Uncategorized

Telling More Stories Beyond Forty

Hello everyone.  It has been a long, long while since I’ve been on this particular blog.  Once again, I got caught up in “new” and “better” and “starting over with a clean slate” and I lost myself in it all.  Because we are never really new and we never really have a clean slate.  It is a nice thought at first, but it quickly becomes overwhelming to realize that it would mean you lose your history.  Basically, you would have to lose your SELF in order to be really new or to really start over with a totally clean slate.  And that, my friends, just isn’t worth it.  No matter how much “better” it may be.  So, I’m back to my messy, somewhat chaotic blog and my messy, really chaotic life.  And that is okay.  I have my SELF here and I can make improvements, but not totally let go of all that I’ve done.

As I quickly approach the 50th year mark (July 24th folks), I thought that maybe the More at Forty idea I signed up for five years ago was not going to work anymore.  But, you know what?  I can tell more stories and they can be for forty plus!  The specifics of our ages don’t matter so much as the stories we tell and those can cross age ranges quite frequently.  Am I truly MORE than I was five years ago when I started this blog?  I’m not sure.  But, I do have many, many, many MORE stories I can tell.  And there will still be MORE stories to come.  So, that is my focus – telling more stories – past, present and future ones.  My stories as well as those around me (when appropriate).

Welcome back to those who rejoined me after my long hiatus.  I hope to see you on a regular basis and I hope you will enjoy the stories I tell and share your own as well.

joe-shillington-240205

Be more series, Uncategorized

More Followers Monday #1 – Join Up!

I said I was going to start this two weeks ago and missed both the last Mondays.  Sad, but true.  But, here I am posting just before Monday ends.  But, the linkup will be open all week and I hope that some of you will join up this first week.  I’m sure it will be pretty small, but if we all visit and follow the blogs that Linkup and if you share about this linkup on your blog, we can build up our followers slowly but surely!

I think it would be great if you could link to a page that lets the readers know how you would like them to follow you (if you have a preference).  So, link to your Instagram if you’re building your following there or to your Facebook if you need followers there, etc.  Blogs are always welcome, but feel free to link up to other areas if that is where you need More Followers!  In case you missed my original post back a couple of weeks ago, here it is and the linky is at the bottom!

I’ve decided to start a “more” themed post on Mondays in 2017 – More Follower Mondays at More at Forty!  My hope is that we can help each other by generating more followers for our blogs and social media.  I am doing it as a Linkup so we can actually see a blog post that you’d like to drive traffic to, but you can also link to a social media account if that is where you need followers.  I’m new to this Linkup thing so be patient with me, but I think I have it figured out.  My plan is to make the first linkup available on Monday, January 2 and to have one each Monday.  Some Mondays, I may add a theme, but to start, we’re just going with an open-ended invitation to linkup and get more followers!

more-followers-mondays

hallmark movies and mysteries, Mysteries, Uncategorized

Why I love Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel

I’ve gone cordless in the last couple of months.  We dropped our cable TV and went back to straight Roku and Netflix.  I had a few reasons to hesitate on this change.  First, I like local news.  But, we got an antenna and I get the two channels that have local news with that antenna.  Second, we sometimes like to watch sports and Roku doesn’t have the best in sports selections.  But, we decided we don’t watch enough sports to make that a reason to continue to pay the outrageous cost of Cable TV.  And a lot of sports are streamed online now, so we can always access them that way.  The third and most serious reason was that I LOVE Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel.  But, I realized most of what I watched on there was Murder She Wrote and that was on Netflix anyways.  The key word in that last sentence is WAS.  As of January 1, Murder She Wrote is not on Netflix.  In addition, I was seeing my Hallmark Movies and Mysteries newsletters and seeing new movies in some of my favorite series like Gourmet Detective, Garage Sale Mysteries and new ones like Framed for Murder with Jewel and getting really regretful for cancelling my expensive cable.  So, I started a hunt to find where I could watch the channel on Roku and lo and behold, there it is on Sling TV!  I have to pay $24.99 a month, which is a bit expensive, but still much cheaper than my cable bill used to be and we get ESPN (for the hubby) and cooking channels and HGTV, which we also enjoy.  So, all-in-all, it is a great compromise that has given me back my favorite channel.  But, some may ask, why is Hallmark Movies and Mysteries my favorite channel?  Well, let me give you some reasons!

