Gratitude

Family: The Tradition of Having Chinese Take-Out on New Year’s Eve

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve evening and I just placed our annual phone order with Golden China. My husband will pick it up on the way home from work, along with a stop at the grocery store for Martinelli’s sparkling cider for the kids.

Yes, we’re creatures of habit but let’s put a more positive spin on that, shall we? We love to create and uphold our own little family traditions. It’s fun, we look forward to it, and – perhaps after some fits and starts – it’s predictable each year.

I heard online today that having Chinese food on New Years Eve is a “thing” on the East Coast, so much so that you have to order your food by the day before if you hope to get any. Wow, that’s kinda’ cool!

I’m on the West Coast and I don’t think it’s a “thing” here. Is it? Is it a “thing”, fellow West Coasters? I mean, there was snow in San Diego today so anything is possible ๐Ÿ˜€

Photo by:  Ali Inay
*Image courtesy of Unsplash.com

We came about this tradition in a round-about way. It started out many years ago, maybe 15, with Christmas Eve. My husband’s grandparents always invited us to Christmas Eve service at their church. The first year, the service was done, we were all in a happy mood, and HUNGRY! Where could we go at the last minute, without reservations, that could seat 20 people, without too much of a wait? (Some of us had long drives home).

We enjoyed it so much, we kept this tradition of Christmas Eve service, then a Chinese food sit-down dinner for many years. I have great memories of those nights! Everyone was dressed up, the kids shot straw wrappers at each other across the table from their Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers’, the grown-ups talked and laughed, and the food was colorful and delicious.

Sadly, my husband’s granddad passed away and not long after, his bride took on health problems that kept her from church. That tradition died as well ๐Ÿ™ However, my own family decided to keep it going in our way, to honor and remember our grandparents/great-grandparents and relive those memories each year. For maybe 2 years, we ordered Chinese take-out that we ate at home after attending Christmas Eve service at our local church.

The downside of this arrangement was that, when our Christmas Day dinner tradition arrived the next day, we still had tons of leftovers and, honestly, no one was ready for another big meal quite yet anyway. So the next year we decided, let’s just move the Chinese take-out dinner tradition to New Years Eve! We’re always home anyway, watching movies and staying off the icy/wet roads with drunk drivers.

And that’s how our New Year’s Eve Chinese Food Take-Out Tradition began and, I hope, shall continue for many years to come.

Happy New Year! I hope you and your family enjoy your own traditions in 2015 – and maybe even create some new ones. God Bless.

PS: One of the best parts of ordering Chinese food take-out is . . . leftovers on New Years Day! And, hence, why I seem to have another tradition of my very own: Starting a diet on January 2. I shall be upholding that tradition this year. Please stay tuned if you’d like to join me in the journey ๐Ÿ™‚

Christmas 2014: Beach Time, Internet Detox, and Home Organization

It’s been a while since I posted but I consciously did a bit of a “internet detox” this holiday season. My family was off school and work and I, miraculously, was off work for 10 days! I have several jobs but the main one is typing charts for a busy doctor’s office, so time off is very hard to come by. I’m so grateful to have steady work and to be able to work from home – between playing kid taxi, ya’ feel me? – so I’m not complainin’ just explainin’. Ha! I’m usually on the computer pretty much around the clock for work and family stuff, even entertainment, so it was nice to just step away for a while. Have you done an internet detox?

