Wednesday Wins: Teacher Walkout

Hello!

Here’s a big win for the week:

walkout

(source)

The walk out of teachers all across Oklahoma is the win for the week. I have a lot of teacher friends and I am proud of them for taking a stand and demanding better funding for education. It is utterly ridiculous how little our teachers are paid and the lack of funding they receive in order to do their jobs. Our average teacher salary is now 50th in the nation, yet our legislator salaries are 15th in the nation – you tell me how is that fair???? Twenty years ago, I was on track to become a teacher – I graduated with a teaching endorsement and my plan was to teach high school French.Β  At the time I was working at a popular retail store and was offered an assistant manager position – the starting salary was the same as the starting salary for a teacher in Oklahoma and because there aren’t a lot of teaching positions open for foreign language, I took the retail position. That eventually led to a career as an administrative assistant (if you wanna call that a career), and I am now making more money than most teachers in my area. AND I don’t have to grade papers, or attend school functions, or any other number of things teachers have to do when they’re not actually in the classroom. It just doesn’t seem logical that we pay teachers (and EMS workers and police officers – you know, people who SAVE LIVES) so very little when their jobs are so incredibly important. Makes ZERO sense.

Anyway, I hope this walkout does some good for the teachers in Oklahoma. Yes our legislature voted last week to give teachers a raise, and the teachers are grateful, but honestly it just wasn’t enough. That raise would have gotten our teachers up to speed in salary…if the year was 2006. And that is why they are still at our state capitol, talking to legislators, and asking for more money. Because when you need $100, a ten dollar bill just isn’t going to help much.

I think this is a great example of standing up for what you need and knowing you are worth what you ask for.

 

 

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Mental health Monday: 3 apps that keep me sane

Hello again! I thought today I’d give you a run down of how I use apps to keep me from flipping my lid on a day to day basis. Some of these I use every day, others I only use occasionally but I like knowing they are there if I need them.

First up:

Simple Habit

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Simple Habit is a meditation app. I love this app because I like to think of it as meditation for normal folks. There’s not a lot of woo-woo going on here (maybe a teensy bit, but that’s all). The meditations are short – anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on how much time you want to spend, and although you can sign up for a paid account, there is plenty of free content to keep you occupied for quite a while. Why meditate? Here ya go:

Benefits of Meditation

And like Simple Habit says, “it’s a daily vacation for your mind.” I don’t know about you, but I need all the vacation time I can get. Available for Android and iOS.

Next up, You Need A Budget (YNAB)

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Late last year I decided that I was finally ready to take control of my money and stop living in a scarcity mentality. Oddly enough, getting a budget has increased my peace of mind exponentially. But this budget app is different than any stale, boring, old-fogey budget – this budget has a sense of humor and a laid back style that makes it attractive to someone like me. There are 4 rules to YNAB: 1) Give every dollar a job, 2) Embrace your true expenses, 3) Roll with the punches, and 4) Age your money. I’m still learning to work with all the steps but this has been so helpful to me. It actually helped me set up a category for my daughter’s cheer fees, so that when it came time to pay the $300 fee, I had the money ready to go and could write the check with no anxiety. That’s a major win for me! YNAB offers a 34 day free trial, live online classes, and personal support. I’ve been really happy with them so far. I might do a post just for this sometime in the future. Available for Android and iOS.

Lastly, how about a game?

hue

This is a puzzle game in which you have to rearrange colored squares into their proper hue-order. It’s actually much more relaxing than it sounds, but it can be somewhat challenging. What I love most is the dopamine hit I get when I finally solve a puzzle and feel like super smart person. I’m not a huge game player, but sometimes I just need something simple to focus on when I have some downtime, or when I’m stuck in a gym watching volleyball for 10 hours, or when I’m waiting to board a flight. In a world of multitasking, sometimes it just feels good to focus on one single thing.

 

What apps do you find are essential for your sanity? Have you used any of the apps I mentioned? I’m always on the lookout for fun apps, so share in the comments some of your favorites!

 

 

Friday Free-for-all: LocalFarmOK

Earlier in the week I mentioned that I finally have access to a local farm harvest delivery service (localfarmok.com) – I received my first delivery last Friday and I am in love.

 

Here’s what I got for $26:

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Celery, lettuce, broccoli, portobello mushrooms, potatoes, blueberries, pears, mandarin oranges, and also not shown are 3 cucumbers that I gave to my boss because cucumbers are the devil’s vegetable. I felt like that was quite a bit of produce for the money and can I just say that the taste of this produce…THE TASTE…I swoon over how good it all tasted. It was all so delicious.

How I felt all week:

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And this is a sample of what I made with all my delicious farm fresh goodies:

The first one is an egg scramble with peppers and onions with a sprinkle of cheese topped with avocado on top of a portobello mushroom. The second is a sheet pan dinner with turkey smoked sausage, broccoli, onions, and red & baby potatoes. I’ve also been eating salads all week with the lettuce. I think I’ve used up everything except the celery, which I keep forgetting to wash and chop. Maybe I’ll do that tonight.