why-i-love

  1. Things get solved!  My life is often composed mostly of problems.  I am dealing with problems with students, problems with TAs, problems with my finances, problems with my schedule, etc., etc.  I love that when I watch a show on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, the problems get resolved.  It seems overly simplistic sometimes, but it is a relief for me to watch something where solutions are had by those who need them.
  2. Those solutions are simple.  My life is complicated.  See the first point.  I don’t need my TV to be complicated.  I don’t want to make a lot of effort to figure out what is happening in a TV show or why it is happening.  I like to enjoy TV and relax while I watch it.  Some may see the shows on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries as predictable (not always, but they are often based on formulaic mystery books), but I see them as effortless.  I am sometimes surprised by the answers to the mysteries, but mostly, I just enjoy the ride and I don’t feel like I have to work at watching the show.
  3. The mysteries are solved by women!  I realize this isn’t necessarily unique to Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, but it is much more prevalent there.  I just saw a commercial for their “Women of Mystery” and every major movie series on the channel has a woman as the main character.  And they are often surrounded by women as well.  This is unusual in modern media.
  4. The women solving mysteries are doing “More at Forty (plus)”.  As a person who is edging closer to 50 than 40, it is nice to see women on TV who are not in their 20s. And I especially appreciate that the women on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel are not constantly concerned about their age or their weight or their looks.  They are simply being women, comfortable with who they are.  Lori Loughlin is 52.  Jewel is 42.  Candace Cameron Bure is 40.  Brooke Shields is 51.  Kellie Martin is 41.  Brooke Burns is the baby of the bunch at 38.  Alison Sweeney is 40.  I love that this channel focuses the majority of its series on women in their 40s plus.  Proving that you can be “more at forty”!
  5. Women are solving crimes rather than committing them.  The Lifetime Movie Network has women committing crimes and going crazy and killing people. But, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries has women who love their friends and families and professions and are solving crimes rather than committing them.  They are good to those around them.  They are caring and they think critically and they are smart and not always concerned with getting the guy.  It is nice to watch women being good people doing good things.
  6. They celebrate the great eighties. I think everyone has a soft spot for things they experienced in their youth.  Music, movies, television, etc.  Well, much of what is shown on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel outside of their movies are TV shows from the eighties.  My favorite, by far, is Murder She Wrote, but I also enjoy Hart to Hart and they are now introducing Father Dowling Mysteries (who doesn’t love the dad from Happy Days solving crimes as a catholic priest?).  I feel like it takes me back to those evenings in my family room, with my parents, all watching non-cable TV and enjoying it together.  It is nostalgic for me.
  7. I can watch it with my 7-year-old.  I love PBS Masterpiece Mystery as well, but I can’t always trust that it will be okay to watch it with my 7-year-old.  There are often story lines and graphic violence that is beyond her capabilities.  Sometimes there is inappropriate language.  But, with the shows on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, I can feel safe having my 7-year-old in the room.  She loves Murder She Wrote as well. She knows the major movie series on the channel and her favorite is Murder She Baked.  It is nice to have something I can watch and enjoy and not worry about her being in the room.

So, there you are.  The seven reasons I love Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.  I am toying with the idea of having a weekly post on Mysteries (Monday Mystery Mashup).  I will have to play with that idea for a bit.  If you haven’t checked out Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and any of the seven reasons sound compelling to you, you really should check it out.  It is my (not-so) guilty pleasure.

Uncategorized

Fridge and Freezer Frustrations – Uncluttering in the Kitchen

I am joining in on the 2017 Unclutter Your Nest challenge at Nourish and Nestle.  I have uncluttered a lot of my kitchen cabinets already.  I got rid of dishes, coffee cups, glasses, expired food, and some pans.  I still sometimes have some issues finding places to put things, but for the most part, I have a place for everything in my kitchen.  But I am constantly struggling with my refrigerator and less often, but every once in a while, the freezer (because we have a stand-up freezer in our garage, so that isn’t as much of an issue).

halfway

I have been cleaning a lot of things in my house since getting home a couple of days ago (in an attempt to get it all cleaned up before school kicks back into gear), but I have not touched my refrigerator other than to throw stuff in there and get out what I need.  I have thought about it, but just not had the motivation to do it.  So, this is what my refrigerator and my top freezer look like right now:

There are a lot of things in there.  A lot that probably needs to be thrown out, but I always have organizational issues.  I’ve tried to use baskets and Tupperware containers and “zones” but nothing ever seems to take.  We have a lot of leftovers in the refrigerator right now because my MIL sent them home with us when we returned a couple of days ago and we haven’t been eating them much.  So, that’s dinner tonight.  And maybe lunch tomorrow.  I want to have a plan for organizing the refrigerator that I can use this time.

