Papa!

My Papa had to get my brother to drive more than two hours to bring the spare key. When he and my brother drove up to meet me in the parking lot, I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. One thing I knew for sure, Papa was mad. I asked my brother why Papa didn’t speak. My brother assured me that it was best that he didn’t – another quiet lesson from my Papa.

My Papa passed on the 3rd day of September (one month, 9 days before the birth of my first child). The time we spent together while I was home on maternity leave was a divine gift. We spent time talking, sharing, laughing, crying, praying, and playing. The eve before he quietly departed, I received my last lesson from Papa. He told me that Mama wanted him to come and be with her (my mother had passed less than two years before). The last quiet lesson was: “Love lasts an eternity.”

I will always cherish the memory of my Papa.

In memory of Augusta Young, Sr. (“Papa”)

Happy Fathers Day… to all who are blessed to be called dad, daddy, pops, papa… and remembering my father Charles D. Thomas, always with love, never without (gone but never forgotten). 
What Today will Tomorrow Be?
Check it out on the right under the heading  
Every Day’s a Reason to Celebrate … AWL! 
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Smile A While

Today is… Smile Power Day!


Smiling, laughing, and positive thinking have been shown to have a huge number of health benefits to the mind and body, both physically and emotionally.

When was the last time you laughed uncontrollably, with tears running down your face? For me, it happens every time I’m around my mom – its usually at some type of family event; we have to get “that laugh” out. And much to the chagrin of other family members, it typically happens late at night, just as everyone has said their good-nights and are “trying” to go to sleep. It classically ends with me running… sometimes crawling out of the room… anything to get away, in order to stop. Don’t know why we have that affect on each other. And boy, do we hear about it the next morning from the fam. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. For me, it’s the best thing ever! I try to do it every day.

But let’s get back to smiling. I recently read that a smile gives the same level of stimulation as eating 2,000 chocolate bars. (Silver Lining: Shows on your face – not your hips) Woo Hoo! It takes twice as many muscles to frown as it does to smile.  And did you know that a smile can lower the blood pressure of everyone who sees it? Apparently, smiling can lengthen your life.

Smiling is the most recognized form of beauty, friendship, acceptance and goodwill. For something that is so easy to give. 

And did you see the SMILE of Congresswoman Gabby Gifford pics posted on facebook? Now that’s inspiration for a smile! I bet you know someone that can use your smile today!  So go ahead — pass it on! It won’t cost a thing.

Which brings me to this. I am reminded of a little poem I heard when I was about 14 years old and it is forever etched in my brain. And it goes a little something like this…

Smile a while.
And while you smile, another smiles.
And soon there will be miles of smiles
And life is worthwhile…
Just because YOU SMILED!

I wish you all a day full of smiles! Pass it On — Always with Love, Never Without!

 What Today will Tomorrow Be?
Check it out on the right under the heading  
Every Day’s a Reason to Celebrate … AWL! 
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