Complaining (again) the 60 Blog

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Benjamin Franklin:  Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, and most fools do.

I read a blog last week written by Mary Carlomagno, a self-proclaimed constant complainer.  She tested herself for a month.  During her trying month, she realized that smartphones and other computers are the ultimate complaining enablers. These devices make it far too easy to launch a text blast or even call a friend to gripe about the cable guy not showing up during the projected four-hour window.

If you join in any social media conversations about sports or television or, just-say-no, politics, you multiply your chances of complaining by a gazillion.  Then, if you go to the grocery store and start reading labels, you’ll soon be complaining about the sugar content in bread or the price of cereal.  Complaining not only loves company but is also contagious—and self-fueling.

Once Mary started complaining, she couldn’t stop: forgotten passwords, misplaced homework assignments, those widowed socks that never find a mate, to name a few.  After struggling through much of this 30-day challenge, a light bulb finally went on for her:  If I don’t start complaining, I won’t have to stop. If I moved through the perfunctory tasks of the day concentrating on finishing them quickly, I reduced the window for whining.

Mary found a way to manage her now-reduced urges.  She replaced her complaining with something therapeutic, the music of Buddhist monks.  Her days started off better and became a happy after-school mom-chauffeur “amid the chanting of om, namaste and shanti with zero complaints.” The mellow sounds served as a relaxation device and as a reminder that neither Buddha nor Krishna nor Gandhi would scream at someone who cut them off in traffic. Like these spiritual teachers, she was living in the moment.

Finding that contented state enriched her life. And the month of no complaining had a bonus for her family:  They were happier, too.

So what do you say?  Want to join me on this 30-day no-complaining plan?

P.S.  An update from yesterday.  Monster (aka the two-inch bug at our house) is still missing.

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Complaining the 60 Blog

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Lynn Marie Sager:  People are always complaining that life’s not fair, but that simply isn’t true.  Life is extraordinarily fair.  It’s just not centered on you.

Are you aware of how often you complain during the day?  Do you complain out loud to others?  The weather, the traffic, the line at Starbucks.  All fair game for complaints and comments about how things should go your way more often.

I recently learned of an app called Complaint Free .  The goal is to go 21 consecutive days without complaining, gossiping or criticizing.  You start on Day 1.  Every time you catch yourself complaining, enter the type of complaint and who you complained to, and the app will reset to Day 1.  The app tells you that it takes most people about six months to complete 21 days without complaining.  “When you reach day 21, you will be a happier, more positive and habitually complaint-free person.”

Complaining is an ingrained habit and I want to change that habit.  I started the countdown on Sunday.  Through Monday, I didn’t complain out loud to anyone.  I did complain about some knee pain, but only using my inside-my-head voice, so I’m not going to add that to the app and have it reset to Day 1.  No way!

What do you think?  Is complaining always a bad thing?  On my drive home from work on Tuesday night, I blurted out “a$$hole” to the driver in front of me on the freeway because he did something stupid.  Why else would I curse him out?  Tee hee.  Anyway, if I’m grousing because someone is an idiot, and I’m saying this only to myself, for the sake of the Complaint Free app, did I do anything wrong?

A few days ago, Leslie told me she saw an enormous bug (“Monster”) in the house, and she does not like bugs!  Clooney, Leslie’s cat who should be eating all the bugs, just looked at it and let it escape.  And last night, the damn bug reappeared.  It was the first time I’d seen it and I swear it was two inches long!  I swiped at it several times on the counter tops to no avail, and it then ran under a cabinet.  Not one to get on my hands and knees, I left Monster there, and it showed up an hour later scooting to get cover under the couch.  Clooney excitedly watched and, as of this morning, we still don’t know where Monster is.

Monster, this unwelcome force of nature in my house, is causing me stress.  Do I dare vocalize that he’s creepy and I want him dead?  If I say it out loud, am I complaining?  Do I need to reset to day 1?