So, I think the solution for me is the same solution that I need to use in every other area of my home.  Simplify and purge!  We just have way too much stuff in there.  I tend to save things that we are never going to eat (trying to be frugal and such) and that stuff creates such a cluster that things that have expiration dates get pushed to the back and not used in time. In addition, I don’t meal plan (I swear I’m going to…every. single. week. but here I am without one in week two of the year), so I end up with a bunch of food that I don’t use.  That makes me feel guilty AND frustrated. I’ve joked in the past about shopping daily (I know, I know, all you frugal-minded people out there are breaking out in a cold sweat and yelling “NO!  Don’t do it!” at your computer screen right now) because then I would buy exactly what I was going to go home and make – some nights it may be a made-at-home meal, other days it would just be a frozen pizza.  I don’t know if that is the solution either though.  I am an impulse shopper, so more days in the store is quite dangerous for me.

So, I think, despite my idea of going every day, I really just need to meal plan.  So, I am taking Ann Timm‘s advice from over at Keeper of the Home (you see how that fits in with my one word from this year as well?) and stick with my commitment to doing the Plan To Eat New Year’s Make Ahead Meal Challenge.  I was planning to do it and then was visiting family last week, had a hubby traveling for work this weekend and a sick kiddo to deal with as well (diagnosed today with an ear infection and pink eye…ewwwww…but, she is on eye drops and an oral antibiotic, so we should be good in a couple of days) and dropped out of the first week of the plan.  BUT, that just means we can extend it into February now, right? So, I’m going to the store tomorrow and I’m going to get the goods for this week’s meal plan and do it.  I like the idea of prepping for a few meals on the same day.  But, this means that I need to have room in my refrigerator and freezer.  So, I went ahead and cleaned them out today.  Here is the result:

So much better!  And it didn’t take long.  I threw out a lot (guilt or no guilt), rearranged some things and grouped things by category.  I now have some space for things I will have to have for the meal planning challenge.  I will also have room in my freezer.

I’m hoping that I can avoid the Fridge Frustrations from that first picture in the future.  I just need to keep up with eating leftovers (or throwing them out if they aren’t going to get eaten).

 

 

More Followers Monday, Uncategorized

More Follower Mondays

I’ve decided to start a “more” themed post on Mondays in 2017 – More Follower Mondays at More at Forty!  My hope is that we can help each other by generating more followers for our blogs and social media.  I am doing it as a Linkup so we can actually see a blog post that you’d like to drive traffic to, but you can also link to a social media account if that is where you need followers.  I’m new to this Linkup thing so be patient with me, but I think I have it figured out.  My plan is to make the first linkup available on Monday, January 2 and to have one each Monday.  Some Mondays, I may add a theme, but to start, we’re just going with an open-ended invitation to linkup and get more followers!

more-followers-mondays

cooking, homemaking, Uncategorized

What’s for dinner? Trader Joe’s Edition

I followed through with making dinner tonight (one of my DO items for 2017, but getting an early start).  My daughter and I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some premade burger patties for my husband to put on the smoker and I always taste test (and usually buy whatever it is).  Tonight, we seemingly hit the holy grail!  My daughter’s favorite soup is the black bean soup at Panera and they were serving their Latin Style Black Bean Soup with their precooked pork carnitas.  So, we bought the supplies for both the hamburgers and the soup and came home.  BTW, for hamburger patties (4), hamburger buns (8), pork carnitas and black bean soup, along with a bag of fuji apples – and a second bag to boot because there were a few bruised apples in it, so the cashier said he would have to damage it out anyways and we could just take them, SCORE! – it was only $26.  Not bad for two meals plus (we have a ton of leftovers from tonight).  I let my daughter decide which meal for tonight and she chose the soup.  I thought it was a little watery when we tasted it (I like thick black bean soup), so I added a can of black beans and a can of corn (both drained of liquid), heated up the carnitas in the microwave for three minutes and shredded it into the soup and heated it all up again in the microwave.  Total prep time, probably 10 minutes!  I took three of the hamburger buns (since we only have four patties for tomorrow) and made those into garlic bread and served them with the soup.  It was all very yummy, super easy and pretty cheap.