I signed up for every other week delivery, but I’m thinking I might go ahead and sign up for the weekly delivery because I used up everything quicker than I thought I would. When you’re as health conscious as I am, you need to have a steady flow of produce coming your way. There can never be too much kale.

skeptical-hippo-is-skeptical

I don’t think he believes me.Β 

 

 

 

 

Winning Wednesday

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I’m playing with a posting schedule in an effort to post here regularly as opposed to the hit-or-miss “schedule” I’ve been using for the last couple of years. On Mondays I’m going to write about some form of mental health (because I think it’s important to get a discussion of mental health out in the open), Wednesdays will be devoted to current wins: things I’ve done well, nice things others have done, things that have had made me happy (because I want this to be a positive place for readers to visit), and Fridays will be a free-for-all where I just write about whatever strikes my fancy (because…well just because I want to).

Since today is Wed-nes-day (will I ever be able to type that word without saying it in my head like that???) WINNING is the word of the day!

For awhile last year, I kept a notebook wherein I listed 3-5 things that made me feel good about myself – I called it my Daily Wins (it’s an excellent self-esteem booster – I highly recommend it) and I thought it would be fun to list some wins here on the ‘Pear.

  • My birthday was earlier in the month and I got to go visit my BFF in Baton Rouge. We spent one day in New Orleans and had beignets in New Orleans City Park, then saw Phantom of the Opera. It was so fun!

(Beignets at Morning Call Cafe – Open 24 hours for all your beignet needs)

  • Being with my BFF is like getting a shot of Vitamin Kickass. She builds me up and makes me feel like I am the smartest, funniest, prettiest, most magical unicorn of all time. She can make friends with anyone and has the ability to make one feel like the most interesting person in the room. She’s gracious and generous, and is quick with a laugh and a hug. And she will always be the best dressed woman in the room, guaranteed.
  • And in addition to being best friends, we are now Fitbit friends too! We decided that we both need more activity in our lives, so we have challenged each other to a Work Week Hustle. It’s perfect for us because we have about the same activity level, so it’s an effort for us to stay ahead of one another, but it’s not unmanageable. We are actually having fun with it, and I think that’s what will keep us going with it.
  • A local farm harvest delivery service is finally available in my area, so I signed up and got my first delivery last Friday. The food is so delicious, and I feel like I got a lot for my money. I’ll post more about it on Friday, but I’m so proud of myself for signing up for this and actually finding ways to use the produce.
  • My husband bought himself a bike. He’s been talking about getting one for years and he found out an acquaintance of his buys bikes, fixes them up, then resells them. He made my husband a good deal on a really nice bike and now my husband can ride to his heart’s content. I’m happy that he’s so happy about it. πŸ™‚

With all the negative news that seems to permeate our lives, I think it’s a good exercise to take note of what’s going well for us. What are some of your Daily Wins? Write them down in a notebook or jot them in a memo on your phone, or list them in the comments below. Feel free to brag on yourself or just mention that nice thing that someone did for you. Whatever it is, take a minute to really notice it and notice how it lifts you up. Then go be the WIN in someone else’s day. 🌼

Mental Health Monday

Sleep…the final frontier of your day. There are many, many times I have slipped under the covers and given thanks to God for inventing bedtime. A whole entire chunk of time to do nothing but sleep? What a gift!!!

But what if you can’t turn your brain off when it’s time to drift away? It is so frustrating to be lying in bed unable to stop thinking all the thoughts. You can Google “how to shut your brain off at night” and get lots of really good articles, but I thought I’d share some personal tips on how I get my brain to just shut up already.

  1. Cool it down. I make sure my room is cool at night because sleeping in a too-warm room makes me SUPER CRANKY. Seriously, just ask my husband.
  2. Listen to my breathing. Sometimes if I can’t sleep, I can put in earplugs and listen to my own breath – it sort of sounds like waves ebbing and flowing on the shore, which relaxes me enough to finally drift off.
  3. Count sheep. Okay maybe not sheep, but I do count. I usually start at 100 and count backward, then forward again. If I haven’t drifted off by then I will…
  4. Get up and go drink some warm milk. Some warm milk with a little vanilla extract and a bit of sugar is like a hug in a cup. Makes me feel cozy and warm. It may be a myth that warm milk helps you sleep, but for me it breaks the pattern of trying to toss and turn my way to sleep and gives me a chance to reset my brain.
  5. Play mindfulness games. This one works for me when nothing else will. I go through the alphabet and list the first 3 words that come to mind for each letter. For example, A: aardvark, advance, apple. B: blender, bully, bike…etc. Sometimes I’ll do themes like animals or foods, but most of the time just thinking of the first word that pops in my head is enough – and sometimes it’s kind of amusing.
  6. Read something uninteresting. A coworker of mine who used to sell insurance said that if you ever have trouble sleeping, go read a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy. Three paragraphs in and you’ll be out like a light! Similarly, reading a textbook or just any old boring thing you have lying around will probably do the trick.