 

 

Thriving the 60 Blog

Paleo Blueberry Pie Recipe

Ella Fitzgerald:  A strawberry moon, blueberry sky.  Polka dot stars shining on high.  Everything’s right.  Oh, what a night for love.

Thrive + Tuesday = day to shop!

Over the weekend, we placed another Thrive Market order.  Coffee, aromatherapy, cat food, pine nuts.  All the essentials, right?

This week, you can get 25% off your order and free shipping when you click here 25% off and free shipping and shop from your couch.  Here’s a delicious recipe you can make for the upcoming long holiday weekend.

It’s berry season! When sweet, juicy blueberries are overflowing at the market, we can think of nothing better than baking them up in a decadent pie. A trio of gluten-free flours (almond, coconut, and tapioca), plus a scoop of lard from EPIC makes this a Paleo-friendly summertime treat for all those picnics, barbecues, and parties.  All the ingredients, except for the fresh blueberries and lemons, can be purchased from Thrive!

PALEO BLUEBERRY PIE

Yield: 7 to 9 servings
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours and 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the crust
1 cup superfine almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
½ cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lard, chilled in freezer for 30 minutes
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

For the filling
4 ½ to 5 cups blueberries, washed and drained
½ cup coconut sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
Zest 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

Add the almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, and salt to a food processor; pulse a few times to combine. Add chilled lard and pulse until mixture is slightly crumbly. Add 3 tablespoons water and pulse, adding more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together by squeezing it between your fingers.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and form into a disk. Halve the disk (make one piece slightly larger than the other) and shape into rounds. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Remove larger disk from refrigerator and crumble it into a greased, 9-inch pie pan. Using your fingers, shape a crust by pressing dough onto bottom and sides of pan. Crimp edge of dough along the top of crust; refrigerate. Remove smaller disk of dough from refrigerator and place it between 2 slices of parchment paper. Roll out the dough to a 10-inch circle, about ¼-inch thick. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place on a sheet tray, 1-inch apart; refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, add all ingredients for the filling; stir until blueberries are well-coated. Remove pie pan from the refrigerator and pour in the blueberry filling.

Cover edges of pie crust with foil, to protect it from burning. Bake pie for 50 to 55 minutes. During the last 8 to 10 minutes of baking, place sheet tray of cut out stars into the oven with the pie. Remove both the pie and stars and let cool 30 minutes. Place stars on top of pie before slicing.

Almond FlourOrganic Coconut FlourTapioca Flour

What time should I be at your house for dessert?

 

 

 

Frying the 60 Blog

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Jean Kerr:  If you have formed the habit of checking on every new diet that comes along, you will find that, mercifully, they all blur together, leaving you with only one piece of definite piece of information:  french-fried potatoes are out.

How do you like your potatoes?  I’ll eat them in any form, especially if they have cheese on them.

I read a little blurb about eating French fries and how they can increase your mortality risk.  An eight-year study of 4,400 older people in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate fried potatoes, such as hash browns or French fries, more than two times per week were at least twice as likely to die prematurely as those who did not.  Unfried versions like baked or mashed potatoes were not linked with increased mortality.

Will this change your view of fried potatoes?  Breakfast potatoes.  Tater tots.  Potato pancakes.  “Those” potatoes.  What is your favorite splurge food?  Can you live without coffee?  Or pizza?  Or chicken?  Or potatoes?

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD recently wrote in Shape about how it would be tough to give up potatoes because “they’re just so darn satisfying.”  She outlined the good and the bad and came up with a mixed review.

