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Got Cookin’… Or At Least Tried To

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I’ve been working on goal # 14 of my Bucket List, which is basically aimed at my feeling more comfortable with my cooking skills.  I have conquered a handful of dishes, although I surely tried many more.  Just in case my friends (who know I am not a kitchen queen) don’t believe me, here’s proof.  Below are some of my tryouts accompanied by a very brief outcome report. You will notice that some of the dishes are very simple; my aim is not to become a gourmet cook, but to be able to create family meals by mastering certain dishes and being able to recreate them time and again with the same quality and flavoring.   Since I am being very picky as to accept any dish into my mastered list,  I am also  giving myself credit for every single dish I conquer, no matter how simple 🙂





I don’t know God by Paulo Coelho

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Hi readers, here’s a post from Paulo Coelho’s blog.  He is one of my favorite authors; his book The Alchemist, is one of my top two books, and his blog is great as well.  Enjoy:

I don’t know God

by Paulo Coelho on December 28, 2011

Sometimes we criticize lack of faith in others.
We aren’t capable of understanding the circumstances in which this faith has been lost, nor do we try to alleviate our brother’s misery – and this causes revolt and incredulity in the divine power.

Humanist Robert Owen traveled all over England talking of God.
In the 19th century it was common to use child labor in heavy work, and one afternoon Owen stopped at a coal mine where an undernourished twelve-year-old boy was lugging a heavy sack of bricks.
‘I am here to help you talk to God’, said Owen.

Click here for Paulo Coelho’s blog and the rest of the story.

Have a joyful and blessed 2012!

I’ve Made It Into the Tennis Hall of Fame!

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O.K., so I didn’t actually make it into the Tennis Hall of Fame due to my playing abilities; I  just went to visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI.  A few weekends ago they had a family day with free admission for all those under 16.  Imagine my surprise when the clerk was about to let me in for free.  I said “I thought only kids go in for free” and she answered “You are not older than 16 are  you?”  I had to contain my desire to hug that woman.

She provided the kids sheets with clues, and pencils to go on a scavenger hunt around the museum, discovering many artifacts and facts pertaining to the origins and history of Tennis.

They learned about Brad Parks, the pioneering founder of wheelchair tennis worldwide.  The actual wheelchair Brad used during his games was on display.

As for me, I was much more interested on finding the display for Rafa Nadal.  Of course, my interest in him is purely based on the fact that he is the number 1 Tennis player in the world.  It has nothing to do with his olive skin and dreamy smile, seriously.  Fine, don’t believe me.  I did find Rafa and took pictures with him; unfortunately those didn’t come out so good. 

No worries, I was able to find the display of another hunk, I meant to say another great Tennis player, Andre Agassi.  

Skimpy Outfit from the 1940's

He seemed very happy to see me and insisted that I take a picture with him. “Why of course Andre, I’d be glad to.”

 Other than the attractive players, I really liked the display of playing outfits, which were considered very risqué for their times.

My kids and their friends by the courts

After playing a couple of rounds of Tennis Wii, the kids and I headed outside to look at the grass courts, which are truly beautiful.  In fact, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has been voted one of the best places to host a wedding in RI. 

Have you made it into any Hall of Fame? 

If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are. – Oprah Winfrey 

What You May Find at Your Local Laundromat After 12 Midnight

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The other night, after going out with my friend Vanessa to a local bar, and trying a Mojito for the first time; which is item # 42 on my bucket list, I headed to a 24hr laundromat near my place.  Why, you might ask, would I go to a laundromat after midnight, on my own, and wearing uncomfortable high heels?  Here’s the reasoning I used that night to convince myself that this was a good idea:

Due to a recent back-to-back run of viruses in my household that prevented me from keeping up with the laundry we had loads upon loads of clothes needing a wash.

Since I also wanted to clean all the winter coats and comforters, there were about 10 huge bags of washables.  My old washer at home can’t handle such a load in a few hours.  It would have taken me the whole week to get through it all at home.

I had plans to take care of this mess the next morning so I had already loaded the 10 bags plus an assortment of laundry detergents into the trunk of my van; how convenient!

My friend Magalis had stayed overnight and was taking care of the children.  Her kids and mine had a sleepover at my place and she volunteered (after I begged, pouted, and reminded her how many times I had kept all the kids overnight) to keep an eye on them so that I could go out that night. 

Since I was not sleepy or tired, but rather wired and cheery after the Mojitos, and I had an all night babysitter; it would be such a waste of time to go to bed; plus, think of all the things I could do with my free time the next day. I was sold!