Thankfully, I don’t usually have trouble sleeping, but on those occasions when I do, it helps to know that I have tools that I can use to calm myself.

What are your go-to tips for those nights when sleep eludes you? Share in the comments below so maybe we can all get a good night’s rest tonight. πŸ™‚

 

Paper Potential

I am a stationery nerd. I love paper and pens and office supplies of all kinds. I used to have a stationery set of my own when I was little and I would write letters to my friends and they would write me back – sometimes there would be a puffy sticker included if we were extra-good friends. I don’t remember exactly what my stationery looked like, but I have a feeling it was something sweet and girly – probably something with strawberries. Remember those boxed sets with the satin ribbon? Man, I loved those.

Why don’t we write letters anymore? Oh right…email. And texting.

That sucks. :/

Anyway, my love of paper is now channeled into notebooks. Lined notebooks give me a thrill – something about a blank journal feels like it holds all the potential in the world. What could I use it for? What kinds of things could I write in it? What secrets will it hold??? COULD BE ANYTHING.

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Proof of my addiction.

I carry these notebooks around with me everywhere. They live inΒ  a sturdy tote bag that stays in my car so that I can always access my notebooks if I need one whether I’m at work or at home. Two of the above notebooks are blank, but all of the others serve a specific purpose. One is used for my session with Emily Roberts, one is used for assignments from Emily, another is just for food journaling (which I don’t really do anymore, but I carry it around with me because…well I don’t know why, it just goes along with all the other notebooks), the pink one on the bottom is mainly a gratitude journal, and the red one I use to go along with this book. The black and teal are the blank ones – I’m saving them for a special purpose, which I don’t know yet, but I’m sure I’ll need them eventually. Those 4 in the bottom of the picture…I picked those up at Dollar General for $3 a piece. I LOVE THEM.

I’ve been using notebooks like this since my son was born 21 years ago. I used a hard backed, spiral bound notebook to write down questions I wanted to ask my OBGYN, and then later used it to record feeding times, questions for a new babysitter, then I just used it to make to do lists or grocery lists. It became the place I wrote down all the things I needed to remember. I still have that notebook and love looking back at it from time to time.

Oddly enough, I’ve never really used my notebooks as a day to day journal. Mainly my notebooks are filled with reminders or recipes, or blog post ideas. I will sometimes use my phone to remind me of appointments and such, but I think with my pen – I can remember things better when I physically write them down.

So even though we are living in a digital age, I will continue with my love of paper and pen. I may even bust out some stationery and write an actual letter sometime soon. Anyone need a penpal? πŸ™‚

I’m rouxined

I used to hate cooking. It was ONE MORE THING on my to-do list of a lot of other mom-things. It was just not an enjoyable task, wich is surprising, given how much I love to eat. And when I was trying to diet cooking was even worse because then I had to cook TWO dinners: one disappointing meal for myself and a tasty one for my family.

But then when I finally decided that I would liberate myself from the diet du jour, guess what?! I actually started to enjoy cooking. When I could cook whatever sounded good to me, that’s when cooking became fun.

What I love about cooking is learning how to make things from scratch that I would normally buy in a can. I’ve learned that the basis for a lot of these is starting with a roux.

If you don’t know, a roux is just oil or butter mixed with flour. From there you add your liquid of choice and voila – you have a delicous sauce and just saved yourself a chunk of change.

For example, not long ago I was making a casserole and needed a can of cream of chicken soup but I didn’t have one in my pantry. I Googled “diy cream of chicken soup” and found a recipe. Some butter and flour cooked until bubbly then I added some chicken broth and stirred until thick. Ta Da! Cream of chicken soup that was delicious and free of unpronounceable ingredients. And so quick and easy – I couldn’t believe how simple it was and it didn’t take much time at all – a few minutes at most.

I also found a dangerous homemade nacho cheese sauce recipe that starts with a roux. I say dangerous because this stuff is so easy and delicious…it might become a problem if I let it. A cup of milk is added to the roux then a couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese is melted into the mix. Add a pinch of salt and chili powder…BOOM. Nacho cheese to fulfill all of your cheese dip dreams. So easy & delicious! And again, free of unrecognizable ingredients. I’ll be more than happy to never buy Velveeta again in my life.

As someone who has lived off of processed/convenience foods her whole life (Why so chubby Jill? It’s a mystery!) cooking from scratch is a novelty. I can’t believe I have relied on canned soups and sauces for so long when it’s almost just as easy to whip them up from ingredients in my own kitchen. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! πŸ™‚

 

 

 

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