We spent some glorious time at the beach with extended family and I really recharged my batteries. There’s nothing like sea air, crashing waves, great food, and family that loves you unconditionally <3. I took loads of photos but here is my favorite: IMG_5596

The rest of the time was filled with typical Christmas break stuff: Last minute shopping and wrapping, making our traditional Italian dinner for Christmas, opening presents, visiting nearby family, going to movies (“Wild” awesome! “Unbroken” disappointing, boo hoo), reading books by the fire, and lazing around with my family. {We’re binge watching “Blue Bloods”, an awesome show for families to watch together}. Needless to say, it was the best of times ๐Ÿ˜€

I also got the organizing bug and managed to clean out 2 bedrooms, 3 closets, a cabinet, and the kitchen pantry. My bookshelf sorely needed attention – here, see for yourself:

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Yes, that’s a lot of books! But believe or not, this is the “purged” version ๐Ÿ™‚ About once a year, I go through it to make sure I still want all these lovelies. I adore having my own little library – in addition to the one inside my Kindle – and often re-read and loan books out. In the end, I removed 6 hardcover books which, ironically, were none of my own books but ones I had borrowed and forgotten to return. So there’s something else for the To Do List 2015: Try to remember who loaned me what and return them!

Here is the final result:

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Eh, at least it’s an improvement, sagging shelves and all, LOL. It’s mostly fiction but some non-fiction, too. I mainly organize alphabetically by author. This time, I also grouped together all books that have to do with Italy/Europe whether fiction or non. Sometimes I get “in the Italy mood” and this will make it easier to find a good read. I also grouped together weight loss/motivation books, both fiction and non-fiction, for the same reason. Anyway, I’m happy with the results and predict that at the end of 2015, I’ll be doing it all again!

Also on the organizing front, I got my 2015 Dayplanner refill and penciled in all of 2015 with school calendars, birthdays, sports events, and business things; now that feels good! I also found a pretty little journal at Ross while I was Christmas shopping. I can’t find it online but it’s similar to THIS ONE on Amazon . . .

Amazing Grace journal

. . . except the flowers are more like pink roses and it says, “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.” Inside are lined pages with a Bible verse at the bottom of each one. I’m hoping to start a new habit of daily journaling – just real basic “what’s the haps”. Also, I’d like a place to keep random notes and perhaps cut down on my Post It Note addiction ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, what was your favorite part of Christmas vacation 2014? Did you get any home projects done or just enjoy your family, friends, and down time? I hope it was a little of both and I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Deep Thoughts: And It’s Just Like That

Photo by:  Silvestri Matteo

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an older person in my family, a remarkable woman. I feel guilt for not making more time to spend with her because, as they say, she won’t be around forever.

I’ve been thinking about why I feel guilty – familial obligation? No, it’s not that. It’s that I’m missing out on some finite time, time that I won’t be able to spend with her . . . “when I have time.”

I’ve been thinking about why I adore her so much, why I think I should be hoarding time with her, why I’ll weep when she goes.

I’ve been thinking about the shine in her eyes when she sees my family, the hearty laugh, the love of books we bonded over, the instant embrace into her family when I joined the club.

I’ve been thinking about how it must feel to be near the end of your life and knowing, to the bottom of your soul, that you did this thing well. You lived every moment. You loved deeply. You forgave. You laughed. You moved on.

I’ve been thinking about how I’ll want to be remembered when I pass on.

And it’s just like that.

#30DaysOfThankful: What Is it and What’s the Plan?

To go along with one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place – paying more attention to gratitude and the GOOD things in life when there is so much to bring us down – I’ve decided to participate for the first time in “30 Days of Thankful” (#30DaysOfThankful). With Thanksgiving coming in the US, it’s the time of year we tend to be more thoughtful anyway.


*Image via TheTomKatStudio.com

If you’re a scrapbooker like me me, you may have heard of CATHY Z’s VERSION {I just love that tiny 4×4 WRMK album, don’t you?}. A message board I’m on is doing this as a challenge for a prize – which would be lovely to win but that’s not what’s motivating me ๐Ÿ˜‰

The challenge is to post something we’re grateful for on each of the 30 days in November. With your list of gratitudes, you can do many things, such as:

– Make a mini album
– Share on social media
– Make a scrapbook layout
– Share the list with your family
– Write a daily PROJECT LIFE CARD & pair with a photo for a quick album

Or anything else you’d like to do!