The Good:  New research indicates that potatoes help lower blood pressure.  Study volunteers ate six to eight purple potatoes, each about the size of a golf ball (with skins, microwaved without oil) twice daily for a month.  Their blood pressure decreased after the test period and none of the volunteers gained weight. The news isn’t too surprising because other studies have identified natural substances in potatoes that act similar to those in blood pressure medications, and potatoes are a great source of potassium, a nutrient known to keep blood pressure under control. The study used purple potatoes, because the pigment that gives them their pretty hue is rich in beneficial oxidants. Also, besides providing fiber, vitamins C and B, once you cook and then cool them, potatoes become loaded with resistant starch, a unique kind of carbohydrate that’s been shown to naturally rev up your body’s fat-burning furnace.  Like fiber, you can’t digest or absorb resistant starch, so your body ferments it when it reaches the large instestine, which triggers your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates.

The Bad:

Despite its accolades, another study made big headlines earlier this year when the scientists found that potatoes–in any form–were linked to weight gain. Scientists tracked the diet and lifestyle choices of more than 120,000 participants for at least 12 years. They found that over four-year spans, those who ate an extra serving of French fries daily gained an average of 3.4 pounds, those who munched an extra serving of potato chips daily gained an average of 1.7 pounds, and an additional serving of potatoes prepared in any form was linked to an average of 1.3 pounds of extra padding.

The Bottom Line:

Ms. Sass thinks the good outweighs the bad, especially if potatoes are one of your favorite foods.  But, as we all agree, moderation is key.  In Sass’s recent book, she doesn’t include potatoes as a key part of the weight loss plan.  Instead, she emphasizes whole grains because of the vast research regarding their importance for both weight control and optimal health.

However, she thinks it’s okay to trade whole grain portions for skin-on potatoes a few times per week. Pick any kind you like: fingerling, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, blue, Yukon Gold, Russet. The trick is to prepare them healthfully and watch your portion size. Stick to about a half-cup (the size of half of a tennis ball) prepared in healthy ways.

Purple potatoes will be in my next shopping cart at the grocery store!

Fruiting the 60 Blog

Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.  Small, large, circle, square, thin crust, thick crust, stuffed crust, extra toppings.

Earlier this week, I read that the inventor of the pineapple pizza died at the age of 83.  What a legacy!

The majority of Brits (53%) like pineapple on their pizza.  Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau likes it.  Chef Gordon Ramsay thinks “gastronomic mutants” put pineapple on pizza.  In 2012, President Trump tweeted “ordering pizza with pineapples [sic] is now punishable by death.”

I like it.  It’s tasty, and I admit that growing up in New York, that was never a thing.  We never heard of it, no one ever suggested putting pineapple on your pizza and then eating pineapple warm.  It was just not a thing.

I had it for the first time when I moved to California.  Actually, I think I tried it when I was here on vacation in 1980 with Marcy.  And then we went back to New York and told everyone about it.  I can’t recall exactly, but I’m sure my friends were sickened by the concept.

To me, Canadian bacon and pineapple is a beautiful combination of salty and sweet.  Leslie thinks warm pineapple is gross and she doesn’t like Canadian bacon.  So the combo is never a choice in our house.

Last week, the management company of our office building threw a tenant appreciation party and they served a Hawaiian-themed lunch.  The caterers prepared food for maybe 1000 people, but the menu wasn’t truly Hawaiian.

  • Kahlua-infused pulled pork.  Okay, I’ll go along with that.  The chef mixed some pineapple in with the meat, and it was tasty.  And we obviously couldn’t roast a pig under the ground of the parking garage.
  • Hawaiian macaroni salad.  Hmm.  Elbow noodles, cut-up green peppers, dressing, and some red tinge to the whole bowl of pasta that was a little unsettling.
  • Hawaiian rolls.  Of course!  What else do we need but balls of sweet little dough to sop up the juice from the meat?
  • Chinese chicken salad.  The name speaks for itself.
  • Key lime tarts.  Sweet and tropical, yes.  Hawaiian?  Nope.
  • Watermelon water.  Again, sweet and tropical, maybe.  Hawaiian?  I think not.

It’s hard to please 1000 people when you’re serving a free lunch.  I’m sure everyone found something to like on the menu, but don’t tell me it was Hawaiian!

