Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pinning It Down

Last week I mentioned that I had joined the land of pinning. . . that wonderful electronic bulletin board known as Pinterest.

. . . or, as my friend, Belle, recently called it - "another flavor of internet crack".  Ha!  I love it!

Honestly, I joined out of curiosity, and I really didn't think that the site would do that much for me.

But!  It has become a very welcomed resource; kinda like Google already is for me.  For example, it's helping me gather recipes for our upcoming Labor Day party, where the menu will be cajun-themed . . . Catfish Etouffe, anyone?  That's one of the first recipes I searched for; Tex put in that request a few months ago, when we were just beginning to plan the party, long before Pinterest became an everyday word with me. 

There's something, well, if you'll pardon the pun, delicious about scrolling down through all those photos of various recipes that I have pinned.  Or, ideas for my Heart Captors, otherwise, known as grandkidlettes.  Or, crafts that lure me.  Or, recipes for Tex and me on an everyday basis . . . we don't just eat at parties, doncha know. 

I've got other boards over at Pinning Land, as well; 24 of them, to be exact (that number could increase or decrease at any moment; I have no contractual obligation to the number 24 . . . which, amusingly, also happens to be the number of NASCAR race driver, Jeff Gordon . . . who happens to be Tex's favorite driver.  Go figure.  Why couldn't I have 48 boards . . . Jimmie Johnson's number.  Tis a cruel, cruel world.  Well, not really). 

Oh my goodness . . . we interrupt the above ramblings so that I can gush about a little girl I'm watching through my window while I sit here and chat with y'all.  She and her mother are taking their morning walk, along with Spot, the family dog (or, whatever his name is; maybe it's Stripes; I just don't know).  The girl is still a baby, but walking.   So very cute.  Stripes crosses the street, Cutie wants to cross too; but Mama puts her hand on her shoulders and coaxes Cutie to call Rover back across the street.  So Cutie claps.  And grins.  And does little cute baby jumps.  Oh.  My.  Word.  Heaven for my eyes this morning!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .

Pinterest . . .
. . . As with most anything in the web of world-wideness, this site has its good and not so good.  And, even that's subjective; depending on what an individual might consider good or not. 

Another friend, Audriana, told me that the comment sections can get pretty argumentative sometimes; and since that's not my focus or desire, I think I'll just forgo participating in the comments . . . besides, that doesn't fit in with my time priorities anway.  So, I'll happily heed Audriana's observation and just go about my pinning business, sans the discussions.

But, so far, I'm pleased with it all.  I'm trying to be deliberate in what I pin.  I don't want them (whoever they are) to find me . . . unresponsive, staring at the computer screen, with tiny little red and white P's pulsating out of where my pupils used to be.

If you're a pinner, I invite you to peruse my boards.  If you'd like, let me know how I can find you on Pinterest, and I'll take a look at your boards, as well.

The link at the top of the post will get you to me, over there . . . and, so will the pin button to the right of this post --->

The link at the top of the page will be opened in a different window; the "follow" button to the right opens in this very window; I need to figure out how to change it so that it opens into a different window).

And yeah, whatcha think about my Pin name (Sharmie Swirls)?  Anyone notice that it's also the URL address to Swirlings?
Sometimes, the cleverness is downright frightening . . . as is the modesty.

And lastly, what are y'all's opinions on Pinterest?  I'd really like to know.

Thanks for reading; y'all be blessed!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Keeping it Real

I'm cheating with this one . . . it's actually a "note" that I wrote and published on my Facebook account back in 2010.  Back then, I used the Note section over there as a mini-blog.

It's a busy day, here at the Tex and Sharmie show.  He's taken off work to do more bathroom remodeling, and I'm helping him (in addition to getting some things done on my own list).

But.  I also feel the need for a post, here in Swirlings.  I'm also in the somewhat-ongoing process of re-reading some of my previous writings . . . which is how I happened to come upon today's post.  It's a message which I think can never be overstated.

So, without further adieu . . .

"Keeping It Real"
(Originally written by me on Facebook; October 18, 2010)

I wonder . . . when did "keeping it real" turn into an allowance for people to spew vitriolic anger towards everyone and anyone; not only in what they say, but in what they write? Especially, in what they write.

I understand anger. It's a human emotion. If you're human, chances are very good that, at some point in your life, you have been angry. It's also quite reasonable to expect that, at some point from here forward, you will, once again, be angry.

Anger, in and of itself, is not a "bad thing." In fact, anger can often be the impetus that produces good results.

Most of the time, however, that type of anger, is not an in-the-moment, "volatile instant gratification" type of expression. Anger that produces beneficial change is normally anger that has been acknowledge, considered and then responded to after the "heat of the moment". There are always exceptions, yes; but my point is that spewing out angry rants in the written form rarely fall into this category. And rarely are they effective.