I was surprised to find a decent amount of dedicated laundry goers washing away their belongings at around 1am.  My first mishap occurred as I retrieved the bags of laundry from the trunk of my van.  Let me just give you a hint.  DO NOT EVER go do your laundry while wearing fashionable high heels! I grabbed a couple of bags and dragged them inside.  They were heavy and my feet were not as stable in those shoes.  Once inside I found a chair to park the bags, then I grabbed one of the carts that are meant to help transport the laundry from your vehicle.  Well, those carts only held 2-3 loads at a time so it took a few trips forth and back before all of my stuff was inside the laundry facility.  My tortured feet were very angry at me.

Once I was settled and had started to sort my belongings into several machines I was approached by the attendant.  He asked if I needed any help and I told him no thanks, I was all set.  Less than 5 minutes later he returns and hands me a little piece of paper with his number and asked if he could have mine.  Are you kidding me??!  NOOO.  He wanted to know if he should expect a call from me. NOOOOO.  Apparently this is not a word he comprehended very well, as he proceeded to follow me around and tell me his life story and misfortunes while I sorted my stuff.  He even told me all about his mother’s theories of why he had not yet been able to find his Dulcinea.  I gave him the “I am not interested look” but he did not get that one either.

Luckily I had packed a book to read.  I plopped my behind on a chair (my feet were so happy about this) and started to read the book. ” This should keep this guy away for sure” I thought.  That didn’t work for long.  He kept coming back to let me know how beautiful I looked, what a pleasant person I was (regardless of the fact that he’d never seen me before in his life and my conversation with him consisted of about 5 words, 2 of which I’m sure were no and never), he went on and on with a list of virtuous adjectives directed towards me, apparently not minding the fact that my face was buried in the book.

Finally, I was saved by the bell – the tone of my cell phone that is.  My dear friend Alejandro could not sleep and had gone for a walk.  I had texted him recently so he decided to call me.  Great!  We talked for a couple of hours while I got each of the washed loads through the drying cycle, a few times each.  This kept the weirdo away.

Eventually our conversation ended and I got to folding.  By then, there were 2 sets of couples also folding their clothes, and 2 girls of about 18-20 still drying theirs, and planning their “after we get out of here” fun.  The creep reappeared with the same cheesy lines he had used before.  I kept folding away and avoiding him.  One of the young girls suddenly got a call from another friend advising her that someone, apparently someone she liked very very much, was in town and that she needed to go see him right away.  Both girls started a giggly and disorganized chat, the result of which was them grabbing their clothes from the dryers, stuffing them in bags and rushing out of there still giggling away. 

You would not believe how many foldable items can be packed into 10 huge trash bags!  I thought I was going to be there ’till the sun came out.  There was a point when I looked up and guess what; I was the only customer left there – with the weird attendant.  This is when I panicked.  He was doing some of his laundry attendant tasks but never missed the opportunity to come around asking for a date, my number, a chance… you get the idea.  He had cuckoo eyes too.  Every time he went near the doors I thought to myself “He’s going to lock the doors, rape me and then kill me!!!”  Yes, I planned many escapes routes; the last 30 minutes in there seemed endless.  I finally got all my stuff packed.  As I headed out the door creepy guy takes my cart and insists on helping me load my stuff into the trunk.  Luckily outside was a very well-lit and busy street.  Once the last of my bags was inside the trunk I jumped in my car and shut the door; as I drove away, the cuckoo attendant was still yelling out for me to call him.  I vowed never again to accumulate that much dirty laundry.  So far I am right on task.

Have you ever had a similar creepy incident?

Special Date: Providence Place

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In our home, I like to make birthdays very special for each person.  Usually this means spreading a few activities throughout the week of the person’s birthday, in order to keep the celebration going a bit longer.  The most recent one to enjoy this special treatment was Karla.  On the day of her birthday she had birthday cookies to bring to school, cupcakes to share at daycare,  and a birthday dinner with her dad and brother at a restaurant of her choosing.  The birthday gifts, cards, and calls from family and friends spanned for a few days.  During the weekend she had a costume party at home, with guests mostly consisting of school mates.  I thought an appropriate way to top off the celebration was taking her out on one of our special one-on-one outings we call Special Dates

She wanted to watch the new Adam Sandler movie, Jack and Jill.  I usually wait until movies are showing at the discount movie theater to bring my kids – movie tickets are ridiculously expensive nowadays, but seeing this was a special occasion we headed to the matinée at the  Providence Place Mall cinema. 

Providence Place Mall is right at the heart of Downtown Providence.  It’s establishment was part of the renaissance period the city went through beginning in the early to mid 90’s.  Another icon of this period, Waterfire, is right across from Providence Place.  The Mall is considered upscale, and it is home to about 180 stores, including several restaurants.  Some of the companies showcased include Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Coach, The Apple Store, The Cheesecake Factory, Sephora, J. Jill, Ross-Simons, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Dave & Buster’s among others. 

After having a good laugh at the movies, we had lunch at the food court.  The agreed upon restaurant: Johny Rockets!  Here we ordered a couple of burgers and fries and we shared a delish strawberry milkshake. 

