Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Five Things to Do After Work

I should really remove Apartment Therapy from my RSS subscriptions, but I haven’t yet, so I keep getting sucked in. Recently they posted their 5 things to do as soon as you are done with work for a happier evening.

They elaborate further, but essentially, their 5 things are:
  1. Put things where they belong 
  2. Check in, connect and center
  3. Cook an easy-to-make meal 
  4. Spend a little time on a hobby, habit or goal
  5. Prep for the next day
While their points are perfectly fine, they don't necessarily reflect your average person just coming off of a day's work, so I drafted my own list.

Here are my 5 things to do when you get home from work (in order of importance, mostly...):
  1. Take off your work pants and put on sweatpants. This is definitely #1. No question. Switching from "school clothes" to "play clothes" means you can handle whatever happens to come up (and in comfort!): cooking, cleaning, sitting around and watching Hulu... Anything.
  1. Breathe. You just finished a day at work where you challenged yourself, did something new, and helped people (directly or indirectly). Even if you have to do this in the car before you head inside, just breathe. You’ve already accomplished something today. Whatever else happens or does (or does not) get done, you’ve got that -- now, take a breath and go put on your sweatpants already!
(You get your choice: Faith Hill, Pearl Jam, or Michelle Branch...)

  1. Check your mailbox (not your email, but your realmail). Because sometimes there is real mail. Mail from someone you care about to tell you they are thinking of you. It’s worth checking if only for that reason. (Oh, and recycle that junk mail right away. Ugh, junk mail is the worst.)
  1. Eat some sort of food at a reasonable hour as a meal if you are hungry. Does it have to be exquisite? No. does it have to be healthy? Not necessarily. Does it have to be a "real meal?" Not unless you want it to be. Do you have to like it? No, but that usually helps.
  1. Think about someone else. This could be someone you live with (your partner, child/children, roommate); this could be someone in your family; this could be a colleague; this could be a friend you’ve not seen for a year; it could be someone you’ve only met once. Think of them, because when you’re thinking of others, that’s when true inspiration and good comes about. You could think of ways to help someone, think of something they might be interested in, something that makes them smile, something that brings them comfort. Even if you just think of one other person during your “down time,” that’s more than a lot of other people do their entire day. And thinking often turns to action, and that’s a good thing too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Why I Love MasterChef Junior

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Not often do I find myself completely enamored with a television show, but here I am, writing about how I’ve fallen head over heals for MasterChef Junior.

MasterChef Junior is a reality show where children (ranging in ages from 8-12) cook for world-renown, professional chefs (including celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay). Now, before you roll your eyes at the words “reality show” or say “not another cooking show,” hear me out -- this isn’t another cutthroat competition show where you watch it and feel disgusting after, and it’s not another Saturday morning cooking show where the same dish seems to be made over and over. This is, when it comes down to it, a show about kids with strong character, kindness, heart, positivity, and a lot of determination.

Reasons why I love this show:

  • I can watch it and forget completely about the negative news, things on my to-do list, the ice dam on my roof causing my living room carpet to be soggy. I mean everything. I find myself sitting there, rooting for every child to do well, heart swelling for those kids as they triumph over the challenging dishes they’re tasked to make. 
  • These kids have such great character! They are encouraging, positive, realistic (with their own cooking triumphs and struggles), and so helpful! They go out of the way to help their competitors, and they do it with such kindness. When their competitors are eliminated, genuine hugs and encouragement are given. I want to live in a world this kind all of the time. 
  • Those kids are remarkable! They’re doing amazing things with French or Japanese or other advanced cooking techniques (thinks I’ve never heard of), and they have to use step stools just to see over the counter.
  • British accents are wonderful -- Don’t let anyone tell you any different. (This one is definitely a minor detail, but still adds to the enjoyment of the show.) 
  • The chef-judges have such high expectations for their young chefs (and the young chefs know it and definitely give their all for them), but they don’t let that get in the way of them making real connections with the kids, being silly, being encouraging, and showing their protégés respect. You can see how proud the judges are of the kids and their accomplishments, and how hard the elimination process is for them.

Watching this show is like getting an hour-long hug. The kids are extraordinary, the judges are firm, but kind and encouraging, and the result is such a positive experience for the audience (and I would imagine everyone involved with the show as well). If you happen to find yourself with an extra hour or just want to bring some positivity into your home, I recommend turning on MasterChef Junior.

(This is just my own personal option regarding this show. We've not been compensated or rewarded in any way for this blog post, other than the warm-fuzzies I get simply by watching this lovely show.)