Electronic Road Rage.

I'm seeing it more and more.

I also believe that it's a sickness that is quite contagious. The consequences of such viral activity can be quite severe.

As gently as I can put this . . . things happen; sometimes very unpleasant and heart-wrenching things. I know. I've been there. More than once. Multiple times, even. I'm sure you have, as well.

Deal with the anger, certainly; for to not do so is not at all healthy. But please be careful to not let the anger envelope you; what good can come in allowing the anger to control you? I do not say this facetiously, nor without empathy. Spewing anger does not change what has happened; NOR does it strengthen you to continue on. It only enrages a person more and more until they are literally blind with anger; blind to anything else except "the" situation in their life.

I often hear people say, "You can't understand if you haven't been in my shoes." True. It's why I'm very careful to not casually use the phrase, "I understand."

Conversely, though, in reality, no one can truly understand another person's circumstances; even if there are strong similarities in the experiences of the two people. Additionally, more and more, I am finding that phrase to be used selfishly; i.e. used in the manner of, "You don't understand; so therefore, you have to tolerate every horrific tantrum I throw and if you don't like it, then you're not welcomed in my life, and I have no qualms in telling you so."

A bell cannot be unrung.

Words cannot be unread . . . even if the writer deletes them.

I'm very much for people being honest and transparent. I'm not at all into putting on facades.

Like with so many things in life, however, there's a responsibility that accompanies such "realness."

We can express our anger in ways that doesn't leave the reader feeling as if they've verbally been slammed up against a wall simply for sharing the same universe that we inhabit.

We do not have to post Every Single Thought that comes into our head.

Yes, we do need to extend grace to those who are going through difficult times and may be having trouble getting a handle on intense feelings of anger. But that doesn't give them the excuse to behave as small children throwing temper tantrums towards everyone they encounter; whether in-person or via the wonderful world of this wide, wide web called the internet.

May each of y'all truly know His Peace . . . it can cover you and carry you through even the most horrendous of situations.

Thanks for reading; y'all be blessed,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"It Ain't Your Mama's Yoga!"

Back in April, I was surfing YouTube and found the video, "Never, Ever Give Up. Arthur's Inspirational Transformation!"

I'm sure many of y'all will know the video; it went viral very quickly and continues to reach more and more people.


"Inspirational" falls very short of accurately describing Arthur Boorman's story.

Here's the link to the video:
"Never Give Up!"

See?!  I told y'all you probably had seen it. 

And, was I right or was I right . . . Beyond inspirational, right?
Of course, right.

I have watched this video many times in the past 3 months.  Rarely do I not watch it that tears do not seep out.  Arthur's grit and determination - God bless him!

After watching this amazing video the first time, I immediately googled DDP Yoga. 
Google is my friend, doncha know :) 

I went to the site - and knew.  I. Wanted. That. Kit!

But, budget priorities taking  . . . well . . . priority told me that I needed to wait util August before I could order them.   But, I promised myself that I was going to get the kit, and I waited with eager anticipation. 

Not-so-coindicidently . . . probably, more Godincidently . . . I had been researching yoga during the earlier part of the year.  My reason for finding the video was not based on any of my yoga research; it was just a happy result of video surfing out of boredom.  BUT!  The timing was great, nonetheless.

I ordered the beginner's package yesterday; it should be in my hot little hands either by the end of this week or early next week.  WooHoo!

I'll be letting y'all know what my impression of the workouts are.

But, right now, I've got to tell you . . . so far, I'm pretty dang impressed with Diamond Dallas Page and DDP Yoga.

The site is replete with various links to other parts of the site, designed to help people learn and ask questions.  Diamond Dallas, himself, is beyond cool and his enthusiasm is contagious.  He even created a private YouTube welcome video for all new members.

Also, part of the cost of any of the packages is membership in an online community, complete with forums and personal pages for each member.

This was a pleasant  (and somewhat bothersome) surprise for me.  Why bothersome?  I'm trying to simplify my online activities (which is why last week I created a new account on Facebook and created my first account on Pinterest - ha!  Figure that one out, will ya?). 

But.  I figured I could always register with the DDP Yoga community; and if I thought it was going to be useful, I could utilize it; if not, then no harm / no foul.

Within a couple of hours of signing-up and creating my profile (and that's all I did - I didn't make any posts), I had several email notifications of people over at DDP Yoga posting their welcomes to me; and those welcomes continued to trickle in throughout the evening.

I was pretty impressed with that; the support of the community . . . and such community being people who have purchased their own yoga packages through DDP.  That speaks volumes to me.

I'm pretty excited about this new adventure that I'm entering!

By the way, does anyone see the amusing irony of me . . . ME . . . learning yoga from a retired WCW world heavyweight professional wrestler?  It sure makes me giggle, for a variety of reasons.

