Posted in Daily, Food

“Mix” Along the “Trail”

Couple of almonds or cashews. Legumes (peanuts or baked soybeans). Dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, apricots, apples pieces, gooseberries or candied orange peel. Throw in a few chocolate chips, chunks, and M&M’s or pretzels along with crystallized ginger. One is good to go.

Early morning and sugars low. Throw in dry breakfast cereal for the sugary crunch. More salty feel or crunchy feel, add in banana chips or carob chips. For high fibre effect, add in the rye chips. Enrich the antioxidant feel with pumpkin, chia or sunflower seeds.

Little did hiker and outdoors-man Horace Kephart, know that recommendation of “scroggin” or “trial mix” in his popular camping guide (1910s), would lead to the snack becoming ever popular or more varied over time. The original “trail mix” was more of a combination of granola, dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes chocolate developed as a food to be taken along on Besides being quick and easy to carry along, the wide variety of mixes as per as own personal choice makes it’s popularity still stay.

Interestingly, the name “scroggin” or “schmogle” as used in New Zealand may have arose as an acronym from it’s ingredients of sultanas, carob, raisins, orange peel, grains, glucose, imagination(?) and nuts or alternatively sultanas, chocolate, raisins and other goody-goodies including nuts; although these facts are up to debate. Across continents, America’s gorp ( acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts” or common ingredients “granola, oats, raisins, peanuts) and Europe’s “student fodder”, “student oats” or “student mix” in the local languages show essentially how the same thing stays across the different cultures.

For snackers globally, the National Trail Mix Day (August 31st) would give a reason to go the extra mile for an exotic, unusual trail mix style ( cranberries, gooseberries, gummy bears and cornflakes dried anyone ?)

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Balance the Scales

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” Edgar Allan Poe

The day before the weekends or sometimes the weekends themselves, bring out the cleaning spree in me. Bitten by the “cleaning bug”, from the curtains to the upholstery as well as furnishings including all the mats and the carpets are brought out, aired, sun dried and brought in, especially before the dark clouds start hovering around. When bitten bu the bug, the entire household tip toes around fearing the retribution of a spilled cup of water on the floor or even those muddy footprints around. Yet by sun down, the shining and polished furniture starts showing a scrape of grime brought by little hands after their outdoor (or attic) fun. While slowly the red fiery steam starts rising within, a heavy dose of temperance is brought out from within to quench the flames, lest the gleeful smiles and childhood memories are lost for the day.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

There will be days in each of our lives, where one goes out of the way to do everything in the right manner. Despite all the efforts, there would be no returns but regrets and inner unrest. Those days, when one learns to take events in stride and move on, those perceived unhappy moments turn into blessed ones. In the light of the events of those days, the attitude that one chooses and the perceptions used to colour the day brightens up the gloomy mood, bringing forth the inner light.

“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.” Stephen R. Covey

Each one is in the rush to lead their own lives. While each one may seem to measure the other, in the end it is the personal happiness and the inner peace that each one strives and craves for. Knowing when to remove the dust, leave it on or capture the muddy prints makes the difference in the day. To redefine the angry moments of the day by changing the perceived notions is important. Finding the balance between the “to do”, would like to do and long to do, is important to live our lives to the potential that one was born to.

“Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is like a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue. . . . ” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better to paint a picture or write a letter, bake a cake or plant a seed, or even ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there’s not much time, with rivers to swim and mountains to climb, music to hear and books to read, friends to cherish and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the worlds out there with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, a flutter of snow, a shower of rain. This day will not come around again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind, old age will come and it’s not kind. And when you go – and go you must, you, yourself will make more dust! It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived … and remember, a layer of dust protects the wood beneath it.
Author Unknown

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

The Real Skill

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” Confucius

With a fundraiser planned as part of the community projects at the work place; each one was designated a special set of tasks based on individual choices and skills. Some were forefront with the raising funds sections, while others were allotted in projects from cooking to art, designing posters and so on. Amidst all this, comparisons and remarks were found in the conversations regarding the ability or lack of special talents or skills. The truth is each one is skilled in their own way. While one may excel at baking, the other may be better at managing events or designing the vent posters. Each one has their special own skills.