Since a trip to the mall is not complete without some retail therapy, I took her to Claire’s, a somewhat affordable accessories store with a juvenile theme.  She picked out some gloves and hair accessories and we were good to go.

I am always glad to spend my time giving individualized attention to my kids.  It builds our relationship and their trust in me.

The One Minute Review

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My thoughts on: 

The One Minute Manager
By Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Red Buckets : 

Disclaimer: I am NOT a literary expert;
therefore, reviews posted here are entirely based on
my personal opinion and taste as a reader.

Goal # 35 Read More – I first got this book from a friend about six years ago; at the time she was my supervisor and had recently promoted me to the position of Manager of one of the departments under her command.  As it happened, I ended up relocating shortly thereafter and never got to really read the book, just briefly scammed through it. 

My goal of reading more led me to retake this book; as I needed to read 5 more books before the end of the year to reach my self-imposed quota.  I recalled the book as being interesting and conveniently short.

In general I am not very interested in business literature but this text is a bit more than that; I am glad I decided to go for this one.  In summary it is a great book for managers of people; whether you are managing people at work, home, or life in general.  The basic concepts are simple and easy to apply to any aspect of your life and relationships. 

At times the oversimplified concepts made me want to go “Duh!”, but that is really the beauty of the book.  It provides the reader with key skills in a way that anyone can understand and relate to.  The cores of the book are three basic steps – One Minute Goal Setting; One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Reprimands – which when applied, will have a huge and positive impact on your interactions with people, as well as help produce the desired results from those interactions. 

Through the text there are several quotes that exemplify its main messages.

“Everyone is a potential winner.  Some people are disguised as losers; don’t let their appearance fool you.”

“People who feel good about themselves produce good results”

The authors of the book, Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson are widely recognized for their achievements in the world of management and management literature.  Johnson is also the author of one of the most useful books I have read Who Moved My Cheese? , which is all about dealing with change and making it work in your favor. 

Have you read The One Minute Manager and/or Who Moved My Cheese?  Do you have any good short books recommendations? Happy Readings!

Of Childhood Dreams and the Midlife Crisis…

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Below is a piece submitted by a very good friend who has agreed to post on as a guest contributor.  Enjoy

Post By Guest Contributor Alejandro

Have you achieved your childhood dreams?  Have you considered that your dreams need to be adjusted to adult reality?  Mines were: 1) Cool fast car with awesome music (check), 2) Beautiful, healthy, smart children (check), 3) Good paying job that I love where I were a suit (check), 4) A home in an awesome neighborhood (check), 5) Friends that I love and they love me back (check).  Happiness level = 6 out of 10.  Why are so many of us unhappy and depressed when we have so many things to be happy about?

Well, this blog post will not answer that question, as I am no genius on life and love matters, but I will lay out my thought process for how I want to live the rest of my life and achieve true, and long-lasting happiness.  Is that even possible say you?  I say it is.  I see it every day, it’s a state of mind, a journey, not a destination.  This is something that is easier for some to achieve and harder for others depending on your background, personality, life skills and social upbringing.

 To start, you must know yourself, you must know your personality… for men, here is a start:

For women, here is a start:

These profiles are not designed to match you exactly, but they will give you the basics, so you understand why you like to do certain things and why you behave in certain ways in certain situations.  We can have any behavior that we want and desire, but it takes practice and effort, if it is not your God-given natural gift.

 After learning more about you, decide on what is most important to you.  If your own happiness is not number 1 on your list of priorities, think again.  If you are not truly happy, you cannot make your partner, children, friends and others truly happy.  If someone really knows you, they KNOW that you are not truly happy, even if they don’t tell you.  Once you have the realization and understand who in your daily life is happy and who is not, it is extremely easy to see.  We all know that really cheery person that doesn’t need six cups of coffee to get through life, and that is usually in a good mood.  I ask her why so happy, she says: “I have a husband that loves me and the best children in the world, what is there not to be happy about.”  If in doubt, just ask, those “happy people” are usually more than willing to tell you how happy they are, why and how they achieved it.

 Here are important questions in key areas of your life that you should consider:

  • Relationships.  Which ones are important?  Are you spending time on the right ones?
  • Spirituality.  Do you meditate, pray or contemplate life?  What motivates you?
  • Financial.  Are you managing your money correctly?  Prioritizing your expenses?
  • Professional.  Is your job rewarding?  Are you doing what you like to do?
  • Health.  Are you taking care of yourself?  Are you exercising enough?
  • Lifestyle.  Are you living and doing the things that matter and fulfill you?
  • Knowledge.  Are you learning the right things?

 Concentrating in just one area is not the path to happiness, neither is trying to balance them all.  Each of us must pick what is important, set goals, find the resources needed to succeed and start to change our lives to what we want it to be, only then can we start the journey to happiness.

 Here are some resources that I have found useful in my quest:

 Good luck… See you soon.