I have 2 other journaling-heavy memorykeeping projects going on right now so I’m not going to attempt a mini album or anything intensive. I think I’ll make my daily post on the message board, then compile those into a weekly post here on my blog. I think a daily post here would overwhelm the blog, LOL.

I’ll share my daily posts on Twitter – because gratitude begets gratitude (hopefully), right? I also created a PINTEREST BOARD to gather inspiration for this project. Stuff like this, from Cathy Z, who I mentioned above:

I’d love to have you join in – it’s a Pinterest group board! Just email me your first name/last name or the email address you use with Pinterest, and I’ll add you – send to: erika(at)blessednotlucky(dot)com.

Have you participated in “30 Days of Thankful” before? What form did you use and what was the experience like? Will you do it this year? I’d love to hear your plans!

Gratitudes: Kate Nash, Go “Not Giants”, and New Picoult Novel

I’m not a morning person. AT ALL. So it always surprises me when I have one of those “God, I love life!” mornings. Like today.

– Hazelnut coffee, Kate Nash & He is We on Pandora, and feeling “not frantic” about work today

– Slept well, remembering a nice evening with my family watching the SF Giants lose ๐Ÿ˜‰

– It’s late October and still sunny in the 70s and 80s every day

– Red Sox seat covers arrived (thank you, Amazon!) and I’ll rock them in my new car today

– October bills are paid, monthly Costco trip is done, and we aren’t broke

– Looking forward to starting the new Jodi Picoult novel, “Leaving Time”

jodi picoult leaving time

{And Jodi herself just Retweeted me! Wow, great day!}

Those are the things making me blissful today. How about you?

Blessed Not Lucky: Weekly Round-Up 10-05-14

Just some random-ness from my week wandering the web . . . hope you enjoy!

Oh yeah, I’m so very guilty of THIS!

I’ve been hanging out HERE a bit but hopin’ it gets more hoppin’. C’mon over and join us – all bloggers welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

Found THESE in muted pink @ TJ Maxx {they made me happy!} and have been enjoying THIS
on the chilly mornings lately.

“Drah-ma!” makes me tired so I totally agree with this:

* Found on Pinterest, originally from THE MOTIVATED TYPE on Etsy {but no longer available, that I can see}.

Gratitudes: Pumpkin Spice, Ingrid, and the Dodgers

I went to bed early last night and got up late this morning. S-t-r-e-t-c-h . . .

It’s a lazy Saturday at noon, 75 degrees and sunny.

I had a great breakfast along with some Pumpkin Spice coffee I got at Target yesterday … yummmm.

I’m blogging and online shopping and message boarding.

Pandora is playing Ingrid Michaelson, Sam Smith, and Sara Bareilles.

I get to be outside all afternoon.

Tonight, I’ll probably watch the Dodgers game and then a movie with my family.

That’s what I’m grateful for today . . . how about you?

Blogging: Why I Started the “Blessed Not Lucky” Blog

So. This is a fairly new blog, just a few months old and not many entries yet. I have lots of work to do – publishing posts and getting my blog to look the way I want it to – but I’m so happy to have gotten started!

I’ve actually been blogging since 2007 and have two other active blogs – one about my hobby and one for my work-at-home business (transcriber / blogger / virtual assistant).

I *love* blogging which brings together two of my favorite things to do . . . 1. Writing and 2. sharing about the things I love:

– photos
– music
– gratitudes
– writing
– blogging
– weight loss
– travel
– etc.

sfbridge
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

Obviously, those aren’t things I get to talk about much on my other blogs – because those are very focused on the topics at hand. I don’t like to mix in too much personal stuff on them because it dilutes their purpose.

But I keep finding myself frustrated that I can’t write or share about all my favorite things listed above. Dang.

So I decided to start THIS blog – “Blessed Not Lucky” – where I could talk about all that fun stuff. I also very much want to connect with other bloggers and blog readers.

Along with all this, I love to laugh about the absurdities of life and have a very sarcastic sense of humor. So we are gonna’ have us some fun!