“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.” Charles R. Swindoll

Beyond the skills that define one, it is the mind and the attitude behind them that reflects the real self within. Each one is skilled or can excel at certain tasks; but knowing one better than the other, doesn’t imply that one person is better than the other. Believing that one is defined by their skills alone, is a foolhardy thought. Each one is gifted in a way of their own. Yet beyond that, it is the mind that matters more. One can always outshine the other at the same or similar art; but keeping a kind, humane and gentle approach will leave a characteristic individualized hand-print behind, for the rest of the world to observe, reflect and learn from.

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Carl R. Rogers

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. ‘There,’ he said to the old man, ‘see if you can match that!’

Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old fellow’s intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit. ‘Now it is your turn,’ he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target. ‘You have much skill with your bow,’ the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament, ‘but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.’
Author Unknown

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates

Posted in Daily, Personal Musings, poetry, Reflections

Power within Self

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa

Unlike the monsoon rains of each year, this time the town had witnessed less amount of water clogging on the roads. May be the reason can be attributed to the spaced out rains as compared to the previous years or less plastic logging the drains, non clogged roadside drain outlets and the like. Whatever the reason maybe, the final result was better for all. Who was responsible for this difference? Whether it was the awareness combined with effort and environment humaneness, of the municipal workers to keep the roads clean and drains unclogged or less dumping of plastic roadside by the public, numerous cleanliness drives by schools, organizations, town corporations; better road maintenance by the public works or other campaigns; each one had a role to play. Each one made a difference in their own way. Ultimately, each one of us has the power to make a difference.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Very often, one undermines their own power, potential and ability to make a vast impact in the future outcome. A little child who is taught and does throw their trash in the proper bin subtly teaches a host of unseen observers environmental humaneness. An adolescent who is polite at the grocers’ brightens the day for the cashier and the customers in queue. A simple thank you to the waitress or the security manning the apartment block entrance brings a lightness to their weary burdens.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

One doesn’t need to start big or huge, need a huge barrage of resources, conveniences, fortunes or luck their way to make a difference. Being nice, doing the right and just thing doesn’t require a lot of effort or hurt the doer. Instead it sets off a chain of events which brightens the days of those around them.

“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.” R. Buckminster Fuller

The Power of One
One SONG can spark a moment
One FLOWER can wake the dream
One TREE can start a forest
One BIRD can herald spring
One SMILE begins a friendship
One HANDCLASP lifts a soul
One STAR can guide a ship at sea
One WORD can frame the goal
One VOTE can change a nation
One SUNBEAM lights a room
One CANDLE wipes out darkness
One LAUGH will conquer gloom
One STEP must start each journey
One WORD must start a prayer
One HOPE will raise our spirits
One TOUCH can show you care
One VOICE can speak with wisdom
One HEART can know what is true
AND
One LIFE can make a difference
– Author Unknown
(Source:vk.com)

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

Of “Petit Pots”

“Heat the milk and cream. Make it a bit bubbly. Add the flavours, mix it into the whisked eggs and egg yolks. Strain the mixture and pour into cups. Bake these cups in a water bath at low heat. Depending on taste, one can flavour this dessert with pieces of broken or melted choclate, rum, add a base of crunchy texture or garnish with almond slivers, sliced berries, cinnamon, colorful sugar or sprinkles; all leading to a piece of art as well as of delectable taste.”

The above simple dessert similar to a lightly set baked custard, known as “Pot de crème” or “petit pots” was believed to have originated from France during the 17th century. While the name means “pot of custard” or “pot of cream”,referring to the porcelain cups which were used to make and serve the dessert; the latter concept may have evolved from the from English Syllabub.

Usually looser than other custards, crème brulee, flans or crème caramel; it requires minimal preparatory time and can be made with the ingredients at hand. Such that it can be prepared without milk or had frozen. Hardly surprising that, this delight has got its’ own special place and day (August 27th) in the foodimentarian’s heart. For all the dessert connoisseurs, it would be time to experiment the taste buds with the varieties of preparations. While for the experimental chefs, let the steps to make an artful and palatable creation begin.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Of Choices, Time and Priorities

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

No matter how hard one tries to stretch the allotted time of twenty hours each day; there are bound to be a few things from the mental task list, still left undone. One of the earliest habits drilled during the school days was to prioritize and get the tasks completed for the day. While the initial years saw the assigned tasks being prioritized from somewhere around middle school onward; later on it became a daily must for most days of high school, college and later on in the adult world.

Prioritize.