 

 

Freckling the 60 Blog

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Freckles are like seasoning for your face.  They make you spicy.

Have you heard?  Buzz Feed is reporting that tattooing freckles on your face is a trend.  What the what?

I grew up with freckles.  They were more prominent in my teen years when we used to sit in the sun, spray lemon juice in our hair, and slather baby oil on our skin.  We would turn over only when the radio DJ told us it was time to do that, and we all reveled in the progress our tans (or burns, as the case may be) made throughout the summer.

In grade school, I remember one of my teachers, Mrs. Fitzgerald, remarking that I sometimes looked more Irish than she did because of my freckles and light skin.  I was a natural brunette (now, it’s not so natural!) and my freckles really stood out.  I think we were learning nationalities at the time, and I was given the Irish nickname of Corinne.  Oh, the things you remember.

But tattooing freckles?  According to newbeauty.com, the cost is about $250.  And if you look at some of the pictures online, they’re downright scary.  Not pretty.  They even showcase rainbow freckles!  One person commented:  “The rainbow freckles are like you have fruity pebble blackheads.”  Check out the pictures here.  Buzz Feed article re freckles

The Today show says:  “there’s nothing more adorable than a smattering of freckles, but some people may ask why women with naturally freckle-free skin would want to permanently ink them on their faces.”  Many women simply like the cute, fresh aesthetic that freckles can add to your look.  It can bring “a certain youth to the face,” but part of it may also be the “grass-is-greener” mentality.  “People want what they don’t have!”

Tattoo artist Mo Southern shares that, though they look simple, freckle tattoos are tricky to get just right.  The right shade of freckle has to be matched to the skin tone.  Everyone needs a different shade and tone to make it look natural.   “You have to match the right shade of freckle to the skin,” Southern explains.  “Every single person needs a different shade and tone to make it look natural.”

Also, to look real, the freckles can’t just be dots applied in a uniform pattern across the face.  “They have to be a wide array of shapes, sizes, and darkness.”   When first applied, the freckles will look darker and the surrounding skin will be slightly inflamed.  But after they heal, they blend into the skin and look completely natural.

So what do you think?  Some things are just meant to be natural.  Freckles, yes.  Hair color, hell no!

 

 

Smiling the 60 Blog

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You are serving a customer, not a life sentence.  Learn how to enjoy your work.

On Thursday, I called SiriusXM Radio to update my credit card information in order to renew my annual membership.  After getting the information she needed, the operator then asked “Caryn, can you do me a favor?”  I thought, “well, she’ll ask me to do a one-minute survey about her skills, so why not?”  No!  Instead, when I said “yes,” she replied “Always smile and stay beautiful!”

She took me by surprise!  I was feeling a bit blah, and just wanted to leave work for the day.  You know how it is.  Instead, I smiled broadly through the phone wires and I hope she got my vibe.  When was the last time you were treated like royalty by a company’s customer service department?

Leslie is fond of saying “I hate people” and telephonic customer service would not be her gig.  She’d be rolling her eyes on the other end of the phone every time the customer (who is always right!) would say something inane or just-plain-wrong.  You know the customer would feel Leslie’s attitude.  Of course, having an attitude is not a bad thing, but that attitude doesn’t lend itself to, say, being a customer service representative.

In my professional career as a legal secretary, I’ve attended and taught many seminars about law firm culture.  One of the first things we learn is to smile when you answer the phone.  If you answer in a droll voice and say in a whisper, “Law Offices, may I help you?” and give the impression that you’d rather be anywhere than on that phone call, your client will know it.  They’ll just feel it.  And likely report back to the managing partner that the person answering the phone was rude.  And your new career as a law firm employee is now in jeopardy after your first phone call.

 

Saving the 60 Blog

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If you take care of your pennies, your dollars will take care of themselves.