 

black-bean-soup
Little box of magic

 

I do feel like if I went to Trader Joe’s every day just to do the taste test, I would be a better cook.  They always have super easy recipes and all the fixins right there.  Sometimes they are serving something I would never eat, but most of the time, it is tasty and somewhat healthy.

If you are interested in a few other recipes for the Black Bean Soup, you might want to try the following.  I probably will!

Black Bean Nacho Soup

Another one similar to mine

 

Be more series, Uncategorized

Be More…active – 5 things I am going to DO in 2017

I’ve decided to embrace this blog’s title more actively.  I will be doing a series of blog posts in 2017 that focus on the idea of being more of something.  The first focus is going to be getting more active.  I’ve realized just how totally sedentary I am as a human being.  And my daughter is now also becoming sedentary.  And I want her transplanted heart to last as long as it can, which means keeping it and her healthy.  We are a tech family, so getting off the couch and out from behind the screen is a bit of a struggle.  I often have work as an excuse.  And in all fairness, I do have a load of grading to do, but I don’t have to be online to do all of it.  I also have this blog, but I don’t spend that much time on it each day that I need to sit on the couch, staring at a screen for hours and hours.

So, how am I going to get more active?  I’m thinking broadly here.  So, it isn’t just “getting more exercise”.  That is so generic and not very helpful from past experience.  So, I’m focused more on getting off the couch and DOing things.  I’ve picked five things I want to do each and every day:

  1. Walk the dogs.  They are bored and overweight and need some good exercise.  I often use the weather as an excuse, but really, unless it is raining torrentially, there really is no reason not to get them out and walk them around the block.  They love walks and are so happy when they get one, even if it is short.  But, I would like to take them on longer walks as well.  But, just walking them every single day, even short ones, would be a step up.
  2. Cook meals in my kitchen.  We eat out way, way, way too much.  And often it is simply because I’m too lazy to get up and cook something in the kitchen and clean up afterward (see number three).  If I did cook meals in my own kitchen each day, we would be healthier, save money and also eat tastier food.  Most of the time, when I do cook, everyone likes what I make.  But, I find it a struggle and I think I’ve identified for so long as a “non-cook” that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  3. Do basic clean up in the house each day.  I’ve been pretty good about this lately.  But, when school hits and I’m gone for hours at a time and I have grading to do and other prep, I often will just forget about the basic daily cleaning.  I love this relatively simple list of daily chores to get done.  I need to ensure that the basics get done daily so I feel better about the house and don’t get bogged down in clutter and mess.  I function much better all around when my house is at least tidy.
  4. Actively play with my daughter.  This is a biggy.  I don’t do nearly enough with her on a daily basis and she spends way too much time behind a screen.  I’ve noticed that she is not as willing to sit and work on a craft or a puzzle or a coloring project for as long as she used to be.  She is still pretty good about reading for a time each day, but I want her to be creative and well-rounded.  I want her to color and craft and build legos and play outside and do…well, MORE!  So, each day, I will take at least a few minutes – 10-15 if that is all I can fit – and I will play with her.  A game.  Outside.  Buidling things.  Coloring.  Each and every day.
  5. Get active in my community.  Each and every time I see a homeless person in our city, I think that I should do more.  When I see commercials about kids and families who are dealing with food insecurity, I think I should do more.  When I see groups in our community doing good (beyond good – in some cases amazing) things, I think I should do more.  Yet, here I sit.  I could go to the homeless shelter and volunteer for mealtimes.  I could figure out how to volunteer at my food bank.  I could give blood.  There are so many simple things I could get involved in, but I sit on my couch and make excuses instead.  I don’t need to do something each and every day, but I should be able to.  Even if it is just having some homeless gift bags in my car to hand out with simple items or some gift cards for McDonalds or something so they can get a meal.  There are easy things to do.

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So, there you have it.  My five things to be more active in 2017.  I believe that humans are controlled by the Laws of Motion.  And my body is at rest when not actually doing my job.  I need an outside force to nudge me along and I’m hoping this blog will do it.  I will be trying to check in on my various “be more” lists in the new year, so look for that!  I think having a simple list – Walk dogs, Cook meals, Clean up, Play and Community will make it easier for me to check things off each day.  In fact, I’m going to go and write the list in my planner so I don’t forget!