Almost the whole of the adult lives revolve around prioritizing events scheduled around the planners, from big ones to the small ones. The scales have to be struck in a very fine manner between work, relationships, personal growth, hobbies or interests, family life and personal time. Too much of one focus results in the undermining of the others which may or mayn’t have consequences in the later years.

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” Stephen R. Covey

Prioritizing is as much an art, dependent on the way how one perceives the important facets of life. When one realizes that the focus has been on certain direction for quite some time, it may be too late to turn things around as time has already run out in those spheres. Learning not to step into those lines is a special talent. Priorities are shaped by the choices, desires, interests as well as the purpose that we grow within ourselves. Until one defines what they want out of their respective lives, the prioritization mayn’t work out right. One’s priorities should eventually bring completeness as well as pleasant emotions in life. Once when those aspects are met, the time spent for the prioritized tasks is time well spent; worth the treasure chest of memories, lessons and happiness that it brings along.

“Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.” Dallin H. Oaks

Priorities
So many things to do, I’m always rushing ’round
I wish that I had time to just sit still
I’ll get done all the things I need to do today
I promise then I’ll stop a while, I will

And so I start to tackle the list of chores I made
I’ll make this house look really spick and span
I’ll tidy up and wash the floor and vac and dust as well
Clean the bathrooms, clean the house – I know I can

A friend rings up. She’s feeling down. She wants to come around
She asks if I have time to talk a while
I stop to make a coffee and lend a listening ear
I have nothing to give except my smile

Then, when she’s feeling better and she knows that she’s been heard
She thanks me and then she goes on her way
I look around my house and continue with my chores
For I am going to get somewhere today

The telephone then rings. My son’s teacher’s on the phone
She wants me to come down and get him now
I go down to the school and I bring my sick child home
I’ll clean this house up later on somehow

And later when the kids are home; ‘Mum, I need to talk’
And so I stop to listen for a while
My daughter tells me how she feels, she opens up her heart
Then, when she knows I’ve heard her, she can smile

When the night has come, I wonder, ‘what did I achieve?’
And, then I look back on all I have done
The house is still not tidy and there’s still so much to do
Just like it was when I had first begun

But, then I stop and realise my priorities are right
For when someone’s in need then, I am there
I give to them the time they need and help them where I can
I let them know how much I really care

For when the years have passed and my kids have all moved out
They will feel the love and warmth I had to give
And I know that they’ll remember the lessons that they learnt
In self-worth and in how they choose to live

Written by Michelle Tetley
©2005

Posted in Christian, Daily, Personal Musings, poetry, Random Thoughts

Colour the Grey

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Corinthians 12:9 )

The afternoon jaunt after the heavy rains over the past few days, was a source of fun for the children. Stepping into the puddles, picking up a wildflower or two, running after the scampering squirrels and kittens along the walk was a joyous experience. Despite the messy mud and puddles around, the grey of rocks were masked by few wildflowers cropping up at the unexpected places. Further ahead, there were carpets of them growing along the fences of the fields.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”(Psalm 34:4)

Wildflowers, many of us are a lot like them. Through rough seasons, closed and crowded spaces, these little flowers not planted by hand but by nature, bring a smile to the tired mind. Those vibrant colours often remind me of God’s love and His Grace. The difficult days, troublesome moments and doubtful occasions, it is His Grace and His Guidance that helps us see a way out. The air and light He directs our way offers the necessary help to get out of the quagmire, when one seeks His Help. God’s Love helps us to grow even when the rocks below are hard and water is scare. To be like a wildflower is indeed a blessing, especially when one learns to bloom and bring colour to the dull, dark, dreary days. Let such colours brighten each of our days.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

Wildflowers
Kitty Chappell

Lord, help me to grow as the wildflowers grow
be it a meadow or a crack in cement.
Despite the terrain, be it good or bad,
let me know I am there by intent.

Instead of my sadly complaining within
regarding life’s rough terrain,
May my face, too, look upward to you
through seasons of drought and rain.

Help me to bloom as the wildflowers bloom,
regardless of where I am placed;
wherever the spot You plant me, Lord,
let the air there be sweet with Your grace.

Someday a tired pilgrim may stop to rest
from carrying his heavy load
And thank my Creator for placing me there
to brighten that spot in life’s road.

(Kitty Chappell, award-winning author of Good Mews: Inspirational Stories for Cat Lovers and Sins of a Father: Forgiving the Unforgivable.)