Have you taken care of your pennies?  Did you start saving for retirement many years ago?  Or are you with the majority of Americans who haven’t saved enough money for their golden years?

I remember my mother telling me many years ago (I was probably 25) that I should start saving for my retirement.  But why, I’d ask, it’s 40+ years from now!  And now, I’m grateful that I listened to my mother (for once).

Before I share some statistics from the Economic Policy Institute (“EPI”), it’s important to recall some high school math.  The “mean” is the “average” you’re used to, where you add up all the numbers and then divide by the number of numbers. The “median” is the “middle” value in the list of numbers.

According to a March 2017 report from the EPI, the mean retirement savings of all working-age families (which the EPI defines as those between 32 and 61 years old) is $95,776.  But that number doesn’t tell the whole story.  Since so many families have zero savings and since super-savers can pull up the average, the median savings, or those at the 50th percentile, may be a better gauge. The median for all working-age families in the U.S. is just $5,000.

Retirement preparedness varies by age.  Not surprisingly, younger families have less stashed away.  Here’s a breakdown of the mean and median retirement savings of U.S. families at every age:

  • Mean retirement savings of families between 32 and 37: $31,644
  • Median retirement savings of families between 32 and 37: $480
  • Mean retirement savings of families between 38 and 43: $67,270
  • Median retirement savings of families between 38 and 43: $4,200
  • Mean retirement savings of families between 44 and 49: $81,347
  • Median retirement savings of families between 44 and 49: $6,200
  • Mean retirement savings of families between 50 and 55: $124,831
  • Median retirement savings of families between 50 and 55: $8,000
  • Mean retirement savings of families between 56 and 61: $163,577
  • Median retirement savings of families between 56 and 61: $17,000

How big should your nest egg be?  The answer is highly personal, and specific dollar amounts can be arbitrary, but according to retirement-plan provider Fidelity Investments, a good rule of thumb is to have ten times your final salary in savings if you want to retire by age 67.

Fidelity also suggests a timeline to use in order to get to that magic number:

  • By 30: Have the equivalent of your salary saved
  • By 40: Have three times your salary saved
  • By 50: Have six times your salary saved
  • By 60: Have eight times your salary saved
  • By 67: Have 10 times your salary saved

How well are you doing?  Are you saving enough?  Thankfully, I’m almost on track.

Flagging the 60 Blog

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Edwin Meese:  In most countries, you have a monarch or some other principal person to whom its officers and its military swear their allegiance. Our officials in this country and our military swear allegiance to the Constitution. We say that when we say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. 

Do you know what today is?  If you live in Pennsylvania, you have the day off from work today and your mail won’t be delivered.  Flag Day is a legal holiday in only the Keystone State and, at least for today, don’t we all wish we lived there?

What do we know about the American flag?  We all remember that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag, but she didn’t get credit for it until 1776, almost 40 years after her death.  The colors were intentionally chosen:  red for valor, white for purity, and blue for justice.

Many Americans are now celebrating Flag Day year-round.  For proof, just check out all the paraphernalia online imprinted with the Stars and Stripes:  hats, towels, bumper stickers, household goods.  Recently, a teen in Omaha made headlines when we created a flag using more than 680,000 plastic red, white and blue bricks.

Time magazine states that this hasn’t always been the case.  Most Americans used to see the flag as little more than a marker for government buildings and military installations.  After the United States approved its flag design in 1777, it took nearly a century for civilians to get excited about the idea.

When the Civil War began in 1861, the flag suddenly gained a new level of importance.  Marc Leepson, author of Flag:  An American Biography, states:  “It has been said that when the flag came down in Fort Sumter, it went up everywhere in the north–almost like magic.”  When the war ended, the flag became a symbol of the effort to reconcile both sides.

With advances in printing and mass production, the flag began appearing on national products and advertisements.  The support for the Stars and Stripes was bolstered by the 1931 selection of “The Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem and the 1970s adoption of the flag lapel pin by politicians.