By the way, again, when you watch the "Never Give Up" video, be sure to click on the link at the end of the video that will take you to the extended version of the video.  Great stuff!

Y'all be blessed.
Thanks for reading!
~Sharmie, the Yoganator

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Red Beans, Sausage & Rice . . . and a few ramblings

I love to cook!  I also love to feed people.  It's a great combination.

While I was mowing today, I was considering that I should make a couple of separate pages for this blog; maybe one for health & fitness, another one for recipes, etc., etc.

That's not something that is going to be done today . . . nor probably any day this week, but I do beleive that mutliple pages for Swirlings is in the near future.

But for right here and right now . . .

. . . Many of my recipes have never even been written down; it's only been recently, perhaps in the last few years, that I have endeavored to created a written record of what I cook.  One of the main reasons for this deplorable lack of scribed cuisine collection is that most of the time (not always, but often) I don't measure things.  The caveat to that is when I'm baking; I'm pretty precise with my measurements when baking.

But other methods of cooking . . . I cook by sight and by taste.  And then some more taste.  And maybe a bit more taste just to be sure.  Quality-control, doncha know.  :)

Also, rarely does a recipe that isn't mine not get tweaked by me.  I'm a tweaker.  I add some of this, leave out some of that - and come up with what works for me.

Oh.  And I'm not sure where I learned to cook for an army (especially considering that my father was in the Navy - heehee), but I did.  I've always cooked large quantities of food.  I think it has something to do with my passion for feeding people.  And it's served me well; Tex loves eating food as much as I love cooking it!  What a great team we make!

I'm also a "from-scratch" cook. I try to use as few packaged and processed foods as possible . . . for taste and for health. I'm also an ingredient-label reader . . . and many of the ingredients I read on various food labels are really not that healthy for human consumption. There ya go. 

But, before I find myself blogging for hours on-end about the importance of scrutinizing what one feeds their body, along with the ick and yuck regarding exactly what is in processed food, I should probably segue into the actual topic of this particular blog post.

Y'all are welcomed.

The other day, I mentioned red beans & rice in one of my Facebook posts, and was later asked to share my recipe.

So, Erin, this is especially for you.  I hope you like it!

Red Beans, Sausage & Rice

Ingredients are listed in order that they will be used.

1 lb. dried red beans
1 lb. smoked sausage (sliced in half lengthwise, and then each half sliced in pieces)
1 tablespoon canola oil (or butter, or bacon grease)
3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
6 cups of chicken stock or water (more, if needed)
3-4 stalks of celery (finely chopped)
1-2 green bell peppers (finely chopped, with the core removed)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon pepper (white pepper, if you have it)
1/2 - 1 tablespoon onion powder
Cayenne pepper (based on heat preference)
4 cups cooked rice
1/2 - 1 cup of sliced scallions or chopped onions or (raw)

Sort through dry beans and remove whatever doesn't belong (weird beans, pebbles, etc.) 
Rinse beans well to remove any dirt.
Soak the beans in cold water for at least 8 hours.
Drain and rinse.

In a large stock pot, heat the fat (canola oil, butter or bacon grease) and slightly brown the sausage.
Add the garlic and simmer for a few minutes.

Add chicken stock, celery, bell peppers, salt, pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper.
Stir, and cook until gently boiling.

Add drained and soaked red beans.

Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 - 2.5 hours, stirring as needed.  If additional liquid is required, add more chicken stock or water, 1/2 cup at a time.  Cook beans longer, if necessary, always making sure there's enough liquid in the pot.

Serve over cooked rice and top with sliced raw scallions or  chopped raw onion.


Thanks for reading; y'all be blessed,

Sister Friends

I love this photo!

It was taken a couple of weeks ago at Am1's going-away party, held at Am2's house.
It's actually a crop of a group family shot.

The "session" was lasting a bit long and goofyness set in.

This is one of the reactions that the girls had to such hilarity.

Am2 is on the left; Am1 is on the right.

Aren't they beautiful?!

I love our daughters.  Absolutely love them.

Day 8:  Master Bath Project

Tex came home from work a couple of hours early yesterday to do some more tiling.  I think we'll have the floor all completely laid by the end of today.  He thinks that we can probably start grouting it on Saturday.

It's taken a bit longer than either one of us had planned; but, at the start of this, we didn't know that we would be ordering a new vanity and new cabinets; a two-day process, in and of itself.  Plus, softball, puppy girls and various other aspects of The Tex and Sharmie Show interspersed in and amongst tiling time has made this a bit of an extended project.

We did get our cabinets and vanity ordered.  We ordered the cabinets from Lowes.  There's a 4-week delivery on them, and a 2-week delivery on the vanity; so we should be able to have our bathroom completely put back together by the end of this month, or perhaps the beginning of September.  We decided to go with a mom-and-pop company for our vanity.  The cost of the vanity was almost half of what Lowes quoted us; the mom-and-pop pours their vanities on-site, while Lowes contracts that aspect out to various not-very-local businesses (hence the main reason for the significant price difference).