My dream is for this blog to get better and better, to make some new friends, and to express myself in a more creative way than I’ve been able to in the past.

What’s in it for you? Well, I hope you enjoy reading what I share. I hope you feel blessed by my blog. I hope I make you laugh so hard that coffee shoots out your nose ๐Ÿ˜€

Wish me luck and I hope you’ll become a regular reader! Do we have anything in common? What types of things do YOU like to read about? I would absolutely LOVE IT if you’d leave a comment below . . .

BnL Book Review: “Help, Thanks, Wow” by Anne Lamott

I read Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott last year but it came to my attention again because it’s a Kindle deal. You can get it here for only $2.75 right now.

help thanks wow anne lamott

I snagged it right away because I loved this book! It was one that I’d borrowed from the library and read through twice before I returned it 2 weeks later. And then I kept thinking about it for months. Yeah, it was THAT good. Plus, it’s a quick read. BONUS!

This is one of those books you want to shove in your friends’ faces and make them read – ha! Yes, itโ€™s a book about prayer and spirituality but I think unless youโ€™re really offended by those topics, you’ll enjoy it. Anne is SUCH a gifted writer. She puts big concepts like prayer, gratitude, amazement, and pleading for help into such real, everyday, meaningful terms that you can relate exactly to what she means.

I came away โ€“ both times I read it โ€“ laughing, appreciating life more, feeling sadness for peopleโ€™s suffering but peace at the same time. I think itโ€™s an especially good read for memorykeepers because weโ€™re already the types who want to savor our โ€œmomentsโ€ and realize how quickly time passes, how blessed we are even in our struggles, and are looking for meaning in how we live our lives.

So PLEASE read this book! Itโ€™s quick but powerful. I think youโ€™ll love it like I did. And it’s cheap right now. No brainer.

It’s the Little Things: Sea Jewelry

Part of living a grateful life is appreciating the little things. It’s those tiny surprises that make you smile. They don’t have to be expensive – and usually aren’t. The pretty “sea jewelry” my mom sent me falls into that category.

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My mom’s aunt has been making jewelry for as long as I can remember – it must be at least 30 years if not longer. She started out as a rock hound, then began making jewelry out of her lovely stones, and now she buys jewels and beads as well.

At family reunions, my great aunt (after we beg her) puts out her jewelry and let’s us choose from all her treasures. It’s like the best kind of shopping EVER! She won’t let us pay anywhere near full price and would probably just give us the jewelry if we’d let her.

Whenever my mom visits that part of her family, she makes sure to get us some “Aunt Norma jewelry”. My mom is a jewelry maker, too; in fact, she has an Etsy shop where she sells her handmade jewelry along with vintage jewelry she finds and restores. My mom has started listing some of Aunt Norma’s jewelry as well.

So this was the latest Aunt Norma jewelry I received from my mom. First of all, isn’t it such a neat feeling these days to receive a little surprise package in the mail? Then to open it and find something this lovely. I was especially touched because this bracelet and earrings have 2 of my favorite things: hearts and the ocean.

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The beads are gold-filled abalone shell. They’re so smooth and soft, like a piece of sea glass. As my mom knows, I’m an ocean girl and it’s my happy place. I go there whenever I can to relax, de-stress, play, warm up, cool off, smile, get the wind in my hair and the sun on my face.

The earrings are made with sterling silver (another favorite) and do you see the little hearts? Yep, another thing I love. I have a whole Pinterest board about hearts.

So not only do I absolutely love the Aunt Norma earrings and bracelet, I’m so grateful for the extra special things about them that my mom knows I would adore. And I adore HER for taking the time to think of me as she picked out my jewelry, as she does with all the gifts she gives. Mama, you are the best!

Funny how ‘the little things’ are sometimes actually ‘big things’ . . . <3 PS: There were handwritten tags on the jewelry with some more details, in case you were curious. The glass beads are hematite; the earrings were $12 and the bracelet $32.