Lowes is a great company; that's not questionable at all.

But, as I'm sure some of y'all already know this about me, I big supporter of mom-and-pop small businesses; they helped build this country and I like to try to support them whenever possible.

In the meantime, we no longer have a master bedroom.  We have a work area with a bed in the middle of it.  Tools, buckets, rags and boxes of tile is the decorating theme.

We also no longer have a guest bedroom.  Instead, we have a clothes pile room.

It's amazing how one room . . . our master bathroom (that also has our closet in it) . . . can affect almost the entire house.

The living room table behind our sofa now proudly displays our bathroom towels (because there wasn't any room for them in the guest bathroom).  The guest bedroom is now home for all of our clothes (ironically, most of them are Tex's) - clothes hanging in the closet  . . . and a  M O U N D  of clothes, still on their hangers, laying on the bed.  Some of our bathroom stuff is in the guest bathroom; some of it is in the guest bedroom.

Oh.  My.  Word!

How in the world did a minimalist like me come to be surrounded by so much stuff?  Ha!
I blame Tex.  Yep, that's the ticket.

Hmmm.  Maybe not.  As I look to my left, while sitting in my studio, I see the closet (that intentionally doesn't have any doors because I've put wall-mounted shelving in the closet).  Inside the closet I notice some of my skirts hanging on the rod (in an itty-bitty area that I left unshelved).  And, if I look behind me while sitting at my desk, I can see various non-studio items temporarily residing on my drafting table while waiting to be reunited with their proper places within our bedroom or bathroom; some of them are my things, some are Tex's; some of the things are both of ours.  Now.  if I can only come up with some creative project for that container of waterbed valves and similar paraphernalia . . .

So, uhm, I guess I can't blame it all on Tex, now , can I?
Fiddle.  I was so hoping to appear completely innocent in this matter.

It's a beautiful day here in Dallas, today!  Right now, it's 77(F).  It's expected to climb up to around 103 later on.  My desktop widget tells me that it's currently 37 in Jackson Hole.  Yep.  I've got a weather widget for my local home and one for my heart home.  You Jacksonites . . . I'm watching y'all!

Wherever y'all are today in this great big world, I hope you have an awesome and blessed day.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Répondez s'il vous plaît

. . . a French phrase, meaning, in English, "Please respond" (or variations, thereof).

Shortening it to the more-common acronym, most people are familiar with this expression simply as: RSVP.

I've had this blog post swirling around for several months now; in fact, it's been swirling longer than Swirlings has even been in existence.

There ya go.

Tex and I will be hosting a party in a few weeks; I guess that's why this topic has wandered out of my grey matter's recesses and has, once again, brought itself to the forefront of my thoughts.

. . . Especially since, so far, I would estimate that only about 5%  of the invitations we sent have produced actual RSVP responses (whether yes or no).


Let's talk about RSVP protocol, shall we?

I grew up with the understanding that any invitation bearing "RSVP" required a response from the invitees; whether such response was a "no" or a "yes".  Additionally, the response was to be prompt.

To me, it's simply good manners.  Taking that even further, I also perceive it as a gesture of caring and friendship.  (Admittedly, this particular paragraph is a bit difficult for me to write - I am reminded of how often I show poor manners regarding how long it takes me to answer personal emails . . . but, oddly enough, I do always make sure that my RSVPs are made in a timely manner.  Go figure.)

Whether it's a formal affair or a casual get-together, taking the time to acknowledge an invitation tells the host that you care about them . . . and also that you care about the planning details involved.

And, that's what it's all about.   Caring and friendship aside, hosting a party requires planning.  If there's food involved, there's even more planning involved.  I'm not talking about pot luck type of events where everyone brings a dish to share; I'm speaking of parties where all of the refreshments are provided by the host.

Knowing how many people plan on coming to a party significantly helps the host to determine how much food to prepare.  It wouldn't be the best to prepare food for 50 people if only 10 show up.  It would be even worse to have food for 10 people and then have 50 people ring your doorbell.

See the value in RSVPing to your invites?

I'd like to hear your views on RSVPs.

Do you always respond to RSVP-bearing invitations; regardless as to whether or not you plan on attending?

Do you only respond if your answer is yes?

Do you not respond if your answer is "no" and expect the host to properly translate your silence?

Do you even care?

Should the RSVP notation on the invitations be written as "Regrets Only" (meaning that the hostess is signifying that she will  interpret all non-responses as "yes")?

What say you on this matter?  I'm genuinely interested.

You can either respond here, in the blog comments . . . -or- if you and I are Facebook friends, you can respond there.  I look forward to reading your thoughts!

Thanks for reading; y'all be blessed,